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Earlene Fowler was raised in La Puente, California, by a Southern mother and a Western father. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Allen, a large number of quilts, and twenty pairs of cowboy boots.
Albenia ``Benni'' Harper, a youthful widow, serves as curator of an impecunious folk-art museum in San Celina, California. Just as the deadline for a quilting exhibit arrives, she spots her cousin fleeing from the scene of a murder. Hastening to clear her cousin's name, Benni stays one jump ahead of police, at the same time learning disturbing facts about her husband's death. Hectic action (mostly driving hither and yon) and dialog accompany the amateur sleuth, who actually reads a how-to-be-a-p.i. book for assistance. The start of a promising new series.
Young, recently widowed Benni Harper, the foolhardy heroine in this predictable debut, leaves her ranch after her husband's accidental death and becomes the curator of the folk-art museum in the coastal California town of San Celina. Benni is frantically trying to assemble a quilt show when she discovers a local potter stabbed to death in the museum studio. Benni's flaky 21-year-old cousin Rita, whom Benni had seen driving away from the museum, disappears and becomes a prime suspect. When Rita calls asking for money, Benni determines not to tell the police, whose new chief, Gabe Ortiz, has warned her not to interfere in the investigation, and decides to clear Rita by finding the real murderer. The day that the quilt show opens, Benni finds a plastic bag filled with money in the attic of the museum but waits to tell Ortiz until after the opening party. When he goes to the attic to investigate, he finds, instead, the body of the museum handyman. Fowler connects all the deaths in her plot, leaving no threads hanging, but Benni's reckless actions and her love-hate relationship with the enigmatic Ortiz yield an unconvincing narrative. Mystery Guild alternate. (May)