Flower Power Fatality By Sally Carpenter: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Aug 18, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa
& Sally Carpenter

This week we have a review of the latest mystery by Sally Carpenter, Flower Power Fatality, and a fun guest post by Sally about spies on TV and in the movies. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Flower Power Fatality, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

Flower Power Fatality: A Psychedelic Spy Mystery by Sally Carpenter
Review by Kathleen Costa

Author of Mystery Retro-Cozies!

Sally Carpenter penned a new delightful series, A Psychedelic Spy Mystery, introducing Noelle McNabb. It’s 1967 with its flowery fashions, princess phones, vinyl records, and attitudes sans the contemporary “politically correct” filter. Twenty-five-year-old Noelle dreams of a successful acting career in sunny Hollywood, but playing the Winter Witch in a Christmas play, in a Christmas-themed park, in a Christmas-filled town is not the path she thought she would need to take for fame and fortune. She is also padding her meager income working at the Groovy Vinyl Record Shop spinning all kinds of Beatles’ tunes for her customers. Her mom stays home, Dad works at a factory on things he won’t discuss, her eight-year-old brother emulates Mr. Spock, his twin sister loves the Monkees, and Noelle shares her home with a pushy, demanding feline named Ceebee. But, life is about to change…

Flower Power Fatality earns 5/5 Spy, No, Agent IDs…Outta Sight!

mystery book coverIt’s a windy, rainy, April day as Noelle mopes over the poorly attended performance of the Candy Cane Caper at Country Christmas Family Fun Park. She heads home to a grumpy, hungry cat and tries to relax. The late night knock at the door wasn’t alarming since family often popped by without notice, but on the other side of the door the mysterious young man only moaned clutching his bloodstained chest. Asking his identity, he could only reply “Help…me.” Opening the door, the man falls unconscientious onto the floor; later “John Doe” dies in the hospital. Finding his wallet under the couch and discovering his true name, she sets out to uncover details about the victim. However, she hits a wall of silence, receives a mysterious phone call, “Where is it?”, and then is confronted by a man in a dark suit with a shoulder holster and a demand, “We need to talk.”

Right in the middle of the Cold War, “talking” takes on a strange tone. Hanover flashed his ID showing he is a control operative for the Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Surveillance and Espionage…SIAMESE. Although an unfortunate acronym, it does lead to clever code names, but it is an important, yet separate, government agency. Covert activity has not been limited to the east and west coast city centers. The Midwest has become the perfect place to hide in plain sight. Microfilm? Undercover missions? A country in peril? Noelle’s acting ability just might come in handy…but no Oscar on the horizon for this performance!

Girl from U.N.C.L.E.? No, Yuletide, Indiana! Sally Carpenter has given readers an entertaining look back at the 60s, and for me, a reminder I wanted to be a spy like April Dancer. Her third-person narrative was a walk down memory lane with descriptions of the 60’s fashion, music, and current events that I wore, listened to, and experienced. The Christmas references didn’t overload; hey, it’s Yuletide, Indiana, and the people, street names, and businesses disappear into the periphery. It’s the late 60’s references that delightfully sail into the forefront. Sally didn’t rely just on the narrative as she includes marvelous banter with plenty of 60’s references, slang, and attitudes one needs to remember were very true for the time period and add to the story’s realism. Noelle is a realistic young woman who really wants to fulfill her dreams, loves her family and country, has a healthy skepticism, and earns an Oscar for Best Spy in a Midwest Undercover Mission! Totally cool!

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.

Why Spy? Espionage as Entertainment
By Sally Carpenter

Spies have worked for America during the War for Independence, the Civil War, and both World Wars. Agents toiled in secrecy until the 1960s, when suddenly the public couldn’t get enough of the spy craze.

Spy work, for the most part, was mundane and tedious, comprised of eavesdropping, decoding, intercepting and sending messages, tailing suspects, and recruiting informants. Nobody thought spy work was interesting until British author Ian Fleming created Bond, James Bond.

Fleming published the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1953. Even though the author had worked as a spy during Word War 2, he made up much of the story. Real-life spies didn’t wear tuxedos, hang out in casinos, engage in frequent shootouts, battle scientists intent on world domination, or bed beautiful women.

