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The magic dies abruptly for The Great Mandolini when one of his attractive aides is discovered skewered on one of the master illusionist's props. Judith's Joe, who is recruited into the investigation by Tribal Police Detective Jack Jackrabbit, wants his snooping spouse and her cantankerous coz to steer clear for their own safety. But all bets are off when corpse number two materializes from among Mandolini's adoring entourage of oddball relatives, relatives' relatives, friends, lovers, and business associates.
Someone is causing murderous confusion that is no illusion, and it's going to take some serious sleight of hand by Judith and Renie to unravel this tangled rope trick - or, if the cousins aren't careful, they could end up being the encore.
Judith McMonigle Flynn staggered out of the car, dumped a foil-lined paper cup of cigarette butts into a big stone ashtray, and found herself looking up at an imposing white-haired Native-American man who was wearing more gold braid than General Douglas MacArthur.
"I'm Bob Bearclaw, the doorman here at the Stillasnowamish casino," the big man announced in a deep, pleasing voice. "Welcome to our resort. May I help you, young lady?"
Judith smiled. "You can help my mother. She's in the backseat and is rather crippled. She'll need a wheelchair, if you have one available."
"Of course we do," Bob replied. "I'll get it right away." He snapped his fingers and made a complicated gesture with his hand. A young valet with a long black braid nodded deferentially before racing inside the casino.
Joe Flynn had finished speaking with a bellman who was now unloading the family's luggage from the Subaru.
"They're getting a wheelchair for Mother," she told her husband.
Joe scowled. "You mean we have to let her out of the car?"
"Don't be mean," Judith scolded. "We don't want to get off to a bad start on our vacation. I'm the one who could hardly breathe with Mother smoking her head off in the backseat."
"And bitching the whole way because there wasn't an ashtray there," Joe grumbled. "She should have thanked me for fixing that cup for her."
Judith refused to argue further. Besides, Joe had to deal with the parking attendant as well as the bellman. And Judith had to deal with her mother.
"A wheelchair is on its way," Judith said, poking her head into the smoky car.
"Don't let Lunkhead push me around in it," Gertrude Grover snapped. "I wouldn't let him haul me from a burning building."
"Don't mention that!" Judith exclaimed. "And stop calling Joe 'Lunkhead.' He's the one who had to load the car and drive for almost two hours to get to Lake Stillasnowamish."
Gertrude hadn't budged from her place in the backseat. In fact, she was lighting another cigarette. "Two hours, my foot. What was he doing, pedaling with his feet? I can move faster with my walker. It used to take us only an hour and a half to get to the family cabin. And that was before they put in the freeway."
"It was the freeway construction that held us up," Judith replied, gnashing her teeth. "Besides, we're ten miles from the cabin." She glanced behind her where the doorman was approaching with a shiny yellow wheelchair. "Here, Mother, I can help you."
"No, you can't," Gertrude retorted. "You'll pop your phony hip. At least my joints are the originals. Not that I couldn't use a few spare parts."
The reference to the artificial hip rankled with Judith. It had been over a year since the replacement surgery, and though she had to be careful not to dislocate it, Judith felt she was getting back to normal. Gertrude, however, liked to remind her daughter that she wasn't normal and never had been.
Judith felt a gentle tap on her shoulder.
"Mrs. Flynn, isn't it?" Bob Bearclaw asked. Seeing Judith give a jerky nod, he leaned into the car. "Then you must be Mrs. Grover. Wait until you see the speedy little number I've got for you. Here, let me help you get out."
A moment later, Gertrude emerged, still smoking, but far from fuming. "You're a good boy," she said to the doorman, who was probably close to seventy. "Your mother must have raised you right."
With remarkable ease, the doorman put Gertrude into the shiny yellow wheelchair and began pushing her up the handicapped ramp. Joe finished his business with the attendants just as his mother-in-law disappeared inside the glass doors of the casino. Judith took a deep breath and surveyed her surroundings.
The Lake Stillasnowamish Resort Casino was located in a spectacular setting. In early March, the cottonwood, alder, and vine maples were just beginning to bud. But the stately evergreens were reflected in the jade-green lake that nestled in the bosom of Mount Nugget. Although Judith had never visited the resort complex before, she knew the area well. Every year until her first marriage, she and the rest of the Grover clan had spent their summers at the family cabins ten miles west of Lake Stillasnowamish. In those days, no one would have dreamed of a gambling establishment in the area, let alone one owned by members of the Stillasnowamish tribe.
