Mama Gets Hitched (Mace Bauer Mystery Series #3)by Deborah Sharp
According to Mama, a Gone with the Wind-themed weddingcomplete with Scarlett O' Hara bridesmaid gowns and a ring-bearing Pomeranianis fine and dandy for her fifth trip down the aisle. But what's a bridezilla to do when her caterer is murdered? Thanks to the nonstop gossip train in their small Florida town, Mama's gator-wrestling daughter Mace/em>
According to Mama, a Gone with the Wind-themed weddingcomplete with Scarlett O' Hara bridesmaid gowns and a ring-bearing Pomeranianis fine and dandy for her fifth trip down the aisle. But what's a bridezilla to do when her caterer is murdered? Thanks to the nonstop gossip train in their small Florida town, Mama's gator-wrestling daughter Mace is getting the dirt on who did it.
Unfortunately, the suspect list is longer than the gift registry. Right at the top are the groom's East Coast Yankee cousinswho may have Mafia ties. With her on-again, off-again beau, Detective Carlos Martinez, Mace must track down the killer before Mama's Special Day turns especially deadly.
"This is a humorous little bit of fluff, perfect for the beach."The Globe and Mail
"Bound to give tourists a look at a Florida that is fast being paved out of existence."Kirkus Reviews
"Sibling rivalry, steamy romance, a surprising killer, and plenty of catfish and hush puppies make this Southern cozy a winner."Publishers Weekly
"Once again Sharp has presented a humorous look at life in the interior of Florida."Booklist
"This series is just filled with down home charm, with a typical family that loves each other as they drive each other crazy."Deadly Pleasures
"Who knew that a whodunit would not only keep you guessing-but have you laughing!"Hoda Kotb, NBC Today Show co-anchor
"Sharp delivers a wide swath of humor and a keen sense of Florida's history and present."Oline H. Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"A terrific combination of sleuthing and silliness."Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times
"Hitched is a wonderful continuation in a good series. Keep ‘em coming."Reviewing the Evidence
"Filled with a delightfully off-beat Southern charm, Mama Gets Hitched is fast-paced, full of suspense, and funny to boot!"FreshFiction.com
Read an Excerpt
Mama gets HitchedA Mace Bauer Mystery
By DEBORAH SHARP
Midnight InkCopyright © 2010 Deborah Sharp
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSmall, silver-trimmed circles of tulle covered the tabletop. Mama held up what looked like two identical pieces of the fabric, one in each hand.
"Don't tell me you can't see the difference, Mace." She thrust the first circle under my nose. "This is celadon." She shook it for emphasis. The fluorescent lights of the VFW hall gave the green tulle a dull gleam. "And this," she waved the second circle within inches of my eyes, "is honeydew."
I batted away her hand. "Like I told you, Mama, they look exactly the same. Light green."
She rolled her eyes and sighed heavily, as if she couldn't stand to deal for one more minute with poor dumb trash who couldn't tell the difference between subtle shadings of tulle. I decided I'd had just about enough of her Bridezilla routine.
"Wouldn't you say you're going a little nuts, Mama? Does it really matter whether every square centimeter of tulle is dyed exactly the same shade as the next? All this whoop-de-doo is kind of tacky, anyway. After all, this is your fifth trip down the aisle."
Mama looked wounded. "You know I've never had a real wedding, Mace. I eloped with your daddy. And when I got married after he died ... well, you know all about Husband No. 2. After that nightmare, I thought I might jinx my third try by making a big todo. Turned out that one didn't take either, big wedding or small. And then No. 4 and I met on that cruise and decided to have the ship's captain tie the knot."
I remembered. My sisters and I were horrified when Mama came home with a new husband, twenty years her junior. We also got souvenirs that said My Mother Went to Cancun and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt.
"Poor No. 4," Mama said. "He didn't seem as good a choice on dry land as he had on the high seas. Maybe I shouldn't have mixed champagne with Dramamine. Anyway, Mace, Sally is the first man I've really loved since your daddy. I want this wedding to be perfect."
