Friday, February 27, 2009

Recession Special

Re: Cha Cha Cha by Jane Heller

This book was published in 1994 and it is set in the late 1980’s, particularly after October 19, 1987 - also known as ‘Stock Market Crash Monday’ or ‘Black Monday’. As such Alison and the other residents of Layton, Connecticut are dealing with the fallout of having lost most, if not all of their money. Not unlike what is happening in today’s economy.

At one point Alison and Cullie, who are by now an item, have gone out to dinner at a restaurant called McGavins. Alison’s ex-husband used to call it a ‘hangout for deadbeats’. Imagine Alison’s surprise when her ex shows up at McGavins! He explains his appearance by saying there is a new reality out there and it’s called a recession. Difficult times call for drastic measures and eating there is part of his ‘personal growth’.

Cullie hates people who BS, and Alison’s ex is full of it. So when Cullie is asked what he is eating for dinner, he replies “a cheeseburger. It’s tonight’s ‘Recession Special’”. Alison bursts out laughing at Cullie’s remark and marvels that her ex doesn’t have a clue as to what a cheeseburger looks like.

He’s just another rich person who is out of touch with reality.

I'm Now Officially Unemployed

Today was my last day of work after being laid-off. I was with my company for 7 years. It was strange coming home and realizing I will be here at home until I find another job. Thank goodness my spouse is still working.

Theoretically now I should have more time for my blog.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mad Maid Murders Melanie

Re: Cha Cha Cha by Jane Heller

Alison and Cullie have really hit it off and spend a weekend together aboard his boat. When Alison returns to her job as a housekeeper for Melanie Moloney the next day, she is surprised not to see Melanie waiting at the door first thing in the morning.

So Alison decides to just start cleaning and at 1PM is done with everything except Melanie’s office. She knocks on the door, but there is no answer. Alison timidly goes in and finds Melanie slumped over in her desk chair, dead. Melanie has been murdered. Alison tries to ease her tension by telling herself jokes. Like she can see the tabloid heading now: “Mad Maid Murders Melanie”! She is afraid of what people will think of her when they find out she is a maid instead of a wealthy suburbanite.

Alison calls 911 and when the police come, she tells them she is “Hazel”. For those who don’t know, Hazel was a sitcom in the early 1960’s about a maid and housekeeper who was a ‘butt-in-ski’ but always had her heart in the right place. Anyway, Alison’s joke doesn’t go over very well with the cops. She is a suspect in the murder of Melanie Moloney.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Line of Bull

Re: Cha Cha Cha by Jane Heller

According to Cullie Harrington, Cha Cha Cha means that someone is handing you a line of bull.

Cullie is a photographer that has been hired to take photos of the recently-put-on-the-market Maplebark Manor. He and Alison don’t hit it off at first, even though she is physically attracted to him. He calls her place “Maplebarf Manor” and is openly disdainful of her and her money. That is, until he finds out that Alison has no money and is working as a maid to support herself.

Cullie was the child of a sailing instructor and learned at a young age about the differences between the wealthy and ‘the help’ and what it was like living in the servant’s quarters.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Romance Novel or Murder Mystery?

Re: Cha Cha Cha by Jane Heller

I’ve been reading this book and I can’t decide if it’s a romance novel with a murder tossed in for good measure, or a mystery story with a little bit of romance.

The plot revolves around Alison Waxman Koff. At the start of the book she is married and lives in a posh 18-room 7,200 square foot Connecticut mansion her husband suggests they call “Maplebark Manor” since according to him, all estates have names. Shortly into the first couple of chapters, we learn that Alison’s husband wants a divorce so he can return to his ex-wife.

Now Alison becomes the ex-wife and for income she has to rely on her feature writing for the local paper, ‘The Layton Community Times’. The paper is owned by former actor and Senator Alistair P. Downs.

However Alison’s salary doesn’t pay the bills to support Maplebark Manor and she reluctantly sells her fancy fur coats while scouring the want ads and contacting editors of several prominent New York magazines and newspapers. But the only success she has comes in applying for a job as a housekeeper. She figures, what the heck, she can clean! The pay is $25 per hour, and it is for the famous author Melanie Moloney.

Ms. Moloney, as she insists Alison call her, has written several unauthorized biographies of Hollywood celebrities and is currently writing one about Alison’s boss, Senator Alistair P. Downs. Alison hopes she and Ms. Moloney can collaborate on the book. But alas Alison’s hopes are dashed as Ms. Moloney treats Alison like the dirt Alison is supposed to clean up.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

photo courtesy stock.xchng

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cha Cha Cha

I thought I'd take a little break from my female-sleuth books.

I'm currently reading "Cha Cha Cha" by Jane Heller. I picked this book up at a used book sale a few years ago and thought I should finally start reading it. I thought it was a romance novel, but it's looking like it might be a murder mystery. I just started the book a couple of days ago and will see how I like it.

I almost stopped reading it as there are some swear words in the book that I don't appreciate. I'm not a prude but I think there is a time and place for everything and it didn't seem appropriate. I guess the entertainment industry is all about shock-value these days!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Alice Kimberly = Cleo Coyle = Marc Cerasini & Alice Alfonsi

Since I’ve read all the books in the Haunted Bookshop mystery series by author Alice Kimberly, I thought I would take a look at her website

To my surprise I found out that Alice Kimberly is a pen name author Cleo Coyle uses for the Haunted Bookshop series. (Cleo Coyle writes the Coffeehouse Mystery series, which I will be discussing in future blog posts.)

To further complicate things, Cleo Coyle and Alice Kimberly are the pen names of husband and wife writing team of Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi.

OK, now that we’ve got that straight - the website is called the Virtual Village Blend and it focuses more on the Coffehouse Mystery series. There is however a section on the Haunted Bookshop series.

It mentions that Alice loves the 1947 movie “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and that was a big inspiration for the Haunted Bookshop series. She also likes cemeteries. Hmmm...

Anyway the website has a great message board called “Cleo’s Coffee Talk” and has posts about both series. I will definitely have to check that out more often!