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93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed Playing with Poison. What a wonderful debut! Jessie Hewitt, protagonist, historical romance writer, and pool shark, is a delight. She is funny, smart and very loyal to her friends. Jessie is in the middle of working on her latest book when she answers a knock on her door. Her neighbor's fiancé, Stanley, stumbles in, collapses on her couch, and dies. So begins a really fun read. Naturally, Jessie immediately becomes a `person of interest' so she feels compelled to investigate. Eventually, Candy (friendly neighbor, lingerie seller, and Stanley's fiancée), is arrested for the murder. Jessie is convinced she is innocent and sets out to prove it.

Ms. Blackburn has written a very engaging story. She has filled her book with a great group of characters. Since most of these characters have a good reason for wanting Stanley dead, it isn't easy to figure out the identity of the culprit. I was hooked before I finished reading the first page--actually, it was the first sentence that pulled me in. Being of a certain age, or as Candy puts it, old, that sentence had me nodding my head and chuckling. Throughout the book, Jessie gives us a sneak peek into her work-in-progress, which enhanced the story and made me laugh. This is a well-written story with humor, believable dialogue, extremely likeable characters, and just the right amount of romance--everything I love in a story!

I've just downloaded the next two books in this series: Double Shot and Three Odd Balls. Looking forward to reading them. Can't wait to see what Ms. Blackburn has in store for Jessie and her friends. Happy reading!
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2012
If you like mysteries and you like fun, you will love Playing with Poison. Picture a young, hip cross between Miss Marple and Kay Scarpetta. Ms Blackburn's characters come to life and are real. After a few pages, Jessica Hewitt becomes your friend. You want to be part of her crowd and share laughs, drinks, maybe shoot some pool, and solve a murder while you are at it. There is even "G" rated breathless sex as well. Ms Hewitt's day job is writing fantasy romance novels. This is a light, cheery novel--despite the murder--Perfect to read by the fire or beach or anywhere. Impossible not to put you in a good mood. I look forward to getting to know her better and solving murders together"
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
This is a light, cozy mystery written in a breezy manner. The murder plot is nicely set up, and the suspects are all credibly drawn. Jessie Hewitt is an engaging amateur sleuth; and the relationship between Captain Wilson Rye is nicely developed and this reader wants them to end up together as a couple and looks forward to further development of their relationship in future Cue Ball Mysteries. I love Jessie's clever, sarcastic repartee with Wilson and anyone else she chooses to dish it out to!
The town of Clarence has a cozy feel to it as does The Stone Fountain, and sounds like a place I would like to retire. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the bar room pool games and Jessie's `real job' writer's block trials and tribulations of the Harlequin romance-like heroine, Alexis Wynsome and her knight in shining armor, Rolfe Vanderhorn. These passages are written with such exaggerated verbiage that I could almost hear Jessie laughing to herself that her loyal following is so hinged on reading her next book.
A fun `chick-lit' book in that Jessie is someone to whom many women `of a certain age' can relate - a menopausal divorcee, generally content with her life/livelihood, surrounded by good friends whose collective quirkiness constitute a family, yet someone who still believes in love, Prince Charming and the living happily ever after fairytale ending.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Jessie Hewitt is a pool shark that usually can run the table and knows where the balls will fall. She had no idea that a body would fall on her couch or that a cop would show up in her kitchen and accuse her of murder. How is she going to get out of this mess?

Best first line ever: "Going bra shopping at age fifty-two gives new meaning to the phrase fallen woman," I announced as I gazed at my reflection.

I knew I was going to like Jessie right away! She is smart and fun and I would love to hang out with her and shoot a little pool. She is also a romance novelist and her work as Adelé Nightingale is steamy but told to us readers in the most hilarious way. Her agent Louise is "fantastical"! These characters are a hoot!! and their dialogue is at times side splitting.

