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A Real Basket Case

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An Agatha Award Finalist for Best First Novel

Feeling neglected by her workaholic husband, forty-something gift basket designer Claire Hanover joins an aerobics class at the urging of her best friend Ellen. Divorced and bitterly unhappy, Ellen and most of the other women in the class add a little vicarious excitement to their lives by flirting with the handsome instructor, Enrique. In a moment...

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A Real Basket Case

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An Agatha Award Finalist for Best First Novel

Feeling neglected by her workaholic husband, forty-something gift basket designer Claire Hanover joins an aerobics class at the urging of her best friend Ellen. Divorced and bitterly unhappy, Ellen and most of the other women in the class add a little vicarious excitement to their lives by flirting with the handsome instructor, Enrique. In a moment of weakness, Claire agrees to let the charming Enrique come to her house to give her a massage. She realizes she has made a deadly mistake when Enrique is shot and killed in her bedroom and her husband Roger is arrested for the murder.

Determined to clear Roger’s name and save her marriage, Claire sets out to find the real killer, encountering drug dealers, jealous ex-girlfriends, and angry cops along the way.

“A tense, exciting debut.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Will appeal to Desperate Housewives fans and those who like cozies with a bit of spice.” —BOOKLIST

“A real winner! Don’t miss it.”—Maggie Sefton, bestselling author of Knit One, Kill Two

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

It is 1888, and in Emerson's latest, reporter Diana Spaulding is traveling to Maine to marry Dr. Ben Northcote. They stop in Liberty, NY, to meet the Grants, her estranged mother's new family, who run a summer hotel. When the body of a young woman is found under the hotel, Diana investigates. Not as dark as Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy books, this third entry of a planned four-book set featuring Diana (Deadlier than the Pen) by the author of the popular "Face Down" Elizabethan mysteries deals with similar issues of women living in 19th-century America. A gentle historical. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ12/06.]

Francis's Keely Moreno (Pier Pressure) is a foot reflexologist in Key West. Her boyfriend, Punt (yes, his name is Punt) Ashford is a wealthy hunk who also happens to be a private eye. Between massaging feet and getting death threats, Keely tries to solve a 20-year-old murder for which innocent Randy Jackson did the time in prison. In this disappointing cozy, readers will identify the murderer early and probably will not care what happens to any of the characters.

Despite running a gift basket business out of her home, empty nester ClaireHanover remains lonely and unfulfilled as her workaholic husband comes and goes. After being persuaded by a good friend to take an aerobics class, Claire gets into a sticky situation with the hunky instructor, who is shot to death in her bedroom. Holding the smoking gun is Claire's husband. Claire seeks to prove his innocence, stupidly placing herself in bad situations. Unfortunately for first novelist Groundwater, writing a cozy mystery involves more than just trying to be cute. Not recommended.
—Jo Ann Vicarel

Kirkus Reviews
Drugs and jealousy add up to a Rocky Mountain murder. Claire Hanover, a Colorado Springs empty-nester whose husband Roger's self-image is tied to climbing the corporate ladder, is restless and lonely. Although Claire's gift-basket business is fun and profitable, her divorced friend Ellen, who helped with the startup, suggests that gym classes will improve her mood and looks. When a buff aerobics instructor comes on to Claire, her old pal thinks a little fling would be just the thing. But after Enrique talks Claire into a massage at her home, he's shot there, and Roger arrives in their bedroom holding the murder weapon. Claire can only watch stunned when he's arrested for murder. Feeling betrayed, Roger moves out. Claire, certain he's innocent, starts sleuthing with the long-distance help of another friend, Ute shamus Deb Burch. Enrique, it seems, was not only servicing women at the health club; he was apparently dealing drugs. His boss Leon admires Claire's nerve but warns her not to poke around in his business. He suggests that she look at the ladies Enrique was involved with, a list that includes Ellen. Determined to find the culprit by enlarging the suspect pool before Roger's depression sinks him, Deb proceeds to break into the apartment of Enrique's girlfriend, intent on unearthing the necessary evidence before Claire's investigation makes her the next victim. A tense, exciting debut.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738727011
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Series: A Claire Hanover Mystery , #1
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 677,838
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Beth Groundwater (Colorado Springs, CO) was an avid "river rat" in the 1980s. Her book, A Real Basket Case (Five Star Publishing), was a 2007 Agatha Award finalist for Best First Novel. She is the author of several award-winning stories and holds key positions in local chapters of Mystery Writers of America and other writing associations.

