Craks in a Marriage

Craks in a Marriage

by Barbara Barrett

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When Sydney Bonner overhears a fellow mah jongg player arguing on the phone with her husband, she realizes the couple’s “perfect marriage” isn’t all it appears to be. A few days later, the husband is found dead, his head bashed in. Fearing she’ll be considered the most likely suspect, the widow prevails upon Sydney and her three friends—Marianne, Kat and Micki—to find out who really killed him.

Though none of these four fun-loving, take-charge retirees has any training as detectives, the women agree to launch a secret investigation. As they dig under the happy veneer of their community’s social life, they find more than enough suspects, from shady ladies to resentful golf buddies, to keep them looking over their shoulders.

Could the murderer be lurking among the talent in a chaotic production put on by Sydney’s husband, who will do anything to keep busy in retirement? Could the sheriff, who may have more than a professional interest in chanteuse Kat, end up pinning the crime on the women instead? Each discovery during their investigations and their weekly mah jongg game keeps them running as they close in on the killer—but the killer may also be closing in on them.

This cozy mystery, 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, after their first experience in this story, others start looking to them to help investigate subsequent homicides and questionable accidents. In this first book, Sydney Bonner takes the lead, although she turns to her three 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 women's club, a social group for those over 50, real estate transactions, 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 first book is a town follies. 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.

This cozy mystery is the first book in the Mah Jongg Mystery series. 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.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940155111016
Publisher: Barbara Barrett
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Series: Mah Jongg Mysteries
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 217,566
File size: 2 MB

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Craks in a Marriage 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
WisReader More than 1 year ago
New cozy series excite me. This one is a little different than my usual, as the main characters are somewhat wealthy retirees. Well, one is a lottery winner, but all have winning personalities and a competitive streak. They also appreciate a bit of gossip, no matter how strongly they protest. When the husband of one competitive mah jongg player is discovered dead in the woods, even though she has not been the best of friends to the rest, four ladies take a crack at playing detective to keep her from being wrongfully convicted of murder. Not only do these senior sleuths repeatedly remind each other that they don't really have a clue how to go about this, they decide not to tell their husbands what they are up to. Of course, they must also stay out of the way of law enforcement, doing their own investigation. Sydney's husband, Trip, hasn't yet adjusted to a retirement schedule and is over his head in organizing a variety show. This means everyone the couple knows must also contribute in some manner. This gives us more insight into each character's personality, and may provide some clues and red herrings to chase. A fun read that is a great start to a delightful series!
ValerieL More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed this first book in the Mah Jongg series! The characters are great, quirky and likeable. They're well-developed and complex. I really enjoyed them. The setting descriptions were mostly good. I'm a little tired of reading that someplace is "the jewel of..." but other than that, they were well done and not too wordy. I enjoyed the plot quite a bit and did NOT know who the villain was this time before it was revealed. All in all, I will definitely be reading more in this series!
CozyUpWithKathy More than 1 year ago
a fun start to a fresh new series CRAKS IN A MARRIAGE by Barbara Barrett The First Mah Jongg Mystery Sydney Bonner and her friends enjoy their weekly Mah Jongg game, even if they do have to put up with the annoying Olivia. Yet when Olivia's husband is found murdered, it's Sydney the widow turns to in order to find out who killed her husband. Believing she's out of her element and not wanting to get in trouble, as well as not being completely sure of Olivia's innocence, Sydney asks her friends if they will join her in discretely looking into things. Now between playing mah jongg, clipping coupons, and avoiding her husband's new project, Sydney and her friends will try to catch a killer! CRAKS IN A MARRIAGE is a fun start to a fresh new series. I love how the four friends actually discuss if they really want to get involved in a murder investigation, and consider the bad things that could happen! Of course they do decide to discretely look around, but for the most part they do it intelligently and actually contact the police when necessary. These women of a certain age are smart, attractive, and fun. They know what they want in life and actively go out and pursue it. I enjoy the relationships of both Sydney and Trip as well as Marianne and Beau; couples that have been married for some time who show love, understanding, and annoyance with each other! The mystery is interesting, although the discovery of the actual killer could have been flushed out a bit more. Excellent characterization, an interesting background (I really want to learn to play Mah Jongg now), and subtle humor make CRAKS IN A MARRIAGE an enjoyable series debut. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a copy of this book in the hopes I would review it.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
I just love a book that is full of intrigue, gossip and exciting characters. Rumor is going around that someone is having an affair. Now people have heard who it is, but others don’t want to know. They believe in giving a person a benefit of the doubt, but that doesn’t stop the gossip spreading throughout the community. My heart beat so fast when the victim was identified by his wife. You could feel the tension as the body was revealed and the moment that the spouse knew her life was forever changed. It was a very well written scene and made me think of how difficult it would be to go through such a traumatic event like that. The question now is who is the killer? Sydney and her friends are persuaded in a way to try to find out who killed someone’s husband. I loved that these ladies were retired and all set to have a fun and enjoyable life, but what do you do when someone you know is in trouble? The stakes are high in this first in a series and the author does a great job of giving us a collection of unique characters. The four friends have their hands full as suspects start to pop up. I loved how they gathered information and slowly went through intricate and damaging evidence. As the investigation grows, there is another big goings on in the town. I couldn't wait to hear all the details of the folly that Sydney's husband is in charge of. It is the talk of the town and suddenly people wan to be a part of it. I had to laugh at one of the acts that was booked for the show. It is a funny moment that lightens the mood in the story. Will Sydney and her friends solve the murder before the sheriff stops their snooping? I enjoyed the story and how well it flowed. The characters are interesting and I absolutely loved the four women turned sleuths that take investigating serious. You are in for a treat with this well written mystery that is neatly wrapped up at the end. I have to say the ending was tense and I loved how it kept me on the edge of my seat. I highly recommend this new series. I received a copy of this book from The Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The review is my own opinion.