When Zeffie Got A Clue

Christy Castleman Mysteries #3

Young Adult - General
352 Pages
Reviewed on 03/14/2009
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

Mystery writer, Christy Castleman was always curious and loved to solve puzzles. Christy was working in her aunt’s shop “I Saw It First,” when a young girl named Zeffie came in with an old jewelry box. She girl wanted to sell the box so that her grandmother would have money for medication. Kindhearted Christy purchased the box for more than it was worth. The wood needed to be cleaned and the lining replaced. Carefully Christy began to work on the box, removing the musty smelling lining. She found a receipt hidden under the lining. She recognized the name Strickland. Seventeen year old, Kirby Strickland had saved her from drowning when she was still kid. She always felt she owed him something. Several years later he was found murdered. Christy was sure the jewelry box and receipt were a clue to his murderer. It was too late to do anything for Kirby except find his killer. “Curiosity killed the cat,” would it kill Christy?

It is refreshing to read a clean, well-written story. Peggy Darty has also penned, “When the Sandpiper Calls,” and “When Bobbie Sang the Blues.” All are set in Summer Breeze, Florida. When Zeffie Got A Clue is an entertaining tale, filled with suspense, romance, action and Christian morals. The characters are interesting. Christy reminds me of a grown up Nancy Drew. The characters interaction lends credibility to the plot. It is refreshing to find an author that can write a good story that does not fall back on foul language and inappropriate behavior to sell the story. When Zeffie Got A Clue is clean enough for young people and interesting enough for fans of romance and suspense.

Nora St Laurent

This is my first cozy mystery to read by Peggy Darty and I'm sure it won't be my last. The author says "The cozy mystery is, by far, my favorite, because this genre allows the reader to participate in solving the mystery." I did like that about reading this book. I really liked the town in Florida called Summer Breeze. It's a place you definitely want to stay for a while. Zeffie is the most adorable little girl that everyone falls in love with and wants to take home. She meets the main character Christy at her store called "I Saw It First Shop" don't you just love that name? I also like what there store does. Christy explains to Zeffie "What we like to do here is rework something that's lost its purpose and make it pretty again." I think every town needs one of these shops; I think God allows us to be re-worked once we have been lost our purpose as well.

This cozy mystery reminded me of a good Nancy Drew mystery. Zeffie hands Christy a clue that reopens a case from years ago. This case was personal for Christy. The man that was murdered saved her life. With the clue she is determined to track down this killer if that is the last thing she does. You will love this town and the Characters as well. It really makes me want to read the other books in this series.

Carol Kurtz

Cozy mysteries are a comfortable fit for Christian fiction. By nature there is no gore, outright violence, or anything else too disturbing. They're light and fun, as we follow casually along until we find the murderer. When Zeffie Got a Clue fits right in with a page turning plot that won't give us nightmares.

Christy is a Christian, her father is a pastor, and her life is safe and predictable in the peaceful town of Summer Breeze, Florida. She's on her second try at romance with Dan, and things are looking up for them. Many of us already know Christy, as she's solved two other mysteries before, but this book stands alone just fine if you're new to Summer Breeze. Now she's trying to warm up a cold case she cares about very much. Kirby was her idol after he saved her from drowning. He was the all-American town hero, and his murder has remained unsolved for years.

The book's opening scene, even the first line, hooks the reader right away. A sweet little girl enters Christy's second hand shop. The girl is Zeffie, and she inadvertently opens Kirby's case wide open again with an old jewelry box she holds in her hands. Since Christy happens to be a mystery writer, she can't resist the opportunity to repay Kirby if she can only find his killer.

Our heroine is surrounded by an extended family of loving people, all who play a large part in her life, if not in solving this mystery. Perhaps an even bigger mystery here is why every character who is in the vicinity of the age of fifty refers to themselves as if they are elderly, and seem obsessed with talking about their age.

Zeffie has a sub plot all her own intertwined with the investigation, as the grandmother she loves and who has raised her is about to die. The only living relative they know of is definitely not going to give Zeffie the love and nurturing she needs, so Christy tries to find Zeffie's unknown father. We've got a budding romance for Christy's aunt and business partner, as well her own deepening relationship with Dan, which could be heading towards marriage. That is, if they can work out their uncertain future. She struggles to get closer to Dan, and she tries to be supportive as the possibility of a new job far away looms.

The number of suspects mounts, as do the coincidences, leading Christy and an officer friend closer and closer to the real truth of what happened to Kirby in his family mansion that day. We consider several scenarios, all pretty plausible, while none stands out as the obvious truth.

Thankfully, we haven't been tricked by Darty. She doesn't throw in some unrelated clue at the very end and reveal the murderer as someone we never could have guessed. That can be a frustration to the reader in this genre. It's a satisfying ending all the way around, and a fun, easy going journey that will keep you guessing to the end.

Michelle Sutton

I don't normally read cozy mysteries, but this one was fun and it held my interest. The title was intriguing and once I got involved in the story and got to know the characters I wanted to finish the book. It had a nice hook and pulled me in. Nothing was edgy or compelling in a suspenseful sense. There were no graphic descriptions or things that made me cringe (not that I like that). There was nothing heart-wrenching or spiritually moving. It was just a nice read. Kind of like a Matlock murder mystery. The characters were well done, the writing was good, and it gave me the warm fuzzies - especially the subplot involving Zeffie. Maybe I would have felt even more attached to the characters if I had read the previous two books in the series. I dunno. Overall I'd say this book is a winner, because not once did I dread picking it up to finish the story. That's a great book!