Mama was marrying Salvatore Provenza-Sally-in less than a week. Under the pressure of pulling off the Ceremony of the Century in Himmarshee, Florida, she'd mutated into someone my sisters and I barely recognized. She was driving us crazy, which wasn't the unusual part. She's always done that. But we'd never seen Mama so obsessed over the inconsequential.
Here's a woman who nearly landed in prison after a corpse turned up in her turquoise convertible. Then, she found an old beau keeled over dead in his Cow Hunter Chili. She's tangled with a gator, and was nearly trampled to death during a week-long horse ride through Florida's cattle country. And that's just what Mama's survived in the past year.
Now, tulle had her in a tizzy. I was ready to head out into the swamp to escape. And my sisters, Maddie and Marty, were almost willing to brave the gators and the snakes to come with me. But I knew I had to give her the customary daughterly pep talk.
"Take a deep breath, Mama," I recited. "Everything's going to be fine. The wedding will be incredible. You'll be the prettiest bride ever."
Mama perked up. She rarely misses a Sunday at Abundant Forgiveness, Love and Charity Chapel. But she must have skipped over that part in the Bible about vanity being a sin. She's tiny, with perfect features in an unlined face. Almost sixty-three, she's still beautiful. And she never tires of being reminded of that fact.
"I'm sorry, Mace." She ran her hands through her platinum-hued hair. "It's all these details. And, of course, That Woman. I'm telling you, honey, she's getting on my last nerve!"
"That Woman" could mean only one person: C'ndee Ciancio, Sal's cousin-in-law from his first marriage. C'ndee had swooped down from New Jersey a month ago, bragging about her wedding-planning expertise, and bulldozing her way into helping Mama. Mama went along, mainly because C'ndee was kin to Sal, and Mama loved Sal.
"Where is she, anyway?" I asked.
Glancing at her watch, Mama frowned. "Running almost twenty minutes late, just like Ronnie Hodges. We were supposed to meet him here at nine a.m. sharp to go over the catering and the hors d'oeuvres. I had to steer C'ndee off melon balls wrapped in something called 'prosciutto.' That might fly in Hackensack, I told her, but not in Himmarshee. We're just a little country town. We like things simple."
Simple? Like a Gone with the Wind-themed wedding, complete with crinolines and bridesmaids' parasols for my sisters and me? But I wasn't about to start the debate again about those hideous dresses. Like the South and the Civil War, I'd already lost that fight.
Mama returned her attention to the tulle, scrutinizing the circles like a jeweler examining diamonds. I looked out the window. Low, gray clouds had leaked rain all morning, making for a dreary Monday.
"Looks like we're getting an early jump on the rainy season. It's barely June," I said.
"Good thing," Mama said. "It's been so dry, the trees are bribing the dogs."
The rain-slicked parking lot was deserted out front. Water droplets formed and fell from the red flowers of a jatropha branch that brushed against the window. I said a silent prayer the weekend would bring better weather for Saturday's wedding.
Inside, it was all too obvious the VFW had served lots of meals at last night's spaghetti dinner. A ground-beef-and-garlic-scented cloud hung in the air. We'd have to remember to light some of Mama's aromatherapy candles in the hall before the ceremony.
Just then, the side door burst open. C'ndee rushed in, breathless, smelling of rain and White Diamonds perfume. Everything about her was big: A mass of dark, curly hair. Blood-red lips. Generous curves, emphasized by a clingy top, short skirt, and perilously high heels.
Mama looked pointedly at her watch. C'ndee pretended not to see.
"Let me tell you, there aren't enough hours in the day!" She collapsed onto a chair next to Mama. "I found you some to-die-for bridesmaids' gifts, Rosalee."
She plopped a girly looking shopping bag on the table, next to an appointment book and a huge leather purse with more metal studs than a hardware store. "You'll absolutely love them."
"We'll see." Mama folded her arms over her chest.
I just hoped C'ndee hadn't bought us animal-print thong underwear. I'd gotten an unfortunate glance at a leopard pair she wore, when she leaned over in a pair of tight hip-huggers. The undies rode up, the slacks rode down, and I learned more than I wanted to about C'ndee's taste in lingerie.
"Where'd you park, C'ndee?" I asked. "I didn't see you pull in out front."
"There's a big, muddy puddle out there. I parked in back, where it's drier."