The public became aware of real spies through the new medium of TV that brought the Cold War directly into homes with the Rosenbergs’ execution and Senator McCarthy’s witch hunt for Communists in Hollywood of the 1950s.

mystery author

Sally Carpenter

After fighting WW2 in the 1940s and raising families in the 1950s, people were ready for escapist entertainment by the 1960s. The spy business provided fodder with the perfect good guy (America) and a ready-made villain (Russia). The Bond stories added action, excitement, and style to the mix.

The first Bond movie, Dr. No, about a mad scientist threatening the world with rockets, was released during the Cuban missile crises of 1963. It’s all in the timing. The spy craze exploded with Goldfinger in 1964. Now everyone wanted a piece of the action.

Bond movies’ parodies came quickly: the Derek Flint films with James Coburn and the Matt Hem series with Dean Martin.

Gritty, more realistic spy movies were released, such as The Manchurian Candidate (1962), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) and The Ipcress File (1965).

Perhaps the first spy story to air on American TV was an adaptation of Casino Royal in October 1954 on the CBS anthology show Climax. Barry Nelson played an American Bond and Peter Lorre was the bad guy.

The first American TV spy series was Espionage airing 1963-64, an anthology of real-life spy dramas filmed on location in Europe.

Also in 1963, TV producer Norman Felton met with Fleming to discuss a Bond-like television series. Like Bond, super-spy Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) was suave, handsome, well-dressed, used gadgets, ogled the ladies, and engaged in over-the-top adventures. At the time nobody seemed to notice that his partner, Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), was a Russian, America’s sworn enemy now working hand-in-hand with an American agent. Despite the diversity, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a smash.man from uncle

Other fantasy spy series soon followed: I Spy (1965-68), casting of Bill Cosby as the first African American in a starring male role; Hogan’s Heroes (1965-71), spies working undercover in Nazi Germany; The Wild Wild West (1965-69), pitched as “James Bond on horseback”; Get Smart (1965-70), an outright parody described as “James Bond and Inspector Clouseau”; and the granddaddy of all spy shows, Mission: Impossible (1966-73), con artists working a scam to bring down the bad guy.

Burke’s Law with Gene Barry began as a police detective drama in 1963, but the title changed to Amos Burke-Secret Agent in 1965 when Burke became a jet-setting secret agent with an U.S. intelligence agency.

The British contributed to the spy craze with chic and colorful The Avengers (1961-69), successful on both sides of the pond, as well as the hard-nosed Danger Man, aka Secret Agent (1965-66), starring Patrick McGoohan, who also created, produced, and starred in the imaginative and enigmatic The Prisoner (1968-69) about an isolated village designed to squeeze secrets from retired spies.

Unfortunately, the studios ignored women spies, save for the female agents like Mrs. Peel (Diana Rigg) of The Avengers and Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) of Get Smart. The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (1966-67), starring Stephanie Powers, was a one-season flop due to a wimpy heroine and goofy plots. Honey West (1965-66), starred Anne Francis as a private eye, not a spy, but at least tried to present a strong heroine.

The 1970s marked the end of the spy era, as American TV programming switched to quirky detectives, music-variety shows, and the confrontational All in the Family. One of the last spy series was It Takes a Thief (1968-70) with Robert Wagner as a reformed thief now working with an American spy agency.

In the 21st century, the Cold War has cooled and the war on terrorism in the Middle East has heated up, changing the focus of contemporary spy films, as in Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol. The occasional retro-spy move still pops up, such as Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (2015), based on true-life events of the 1950s, along with the Austin Powers parodies.

Modern spy shows for TV/streaming are dark and serious, lacking the fun and pop of the 60s series. But many baby boomers still have a fondness for the spies of their youth.

To enter to win a copy of Flower Power Fatality, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “fatality,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 25, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also check our our new mystery podcast!

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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. This sounds like so much fun. Since I was living in Indiana in the 60’s it would be like visiting or a reunion. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. loved the spy shows of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s
    kckendler at gmail dot com

  3. Thanks for the great review. I love KRL!

  4. what a fun sounding read from a really great author I enjoy. thank you for the chance to win a copy


  5. I really like books by this author! Thanks for the fun post and chance to win! Lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the chance.

  7. this is a different premise but
    it sounds like it would be good.
    Like to try it. thanks

  8. We have a winner!


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