Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Done with “Organize Your Corpses” by Mary Jane Maffini

I thought I had it figured out. I smugly told myself I knew ‘who done it’, but author Maffini wrote a very good mystery story and stumped me. Not once, but twice! I don’t want it to appear that I’m complaining - I like being wrong in this way. It makes for a really good, suspenseful read.

Charlotte Adams used her organizing skills to help her solve the mystery. She used the library. She made detailed, written lists. She also found herself on TV in some unflattering news footage that had nothing to do with her organizational business. But that’s beside the point.

Plus she loves chocolate and ice cream. Here’s another great tip from the book: “Buy good-quality chocolate. Eat it often”. Sounds good to me.

You can buy the book here:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Family Secrets and Skeletons

Re: “Organize Your Corpses” by Mary Jane Maffini

One of the first things Charlotte does is to attend Miss Henley’s funeral service. She is surprised by the tone of the funeral - it seems more like a happy occasion than a somber one. In attendance is Miss Henley’s last living relative, cousin Olivia.

Olivia had suffered brain damage due to a tragic accident that happened to her many years ago. She is now living in an institution. Charlotte wonders if Olivia could have killed her cousin, but Olivia herself is very wealthy and wouldn’t need the money from the Henley estate.

A few days after the funeral, Charlotte returns to the neighborhood where the Henley mansion is. She can’t get into the mansion, so she wanders around the area. She finds herself knocking on the door of elderly Rose Skipowski and asks if Rose knows anything about what happened to Miss Henley.

It turns out Rose knows much about the Henley family and proceeds to tell Charlotte what she knows. Soon Charlotte begins to delve into the family secrets and wonders what skeletons she may find there.

(Stay tuned for more posts on this book).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Death by Debris

Re: “Organize Your Corpses” by Mary Jane Maffini

Charlotte has a morning meeting with her new client, Helen “Hellfire” Henley. But when she gets to the old Henley mansion and knocks on the door, there is no answer. The door is open so Charlotte goes in. After several minutes of calling Miss Henley, Charlotte finds the woman lying on the floor under several layers of debris and rotted newspaper. Old Hellfire is dead.

Now Charlotte has to endure questions and more questions by the police. Mainly from a gal named Sgt. Pepper Monahan, who used to be Charlotte’s best friend. They had a falling out several years ago. Even so, Charlotte wonders why Pepper is enjoying interrogating her. Pepper says that foul play was involved in Miss Henley’s death.

Charlotte wonders who would want to kill Miss Henley, but as her friend Jack reminds her, Old Hellfire had tons of enemies. Mainly most of her former students whose lives were made into a nightmare by the teacher/tormentor.

Now Charlotte feels guilty because she accepted a large advance payment to find the missing documents Miss Henley wanted. Since she can’t get into the Henley mansion, she decides to figure out how Miss Henley died.

(Stay tuned for more posts on this book).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tell That to the Bag Boy!

Re: “Organize Your Corpses” by Mary Jane Maffini

I’ve found that several of these series have added bonuses. In addition to the story, we get recipes, tips and/or facts. For example, female-sleuth Lee McKinney works in her aunt’s chocolate shop so author JoAnna Carl includes several tips and facts about chocolate. Hannah Swensen owns The Cookie Jar bakery and author Joanne Fluke includes recipes, mostly for cookies.

In this book, our lady private eye Charlotte Adams is a professional organizer. So author Mary Jane Maffini has included a few helpful organizing tips for us readers.

My favorite tip (so far) says to “never place a large object over a smaller one”. Now you would think that would be common sense, but evidently not to the young high school age boys who have bagged my groceries. I can’t count the number of times I came home from one particular grocery store to have smaller and lighter objects crushed by bigger or heavier ones. Especially bread. You would think that the first lesson these kids would learn in Grocery Bag Packing 101 is DO NOT PUT THE CANNED ITEMS ANYWHERE NEAR THE BREAD!

My only hope is that someday these kids will be shoppers too and their bag boy will crush their bread. OK, that’s kinda harsh I know. But sometimes imagining a little payback helps as I try to fluff up my loaf of crushed bread.

And by the way - I no longer shop at that grocery store!

OK, enough ranting.

(Stay tuned for more posts on this book).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

“Organize Your Corpses” by Mary Jane Maffini

This is book one of the Charlotte Adams professional organizer series. I’ve never read this book, and I haven’t read anything by this author before. That said and 4 chapters later, I am enjoying it.

The book opens with Charlotte meeting a former schoolteacher of hers for a business appointment. The teacher’s name is Miss Helen Henley. Practically all of her students gave her the nick-name of “Hellfire” because she could make your life a living hell. (Haven’t we all had a teacher like that at one time or another?)

Miss Henley has just inherited the family mansion after the death of her cousin. Unfortunately her cousin has left so much stuff in the mansion that it’s hard to turn around. Wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor boxes of junk: papers and more papers, tools, building materials, household items, lamps, rags, tires, kitty litter, etc, etc! Some usable, most not. Charlotte notes the house is a disaster as well as being a fire hazard, and feels she has her work cut out for her.

