Sunday, August 30, 2009

Many Mysteries to Solve

Re: “Not a Girl Detective” by Susan Kandel

Well Edgar never did show up at the Nancy Drew convention, and Cece is left with a mystery to solve. Many mysteries, in fact. What happened to Edgar? Why did he send her a photo of a woman through the mail? Who is the woman?

Why had two men broken into her house? On the way to the convention, who slashed the tires on her car? And who had stolen their lunch?

In an effort to solve these, and many more mysteries this book poses, Cece goes to an office supply store and buys lots of supplies to help her put together the puzzle pieces.

She buys a whiteboard, post-it notes, index cards, legal pads, pencils and an eraser. It’s the old-fashioned way: paper & pencil.

In the meantime her biography of Carolyn Keene is almost done. It just needs a conclusion.

Cece asks herself: Who was Carolyn Keene?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Edgar Edwards, the collector

Re: “Not a Girl Detective” by Susan Kandel

Cece has been asked to deliver a speech at a Nancy Drew fan convention, but before she does that she needs to hand-deliver a copy of the Nancy Drew book ‘The Mystery of the Ivory Charm’ as a favor to her bookstore owner friends. The person she is delivering the book to is named Edgar Edwards. Mr. Edwards is quite wealthy and collects many things, among them rare Nancy Drew books.

He also has foreign editions of the books. In Sweden Nancy Drew is known as Kitty. In Finland, she’s Paula. And in France she is Alice Roy.

Kitty och spindelmysteriet (The Spider Sapphire Myastery). Artwork by Norma Miralles, copyright © 1991 by ScandBook AB, Falun.

Cece must have made a good impression, because before she leaves Mr. Edwards house, he gives her a key to his vacation home in Palm Springs. She and her friends are to use it during the Nancy Drew fan convention as his guests.

The next day Edgar’s curator, a guy named Mitchell Honey, calls Cece to ask what she said to Edgar. He is quite upset as it seems that Edgar has disappeared and Mitchell thinks Cece was the last one to see him. Cece doesn’t have a clue.

So she and friends make the drive to Edgar’s Palm Springs house. The lights are on in the house but he isn’t there. There aren’t any clothes in his closet. Hmmm.

Not to worry - the organizer of the Nancy Drew convention tells Cece that Edgar called and he is going to give a speech, right before Cece’s. He says he has a great surprise for them all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

There is no Santa Claus and there is no Carolyn Keene

Re: “Not a Girl Detective” by Susan Kandel

This is the second book featuring female-sleuth Cece Caruso. Cece lives in Southern California - more specifically in a 1932 bungalow in West Hollywood. She is close to forty and is a divorced mother of a twenty-something daughter. Her father was a cop, her brothers are cops and she is dating a cop.

Cece is a writer and her current project is writing a biography of Carolyn Keene, the author of the famed Nancy Drew series. She has friends who own a bookstore which specializes in selling rare books. They are quick to tease Cece, telling her that she is writing a biography of a pseudonym.

Carolyn Keene does not exist - this is just a made-up name. Several people wrote the Nancy Drew books based on outlines they received from the publishers, The Stratemeyer Syndicate. The real identities of the authors were to be kept secret. Bummer.

And I suppose next they’ll be telling me there is no Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy either!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Evil Eye

Re: “Four to Score” by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie has temporarily moved in with Morelli until her apartment gets fixed. She tells people she is renting a room in his house, but Joe’s Grandma Bella doesn’t believe Stephanie and says she will put ‘the eye’ on her for fibbing. ‘The Eye’ is like an old Italian curse. When Grandma Bella puts ‘the eye’ on people supposedly bad things happen: men’s hair fall out, women get their periods non-stop, etc.

The rumors are flying around the burg that Stephanie is pregnant and she and Joe are getting married. Not going to happen, but she admits to having those kind of feelings for him. She settles on being ‘enamored’ with him, rather than being in love with him.

