Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Guaranteed to Bleed (The Country Club Murders Book 2)

Author:  Julie Mulhern
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook
Henery Press
268 Pages
$31.95; $14.37; $4.99
October 13, 2015
Five Stars

With his dying breath, Bobby Lowell begs Ellison Russell, "Tell her I love her."  

Unable to refuse, Ellison struggles to find the girl the murdered boy loved.  Too bad an epically bad blind date, a vindictive graffiti artist, and multiple trips to the emergency room keep getting in the way.

Worse, a killer has Ellison in his sights, her newly rebellious daughter is missing, and there's yet another body in her hostas.  Mother won't be pleased.

Now Ellison must track down not one but two runaway teenagers, keep her promise to Bobby, and elude the killer - all before her next charity gala committee meeting.


It is the 1970s, and Ellison Russell and her daughter Grace have recently returned from an extended trip to Europe following the death of her husband.  Shortly after her return home, she is attending a high school football game, where Grace is a cheerleader.  Ellison accidentally drops her lipstick under the bleachers.  Because she bought it in Paris (and paid way too much for it), she goes to retrieve it.  Finding an opening in the fence and entering, she is hit by someone running to get out.  When she recovers from being pushed to the ground, she hears someone groaning and follows the sound.

What she finds is a local boy, Bobby Lowell, bleeding from a serious injury.  While she attempts to stop the flow of blood, and yells for help, he whispers something to her - "Tell her I love her."  Cryptic words, and Ellison has no idea who 'her' is.  She is soon joined by a man who begins to question her and what she was doing there, and, to Ellison's eyes and ears, is extremely rude in the process.

Once Ellison returns home from the hospital (after receiving treatment for an injury she sustained while trying to find someone to help) only to find her house full of teenage girls, all wanting to know about Bobby.  Among them is Donna Richardson, who has recently joined the circle of friends.  When everyone finally goes to bed, including an exhausted Ellison, she is awakened early by someone at her door.  What she finds is the man who questioned her the night before, identified as Jonathan Hess, and is demanding she get his daughter. Even as Ellison is explaining they were up late and he should let her sleep, he refuses, and shortly a subdued Donna arrives and they leave.  Ellison decides then and there on the spot that her first impression of him is right.

When Ellison visits Bobby's mother CeCe later that day, she finds there are other visitors:  a very drunk Kizzi Standish and her daughter Alice.  They have been there for hours and refuse to leave.  Alice is under the delusion that Bobby loved her and is staying for 'emotional support,' but Ellison can see that CeCe is almost desperate in her desire to rid herself of them.  So she does something she would rather not do:  she calls her mother Frances for help.  Soon Frances arrives, followed by Howard Standish, who takes his family and leaves.  Ellison, sure that Alice is not the girl Bobby loved, leaves when CeCe's sister finally shows up.

Determined that she will fulfill a boy's dying wish, Ellison subtly questions those around her who might know, but it seems nobody knew of anyone he was seeing - not Grace nor her friends; not Bobby's best friend Jack McCreary, not even Bobby's mother.  Not willing to give up her search, and not willing to share it with anyone else, Ellison finds herself a determined woman on a Quest.

That quest, however, often puts her in situations she would rather not have gotten into in the first place, many of which I won't go into here.  Let it suffice to say that she does, eventually, need the assistance of both Anarchy Jones, the delicious cop with the smoldering eyes who gives her butterflies in her stomach, and Hunter Tafft, the imperturbable attorney whose touch makes Ellison's legs turn to jelly.  Hunter is so smooth, he could sue his own mother and she'd agree it is a wonderful thing to do.  Two men she would rather avoid, given her history with her late husband, and not as easily solved as a murder case.

Ms. Mulhern has again given us a book with a plot as intriguing and intense as her first in the series, The Deep End.  Although this book deals with a dark subject that is just as relevant today as it would have been then, she is faced with the task of seeking answers before the age of Internet and cellphones, when finding the truth wasn't as easy to do; and she does it handsomely.  Weaving an intricate plotline, and doing it without the protagonist running to the computer for information, could not have been easily written, and she does it with a masterful touch.

When we finally get to the end of the book, and everything comes together, there is a sense of satisfaction in the outcome, even knowing that in some things in life there may never be closure.  Highly recommended, and I believe with books such as this, Ms. Mulhern will never disappoint.

The Deep End:                                          

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