When Sydney Bonner overhears a fellow mah jongg player arguing on the phone with her husband, she realizes the couple’s “perfect marriage” isn’t all it appears to be. A few days later, the husband is found dead, his head bashed in. Fearing she’ll be considered the most likely suspect, the widow prevails upon Sydney and her three friends—Marianne, Kat and Micki—to find out who really killed him.
Though none of these four fun-loving, take-charge retirees has any training as detectives, the women agree to launch a secret investigation. As they dig under the happy veneer of their community’s social life, they find more than enough suspects, from shady ladies to resentful golf buddies, to keep them looking over their shoulders.
Could the murderer be lurking among the talent in a chaotic production put on by Sydney’s husband, who will do anything to keep busy in retirement? Could the sheriff, who may have more than a professional interest in chanteuse Kat, end up pinning the crime on the women instead? Each discovery during their investigations and their weekly mah jongg game keeps them running as they close in on the killer—but the killer may also be closing in on them.
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 has 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.
Craks in a Marriage, the first book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who seek the murderer of another mah jongg player’s husband before she is charged. 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 a 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, knits, and enjoys lunches with friends.
I just love a book that is full of intrigue, gossip and exciting characters. Rumor is going around that someone is having an affair. Now people have heard who it is, but others don’t want to know. They believe in giving a person a benefit of the doubt, but that doesn’t stop the gossip spreading throughout the community.
My heart beat so fast when the victim was identified by his wife. You could feel the tension as the body was revealed and the moment that the spouse knew her life was forever changed. It was a very well written scene and made me think of how difficult it would be to go through such a traumatic event like that. The question now is who is the killer? Sydney and her friends are persuaded in a way to try to find out who killed someone’s husband. I loved that these ladies were retired and all set to have a fun and enjoyable life, but what do you do when someone you know is in trouble?
The stakes are high in this first in a series and the author does a great job of giving us a collection of unique characters. The four friends have their hands full as suspects start to pop up. I loved how they gathered information and slowly went through intricate and damaging evidence. As the investigation grows, there is another big goings on in the town. I couldn't wait to hear all the details of the folly that Sydney's husband is in charge of. It is the talk of the town and suddenly people wan to be a part of it. I had to laugh at one of the acts that was booked for the show. It is a funny moment that lightens the mood in the story.
Will Sydney and her friends solve the murder before the sheriff stops their snooping? I enjoyed the story and how well it flowed. The characters are interesting and I absolutely loved the four women turned sleuths that take investigating serious. You are in for a treat with this well written mystery that is neatly wrapped up at the end. I have to say the ending was tense and I loved how it kept me on the edge of my seat. I highly recommend this new series.
I received a copy of this book from The Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The review is my own opinion.
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