Broken Dishes (Benni Harper Series #11)

( 9 )


When Benni Harper's friend passes away, he leaves his Broken DIS ranch to his daughter Shawna and her husband. Instead of raising cattle, the couple decides to turn it into a dude ranch. And while their intentions may be good, business is not. Leave it to Benni and her family to come to the rescue. Her plan? To tempt vacationers with a quilting and western extravaganza. It works. And soon, Benni and her family are cooking, quilting, and horseback riding with a whole slew of western tenderfoots." But the west gets...

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When Benni Harper's friend passes away, he leaves his Broken DIS ranch to his daughter Shawna and her husband. Instead of raising cattle, the couple decides to turn it into a dude ranch. And while their intentions may be good, business is not. Leave it to Benni and her family to come to the rescue. Her plan? To tempt vacationers with a quilting and western extravaganza. It works. And soon, Benni and her family are cooking, quilting, and horseback riding with a whole slew of western tenderfoots." But the west gets a little too wild when one of the ranch dogs discovers a human bone on the property. It's enough to scare any reasonable guest away. To top it off, there's a rumor that one of the visitors is a nationally known travel writer, secretly working on a write-up. A bad review could easily kill business. Before long, Benni's old nemesis, Detective Ford "Hud" Hudson, is on board investigating. Together they uncover the remains of a murdered man buried in a shallow grave. Now, Benni must keep the guests safe and happy while unearthing the truth behind a terrible crime.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Good things come in threes, so here's a tantalizing trio for you. Broken Dishes is the name of a popular patchwork pattern, dating back to the 1790s. It's the nickname the central California locals give the Broken DIS Ranch that's the setting of this book. And it's also the title of the 11th Benni Harper mystery by Agatha Award–winning author Earlene Fowler. In this outing, Benni is helping out her friends Shawna and Johnny at their dude ranch, as they entertain a group of guests gathered for a Western-style quilting extravaganza. Everyone knows that this event could make or break the fledgling business. And with rumors abuzz that a famous travel writer is among the visitors, the stress level for Benni and her friends has more peaks than the nearby Diablo Mountains. Shawna and Johnny's dreams for the future seem fated to shatter when a dog discovers a human bone on their ranch. Things go from bad to worse as more disturbing discoveries pile up, including a shallow grave, a murdered man, and a midnight prowler who visits the hidden burial place…not to mention unsettling cases of theft and arson. With the police pursuing a seriously unproductive traditional investigation, it's up to Benni to keep everything from crashing down. She must find the truth -- before a man is accused of a crime he didn't commit and a woman loses her only chance to right an old wrong. Sue Stone
Publishers Weekly
In Fowler's 11th Benni Harper mystery (after 2003's Sunshine and Shadow), one of the best yet in this well-written cozy series, quilter Benni comes to the rescue of Shawna and Johnny Abbot, the new owners of the Broken DIS (aka the Broken Dishes) cattle ranch, now converted to a guest ranch. The opening of the retreat goes smoothly, until a makeshift grave is discovered during the ladies' first trail ride. Finding a dead body, albeit skeletal, around Benni is nothing new, and neither is the arrival of Detective Ford "Hud" Hudson their paths have crossed before, and not to the liking of Benni's luscious Latino hubby, Police Chief Gabe Ortiz. Gabe's presence at the Broken Dishes insures more testosterone-fueled battles than the ones already boiling between Johnny and head wrangler Whip. Rumors that a syndicated travel critic is secretly among the ranch's first guests add to the staff's already abundant distress, and tempers and tensions stretch to their absolute limits. Plenty of exciting PG-rated action some mild flirtation and innuendo is as sexy as it gets will keep the reader turning the pages, while Fowler's sense of humor crops up in character names like Kitty Katz and Bunny Hopp, as well as in Benni's wise and witty personality. Agent, Ellen Geiger. (May 4) Forecast: The author won an Agatha for 1999's Mariner's Compass. She should have a good shot at winning another with this superior effort. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Cowgirl and sometime sleuth Benni winds up investigating murder when she attempts to help some friends publicize their California dude ranch. If the murder isn't solved quickly, their guests will be scared away. For all collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425201978
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Series: Benni Harper Series , #11
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 204,553
  • Product dimensions: 6.74 (w) x 10.88 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Earlene Fowler

Earlene Fowler was raised in La Puente, California, by a Southern mother and a Western father. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Allen, a large number of quilts, and twenty pairs of cowboy boots.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    Is this the beginning?

