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Fool's Puzzle (A Benni Harper Mystery #1)
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Fool's Puzzle (Benni Harper #1)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  3,711 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Meet Benni Harper... a spirited ex-cowgirl, quilter, and folk-art expert who's staking out her own corner of the contemporary American West. She's got an eye for murderous designs - and a talent for piecing together the most complex and cold-blooded crimes...

Leaving behind memories of her late husband, Benni's making a fresh start... Moving to the trendy California town of

ebook, 256 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by Berkley Books (first published 1994)
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 18, 2010 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
The style is smooth enough, and Benni Harper, our narrator, is sympathetic enough to have kept me reading for about 150 pages, but she acted stupidly one too many times, so that not even the resolution of the mystery or romance or Arts and Craft themes could make me keep going.

I hate mysteries where some amateur detective keeps things from the police, or lies to them or hides evidence. Now, there are reasons people act this way I could buy, without marking them in my eyes as Too Stupid to Live.
(All my reviews contain spoilers) Good first for a series; characters were introduced well and writing is very good. Benni is a farm-girl turned museum curator who is adjusting to her new life nine months after losing her husband Jack, in a car accident. With the murder of one of the museum's co-op members, Marla, Benni decides to try and find out more information on her own (her cousin was semi-involved), without going to police.

I know this is in the 'cozy' genre, which is why I sometimes feel
Homewood Public Library
A Benni Harper mystery
Benni is not the person she was ten months ago. Jack, her husband, died nine months ago in an accident that is not totally clear. She struggles with losing him and with living day to day. As director of the Folk Art Museum she needs to be together and guide artists in preparing works for shows and display. If you know anything about artists, they can be unpredictable and tempermental as well as stand-offish. The coop artists at Benni's museum were less than a cohesive group
I've read a couple reviews that suggest that the writing improves throughout the series. I don't know if I will ever find out. a couple issues, in brief:
*despite the narrative indicating that benni is good at everything she tries (accounting, managing horses, investigating etc), she sort of bumbles through the story, giving everyone attitude and thinking of little but herself.
*what is the point of making such a big deal of her deceased husband AND the lightning quick romance with the new police
Kt, Kt
An enjoyable first novel that begins a delightful series is books all named after quilt blocks. The book is an easy read and the absence of tons of sex scenes, cussing and total immorality a pleasant change. Good read.
Willa Grant
A new favorite mystery writer! I love her Benni Harper, love the quilt theme of her books & have a crush on Benni's new fella, Gabe Ortiz. I can hardly wait to find the next one & read it!
Leni Leanne Phillips
This was an enjoyable, fun read. I especially enjoyed the place descriptions, as the town in which the story is set is based on my own hometown of San Luis Obispo, California. This is the first in a series, and I'm looking forward to reading the others as well. The title is based on the name of a quilt pattern, as are all the titles in this mystery series. The stories all have something to do, however loosely, with quilting or other folk art, since the main character, Benni Harper, is the curato ...more
Well, definitely better than the rest of the romantic mystery novels I've been reading likely. I like the couple, generally. I like that they didn't fall into each other's arms. I like that things seem to be progressing slowly. That is a nice change. The pace seems right at this point.

I did find a few things irritating. The protagonist's refusal to tell the police anything for a start. I'm sorry, but if you walk in on a murder scene, I am of the opinion that you tell the police everything. Even
This book took me several chapters before I became more interested in the story. It seemed to start a little slow, which is ok. I like to get to know the main characters or town/setting in the first of a series. The main heroine, Benni, took a little to get used to and I still am not sure how well I like her. I really felt sorrow for her situation in life and could understand some of her motives or reactions. I did feel the pace of the book took a more natural walk. I didn't feel pressed for tim ...more
Even though this is a series of cozies, I hadn't read any of them so the main character, Benni Harper was new to me.

Bennie Harper's husband died and she wanted to get away from the ranch from everything that reminded her of him. She would miss the family but now that he was gone, she felt disconnected from them. She needed to get away and start living her own life.

So she took a job as a director of a folk art museum in San Ceclina, California. I really like the setting; I love folk art, especi
Kathryn  Cooper
Reviewed on Clean Adult Fiction

This was a great read. I love murder mysteries. I actually read book 15 for a book club awhile back so now I'm going back and reading the first books of the series. The beginning books show the budding romance which is the best part. I loved how Benni and Gabe drove each other crazy at the beginning.

