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To Thine Own Self Be True (Stella Crown Series) Paperback – May 15, 2007

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Product Details

  • Series: Stella Crown Series
  • Paperback: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (May 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590583922
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590583920
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,647,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bikers and tattoos have something of an image problem, but Clemens's fun and surprising third Stella Crown mystery (after 2005's Three Can Keep a Secret) goes a long way toward improving that image. Shortly before Christmas, Stella, a Harley-riding Pennsylvania dairy farmer, is getting a new tattoo at Wolf Ink, when the tattoo artist, Wolf, interrupts their session and takes off with his wife, Mandy. Stella falls asleep, and later leaves in a huff with only half a tattoo. Then the cops show up at Stella's door to report that Mandy has been found outside the tattoo parlor, frozen to death after being hit on the head. Wolf, who has disappeared, is the chief suspect in the murder, but the net expands to include shady fringe tattooists (who ink underage kids and "forget" to change needles) and legislators who wish to close down the whole industry for the sins of a few. As Clemens waxes poetic about tattoos, readers will view this subculture in a brand new light. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Clemens brings tattooed biker and dairy farmer Stella Crown back for her third unconventional adventure. Treating herself to a new tattoo for Christmas, Stella is at Wolf Ink, where her friend Wolf and his wife, Mandy, are amusing her with stories as they create the new design. Suddenly, they get a phone call and disappear. Stella dozes off and awakens to find them gone. She goes home and later, the police arrive to tell her that Mandy is dead and Wolf has disappeared. Feeling guilty, Stella tries to assist the police in their search. Since she was the last person to see them, she is also a suspect. An old flame, Nick Hathaway, arrives for a visit and ends up stranded during a severe snowstorm, providing distraction and assistance in her search. Clemens offers readers an intriguing story that takes them inside the world of tattooing and gives them a taste of daily life on a dairy farm. That may seem like an odd combination, but Clemens makes it work, thanks to abundant wit, well-developed characters, and a vividly realized rural setting. Barbara Bibel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Judy Clemens has lived in seven states and decided to settle in the beautiful farmland of Ohio. She has been nominated for the Anthony and Agatha awards, and is the immediate past president of Sisters in Crime. She loves chocolate, watching movies, reading fantasy (especially YA and middle-grade) and is an active member of Grace Mennonite Church. She has two children, is married to a soccer coach, and lives in a farmhouse that is constantly being renovated. Learn more about her at

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PJ Coldren VINE VOICE on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Dairy farmer Stella Crown is mourning the loss of her good friend and farm hand Howie by having his name tattooed as an ID bracelet on her wrist. It's the end of a long day, and when Wolf stops tattooing to follow his wife Mandy into the back room, Stella nods off for a little while. She's mildly irritated when she can't find Wolf or Stella, but figures something came up and she'll get the rest of the tattoo next time.

Unfortunately, there may not be a next time. Mandy is dead of hypothermia after being hit on the head and left in a snow bank; Wolf is the obvious suspect for the police, because he can't be found. Stella and her friends know better, but have a hard time convincing the police. Stella gets help on the case when a man from her past, Nick, shows up on her doorstep. Together they start nosing around the tattoo community, finding controversy and hidden agendas all around them.

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE is the third in the Stella Crown series. The plot takes Stella out of her comfort zone, both personally and within the surprisingly diverse tattoo sub-culture. As in the previous books, Clemens seems to take pleasure in rearranging Stella's world from the ground up. It's certainly a pleasure, as a reader, to watch Stella cope with all the changes, to see her grow as a character. It's also a challenge trying to figure out where Clemens can go from here, a challenge she's surely capable of meeting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Deciding to treat herself for the holidays, Pennsylvania dairy farmer Stella Crown drives to Wolf Ink to have artist Wolf etch her a new tattoo. While Wolf lectures Stella to stop moving, his wife Mandy tells her droll stories that keep her laughing. Mandy leaves for the back room, but soon asks Wolf to join her for a minute; Stella dozes for twenty minutes. When she awakens from her catnap, she finds herself alone with only half the tattoo finished and the weather turning ugly. She goes home though the ride takes over twice as long as normal due to the falling snow.