    I agreed with the other reviewers about the entire Gabe-Benni-Hud thing it's gone one way too long! But the main thing that redeemed this book was the four Georgia cousins: will we see them again in future, and will one of them prove to be Hud's downfall?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2004


    If mysteries can be warm, satisfying, and exciting, Earlene Fowler does it with her Benni Harper series. For those who haven't met Benni yet, she's quite a protagonist; she's a cowgirl, a quilter, a sometimes detective, and the happily married wife of handsome San Celina , CA Police chief Gabe Ortiz. Beginning with the cowgirl part, Benni lives on a ranch on California's Central Coast. Moving on to the quilter, Agatha Award winner Fowler has titled this book, the 11th in her series, 'Broken Dishes,' which is also the name of a quilt pattern. Described as a simple pattern made up of triangles 'arranged in a four-patch square,' it achieves the effect of broken dishes by placing the square at different angles. Now, while the quilt pattern may be simple the problems faced by a ranch familiarly known as Broken Dishes are not. This is a 5,000 acre spread once owned by Joe Darnell, Benni's father's best friend. Joe had mortgaged the ranch to the hilt, wishing to save land that had been in his family for half a century. His idea was to turn the place into a dude ranch. But, then Joe had a heart attack and died. Now, the ranch is in the hands of his daughter, Shawna, and her husband, Johnny. Unfortunately, it looks like the dude ranch may become a dud unless something turns business around - Benni to the rescue. Her idea is to lure customers with the promise of real Western hospitality, home cooking, hunting, fishing, trail rides, barbecues, and rodeos. Good plan and all goes well until the first guests discover a skeleton in a poorly made grave. Of course, someone's been dead and buried for quite a while. Nonetheless, it's up to Benni to keep the guests happy and feeling safe. Her nemesis, 'Hud' Hudson shows up and it's discovered that the late whoever was murdered. To complicate matters further there are whispers that a well known travel writer is among the guests. None of this will look well in print. Fowler fans know that she stitches a well connected plot with both surprises and fun along the way. 'Broken Dishes' may well win this author one more Agatha.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2004

    I want more!

    I have read all of Earlene Fowler's books starring Benni Harper and as usual I can't seem to put the book down until I have it finished. I love the fact that Earlene combines mystery, history, food and quilting and sets the scene in the west with ranchers and horses. Although the characters from Earlene's other books seem to have minor parts I kept wondering what book is Hud going to reappear again!?!?! Will Dove send her duck after Hud?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2004

    'It's time to send Hud packing!'

    I'm a great fan of the Benni Harper series. It's one of the best mystery series around. However, I was disappointed with this book. Benni, of course, was great, but the mystery was kind of nonexistent. And Benni's husband, Gabe, was barely present, and when he was there, he was merely a shadow of himself. Also, wasn't anyone else bothered by Deputy Sheriff 'Hud' Hudson's blatant attempts to destroy Benni's marriage by trying to seduce her to commit adultery --a kind of in your face to Gabe. Please, Earlene, send Hud packing and get back to Gabe and the rest of the wonderful characters you created (Dove, Elvira, Sam, etc.), who had only cameo roles here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2004


    Earlene has done it again with Broken Dishes!Benni Harper, her family and friends are helping a young couple get their dude ranch off to a good start with helping out for the first guests. Naturally, things happen that gets Benni involved with another investigation. When someone from the sheriff's office responds to a call about some human bones found on the property, you got it, Ford Hudson himself! Where does she get these names anyway. We also meet Kitty Katz and Bunny Hopp no less! You will crack ribs laughing at Socrates one minute and shedding tears the next! I read this book through in one day and enjoyed every minute! Who is Socrates.. read the book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2004

    Teriffic mystery

    In San Celina, California, Shawna Darnell Abbott and her husband Johnny turn the Broken Dis Ranch into a guest ranch in the hope that they can make enough profit to avoid bankruptcy and consequently lose the family spread. Benni Harper and her grandmother help the young couple during the first few weeks of the new operation.................. A dog finds a bone on a trail that a guest identifies as human remains. Benni investigates and soon discovers a grave that appears to have been recently dug up. Benni¿s nemesis Police detective Hudson arrives and learns that the buried individual was a murder victim. Someone releases a prize bull that is about to be sold and arson burns down a barn. Benni tries to uncover the identity of the culprit, but the motive is decades old........................... BROKEN DISHES is an exciting combination of a police procedural and an amateur sleuth tale that make for a delightful combination that works and works well. The mystery is cleverly interwoven into a story line that focuses on two individuals trying to save their ranch. Fans will hope the Abbots succeed in this difficult venture that has been made more complicated by the homicides. Earlene Fowler is a grandmaster of characterization starting with Benni and continuing with a strong secondary cast who bring some comic relief to the terse tale................... Harriet Klausner

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    Posted September 19, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2010

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