Sunday, September 20, 2020

Jokers Wild - A Review


JOKERS WILD by Barbara Barrett

The Sixth Mah Jongg Mystery

Marianne Putnam is beyond thrilled. The local community theatre has chosen to produce her one act play and she will be part of the entire production process. Unfortunately, reality comes crashing down in the person of Jason Newhall, the play's director. Arrogant, antagonistic and demanding, Jason expects perfection from the amateur volunteers and pushes them to get it. When opening night finally arrives Marianne, instead of basking in her playwright's glory, gets pulled from the theatre to search for the missing director. What she finds is a dead body and another opportunity to put her sleuthing skills to use.

There needs to be a huge willing suspension of disbelief with the sixth Mah Jongg mystery. A sheriff allowing civilians to accompany deputies while they check out possible murder suspects? Said deputies reactions? But, if you can overlook that, it is an interesting way to investigate the murder. I do like how the husbands got involved and ultimately how the murderer was caught. I especially enjoyed the entire depiction of the community theatre; how the show came together and how the director ultimately achieved his vision.

While I like the fact that the four women have their own lives and separate storylines, too much time is taken to share information that has no bearing on the mystery. There was entirely too much written about the remodel of the dinner club. It had no relevance to the mystery at hand and was like reading two different books. I enjoyed it once the book concentrated on the theatre mystery.

JOKERS WILD is an entertaining mystery about cooperation and compromise.


Jokers Wild (Mah Jongg Mystery Series) by Barbara Barrett

About Jokers Wild

 Jokers Wild (Mah Jongg Mystery Series)  

Cozy Mystery 6th in Series  

Publisher: Bowker (July 5, 2020) 

Paperback: 232 pages 

“The show must go on.” That applies even to playwright Marianne Putnam, when the director of her one-act play, “Jokers Wild,” fails to show for curtains up on opening night at the community theater in Serendipity Springs, Florida. When the director’s wife begs Marianne to accompany her to their home to check on him, they find the man floating in his pool. Dead.

Though not known for his pleasant disposition—her relationship with him had been tense since nearly ramming into his car in a parking lot, but after all, he was the director—who would have wanted to murder him? Surely no one in the production crew, cast or the staff of the community center where the play was to be staged. Maybe it was the wife, who Marianne had overheard arguing with him. Or perhaps someone from his theater connections back in the Big Apple.

Since she was there when the body was discovered, Marianne is considered a suspect. That doesn’t mean she can’t help her three Mah Jongg friends—Syd, Micki and Kat—assist the sheriff with the investigation. But who’s there to help her when her path crosses the murderer’s.

About Barbara Barrett


Author Barbara Barrett. Photo by Chris Kridler,

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 in human resources for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and two novellas, 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.

Jokers Wild, the sixth 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.

Barbara is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sinc-Iowa, Romance Writers of America and the SpacecoasT chapter of Romance Writers of America.

She is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.

Now retired, she is a resident of Florida, although she spends her summers in Iowa, her home state. She earned her B.A. degree in History from the University of Iowa and her Master’s Degree in History from Drake University.

When not in front of her laptop creating her next story, she plays mah jongg, travels and enjoys lunches with friends.

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  1. Thanks for taking the time to read and review "Jokers Wild." Even if your readers aren't fans of the game of Mah Jongg or even know what it is, this is a fun read.


    1. Thanks for stopping by! I wish I had the time to learn the game. I had an intro to the Japanese version and loved it!