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Beth Groundwater

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Member Since: Aug, 2007

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A Real Basket Case
by Beth Groundwater   

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Books by Beth Groundwater
· Deadly Currents
· To Hell in a Handbasket
· The Epsilon Eridani Alternative
                >> View all



Publisher:  Five Star Publishing ISBN-10:  1594145474 Type: 


Copyright:  March 21, 2007 ISBN-13:  9781594145476

When police accuse gift basket designer Claire Hanover's husband of killing her massage therapist, she becomes a bumbling amateur sleuth. Will she free her husband and save her marriage before the killer gets her next?

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In A Real Basket Case, the best friend of Claire Hanover, 46-year-old proprietor of a Colorado Springs gift basket business, arranges for a handsome young massage therapist to give Claire a massage. When he's shot and killed in her bedroom and police arrest her husband, Roger, for the crime, Claire must convince Roger she wasn't having an affair and, with advice from a PI friend, find the real killer before Roger loses his job and goes to trial. Claire confronts the victim's fiery ex-girlfriend, his drug-dealing cohorts, and the gym ladies he supplied with cocaine or seduced for money. She must extricate herself from under a drug dealer's bed while he seduces his girlfriend, from jail--charged with breaking and entering, from a drug boss's limousine while he berates her for "messin' in his business," and from her angry aerobics classmates when they discover she suspects them. She makes mistakes at every turn, but she perseveres. Will she find the real murderer before Roger loses his job and goes to trial? Can she convince her husband to come back to her? Or will the killer get to her first? 

Professional Reviews

A Real Basket Case
Claire Hanover, a Colorado Springs housewife who has started a gift-basket business, is feeling lonely and unloved by her work-obsessed husband. Her best friend, Ellen, divorced and bitter, urges her to attend an aerobics class. When the handsome instructor, Enrique, flirts with Claire, Ellen tells her to have an affair with him. Claire agrees only to a massage. After Enrique is shot and killed while giving Claire the massage, the police arrest her husband, Roger. Claire realizes that she has jeopardized her marriage and her husband, whom she still loves. She is sure that someone has framed him and sets out to prove it. As she investigates, she learns that there are many people who could have killed Enrique, ex-girlfriends and drug-dealing cohorts among them. Spying on drug dealers, confronting angry aerobics classmates who are now suspects, and screwing up gift-basket deliveries, not to mention a breaking-and-entering charge, complicate Claire’s life, but she carries on, determined to save her husband and marriage. This will appeal to Desperate Housewives fans and those who like cozies with a bit of spice.

-- Barbara Bibel, Booklist Review, February 1, 2007

A Real Basket Case
Drugs and jealousy add up to a Rocky Mountain murder. Claire Hanover, a Colorado Springs empty-nester whose husband Roger's self-image is tied to climbing the corporate ladder, is restless and lonely. Although Claire's gift-basket business is fun and profitable, her divorced friend Ellen, who helped with the startup, suggests that gym classes will improve her mood and looks. When a buff aerobics instructor comes on to Claire, her old pal thinks a little fling would be just the thing. But after Enrique talks Claire into a massage at her home, he's shot there, and Roger arrives in their bedroom holding the murder weapon. Claire can only watch stunned when he's arrested for murder. Feeling betrayed, Roger moves out. Claire, certain he's innocent, starts sleuthing with the long-distance help of another friend, Ute shamus Deb Burch. Enrique, it seems, was not only servicing women at the health club; he was apparently dealing drugs. His boss Leon admires Claire's nerve but warns her not to poke around in his business. He suggests that she look at the ladies Enrique was involved with, a list that includes Ellen. Determined to find the culprit by enlarging the suspect pool before Roger's depression sinks him, Deb proceeds to break into the apartment of Enrique's girlfriend, intent on unearthing the necessary evidence before Claire's investigation makes her the next victim. A tense, exciting debut.

-- Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2007

A Real Basket Case
Colorado Springs-based gift basket entrepreneur Claire Hanover is a lonely housewife who just wants her workaholic husband to pay more attention to her. When a divorced friend encourages her to have a fling with their handsome aerobics instructor, she agrees to let him give her a massage. While she’s sprawled out half-naked on her bed, he’s shot and killed, and Claire’s husband Roger is caught holding the smoking gun. Roger accuses Claire of infidelity and claims he’s innocent. Claire, convinced he’s being framed, vows to find the real killer before Roger goes to trial. Claire encounters a number of characters who would prefer she give up her amateur sleuthing and let the police handle things, although they refuse to believe they’ve got the wrong man. Despite making her share of mistakes, Claire perseveres, knowing the truth is the only thing that will save what’s most important to her – her marriage and the man she loves.

Beth Groundwater has penned a clever, charming debut novel. Claire is a likeable – if fallible – rank amateur who charges ahead despite her nearly non-existent sleuthing skills, relying heavily on the guidance of a PI friend who talks her through interviewing suspects and even breaking and entering at a drug-dealer’s apartment. Of course, Claire ends up in several tight spots, managing to escape in some instances by little more than the grace of God and her own determination, but she learns from her mistakes and presses on.

Groundwater’s well-crafted characters comprise a nicely balanced cast, and she does a good job incorporating a blend of humor and relationship drama into a deftly twisted plot with the kind of surprise ending guaranteed to satisfy. Quick-paced and well written with clear and comfortable prose, A REAL BASKET CASE is a perfect afternoon read for cozy fans.

-- J.B. Thompson, Spinetingler Magazine, Spring 2007

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Reader Reviews for "A Real Basket Case"

Reviewed by Sheila Deeth 6/19/2009
A Real Basket Case by Beth Groundwater is a really fun book, and just perfect to add to that gift basket for mother, sick friend, empty-nester, or whoever else you feel needs a bit of spice to cheer them up. Just be sure whoever reads it will be inspired to believe in themselves, in the future, and in the value of love and relationships.

Beth’s protagonist, Claire Hanover, is a middle-aged mother of grown-up children, valued confidante of friends whose marriages are breaking up, and loyal wife. But an exercise class run by gloriously handsome Enrique surely can’t be a problem, and all she agrees to is a massage. Depending on your own position in life, you’ll either be crying out “Go for it Claire,” or “Claire, don’t do it!” as one of her friends eggs her on, and the other decries the duplicity of all men.

But things go drastically wrong. Claire’s moment of pleasure becomes a trek through the seamy underbelly of Colorado Springs. Her husband is arrested for murder. Everyone thinks he’s guilty. His boss threatens to fire him. And when Claire manages to arrange his bail, he retires straight to a friend’s house because he doesn’t believe she loves him anymore.

By the way, did you know that works? Arranging bail and all that?

Meanwhile Claire delivers gift baskets to the realtor, and tries to avoid getting shot by the local drug lord. She’d have every justification for ending up a real basket case, but that’s not her aim, and true love, true grit, and true determination win through.

I love Claire. I love this story. And I’ll soon be reading the sequel, To Hell in a Handbasket. I can hardly wait.

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