Broadcast 4 Murder
Sophie Kimball Mystery #7
By J.C. Eaton
Author’s website: jceatonmysteries.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In J.C. Eaton’s seventh Sophie Kimball Mystery, Sophie’s kooky mother, Harriet, is gearing up to become Arizona’s newest radio star as the host of the Booked 4 Murder Mystery Hour. But when she ends up broadcasting herself discovering a dead body live on air, it’s up to the reluctant sleuth Sophie to find the killer…
Phee’s mother Harriet is going to be a star! At least, that’s how the Sun City West retiree describes her chance to host a live radio program of her book club’s Booked 4 Murder Mystery Hour on Arizona’s KSCW. But instead of chatting about charming cozies, Harriet ends up screaming bloody murder over the airwaves after discovering the body of Howard Buell, the station’s programming director, in a closet–with a pair of sewing shears shoved into his chest.
The number one suspect is Howard’s ex-girlfriend Sylvia Strattlemeyer who believed she was going to host a sewing talk show before Harriet was offered the spot. But not only do the fingerprints found on the scissors not match Sylvia’s, they belong to a woman who passed away twenty years ago at the age of ninety-seven. Now, with the whole town on pins and needles, it’s up to Phee to stitch together enough clues from the past to uncover the identity of a killer in the present… (From Goodreads)
One thing I know when I open a new installment in this wacky series is that there will be a lot of laughs. The mystery will be interesting, and Streetman the Chiweenie will play a role in getting the bad guy. The characters will be larger than life, and almost everyone in town knows who Harriet Plunkett is. Anyone who doesn’t, will, after her radio debut in “Broadcast 4 Murder”!
Phee moved to Arizona from Mankato, Minnesota a couple years ago. Her mother, Harriet, has lived in Sun City West, a retirement community, for many years and is a member of various clubs, most notably the Booked 4 Murder book club. Since Phee moved to Arizona, Harriet seems to have a lot of dead bodies show up in her life. Dead as in murdered.
Phee works for Nate, a retired detective from the Mankato police department where they used to work. She is the bookkeeper for his private investigation agency. Marshall is a detective she worked with in Mankato who also now works for Nate. They have been an item for quite some time. Whenever Harriet tries to get Phee to help solve a murder, Marshall and Nate end up involved, often as consultants for the sheriff’s department.
Harriet and her friend, Myrna, are excited to fill a slot at the local hometown neighborhood radio station. Vernadeen, who hosts a sewing program one morning a week, will be out of town and while she is, Harriet and Myrna will be on the air and talk about – what else – mysteries! They are planning a series in which they can bring in women from their book club to talk about different types and aspects of mystery novels.
On the morning of the first radio program, Nate is meeting with people at a retail store that has a mysterious, undocumented loss of inventory; Marshall is looking for an estranged father who took his four-year-old from the child’s mother. They missed the drama of Harriet and Myrna’s first show, and what would become one of their next consultations at Williams Investigations. The first moments sounded fine, until Myrna cried out that there was a dead guy with scissors sticking out of his chest. Listeners, including Phee and the secretary, thought they were hearing a dramatized version of a novel – until silence was all they heard on the radio.
When Phee pulled up at the station, a sheriff’s posse member was already there and deputies called. Myrna and Harriet were okay, but the programming director was not. He was dead in the huge storage closet, having been stabbed with a very fancy pair of sewing scissors.
Nate’s company was called to consult on the case within hours. One of the more shocking pieces of evidence included fingerprints of a retired high school teacher, one who had died about twenty years earlier. When members of the Booked 4 Murder book club received threats, it becomes far too personal, and Harriet will give Phee no peace until she helps find the killer. Phee takes a deep breath and knows what is coming next – an early morning or two at the dog park with Harriet’s Chiweenie, Streetman, to visit with one of the women who knows much of the gossip around Sun City West.
The husband-and-wife team of J.C. Eaton gift us with funnier and more complex mysteries with each new one in the series! Included is laugh-out-loud humor as befitting ladies who rival Lucy and Ethel at the age of the Golden Girls. Many middle-aged women will appreciate Phee’s attempts to honor her mother while living her own life. They describe characters so well I can picture and hear them, but never could I predict the shenanigans they will get involved in each time.
Plot twists serve to bring in new suspects and unusual circumstances, including a second murder that doesn’t seem to have any connections to the first. I was not able to figure out all the connections and guilty parties and was as surprised as Phee and Marshall at who was involved in the murders. The end was satisfying, with loose ends tied up for the murders and other crimes being investigated. I highly recommend this novel, which can be read as a standalone, and the rest of the series!