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When the dragon lady down the street invites Sydney Bonner’s husband to join the block’s holiday lighting extravaganza, Syd figures the venture will distract him while she manages Sheriff Rick Formero’s election campaign. But Trip’s merry mission ends abruptly when the diva suffers a dramatic demise.
Marianne, Micki and Kat see a chance to make their amateur sleuthing official with their contributions to Sheriff Rick’s campaign platform. But they’re just as interested in why the skipper of the spectacular light show met her shocking end. Putting their political proposal into action, Syd rides shotgun with Rick as they interview a stocking full of suspects. Serendipity Springs’ secrets come to light as they unravel the mystery against the backdrop of a contentious campaign. From the standoffish widower to the resentful volunteers, it seems everyone on the committee had a problem with the queen of Christmas. As the naughty list grows and the neighbors string the investigators along, can Syd and her friends nail the evil elf before a deadly decorator turns out their lights for good?
The Mah Jongg Mystery Series is set in the fictional central Florida town of Serendipity Springs, Florida. It features four retired women who meet playing the game of Mah Jongg, and from there develop a strong friendship. Two have been married several years and have grown children and grandchildren, one is divorced and one has never been married. In their earlier lives, all had rewarding careers, but that doesn’t mean they’re content to sit back and relax now.
As the series progresses, each pursues new interests, Kat Faulkner as a songstress, Marianne Putnam writing one-act plays, Micki Demetrius as a freelance journalist and Sydney Bonner interior design.
In their community they engage in such activities as a social group for those over 50, numerous stops at the local coffeehouse, classes and other activities at the local community center and even a shopping trip to Naples. Syd's husband, Trip, and Marianne’s husband, Beau, are golf buddies who spend many a day on the course. When not there, Trip is busy seeking to build a new post retirement life, and Beau, a former botanist, is often prevailed upon to join in Trip's latest activity. Sheriff Rick Formero, a widower, intrigued by Kat, presses for her to make more of their relationship and Kat slowly comes around. Micki, burned by her former spouse, isn’t ready for a serious relationship, at least that’s what she claims, but retired attorney, Guy Whitney, also a widower, tries to convince her to think otherwise. Kat has lived a frugal life until winning big in a lottery shortly after her mother's death; suddenly, Kat has money and doesn't know how to spend it. But her pal, Micki, does, even if it's to guide Kat through a makeover and wardrobe change for her lounge act.
The four don't seek out murders to investigate; somehow the circumstances and those affected drag them in. To their surprise, they’re good at investigation. They like investigating homicides, although along the way, following a few lucky escapes from near-death situations, they learn self-defense.
But it takes time for them to sell their skills and special abilities as civilians to the sheriff.
Barbara Barrett is already published in contemporary romance. Like her protagonists, she is retired and is a resident of Florida, although she spends her summers in her home state of Iowa. She is married with grown children and eight grandchildren. She spent over three decades as a human resource management analyst with Iowa state government. Her website is www.barbarabarrettbooks.comSyd and her mah jongg friends.