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Blurb via author’s website:

Roses are red, violets are blue. It’s not quite dead, just like you.’

What was the meaning of Desmond’s childish rhyme, phoned to his sisters just days before his death? What unnamed ‘treasure’ of great value did Bella’s crazy great-uncle Desmond bequeath to his family? In a posthumous letter to be hand-delivered to Bella’s great-aunts, Gilead missionaries just returned from Peru to Cornwall, England, Desmond Wildeve spoke of a priceless object hidden in the vast, cluttered family mansion – a mansion no one had been admitted in for nearly fifty years. And he gave them only one clue to start the hunt: another childish rhyme.

Taking on the challenge, Bella, with the help of family, friends, and eccentric villagers, searches for the meanings to the childish rhymes hidden throughout the mansion by her great-uncle. The search leads Bella into comically bizarre situations, including wrestling with mummies, hidden passages, and genealogical secrets as she plays charades with a lunatic from beyond the grave.

My Review:

I guess it’s not enough to just write: I really enjoyed this book. I laughed and was totally wrapped up in the story and couldn’t figure out how the author would finish it.

Truthfully, this has been one of the hardest reviews to write because there’s just so much fun going on within these pages. Yes, it’s jam-packed. Yes, it’s bizarre and at times you’re running around with the female lead wondering what the heck?

And isn’t that what you want in a read.

I don’t want to be left outside the pages and watch the story; I’ll turn on the television for that. I want to dive into the world either between the pages or in the eReader. I want to feel the emotions of the characters. I don’t want to know what’s coming next or know the ending beforehand. No, give me a read that loses my hours; messes with my sense of reality vs. fictional; makes me bark at anyone who dares interrupts my reading time.

Does my editor brain want to tweak and rework bits? Sure, that’s what my editor brain does (and does fairly well) But, I want to do that with most books I read.

Ask me if I want to revisit Ms. Phipps’ world? Ask me if I want more. Ask me did I get frustrated and angry when CHARADES WITH A LUNATIC ended…the good frustration and angry. The ones where you’re peeved cause the story ended.

YES! YES! YES!

And now with this review finally written, I need to move on to the next review; the next book. But, I’ll never let go of CHARADES WITH A LUNATIC.

About the book:

‘Checkmate to the black king…’ begins the eerie missive found by Bella. It had been hidden in a pub’s wall along with a cache of toys, a child’s clothes, and a century-old photograph of two children, one of whom is a little boy holding the same doll found in the wall with the note.

Who, or what, is the black king, and why is the writer of the message frightened for their life? Who are the children in the photograph? What is the link between the hidden items and a chess game? And most puzzling of all, how is it possible that the abandoned hundred-year-old doll is familiar to members of Bella’s family?

Using forgotten photographs, memories, and the game of chess, Bella and her friend Tamsin learn the secret of the doll in the wall.

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About the book:

It was to be an idyllic Greek holiday, courtesy of Albert and Violet, retired field agents for MI6. But, when the Frenchman entered the picture, not to mention the bipolar policeman and Serbian acrobats, everything changed. Instead of fleeing to safety, Bella ends up trapped on the naturists' island of Gavdos. She becomes ensnared in kidnapping, smuggling, and in trying to understand the puzzling brass key that will save them all...