Watching the Detectives by Julie Mulhern
Series: The Country Club Murders #5
Publication date: May 23
e-ARC (from NetGalley and the publisher)
–All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Historical Mystery (1970’s Kansas City), Cozy
Ellison Russell wanted a decorator, not a corpse. Too bad she finds Mrs. White in the study killed with a revolver. Things go from bad to worse when she finds Mr. White in the dining room killed with a candlestick. With so many bodies, is it any wonder Detective Anarchy Jones’ new partner considers Ellison a suspect?
With the country club gossips talking a mile a minute, an unexpected cocktail party, a visit from Aunt Sis, and a romantic decision, Ellison hardly has time to think about murder. Unfortunately, the killer has plenty of time to think about her.
I’ve read these books since Julie Mulhern started publishing them in 2015. They are such fun books to read. They have a lot of humor, but also sometimes a very serious side which is the case with this book. It’s a cozy and historical, but Mulhern adds some serious issues. I like that.
Ellison Russell has a strong voice. Mulhern does a good job through these books showing Ellison from the first book when she’s an unhappy wife, protective mother and downtrodden daughter, not too sure who she is to the present loving mother and daughter who is very much her own woman–self-confident and willing to stand up to her strong-willed mother. With each book Ellison comes to know herself a little more.
With Watching the Detectives Ellison makes some decisions about her future, deals with her disapproving mother, her rebellious daughter, infuriating Aunt Sis and two very different suitors. And, of course, Ellison finds more murders which a new detective teamed with Detective Anarchy Jones finds very suspicious.
Clue aka Cluedo
I like the use of “Mrs. White in the study with the revolver”–reminiscent of the board game Clue. (Called Clue in North America, but originally begun as Cluedo in 1949 in the UK. I had never heard of Cluedo before!) Although the book doesn’t explicitly mention the board game Aggie at one point tells Hunter, “Mrs. White in the study with a revolver.” (Note: This may have changed in the final copy).
1974 Kansas City, Missouri, USA
The historical aspect–1974 Kansas City, Missouri in the United States–makes this series especially interesting. Ellison comes from a wealthy background where people are expected to marry well, belong to the Country Club, where husbands golf, wives play bridge and don’t have jobs and no one causes scandal. Secrets are kept in families. However, times are starting to change: the 1960’s have already happened with the Vietnam War, peace protests and perhaps the biggest change–birth control. Women can have control of their bodies and even start having careers. They don’t have to get married and have a husband take care of them. However, I think the country club set was probably slow to change–especially the older generation such as Ellison’s mother.
I thought the mystery was well written. There are contradictory clues plus I didn’t know what to think of Mrs. White. Not knowing the character of the victim made it harder to guess the why and who of the mystery. I did guess before the end of the story who did it, but it didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book at all.
If you haven’t read the preceding books in this series, you really should read them before reading this book–mostly because they are so good. I was a little unsure about Ellison in the first book–The Deep End–because I thought Ellison let so many people walk all over her. However, she grows a backbone as the series continues and becomes a character I love.
I hope there are more books in this series!
Book Rating: B+