Fool's Puzzle (Benni Harper Series #1)

( 15 )

Overview

Leaving behind memories of her late husband, Benni Harper is making a fresh start...Moving to the trendy California town of San Celina, she takes an exciting new job as director of a folk-art museum. While setting up an exhibit of handmade quilts, she stumbles upon the body of a brutally stabbed artist. Hoping to conduct an investigation on her own, she crosses paths with the local police chief, who thinks this short and sassy cowgirl should leave detecting to the cops and join him for dinner. But it's hard to ...

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Fool's Puzzle (Benni Harper Series #1)

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Overview

Leaving behind memories of her late husband, Benni Harper is making a fresh start...Moving to the trendy California town of San Celina, she takes an exciting new job as director of a folk-art museum. While setting up an exhibit of handmade quilts, she stumbles upon the body of a brutally stabbed artist. Hoping to conduct an investigation on her own, she crosses paths with the local police chief, who thinks this short and sassy cowgirl should leave detecting to the cops and join him for dinner. But it's hard to keep a country girl down, and soon Benni uncovers an alarming pattern of family secrets, small-town lies—and the shocking truth about the night her husband died...

Introducing a delightful new mystery series featuring Benni Harper--ex-cowgirl, quilter, folk-art expert, and crackerjack sleuth. When an artist is found dead on the eve of a quilt exhibition, Benni must piece together the clues to clear her cousin of murder.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Young, recently widowed Benni Harper, the foolhardy heroine in this predictable debut, leaves her ranch after her husband's accidental death and becomes the curator of the folk-art museum in the coastal California town of San Celina. Benni is frantically trying to assemble a quilt show when she discovers a local potter stabbed to death in the museum studio. Benni's flaky 21-year-old cousin Rita, whom Benni had seen driving away from the museum, disappears and becomes a prime suspect. When Rita calls asking for money, Benni determines not to tell the police, whose new chief, Gabe Ortiz, has warned her not to interfere in the investigation, and decides to clear Rita by finding the real murderer. The day that the quilt show opens, Benni finds a plastic bag filled with money in the attic of the museum but waits to tell Ortiz until after the opening party. When he goes to the attic to investigate, he finds, instead, the body of the museum handyman. Fowler connects all the deaths in her plot, leaving no threads hanging, but Benni's reckless actions and her love-hate relationship with the enigmatic Ortiz yield an unconvincing narrative. Mystery Guild alternate. (May)
Library Journal
Albenia ``Benni'' Harper, a youthful widow, serves as curator of an impecunious folk-art museum in San Celina, California. Just as the deadline for a quilting exhibit arrives, she spots her cousin fleeing from the scene of a murder. Hastening to clear her cousin's name, Benni stays one jump ahead of police, at the same time learning disturbing facts about her husband's death. Hectic action (mostly driving hither and yon) and dialog accompany the amateur sleuth, who actually reads a how-to-be-a-p.i. book for assistance. The start of a promising new series.
Stuart Miller
Benni Harper debuts in Fowler's neat little mystery set in the central California community of San Celina. Benni, a recently widowed rancher's wife, now serves as curator for the town's folk-art museum and overseer of the attached artists' cooperative. Just before discovering the body of one of the local artists the night before the museum's quilt exhibit is to open, Benni sees her own cousin leaving the scene. Despite the warnings of the local chief of police, Benni cannot help probing into the situation, especially when it seems that the murder in some way is connected to her own husband's accidental death some months before. Fowler depicts a small ranching community and its struggling ranchers with conviction, and her plot is compelling. Her character development could use some work--the subplot about the attraction between Benni and the local police officer comes dangerously close to cliche. All in all, though, this is a very promising first novel, presumably the first in a series. Keep a lookout for the next one.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425145456
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Series: Benni Harper Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 231,797
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.70 (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
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 2, 2009

    Nothing to do with quilting!

    Although the the title led me to believe the book would have a quilting theme, that was just a very minor sideline. Analogies, similes, and metaphors were over used and most were very poor comparisons. I would not recommend the book, nor would I read another by this author.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    wonderful story-a must read !!

    Earlene Fowler is a wonderful writer, I have read all of her books. I like
    how the characters interact with each other. Ms. Fowler presents a wonderful cast of characters. The book is a fast read, great for quilters and anyone who wants a good mystery.
    Its hard to put this book down and go to bed for the night.
    Benni Harper finds a dead body in the museum and that's where she first meets her future husband Gabriel Ortiz the acting police chief.
    At first they're like oil and water, Benni is flippant and that annoys Gabe, she calls him Sgt. Friday as a snide remark.

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  • Posted August 29, 2012

    This was a great read. I love murder mysteries. I actually read

    This was a great read. I love murder mysteries. I actually read book 15 for a book club awhile back so now I'm going back and reading the first books of the series. The beginning books show the budding romance which is the best part. I loved how Benni and Gabe drove each other crazy at the beginning.

    Benni was 34 years old and a 9 month widow. She had been married to her late husband for 15 years. This book goes into the heart ache and loneliness that comes with that life changing event. Every day memories of her and her husband broke my heart.

    There were times during the murder solving parts where I was like "Use You Cell Phone!" but then I remembered this was written in the early 90s when cell phones weren't as prevalent. Hahaha. Just keep that in mind.

    This was a fun mystery! At times it felt a little slow, but the plot and characters kept me entertained.

    Content Ratings:
    sexual: mild
    language: mild
    violence: mild

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  • Posted January 17, 2012

    It is an easy and quick read

    I thought the characters would be more hands on in regards to the quilting. Instead, it was more mystery and practically no quilting. A little disappointed in that.
    I am having trouble interacting with the main character. I purchased the first 4 books, so, I will at least read the next 3 in order and see if I can enjoy it more.

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