by Kathleen Costa
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an eBook set of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3. We also have a link to order it from Amazon.
I’m going to start right off with my perspective…
This is truly a delightful, entertaining series! Jamie Quinn may be a bit quirky with some low self-esteem issues, but one can easily identify with this young woman just trying to find her way. She loves her family, is loyal to friends and clients, misses her mom who recently died, and discovers she is more capable than she ever imagined…very realistic from her engaging first-person narrative. These books are quick reads, or listens in my case, but not short at all on enjoyment.
All three books reviewed have a murder with which Jamie gets directly or indirectly involved, but, beyond that, we also follow her on a personal journey and delight in her relationships with friends and family. She was raised by a single mother knowing little about her birth father and when her mother passes, she is compelled to find out about him.
Helping her with her personal and professional investigations are some quirky friends: Marmaduke “Duke” Brossard III (a ‘good old boy’ PI with a southern drawl) and her BFF Grace (worried about Jamie’s love life). She also contends with State Attorney Nick Dimitropoulos who she relishes proving wrong. We even get a bit of history about Cuban dissidents, refugees and INS issues adding a very contemporary focus. Romance? Jamie does have a couple of avenues to follow, but as with her career, nothing is easy.
Audio Version Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection Narrator Carrie Lee Martz lends her skill with her enjoyable interpretation of Jamie Quinn. She also provides a fun, yet sadly way too slow, southern drawl for ‘Duke’ the PI, bubbly BFF Grace with some New Yorkers, Hispanics and an East Indian thrown in.
I could feel the emotional fear from Aunt Peg and the struggling way Adam communicates in “…Didgeridoo,” somber, distraught tone of Becca in “…Killer Divorce,” and the frustrations of Annamaria in “Peril…” I was totally caught up in the listening experience which enriched my enjoyment.
A little bit of background…
Jamie Quinn is a lawyer, but don’t hold that against her, and it seems many of her friends don’t get it. She is a Family Law attorney, it says so on her business card and her expertise is limited to divorce, custody issues, adoptions, paternity and child support. She cannot help with your real estate closing, how much your injury is worth, file a Social Security claim or advise you on bankruptcy. And she definitely does not know anything about ‘criminal law,’ except for having watched a Law & Order marathon. So, why is she always finding herself in the middle of…murder?
Book 1 Death by Didgeridoo earns 5/5 Australian Aboriginal Wind Instruments!
Jamie doesn’t sleep well, often wandering around the house until late into the night. So sleeping later into the morning than most, it’s no wonder she missed her Aunt Peg’s frantic phone call. Her cousin Adam Muller was found standing over the victim, and despite his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and the circumstantial evidence (bloody clothes, fingerprints on the murder weapon and unsolicited outbursts at the scene), the District Attorney sees no reason not to move forward on charges of murder. It looks bad!
Jamie sets off to uncover more than a few motives and suspects since Spike, the victim, has too many issues to overlook. There’s a lawsuit, former lovers, domestic violence and money ? there’s always money. Jamie interrogates many of the suspects leading to more questions than answers, and Skyping Adam’s hypnotherapy session makes it seem he is the ‘right key’ to explore. However, a second body puts the whole investigation ‘off key.’
Book 2 The Case of the Killer Divorce earns 5/5 Cuba Libre Cocktails!
Jamie has quite the variety of clientele, but her success in court isn’t always a given. This time the judge really didn’t like her and when siding with the soon-to-be ex-husband on custody issues, she was left concerned about the her client’s stability.
As in most custody battles things are not always civil and when Joe threatens, Becca threatens back. So, it isn’t a surprise when, instead of Joe showing up to pick up the girls for his court-ordered visitation, the police arrive instead to inform Becca that her husband is dead. Becca is distraught ? and of course, a suspect.
In between phones calls and texts to check on her client, Jamie is focusing on Project Dad. While her mother was alive she didn’t pressure her about details on her father, but now that she is gone, she approaches her Aunt Peg for some answers. She gets some in the form of a letter her mother wrote for her when her curiosity turned to questions. The letter offers some details that set Duke and Grace off to check with their contacts and local Cuban organizations. Romance? Well, Jamie does run into a former boyfriend. That could be the start of something…!
Book 3 Peril in the Park earns 5/5 Renaissance Fair Jesters!
The sun seems to be shining on Jamie’s love life since a former high school boyfriend is now a current one. Kip Simons earned an MBA, but the corporate rat race wasn’t his thing, so he got a degree in Forestry and Park Management. He was hired as the Director of Broward County Parks, a job more to his liking. However, office politics have become a major headache, and vandalism seems to be running rampant. Someone seems to be leaving snarky comments at various parks targeting Kip. The latest, mowed into the grass, says, “Bite Me,” and there’s the park benches forming “You Suck!” Then there’s the “I-C-U” email, surveillance photos, threats, and a dead private investigator.
Jamie tries to help Kip, but he is suspiciously less than forthcoming about the threats at work. He worries about her safety and she his sanity, but political shenanigans, a sleazy developer, disgruntled employees and a jealous co-worker make things difficult. Jamie is also hoping that one day soon her father will be granted permission to come to the United States. Grace has some suggestions, but the red tape may be too much to cut through.
