A Trouble of Fools (Carlotta Carlyle Series #1)

A Trouble of Fools (Carlotta Carlyle Series #1)

by Linda Barnes

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A Trouble of Fools (Carlotta Carlyle Series #1) by Linda Barnes

The first book in the Carlotta Carlyle series!

Linda Barnes's A Trouble of Fools is the book that introduced readers to ex-Boston cop and PI Carlotta Carlyle, who knows trouble when she sees it like the old Irish lady offering a grand in cash to find her brother...


Since being bounced from the Boston police for insubordination after six years of service, Carlotta Carlyle has set up shop as a private investigator ready to deal with anything from lost pets to substantially grander larcenies. Though Carlotta, a six-foot-tall, redheaded ex cop, part-time cabbie, and neophyte private eye, works out of her home, it's rare that clients stop by unannounced. Especially clients like the genteel, reserved, elderly spinster Miss Margaret Devens.


With cash flow problems and a caseload so light that she's taken to reading her cat's mail, Carlotta accepts the case of Miss Devens's missing brother Eugene. Oddly enough, Carlotta knew Eugene when they worked together back at Green and White Cab. As far as Carlotta sees it, this case should be a pinch—until two thugs looking for money send her client to the hospital.


The old lady's missing brother seems to have been involved in something much more dangerous than simply driving a cab. Carlotta is determined to do whatever it takes-work the cops, pose as a hooker, and even drive a cab again—to find Eugene before it's too late.

"She is one of the most sparkling, most irresistible heroines ever to grace the pages of a whodunit."

?Chicago Sun-Times

"All elements are skillfully woven together in a book that has just about everything."

Denver Post

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312359430
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/27/2006
Series: Carlotta Carlyle Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 4.22(w) x 6.72(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

LINDA BARNES is the author of eleven Carlotta Carlyle mysteries, winner of the Anthony and American Mystery Awards, and Edgar Award finalist. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and son.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

If Margaret Devens had told me the truth right off the bat, things might have turned out differently. Or as my mom used to say, in Yiddish or English depending on the situation, "If your grandmother had wheels, she would have been a truck."

I never met my bubbe, my grandma, the source of all my mother's Yiddish proverbs, but thinking about it now, I guess I wouldn't mind if she'd been a ringer for Margaret Devens—stubborn, smart, and crafty behind the sweet-old-lady facade.

"Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas C. Carlyle," the letter began cheerily. The stationery was thick and creamy, sharply creased, names typed in boldface, the way they are in those "personal" computer-generated mailings.

No such couple existed. I read on.

The vacuum cleaner hummed pleasantly. If you've never considered your Hoover's voice soothing, you've probably been shoving it across a high-pile carpet. From the right distance, propelled by other hands—in this case the paint-smeared hands of Roz, my tenant cum new-wave artist cum sometime assistant—vacuum cleaner buzz could make the lullaby obsolete.

Roz gets reduced rent in exchange for basic household chores. As a cleaner, she's a great artist. My spice rack is color-coded, my knickknacks adroitly arranged. Books and papers are stacked in tidy piles at attractive oblique angles. My floors have never been filthier, but then Roz doesn't have much time for nitty-gritty cleaning. She dyes her hair a new color every three days and that takes up the hours. I like Roz.

A firm of Omaha lawyers was pleased to inform me that the above-mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle were the lucky recipients in their GRAND GIVEAWAY. After a courteous tour of a "luxurious time-sharing condominium resort," located someplace I'd never want to visit, much less live, I—or rather Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle—could claim the GRAND GIVEAWAY FIRST PRIZE of, take your pick, a trip to Italy for the entire family, all expenses paid—or twenty thousand bucks.

I searched for the fine print that said "valid until yesterday," or "provided you make a thirty-thousand-dollar donation to the United Church of Holy Poverty." I didn't find it. I read the whole thing again. It said trip to Italy, all expenses, twenty thousand dollars.

Claiming the prize was going to be a problem.

I know Mr. T.C. Carlyle pretty damn well. The T.C. stands for Thomas Cat, aka Tom Cat. Right. A good sort, Mr. Carlyle, but definitely of the feline persuasion. Sleek and black, with a right forepaw so white that it looks like he dipped it in a dish of cream, Thomas Cat has a disposition you could describe as independent, which I prefer, or surly, which is closer to the truth. He is not your eager three-piece-suit-and-tie type. I have trouble getting him to wear a bell around his neck, a necessary indignity that keeps him from dumping dead sparrows on my carpet, which in turn prevents the parakeet from going bonkers.


Copyright © 1987 by Linda Appelblatt Barnes. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Carlotta [is] pure gold."?Publishers Weekly

"Beautifully plotted, exciting, moving, and leavened with wit."—Robert B. Parker

"Carlotta Carlyle is one of the most refreshing private eyes to come along. [She] is the spunky sort of gal you'd like to have for a sister or best friend. She's loyal, warm, persistent, intelligent, savvy—all the right stuff...[a] challenging and inventive plot."—Indianapolis News

"Carlotta bristles with vitality and a slightly sardonic view of herself and the world. She's smart but not smart-alecky; the plot is bizarre but never beyond reason. Engaging and engrossing all the way."

Kirkus Reviews

"You will be caught up in Carlotta's adventures. For she is one of the most sparkling, most irresistible heroines ever to grace the pages of a whodunit…it's top-drawer all the way."—Chicago Sun-Times

"Even in the detective-glutted Boston area, it's hard to miss Carlotta Carlyle…this is an author who's nobody's fool when it comes to writing a slick lively story that's all in good fun."—St. Petersburg Times

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A Trouble of Fools (Carlotta Carlyle Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Very engaging mystery with multiple complex plot lines. The first in a series of mysteries featuring this protagonist.