Claire Hanover is not very happy these days.  Her husband Roger spends way too much time at work, the kids are grown and out of the house and her gift basket business isn’t much consolation. Rather bored and lonely, this wasn’t the way her life was supposed to go at all.  Then, there is the fact that her close friends are divorced and generally bitter towards men in general. Men aren’t the good guys they may have been years ago and Roger is one of them.

Her good friend Ellen seems to believe that what Claire really needs is a good fling and suggests that Enrique is just the one to show her a good time.  It won’t be serious and there won’t be strings and of course, it won’t hurt anyone. Beyond that, Enrique teaches a couple of exercise classes which is how Claire met him and gives a great massage.  Even if it doesn’t lead to anything else, Ellen is convinced that a really good massage will help adjust Claire’s outlook on life. Backed into a corner by Ellen, Claire finally allows Enrique to come over to give her a massage.

Whether it could have led to something more, Claire will never know because Enrique is gunned down in her bedroom while giving her the massage.  As it happens, Roger is home and there to hold the gun and for Claire and the police it initially appears that Roger did the deed.

Claire, slowly realizing what Roger must think she has done and what they stand to lose, begins to try to figure out the case.  The police consider it an open and shut case since Roger was there holding the gun that fired the fatal bullet and she no doubt was committing adultery. They see it as nothing more than the husband gunning down his wife’s lover in a fit of rage.  The fact that Roger also believes she committed adultery makes her finally realize how close she has come to losing him. She soon becomes determined not only to save her marriage but to save her husband. Unlike her basket making business, her blundering could get her killed and yet she soldiers on in her efforts to gift wrap the real killer for police.

This cozy style mystery is a real treat to read.  Claire quickly becomes a character the reader cares about and one alive in every sense of the word. As her character development continues to grow throughout the novel it becomes clear that Claire is relying on inner resources she never knew she had. At the same time, several of the secondary characters also grow and change and none are given short shrift in terms of plot or development. While the focus is primarily on Claire, the other characters play major roles and contribute to the overall read.

Full of twists and turns along with plenty of suspects the book is sure to keep readers entertained all the way to the end.  Clearly the start of a series and a good one at that, this is a book that is sure to please a lot of readers.

A Real Basket Case

By Beth Groundwater

http://www.bethgroundwater.com

Five Star

http://www.galegroup.com/fivestar/

ISBN #1-59414-547-4

ARC

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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