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by Earlene Fowler
Berkley, May 2005
320 pages
ISBN: 0425202496

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Benni Harper, recently married to Gabe Ortiz, the chief of Police in Cen Celina California, is happy but terribly busy. She runs the folk art museum, is working hard in her church, and is doing her best to keep her moody, but wonderful husband on an even keel.

When her grandmother Dove asks her to help with the church's children's theater group and then Gabe's long-lost cousin shows up out of nowhere and stays with them, Benni is just about frazzled. After the first rehearsal with the children she forgets some information and when she enters the empty church to pick it up, she comes across a body. The caretaker has been hit on the head and murdered.

The crime comes under the shared jurisdiction of her husband and the nearest town, thereby bringing Detective Ford 'Hud' Hudson into the investigation. Unfortunately, Benni has a severe love/hate relationship with the man, since the too-charming Hud enjoys flirting with Benni a lot, making her very uncomfortable.

Then a rare piece of folk art, a violin worth a million dollars, is stolen but nobody knows when the theft occurred as a beautiful handmade replica has been put in a display case in its place. Benni feels compelled to help the two cops investigate. After all, she does know about folk art and she did find the body and somehow she's certain that the two crimes are connected. She also thinks she might have seen a child from her theater group run from the church after she discovered the murder victim.

This is book 12 in the Benni Harper Mystery series by Earlene Fowler and it's the first I have read. I'm delighted to say that it stands on its own and I guarantee that new readers will enjoy it as much as any dedicated Benni Harper fan.

The writing is clear, well done and engaging. The characters are interesting, thoughtful, three-dimensional people with sharp minds and good morals. The mystery is low-key and not at all gruesome. All these qualities shine through DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS as befits a classic cozy, making this book one of the best new finds for any dedicated mystery reader.

Pardon me now, I have another Benni Harper book waiting to be read, and I can't wait to begin!

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, May 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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