Unraveling of Violeta Bell
Poisoned Pen, Apr 2008, $24.95
For over three decades septuagenarian Maddy “Morgue Mama” Sprowls has run the information library at The Hannawa Herald-Union. Her preference is to hide in the morgue where she helps the reporters obtain what they need to do a story; she never offers a story to the editors.
However, Maddy notices four female senior citizens using a taxi to go to garage sale hopping. She thinks their travels would make a wonderful warm human interest story. So after rarely stepping into the newsroom, Maddy enters to offer her idea. To her glee, the story runs highlighting the treasure hunting of former antique dealer Violeta Bell, retired stripper Kay Hausenfelter, realtor Gloria McPhee, and philanthropist Ariel Wilburger-Gowdy. However, not long afterward, someone murders Violeta. Maddy plans to hide in the morgue, but feels guilty wondering if her article led to the homicide. She begins to DIG for clues.
The fun in this fine amateur sleuth is observing the changing reactions of Maddy during the story line especially as she feels come culpability so reluctantly investigates only to learn she is enjoying the sleuthing; she hides that from everyone who sees the irritable and kvetching Morgue Mama. The four garage sale hoppers are unique eccentric protagonists. Violeta insists that she is the rightful queen of Romania; Kay’s willing to perform an exotic dance; Gloria is ready to show off a house at any time except garage sale time; and Ariel wants to save the world one garage at a time. Fans will enjoy Maddy’s inquiry into this elderly quartet (starting with the deceased) and other suspects, as this is an enjoyable Morgue Mama murder mystery (see THE CROSS KISSES BACK and DIG)