Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Back Stabbers (The Country Club Murders #8)

Author:  Julie Mulhern
Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book; Audio CD
ISBN:  9781635114584; 9781635114553; [9781515963721]
Henery Press Publishing [Tantor Audio]
262 Pages
$24.96; $14.90; $6.99; $24.99 Amazon
October 23, 2018

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All Ellison Russell wanted was an update on her stock portfolio.  Instead, she found her broker dead.

With an unexpected out-of-town guest at her house, Ellison is too busy for a murder investigation.  Only this time, Detective Anarchy Jones wants her help, and she can't deny the handsome detective.  Can Mr. Coffee supply her with enough caffeine to keep her brain sharp and everyone else happy?

Juggling bodies (one, two, three, four), two-faced friends, her social calendar, and a cat (yes, a cat) is taxing but Mother might be the biggest challenge of all.

With a killer drawing closer, can Ellison put together the pieces or will she be the one getting stabbed in the back?

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Ellison Russell has a problem: she's gone to see her broker regarding her stock portfolio, and when she enters the office, she finds him dead.  Another body.  Her mother will be horrified, her homicide detective boyfriend Anarchy will be resigned.  And her father...her father has a surprise for her as well: her older half-sister Karma has decided to visit, and he wants her to stay at Ellison's, since he hasn't even told her mother yet.

Of course, she knows her mother will be furious, but she doesn't have a choice if their marriage has any chance of survival after this comes to light; and it doesn't help when she discovers that Anarchy already knows Karma, and has for a long time.  Only the dead stockbroker keeps getting in the way, especially since Anarchy asks for her help on the case.  With an office full of attractive women to sift through, did one of them kill the man?  Or are more sinister forces at work trying to keep anyone from finding out the truth?  But what will she do about Karma?  And how do she and Anarchy know each other?  How is her mother going to deal with it all?  And what's a girl to do when she's stuck smack dab in the middle of murder?...

Ellison Russell is a widow with a teenage daughter in Kansas City, Missouri.  She's a well-respected artist born of money who has a full life, loving parents, a faithful housekeeper and a devotion to Mr. Coffee.  It is the world of the 1970's before technology became king and people had to either visit or use a telephone to communicate with each other; a simpler life - or so you would think.  But not in the case of Ellison, who has a knack of finding dead bodies on a regular basis, and this day is no different.  Unfortunately, the bodies don't stop with just one, and Ellison's going to need a lot of coffee to keep up.

This is the eighth book in the series, and a wonderful addition as such.  Ms. Mulhern writes characters that are lively and believable; with plenty of sarcasm, wit, intelligence and even, at times, venom.  Ellison has grown from an insecure young widow into an independent woman who's not about to allow anyone to steamroll over her, friend and foe alike.

The tale is often funny listening to Ellison's thoughts in her head while she's dealing with the unwanted drama around her.  Even while she manages to maintain a semblance of her life - still going to play bridge and chair various committees along with attending parties, she also has the addition of a new half-sister to deal with, learning to find her way in navigating a relationship with a sister she doesn't know anything about.

While she's delving into the murders of three people (don't worry; she didn't find all of the bodies); she's dealing with the fallout of such and juggling not only assorted mourners but the fact that there were many more who didn't mourn at all.  Watching her figure out who had the greatest motive - and just exactly if and/or how they were connected is quite an absorbing tale. 

There is plenty of intrigue, secrets and lies, and watching Ellison put it all together is quite a delightful journey to take.  While I wouldn't want to find myself in the nest of vipers that Ellison calls her friends, this is one woman who is well able to deal with it and come out on top.

When everything comes together and the murder is finally discovered, we realize that the clues were there all along yet we were looking down other paths - exactly as both the murderer and Ms. Mulhern expected us to do until the end.  Another admirable entry in the series and I look forward to the next, which can't be soon enough for me.  Highly recommended.

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