And so it goes. I finished this book today - another good one from Janet Evanovich. Although I thought there was more swearing than necessary, and there were a couple of bloody parts that I could have done without.

As always, a lot of laugh-out-loud comedy provided by Ms. Plum and Lula.

You can buy the book here:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Something’s Burning

Re: “Four to Score” by Janet Evanovich

Where there’s smoke, there’s Stephanie!

One day Stephanie goes out to her car (she’s parked in an outside parking lot) and it reeks of gasoline. In fact there are puddles of gas all around her car. She needs to go someplace so she calls up Lula to ask for a ride. While in the parking lot Stephanie and Lula run into Maxine Nowicki’s mother, who is a chain-smoker. Didn’t anyone ever tell her not to toss a lighted cigarette into an area where there is gasoline?

KABOOM - up go both cars. Stephanie’s mother says this tendency to blow up cars does NOT come from her side of the family.

On another day Stephanie is driving back home only to see lots of fire trucks, emergency vehicles and police cars filling her parking lot. Part of her building is on fire! Turns out it’s her apartment and someone has thrown a firebomb into her bedroom. Rex, her hamster has been rescued and is fine, but now Stephanie needs a safe place to stay.

So she decides to stay with Joe Morelli.

(photo courtesy of

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sally Sweet, the Transvestite

Re: “Four to Score” by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie goes to meet Salvatore (Sally) Sweet in the hopes that he can decipher the message she has from Maxine Nowicki.

He is a lead guitar player for a group called the Lovelies. He says when he was younger, he and Spock from Star Trek used to send messages to each other in code every day. (No further explanation is given so we are left to use our imaginations about that one!) In any event, it is very easy for him to figure out the message.

Sally, as he likes to be called, is a transvestite. So how many of us have had the chance to meet someone like him? Not many, I’d gather. Although I have known a transsexual. Here's the story:

Many, many years ago I joined a dating service. They matched me with a guy named “John”, whom I briefly dated. John had all these rules about what he wanted out of a relationship (like you couldn’t want to own a house, etc). Plus I thought he was sort of a cold fish - he didn’t like holding hands or kissing. He seemed to be confused about life. Later the dating service told me they hooked him up with just about all the women registered with the agency and none of them had worked out for him.

So several years later I picked up our local newspaper and was stunned to read a feature story on “Mary”. She used to be “John” - yep, it was the guy I dated! I thought the face looked familiar!

At the time the article was written, Mary worked at a local social service agency. The story detailed Mary’s decision to change from John and mentioned enough detail about his/her life that I knew it was the guy I dated all those years ago.

Was I freaked out? Yes! I try not to pass judgement because I believe that is supposed to be left to a higher power. Plus my parents taught me to treat people fairly. Still, I must admit I don’t understand.

In any event I’m glad that John/Mary got his/her life straightened out and hope she is happy now.

From the dictionary:
Transvestite: “a person and especially a male who adopts the dress and often the behavior typical of the opposite sex.”

Transsexual: “a person who strongly identifies with the opposite sex and may seek to live as a member of this sex especially by undergoing surgery and hormone therapy to obtain the necessary physical appearance.”

Transgender: “of, relating to, or being a person who identifies with a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person's sex at birth.”


(Sorry if this post offends anyone. I just wanted to share this strange story.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

“Four to Score” by Janet Evanovich

My summer with bounty hunter Stephanie Plum continues with “Four to Score”.

Stephanie has been asked to find Maxine Nowicki, who was arrested for stealing her ex-boyfriend’s car. Maxine never showed for her court appearance and now she is classified as a felon.

Stephanie first tries talking with the boyfriend, Eddie Kuntz. Eddie thinks he is God’s gift to women and starts hitting on Stephanie. But she manages to get all the scoop on Maxine’s potential whereabouts, including her family, friends and work addresses.

Even so, Eddie winds up getting invited to dinner at Stephanie’s parent’s house in the burg. (Seems Eddie lost Stephanie’s business card and tried to look her up in the phone book. She wasn’t listed so he called her parent’s number. Grandma Mazur answered the phone, and need I say more?)

