Send in the Clowns
by Julie Mulhern
The Country Club Murders is a series of cozy mysteries set in in the early 1970’s. Send in the Clowns is the fourth in the series and the second one I have read. While there is a lot of serious crime in this tale, Julie Mulhern knows how to write with humor and keep the reader coming back. I honestly had trouble putting the book aside at bedtime. Then I devoured the last half the next morning.
There is no waiting for the book to get interesting. In the first chapter, Ellison, who seems to attract handsome men and dead bodies, has to go to a haunted house to retrieve her teenage daughter. While there she has an encounter with two clowns, one of whom calls her by name and then dies in her arms. There are many more twists and turns in the plot which keep interest at a high level all the way through.
The likable Ellison Russell may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she is no stranger to personal tragedies and horrors. The story is told from her perspective. The dialogue intermixes what Ellison says (in quotes) with what she thinks so well that her character takes on a reality not possible with third person narration. The way she is presented makes it very easy to identify with her and her struggles to get the men in her life to see her as capable and independent. Remember, this is the early seventies, an era when women are still expected to emerge from college with an “MRS.” degree.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is the setting of the seventies. The little details are right on target, but not forced. There is shag carpeting and the only telephones are those that are attached to the wall. The diet soft drink of choice is Tab, and a plaid coat in shades of plum and hunter green echoes one I wore in that time frame. Probably one of the best and most subtle references to an earlier time is Ellison’s admonition to the teenagers as they exit the car: “Lock your door.” Each door needed to be locked manually by the passenger.
I have absolutely no negative criticisms for this book. In fact, I am going to return to the series to read the two out of four that I have not read yet. Additionally it is important to note that reading them out of sequence did not detract from my pleasure in reading these mysteries. Send in the Clowns has everything you want in a cozy–a fast pace, intricate turns in the plot, interesting characters and setting, a little romance with the requisite tension, and a good resolution.
This book is scheduled for publication on October 25, 2016.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.