Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: Murder on the Bucket List by Elizabeth Perona (Bucket List Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, good mystery, and laughs
Cons: Killer a little obvious, characters occasionally annoying
The Bottom Line:
Unusual sleuths
In a fast paced, fun story
Delightful debut

Put Reading This Debut on Your Bucket List

Sometimes, a book crosses my path, and it sounds like so much fun I just have to read it.  That was how I felt after reading the description of Murder on the Bucket List.  I’m delighted to say it lived up to my expectations.

Francine McNamara and four of her friends each created bucket lists when they turned 60.  While they let a decade go without being active in crossing the items off their list, they have recently started to work together to fix that.  Which is why the five of them are at Alice’s pool at midnight one night to help Joy knock skinny dipping off her list.

As the friends find ways to stall, Mary Ruth notices a foul odor.  Investigating further, they find a dead body in the pool shed.  The victim is Friederich Gurrmann, a mechanic for the midget car circuit with ties to a local celebrity racer.  While it kills the mood for the dip in the pool, it soon leads to other items from the bucket lists being marked off, including Joy’s desire for publicity and Charlotte’s desire to solve a mystery.  But who would kill Friederich?  More importantly, why did he end up in Alice’s shed?

Confused by all those names I just threw your way?  Don’t be concerned at all.  While the first chapter is a bit overwhelming meeting all five woman and finding the body, the characters are very strong and it was only another couple of chapters before I had all the players straight.  During that time, we are given plenty of reminders and pieces to connect everyone, so I never had to flip back to remember who was whom.  We’ve got a lot of characters, too, not only the five women who are the core of the book but the suspects and supporting players who pop up as the book progresses.

It absolutely helps that Francine is our only view point character.  While the story is told third person, we never leave Francine’s side as the case unfolds.  As she spends times with characters alone, we get a better feel for them.

I also loved the fact that our main characters are all in their 70’s, much older than the normal age for the books I read.  Yet they are all obviously still sharp and active.  I want to be like them in 30 years myself.

The plot of the book starts quickly, and the pace never really lets up.  There is plenty happening here in addition to the murder, but the mystery is never eclipsed by any of it.  I did figure out the killer before the end, but I didn’t have the motive right until it was all explained.  The climax was wonderful.

In addition, there is humor.  As the story gets picked up in the press, the notoriety the “skinny dipping grandmas” earn is very funny.  At times, I did find the characters a bit annoying and selfish as they dealt with their fifteen minutes of fame, but it never lasted for long as something would happen that would make me laugh again.

Any complaints I noted above are all minor, and I was sorry when I reached the end of Murder on the Bucket List.  This is a winning series debut, and I can’t wait to visit these characters again.  You can bet reading the sequel is high on my bucket list.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Leave me a comment with one item on your bucket list and your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you.  I will pick the winner next Monday, July 20th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM on 7/20.


  1. I'm always a little nervous when a book has a sizable cast because it can get confusing to keep track of who is who but this one sounds like the characters are strong enough that it isnt' a problem. Plus it just sounds like fun! (katherine.e.pitts(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. To go to Savanah GA and St Simeon Island. Travel period but these are places I want to see.
    Book sounds interesting put it on my tbr. Thanks for chance

  3. I would like to visit England, Ireland, and Scotland one day. This story sounds interesting. Thanks!

  4. My bucket list, hmm, travel more, I've always wanted to go to Alaska for starters. Thanks for the chance to win, this sounds like a fun read.

  5. As my husband and I will retire in a few months, we have been talking about our bucket list quite a bit lately. We both want to visit a few National Parks. The octogenarians that we have been hanging out with lately tell us to go while we are still "young!,". This series sounds perfect for me., and for my young,-at-heart friends.

  6. My bucket list is endless! Two things at the top of the list are an RV trip across the US and up to Alaska, and a trip to Ireland and Scotland.

  7. Sharon Baket. slpetera@yahoo.comJuly 14, 2015 at 12:01 AM

    I would like to travel to other countries. Over the years have seen most of the US. Just a couple of states left.

  8. Looking forward to an amtrak trip to Oregon next year to visit my oldest daughter.

  9. There are five states I have never been to and a few I would like to re-visit.

  10. Most of my bucket list is travel.

    gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

  11. Number one on my list is an Alaskan cruise.

  12. Amy F.-- I'd like to go to Spain and Portugal.. Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the chance to win it...

  13. Would like to attend several mystery conventions I have never been able to attend.

  14. First is to get back into an apartment soon. Second is to go back to England. Third is to go to Ireland where I have never been. Judy D.

  15. I would love to go back to England and Scotland, ideally to spend more than two weeks in each place. This book sounds delightful, just my kind of reading.

  16. I think you're never too old to solve mysteries, this looks like a fun new series. On my bucket list, I'd really like to go to Scotland.

  17. Since all the usual protagonists are young whippersnappers, it would be nice to read a mystery of ones own "age group". We're the new middle age - don't you know? I'd like to go up the CA Coast by train and into Oregon.


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