Turns out that Eddie gets a note from Maxine via ‘airmail’ - it was attached to a rock thrown through his window. It contains a cryptic message that neither Stephanie or Eddie can decipher. Stephanie decides to let some of her elderly neighbors in her apartment building take a crack at the message. After all, they do crossword puzzles most of the time so they should be able to solve this.

Unfortunately none of them can, but one neighbor refers Stephanie to her nephew who is supposed to be a whiz at solving puzzles. His name is Salvatore Sweet, aka Sally Sweet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Poll results

Here are the results of my unofficial blog survey. People think Stephanie Plum should choose Joe Morelli and Hannah Swenson should chose Norman Rhodes.

Here’s the data:

68% chose Joe Morelli
28% chose Ranger
3% said Neither
(32 total votes)

80% chose Norman Rhodes
11% chose Mike Kingston
7% said Neither
(26 total votes)

Thanks to everyone who voted!

And now for an editorial:

I read a few comments on Amazon regarding the last couple of books in the Stephanie Plum and Hannah Swenson series. A lot of readers are getting tired of these female-sleuths dating two guys, and want the ladies to make a choice. I would agree. I don’t think it would hurt the story lines one bit.

I can see Stephanie not wanting to make a choice between Morelli and Ranger. She’s a bit more ‘flighty’.

But for Hannah, it seems out of character to have two guys. She’s a responsible lady. Both Mike and Norman have asked Hannah to marry them and she’s turned both down. Yet when she sees hunky Mike with another woman, she gets jealous. That’s uncalled for. He’s got every right to date someone else, especially since she said no to him.

But I suppose as long as the books keep selling, the authors and/or publishers don’t want to deviate from a tried and true formula.

Anyway, that’s just my two-cents-worth.

Done with “Three to Get Deadly” by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie and Ranger find Uncle Mo, and it turns out he is not a saint. I won’t reveal anything else since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

Stephanie makes a comment toward the end of the book that I thought was quite funny. It is regarding ironing. When something needs ironing, she puts it in her ironing basket. If a year goes by and the item is still in the basket, she tosses the item away! That way she ends up with clothes that don’t need ironing. You go girl!

Amazon has a nice boxed set that contains the first 3 books. You can get it here:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ranger Food

Re: “Three to Get Deadly” by Janet Evanovich

Ranger has agreed to help Stephanie find Uncle Mo. But first he wants her to get into shape so she can run after the bad guys and catch them. This means eating healthier and jogging. Now Stephanie is not really into doing either of these things, but she reluctantly agrees.

He gets her a sandwich consisting of bread and what she calls ‘grass’: mixed sprouts, shredded carrot, cucumber and raisins. She’s happy the sandwich includes raisins since she thought someone got her sandwich fillings from a rabbit cage!

Before they go jogging, Ranger brings her ginseng tea. She hates it but he says it’s good for the circulation. For breakfast he makes her a smoothie. She says it needs chocolate.

When Ranger goes home to have dinner, she thinks he’s going home to have tofu and tree bark.

Stephanie is definitely not a vegetarian, a gourmet cook or a conuessier of fine foods! She’d rather have Pino’s pizza, Cheeze-Doodles and Tasty-Cakes any day.

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Run-in With Uncle Mo

Re: “Three to Get Deadly” by Janet Evanovich

During her search for Uncle Mo, Stephanie finds a couple of dead bodies. OK, well one ‘finds’ her. So she asks Ranger for help and he agrees. They go to Uncle Mo’s store to follow-up on a tip that he is there, and sure enough Stephanie bumps into Uncle Mo. Literally.

He says she is going to ruin everything and that he can’t go to the police station just yet. Hmm, wonder what Uncle Mo is up to? She says never mind, he is going to have to come with her anyway. Then he points a huge can of pepper spray at Stephanie and takes off with Ranger’s BMW.

That’ll teach Ranger to leave his keys in the car!