Peril in Paperback by Kate Carlisle
If you like your cozy mysteries threaded together with a dollop of slapstick, Brooklyn Wainwright is at your beck and call!
Rare-books expert Brooklyn Wainwright is invited to the 50th birthday party of her neighbor Suzie’s aunt Grace. A retired founder of a major video game corporation, Grace is a larger-than-life character who’s turned her Lake Tahoe mansion into a fun house.
Part of the fun involves a seance, but after the lights flicker, one guest is dead, poisoned by a cocktail intended for Grace. It seems someone is determined to turn Grace’s playful palatial estate into a house of horrors.
Review by F. Yoder:
Brooklyn Wainwright and her neighbors, Vinnie and Suzie, are on their way to spend a relaxing week with Suzie’s Aunt Grace at her Lake Tahoe extravagant home. Aunt Grace will be celebrating her 50th birthday with her family. Aunt Grace has made it known that she will have an important announcement at her birthday party. Many members of her family believe she about to rewrite her will and possibly leaving out some of her family.
To start the week long party, Aunt Grace has a tarot card session,even though she is not an experienced reader of tarot cards. But Brooklyn is a little more aware of what the cards say and becomes concerned that something terrible may happen to one of the guests. The next evening Grace is set to have a seance. As she is about to begin, her close friend brings her an iced tea. She places it on the floor and asks everyone else to do the same, as it interferes with the spirits. shortly thereafter, Bella who is sitting next to Grace, gasps and slumps forward. As they check on Bella, Gabriel notices that in fact she is dead and the smell of almonds is very apparent. The first thought was why would anyone want Bella to die. But everyone soon realized that the poison had been in Grace’s drink, so she must have been the intended victim.
So Brooklyn and Gabriel set out find the killer. Grace has written a book and had passed out copies of the manuscript the first evening. Brooklyn set out to read the book, in hopes that it will provide a clue. Grace herself said of the book that the names had been changed to protect the guilty. Possibly Madge, who I verbally abusive to everyone, and is Grace’s sister-in-law. Sybil, who is the wife of Grace’s ex partner Peter. She is very secretive and hardly talks with anyone. Kiki, who is Grace’s niece was considered until she was pushed down the staircase.
Grace’s house would be something to see. It’s like a giant game-board, similar to a game that Grace designed. Hidden wall that move, trapdoors and a giant mouse trap that when triggered can entrap a person. Brooklyn bedroom even has book shelves mounted to ceiling and will lower to be able to retrieve the books.
This is a very well written story that will keep the reader guessing. This series is definitely one of my favorites. Certainly looking forward to the next book.
Review by D. Fowler:
Brooklyn Wainwright was missing Derek Stone, her boyfriend, because he was on a special overseas assignment, but the week promised to be a good one. Grace Wheaton, big time gaming entrepreneur and “self-made billionaire,” was opening up her manse for a week of fun and games. Well, not all of the guests there would be habitués of the gaming world and there would be a few bookish types in residence, something Brooklyn would relish. The house was lavish in a preposterously bizarre way with pinball machines, secret corridors, and even a giant human mousetrap just waiting to capture the unsuspecting. Brooklyn brought her book repair supplies for the occasional boring moments, but, unbeknownst to her, they would be few and far between.
“Your aunt is crazier than a bagful of monkeys,” Vinnie spouted off to her partner, Suzie. Perhaps, but being a bit on the macadamia side was a whole lot better than some of the nasties that were placing their tootsies over the threshold. Sybil, Madge, and Grace’s despicably disgruntled lawyer, Stephen Fowler, made Brooklyn’s nemesis Minka LaBoeuf look good. That “haughty cow” was starting to look positively saintly in comparison. Rare books were turning up in the most unusual places, but when Grace started turning over tarot cards, the atmosphere became more subdued. “You gave me the Death card, you twit!” Was this simply a game or was it indicative of something more serious?
Mysterious villains galore could be found in the pages of Grace’s pulp fiction collection, but there were more of them in her mansion. Her gonna-tell-it-all fictionalized exposé was going to rattle more cages than that mousetrap. The Red Room séance gathered friend and foe together around a table. “The spirits are restless! They know we seek answers!” Brooklyn only wanted to know who that woman was who answered Derek’s phone and couldn’t care less about Grace’s spirits. Footsteps, a gasp, and a pretty darn good imitation of a choking sound filled the room. It wasn’t the spirit of Uncle Cuthbert, but rather Bella and when the lights came up her eyes had more glaze to them than honey dipped donuts. Brooklyn seemed to attract more bodies than books and this time there was a real live murderer in the room, but who was it?
This fun, sometimes hysterical cozy mystery, has more panache than Miss Congeniality. What surprised me the most was that the dignified and classy aura of the book never wavered. Scenes that could conceivably come straight out of the Soaps were somehow delightfully realistic. I half expected Dr. Marlena Evans to exit left after the séance, but instead, Brooklyn’s friend, Gabriel, unexpectedly showed up to help solve this whodunit. The cast of characters ranged from classy to quirky and the unexpected twist and turns keep me wondering what would happen next. If you like your cozy mysteries threaded together with a dollop of slapstick, Brooklyn Wainwright is at your beck and call!