Murder Passes the Buck: A Yooper Mystery

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Overview

Gertie Johnson may be outspoken, distrustful of banks, and a quick draw with the pepper spray, but she hasn't lost her marbles. Her son Blaze, the sheriff in a backwoods community of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is petitioning to become her legal guardian, but Gertie, a sassy sixty-six-year-old widow with a taste for detective work, has got bigger fish to fry: solving the murder of Chester Lampi who was shot dead in his deer blind. Blaze-who's more interested in retiring than investigating-rules Chester's death as...
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Murder Passes the Buck

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Overview

Gertie Johnson may be outspoken, distrustful of banks, and a quick draw with the pepper spray, but she hasn't lost her marbles. Her son Blaze, the sheriff in a backwoods community of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is petitioning to become her legal guardian, but Gertie, a sassy sixty-six-year-old widow with a taste for detective work, has got bigger fish to fry: solving the murder of Chester Lampi who was shot dead in his deer blind. Blaze-who's more interested in retiring than investigating-rules Chester's death as a hunting accident. So, Gertie takes on the case with help from her friends, man-hungry Cora Mae and pin-curled Kitty. Interrogating neighbors, spying, impersonating the FBI . . . the stubborn, spunky grandmother won't give up the chase even when the killer takes aim at her.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781597223881
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 12/13/2006
  • Series: Wheeler Cozy Mystery Ser.
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 315
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Deb Baker (Wisconsin) grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the International Sled Dog Association, where she actively races sled dogs. Her short stories have appeared in many literary journals, including Passages North and Room of One's Own. Her debut novel, Murder Passes the Buck, won Best of Show in the Authorlink 2003 New Author Awards Competition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Word for the Day

INCHOATE (in KOH it) adj.

Not yet clearly or completely formed;
in the early stages.


If my grandson, Little Donny, hadn't taken so long getting out
of bed this morning, I would have been at Chester's hunting blind
in time to see them haul Chester out. I've never seen a bullet hole
smack in the middle of someone's head before.
Instead, I sat in the passenger seat of Barney's white Ford pickup
truck with my twelve-gauge shotgun at my feet and a box of buckshot
in my lap. I laid on the horn until all two hundred and fifty
pounds of six-foot-four Little Donny shuffled out and stuffed himself
into the driver's seat. He was clutching a chicken salad sandwich
in one hand and tucking his shirt in with the other.

It's times like these I wish I'd learned to drive. Up until Barney
passed on, I didn't need to. He took me wherever I wanted to go.
Now I'm at the mercy of slugs, and I don't mean the bullet kind.
Little Donny is nineteen years old, and he really appreciates the
backwoods. He came to the Michigan Upper Peninsula, the U.P.,
as we call it, from his home in Milwaukee the day before yesterday
for the opening of deer-hunting season, which is today, November
fifteenth. At the first gray streak of daylight you could hear rifles
going off all over the woods, and that's when Chester got it right
between the eyes.

"I suppose I missed the whole thing," I called out the window
when we pulled up outside of Chester's blind.

My son, Blaze, leaned against his rust-bucket yellow pickup
with SHERIFF printed on the side, filling out paperwork. No one
else wasaround. Either we'd beat the ambulance or it had already
transported its patient.

"Just finishing up," he muttered, still writing in his notebook,
not noticing my disappointment. "Chester's body is at the morgue
in Escabana by now. How did you find out about it?"

"Heard it on the scanner."

Last year when Barney died, I cold-packed my dreams in a canning
jar and placed them high on a dusty shelf in my pantry. A
week after I buried him I turned sixty-six and Cora Mae bought
me a police scanner for my birthday. It sat in my closet until three
days ago when I mentioned to someone that I'm a recent widow
and Cora Mae let me have it. "Gertie Johnson, I know you loved
Barney, but it's time to start living again. Let's go over to your
house and listen to that scanner I gave you. Maybe something will
pop up." 

Something had popped up, and that something had popped
Chester.

I jumped down from the cab and the box of buckshot fell to
the ground.

"That thing better not be loaded," Blaze said, after heaving
himself off the truck and glancing at the shotgun on the floor.

"You know it's against the law to transport a loaded weapon in a
vehicle. We've been through this before."

"Of course it's not loaded," I lied, picking up the box of buckshot
and stuffing it under the seat.

Little Donny crawled out of the driver's seat, and I couldn't
help noticing a glob of mustard stuck on his chin. And I couldn't
help noticing that Blaze couldn't button the bottom of his sheriff 's
uniform shirt anymore.

I sighed, thinking of Chester's family and how they'd feel when
they heard the bad news, and for a few minutes Little Donny's
sloppiness and Blaze's escalating weight gain didn't seem important
at all.

