Wednesday, October 29, 2008

College Freshmen

Re: Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier

Lucy Stone's oldest child just went away to college and now he's coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Lucy is really looking forward to his visit as, of course, she misses him a lot. She feels that of all her children, Toby is the most like her. He will be arriving with a friend so Lucy spends a lot of time cleaning the house and cooking his favorite meal - lasagna. (That's one of my favorites too!)

As it turns out Toby misses dinner - he doesn't arrive home until 1:30AM and he's got three friends with him - one male and two females (oh-oh). They tell Lucy they will sack out on the family room floor instead of his old bedroom, and the next day they get up at 1 in the afternoon. Toby appears in the kitchen with just his boxer shorts on and Lucy emphatically tells him to put more clothes on!

His friends ask what there is to do in town, and they are not happy when Toby informs them there isn't much - not even (gasp!!) a shopping mall. Lucy says this is a small town in the country and that's the way life is there. She reminds Toby that he could go to the big high school pep rally & football game so he can see some of his former friends, and she just winds up embarrassing him in front of his college friends.

Well many years ago I went away to college. I don't remember acting so snooty or arrogant, but I suppose I did anyway. I do recall having a discussion with my mom about a sort-of risqué topic and she probably thought "where is my girl getting all these ideas from?" I remember getting together with my high school friends on our visits home from college. We liked to listen to music and dance and one of my friends said "this is how we dance at MY college!"

Aah, to be a young know-it-all again!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lucy Stone in 'Turkey Day Murder'

The female-sleuth in this novel is named Lucy Stone. She is a familiar character to most all of us: she's a mom. We are moms, we've had a mom and/or we've known someone who is a mom. That's why many people can relate to Lucy. I sure can: the descriptions of shopping, cooking and cleaning sound very familiar!

Lucy lives in the small town of Tinker's Cove, Maine with her husband Bill and their four children: one boy and three girls. She also works as a part-time reporter for the town newspaper, called the Pennysaver. She writes small feature stories but has a nose for news and a knack for solving mysteries.

I picked up several Lucy Stone mysteries at a charity book-sale a couple of years ago. The books looked interesting and were only 50 cents each, and it was for a good cause. The book I'm reading now, called "Turkey Day Murder" is the 7th book in the series. I'm sure I'll gobble it right up!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Last Links in the Mystery

RE: The Ringmaster's Secret

I've finished this book. We find out what the ringmaster's secret is, all the loose ends were wrapped up and a happy ending ensued. What more could you ask for? I know that real life is often not like this, but I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

Nancy was even rescued by her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, when evil Ringmaster Kroon tried to put her in the lion's cage at the circus.

I've got the 1953 edition of this book and I wondered if any others had been published. I went out to and some sellers have a 1974 edition out there.

Well on to the next book!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Over-Achiever or An Inspiration?

Nancy Drew's "The Ringmaster's Secret" is all about a mystery at a circus. There are several events being held under the big top and one of these is bareback horse-riding. One of the circus regulars becomes injured and Nancy is encouraged to step in and take her place. Nancy was taking trick riding lessons from the former owner of the circus, and a current circus employee noticed how well she did and asked her to be a sub.

My first impression of this was, sure right, now Nancy is an expert at trick horse-back riding on top of being an expert female-sleuth. Seems a bit far-fetched that she's an expert at everything she tries to do! This is unrealistic, but then I thought more about the audience that reads Nancy Drew books.

Instead of making Nancy an over-achiever, I think the author was trying to make Nancy an inspiration - that is, a good role model for young girls. The message is that girls can be good at anything they want to do, whether it be sailing, swimming, horse-back riding, flying a plane or solving mysteries.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dearly Depotted

I really like this series: The Flower Shop Mysteries.

You can purchase the book here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Red Herring

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

I finished Dearly Depotted today at lunch. As I got closer to the end of the book I figured out 'who done it', even though the author used what is commonly known as a red herring to lead me off the scent. Very clever of her!

Wikipedia has a nice explanation of the term red herring, as I have quoted here:

"In literature, a red herring is a narrative element intended to distract the reader from a more important event in the plot, usually a twist ending.

The term "red herring" originates from the tradition whereby young hunting dogs in Britain were trained to follow a scent with the use of a "red" (salted and smoked) herring (see kipper). This pungent fish would be dragged along a trail until the puppy learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odor of a fox or a badger, the trainer would drag a red herring (which has a much stronger odor) across the animal's trail at right angles. The dog would eventually learn to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent.

In literature, the most commonplace use of a "red herring" is in mystery fiction. One particular character is described or emphasized in a way that seems to throw suspicion upon that character as the person who committed the crime: later, it develops that someone else is the guilty party."

