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Brewed, Crude and Tattooed (Maggy Thorsen Mysteries) Hardcover – June 1, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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Kirkus Reviews: "A freak May snowstorm provides the perfect cover for murder in a suburban strip mall [and,] armed with flashlights from Goddard's Pharmacy, Maggy leads her mighty band of retailers on a quest to capture the killer."
Top Customer Reviews
I am really enjoying this series a lot. It's cozy, but an edgy, funky kind of cozy where 'adult themes' and the occasional four-letter word aren't swept under the rug. Maggy has a wicked sense of humor and I find myself liking her very much--she's sort of a fish out of water, since the suburb she lives in is a gossipy, high-class enclave and Maggy is struggling to make ends meet and isn't so worried about what the Joneses think of her.
I think I especially liked this entry in the series because the boyfriend wasn't around so the romancey bits which I often find annoying weren't there at all in this one. I have to admit that the little bit of 'love interest' in this series isn't ever intrusive though, and it doesn't take over the whole story line, so kudos to the author for that, too! A mystery that's actually a mystery instead of a romance in disguise! Imagine that!
Brookhills, Wisconsin, a small, fictional wealthy exurb located west of Milwaukee, gets an unseasonable blizzard in May. Maggy; her partner at Uncommon Grounds, Caron Egan; the town's television weather "slut," blonde, perky Aurora Benson; her teenaged son Oliver and an additional collection of characters find themselves stranded at Benson Plaza, the strip mall where Uncommon Grounds is located. Even Maggy's sheepdog Frank ends up at the coffee shop, and yet others join the group as the novel -- and the storm -- rages on.
Maggy discovers the corpse of Way Benson, Benson Plaza's womanizing owner, buried in the falling snow with a hatchet in him. Benson planned to evict all of the tenants and turn the property over to a big-box grocery chain called Gross National Produce; that gave all the tenants a reason to want Benson dead. Benson's love-'em-and-leave-'em proclivities added quite a few spurned lovers to the suspect list. With communication cut off to the outside by the storm, Maggy realizes that she must take the lead in unmasking the killer, one of their own number.
The premise should produce a chilling page-turner, right? But somehow Balzo's novel never achieves the proper suspense. Maggy comes off as alternately goofy (who after all takes a drooling, barely housebroken sheepdog to work?) and whiny. The normally crotchety Sarah Kingston, usually good for a laugh or a memorable quip, remains mostly in the background. Maggy's usual sidekick and love interest, County Sheriff Jake Pavlik, is virtually non-existent. Instead, readers are treated to a new collection of characters, all of them crafted from cardboard: the obedient Vietnamese daughter, her dutiful and loving dad, the abrasive Frenchman, the conceited and conniving mistress, the grandmotherly pharmacy owner.
The novel's still an OK read, but it's certainly no Bean There, Done That (A Maggy Thorsen Mystery). Save "Brewed, Crude and Tattooed" for a day when you seek something mindless and haven't anything better.