Thursday, February 24, 2011

Murder Passes the Buck by Deb Baker

Title: Murder Passes the Buck
Author: Deb Baker
ISBN: 9781448635405
Publisher: Createspace, 2009
Paperback, 274 pages
Genre: Humorous, Amateur Sleuth, Cozy mystery, #1 Gertie Johnson Backwoods Adventure
Rating: B+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

First Line: If my grandson Little Donny hadn't taken so long getting out of bed this morning, I would have been at Chester's hunting blind in time to see them haul Chester out.

It's been a little over a year since Gertie Johnson's husband died, and she's finally perking up a bit. She's sixty-six and is level-headed enough about her age to know she's going to let the gray hair and wrinkles slide while she focuses on life's more important matters. Listening to her police scanner is making her feel connected to the world again, and when Chester Lampi's body is discovered in his deer blind, Gertie decides to investigate:

The thought of investigating Chester's death appealed to me. The more time I spent listening to my police scanner, the more I thought I'd make a pretty good investigator. After all, I had three kids to practice on while they were growing up. If nothing came of my efforts and it was a stray bullet that killed Chester like Blaze and Cora Mae thought, I'd chalk it up to on-the-job training.

Of course it doesn't help that the local sheriff (who's got nothing but retirement on his mind) has declared Chester's death an accident and a no-investigate zone... and it also doesn't help that he's Gertie's son. That's not about to stop Gertie, and soon she's on the case with the help of her friends-- man-hungry Cora Mae and bodyguard Kitty.

Everything becomes further complicated when Gertie learns that that self-same son has petitioned the court to become her legal guardian, but she and her two cohorts continue to investigate-- even when the killer starts to target them.

A previous reviewer of Murder Passes the Buck said, "Fans of Janet Evanovich, imagine Grandma Mazur with a shotgun." I wouldn't go that far. Yes, Gertie has a shotgun, but she's not as cuckoo as Grandma Mazur. I'd go hunting with Gertie; she knows not to point a gun at anyone unless she fully intends to shoot them. Where Grandma Mazur is concerned, I wouldn't be on the same block as her when she's packin' simply because I trust her to do something stupid, and I can't drop flat to the ground as quickly as I used to.

Deb Baker makes it clear that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is another place in America where bonafide characters live and prosper. Gertie is an original and a bit eccentric, but far from being a danger to herself or to others. It was a mark of how much I'd come to care for the old girl when I learned that her son was wanting to become her legal guardian. I wanted to aim one of my boots at him and kick him to the next planet!

If you're in the mood to read about some eccentric folks doing their thing in the backwoods, by all means become acquainted with Gertie Johnson and her friends. I know I'll be reading her next adventure very soon!


  1. Sorry about above comment (I was in the wrong mail acct,)

    This sounds like a fun read. Adding it to the list.

  2. Gertie sounds like quite a quirky character and this book sounds like a lot of fun!

  3. My late aunt (a quirky character) was also named Gertie, and I really enjoy books with older women doing unexpected things. This is going on my list right now.

  4. Mystica-- It is!

    Mary-- Enjoy!

    Kathy-- It is. I'm looking forward to other books in the series.

    Barbara-- I hope you enjoy!

  5. Sounds fun but I'm one of the few people for whom a comparison to the Plum series is turn-off. I read the first two or three of that series and just never really needed to have more. On the other hand, since Gertie seems to have a head on her shoulders, I probably shouldn't dismiss her that fast.

  6. Beth-- Don't let the comparison to Plum be the thing that turns you away from these books! There really is scarcely any comparison.

    Kaye-- It is!


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