I hadn't thought to look in the back when I dropped Mama at the front door, and then waded in from a parking space in ankle-deep water. In the boots I wear for work at Himmarshee Park, I'm not as fussy about getting wet as I might be if I wore shoes like C'ndee's. They gave her "toe cleavage," and probably cost two weeks of my salary.
I could see Mama eyeing the sack on the table with curiosity. I pushed back my chair.
"I'm going to look in the kitchen, see if maybe Ronnie slipped in from the back parking lot, too," I said.
Mama was already tearing at tissue paper as I walked away. C'ndee, meanwhile, lifted the two tulle swatches from the table.
"Oh, my Gawd!" she cried. "These shades are completely different! This is awful, Rosalee!"
Turning, I caught Mama's look of vindication. Then I continued through heavy swinging doors from the dining room into the VFW's kitchen. The lights were off. Weak sunlight peeked through the sole window, a tiny slit near the ceiling. On this gray day, it barely illuminated a corner of the big room. I felt along the wall on each side of the swinging doors.
No light switches. I picked my way carefully into the dark space.
The farther I moved from the little window, the darker the kitchen got. I could just make out the shape of a big stove, and spaghetti pots stacked on tall wire shelves. My eyes were on the shelves when I felt something slick under my boot. I hoped whoever had used the kitchen last had picked up the big stuff. I didn't want to sprawl into grease or sauce or whatever that was on the floor.
A sliver of light shone at the far end of the kitchen, a crack of sunlight under a back door. I inched toward it, hands out to either side to catch me, or anything I might be about to run into.
Finally, I rounded a countertop and reached the door. Feeling for the switches, I flipped on all three. The kitchen gleamed. I felt bad about maligning the cooking crew. I could see extra care had been taken in scrubbing everything clean.
Which made that nasty spot I'd stepped in by the stove seem all the more strange.
Suddenly, I didn't want to find out what was on the floor. I'd walked into something I wished I hadn't a few times before. I hesitated, wondering if I should call Carlos Martinez, my on-again-off-again police-detective boyfriend. Things hadn't gone so well the last time we talked. Plus, how silly would I seem if what had felt slick and scary in the dark was only a puddle of cooking oil?
I retraced my steps around the corner, toward the hulking stove. It was just on the other side where I'd slipped. I swallowed. My mouth was suddenly dry. Slowly, I rounded the big stove and looked down.
A man lay motionless on the floor. His left arm was caught under his body. The right was splayed above his head as if he were reaching out for something-or someone. I recognized brown hair going gray and the tattoo of a tiger on his muscled forearm. Ronnie Hodges.
Blood soaked his white T-shirt, and pooled onto the floor around his body. At the far edge of the dark puddle, a print from a heavy work boot was just my size.
Excerpted from Mama gets Hitched by DEBORAH SHARP Copyright © 2010 by Deborah Sharp. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Like the main character in her “Mace Bauer Mysteries,’’ her family roots were set in Florida long before Disney or Miami Vice. As a native and former reporter for USA Today, she knows the spots not found on maps: Molasses Junction. Muse, and now, Himmarshee, her own tiny slice of “Authentic Florida.’’
To create Himmarshee, Deborah borrowed from the present-day ranching town of Okeechobee, and from the south Florida of her family’s past.
Not far from Ft. Lauderdale, her dad used to walk to town, leading the family cow. A generation later, Deborah rode her horse over the same citrus- and ranch-dotted terrain. Now, it’s all interstates and strip malls.
The difference between Mace’s hometown and hers: Deborah will never let Himmarshee be spoiled by sprawl.
The News-Press in Fort Myers gave Deborah her first job, in 1982. Her favorite assignment: getting cast as a zombie when Day of the Dead filmed on Sanibel Island. Her fellow extras raved about her lurching.
A News-Press bonus: she met TV reporter Kerry Sanders in Immokalee, both of them shivering at dawn to see whether a winter freeze would ruin the green pepper crop. They’ve been married since 1989. No kids; no pets, but had goldfish once. Turned out badlynot a good omen for higher life forms.
When they moved back to Deborah’s hometown in 1991, the occasional stories she’d been writing for USA Today became a flood. Miami’s loony nature gives it a lock on headlines.