Here is the link:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cozy Mysteries

I purchase most of my books from I read a lot of product reviews there too as great information is provided in them.

I noticed that some reviewers called these books ‘cozies’. I didn’t realize what that meant and looked it up on wikipedia:

“Cozy mysteries began in the late 20th century as a reinvention of the Golden Age whodunnit; these novels generally shy away from violence and suspense and frequently feature female amateur detectives. Modern cozy mysteries are frequently, though not necessarily in either case, humorous and thematic (culinary mystery, animal mystery, quilting mystery, etc.)".

You can read more here:

I didn't know there was a category to describe the type of book I enjoy reading!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nancy Drew - The Ringmaster's Secret

RE: The Ringmaster's Secret by Carolyn Keene (published 1953)

I've been reading this book in the evening. It's not one of my favorite Nancy Drew stories. I think it's because the ringmaster is cruel and abusive towards his wife and 18-year-old stepdaughter, Lolita. He is the same way towards his circus employees. That kind of behavior really bothers me.

In this story Nancy is asked to help Lolita find her real parents. They supposedly died in a circus accident several years earlier and the Kroons adopted Lolita. But whenever she asks about her parents, they offer very little information. Naturally Nancy is suspicious of them.

Nancy also wonders if someone has it out for her. While she is watching a performance, she is almost choked to death by a whip and a note is put in her pocket to stay away from the circus. Then a day later a young girl bare-back horse rider is thrown from her horse when someone tosses a whip into the ring and it hits the horse. Nancy thinks it is the same whip and then wonders if someone has it in for the circus too.

Nancy has been asked to substitute for the bare-back rider as she has been doing some stunt riding on her own. She is not sure at first but is convinced when she's told that she will have a chance to do more sleuthing. That is a prospect she can't turn down!

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Goofy Grandmas

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

One endearing character in a few of these mystery series is the goofy grandma who provides a lot of wacky comic relief. Of course there is Grandma Mazur in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. And there is 'Nana', Emily Andrews grandmother in the Passport to Peril mystery series by Maddy Hunter.

Abby Knight has her own 'grandma' of sorts. She's Grandma Osborne. You see Abby was once engaged to Pryce Osborne, of the very rich and snobbish Osborne clan. Pryce was pressured by his family to break off his engagement to Abby when she flunked out of law school. The family is very concerned about social status and it just wouldn't have looked good for Pryce to marry Abby. But Pryce's grandmother always liked Abby and doesn't miss an opportunity to rub it in. In fact if the Osborne family needs help with Grandma, they ask Abby!

Grandma Osborne plays a role in this mystery, as she was the one who found the body of Jack Snyder at the reception. She thinks he is just sleeping, but finds out otherwise in a big hurry.

Monday, October 13, 2008


RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

Proprietor Abby Knight’s flower shop is named Bloomers. A cute pun, given that flowers bloom and that ladies used to wear bloomers. Speaking of puns, here is one from my punster-husband:

Question: What is a murderer’s favorite flower?

Answer: A Crocus (Or does he mean Croakus?)

Anyway, when I was a kid we used to live about 3 houses down from a flower shop. I played with the grandson of the owner of this shop so I was in the store frequently. I remember that the smell of all those flowers was just heavenly.

Abby started her store with money from her grandfather’s trust fund. The fund was meant for college, but since she flunked out of law school, she had to find a use for the rest of the money. So she bought the store from Lottie Dombowski, who now works for Abby part-time. A great solution to both of their problems.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What Abby Doesn't Know

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

I've been surfing around Kate Collins website and found an interesting page called "What Abby Doesn't Know". It's under the "Secrets" tab. How funny!

I loved the part about Abby's assistant Grace Bingham meeting Elvis back in 1958 and how she secretly believes Graceland was named after her. What a hoot!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Natural Snoop

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

That's what Abby's cousin Jillian calls Abby: a natural snoop. Not very flattering, but true. It's a trait that many female sleuths seem to have.

One potential suspect in the murder of Jack Snyder is a man named Richard Davis. Richard is dating Grace Bingham, an employee of Abby's at Bloomers flower shop. Grace is naturally upset and asks for Abby's help in investigating the murder. I suspect that Abby would do it anyway without Grace asking, but this just gives her an excuse. So Abby interviews Richard and it turns out that Jack used to work for him. Also turns out that Jack embezzled $25,000 from Richard's company and Richard vowed he would teach Jack 'a lesson'. Abby says that the police could misinterpret that statement. Richard replies that he didn't do anything wrong.

