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Send in the Clowns–outstanding cozy mystery

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Send in the Clowns

by Julie Mulhern

send-in-the-clownsThe Country Club Murders is a series of cozy mysteries set in in the early 1970’s.  Send in the Clowns is the fourth in the series and the second one I have read.  While there is a lot of serious crime in this tale, Julie Mulhern knows how to write with humor and keep the reader coming back.  I honestly had trouble putting the book aside at bedtime. Then I devoured the last half the next morning.

There is no waiting for the book to get interesting.  In the first chapter, Ellison, who seems to attract handsome men and dead bodies, has to go to a haunted house to retrieve her teenage daughter.  While there she has an encounter with two clowns, one of whom calls her by name and then dies in her arms.  There are many more twists and turns in the plot which keep interest at a high level all the way through.

The likable Ellison Russell may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she is no stranger to personal tragedies and horrors.  The story is told from her perspective. The dialogue intermixes what Ellison says (in quotes) with what she thinks so well that her character takes on a reality not possible with third person narration. The way she is presented makes it very easy to identify with her and her struggles to get the men in her life to see her as capable and independent. Remember, this is the early seventies, an era when women are still expected to emerge from college with an “MRS.” degree.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is the setting of the seventies. The little details are right on target, but not forced. There is shag carpeting and the only telephones are those that are attached to the wall. The diet soft drink of choice is Tab, and a plaid coat in shades of plum and hunter green echoes one I wore in that time frame. Probably one of the best and most subtle references to an earlier time is Ellison’s admonition to the teenagers as they exit the car: “Lock your door.” Each door needed to be locked manually by the passenger.

I have absolutely no negative criticisms for this book.  In fact, I am going to return to the series to read the two out of four that I have not read yet. Additionally it is important to note that reading them out of sequence did not detract from my pleasure in reading these mysteries. Send in the Clowns has everything you want in a cozy–a fast pace, intricate turns in the plot, interesting characters and setting, a little romance with the requisite tension, and a good resolution.

This book is scheduled for publication on October 25, 2016.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Wendy says:

    Those 70’s details, if they aren’t right, it’s just hokey! How ironic that you got this book to review while all the Clown sighting are going on around the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lghiggins says:

    That is ironic! I hadn’t paid much attention to these clown sightings so I Googled it and it is just plain weird. I guess people have always had a love/hate relationship with clowns, but these are people who really want to scare others. I bet we’ll see a lot of evil clown costumes on Halloween. I also learned a new word: coulrophobia, the irrational fear of clowns. I’m glad the book Send in the Clowns is not as scary as these clown sightings; the clown scene is minor and the solving of the various mysteries is major. He is probably a good writer, but I don’t read Stephen King horror novels. I just can’t go there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This series is one of my favorites. The seventies comments are accurate as I lived through them.

    Liked by 1 person

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