Railroaded 4 Murder
Sophie Kimball Mystery #8
By J.C. Eaton
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
While planning her wedding, Sophie Phee Kimball gets sidetracked by the murder of a model train enthusiast…
Phee’s marriage to Marshall Gregory promises to be the wedding of the year in Arizona’s Sun City West–that is, if you ask her mother Harriet. But before she can walk down the aisle, it looks like she has to solve one more murder. At a model train exhibit, Phee, Harriet, and their beloved Chiweenie, Streetman, discover the body of Sun City West’s railroad club president, with an incriminating tap shoe near his lifeless corpse.
Wilbur Maines may have loved model trains but apparently he was not a model husband. There are rumors of affairs with hot-to-trot hobbyists the Choo-Choo Chicks. The police suspect his wife–and Harriet’s friend–Roxanne, who dances with the Rhythm Tappers, but Phee’s mom is convinced they’re on the wrong track. Before the poFwor woman is railroaded into spending the rest of her life behind bars, Phee, Harriet, and the book club ladies will need to do some fancy footwork, infiltrate the dance group, and find the real culprit before the killer leaves the station… (from Goodreads)
What a great time we had in Sun City West with Harriet Plunkett, the ringleader – ah, organizer – of the Booked 4 Murder book club ladies! This is another delightfully fun mystery that includes a slew of sleuthing seniors, a neurotic dog, and Harriet’s daughter, Sophie “Phee” Kimball. This can be enjoyed as a standalone or within the series. There is humor throughout, including a scene that almost turned into ROFL, some scary moments, and a mystery that kept me guessing.
Phee and her fiancé, Marshall, will be married in three months, and Harriet wants her Chiweenie, Streetman, to be their ringbearer. Never mind that the pup has a few little behavior problems and the wedding day should be all about Phee and Marshall. When Phee moved here from Minnesota a couple years ago to work for Nate, a detective she used to work with in the Mankato PD, she knew what living near Harriet would be like. She hadn’t planned on Harriet’s insistence on getting involved with every murder in the area.
A new client of the private investigations firm Marshall and Phee work for is Roxanne, who wants confirmation of her husband Walter’s affair. It is someone Harriet and her friends felt would one day kill her philandering hubby. Early the next morning, Harriet called Phee; her friend Cecelia thinks she found a body in the railroad park. After climbing through the exhibit, Phee found the body. It was Walter. One item lying next to him was a tap shoe, and Roxanne is an avid member of two tap dance clubs. Oopsie.
Harriet and her friends want to keep Roxanne from being “railroaded for murder”, so she came up with “Operation Agatha”. Three of the ladies would infiltrate one of the tap clubs, and the other three would visit the model railroad clubs. Two of the three women were unable to attend the first model railroad club meeting, so Phee joined Harriet, primarily to keep her out of trouble. When Harriet goes sniffing for a killer, trouble – and laughs – are a certainty!
The railroad park and the Model Railroad club provided a very interesting backdrop for the novel. Kudos to the authors for a great locale and group. Who would have guessed it was such a hotbed of drama and gossip? Despite being married, Walter worked his way through some of the women in the club.
Descriptions of the characters are excellent! I can picture the current hair colors of the ladies, the creative clothing combinations of Aunt Ina, and even sweet Cecelia. Their colloquialisms are from wherever in the country they migrated from combined with their favorite TV or novel detectives. Marshall, a PI and partner in the firm, Phee, the accountant, and their boss Nate, are usually voices of sanity, but with this crowd, it can be a challenge! After the crimes Phee has unwillingly helped her mother with, they would like her to get her own PI license, but numbers make far more sense to her.
One thing I found very useful was the list of names and brief details of the characters. Even though necessary background is included for them within the story, the roster is a great help when first seeing the book club ladies again. Streetman’s Walking Map was a fun addition.
The more they learn about Walter, the more sympathy I had for Roxanne and the longer the suspect list grew. I had much empathy for Cecelia. From finding Walter’s body, finding a clue that set off a funny chain of events, and doing solo tap routines in the spring fling in costumes she was uncomfortable wearing, she didn’t have an easy time. As happens in real life, the murder is not solved in a week or less. Jury selection for Roxanne’s trial was underway when the real killer was discovered. The end was surprising and satisfactory, with all loose threads tied up. I highly recommend this cozy mystery!