However, Richard does not have an alibi for the time that Jack was murdered.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another Dead Body

RE: Dearly Depotted by Kate Collins

Before the bride & groom can say “I Do”, there is a loud commotion in the back row - Jillian’s uncle Josiah Turner is punching a man named Jack Snyder. It seems Jack got Josiah’s daughter Melanie pregnant and then refused to acknowledge the child.

Eventually order is restored and the wedding continues. During the ceremony Abby steps outside and finds a body near the gazebo. It turns out to be none other than Jack Snyder and yep, he’s dead.

Josiah and Melanie are suspects of course, but we find out that Jack was recently released from prison and had a history of arson and theft. Hmm, the plot thickens...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dearly Depotted

Next up on my reading list is "Dearly Depotted" by Kate Collins. This book is third in the series about young Indiana florist Abby Knight. This series is fast becoming one of my favorites.

Abby is fresh out of law school - by way of flunking out. She's smart and spunky. Her flower shop is named Bloomers (catchy name) and she is always scrambling for new customers so she can pay her bills. She has a knack for finding dead bodies and for solving the crime. She fantasizes about her new friend, hunky Marco Salvare, who owns a restaurant down the street from Bloomers. He is a former cop and part-time private investigator and the perfect crime-solving partner for Abby.

In Dearly Depotted, Abby is a bridesmaid in her cousin Jillian's wedding. Jillian has a habit of backing out of her previous engagements and since Abby is doing the flowers for this wedding, she is nervous that Jillian will call off the wedding once again. But Abby can breathe a sigh of relief since the wedding goes as planned.

Well, not quite......

Photos courtesy Ebay and stock.xchng

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oops, I goofed

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

Well I discovered that I misspelled Goldy's name all throughout my posts. I have Goldi and it should be Goldy. I think it's because I used to work with a Goldi several years ago. Ironically she was a red-head, and I don't think a natural one either. Nice lady though and I wonder how she's doing now.

Since I'm done with Sweet Revenge, it's time for a new book I can read on my lunch break. I chose Kate Collins "Dearly Depotted" and I'll be writing about that in my next few posts.

Photo courtesy stock.xchng

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Done with "Sweet Revenge"

I've finished "Sweet Revenge" by Diane Mott Davidson. The last chapter was a real page turner and we discover, along with Goldi, "Who Done It". I had the wrong suspect, but that's OK. I can't always be right - HA!

I must say that at times the story moved very slowly and it seemed like there was a lot of 'filler'.

Anyway, I won't reveal who killed Drew Wellington because I don't want to spoil the fun for anyone else. And we do discover the secret about Sandee Brisbane and learn more about the stolen maps.

Revenge is not sweet after-all: it's sour.

As with every Goldi book, there are several recipes included with the book. I have not tried any of them yet but I hope to some day. The “Got-A-Hot-Date Bars” sound quite interesting!

You can buy the book at

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Who Done It?

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

I’m close to finishing this book. I have my hunch as to “who done it”. There are quite a few suspects in this book.

Goldi’s detective-husband Tom is investigating, and it almost seems like he is collaborating with her. He talks about the details of the case with her and swears her to secrecy. I don’t recall his character doing that in previous books, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read one in this series. I imagine that might be unethical in real life, but then again Goldi does have a track record for solving the crime.

In the meantime I’ve started another Nancy Drew book, The Ringmaster’s Secret. This one was written in 1953. The main characters here are circus people, led by a cruel ringmaster named Reinhold Kroon. Nancy has already had a couple of run-ins with him while taking six-year old neighbor Teddy to see them setting up the circus.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dogged Determination

RE: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson

Now I remember why I admire Goldi, in spite of her expresso-chugging, workaholic hyperactivity.  She's very persistent and reminds me of a bloodhound following a scent.  Goldi is determined to find the truth even though she puts herself in peril.  In this regard Goldi is like many of her fellow female-sleuths in fiction-land out there. 
In "Sweet Revenge" she thinks she sees Sandee Brisbane (who is supposed to be dead) and follows her in friend Marla's car.  In so doing, she smashes up the car and walks away with minor bruises and cuts.  (Marla is quite upset but forgives Goldi.  Marla is very wealthy and says she will just go and buy another car.) 
Goldi also wanders around a snowy creek-bed to look at a murder scene.  The police are also there and in order to avoid detection, she climbs up a hill overlooking the creek.  Luck is not with her however and she takes a tumble, and of course is spotted by the police.  She is well known to them since her husband Tom Schulz is a police detective - but they shake their heads anyway and tell her to not get involved.  Tom tells her also to stay out of it and let the police handle it. 
But they all know she won't listen to them - she has to follow her hunches!