A spirited beginning to a new mystery series that’s haunted with humor.

GHOST BUSTING MYSTERY

From the Shady Hooiser Detective Agency series , Vol. 1

Senior sleuths search for ghosts, gold, and a missing dachshund in Indiana.

Sixty-seven-year-old Ruby Jane “RJ” Waskom narrates this debut mystery. RJ and her best friend, 71-year-old Veenie Goens, work as detectives-in-training with “the best—okay the only—PI agency in Knobby Waters.” The women share a house and a car (a turquoise 1960 Chevy Impala), and they like to keep an emergency pie on hand. Their neighbor Dode Schneider, who “wasn’t right in the head even before that snowplow hit him,” hires them to investigate the apparitions he claims he’s seen by the apple orchard at the Wyatt mansion, abandoned nearly 100 years ago by Jedidiah Wyatt, one of the town’s founding fathers. Wyatt operated the local bank, but when it failed in 1919, in part because a flood washed away the crops that were the residents’ source of income, he rowed out of soggy Knobby Waters with all the gold and other valuables he stole from the institution’s vault. About the only thing left in the safe was a note that read “Adios, folks.” Intrigued by the tale of the stolen gold and committed to the ghost hunt, the gumshoes also answer an ad about a missing dachshund. Finding Puddles, a much-loved pudgy “wiener dog,” would bring in a welcome reward. Plenty of silliness mixes with multiple mysteries in Pettles’ very funny series opener. Wacky but, for the most part, charming characters populate Knobby Waters. Among the townspeople are junior police officer Devon Hattabaugh, whose mutton-chop sideburns “bushed out like squirrel tails,” and Ma and Peepaw Horton, who operate an always-open pie pantry in their tool shed. Unlike most female detectives in mystery series, crusty RJ and Veenie lack any kind of civility and clearly get joy out of what others would find frightening. When agreeing to take on the paranormal assignment, RJ reckons that she and Veenie have been outwitting living people for quite some time, and “how much smarter could the dead be?” Descriptions and dialogue are clever, amusing, and often quotable. Perhaps the only unfortunate thing about the book is its uninspired title. The author, born in a small Indiana town, writes with knowledge and affection about a quirky cast of Hoosiers.

A spirited beginning to a new mystery series that’s haunted with humor.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9815678-2-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Hot Pants Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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