"Are you ready?" Judith asked Joe, who was putting the luggage and parking receipts into his wallet.
"Let's wait," Joe said. "If we stay out here for another, oh, twenty minutes, the casino might have raffled off your mother."
"Joe!" Judith exclaimed, but her exasperation was halfhearted. "Please stop making those remarks. You know I didn't want to bring Mother with us, but we had no choice since the toolshed is being renovated along with the bed-and-breakfast. She couldn't stay with Aunt Deb. We tried that once, and they almost killed each other."
"It was sheer perversity of the Rankerses to go to Palm Springs in March this year instead of January or February," Joe declared, referring to the Flynns' next-door neighbors. "Carl and Arlene actually enjoy your mother's company. I've never been able to figure out why. That's perversity, too."
"They're good people," Judith said, starting up the stone steps to the casino entrance. "Besides, they had a problem with the time-share. That's why they had to change their plans."
"Why," Joe mused, "can't they have places to board old people when their kids want to get away? You know, like a kennel. When the Steins on the corner take a trip, they always put Rosie in a boarding -- "Hocus Croakus
Posted September 25, 2004
The characters were much harsher than usual, esp Renie. The ending was disappointing. I don't believe what took place in the casino could actually happen in any of the casinos I've visited in Las Vegas, Lousianna and Canada. Think Judith needs to quit abusing Sweetums and give him to someone who won't leave him underfoot in a house with workmen running in and out.
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Posted November 15, 2011
Posted December 9, 2008
Judith McMonigle Flynn and her beloved spouse Joe temporarily move out of their Hillside Manor bed and breakfast while the inn is renovated due to fire damage. Taking their feuding moms with them, the couple joins Judith¿s cousin and amateur sleuth partner Renie and her husband at the Stillasnowamish Resort Casino where Renie attends a conference.<P> However where Judith goes homicide seems to also accompany her. This time she discovers the multiple stabbed corpse of magician assistant Salome. Casino manager Pancho Green asks his friend former cop Joe to investigate the homicide, but as usual Judith sticks her nose into the case. Meanwhile Renie desperately tries to stay out of it this time, but Judith knows whom to turn to when she needs help in uncovering the identity of a murderer.<P> The latest Judith tale is a strong amateur sleuth novel that has a shocker (for this series at least) ending. The story line is often amusing as the support cast from the recurring characters as well as the contractors working the B&B and a second inn exasperate the heroine. The who-done-it is cleverly designed so that readers along with Joe and Judith struggle to uncover the identity of the killer. HOCUS CROAKUS is an entertaining fun bed and breakfast mystery that will please most of Mary Daheim¿s fans and bring new readers to stay at the Hillside Manor.<P> Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 29, 2003
Judith McMonigle Flynn and her cousin Renie have solved lots of crimes in the past. In this book Judith and her husband Joe have to move out of Hillside Manor, Judith's Seattle B&B, due to post-fire renovations. They join Renie and her husband Bill and head for the Stillasnowamish Resort Casino. Renie has a conference to attend there. Both Renie and Judith had to bring their mothers along. These two women constantly fight but end up sharing a room. Judith discovers Salome, the resort magician's beautiful assistant, stabbed multiple times after the show. Pancho Green, the casino manager, recruits Joe, an ex-cop, to help investigate. Judith can't help but snoop. Joe allows Judith to question people regarding the murder, but he doesn't make it easy for her. Still, she finds a way to interrogate just about everyone. Renie tries to ignore all of it and gamble. That's tough to do with a cousin like Judith. Add to this the fact that Judith's contractor for the renovations at the B&B is constantly calling with problems, and Judith ends up driving back into town trying to resolve those problems. Also, Judith is having a B&B built on nearby family land. There appear to be problems with the site and she has to try to resolve them too. Once again Judith is on the trail of a killer. Renie is assisting, but only when Judith insists. These two are great together. They are very well constructed characters, and I enjoy reading about their many escapades. I liked the setting of this resort casino. Daheim describes the area so well, I felt as though I'd been there. The plot in this book is terrific. I wasn't able to figure it out ahead -- a real plus. I never feel Judith is overlooking clues -- I hate books where I am yelling at the protagonist to pay attention. Don't have to do that in this series. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book, and that you read the whole series. I know there are books I've missed and I plan to go back and read them. Mary Daheim, and her Bed and Breakfast series, is terrific!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 21, 2013
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