Author: Carolyn J. Rose

Publisher: Carolyn J. Rose

ISBN: 978-0-9837359-6-0

 

Barbara, Cheese Puff, Dave and Allison, an interesting fun bunch of gals and guys (Cheese Puff’s a boy dog) are the star players in Carolyn J. Rose’s latest mystery, No Substitute For Money.

Barbara Reed, a financially embarrassed substitute teacher, lives in a condo with her long time buddy, Cheese Puff. Enamoured of a drug-cop detective, Dave Martin, Barb really hopes the feeling is mutual but is wary of their affair becoming perfect. The P-word, a harbinger of disaster; the string of marriage partners, jobs, hairdos… anything really, that sank without trace when the P-word dropped by has convinced Barb that in her life, nothing and nobody’s perfect.

Completing grad school, she is hoping for a job at the local high school in Reckless River, Wahington. Meanwhile, the affair with Dave is heating up and he’s talking co-habitation; co-habitation which includes his teenage daughter, Allison. Barb and Allison like each other so happy families could be a reality if only Barb would stop dithering and forget previous P-word stuff-ups. 

Have to say that I’m not a fan of teen-age characters in adult mystery novels – they are mostly irritating/boring or both. Congratulations to writer Carolyn Rose, her characterization of teenage Allison is appealingly realistic and at times, funny.

Mrs. Barrington, a neighbor tripping around overseas, has offered Barb the use of her car for the duration of the holiday.  This is a lucky break for Barb, as her ancient jalopy succumbs to an unknown illness and she has no option but to leave it at a garage for repairs. There is a problem though; a tall dark thuggish guy is hanging around Barb’s condo asking for Mrs. Barrington – he wants to know where she is and he wants to know right now. “Or else”, implied, Barb feels threatened. 

She contacts Mrs. B. who denies any knowledge of the thug, advising Barb she’ll sort the thug out when she comes home. Not much Barb can do and as sister, Iz is on course to visit, she has troubles of her own. Iz, a relative you wouldn’t give a forwarding address to if you moved house, is Barb’s only living relative. Iz doesn’t like her sister’s choice in men or lifestyle, and loudly (some would say aggressively) vocalizes a trillion recommendations for change.

Barb’s car, miraculously fixed at an affordable cost, becomes a problem. Doors unlocked, doors left open, mysterious wrapping paper and packages left on the floor and the seat -  what’s happening? And, more importantly: who is to blame? Dave becomes involved in the mystery and so do the drug squad. This threatens to short circuit Barb and Dave’s love affair – Barb sure that the P-word has done it again is miserable. 

A kidnapping and threatening phone calls makes life not only interesting but pretty damn dangerous, until Mrs. Barrington, thug in tow turns up and takes charge. Stuff starts happening and it happens fast. All the players: Dave, the drug squad, Iz and her new love, Mrs. B and thug, Barb and Allison all get involved in a night of unexpected exciting events where the bad guys get what’s coming to them and Barb and Co. can look forward to a not perfect (perish the thought) but happy future.

No Substitute For Money, full of quirky, nutty/nice characters is a good read – Carolyn J. Rose an accomplished genre writer who knows how to keep a story percolating.


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