Too Many Crooks Spoil the Plot
A Ditie Brown Mystery, Book #1
By Sarah Osborne
Pediatrician Mabel Aphrodite Brown adores kids. So when a childhood friend asks Ditie to babysit her kids for a few days, she jumps at the chance. She never imagined she’d be solving a murder too.
Despite growing up together, Ditie hasn’t seen Ellie Winston in two years, and she didn’t even know Ellie was living in Atlanta. But when Ellie asks her to take care of Lucie and Jason for the weekend, she thinks nothing of it. They’ll bake cookies together, play with her dog—it’ll be fun! Until the police call with terrible news.
Ellie may not have been the best friend, but who would want her dead? Could it have something to do with the vague get-rich-quick scheme she mentioned to Ditie? Or the men in a black truck following her and breaking into her home? Not sure who to trust other than her best friend, Lurleen, Ditie’s buried maternal instincts kick in to protect the kids and find their mother’s killer—before they’re orphaned again. (Goodreads)
Never have I been so enamored with a first book in a cozy mystery series! Too Many Crooks Spoil the Plot just hit the spot for me. Right from the beginning I was immersed in the story telling, the plot, the characters. It seemed that the writing style was also a bit different than the general population of cozy mysteries that I have read recently and that really hit the spot for me. Even the cover art grabbed me…an orange and white cat, cinnamon buns and tulips (some having fallen down). Just the right mix! I even enjoyed some of the character’s odd names (Lurleen or Aphrodite’s nickname of Ditie) …. which is unusual for me.
As the title alludes to… there were many crooks in this cozy mystery. The story begins when an old friend (Ellie – Eleanor is her full name), whom she had not seen in over two years, comes to Aphrodite’s (Ditie for short) house to “Chat a bit” – which is Eleanor speak for “I have a problem.” Ellie asks if her kids could stay just a few days with Ditie. Without hesitation, Ditie says:
“Of course”. “But why do you need me to do that?”
Ellie fidgeted. “There’s just something I have to do. And I can’t do it with the kids in tow. I need know they’re safe.”
“Safe?” Now I started to fidget. “Ellie, what are you up to this time?”
“Don’t press me, Ditie. You’re the only one I can turn to. The only person I know I can trust. The only person I’d leave my children with. Lucie talks about you all the time. When will she get to see her Aunt Di?”
Ellie found another of my soft spots – a kid who likes me.
When Ditie agrees so readily, I knew that something bad is going to happen to Ellie…. During the first night the kids are with Ditie, while they are fast asleep, Ditie gets a call (NOT from Ellie like she expects) but from a Detective Mason Garrett. Well sure enough…a murder has occurred and the victim is Ellie. Without further ado, Ditie takes it upon herself (and on behalf of Ellie’s newly orphaned children – Lucie and Jason) to figure out by who’s hand Ellie died and why!
As it turns out, Ellie’s is not the only murder to have taken place (or will take place as the story progresses). And as Ditie gets closer to the truth, it seems that these murders may be connected. Ditie seeks help from her bestie, Lurleen, in looking after the kids. Lurleen talks with a French accent, even though she has never been to France or Quebec for that matter. I loved it…. c’est bon, n’est-ce pas? I loved the smattering of French throughout the book.
As the investigation continues into Ellie’s death, Detective Garrett insists that Ditie and the kids are in danger. So the fun begins! Ditie, Lucie, Jason, Lurlee, Hermione (the dog) and Majestic (the cat) relocate, and relocate. The first new home is that of Tommy (Ditie’s brother). When Ditie was organizing the contents of her brother’s pantry to make dinner, then deciding she would have to go out to get supplies I got the strangest feeling. We do know that Ellie has a past with Tommy (Aphrodite’s brother) – so how does he play into all of this? Time will tell ☺.
As the story continues, many more suspects become evident. And then more deaths. Trying to keep the “gang” safe while he investigates the murder Detective Mason takes them to his mother’s home (she is a retired police officer). Mason even brings in a PI friend (Danny Devalle) to keep an eye on the gang. The sparks fly between Lurleen and Danny … oh la la!
The emotions that were so evident with Jason, trying to process that his mother was never coming back was so hard to read about, I was so sad for Jason. The writing of these emotions were far above what I have encountered in other cozy mysteries – and just one of many reasons why I loved this book.
There are many storylines that could be addressed in future books in this series …but the one that I am most interested in is learning more about Lurleen. Often her past was alluded to but never expounded upon. Can’t wait to read about her past because whatever happened, it has made one interesting lady! And I can’t wait to see how the relationship between Ditie and Mason plays out. And of course, will the kids get to stay with Ditie in the long run?
With such an auspicious beginning to a new series, I cannot wait to see what Sarah Osborne has in store for book 2 of the ‘A Ditie Brown Mystery’ series.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*