BAMBOOZLED by Barbara Barrett
The Second Mah Jongg Mystery
Memories of murder are still fresh in Sydney Bonner's mind, so when her husband asks her to investigate what's going on with a mutual friend, she's surprised. Checking in on Cathy and her new essential oil business is one thing, but when Cathy is suspected of murdering her boss, Syd is ready to step back and let the professionals handle it. Yet when Cathy's husband asks for help Trip not only agrees that Syd should investigate, but insists that he'll help her, Syd is stunned! Now Syd and her Mah Jongg friends are involved in another murder investigation, this time with husbandly help!
I was delighted to discover another Mah Jongg mystery. I appreciate having protagonists of a certain age who are living normal fulfilling lives. I like the fact that the characters here don't rush headlong into trouble. They have a set plan, realize that they're amateurs, and call on professionals when necessary. Of course, they still manage to annoy said professionals and get themselves into trouble. While I like the group, the problem with having four main characters is that there are too many subplots. These secondary stories flush out the characters, but detract from the mystery.
The murder was well plotted with a variety of red herrings and interesting suspects and I enjoyed the investigation. My favorite part of the book is the relationship between Syd and Trip. They are a happily married couple who still annoy and get angry with each other. Trying to work together, with minds that work differently, is a challenge. They see each other's faults, yet will always be there to support each other. They have a realistic relationship. Sadly, as much as I like the characters here, I didn't feel emotionally invested in BAMBOOZLED. Cathy, as a character, was a bit of a side note. While Syd and friends (and by extension, me) liked her and wanted to help, the investigation was more of an intellectual activity for the four friends, six actually when you include the husbands. True, there was some danger, but I wouldn't have felt that bad if they didn't clear Cathy's name and I don't think they would have either.
Friendship, marriage, and murder make BAMBOOZLED a mystery to enjoy.
Bamboozled (The Mah Jongg Mysteries) by Barbara Barrett
About the Book
Cozy Mysteries 2nd in Series
Self Published (April 3, 2018)
Paperback: 272 pages
Essential oils distributor Dorcas Wiley is the boss everyone loves to hate. So when she turns up dead, killed by her own trophy, disgruntled saleswoman Cathy Broderick is the obvious suspect in her murder. Despite opportunity, motive and incriminating evidence, Cathy declares her innocence and enlists her mah jongg pals—Sydney Bonner and her cronies Marianne, Micki and Kat—to help save her from the death penalty.
Hot off a recent and nearly deadly investigation, the women are cautious about putting themselves in peril again. Syd’s spouse isn’t thrilled about another mystery in their lives, either, but he can’t resist the plea of Cathy’s husband. Soon, Syd is leading the way as they tangle with grumpy salespeople, the victim’s estranged husband and boyfriend, a mysterious housekeeper, a litigious customer, an annoyed sheriff and Cathy’s own arrogant lawyer.
The women have their own issues to deal with in their central Florida town of Serendipity Springs. Kat faces a health challenge, Micki fields a mysterious inquiry from her ex, Marianne has a chaotic anniversary and Syd wrestles with her husband over who’s really in charge. But nothing puts everyday life into perspective like the moment when their investigation brings them face to face with danger.
About the Author
Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.
Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.
Bamboozled, the second book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.
Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.
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