Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Perfect Sax by Jerrilyn Farmer (Madeline Bean #6)


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong plot that brings out the best in the characters
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Body in her bed
Maddie needs to solve this one
And we get the fun




Get Ready for a Saxy Mystery

It's no secret to any of my friends that I have loved this series since I found it. I have raved about it to everyone and gotten quite a few friends hooked on it. Perfect Sax, the sixth in the series, is a perfect example of why.

This mystery series focuses on Madeline Bean who owns a catering business that specializes in lavish events for the rich and almost rich of Hollywood. She works with her business partner Wes and their one employee, Holly. Along the way, Madeline seems to stumble into weird and fun mysteries to solve.

Wes and Holly are celebrating the conclusion of another outstanding party, a fund raiser for the Woodburn School for Music. They're a little concerned since Madeline had left for home a little earlier then normal dog tired, something she never does. But they are more then willing to shrug it off, convinced that she'll be fine tomorrow. Then they hear the news bulletin. Someone has been murdered in Madeline's bed.

After this gripping chapter, we flash back twelve hours to find Madeline and her employees and co-workers getting ready for the event. Madeline runs out of her house (which is also used in the business) to get something from her car, only to find trash all over the ground. On closer examination, she finds its personal papers belonging to a neighbor. She's shock when her offer to return the papers is met first with hostility and then the offer of a blackmail payment.

If that weren't enough, the prize item from the charity auction at the ball, a rare saxophone, vanishes without a trace. What could have happened to it? And all this is before the news report that Wes and Holly hear. Madeline's life may be more complicated then she knows what to do with. Especially if she doesn't know whom to trust.

This entry finds Madeline, and her author, in top form. The plot weaves all over the place before we reach a heart pounding climax. I was never bored for a minute and couldn't put the book down. And while everything seems disjointed at first, things come together for a conclusion that satisfies.

The characters spring off the page, especially Madeline, Wes, and Holly. And the two sidekicks get plenty of "page" time this go around. They really do make a great trio. Each has strengths and weaknesses that compliment each other. And the personal nature of the plot this time helps us get to know them better than we have in the past entries. Madeline deals with two potential love interests during the course of the novel, and both are great characters as well. Even the villain is understandably evil. Everyone really is well rounded this time around.

Jerrilyn Farmer has such a fun, breezy writing style that it's easy to be sucked into the book and hard to put it down. With the exception of the first chapter, Madeline narrates the events first person. Her observations on life in Hollywood and the events add some humor to the events. Still, this is easily the darkest and most serious of what is normally a lighter more comic series.

Just like the fancy food Madeline makes, this is a series to savor. If you don't know Madeline, start at the beginning. You'll be reading Perfect Sax before you know it.

Looking for the earlier books?  Here are the Madeline Bean Mysteries in order.

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