By: Jackie Fullerton
Publisher: Thomas House Publishing
Publication Date: December 2012
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: February 16, 2013
Anne Marshall and her fiancé, Jason Perry, are snow-birding to Florida in Jackie Fullerton’s third book of the Anne Marshall amateur sleuth series. The couple is looking forward to a Midwestern winter break, some warm tropical breezes and a quiet Thanksgiving holiday with Jason’s parents, Fred and Nancy Perry. What neither of them knew was quiet would be the furthest thing awaiting their arrival.
Fred Perry set out on his usual morning jaunt with his dog, Flash, a nine-year-old Dalmatian mix. Both creatures of habit, they could do the route blind—to the end of the block, past the tennis courts, left at the clubhouse… As they approached the clubhouse, Fred was having a tough time controlling Flash. He went nuts over those mini-geckos everywhere. No matter how many times Flash tried to catch one of them, he was never going to realize they would always outrun and outwit him. Flash practically pulled Fred off his feet to get to the hibiscus bush as he honed in on one particular spot. Grabbing a stick, Fred poked at the bushes. When he saw a leg sticking out from under the low hanging branch, his first reaction was to think some wisecrack kids had put it there as a prank. Upon closer inspection, he could see that leg wasn’t fake. Confused, he spread the bushes a little further apart and could see the body was wearing a woman’s dress. When he saw her face and realized it belonged to his wife’s best friend, Maude Allen, he let out an audible gasp.
In another part of town, Carl Martin sat on the edge of his bed trying to calm his shaking hands. He couldn’t erase the memory of them around that lady’s neck and how hard they squeezed the life out of her. It didn’t matter because Jeremiah was his friend. He was Carl’s only friend after losing his wife Emilee and their newborn daughter. That was another lifetime ago. The fact is nobody understood or cared more for Carl after his loss than Jeremiah. Carl snapped out of it and convinced himself there was no sense dwelling on that lady anymore. There was more work to be done and they were just getting started. He and Jeremiah couldn’t leave for Montana until all their work was done…
Jackie Fullerton accomplishes setting the plot within the first dozen or so pages, but accelerates too rapidly by incorporating too many twists and turns along with character introduction. In fairness to Ms. Fullerton, I have not read the first two books in the Anne Marshall amateur sleuth series and perhaps this is why I struggled a bit getting up to speed with the story. On more than one occasion I had to go back and refresh who was who and what was what before continuing forward. Overall, it was a book that was a bit too busy and character top heavy. I also found in Ring Around the Rosy, that there were periodic breaks in the flow when Ms. Fullerton would redirect the reader and take him or her back in time in order to connect the past with the present (i.e., she went too far back in the first victim’s family tree in order to tie everything together before the story would move forward again). However, I will give Ms. Fullerton credit in that she knows how to keep the anticipation alive for the reader.
Quill Says: Pay attention because there’s a lot more going on than a pocket full of posies in Ring Around the Rosy.