Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mrs. Quigley's Kidnapping by Jean Sheldon

Published by Bast Press
Reviewed as an e-book

This book is a very entertaining read. The story appears to take place primarily in the late 1960s. Jean Sheldon has done an excellent job of keeping the time period consistent. I love the many references to that time in conversations and in Mattie Draper's thoughts. I enjoyed reminiscing as I read, especially about the early computers. Our heroine is a former secretary who got tired of typing "Dear Sir or Madam", making coffee, and doing paperwork. She is ready for something more exciting. Mattie's good friend and sometimes date Frankie Ficaro, a PI, suggests she rent the office next to his and become a private investigator. Mattie tells her story in the first person and I think this was a perfect match for her sense of humour, her flow of thoughts as she goes along and the reader getting a sneak peak at the many characters she meets. Mattie endears many and the rest, well, it's a toss-up. They are either irritated, or despise her, especially the Sheriff. For her first case, she is hired by Dave Quigley to solve the kidnapping of his wife, Diana and bring her home alive. Mattie is a little less than confident that she can do the investigation, but Frankie builds her confidence up and promises to help when he can.

This was a quirky, funny story, lots of lightness yet a terrible crime. There is seemingly no end to the suspect list, and it just keeps growing. Mattie's thoughts and comments are reminiscent of some old detective novels and movies. Not the tough guy ones, but the novels lightened with humourous remarks and thoughts complementing the plot. She gathers information from helpful secretaries, household staff and their contacts among the rich and famous the Quigley's hobnob with. But sleuthing is not all talking to suspects and her own group of listeners, not in the least. At various times she is getting too close to something or someone, but she's not sure what. She is separately arrested, warned off, hog-tied, beaten and drugged, but who is doing what, why and for whom? No matter what, feisty and fun, she keeps on going. She truly believes, along with others, that if she doesn't find Diana before the ransom is paid, Diana will be killed. This is a cozy mystery despite the serious crime, with many contestants for the kidnapper and/or for the murderer. There are lots of false leads and red herrings. Although there is a final wrap-up, I would enjoy reading more cases featuring Mattie and Frankie. I really enjoyed this book.

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