How could a thirty-something man fall to his death from a fourth-floor balcony he knows is
defective? That’s the question freelance writer Micki Demetrius is asked to answer by the
man’s grieving mother, Clarissa White, who refuses to believe his death was an unfortunate
accident. But when the authorities determine it was homicide, Micki is shut out of her
Giving up is easier said than done for Micki. She can’t resist a mystery, and suspicious
characters won’t leave Clarissa alone, from the woman claiming a stake in the victim’s life to a
cagey character who wants his business. As the threat to Clarissa grows, Micki feels compelled
to help her in spite of the danger.
Micki’s three mah jongg pals—Sydney Bonner, Marianne Putnam and Katrina, Kat, Faulkner—are drawn into the mystery, but the retirees have their own challenges. Syd and husband Trip do grandparent duty while their daughter deals with marital issues. Marianne “finds herself” by writing a one-act play. And Kat must decide how public to go with her growing friendship with the sheriff. Together, they must connect the dots in a nefarious web of greed, neglect, secrecy and murder.
This cozy mystery, the third of the Mah Jongg Mystery series, again is titled after one of the three suits of mah jongg tiles, the Dots. The first two books, Craks in a Marriage and Bamboozled, were named after the other two, Craks (Characters) and Bams (Bamboo).
The Mah Jongg Mysteries feature four retired amateur sleuths who live in the small Florida town of Serendipity Springs, all female and all friends who play the game of mah jongg together. Though they don't set out to investigate murder, others come to them for help investigating homicides and questionable accidents. In this story, Micki takes the lead; the four protagonists share the lead in subsequent stories. Two are married, Micki is divorced and the fourth, Kat, who has been single all her life while she tended to her ailing mother, now finds herself the object of the sheriff's attention.
Even in the midst of their investigations, life goes on in their community and in their own lives in such activities as a social group for those over 50, numerous stops at the local coffeehouse and a local rodeo. Sydney's husband, Trip, and Marianne Putnam's husband, Beau, are golf buddies who spend many a day on the course. When not there, Trip is busy seeking to build a new post retirement life, and Beau is often prevailed upon to join in Trip's latest activity. Both would rather their wives stay as far away from murder as possible, but they, too, get dragged into the investigations eventually. Kat has lived a frugal life until winning big in a lottery shortly after her mother's death; suddenly, Kat has money and doesn't know how to spend it. But freelance journalist, Micki, does, even if it's to guide Kat through a makeover, wardrobe selections for her lounge act and redecorating her macmansion.
Prior to beginning this series, Barbara Barrett was already published in contemporary romance with eleven novels and two novellas. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and its Iowa chapter. She is also a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America, Iowa Romance Novelists and Spacecoast Authors of Romance. Like her protagonists, she is retired and a resident of Florida, although she heads back to her home state of Iowa for “cooler” weather in summer. She spent over three decades as a human resource management analyst with Iowa state government. She is also an instructor in her town’s Lifelong Learning program. Her website is www.barbarabarrettbooks.com.