Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This senior citizen rocks

I just read a delightful cozy -- INVISIBLE by Lorena McCourtney. Here's a review:

INVISIBLE by Lorena McCourtney
Revell 2004
Free Kindle E-book
Review by Pat Browning

Opening lines: “The sign arched over the gravel driveway proclaimed Country Peace in rusty wrought iron. Beyond the sign, the havoc in the cemetery challenged that claim of serenity.”

Ivy Malone and her best friend Thea arrive at the cemetery to find headstones almost destroyed by vandals. At the police station, while they wait to report the vandalism, Ivy sorts through magazines on an end table, and muses, “I read about how some young woman acquired a belly that looked flat enough to iron on.”

I liked these characters immediately, and especially I liked Ivy, her wry sense of humor and her no-nonsense way of dealing with situations. She has worn a whistle around her neck since a woman was mugged in a grocery story parking lot. After an hour of being ignored in the waiting room at the police station, she picks up the whistle and gives it a mighty blast. The cops come running.

The cops are solicitous of the two old biddies reporting cemetery vandalism but their budget is strained, they don’t have the manpower for a nightly stakeout, yada yada yada.
Thea is especially upset. As Ivy muses, "Thea was so strongly tied to the past. She kept in touch with schoolmates back to the Truman era."

There’s a monstrous storm during the night and next day Ivy finds Thea dead in her bed. Nothing suspicious. She had a bad heart. But Ivy is bereft without her friend. As she makes her mundane rounds alone nobody pays the slightest intention to her. With her gray hair and wrinkles she is "an island of invisibility in a bright sea of youth and energy."

She briefly considers using that invisibility to shoplift caviar, rob banks and smuggle jewels across international borders. Not her style, but there’s one place she can use her invisibility – the cemetery. If the cops can’t stake it out, Ivy Malone will do the job.  

She goes the route, even putting brown shoe polish on her sneakers so she will not show light anywhere. For several nights she sits up against a tombstone shaped like a Volkswagen and nothing happens. Then a big car pulls up and two men cross a little bridge and dump something in the river. An old fridge, perhaps, or microwave? People dump stuff there all the time.

About that time a young neighbor, a rather mysterious character, goes missing and Ivy can’t resist poking into it. After all, she was a nice young woman, kind to Ivy and Thea, although there was something – something odd about her.

Ivy is soon running down a stolen ID, befriending a cop, dealing with a death threat,  hiding out in a small Arkansas town celebrating the annual Perseid meteor shower, and surviving an encounter with a junkyard dog, among other mishaps.

I loved every page of this delightful book. It’s listed as a Christian mystery but the author doesn’t hit the reader over the head with it. Ivy tries to live up to her faith and always has a Bible quote handy, but she’s not above quoting bumper stickers, too. In a philosophical discussion about creation of the universe, Ivy offers: “God said BANG and it was so.”



A fun Christmas Story

A fun Christmas story that I downloaded for 99 cents -- Here's my review:

SANITY CLAUSE by Steve Brewer
A Bubba Mabry novella
Kindle edition, 99-cent Special

Review by Pat Browning

P.I. Bubba Mabry needs Christmas cash to buy his wife, a newspaper reporter, a laptop computer. He takes an undercover job at Albuquerque’s new mall, where all he has to do is monitor Santa's workshop for shoplifters, pickpockets, lost kids and perverts posing as Santa. “Albuquerque loves the ‘new’ the way a monkey loves a shiny penny," he says of the hordes flocking through the doors.

Unfortunately Bubba has a Santa phobia dating back to when he was 5 years old. It gives him the creeps but that’s nothing when Daniel Gooch, the Santa team’s best man, is murdered. Santa? Murdered? It gives new meaning to the seasonal chaos.

Bubba’s wife Felicia, ever the intrepid reporter, shows up pen and notepad in hand, to interview Bubba. Gooch is big news, a famous inventor who gives all his money to charities and is a Christmas nut.

Bubba’s caught in a conflict of interest; can’t talk until okayed by the guy who hired him, the ever-smiling Milt Jablonski, head of mall security. Milt promptly fires him.

Everyone was after Gooch’s patents and money. His lawyer Marley plans to invoke a sanity clause in the will. Gooch’s much-married sister stands to inherit millions if the will is broken. Charities called Joyous Noises and the Holiday Food Bank will fold without Gooch’s money.

Hopwood, manager of the food bank, says, "Charity organizations are a funny business, Mr. Mabry. Very courteous, very circumspect. Never do anything that might upset the donors because they'll take their dollars elsewhere. There's a limited pool of giving out there, and an ever-growing number of charities trying to survive. Out front, everything's sweetness and light, but behind the scenes, it's a cutthroat business."

So who knocked off Gooch and tries to knock off Bubba? Good question. SANITY CLAUSE is a short, lively read for anyone needing a break during the holiday rush.

Pat Browning

A new blog

Moonstone Beach, California 2003 copyright Pat Browning

And what a headache! My g-mail account was hacked and Google locked me out, both of g-mail and of blogger. The old  blog is still up but I have no idea how to use it!

Meanwhile, here's a new one.