I just read an amazing book, y'all — Guaranteed to Bleed
by Julie Mulhern. Let me tell you a little about this cozy mystery.Guaranteed to Bleed
is the second book in Author Julie Mulhern's The Country Club Murders mystery series, starring Ellison Russell. Book one in the series, The Deep End
, takes place in June, 1974, in Kansas City, Missouri. Towards the end of The Deep End
, Ellison, a widow, and Grace, her teenage daughter, are making plans to "spend the rest of the summer in Europe, far away from vicious chatter" and gossip about them, concerning the events in The Deep End
. When Guaranteed to Bleed
opens, school is back in session for Fall 1974. Ellison and Grace have been home for about two weeks, after their "summer of wandering through Europe."
Author Julie Mulhern has done her homework regarding 1974, and it shows. She's quite a name-dropper for early 1970s fads, fashions, politics, music, TV shows, TV commercials, fragrances, and decor. All the references are spot-on, making the world-building for Guaranteed to Bleed
The supporting cast of characters from The Deep End
have returned, and are still depicted as realistic, distinctive, and likable. Ellison has continued her personal growth that started in The Deep End
. In the words of Virginia Slims® cigarettes, "You've come a long way, baby." Ellison's mother, Frances Walford, is one of the pillars of Kansas City upper-class Society, and is notorious for getting things done, right away and, of course, properly. Ellison used to cringe inside when her mother threw her weight around. Now, Ellison has reluctantly begun to follow her mother's example by, for instance, invoking her mother's name and reputation to get some information from an uncooperative receptionist at the hospital.
The plot of Guaranteed to Bleed
is well-crafted, interesting, and fast-paced. There are fewer murders this time, so Author Julie Mulhern includes other kinds of despicable crimes instead. Because this book addresses some serious social/personal issues, it's not-quite-cozy. Even with the serious subject matter, Julie still lets her sense of humor show, through the voice of Ellison.
Ellison's sleuthing is done for the best of intentions. First of all, Ellison has to find out who the "she" is, in Bobby's dying declaration, so she can pass along his message. She has to do some digging before she gets to the truth. Secondly, she gets this request from the detective in charge:
"No one is talking," Anarchy said. "The kids cross their arms and slouch and roll their eyes and wait for their fathers' lawyers to show up. Their parents aren't talking either. I need your help, Ellison."
Speaking of Bobby's message, Ellison is asked at least seven times, by different people, some variation of "Did he say anything?". Author Julie Mulhern is serving up some red herrings — just to keep her readers on their toes. She also includes clues to the actual evil-doers. I really like the way Ellison's murder investigations are resolved. Can you figure out the mysteries?
In summation, Guaranteed to Bleed
is great — a fantastic book! I can't wait to read the next book in The Country Club Murders series, Clouds in my Coffee
. Author Julie Mulhern is still writing it, though, so I'll have to be patient somehow, until Book #3 is released in May 2016.
I recommend Guaranteed to Bleed
to all fans of cozy mysteries. I think my fellow Baby Boomers, especially, will enjoy the setting. Younger readers who are into all things retro, and/or who enjoyed That '70s Show
on TV, will also especially like it.
I love Guaranteed to Bleed
by Julie Mulhern, and grant it our highest rating of Five Stars!
Note: I received a complimentary copy of Guaranteed to Bleed
in exchange for my honest review. All opinions shared are 100% my own.
Originally published at Jane Reads