MEDIUM RARE by Julie Eberhard Painter
"Snow light, snow bright, the last snow I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, for snow to go fly a kite." Tattle frowns at the fresh layer of snow outside the office window. "It's spring...spring! No snow! Flowers and snow just don't go together, y'know."
With the look of someone caught with their hand in the candy dish, Wrye gulps down a mouthful of newly made snow cream. Then he sheepishly offers Tattle the bowl. "Want some?"
"I want warmth, sun, bright skies."
"Then let's go on a Love of Literature Leap to steamy, sunny Florida."
Tattle perks up, "Let's!"
The two find themselves immediately emerged in Julie Eberhart Painter's cozy mystery MEDIUM RARE.
"Ohh, what a nice, warm place," Tattle observes as she snuggles on the couch right next to Penny and Cole Martin's cat, Cufflynx. She sinks her fingers into its soft fur and strokes, happily. Needless to say, the alpha pet Mynah, Bildgewater, flutters its feathers in disapproval, wanting the attention instead.
Wyre squints, his best Sherlock's something's afoot squint. "There's been a murder."
"There!" announces Tattle, pointing through the passages. "Celeste, a sweet ole psychic medium, stabbed through the chest with knitting needles."
"Interrressting," declares Wrye, "Just like Croakette."
"Ah yes, the hospice mascot from Penny's work. The stuffed green frog whose outfits are changed more than a potty-in-training toddler. There she was, a year before the current murder, stabbed through the chest with knitting needles. Unlike, Celeste, however, a quick repair allowed her to live and cheer-up the hospice workers for many more days."
Wrye nods sagely. "Poor Croakette, poor Celeste." He offers a nano second of silence. "We are running amuck, I fear, m'gossipy sleuth…."
"I am not the sleuth," Tattles interrupts, "Penny is, but you are correct, we are dangling clues much like the author has in this lighthearted mystery. However, unlike her we're a bit disconnected."
Wrye paces the chapters. "So, let's clarify a bit. The book starts in the present day, flips back into the past, and then ends in the present. A nice little roller coaster ride along with Penny's hospice co-workers, whose imperfections make them very real, very relatable, and very suspect as well."
"Most of them have visited the medium, who knew intimate details about their present and past lives. This transparency convinces them Celeste is genuine."
"Ah so, ho-de-ho, it must have also convinced the murderer that Celeste knew way too much, something he or she didn't want revealed. Da...da...da...daaaaa!" Wrye lingers on the last note of his dramatic declaration.
"Penny, though, feels her colleagues simply aren't the murdering type. They might have their flaws, from the hospice chaplain with a shadowy past, the needy social worker, the volunteer coordinator with a wobbly marriage, the married comptroller with a secret life along with a few other, but none had it in them to viciously stab a sweet psychic with knitting needles."
Wrye bounces his brows. "Or did they?"
"Did any of them even knit?" Tattle scours the pages. "Well, I won't be telling. Y'all have to find out for yourselves. All in all, Julie took the backdrop of a serious setting like hospice and managed to add the type of humor and light-fare associated with a cozy mystery. The genius of this book is that you can pick up clues along the way, play with the possibilities, yet the cornerstone clues, though obvious in the aftermath, were virtually invisible." Pause, and then, "Everything is viewed from the workers perceptions and how they manage to keep their sanity while dealing with hospice patients and their families, better their skills, yet retain empathy without becoming emotionally involved. There is complete authenticity in both the feel of the characters and the hospice setting. The story and plotline moves delightfully along, making one smile in some parts as well as laugh outright in others, and then occasionally blurting out, that's the killer only to be uncertain a few pages later. Simply put, a fun, fun read."
Wrye adds, "I agree. The pages turned themselves as I immersed myself in the characters' lives. I especially liked the reappearance of Penny and Cole from KILLER FEE, a previous mystery from Julie Eberhart Painter. Yet, try as I might, I couldn't figure out who the killer was and found the revelation a magnificent, well-thought through surprise. In retrospect, it all made sense."
"If you want a quick read with a quirky cast and an unexpected ending, we highly recommend MEDIUM RARE."
"Only, make certain you plan on one sitting, you won't be able to put it down!"