- Series: Penny Mackenzie
- Paperback: 244 pages
- Publisher: Krill Press (December 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0982144318
- ISBN-13: 978-0982144312
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,300,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Absinthe Of Malice (Penny Mackenzie) Paperback – December 1, 2008
"Pearl, California and its history may be fictional, but it could easily have been taken straight from real life. Pat Browning does an excellent job of creating a town of people whose lives have been molded by their past and that of their ancestors." --Lorie Ham, Author of "Murder In Four Part Harmony," "Deadly Discrimination," and "The Trouble With Tenors"
Penny Mackenzie is marvelous as the clever, reluctant, self-effacing heroine of Pat Browning's fast paced and engrossing tale of murder and love in a small town. ABSINTHE OF MALICE is rich with humor and unique characters in a fresh setting. I want more of her!" --Robert Fate, Author of the best selling "Baby Shark" series
"I have rarely read a mystery with such a profound sense of place. You can almost smell the corn growing in the farmlands, and the crickets chirping at night. A beautifully crafted mystery intertwined with life in a small town as it really is."
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"Absinthe of Malice," I said. "Isn't that a scream?"
"Scream?" she said. And gave me a blank look.
My wife is Brazilian. She doesn't always understand American idiom or word plays in English.
By the time I'd finished explaining...well...you know how it is when you try to explain a pun.
A couple of days later, I tried it out on one of my daughters.
"What's so funny about that?" she said.
She was born in 1980 - and didn't get it either.
The movie was before her time.
But anyone my age, and many a lot younger, will remember the 1981 Sydney Pollack classic, "Absence of Malice", starring Paul Newman and Sally Field.
I sure as heck do.
Which is why I find Pat Browning's title one of the funniest and most memorable of recent years.
Suited to the story, too, because the instrument of a murder (oh, yes, there is a murder, more than one, in fact) is absinthe.
Not of the Toulouse-Lautrec variety, but...hey, you don't want me to tell you everything, do you?
Ms. Browning calls her novel a "study in small town secrets".
But "Absinthe of Malice" is a lot more than that.
It's a cozy in the best sense of the word, a charming, Agatha-Christie-like look into crime in semi-rural California.
And with a little romance on the side.
The town of Pearl, as Ms. Browning tells us, is two hundred miles south of California's Gold Country, in the dead center of the San Joaquin Valley. It has "a population of 14,000 and counting", and one of the residents is a delightful, gutsy, self-deprecating reporter who works for the local newspaper, Penny Mackenzie.
Penny has lived in Pearl all of her life.
And so has her childhood friend, and fellow reporter, Maxie Harper.
When Maxie is murdered, Penny sets out to track down the killer.
And runs a grave risk of getting killed herself.
People in towns the size of Pearl tend to know each other.
So it's likely that Penny has at least a casual relationship with the guilty party.
That notwithstanding, Ms. Browning shows us that small-town murders can have as many ins-and-outs as big-town murders - and be just as complicated to solve.
If you like mysteries, you're going to enjoy your visit to Pearl, California.
I've got to be upfront here, though.
There isn't really a Pearl.
Ms. Browning invented it.
But I'm really glad she did, because I've developed a liking for the place.
I'm looking forward to going back and renewing my acquaintance with Penny Mackenzie.
How will the author be able to confine herself to the borders of one little town and afford me as much pleasure as she did in her debut novel?
I have no idea.
But Dame Agatha did it with Miss Marple in St. Mary Mead.
And, after reading "Absinthe of Malice", I'd be willing to bet Pat Browning will do it with Penny Mackenzie in Pearl.
Penny MacKenzie, the narrator, tries to talk her friend Maxie Harper out of investigating the bones. Penny doesn't want to be involved; she's gotten used to dull and boring, and finds her uneventful life both comfortable and safe. (Boy, is that getting ready to change!) But friend Maxie hopes to discover a dynamite story that will propel her onto a big city paper.
Tragedy ensues and Penny is drawn into a danger that reaches back into the past. Unsure of who she can trust, including an almost perfect old boy friend and the local Police Chief, she begins to research town corruption, common poisons, and avarice.
If you like a brain-teaser of a cozy mystery, you'll love ABSINTHE OF MALICE.
This book grabbed me from the first sentence. The characters were bold, human, and realistic. I would like to be friends with Penny Mackenzie. Why? Because she is someone who is a Lady while down to earth. She ventures outside her personal safety space. She is loyal to a fault and almost to her death.
There were more mysteries in this book than you can count on your hand. Missing persons, missing claims, deaths, physical attacks, journalism curtailed, and I could go on and on. Who can you trust? Why this was a question I asked myself several times while reading the book.
This is my first Pat Browning book, but, I can assure you not my last!
Most recent customer reviews
I really enjoyed this book.
Don't let the pun in the title put you off. (I had a boss who ADORED puns.Read more