Monday, November 26, 2012

Bright and breezy holiday reading

PLAYING WITH POISON by Cindy Blackburn was the perfect book for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s bright and breezy, an easy read that kept me laughing.

Opening line: “‘Going bra shopping at age fifty-two gives new meaning to the phrase fallen woman,’ I announced as I gazed at my reflection.”

The speaker is Jessie, the protagonist. Her friend Candy pokes her head around the dressing room door and says, “I hope my figure looks that nice when I’m old.”

Really, now, fifty-two isn’t that old, and it doesn’t bother Jessie as much as it seems to bother everyone else, especially Captain Wilson Rye of the Clarence, North Carolina Police Department.

And why is it any of Rye’s business? No sooner has Jessie paid for the royal blue bra and matching panties and hauled them home than her doorbell rings. Candy’s handsome fiancé stumbles in, flops down on Jessie’s couch and dies. Enter Capt. Rye. Since the victim died on her couch, Rye figures Jessie for the killer and becomes an unwelcome fixture in her life.

Jessie writes steamy romance novels under the name of Adele Nightingale. Like everyone else on the planet she has a work in progress. The working title is “Temptation at Twilight” and passages are scattered throughout this book, making it part of the fun.

Jessie’s loft features a roof garden overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and The Stone Fountain bar, where she likes to play pool. These days her pool sharking is a distant memory. She pays her bills with royalties from her novels which Jimmy Beak, an obnoxious local newscaster, tells the world are “almost pornographic.” Sales, of course, shoot up over the moon.

The attractive Capt. Rye keeps dogging Jessie with yet another set of incriminating questions. During a search of her loft he ogles her book shelf and pinches her copy of “A Deluge of Desire." He admits later that he only read the good parts. Twice.

Jessie’s real life associates are every bit as colorful as her fictional characters. There’s Lt. Densmore, who’s deathly afraid of heights. There’s Bryce, the bartender at The Stone Fountain who keeps changing his college major because he can’t decide what he wants to be. There’s Ian, Jessie’s asinine ex-husband, and his equally asinine new wife. There’s Jessie’s cat Snowflake, who likes to sit on laps.

And there’s Candy, whose taste in clothes runs to mini-skirts and stiletto heels, who inherits money under the terms of her murdered fiance’s will, and whose old boy friend shows up hot to trot. Talk about a perfect pair of suspects.

Jessie decides to clear her own name and keep Candy out of jail by ferreting out the killer. The denouement, while fraught with peril, is just plain funny.

Next up, DOUBLE SHOT, Book #2 in this delightful new series, and after that Book #3, THREE ODD BALLS.

I don’t have the foggiest idea what this is all about, but I keep seeing it on other blogs, so here it is.

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FTC has a new regulation which went into effect in December, 2009 which says, basically, "Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined." Here's my required FTC Disclosure Notice regarding review copies of books obtained for this blog. No other compensation is accepted beyond review copies of books. When I do write a review, or opinion, the source of the book cited will be disclosed in the post in which the review/opinion appears. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.


When Cindy Blackburn isn’t writing books she’s teaching history and grading papers. Cindy holds a Master's degree in European history from the College of Charleston (South Carolina) and teaches at Trident Technical College in Charleston. Come summer she'll be on the porch of her lakeside shack in Vermont.

Her favorite travel destinations are all in Europe, her favorite TV show is NCIS and her favorite authors (if she must choose) are Joan Hess and Spencer Quinn.

Check her out at


  1. Hi, Pat and congratulations Cindy on what any cozy mystery lover would love in the way of a series. My daughter and I (who love them) will certainly check it out.
    Jackie J. Griffey (I put the J in now since there's another Jackie Griffey on Facebook - come visit 8-)

  2. Thanks for your interest, Jackie! As Pat's terrific review makes clear, I hope my books make you and your daughter laugh. Please let me know what you think! Oh, and sorry it took me so long to respond back. Yesterday got away from me...
    Cindy B