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on April 7, 2004
This is my first by Earlene Fowler, and as a quilter, I was really looking forward to a quilting mystery. It wasn't. QUilting was extremely tangential to the plot and in fact, there's not a lot of mention of quilting at all. I could have forgiven that, but there's too little time spent on the mystery, in my opinion, and too much time spent on our heroine's love life, most of which seemed to consist of passionate urges and fights with her boyfriend (and frankly, he had my sympathy as much as she did).
The plot involves two residents of a nursing home found dead in a room. Our heroine Benni Harper gets involved because she discovers the bodies (the night of a prom she's putting on in the nursing home). Her boyfriend is Acting Chief of Police and warns her not to get involved, that it's dangerous and it's not her job to solve this murder. If she had listened, the book would have ended there.
For not very good reasons (mainly, that she's stubborn and doesn't listen to anyone), Benni begins poking around investigating these murders. At the same time, she re-establishes relationships with a couple of men who have reappeared in town, including an old flame (who is, of course, one of the prime suspects -- but does that slow her down any? not our Benni -- she continues to find herself alone with him despite her boyfriend's warnings.)
The book was good enough that I kept reading it and finished it in a few days, but to be honest, I was disappointed because I'd heard such good things. Maybe people who like a lot of romance and not much quilting or mystery will like this book a whole lot more than I did.
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Benni Harper is busy with many projects. There�s a new exhibit going into the artist�s co-op, she�s writing up the story of Japanese-Americans from the area during World War II, and she�s helping put on a senior prom at San Celina�s retirement home. As the dance draws to a close, she finds two of the residences murdered. What did they have in common that would lead to their deaths? Meanwhile, old flame Clay O�Hara is back in town. His status as lead suspect starts to come between Benni and Gabe. Benni finds herself drawn into solving this case no matter what Gabe says. If she stays alive long enough to do it, will this end their relationship?
Once again, Ms. Fowler has written a captivating story told with real emotion. It�s hard not to be drawn into this world and really care for the characters. I found myself choking up on more then one occasion, yet also smiling and laughing at many of the lighter moments. The plot seems to get a little sidetracked near the middle, but picks up speed and reaches an interesting and satisfying conclusion.
Anyone looking for a mystery with strong characters and interesting stories will love this series. I won�t be able to stop myself from picking up the next to see what these people, I mean characters, are up to next.
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on July 30, 2002
In this story Benni Harper is sponsoring a dance at the local retirement home. Clay O'Hara, a handsome man from her past is in town to visit his retired uncle and wants to resume a relationship with Benni. Of course she's flattered, but she has been dating Gabe Ortiz, the Acting Police Chief for several months and they may be on their way to some type of commitment. When two of the residents of the retirement home are killed, Chief Ortiz suspects Clay of the murders. Benni's defense of her old friend Clay, causes a rift between her and Gabe.
Due to the fact that one of the murdered victims was involved in helping the local Japanese community, the author gives us the very fascinating and tragic story of the Japanese Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II.
Earlen Fowler keeps the reader entertained with her interesting characters in her second Benni Harper Book.
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on February 16, 1997
Some mystery authors I read for plot, some for setting, and some for characters. Earlene Fowler's setting is vivid, and the plot of Irish Chain certainly works - but buy this book for the characters! Benni Harper, Gabe Ortiz, Gramma Dove, and all the folks at the retirement home truly leap off the page. Benni brings to life the poignancy of love after loss. She still mourns her husband Jack, killed a year ago in an automobile accident, while she gradually gives in to her new passion for police chief Gabe Ortiz.

Don't worry - the mystery works, too. Two people are found dead in one of the rooms of the retirement home where Benni is organizing a "senior prom," and Benni must find the link between the victims. Unraveling the murder leads into real episodes in California history, and the reader will be satisfied with the conclusion.
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on April 21, 1997
Irish Chain was another delightful mystery in the Benni Harper series. The characters are vividly protrayed. Ms. Fowler's mixture of suspense and humor makes the reader laugh and turn pages madly to see what happens next. Benni Harper comes to life along with her quirky relatives and drags you willingly into danger with her.
M. Hauser
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on May 7, 2000
I am an avid murder mystery reader, but I only am interested in stories with great characters. The Benni Harper series definitely fills the bill. The women are strong and complex and interesting. I'm going to read all the rest of the series.
Well done, Earlene, from a fellow Californian.
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on December 22, 2001
I have enjoyed all of Ms. Fowler's quilting mysteries. She tells a very good story. I sometimes find Bennie's husband, Gabe, a bit overbearing and occassionally his dialog with Bennie sounds like verbal abuse. If she could make him a little less macho the books would be better.
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on May 19, 1999
I especially enjoyed Irish Chain, Earlene Fowler's second book in the series. I loved the stories of the Japanese internment camps during the war that are told throughout the book. Grandma Dove, as usual, is great. I loved this book! It's great.
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on November 23, 2002
It's so much fun to read about many of my favorites... I love California, love quilts, love murder mysteries and fun characters! I liked this one so much I bought the rest of the series....
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on May 21, 2002
I've read the entire series. Loved them all.
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