Friday, October 24, 2014

Black Thursday

Author:  Linda Joffe Hull
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

When Maddie Michaels is invited by a local news channel to shop on camera for Black Friday, she leaps at the opportunity to share shopping deals with fans of her website MrsFrugalicious.com. Even though a negative comment pops up from Contrary Claire, a naysaying blog follower, Maddie won't let it spoil her first TV appearance.

But as the deals get underway, Black Friday eve turns even blacker when a shopper is crushed beneath a pallet of toasters.  After learning that the victim is Contrary Claire, Maddie becomes caught up in a murder investigation.  Will she catch the killer before someone else is slashed like a sales price?

********

Maddie Michaels has problems.  She lives in her now-for-sale house with her soon-to-be ex-husband and two sons.  It's Thanksgiving, and his entire family has decided to spend the holidays with them.  She's being stalked on her website, Mrs. Frugalicious - which she started because her cheating husband blew all their savings.  Frank, her husband, has been fired from his television job because, as he is known as Frank Finance Michaels, he made bad investments, to be nice about it.  He also had an affair, which didn't help the situation, and they're trying to sell their house to keep their heads above water.

With a house full of people trying to put her marriage back together, she jumps at the chance offered by a local television station to broadcast live from Bargain Barn; she'll be offering tips for saving through the holiday season.  Frank's family has decided to tag along, hoping they can score some deals themselves.  But while filming the show, a pallet of toasters falls on one unlucky shopper and kills her.  Stunned by the accident, the owner of Bargain Barn leaves the scene to comfort the husband of the victim and Frank somehow pulls everyone together and the show, and shopping, continue on.

Maddie discovers that the victim was none other than CC, her online stalker, and begins to wonder if this 'accident' was more than meets the eye.  She begins to question it, and while she's discovering clues which may point in another direction entirely, she has to deal with the fact of Frank's family deciding to stay on and "help out" and still keep her "Frugarmy" happy through the holidays.

I really liked this book, even if I didn't agree with some of the things going on.  For one thing, I personally don't believe "every man cheats."  I also didn't care for the fact that Frank's family were 'subtlely pushing' Maddie to stay with him.  What kind of family wants someone to stay with a cheating spouse?  I felt that she really couldn't make the decision to stay or go on her own with their interference, and that she might come to regret whatever decision she made once she had time of her own to think about it.  Let's face it, the end of a marriage is a traumatic thing, not to be taken lightly; and if you discovered that that people were trying to coerce you into making a decision instead of coming to it on your own, you might regret it.  (I'm not saying what decision she ultimately makes, just offering my own opinion).

Be that as it may, the mystery was excellent.  I obviously wrestled with the marriage decision along with Maddie (and you'll have to read the book to find out what happens), and as she was discovering more about her stalker and even herself, the murder was still out there forefront, and everything seemed to fall together nicely.  Being the person she is, she put her own troubles aside and tried to help the owner of Bargain Barn keep his business afloat, while still filming more episodes of her frugal shopper program.

Interspersed with the book were many shopping tips for those who like to save money (I'm a coupon clipper myself), so even if you know most of these tricks, there'll probably be a few you haven't heard of.

When we finally know the identity of the killer, the reason it happened made perfect sense to me, and was probably how it would have happened in real life.  I can't give you more than that or it will give too much away and ruin the book.  I think this will be a good read, and especially for the holidays, when you're looking for something that's "seasonal."  Highly recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Thursday-Frugalicious-Shopping-Mystery/dp/073873490X/

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