"What happened here?" I asked.

"Nothing much to it," Blaze said, shaking his head. "Stray bullet
whomped into the blind and caught poor unlucky Chester right
between the eyes. We have at least one shooting accident every
hunting season."

The air was clean and crisp, and Blaze's breath steamed around
his head while he talked. I could smell cheap cologne hanging in
the air. Blaze always wore too much.

"Remember last year," he continued, "that guy in Trenary was
shot in the stomach sleeping in bed. Remember that, Little Donny?" 

"Yeah, I remember."

"So you're writing this off as an accident?" I stammered, in
disbelief.

Blaze looked surprised that I would even suggest anything else.
"It was an accident and don't go saying anything different."

Ever since Blaze turned forty-four all he thinks about is retirement,
even though he still has a few years left if he wants a full
pension. He's already retired in his mind and that's the scary thing.
He doesn't care anymore and is just putting in his time. Maybe he
needs me to watch out for him, make him walk the straight and
narrow. Maybe I have to be tough with him.

"What if someone murdered Chester and you're letting a killer
get away with it?" I pulled off my Blue Blocker sunglasses so he
could see my glare. "I bet that's what happened, and you're too lazy
to follow through with a proper investigation."

"Ma, quit. I really hate to disappoint you, but nobody ever gets
murdered in Stonely. You've been watching too many soap operas
again."

"I've never watched a soap opera in my life. But I have...(Continues)
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 170 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(84)

4 Star

(53)

3 Star

(21)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(10)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 170 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 21, 2010

    Like Evanovich? Love Deb Baker

    As a big Evanovich fan, I was really looking forward to reading this based on the reviews. It didn't disappoint. Laugh-out-loud humour, a great story, and a really fun read. I'll definately be reading more from Gertie!

    16 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 15, 2010

    Murder Passes the Buck

    This book was rather a disappointment for an avid reader of women's mystery writers. The writer borrows far too heavily from the likes of Goldy Schultz, the caterer turned detective, if somewhat reluctantly but with the help of a wealthy friend and a deputy husband who also cooks and helps her out of harms way. This heroine has a son, Blaze (named for a horse and still worked into a lather over it instead of just jumping into the saddle and being the stallion he could be), also a sheriff who spends so much of his time with his mousy almost-not-there as a character wife, Mary, who lives in a doublewide on Mom's property trying to get his hands on her money that he tries to have her declared incompetent by the court. It was filled with typos, misspellings, and awkward places made by a novice, not a novelist. I was very disappointing that this is compared to Janet Evonovich who really IS funny and sticks to the dialect of Trenton, NJ. There doesn't seem to BE a dialect of the Upper Penninsula, MI. I won't be wasting my money on another series by Deb Baker. I'm amazed she got published at all.

    8 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    Boo

    Just wanted to thank dollycas for her plot spoiler. Now i dont have to read the book!!!! Learn to write a review, not a blog, book report or dissertation. Stop dissecting every sentence.

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 19, 2011

    My new favorite series!

    Move over Stephanie Plum. I absolutely love this series of books, the charachters are hilarious, with enough real problems to keep the story believable, but not making it a drama. It's also nice to read a lighthearted mystery that is a little closer to real life, for example, no one wakes up first thing in the morning french-kissing a hottie! (I mean, who does that?) The heroine is entirely likable and I found myself rushing through the day to read these books. I recommend this for anyone who likes mysteries. I can't wait for more books to be added to this series.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2012

    Like Grandma Mazur Got Her Own Series

    I enjoyed this book and thought it came closest to the Evanovich trademark hilarity of old. It is as if Grandma Mazur became a detective. Light-hearted, easy to read, fun.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    Gertie is a riot!

    I love this book! If you are in need of a good laugh, this is for you.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Bang For Your Buck!

    Deb Baker has long been a favorite author of mine. It was an absolute delight for me to revisit this fun, witty, well written book. I had first read this book a few years ago, and am so pleased to see it for sale with a snazzy new cover.

    Main character Gertie Johnson is one sharp Grandma with a keen sense of right and wrong and a nose for finding the truth. When her neighbor, Chester Lampi, is shot on the opening day of deer hunting season his death is packed into the "tragic accident, stray bullet" box on the police report before Chester himself is ready for his own pine box.

    I really enjoyed the whole book- each character is unique, quirky and comes to life in the reader's minds eye. The book is a fast read, chiefly because it practically dares you to put it down without finishing as each chapter further weaves the mystery with interlocking clues and cues laced with more than a dash of humor! I couldn't put it down until I was finished;it was just as fun for me to read the second time around as it was the first.