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Read an Excerpt

Open publication - Free publishing - More cozy

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Might have been written just for me

    A Real Basket Case by Beth Groundwater is a really fun book, and just perfect to add to that gift basket for mother, sick friend, empty-nester, or whoever else you feel needs a bit of spice to cheer them up. Just be sure whoever reads it will be inspired to believe in themselves, in the future, and in the value of love and relationships.

    Beth's protagonist, Claire Hanover, is a middle-aged mother of grown-up children, valued confidante of friends whose marriages are breaking up, and loyal wife. But an exercise class run by gloriously handsome Enrique surely can't be a problem, and all she agrees to is a massage. Depending on your own position in life, you'll either be crying out "Go for it Claire," or "Claire, don't do it!" as one of her friends eggs her on, and the other decries the duplicity of all men.

    But things go drastically wrong. Claire's moment of pleasure becomes a trek through the seamy underbelly of Colorado Springs. Her husband is arrested for murder. Everyone thinks he's guilty. His boss threatens to fire him. And when Claire manages to arrange his bail, he retires straight to a friend's house because he doesn't believe she loves him anymore.

    By the way, did you know that works? Arranging bail and all that?

    Meanwhile Claire delivers gift baskets to the realtor, and tries to avoid getting shot by the local drug lord. She'd have every justification for ending up a real basket case, but that's not her aim, and true love, true grit, and true determination win through.

    I love Claire. I love this story. And I'll soon be reading the sequel, To Hell in a Handbasket. I can hardly wait.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 17, 2007

    Great new cozy mystery series

    Claire Hanover is feeling lonely. Her Colorado Springs gift basket business is enough to fulfill her. Her husband is working night and day and ignoring her. Her friend Ellen, who has been bitter since her divorce, gets her to join her exercise class. When their handsome aerobics instructor, Enrique, shows interest in Claire, Ellen urges her to have a fling. Claire agrees to a massage. What she didn¿t realize was that it would in her bedroom! Just when the massage was about to start, Enrique is shot and Roger, Claire¿s husband, is in the doorway with the gun. At first Claire isn¿t positive Roger is innocent, but soon realizes he¿s being framed. The police are happy they¿ve got their man, so she sets out to prove his innocence. She finds herself with many unsavory people in the course of her investigation, especially the drug dealers. Then there are the many gym ladies he supplied with cocaine or seduced for money. Can Claire sort out the suspects and find the killer before the killer finds her? I really enjoyed this book. I can¿t wait to read the next! Claire is such a fun character. The story kept my interest at every turn. It did have some situations where I found myself saying, no way would I do that. I felt a normal person would have called the police, but Claire persevered and won me over! I hope the author writes fast! I highly recommend this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2009

    A Very Enjoyable Book

    I loved this book. Usually I have the bad guy figured out about halfway through a book. Not with this one. "A Real Basket Case" didn't reveal the killer until the last few pages. And I can't believe who it ended up being. This has been a really enjoyable book. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. Beth, don't change your way of writing!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A fine amateur sleuth tale

    In Colorado Springs, middle aged Claire Hanover suffers from an empty nest syndrome with her two children Michael and Judy at college and her spouse Roger, the Chief Finance Officer working late hours and ignoring her. She has some satisfaction with her gift basket business, but that fails to overcome the loneliness. Her best friend Ellen Kessler suggests she have a fling with her aerobics instructor Enrique Romero especially when he offers her a home massage, which she accepts.----------- Enrique comes over to her house, but someone shoots and kills him in Claire¿s bedroom. Immediately afterward, she sees Roger standing next to the bed holding the gun. Police Detective Wilson feels he has an ironclad case of a cuckold husband catching his wife with her lover, but Roger insists he is innocent. Claire believes him though he believes the worst in her. She begins investigating who would have a motive to kill Enrique besides Roger. As she fumbles her way through hookers, drug dealers, irate aerobic students, and some jail time, she soon concludes someone close to her fits might be the culprit.----------- Though Claire should have hired a professional investigator, readers will know her motives to risk her life are solid as she blames herself for causing the immediate mess by going outside her beliefs when she invited Enrique to her home. The story line is fast-paced as she follows clues that the police ignore because their case against her husband is overwhelmingly solid. Readers will appreciate this fine amateur sleuth as Claire knows if she fails she will become A REAL BASKET CASE.---------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2013

    Please read

    This book is about an aerobics instructor who gets murdered. If you like a cozy mystery this book is for you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 6 Customer Reviews

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