The Cluttered Corpse is the second book in the Charlotte Adams, professional organizer, cozy series. Charlotte is a very likable heroine - she has her faults, but she is very genuine - a person any of us would enjoy knowing. Her friends remind me of very real people living very real lives. Their group dynamic is convincingly authentic - a group of friends who were close in high school but whose lives took them down very different paths and whose relationships have changed along the way. They are now all back in Woodbridge, NY, the small, idyllic town where they grew up. It's just small enough that neighbors know one another (some for all their lives) and aren't afraid to lend a hand, and yet close enough to the big city to be convenient.
Charlotte is hired by Emmy Lou Rheinbeck to organize a collection of stuffed animals that has literally taken over the second floor of her impeccable home. While there, Charlotte notices that Emmy Lou is very nervous and jumpy. She attributes the nervousness to pranks that are being played on Mrs. Rheinbeck by two handicapped adult males, one of whom lives next door. Charlotte wants to call the police, but Emmy Lou basically tells her to mind her own business and then fires her - which only serves to worry Charlotte even more. Emmy Lou later relents and asks Charlotte to meet her again, but this time when Charlotte arrives - late, unfortunately, to their appointment - she encounters an hysterical Emmy Lou in the street and finds a dead man at the bottom of Emmy Lou's stairs. When Emmy Lou is carted away from the scene in handcuffs, Charlotte resolves to do whatever she can to prove that this gentle woman didn't do anything wrong.
There has been a lot of strain in the relationship between Charlotte and her policewoman friend, Pepper, but Charlotte decides to ask for her help anyway. When Pepper tells Charlotte, in no uncertain terms, to butt out, Charlotte enlists the aid of the rest of her group of friends, which unknowingly puts them all in danger. Nothing on Bell Street is as it seems, and the reader will have a dickens of a time trying to figure things out. Chances are, the reader won't have any better luck than Charlotte!
This was a very enjoyable cozy with a very likable female protagonist and a great group of friends. I'll definitely be looking forward to the third book in this series, for the likable characters, the great story, and, of course, the great organizational tips!
My main criticism/observation from the first book in this series was that the main character, Charlotte, never finishes an organizational job during the book. In fact, I finished my review for Organize your Corpses by saying, "Perhaps Charlotte will be able to finish a job in the next book? Ha ha!" Well, imagine my surprise to discover the same thing happens in this book too! I just don't get it. Again, Charlotte is interrupted during a big job with a mystery, so that explains the hold up on the big job. But, she never actually finishes any other job either. This is really striking me as odd for a series with organization as a theme. Am I the only one bothered by this? I guess I just expect a little more from Charlotte than I've been given thus far. Of course, I enjoy the books overall and will continue with the series, despite this random concern. The author does throw in a lot of organizational tips, but I'd kind of like to see her complete a job from start to finish as well as help solve a mystery. Am I asking for too much here? :/
I did find parts of the mystery a little obvious to solve and other parts impossible to solve until the reveal. I had no reason to suspect who was behind everything and how it all came together, which can be both good and bad. I liked that it was a surprise, but I don't like that I had no chance of solving the case before Charlotte. What can I say? I'm competitive with these fictional sleuths and I want a chance to beat them at their own game. :)
I really enjoyed the first in the series so I was excited to read this one. It did not disappoint. I really liked the whole book and although I was able to figure one part, I was very surprised at the end once again! The ending in the first book was fantastic and this one was equally awesome. I would totally recommend reading this if you like mysteries. I am psyched to read the third and fourth books in this series!!!!!
I liked this book better than the first book. I like Charlotte for the most part and I like the professional organizer part. I also like Charlotte's friends especially Jake. It was a quick read. Unfortunately this book has several of my pet peeves, including:
1. A drawn out overdone grudge. I get it - Pepper doesn't like Charlotte for a totally unjustified reason. It got a little old in the first book but to have it carried out for the entire 2nd book with no real truce got annoying.
2. An important character in the reveal not being part of the actual book.
I agree with the previous reviewer on finding it odd that Charlotte never actually finishes an organizational job. Maybe in #3? However there were enough problems in this one that I don't think I'm going to find out.
When professional organizer Charlotte Adams steps into Emmy Lou Rheinbeck's home, the place looks fit to be featured in House Beautiful. Where's the mess that needs to be organized? When Emmy Lou shows Charlotte the second floor, Charlotte understands the reason for the call for help-- she's never seen so many stuffed animals in one place in her life.
Charlotte knows that she can handle this organizational problem, but she's not so sure Emmy Lou can handle her neighbors. Two young men are pulling cruel jokes on the woman until she's a nervous wreck. Emmy Lou insists that the pranksters are harmless, but before Charlotte can even put her plan to paper, she's up to her neck in a murder.
Two books in, and I like this series very much. One note of realism that I particularly appreciate is the fact that, after the first book, Charlotte makes it clear in The Cluttered Corpse that she lost a lot of business when the news media reported her involvement in a murder case. Most other series that feature an independent businessperson like Charlotte would have you think that business blithely goes on as usual, with nary a dip in clientele.
(As a side note, I have a thing for organization and places like The Container Store. I do hope in at least one future book, Charlotte gets to finish the project for which she was hired. I really enjoy that part of the books! I also pay attention to the organizing tips at the beginning of each chapter. My favorite in this book? "Don't bring anything new into your home unless you know you have a place to keep it. Except for books, of course.")
To get back on track... as I read, I first had the idea that Emmy Lou's neighborhood was flat-out weird and perhaps a little over-the-top until I remembered that, at one time, my own street housed six different nationalities, a 90 year age span from oldest to youngest-- and the house on the corner where young thieves would gather to plan their next rash of burglaries.
I deduced quite a bit of what was going on in The Cluttered Corpse, but as is the case with so many cozy mysteries, the whodunit isn't as important as the who. I enjoy hanging out with Charlotte and her crew, and Maffini's sense of humor can have me laughing out loud.
If you'd like to organize a fun and pleasant afternoon, I suggest you give Charlotte Adams a call.
Kathleen P. reviewed The Cluttered Corpse (Charlotte Adams, Bk 2) on
A light, fast read. Nice sense of humor. I enjoyed the first book in the series, Organize Your Corpses, enough to read the second one, The Cluttered Corpse. There is a fun, varied, likable cast of characters. Didn't enjoy this book as much as the first one. It seemed even more far-fetched, and maybe the novelty had worn off. I probably won't read any more of this series, but if you're looking for light hearted chick lit, it's not bad.
I have only read two in this series but really enjoyed them. Loved the characters which is important to me. An easy read but kept your interest from start to finish. A series I will keep up with. This author writes other series that I have not tried yet but plan to since this one was so enjoyable.