Soon afterward Lansdale Police Detective Shisler and Officer Beane arrive to question Stella about when she last seen Scott (Wolf) and Mandy Moore. After answering specific questions from the two cops, Shisler informs Stella that just outside the tattoo parlor Mrs. Moore froze to death after being hit on the head; Wolf vanished. Feeling guilty because Mandy may have died while she left in a tizzy, Stella investigates an angry client and illegal tattooists working the under sixteen trade in back allies while never changing needles.

The third Stella Crown amateur sleuth mystery is an entreating and educational tale that will have the audience appreciating the heroine's efforts as well as reconsidering the stereotyping of bikers and tattoo artists. The story line is driven by the Harley riding tattooed Stella who feels a sense of responsibly for Mandy's death though she knows she did not cause the tragedy. Her inquiry enables the audience to understand the damage caused by the back alley criminal tattooists (sounds like abortion before Roe vs. Wade) and the holier than thou legislators who condemn an entire industry due to these few miscreants.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Paperback
First Line: "So I said to him, 'You know what could happen if I pierced you there?' The stooge went white so fast I thought he was gonna do a face plant right there on the linoleum!"

Stella Crown lives in a Mennonite area of Pennsylvania and is a hard-working dairy farmer. She is also tattooed and rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle. She's used to be looked at with raised eyebrows; she's used to being treated as though she's from another planet.

Shortly before Christmas, Stella decides to treat herself to a new tattoo and stops in at Wolf Ink to have it done. Halfway through the tattoo, Wolf's wife Mandy calls him to the back of the shop, and while he's gone the hard-working Stella falls asleep in the chair. When she wakes up, Wolf and Mandy have disappeared. Although she's not happy about the interrupted tattoo, she's also very uneasy about the disappearance of her friends. When Stella discovers that Mandy has been found frozen to death behind a dumpster outside Wolf Ink and that Wolf has vanished, her overwhelming sense of guilt has her helping the police with their investigation. The investigation soon starts looking into fringe tattooists (who ink underage kids and "forget" to change needles) and a legislator who wants to close down the entire industry. Between milking times and blizzards, will Stella have a chance to find out who killed Mandy and what happened to Wolf?

I enjoy this series because Clemens has such a marvelous character in Stella and such an unusual setting. You may have sleuths who are tattooed and ride motorcycles, but chances are that they don't have to keep a dairy farm running. Many times amateur sleuths who are supposedly gainfully employed have time to gallivant over hill and dale day after day in pursuit of the bad guys. Stella doesn't.
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By Miss Ivonne on February 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
"To Thine Own Self Be True" marks the third entry in the Stella Crown mystery series that began with Till the Cows Come Home: A Stella Crown Mystery (Stella Crown Series). Stella, a fiercely independent dairy farmer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, had really begun to mellow a bit in the second book in the series, Three Can Keep a Secret: A Stella Crown Mystery (Stella Crown Series); she had been so whiny and self-pitying and self-righteous and -- well, prickly as a cactus -- in the first one that I could barely force myself to read it to the end.

Stella's not quite as abrasive as she was in the first novel, but she's pretty bad. She's so full of herself that she can't bear to allow anyone else to handle the investigation into a murder and disappearance. Gee! Who knew that no one else is as incisive, observant, and fearless as you, Stella? She blames herself for the death at the heart of the novel, as if she could have done anything; how self-important! To give you some idea of how irritating she was in this book, I was rooting for her to get arrested when she has a run-in with some police officers. Not a good sign for the heroine of a book.

The mystery in "To Thine Own Self Be True" is an intriguing one: a tattoo artist disappears and his wife is found dead behind the tattoo parlor. The novel provides an interesting look at a subculture. Unfortunately, Stella proves pretty unlikable and the resolution to the mystery is simply not believable. The book's not terrible, but it's bad enough that I won't be reading any further in the series.
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