Chick-lit meets mystery novel in Sharon Dunn’s Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, the first in the new series of Bargain Hunters mysteries. Four women in various stages and walks of life are drawn together by their love for a great sale. They form the Bargain Hunter’s Network, or BHN. However, when a murder in suburbia strikes too close to home, the BHN members find themselves on the hunt for more than good deals, and they soon realize that someone is hunting them as well.
Set in Three Horses, Montana, the story could easily take place in AnyTown, U.S.A. Readers follow Ginger, the retired grandmother, Suzanne, the very pregnant mom of three, and Kindra, the cheerleader future-physicist, as they try to figure out the clues left to them in the form of hodgepodge yard sale knick-knacks. Along the way, they make alliances with Tammy, the single-mother cop, and Arleta, the lonely widow, who help the BHN in their quest for answers. For the most part, this eclectic friendship seems believable, as the group’s backstory is slowly interwoven into the main plot. As individuals, each woman has little quirks and eccentricities that make her interesting and fun to follow. Their character flaws are relatable, as are their issues at home and at work. Some of the characters need to be fleshed out a little more, particularly Suzanne, though I would wager some of that is yet to come in the series.
Dunn successfully spins a lighthearted mystery with an easily manageable number of characters and clues. The Christian aspects of virtue, justice, fair play, friendship, and loyalty are shown rather than preached throughout the scenes and chapters. The “good guys” and “bad guys” are distinguishable from the get-go, though we don’t know which of the villainous characters is specifically responsible for the crime or why. Suspense is minimal, which sometimes causes the plot to slow down and meander a bit, but it succeeds at keeping the tone light.
This cute novel will appeal to a variety of women, particularly those who fall in the 25 to 50-year-old age range. Those who are new to the mystery genre, or who enjoy an undemanding “who dunit” sprinkled with spiritual themes and plenty of friendship, will be pleased with The Bargain Hunters. I have already passed on my copy to my sister, with my mother and mother-in-law next on the list. I have a feeling they’ll be anticipating the next installment in the series, due in January 2008. – Stacie Miller, Christian Book Previews.com
What could Ginger the baby boomer, Kindra the college student, Suzanne the pregnant mother of three, and Mary Margret the silver-haired real-estate agent possibly have in common? Who would’ve guessed…a passion for garage sales!
This motley crew forms the Bargain Hunters Network–bonding while clipping coupons, attending half-price sales, and scouting clearance racks in their hometown of Three Horses, Montana. But when one of the four turns up missing, these shop-till-you-drop women must set their bargain hunting aside to take up an entirely new venture altogether–solving a crime.
As the three amateur sleuths retrace their friend’s fateful steps, they discover clues that lead them to suspect her murder is linked to an unusual garage sale purchase made on the morning of her death. But when their search unearths a disturbing secret that’s been carefully concealed for over twenty years, the women are drawn into a dark underworld filled with bribery, greed, and deception. With determined criminals who will stop at nothing to keep their secret safe, will these fiscally conscious females end up paying the ultimate price?