Back in her hometown of Newport, RI, Tina Shaw, twenty-nine, is picking up the pieces of her shattered life. She begins her first job as a professional organizer in a house filled with cardboard boxes and clutter, only to discover a dead body in an eerily neat baby nursery. She fears this career move may be a short one until the handsome but spooky new doctor persuades her to reorganize his office left in disarray by the former physician.
Ignoring the doctor’s obvious interest in her, Tina begins seeing her former boyfriend. When he protests against her new profession, she realizes what a control freak he is. Then there’s another old flame who is making her hotter by the minute. As she works through the office clutter, she learns the doctor has a possible motive for the killing. But when someone else is shot, the doctor has a solid alibi–Tina herself. Drawn unwillingly into the case, she searches for answers as her list of suspects multiplies. When the killer begins targeting Tina and her friends, she works harder to learn the murderer’s identity before someone else is found dead.
Excerpt from ORGANIZED TO DEATH
Newport, Rhode Island
She entered her home, hands shaking, her heart beating so hard she seriously thought she’d have a heart attack. After all, she wasn’t a young woman anymore. She was sure no one had followed her, but she didn’t know if someone had noticed her parked on the street where those two sisters lived next door to each other. She bolted the door and walked on unsteady legs to the kitchen.
How had everything gone so wrong? All she’d wanted was for Crystal to be reasonable. Doctor was an old man. To threaten him like that …
She set her purse down, jerked off her coat, which had not been keeping her warm anyway, and put the kettle on to boil. Tea. She needed tea. She took down the package of Earl Gray and rummaged in the far cabinet for the brandy. Kept for medicinal purposes. No, she wasn’t sick, but if her heart didn’t stop pounding, she’d have to call 911. And they were probably busy with Crystal by now.
Her legs wouldn’t hold her anymore, so she plunked herself into a chair and put her head in her hands, waiting for the water to boil.
She could hear Crystal yelling in her head. Telling her Doctor had to make things right. But he was old, he was out of his head a lot of the time, and what good would it do? She shuddered. It would ruin everything. His reputation. Maybe her reputation. No telling what he’d blurt out if questioned now.
She couldn’t believe she took the twenty-two she always carried for protection, laws be damned, out of her purse and pointed it at Crystal. Threatened her. Crystal had grabbed some keys hanging by the back door and bolted. Fortunately, she’d left her cell phone on the coffee table.
What could she do? She had to follow. Being a lot younger, Crystal was faster, but she had to stop to unlock her sister’s back door. And so she had followed Crystal into the house, into that pretty baby’s nursery, and shot her. Emptied the gun.
She wanted to close her eyes against remembering, but they were already closed. She wanted to scream, but her throat was so tight, she couldn’t even do that.
She’d watched Crystal crumple to the floor. The twenty-two had only made popping sounds, but she was scared witless someone had heard. She’d needed to run, and she had, back to Crystal’s next door, around her house, peeking cautiously at the street to see if anyone was about. Then she’d climbed into her car and driven home.
The tea kettle whistled. She started so hard, she almost fell out of the chair.
The kettle became almost dry, the whistling maddening her, before her legs were steady enough for her to stand up and make her tea.
Tina Shaw expected disorganization and clutter when she accepted her first job as a professional organizer. And she found lots of it at Rachel’s house. Rach apparently had not only been collecting her own clutter, but she accepted roomfuls of it no one else wanted after relatives passed away.
It was all a lot more than Tina had imagined when she first thought about her new profession. Her impulse was to run screaming to her car, but she squashed it. She glanced at Rachel often as they walked through the house, wondering about her mental health. And thinking that a small bulldozer might do a better job than they could.
When Rachel opened the door to the perfectly organized baby nursery, Tina stood stock-still because she expected more of the same. The only item spoiling the pristine room was Rachel’s sister, face down on the floor, several bullet holes marring her beautifully coiffed and clothed body, blood sprayed sickeningly over and around her.
Did Rachel kill her sister? Tina had no idea how to clean up this mess. Her mind skittered to the bulldozer again. She pushed away the image.
“Crystal,” Rachel wailed. She ran to her sister and knelt down, then didn’t seem to know what to do.
Wonderfully brilliant I loved this book. It is the first book in the series, but each book can be read as a standalone. The way the story is written is superb. We’re giving a look into the killers mind and watch how the characters interact and figure out exactly what is going on. As Tina try’s to sort out her own life, she finds more unanswered questions, and a determination to solve each and every one of those questions. Completely brilliant.
Sometimes when a cozy mystery has a theme (coffee shop, knitting, even books) the author spends a lot of time making sure you know the intricacies of the profession or hobby. If you already have an interest, that’s fine, and it may even let you ‘get’ some aspect of the plot before the non-hobbyist/coffee shop worker does. However, when I read a themed book and don’t have that special interest, I end up flipping through the descriptions of how to grind a certain coffee bean or organize a butterfly collection.
None of that applies to Organized to Death. Jan Christensen uses Tina’s recareering from psychologist to professional organizer really well. Sure, you expect a body in some of the clutter, but it isn’t far-fetched. Christensen weaves potential murder suspects in with the work, and has you wondering why in the world someone would move back to a small town to help people organize their homes or offices. There’s humor, too.
I recommend Organized to Death and just picked up the next book in the series.
Tina Shaw finally has her first job as a professional organizer for her friend Rachel Palmer. Tina has her hands full since Rachel seems like more like a hoarder. Finally, they have some boxes to move and Rachel suggests the nursery. However, it doesn’t look like there will be enough room there to store the boxes since they find Rachel’s sister Crystal dead on the floor.
The police determine that Crystal was killed with a 22 caliber gun. They have a few more questions for Tina including does she own a gun? Well she does own a gun and it is missing! The police also know about an argument that Tina had with Crystal the week before. Tina is starting to look like a primary suspect in the case. She better figure out whodunit quick or she could end up in the dead end file.
Thinks to ponder: Why did Tina leave her practice as a clinical psychologist in Virginia? What secret did Crystal die for? Why does the Lunch Bunch meet only monthly? Exactly what does Hank do for a living?
This was a fun fast-paced read. A real page turner. In addition to finding out whodunit, I needed to find out about all the secrets that kept popping up in the book. This book had more twists and turns than a ball of yarn my cat has gotten into. So if you are a little disorganized like I am, then Organized To Death is a book you should read.
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