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Elementary My Dear Watkins

by Mindy Starns Clark

Reviewed by Darcie Gudger

"...Starns Clark weaves a good tale, and her plots get better with each book."

After seven months of silence from the man who left her alone at the alter, Jo Tulip meets with former groom-to-be, Bradford. He has something very important to tell her, but before he can reveal his deep dark secret, someone shoves Jo in front of an oncoming subway train! From God-only-knows-where, Bradford musters up chivalry, pulling Jo from harm’s way becoming train bait himself.

At the same time, Jo’s inbox holds a suspicious e-mail wanting more than advice on how to clean toaster ovens. “Toaster Man”, in addition to wondering whether or not to buy a Teflon coated oven, warns Jo her life is on the line. In signature Smart Chick style, Jo pieces together the spotty information from Bradford and Toaster Man. Could someone in her immediate family want her dead? Seeking answers and in desperate need of physical therapy for her broken ankle, she moves in with her crotchety, filthy-stinkin’ rich grandmother.

Danny Watkins, Jo’s best friend and now boyfriend, is in Paris chasing down his wildest dream of becoming an internationally renowned nature photographer. Danny globe trots through photo heaven, clueless about Jo’s plight until he receives disturbing phone calls from the States.

Jo’s grandmother believes Jo’s role as an heir to the family business, Bosworth Industries, is a motive for murder. Jo discovers she is the keystone to a balance of power within the highest levels of the international business increasing the list of potential Tulip-killers.

Can Jo, Danny and Grandmother crack the case before Jo goes from Tulip to tulip fertilizer?

Elementary fell a little flat in comparison to Blind Dates. After some thought, I realized what was missing – the romantic tension between Jo and Danny. I wish Jo and Danny had not become an item so soon. Danny’s obsession over Jo, and her ignorance of his puppy-like adoration upped the page-turner factor, giving the reader some good belly laughs. I missed the belly laughs.

With that said, the plot was well done. It’s think-outside-the-obvious twists is on par with Agatha Christie’s Murder On the Orient Express as a red-herring is tossed into the melee sending readers down a rabbit trail. Clark strings the reader along a story thread that for quite a while doesn’t seem to fit, but as more clues are revealed, connections can be made – but not too many! The readers only know what Jo knows. We discover who the wanna-be killer is when Jo does, which for Jo, may be too late!

Had this been the first book in the series, I wouldn’t have been disappointed. The chick-lit ingredients such as humor and romantic tension in The Trouble with Tulip and Blind Dates Can Be Murder created an expectation of the same in this book. Either way, Starns Clark weaves a good tale, and her plots get better with each book.

Darcie Gudger is a freelance writer currently working on a young adult novel while trying to solve all the mysteries of motherhood with her adopted son, Kyle. In her spare time, she coaches the 2A Colorado State Champion Sheridan High School colorguard, judged equipment for the Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association and sings for the Bear Valley church choir and worship team. An adventure-seeker who lives and writes in the shadow of the Rocky mountains, Darcie loves hiking, camping, cycling, photography and keeping her husband guessing. Visit Darcie online at her blog, Joy in the Litterbox.