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Saks and Violins by Mary Daheim
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Saks and Violins (2006)

by Mary Daheim

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Money is tight for Judith McGonigle Flynn and her cousin Renie. Judith's Bed and Breakfast isn't attracting as many customers as it used to and Renie isn't getting any offers for her graphic design work and is seriously in debt. Judith is also dealing with Rudi, a neighbor who likes to practice his violin at all hours of the night. To top it all off, Judith's latest guests are an odd bunch and she's not too happy when one of them is murdered. Add in Renie's missing credit cards and Rudi's missing violin bow and Judith and Renie are knee deep in murder and mayhem - yet again.

"Saks and Violins" is an okay entry in Mary Daheim's Bed and Breakfast cozy mystery series. All of the characters that make the series so enjoyable - Judith, Renie, Judith's husband Joe, and her mother Gertrude - are in this book. The gentle sense of humor in the series is also in this book. But this book seems over the top, even for this series. Judith's neighbor Arlene is a perfect example. She's always been nosy, but she takes it to a new level in this book with her probing. Renie's worrying about her debts never quite worked for me as she was still wearing $2,000 outfits. The reaction of the 911 operator was no doubt meant to be funny but struck me as unprofessional instead. Judith's worrying over her artificial hip wore thin quickly - isn't the point of getting a new hip that one walks better with it? As for the mystery elements, for me the biggest problem was that there were too many characters and I got confused as to who was who and how they were related to each other. However, the mystery itself is well plotted, with plenty of suspects and red herrings and readers will have a hard time figuring out whodunit.

"Saks and Violins" is an okay cozy mystery. ( )
  drebbles | May 20, 2013 |
Muddled and boring. Don't go by the back cover - though it does list plot points from the book, it gives them out of order and exaggerated to the point of sensationalism. "Musical mayhem"?

The characters are not engaging, the plot not interesting and for a continuing series, there are no tantalizing hooks for past escapades that make me want to seek them out.

Put this book back on the shelf and move on. ( )
  hobreads | Aug 23, 2010 |
No one in the neighborhood much cares for the new renter. He’s Rudi Wittener, a professional musician who likes to practice playing the violin outdoors in the buff, while his young live-in girlfriend gives piano lessons. When Rudi’s mentor, Dolph Kluger, and his entourage arrive at the Hillside Manor Bed & Breakfast, owner Judith McMonigle Flynn soon comes to realize they’re the guests from hell. To make matters even worse, Judith caves in and allows the Kluger clan and their friends to hold a reception at Hillside Manor. Dolph winds up dead – thankfully not in Judith’s B&B -- and she finds herself saddled with the entire group until police sort out who poisoned him.

For once, Judith’s husband (and retired police officer) Joe Flynn isn’t hounding her to stay out of police business. And one of the detectives on the case, Rosemary O’Grady, is a huge fan of Judith’s – having learned about the amateur sleuth’s exploits from a website not of Judith’s creation. The other police detective is sidelined by super-allergies and doesn’t really care WHO solves his case. Judith’s usual sleuthing partner, cousin Renie Jones, has problems of her own – maxed out and then stolen credit cards for one -- and has to be cajoled into helping. Judith’s mother Gertie is getting loonier by the day (if that’s possible) and her Bible-quoting (and bigoted) housekeeper Phyliss is as obnoxious as ever. Is the job market so tight in the Pacific Northwest that Judith can’t fire her and find someone better?

This is all par for the course at Hillside Manor. But while reading Saks & Violins, I found myself wondering whether this long-lived series might be on its last legs after 15 years. I thought it was more manic than funny and the plot over-the-top unbelievable even for a cozy mystery. A cop tolerating an amateur sleuth? Maybe. A cop delegating work to said amateur? I don’t think so. After Rudi croaked, there wasn’t a single character I even liked – including Judith, who’s getting more than a tad whiny in her old age, and Renie, who is just plain annoying. Maybe it’s time for Judith to sell the old B&B and follow Joe into much-deserved retirement. (originally published in Mystery News, Oct-Nov 2006 edition. ( )
  NewsieQ | Nov 1, 2006 |
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Judith McMonigle Flynn gnashed her teeth, slammed the front door so hard that the screen rattled, and decided to call the police.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060566523, Mass Market Paperback)

Life has hit some sour notes as of late for B&B hostess Judith McMonigle Flynn and her cousin Renie. Graphic design guru Renie's up to her eyebrows in debt after some seriously overzealous spending sprees. Meanwhile, Judith's got her hands full with her wacky new neighbor, Rudi, a virtuoso violinist whose daily—and usually unclothed—practices are unhinging her and other neighbors in the cul-de-sac.

But, though they'd all love to kill nude, rude Rudi, it's his larger-than-life mentor, Dolph Kluger, who takes his final bow after ingesting some ruthlessly poisoned rhubarb. To add to the musical mayhem, Rudi's priceless violin bow goes missing, Renie's useless credit cards are stolen, and each murder suspect seems loopier than the last. Once again, the cousins are going to need some fancy fingering to make a cold-blooded killer sing—but if they're not careful, the next music they hear will be their funeral march.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:54 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Indomitable heroine Judith McMonigle Flynn tries to extend a helping hand to a pesky new neighbor - and ends up with a corpse underfoot while she and cousin Renie cope with ... Saks & Violins." "Hard times and sour notes have hit the cousins in both the B&B and the graphic design business. To make matters worse, Renie's up to her latest eyebrow wax in debt, due to overzealous spending on clothes on their recent trip to San Francisco. And in the house that Herself - Judith's nemesis and hubby Joe's ex-wife - has rented out, there dwells a symphony violinist whose practice of outdoor practicing au naturel is driving the neighbors out of the cozy cul-de-sac and into soundproof rooms. In fact, they swear they'd like to kill the nude, rude Rudi." "No such luck. The only buffer zone from the in-the-buff violinist is the Rankerses' hedge. Instead of Rudi taking a final bow with his damnable bow, it's his larger-than-life mentor, Dolph Kluger, who meets death, not by getting entangled in the lethal laurel, but from ingesting ruthless rhubarb." "To add to the musical mess, Rudi's valuable violin bow goes missing, Renie's useless credit cards are stolen, a headless horseman rides through somebody's past, and several suspects seem to be on the brink of bonkersville. Judith has to be extra careful with these lyrical loonies or somebody will be playing her funeral march before the killer bows out."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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