A Basket of Trouble: A Claire Hanover Mystery By Beth Groundwater

Nov 23, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

Details at the end of this review on how to win a copy of A Basket of Trouble.

Gift Basket designer Claire Hanover was hoping that the getaway to celebrate her brother’s opening of his Gardner’s Stables would be a successful venture, as well as a mending of the strained relationship between the siblings. After being forced to close his stable in Durango, Claire encouraged Charley Gardner to move to the more tourist-steady Colorado Springs area, where he and his wife Jessica would be able to operate commercial horse trail runs and even promote Jessica’s non-profit hypnotherapy business that helps special needs children.

What no one expected were threats from a rival stable, neighbors protesting the disturbance by riders and horses, and the city council threatening to revoke their business permit as a result of the complaints. The Gardners also definitely did not need for one of their handlers, Kyle Mendoza, to be discovered stomped to death by one of their more rambunctious, but beloved horses. When the police reveal that the death was not an accident but murder, business continues to fall as customers flee and Charley loses what little staff he can afford. Bad-mouthing by a rival to Jessica’s occupational therapy business, a lawsuit and rumors of illegal immigrants working for Charley further endanger the future of the stable and have Claire feeling that she must do everything possible to salvage her brother’s future.

While the mystery plot is strong, it is the examination of domestic relationships that also stands out in this unique series. After Roger Hanover was arrested for murder motivated by jealousy in the debut A Real Basket Case, the Hanovers emerged from the experience with a marriage stronger than ever and their love continues to support and strengthen one another after nearly thirty years together. Clare’s best friend Ellen and her ex-husband, Dave Redding, have also begun a tentative reconciliation after their marriage was shattered by an affair and the resulting rage.

No one can inflict pain like the person who loves and knows you the most and Claire winces every time she witnesses how Jessica’s insecurities and guilt over the death of their child by illness cause her to poke, snap and chip at Charley’s self-esteem. The relationship between the siblings also has its own historical pitfalls, as their mother’s favoritism caused Charley to feel that he constantly lived under Claire’s shadow. While their parents paid for Claire to achieve a Fine Arts degree they couldn’t afford for Charley to attend anyplace other than community college where he never finished his degree. As a result Claire not only feels responsible for his move to Colorado, but that she is why his success, business, esteem and marriage are now on the line.

Groundwater succeeds at getting the readers so invested in the characters that we feel their pain and hope for them to find some happiness in their lives. Very complex themes are confronted as well, as Claire encounters the impossible and seemingly unsolvable problems facing illegal workers and feels helpless in the face of incomprehensible laws. She still manages to maintain her humor and relentless dedication to her family though, and she finds aid in the most unlikely of sources.

From the detective who previously arrested Roger for murder to the drug lord and barbecue restaurant owner Leon Fox, no one seems to be able to resist the charm and likability of the intelligent and compassionate Claire Hanover. Beth Groundwater, who also authors the RM Outdoor Adventure series, continues to shine with each fun and unpredictable mystery novel.

To enter to win a signed copy of A Basket of Trouble, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Basket,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 30, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


  1. Great interview, Beth! I would love to win an autographed copy of “Basket of Trouble.”

  2. I love this series, and would love to win.

  3. This sounds as if there are strong and complex character relationships in the series and makes me more compelled to begin it. What a great review, Beth.

  4. Great review, and it sounds like a good book!

  5. A reader had difficulty getting her comment entered in this form, so she sent it to me. I hope this post will enter her in the contest:

    “Well, I wrote a comment, hit submit and it vanished …. I’ll try to reconstruct it.

    I like complexity with my mystery, characters who are interesting and seem like they could be real people doing real things, and a dash of the unexpected in the story. It sounds like this book has all three. I have read the first in this series, and I see now I have a couple more to read.

    I’m looking forward to meeting Jessica, Charley and the rest of the crew on a winter afternoon.

    Karen B. Call, krlcontests@gmail.com

  6. Thanks, everyone, for your entries and your kind words! I wish you all the best of luck in the contest.
    – Beth

  7. Your book sounds like a solid, entertaining read. I’d be thrilled to win a copy!

  8. Beth, so happy for you that your books have been successful. I’d love to win a signed copy of your latest.

  9. I’m in “readers heaven”!!!

  10. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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