First in the Mace Bauer mystery series about a woman, her two sisters, and her easy-goin’ Mama in a small town in Florida.
It’s a classic with the innocent mama arrested when a dead body is found in the trunk of her car. The mean ol’ big city detective who arrests her can’t be moved to mercy…even when all three widely different daughters come rampaging down to the station. Unexpectedly overwhelmed, Detective Martinez takes his frustrations out on the girls and mama causing the girls to believe that only their efforts—read this as Mace’s efforts—will find the real killer.
We are provided with the typical small town atmosphere in which everyone knows everyone else’s business with the oblivious mom who thinks everything will just naturally work out. Mace is the center of it all as she pushes and prods, running up against Martinez. The potential for tension—both romantic and dramatic—exists between the two, but Sharp doesn’t do anything with it. It’s a cute surface read with clichéd characters that is just too shallow. Sharp’s attempt to create additional tension with Jeb was just a fizzle for me—how can anyone get excited about a man who’s telling you he’s falling back in love as, in the next breath, he informs you he’s taking off on the rodeo circuit again with his live-in lover… I am just soooo confused…
Then what’s with the damn truck? They keep running across it, but no one ever thinks to take down the license plate, find out who owns it??
Sharp reminds me of Carl Hiaasen with her smalltown vibe and Florida setting, but I find I prefer Hiaasen with his slightly deeper storylines.
My favorite part? Finally discovering the Lake Okeechobee which Piers Anthony twisted into Lake Ogre-chobee for his Xanth series!
Mason “Mace” Bauer is the middle child. The most reasonable and the most normal. Even if she does leap to conclusions faster than a squirrel runnin’ from a cat. Madison “Maddie” is the oldest and meanest; she’s married and is the principal at the local middle school. Marty is the youngest and the most timid who finally finds her big-girl panties. Mama, a.k.a., Rosalee Deveraux, takes people as they come…and figures every one is her friend. She may talk ‘em to death, but she’d never hurt anyone.
Emma Jean Valentine works at the police station; she’s also Rosalee’s bingo buddy. Jim Albert is a local loan shark and Emma’s fiancé. Pastor Bob Dixon and his wife Delilah provide more humor and tension with a bit of a snark on ministers who are trying to strike it rich. Jeb Ennis was Mace’s first love and first heartbreak. Now he’s back in town.
Detective Carlos Martinez has moved to Himmarshee in the middle of Florida from Miami to get away from a tragedy in his life. He don’t trust nobody…! And he’s rude to boot. Donnie Bailey is one of the police officers; he’s known the Bauer girls forever. Salvatore Provenza is the latest beau in Mama’s life. He wants to marry her; the girls want to murder him.
The cover is very Florida with its blue-bodied convertible parked on the beach, palm trees waving above, blood dripping from the trunk.
The title is a big tongue-in-cheek…Mama Does Time, but only in the most superificial way. Actually, I reckon that’s pretty appropriate…