Booked 4 Murder
Sophie Kimball Mystery, Book #1
Author Website: jceatonauthor.com
Sophie Phee Kimball is not a cop. She s a divorced, middle-aged mom who works as an account clerk for the police department in a small city in Minnesota. But her retired mother, Harriet Plunkett, is convinced Phee is the only one who can solve the mystery of a cursed book. According to Harriet, four members of her book club have already succumbed to the deadly curse. Harriet insists Phee catch the next plane to her retirement community in Sun City West, Arizona, to investigate.
Is her mother just bored and lonely? She does have a new pet a long-haired chiweenie (half Chihuahua, half Dachshund) for company and a host of pals (although that number is admittedly dwindling). Phee is certain that their book club selection isn’t cursed, but is somebody really knocking off the ladies? As Phee starts to uncover dark secrets hidden in plain sight under the blazing Arizona sun, she’ll need to read between the lines before it’s someone else’s final chapter….
“You’ll chuckle all the way through this delightful romp through Sun City West, as Phee and her mother unravel the mystery behind the sudden deaths of several book club members. It’s so cleverly written, you won’t guess the perpetrators until the very end.” Mary Marks, award-winning author of the Quilting Mystery series (Goodreads)
This is a fabulous first cozy mystery and first in a new series by a husband and wife writing team who completely wow’d me. I simply couldn’t miss reading this. The setting is just miles from me; it is fun to read something close to home. This mystery is unique, clever, and well worth the read.
Sophie “Phee” Kimball has worked in the accounting department of the police department in Mankato, Minnesota for many years. To her mother, Harriet Plunkett, that means Phee can investigate the deaths of book club members who have died since beginning to read the monthly selection, The Twelfth Arrondissement. The author can’t even be found with a Google search. Word is out in the retirement community that there is a curse on the book, and members are afraid to keep reading it. Harriet insists that Phee has to come help before her funeral is next. Those who have died so far all received the same email that says only “Death Lurks Between the Lines”.
After talking with one of the detectives at the PD who is planning to retire soon, Phee takes off a few days to see what is going on. She doesn’t believe for a minute that there is a curse on the self-published novel. Phee reads partway through the ebook on the flight to Phoenix, and admits that it is very well-written, but doesn’t see a curse. Even the IT geek that she and the detective know, who is also an expert in codes and ciphers, he doesn’t find anything suspect, either.
The four people who have died have been of what seems to be normal occurrences for people of their age and general health. Well, at least all except the lady who was on her golf cart when hit by a car. As Phee is sent on “investigations” by her mother, she learns what questions to ask, and finds that one, maybe two of the ladies died under suspicious circumstances. She talks to everyone – from the hillbilly family of one of the ladies, to getting caught in the red and white flashing lights of Maricopa County’s finest sheriff deputies while dumpster diving for clues. The only thing that didn’t require (much) suffering was going to the rec center pool as it is still hot in Phoenix in September. Phee, with the help of her mother, conduct an investigation that is at times a frightening, suspenseful, even funny tour de farce that has to be read, maybe re-read, to follow all the clues and bad guys.
There is a wonderful mixture of characters. Phee is in her 40’s, mom to an adult daughter, and dubious about her mother’s claims. Harriet and her friends are seniors who appreciate their retirement and their community, who try to keep their bodies and minds as young as possible. Rich dialog and actions in the spirit of those who live in Sun City West define the residents, and I can hear the Midwest ring clearly in Phee’s thoughts and actions. She and her mother are becoming a dynamic duo!
This is one of the most tangled plots I’ve read for quite some time! There were a couple threads I figured out, but all of them? No way! I found it encouraging that the detective in Mankato was not only interested in the case, he appreciated Phee’s work on it throughout. I love some of Phee’s memories of her mom and cousin when growing up. I also like Phee’s replacement of the word “curse” to make it sound less…cursed. While I don’t have a dog, I love the dog park and the crazy things that go on there! I might have to borrow a pup just to go to one of the parks. Overall, the plot is brilliant, and I hope I’m not the only one who could only solve parts of it. Trying to find out who the real bad guy(s)/ gal(s) as well as the motive(s) and completely resolve every situation without any loose ends shows that this author will be a “must read” for future cozy mysteries in any series they might write. It is awesome! I highly recommend Booked 4 Murder to cozy mystery fans who like fast-paced, funny, frightening, finely-executed plots; the next release can’t come soon enough!