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Tumbling Blocks by Earlene Fowler
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Bennie Harper has no intention of seriously investigating the death Constance Sinclair's best friend. She's too tied up in a new exhibition of 'outsider art,' scheduled to open soon at the folk museum where she is the curator. Unfortunately, her husband, the Police Chief, wants Bennie to keep Constance out of his hair and she shouldn't offend Constance, one of the museum's benefactors. Isn't this a useless waste of time? ... of course it isn't, and fans of this series will enjoy the twists and ...more Bennie Harper has no intention of seriously investigating the death Constance Sinclair's best friend. She's too tied up in a new exhibition of 'outsider art,' scheduled to open soon at the folk museum where she is the curator. Unfortunately, her husband, the Police Chief, wants Bennie to keep Constance out of his hair and she shouldn't offend Constance, one of the museum's benefactors. Isn't this a useless waste of time? ... of course it isn't, and fans of this series will enjoy the twists and turns. ( )
  libmaven | Oct 26, 2010 |
the story wasn't great but it was good-natured and the reader, johanna parker was excellent. ( )
  mahallett | Apr 17, 2010 |
Gabe's mother comes to San Celinas for the Christmas holiday, bringing some heavy surprises that throw her son off kilter in more ways than one. And Kathryn's visit just adds to the stress Benni is already under, trying to prepare the museum for the unveiling of a stunning piece of "outsider art" and coping with a highly excitable and eccentric boss who is convinced that her best friend didn't just die in her sleep as the medical examiner said, but was murdered for her spot in one of San Celinas' most exclusive women's clubs. Benni has to entertain her in-laws, be in charge of a huge "opening night" at the museum, soothe her pregnant best friend's rattled nerves, and dog sit an untrained puppy, all while pretending to investigate a natural death as if it were a murder. Merry Christmas to you, too, Benni Harper.

Another comfortable visit with Benni and Gabe, where the backstory takes center stage over the downplayed mystery. In fact, it felt to me like the little bit of plot in the mystery part of this story seemed to get in the way of the real story here, which was digging into the fractured dynamic between Gabe and his mother. Fowler is slowing down on publishing these books and I do hope she hasn't reached the end of her inspiration for the story of Benni and Gabe. There's a lot more to tell, and I'll be looking forward to the next volume. ( )
  madamejeanie | Sep 9, 2009 |
Christmas is just around the corner and all Benni Harper Ortiz needs is one more task on her already full to-do list. Constance Sinclair, the largest benefactor of the Josiah Sinclair Folk Art Museum and Artists’ Co-op, Benni’s employer, asks her to investigate the death of a friend, Arva “Pinky” Edmundson. Pinky’s death (by natural causes, according to both police and coroner) opened up a slot in the exclusive “49 Club.” Constance is convinced one of the three women in line for that open slot killed Pinky. Much to Benni’s chagrin, Police Chief Gabe Ortiz, her husband, gives his informal blessing to her snooping – only because it will keep the formidable Ms. Sinclair out of his hair.

Although it’s called a Benni Harper mystery, Benni’s investigation is just one of several subplots – and if there IS a main plot, I couldn’t locate it. Subplots include Gabe’s mother’s holiday visit and the surprises she springs on her unsuspecting son (and his puerile reaction); Benni’s puppy sitting for a corgi named Boo; and a fashion crisis for Benni’s pregnant friend Elvia. Readers are also treated (or subjected depending upon point of view) to a mini-seminar on outsider art.

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy reading Tumbling Blocks. But I believe readers who love a good mystery without a glut of peripheral stuff will be disappointed.

By Diana. First published in Mystery News, June-July 2007 issue.
  NewsieQ | Dec 26, 2007 |
mystery was never really wrapped up, and not so strong either. Might have been more satisfying as an art mystery instead of a murder mystery. Gabe character seems to have reverted to childish behavior. would a grown man who has just been told his mom has MS really whine about not being the first to know? didn't meet my expectations. enjoyable audio escapism. ( )
  libasst | Nov 23, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425221237, Mass Market Paperback)

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Benni’s boss, Constance Sinclair, demands that she investigate the death of a local socialite. It’s not long before Benni recognizes that there may be some deadly truth to Constance’s suspicions. She’ll need to crack an exclusive circle of suspects, before one more gourmet goose gets cooked.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When her boss, Constance Sinclair, insists that she investigate the death of a local socialite, Benni Harper's search for a killer is threatened by plans to put her quilting museum on the map and a visit from her daunting mother-in-law and "surprise" new husband.… (more)

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