Miss Henley believes there are some very important historical documents hidden amongst all the trash, and gives Charlotte just two weeks to get everything cleaned up and cleared out. Miss Henley asks Charlotte if she has done any of this type of work before: meaning searching for hidden documents, not organizing and cleaning up stuff. Charlotte says (to herself) that she’s read enough Nancy Drew books to help her figure it out!

(Stay tuned for more posts on this book).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Done with "Dead Pan" by Gayle Trent

At one point in this book, Daphne quotes a T-shirt slogan: “Better to have loved and lost than to live with a psycho the rest of your life.” It’s more than just a slogan to Daphne. She left her abusive husband and moved back to her hometown to start a new life for herself. She doesn’t wallow in self-pity and has a great sense of humor. Plus her sleuthing skills are pretty good too!

You can buy the book here:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Guinea Pigs

Re: “Dead Pan” by Gayle Trent

In ‘Dead Pan’ there are two kinds of guinea pigs.

The first kind are the animals. Daphne’s client Belinda owns several. Her cavies (as guinea pigs are also known) are prize-winning champions and Belinda treats them like kings and queens. She is planning a birthday party for one of her cavies and asks Daphne to bake for them. So Daphne finds a recipe for vegetarian biscuits for guinea pigs on the internet, makes a batch and the guinea pigs like them.

I found this picture of a couple of cute guinea pigs on

I’ve never owned a guinea pig. Have any of you? What are they like as pets?

The second kind of guinea pig refers to a test subject. Daphne finds out that Fred was a human guinea pig: that he was involved in some clinical drug trials to test new medications before they reach the mass market. Did these tests have something to do with his death, she wonders?

(Stay tuned for more posts on this book).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cake Wrecks

Re: “Dead Pan” by Gayle Trent

Author Gayle Trent told me about this blog called
"Cake Wrecks".

The blog owner Jen says that “a cake wreck is not necessarily a poorly made cake, it can be any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy or inappropriate”. Check out some of them on her blog. Some bakers are quite imaginative and creative!

I like this one. I think they are missing a word:

(photo courtesy

I don’t think Daphne’s cakes will find their way onto this site. Her cakes sound absolutely scrumptious!

(Stay tuned for more posts on this book).

Friday, January 8, 2010

Investigating a Death

Re: “Dead Pan” by Gayle Trent

Unfortunately Fred Duncan dies and Daphne finds herself promising his mother she will look into his death. Of course Daphne’s sister doesn’t want her to, and Daphne says she won’t, but we all know our determined female-sleuths just can’t leave well enough alone. Daphne is no exception.

The criminal investigators determine that all the food served at the Christmas party was not the cause of the illness, so now the mystery is why people got sick so fast, and what did they get sick from? An antidote drug was given to everyone by a doctor at Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical. The drug had been tested in clinical trials and was successful. But why did everyone but Fred recover?

Daphne asks herself these questions, and more, as she starts to investigate Fred's death.

(Stay tuned for more posts on this book).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dead Pan by Gayle Trent

This is book two in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating series. Once again Daphne has to explain to an officer of the law that she only brought the cake. She has been contracted to bake a cake for the local Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Company’s Christmas party. Unfortunately everyone in attendance became ill and suspicion falls on Daphne.

One person in particular becomes very, very ill and that is Fred Duncan. He works at the local supermarket where he and Daphne became acquainted. Fred is now in a coma.

Daphne’s neighbor and friend Myra thinks Fred is faking his coma, and proceeds to tell Daphne how she faked a coma by using sleeping pills. Myra wanted to get back at her husband for a fight they had and the sleeping pills did the trick, she said. Her husband became scared and took her to the hospital.

I personally don’t think that’s a very good way to make up after a fight!

(Stay tuned for more posts on this book).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poll Results: To Read or Not To Read?

I recently had a poll up on this blog that asked the question:


These were the answers and the results:

Feel the need to continue, and so keep on reading because you think things will improve?
  8 (44%)
Just give up, cut your losses and move on to another series?
  9 (50%)
Don’t know - must give it some thought.
1 (5%)
(18 votes total)

So people were evenly split about continuing on or giving up, but the majority said they would give up. I’m in that situation myself with a couple of series, and I was wondering what other people would do.

I suppose it depends on how patient (or impatient) a person is. I always ask myself: “is this how you want to be spending your time?” The answer to that question usually determines whether I will read on, or not.

Thanks to everyone who voted.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How to Create a Believable Amateur Sleuth

I ran across this interesting article on I’m not allowed to reproduce the article here, but I can provide a link to it.

The article provides tips to writers. I have no talent in that area, but I think it provides some interesting points for us readers too.

Here’s the link. I hope you enjoy the article.

From How To Create A Believable Amateur Sleuth