State Fair (Benni Harper Series #14)

( 33 )

Overview


For Benni, the annual State Fair is a much anticipated break in her routine of overseeing museum exhibits, temperamental artists, and stubborn cattle. This year they are showing traditional African- American quilts. But when one is stolen and it leads to a cold-blooded murder, Benni realizes there is more to this fair, and she'll have to see who is really a wolf in sheep's clothing.
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State Fair (Benni Harper Series #14)

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Overview


For Benni, the annual State Fair is a much anticipated break in her routine of overseeing museum exhibits, temperamental artists, and stubborn cattle. This year they are showing traditional African- American quilts. But when one is stolen and it leads to a cold-blooded murder, Benni realizes there is more to this fair, and she'll have to see who is really a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1997, Fowler's folksy 14th Benni Harper mystery (after 2007's Tumbling Blocks) finds the avid quilter, museum curator, and reluctant sleuth readying herself for the annual San Celina (Calif.) County Mid-State Fair. Racial tensions revolving around the fair's first black general manager, Levi Clark; Levi's half-white daughter, Jazz; and Jazz's various suitors stir the plot. So, too, does the visit from Arkansas of Benni's great-aunt, Garnet Wilcox. Garnet and her sister, Dove, Benni's grandmother, get along “like two bobcats trapped in a burning outhouse.” A valued African-American quilt stolen from a fair exhibit and a corpse in another exhibit add fuel to the fire. Fowler's congenial mix of humor (prickly, surprising Garnet applies lessons learned from mystery books and cop shows), folklore (the history of black cloth dolls), and murder makes this Agatha Award-winning series as much fun to visit as a county fair and a likely ribbon winner. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
The state fair provides the bustling backdrop to Benni Harper Ortiz's (Tumbling Blocks, 2007, etc.) latest brush with murder. Although Benni is married to police chief Gabe Ortiz, it's her friend Detective "Hud" Hudson's department that has jurisdiction when Benni and her Aunt Garnet find a body in the Family Farm Exhibition Hall at the San Celina County Mid-State Fair. The late Calvin Jones was one of several young men dating Jazz, a biracial young woman whose African-American father, Levi Clark, is a controversial appointment as fair manager. Calvin had a tough life. His recent involvement with a local skinhead group provides a possible explanation for his death. So does his rivalry with Jazz's other suitors, hotheaded Dodge Burnside and nice Justin Piebald, whose sleazy father owns a chain of profitable used-car lots. Egged on by formerly straitlaced, suddenly secretive Aunt Garnet, Benni feels impelled to solve the mystery. Sordid letters to Levi, the theft of an African-American quilt used to wrap Cal's body and racist graffiti painted on Benni's house only make her more determined to catch the criminal who's sullying her long, happy memories of the fair. Fowler evokes all the sights, sounds and smells of the fair, from deep-fried pickles to midway rides to animal contests, while providing a worthy puzzle for redoubtable Benni.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425241554
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/3/2011
  • Series: Benni Harper Series , #14
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 389,868
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.10 (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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    enjoyable whodunit

    Benni Harper Ortiz is the curator of the Sinclair Folk Art Museum and Artist's Co-op. She has every intention of enjoying the San Celina Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. The Ebony Sisters Quilt Guild, a spin off of the San Celina Quilt Guild, supports an exhibit of African-American quilts. The headliner is a copy of the renowned Harriet Powers' classic story quilt that took one year to replicate.

    Benni's plans to enjoy the fair are crushed when she learns the Powers' duplication was stolen. She also finds out that the first black manager of the fair Levi Clark has been receiving hate mail. Trouble comes in threes when Benni finds a corpse in the Piebald Family Farm Exhibit. The victim is white male Calvin Jones, who was dating Les' daughter and at one time was involved with supremacist skinheads. Benni and her Aunt Garnet investigate only to end up in danger from someone who kills without remorse.

    It has been a few years since Benni's last inquiry (see Tumbling Blocks), but fans of the series will appreciate her return and that of other friends as the State Fair proves an exciting venture. Putting aside the amateur sleuth too often finding a corpse (see Delectable Mountains) and need to investigate, readers will enjoy the often amusing inquiry by niece and aunt while the heroine's grandmother has a tendency to cool the heat between Benni and her spouse Gabe. Long time fans will welcome Benni back into the fold with this enjoyable whodunit.

    Harriet Klausner

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great Benni Harper mystery

    Years ago I picked up my first Earlene Fowler 'Bennie Harper' mystery at a quilt show and have been reading them ever since. This is another great story as are all the others that precede it. I love that the author combined the fictional aspect of the story along with the real historical aspects of the 'blackcloth dolls'. I wish she would have included recipes of some of the dishes that she refers to in the book like the black walnut cake with maple frosting. The location and characters are great which makes for a wonderful story. If I were the author I'd be finding a new proofreader. There are a lot of mistakes in this book, i.e., duplicate words, wrong words, which is a slight interference, however, it shouldn't keep anyone from reading it. I wish I had a family like Benni Harper's and lived the life she does without the mystery part. This book inspired me to research blackcloth dolls and check out the video of the original 'State Fair' movie. Read the book and enjoy your local state fair!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2014

    Going to the fair today

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Entire series

    I have read and own all of the Benni Harper series and have mit been dissappointed yet. It is not a set I will part with and I hope they start lowering the price of these older paperbacks in ebook format. I would like to get them for my nook library too. Maybe they will box the set snd offer it at a better price. Earlane keep revisiting SanCelina, you have true devoted fand craving more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Benni Harper isn't just a mystery-solver; she's someone you'd like to have for a friend.

    Earlene Fowler's Benni Harper books go far beyond the mystery "cozy" concept. They're really novels that happen to have a homicide somewhere in the plot. While the murder portion is central to the plot of the story, it is by no means alone in the spotlight. The relationships of the characters spin intriguing subplots that carry through from book to book and offer just as much, if not more, enjoyment to the reader.

    "State Fair" is a particularly good example of this. One can't help but like and admire Benni Harper and the members of her family and community as their full personalities are revealed, with human strengths and foibles. A secondary plotline confronts subtle and not-so-subtle racism in a realistic and enlightening way. Benni's religion is obviously important to her character, but is not "preachy" or banging a drum...a very realistic portrayal of how Christians try to live that has nothing to do with the politics of polarity.

    Wonderful job, Ms. Fowler. I can't wait for more!

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  • Posted May 27, 2010

    It's State Fair Time

    Deep fried candy bars, deep fried cookies, deep fried jelly donuts- a stolen quilt, a murder, black cloth dolls, a strange acting aunt, and some tension between Hud from the sheriff's dept. and the Chief of Police. What do they all have in common Benni Harper Ortiz.

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