Essential oils distributor Dorcas Wiley is the boss everyone loves to hate. So when she turns up dead, killed by her own trophy, disgruntled saleswoman Cathy Broderick is the obvious suspect in her murder. Despite opportunity, motive and incriminating evidence, Cathy declares her innocence and enlists her mah jongg pals—Sydney Bonner and her cronies Marianne, Micki and Kat—to help save her from the death penalty.
Hot off a recent and nearly deadly investigation, the women are cautious about putting themselves in peril again. Syd’s spouse isn’t thrilled about another mystery in their lives, either, but he can’t resist the plea of Cathy’s husband. Soon, Syd is leading the way as they tangle with grumpy salespeople, the victim’s estranged husband and boyfriend, a mysterious housekeeper, a litigious customer, an annoyed sheriff and Cathy’s own arrogant lawyer.
The women have their own issues to deal with in their central Florida town of Serendipity Springs. Kat faces a health challenge, Micki fields a mysterious inquiry from her ex, Marianne has a chaotic anniversary and Syd wrestles with her husband over who’s really in charge. But nothing puts everyday life into perspective like the moment when their investigation brings them face to face with danger.
This cozy mystery, the second of the Mah Jongg Mystery series, features four retired amateur sleuths who live in a small Florida town, all female and all friends who play the game of mah jongg together. Though they don't set out to investigate murder, others have started looking to them to help investigate homicides and questionable accidents. In this story, Sydney Bonner again takes the lead, although her husband, Trip, insists on coming along to protect her. They also turn to their friends for help. Though this series features four protagonists, the others will take the lead in subsequent stories. Two are married, one is divorced and the fourth, who has been single all her life while she tended to her ailing mother, now finds herself the object of the sheriff's attention in this series.
The four don't seek out murder; somehow the circumstances and those affected drag them in. Meanwhile, as they attempt to gather information, life goes on in their community in such activities as a social group for those over 50, numerous stops at the local coffeehouse, and even a shopping trip to Naples. Sydney's husband, Trip, and her friend Marianne Putnam's husband, Beau, are golf buddies who spend many a day on the course. When not there, Trip is busy seeking to build a new post retirement life, and Beau is often prevailed upon to join in Trip's latest activity, which in this book is planning a repositioning cruise. Kat Faulkner has lived a frugal life until winning big in a lottery shortly after her mother's death; suddenly, Kat has money and doesn't know how to spend it. But her divorced friend and freelance writer, Micki Demetrius, does, even if it's to guide Kat through a makeover and wardrobe change for her lounge act.
Barbara Barrett is already published in contemporary romance. She is a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America. Like her protagonists, she is retired and is a resident of Florida, although she spends her summers in her home state of Iowa. She spent over three decades as a human resource management analyst with Iowa state government.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Friendship, Marriage, and Murder BAMBOOZLED by Barbara Barrett The Second Mah Jongg Mystery Memories of murder are still fresh in Sydney Bonner's mind, so when her husband asks her to investigate what's going on with a mutual friend, she's surprised. Checking in on Cathy and her new essential oil business is one thing, but when Cathy is suspected of murdering her boss, Syd is ready to step back and let the professionals handle it. Yet when Cathy's husband asks for help Trip not only agrees that Syd should investigate, but insists that he'll help her, Syd is stunned! Now Syd and her Mah Jongg friends are involved in another murder investigation, this time with husbandly help! I was delighted to discover another Mah Jongg mystery. I appreciate having protagonists of a certain age who are living normal fulfilling lives. I like the fact that the characters here don't rush headlong into trouble. They have a set plan, realize that they're amateurs, and call on professionals when necessary. Of course, they still manage to annoy said professionals and get themselves into trouble. While I like the group, the problem with having four main characters is that there are too many subplots. These secondary stories flush out the characters, but detract from the mystery. The murder was well plotted with a variety of red herrings and interesting suspects and I enjoyed the investigation. My favorite part of the book is the relationship between Syd and Trip. They are a happily married couple who still annoy and get angry with each other. Trying to work together, with minds that work differently, is a challenge. They see each other's faults, yet will always be there to support each other. They have a realistic relationship. Sadly, as much as I like the characters here, I didn't feel emotionally invested in BAMBOOZLED. Cathy, as a character, was a bit of a side note. While Syd and friends (and by extension, me) liked her and wanted to help, the investigation was more of an intellectual activity for the four friends, six actually when you include the husbands. True, there was some danger, but I wouldn't have felt that bad if they didn't clear Cathy's name and I don't think they would have either. Friendship, marriage, and murder make BAMBOOZLED a mystery to enjoy. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book in the hopes I would review it.
I was delighted to get the opportunity to read the 2nd book in the Mah Jongg Mystery series! Book 1 swept me into these characters. And characters they were! Sydney and her fiesty senior friends are funny and fun. Although they back away from mystery and murder they are kept pulled in when the other players from Mah Jongg keep getting accused of murder. This time it was Cathy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Leaving her scarf behind ended up getting her into some hot water when her boss is discovered murdered. Since Sydney has experience in solving murders she is called in to help guide the seemingly over zealous police. This time to keep Sydney and her friends out of trouble her husband Trip volunteers to help. The sparks fly when the two begin to work together. Trip has his way of wanting to do things. But Sydney with more experience and a talent for investigating has her way and she's not settling. Honestly it took me to the end to finally really get to like Trip. He is hard to describe. He whines alot. He's get ticked off and runs off and hits golf balls. He's just hard to live with which makes me love Sydney more for putting up with him! Before all questions are answered and the true murderer is discovered another body shows up. Well, the boyfriend didn't do it because he got done too! It takes all the patience, courage and skill Sydney has to connect all the dots but not before the real bad guys try to 'off' Sydney and Trip when they get a little to close to discovering the real motive and the real criminal(s). All ends up being sorted out just in time for Trip to get back to planning a cruise for their friends. I can already see the setting for book 3. A murder at sea with Sydney and Trip playing sleuth. They just keep getting better! If you enjoy a good cozy check out the series. Each book is a stand alone! I received a complimentary copy. My review will appear on retail sites and Good Reads.
BAMBOOZLED is book two in the MAH JONGG mysteries series by Barbara Barrett. BAMBOOZLED is a great mystery to read. This is the first book that I have read by Barbara Barrett. It surely won’t be my last.