Check out Book 4 in the Jamie Quinn Mystery series, Engaged in Danger.
Interview With Barbara Venkataraman, Author of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Series:
KRL: It is great to have with us Barbara Venkataraman, author of the Jamie Quinn Mystery series, who has a great collection set combining the first three books. What motivated you to become a writer? How long have you been writing? Is there someone or some moment that encouraged you to write?
Barbara: My defining moment came early, in second grade, when I wrote a poem about ducks and my teacher loved it so much, she put it on a poster on the wall. I was famous, lol! I didn’t write again for many years, but I did read non-stop. I lived for the day the bookmobile came to my neighborhood.
KRL: Is there a reason you chose to write in the ‘cozy mystery’ genre? What is it about ‘cozies’ that interested you?
Barbara: I would have to say cozy mysteries chose me. I didn’t even know what a cozy was until a reviewer commented about my first one being a wonderful cozy mystery. I’ve always enjoyed reading mysteries and I was a big fan of Murder, She Wrote, so it was a natural fit. I like the small town feel, the quirky characters, the puzzle to solve, without graphic violence.
KRL: Can you give us some background into the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection? I know it is available on Amazon as an eBook, paperback box set and audio version with Carrie Lee Martz as narrator.
Barbara: Like Jamie, I am a reluctant family law attorney, but, unlike Jamie, I lead an uneventful life and never find myself embroiled in murder investigations. The series has four books currently with a fifth one due out any day now (she says optimistically).
The first book came to me when I was learning how to play the didgeridoo, and I dropped it on a glass table and cracked the glass. It occurred to me at that moment that the didgeridoo could be a serious weapon. The title Death by Didgeridoo popped into my head and it made me laugh. I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I’d worked out the storyline. It turned out Jamie and the gang had more stories to tell me after that one.
KRL: I think Jamie and the other characters are very realistic; they could be our neighbors, shop owners, family. Do you have a personal connection to your characters? Are you like Jamie? Did you write your characters by taking real-life people and “changing the names to…” you get my drift?
Barbara: My sister swears I am Jamie, but I prefer to say that she is my alter ego. Jamie’s best friend, Grace Anderson, is a combination of several of my friends, although each one thinks Grace is based on her. The other characters are made up, especially Duke! One exception is a character in Book 4, Engaged in Danger, named Jessie Sandler. She is based entirely on a younger cousin of mine who died at the age of 28. Her father asked me to make her a character, and it has been a connecting experience for me. I feel closer to her as a result.
KRL: I know you’ve written more than just ‘cozy’ style books. Can you tell us about your Tea Time with Mrs Grammar Person, If You’d Just Listen to Me in the First Place…, and Quirky Essays for Quirky People: The Complete Collection. What can fans find in those books? Are there plans in the future to write more books outside of the ‘cozy’ style?
Barbara: I wish I could say anything I’ve done was planned, lol! I started my writing off with the short story “If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place.” That story took me a solid year to write, which I know sounds crazy, but I just kept putting it away and coming back to it. It taught me a lot about pacing and dialogue and character development, so it was worth the slog.
My essay collection came next and the essays are based on real events in my life that made me laugh. One of the best compliments I received about that book was a review from a man who said the book really cheered him up when he was feeling down. That made my day! Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person started as a joke when I was correcting people’s grammar. I decided to write a blogpost about a grammar lesson and try to make it fun. One post led to another, and when I had enough posts, I published them as a book. I see Mrs. Grammar Person as a cross between Mrs. Doubtfire and Mary Poppins. She has quite a dedicated following!
KRL: You definitely have provided a great deal of entertainment for your fans, but is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Barbara: My goal is to make my readers laugh or smile, and when they finish reading one of my books, I hope they say: I wish I knew those people!
KRL: We know you write, but what do you read? Is there another author who inspires you or one you might consider a professional or personal ‘hero’?
Barbara: I have a lot of favorites, but I particularly love well-written books with fleshed out characters, humor, and a lot of heart. Books like Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; The Time Traveler’s Wife is a great one, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. For humor, I enjoyed Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen, and Erma Bombeck, who was a classic. For science fiction, I loved Ready, Player One and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore.
KRL: So many authors say writing is all encompassing, but do you have any special hobbies? Favorite movies you like to watch? Any television bingeing? What about music you enjoy or hobbies that take up what free time you may have?
Barbara: Oh, I wish I were more interesting right about now, ha, ha! Let’s see, I like to read and I can stay up all night if the book is good. I like to bake, which is a dangerous hobby to have. There are movies I could watch anytime they come on TV, movies like Back to the Future, Groundhog Day, The King’s Speech and Harry Potter. I watched all of Sherlock. I’ve also watched every goofy detective show around like Monk and Castle. I just saw Hidden Figures at the theater and loved it! I am on the Board of Trustees of Florida Children’s Theatre and that’s amazing. I like to hang with my friends and family most of all.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Barbara: I cry at sappy commercials. Also, I can crack myself up when I’m writing and one of my characters says something hilarious.
Thank you, Barbara, for joining us and sharing a little about yourself and your books.
To enter to win an eBook set of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection: Box Set Books 1-3, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “quinn,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 25, 2017. U.S. residents only for the print copy. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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