And then, 9/11, and everything changed. One of her last assignments before she left the paper was profiling soldiers killed in war. Grieving parents; spouses; kids. She couldn’t absorb all that sadness anymore.
So, at age fifty, fiction-writing beckoned. She’d get to determine the endings. Punish the bad and reward the good. And, she’d throw in some romance, too.
She likes writing about Mama because the character makes her laugh. And doesn’t everyone need a smile now and then?
◊ NBC's Today Show from November 4, 2008
◊ "Mayor's Book Talk" from January 14, 2009
◊NBC6 "South Florida Today." from July 17, 2009
◊NBC's Today Show from August 4, 2009
◊ WJXT-TV from November 17, 2009
◊ NBC's Today Show from August 24, 2010
◊ NBC's Today Show from December 28, 2011
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Another great read!
How I adore this series. Mama's antics make me laugh and I love how Mace steps up to each challenge even when some might make her roll her eyes...like Mama's 'GONE WITH THE WIND' themed wedding. Her three daughters don't know why she's going to all this fuss. It is wedding number five after all. But Mama wants a fab wedding since this is true love. And Mama usually gets what Mama wants. It's easier to give in. Mace gets involved in the investigation since it's Mama's wedding caterer and it also involves Mace's sweetie, Detective Carlos Martinez (so yummy)....it could mean some quality time even though it makes Martinez crazy that Mace gets involved and sometimes hurt. I do feel for Mace and her sisters, but Mama is a wonderful character and I wouldn't mind having her for my Mama. At least for a little while. If you want a superb mystery set in a wonderful locale and you want to laugh a lot, this is the mystery for you and definitely the series is.
good book, more fun than I thought it would be
see other reviews...crazy mix of zany family characters...Lol with murder mixed in...fun reads
love her books
Enjoyed this book. Light and funny
Love the series!! Suspense, family, humor, and romance - perfect mix!
This series is full of humor. The murder mystery has you guessing until the very end.
An easy book to read that flows right along picking up from the previous book in this series. It is packed with twists and turns, that can send you on an emotional rollercoaster. So much so that you may relate to the characters. It also fills in some information about Carlos past. I would recommend this series to anyone that likes fun murder mysteries that aren't boring.
Mama Gets Hitched is the third and funniest of the Mace Bauer Mystery series. It is a well-written page-turner that had me laughing out loud at the flamboyance of Mamas fifth marriage ceremony to shedding a tear at the tender moments between Mace and on-again (?) boyfriend/police detective Carlos. Apparently, you only get married four or five times in your life, so Mama wants this one to be special. So, she is none to happy with a dead body showing up at the reception hall to steal her spotlight. It is up to Mace to solve the mystery before Mama's big day is ruined. I have enjoyed every one of the Mama books, but this one has been my favorite. Sharp entwines humor with mystery and adds a thread of local Florida knowledge few people know about. I LOVED this book and you will too. Victoria Allman SEAsoned - A Chef's Journey with Her Captain
Remember that old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again"? In "Mama Gets Hitched", the latest in Deborah Sharp's Florida mystery series featuring Mace Bauer and her wacky family, Mama Roselee takes that saying literally. By getting married.again-for the-ahem-fifth time. Hey, you know that other old saying, right."fifth time's a charm"? This time, Mama is marrying a Jersey guy and she wants to do it right-that is, Southern style. Think of an aging Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, complete with hoopskirts, parasols, acres and acres of colored tulle and a catered affair to die for.literally. Because right before the nuptials are scheduled to take place in the VFW hall in the sleepy Florida town of Himmarshee, the caterer is found stabbed to death in the kitchen. Turns out the caterer's interests went far beyond menu planning. And the list of favorite suspects in his murder consists mostly of the Yankee relatives of the groom-to-be. Can Mace, with the help of her two sisters, Maddie and Marty and on-again/off-again policeman/boyfriend Carlos Martinez, figure out who really dunnit so Mama's big day isn't spoiled? I won't tell. Check out "Mama Gets Hitched" and find out for yourself. You won't be disappointed. Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, Author of "Retirement Can Be Murder" for Suspense Magazine