After having just finished Tie Dyed and Dead, Sharon Short's newest Josie Toadfern Stain-Busting Mystery, I can't help but feel that I've just enjoyed the final installment of Josie and friends. No new Stain-Busting Mystery to look forward to? Aack! As a fan of Sharon Short's funny and evocative writing style, I'll just have to bide my time with her newspaper column until she graces us with a new mystery series (at least I'm hoping that's what she's planning!).
In this sixth installment of Josie Toadfern's Stain-Busting Mystery series, Josie has been hired by the Mayfair sisters to clean and repair their old costumes in preparation for a benefit concert they'll be giving in Paradise - being held to raise money to care for their ailing mother with Alzheimer's disease. The Mayfair Sisters were just about the biggest thing to ever come out of Paradise, having been a successful singing group in the `60s. The entire town is caught up in the hype of the upcoming concert and auction.
Josie has her hands full just with getting the costumes ready, never mind everyone she knows asking her to get them an `in' with the sisters or the auction. She does her best, but when someone is brutally murdered inside her laundromat and the evidence points toward Josie as the culprit, the gloves come off! Because of the Mayfair Sisters, the sleepy town of Paradise is full of out-of-towners - and likely suspects. Josie and her entourage, with some help from the omnipresent Mrs. Oglevee, must use quite a bit of ingenuity to solve the mystery, with time of the essence as the killer seems to be just getting started.
In addition to her stain and crime busting, Josie finally meets Levi Applegate, the new director of Stillwater Farms, the assisted-living center where Guy, Josie's autistic cousin, resides. Mr. Applegate figures prominently in this mystery, in more ways than one.
The main reason that this feels like the end of the Josie Toadfern Stain-Busting series is that in addition to the loose ends of the mystery being neatly tied up, the disposition of Josie and all of her quirky friends is also given. While I suppose it's possible that Josie et al. might return sometime in the future, I think it likely that Ms. Short is busy cooking up something entirely different for Josie's fans. I'll be waiting, anxiously, to see what's in store!
Carol Ann H. 5/2/2008