    I very highly recommend this book for mystery lovers of all ages- Gertie may be part of the over 65 set, but she's got more spunk than a lot of people half her age! Buy this book, enjoy it, and give it pride of place on your bookshelves!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 15, 2010

    Entertaining Mystery!

    A cozy mystery long on laughs and full of twists and turns. The main character, Gertie Johnson, has a very distinctive voice and an inquisitive nature that gets her into deep trouble. I wanted to strangle her at times, because this is one lady who doesn't listen to reason. But of course, her poking her nose into other people's business was half the fun.

    Having visited the backwoods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I can tell you that the setting and good-hearted people are accurately depicted. Murder Passes the Buck is an enjoyable, easy read. Although it's the first in a series, it's a complete story in and of itself.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2008

    A Murder Mystery That is Just So Much Fun to Read!

    This is one entertaining murder mystery! The characters are all so unique and yet so real. The main character, Gertie, is quite an endearing older woman who lives by her own set of rules and tells her story laced with her own entertaining observations about her family and friends, which are not always flattering, but had me chuckling out loud! Memorable and colorful characters, suspense, and the humorous descriptions are a perfect mix for a mystery that I didn't want to end! I discovered this book by reading the author's doll mystery series. I am sure glad I took a chance on it, and I highly recommend it!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2006

    A Most Pleasurable Read

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! What fun to experience the life of the 'UP' through a quirky character named Gertie. She represents a wonderful example of a very determined woman who wants to prove that she can solve a murder that her son, the sheriff doesn't think even took place. Through her escapades we meet her friends and family who are quirky and funny as well. Great twist in the ending and I look forward to reading the rest of the upcoming books in the series!!!!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2006

    A Hiliarious New Mystery

    Imagine Stephanie Plum thirty-odd years from now and you¿ll have Gertie Johnson, a sixty-something widow at loose ends after the death of her husband. The perfect solution for her is to monitor her police scanner, which has her butting heads with her donut-friendly son Blaze ¿call-me¿Brian- Johnson, the Michigan Upper Peninsula sheriff. When the two meet over the body of Chester Lampi in a deer blind her son is all too eager to write it off as an accident while Gertie knows that it¿s something more. With the aid of her slacker and not always willing grandson Little Donny, her Wonderbra-clad best friend Cora Mae, and a woman-of-size senior citizen bodyguard, Gertie manages to break as many laws as possible in order to solve the murder and prove her son wrong. That Blaze is attempting to have her declared incompetent is just an added incentive, as if she can prove she¿s right she can also prove that she¿s not crazy. Full of sass and humor without being cutesy, Murder Passes the Buck is a charming and hilarious mystery that avoids the clichés of mysteries featuring senior citizens. Never predictable but always entertaining, Gertie is stubborn and determined with a vulnerability that stems from the loss of her husband and the attack by her son. Scenes featuring Little Donny and his proclivity for being attacked by deer and Gertie¿s stun gun will have the reader laughing out loud. Be prepared to read this mystery in one sitting and be left anxiously awaiting the next Youper Mystery featuring the delightful Gertie Johnson.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2012

    Outrageously funny Outrageously funny

    Have lived in Michigan and was thrilled to read a story based there .... The characters were delightful and Gert did remind me of someone I know as most people must have one like her in there life

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2012

    Funny and creative

    The charecters are funny, engaging and enjoyable! A great and fun read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    Was a Pleasure to Read

    I really enjoyed reading this book from the first to last sentence. I thought I knew who the murderer was and was pleasantly surprised. It's funny, to the point and a quick read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2013

    THIS IS A WELL WRITTEN STORY. YOU WOULD LIKE THIS BOOK. I WOULD

    THIS IS A WELL WRITTEN STORY. YOU WOULD LIKE THIS BOOK. I WOULD READ MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR. KEEP THE GOOD WORK UP

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    Different Kind of Mystery

    I'm used to reading Agatha Christie mysteries, so having somebody who's basically the opposite of Miss Marple took some getting used to. It was a fun read. It had me giggling at some parts, which is always nice no matter what you're reading. Even though my first instinct on who "dunnit" was correct, it still had some fun twists that the characters go through that had me guessing how they were going to get out of this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2013

    good choice

    This book was a fun read with interesting characters, definately recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2013

    Would have given this a 2, but

    Since this is not really my kind of book, it was hard to rate. Kind of off the wall to me, but it made me laugh.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    Aninymous

    This was a good story, with great characters. Sometimes laugh out loud funny with escapeds of the three women.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    A happy ending for a Sparks book

    Good story, an enjoyable read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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