A good plot, a fun setting and engaging characters come together to make the a lighthearted cozy that will put a smile on your face. A very entertaining debut! I am looking forward to Double Shot and Three Odd Balls.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2014
A novelist, who is past child bearing age and divorced, enters her apartment to find a man lying on her couch trying to gasp out a name before he dies. She becomes involved in solving this mystery and ropes in her friends who live in the same apartment block. This is a very light novel which is amusing but somewhat unrealistic as far as the roles played by the characters in it. There are some typographical errors.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I don't know what book everybody else has been reading, but I found this flawed from page 3, and the writing a stream of consciousness that at times almost left me unconscious which would be okay if I was trying to get some sleep. I tried - I REALLY tried - to like this book, especially since it was recommended by one of my favorite authors, but I just couldn't. It's not humorous (and I write humor columns), and I don't know what a "cozy mystery" is unless a herd of kittens kills somebody.

It starts with a neighbor's boyfriend falling dead on a the principal character's couch. Without due process or a coroner's report, by page five the lead detective has declared it to be murder by poison and then harasses everyone from the main character (a successful writer of all things) to all of the writer's friends and acquaintances. Everybody's upset, but not so upset that they can't go have dinner and drinks, feeling mildly harassed but not uncomfortable. By the second chapter, all the suspects and are sitting around complaining what an ogre the lead detective is. There's so much dialogue and so little thought that I struggled to go on for three more chapters. It will make a very successful bad TV series, "CSI Des Moines" (with apologies to Des Moines).

This is my favorite genre of books, and perhaps it suffers by all the fantastic murder mysteries I've read over the years. Since I'm a minority of one it seems, for this price, don't let me dissuade you from buying it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2014
Even though this was described as a humous book, I didn't find it all that amusing. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be cute. I'm not really into "cute" stories and this one is forgettable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2013
"Playing with Poison" by Cindy Blackburn has mystery, romance and humor. I highly recommend it.
The main character, Jessie Hewitt, is a romance novelist, who writes steamy romances under the pen name of Adele Nightingale. When Stanley, the boyfriend of Jessie's friend, Candy, dies on Jessie's couch, Jessie is hounded by a local reporter who considers her the primary suspect in the murder. Suddenly, much to her dismay, Jessie's face is plastered all over the news but, as a result, one of her novels makes the New York Times bestseller list. Jessie is determined to figure out who poisoned Stanley in spite of the fact that Captain Wilson Rye, the detective in charge of the case, does his best to discourage her involvement.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2013
This was such a fun cozy mystery! Jessie Hewitt, steamy romance author and pool player extraordinaire, was an enjoyable character who made me laugh. She is accused of murdering her neighbor's boyfriend when he stumbles into her apartment and promptly dies on the couch. Jessie is perplexed and flat-out annoyed when Detective Wilson Rye informs her she's the prime suspect. It is wonderful to see the tension build between them, and you can just tell they drive each other crazy...in bad ways and in good.

Jessie sets out to clear her name by finding out who the real killer is, and why, even though she's been told she does not need to be sleuthing around. Jessie's sleuthing is balanced with her writing her latest romance novel. It's interesting to see that little story developing within the story as well. Detective Wilson Rye tells Jessie at one point that he is 90% sure she is innocent, and that gets her fired up. :) She is investigating all their friends, her ex-husband, the company the deceased worked for, and more.

I wasn't sure if I would like a book that involved pool-playing, but I really did like it. I thought the story would be a lot more focused on the game of pool, and it wasn't. If you're looking for a fun, cute cozy mystery, check out Playing with Poison. It's a great start to a fun series!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2012
Jessie, a pool-playing romance author, has a problem--and it has nothing to do with writer's block. There's a dead body on her sofa. With the help of her quirky neighbors and a cute police detective, Jessica sets out to prove she didn't kill the dead guy. She also has to deal with a nosy reporter, an ex-husband, and a crazy literary agent. The writing is crisp and funny. I loved hearing about the progress of Jessica's current historical romance novel. And the author kept me guessing all the way to nail-biting end.

I highly recommend Playing with Poison to anyone who enjoys fast-paced cozy mysteries. And I'm looking forward to reading the next Cue Ball Mystery to find out what troubles Jessie gets herself into next!
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