When Clare Ballard sports a new bruise on her right cheek the day after a contentious town meeting, the ladies of the Thursday Morning Breakfast Club suspect her husband Roger of abusing her. That same day Hester Franklin, another breakfast club lady, is called to rescue her grandson Patrick after he is arrested for transporting drugs. Proclaiming his innocence, Patrick threatens that those who set him up will pay. Roger Ballard is high on his list. But it’s when Lillie Mae Harris, the club’s leader, discovers the body of the local drug dealer on the nearby hiking trail, that the community is upended. Roger Ballard, the primary suspect, goes missing, and when his body turns up in his own back yard, Clare Ballard confesses to his murder. No one believes she did it, but Clare insists she’s guilty and mysteriously refuses to talk to her lawyer, the police, or her family and friends. The Thursday Morning Breakfast Club ladies believe she’s protecting someone, and they vow to find out who it is. Charlie Warren, the town’s homegrown policeman, using unconventional means, collaborates with the breakfast club ladies to draw out the real criminal. But danger lurks. Alice Portman, the matriarch of the breakfast club, is struck down in her own yard and is sent to the hospital. Then others in the small community start to disappear—one after the other. As the ladies get closer to the truth, they get closer to the danger. With no time to cry over spilled coffee, they form a plan to capture the true culprits before someone else is murdered.
Liz Stauffer wrote stories in high school, but transferred her writing skills to the corporate world after her divorce from an Air Force pilot, as a means of supporting her two young sons. Moving between educational research and the computer world, she wrote everything from political encyclopedias and travel articles, to marketing literature and software manuals. But it wasn’t until she found herself stranded in a South Dakota winter, that she returned to writing fiction.
After a successful corporate career, Liz gave up that world to travel and to write, and in some cases, to combine her two loves. Having lived in some fourteen states during her early adult years, she’s traveled to all fifty states, and to some fifty countries on four continents. When not traveling, she lives with her two dogs in Hollywood, Florida.
For several years after retiring, Liz lived six months a year in Pen Mar, Maryland, a small community nestled into the foothills of the Appalachians, straddling the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, her house just feet from the Appalachian Trail. Pen Mar, once the site of a grand summer resort built by the railroad in the late nineteenth century, is the inspiration for the site of her Thursday Morning Breakfast and Murder Club mysteries. Her protagonist, Lillie Mae Harris, shares some of her own interests. Both women love to talk, love their friends and family but also love to meet new people, love to be outside, and love to hike. Lillie Mae would bike as much as Liz does, if the country roads she cruises were supportive to biking. Liz also has a great love of the beach, which Lillie Mae finds hot and tedious.
Currently Liz is working on the third Thursday morning breakfast club mystery and is planning a grand epic that features the Pen Mar Park and Resort.
Liz Stauffer’s The Thursday Morning Breakfast (And Murder) Club introduces us to Mount Penn, a small village in the Maryland mountains and its residents, many who are gossips and busybodies. The action of this cozy mystery centers on the local group of men and women who meet every Thursday morning for breakfast and friendship. But when one of their own is accused of murder and others in the group are targeted for violence, the ladies of the group mobilize to find out whodunit.
While I love cozy mysteries, I had trouble connecting with this book. There seemed to be a lot of detail that was not included — physical descriptions of characters and their relationship to each other. I also figured out early who the culprit was, but not the why of the murder. The main snoop, Lillie Mae, has the information needed to solve the case, but it is not shared with the reader. For those who care about such things, there is some profanity as well. Other readers have liked this one, so be sure to check other reviews HERE.
(Thanks to Book Publicity Services for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)
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