Benni was 34 years old and a 9 month widow. She had been married to her late husband for 15 years. This book goes into the heart ache and loneliness that comes with t
Connie N.
Good solid cozy mystery with a feisty, amusing, entertaining main female character. Benni Harper sometimes seems like your basic strong country ranching woman with a solid family and friend support group. At other times she seems flighty and at loose ends. I suppose, like many of us, she's a combination of the two, especially as she deals with the loss of her husband to drunk driving and trying to rebuild her life in a small town. She becomes embroiled in a murder mystery and, of course, gets mo ...more
Lori Limberger
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rats! Just when I was telling myself I needed to focus on finishing book series that I've already started, I came across "Fool's Puzzle" by Earlene Fowler. Having a deep interests in quilts, especially the traditional patterns, the cover caught my eye. And being a mystery lover - well, how could I resist?

Earlene Fowler has written a mystery that represents to me the best of the cozy genre: intriguing amateur sleuth, small-town atmosphere, and fascinating relationships in a unique setting (in thi
Jul 21, 2012 Christine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone age 15 and up
Recommended to Christine by: Sister and Mom
Shelves: mystery
Finally read this one! I was writing a mystery when I read it, so I was as interested in Earlene's writing style as I was in the story.

She paints an amazing sense of place with her words--partway through Chapter 1, I felt like it was raining out MY window, even though it was blazing sunshine! I live in the area her books are based on, so it was fun to read her descriptions. I like her mix of reality and fiction in the locations.

The characters were vivid--I totally cared about them, and wanted t
Leslie Cremeens
I really liked this book, I like the way Ms. Fowler writes, you can believe these characters are real and experiencing real life situations. Benni's husband died in a car accident 8 months ago and she's made many major changes in her life since then. She is in charge of an Art gallery/studio and discovers a dead body in the shop. She has to deal with the Chief of Police, Gabe, a man who believes women should stand back and let the men work---well, in this case it was about not getting involved i ...more
This is an introduction to the Benni Harper series. Benni has recently been widowed. She becomes involved with murder in her new job where she meets Gabe for the first time. Benni feels she has to solve the mystery of a series without the help of the police department. This brings her into constant conflict with Gabe, who is the temporary police chief. Trying to "go it alone" causes Benni to get herself into a lot of danger and exasperates Gabe as well as the reader.

What makes this book special
Elaine Orr
Good cozy mystery set in central California has a recent widow who runs the local folk art museum who still grieves her husband, dead less than a year. That doesn't stop her from inserting herself into murder investigations. Since they occurred on her turf they would be hard to ignore. Benni Harper is determined and soon bumps up against Gabe Ortiz, the temporary police chief of San Celina.

Author Earlene Fowler is masterful in weaving together the locale of the California ranching community and
Paula Eeds
I love all of Earlene Fowler's books, especially the Benni Harper series. The characters grow and each book we meet more people in San Celina. I have been to author events with Earlene and she is the most delightful person/author I have met.
Entwined mysteries in a small ranching region. Benni's husband is dead and she manages the local art co-op in order to move away from her old life. However times become interesting once more and sweep her back into event with a murder in the studios where she works. The spiral pulls her back and interlocks wit her own past as she finds her dead husband's brother implicated in the dirty dealing.

Unfortunately the plot is better than the characterizations. This woman is so self destructive but gets
Too much language and sexual innuendo for my taste. However, I did like the interaction between Benni and Ortiz. I may read the second book in the series.
3 1/2 stars: sassy, smart, pistol shooting heroine. Enjoy the plot, quick ad engaging.
This is another series I enjoy - Benni Harper Mystery - Benni is still recovering from her husband's untimely death. She felt she had to leave the family ranch and so has taken a job in town at the folk art museum. As she is overseeing a huge show to earn money for the artist's co-op one of the artist's is murdered and then another murder follows very closely. Related, not related. Benni has to find out and then information starts leaking the somehow her husband's death is related which drives B ...more
another quilt book that I read
What a fun book and good mystery! This is my first Fowler mystery, so I was not familiar with Bennie. The plot was good, it kept moving right along and kept me guessing. No I didn't figure out the killer. I'm not a romance novel reader, but the sexual tension between Bennie and the detective was fun and kept me waiting to see what would happen next. This author really knows how to keep the reader hooked, I'll make a list and read more of the Benni Harper series. A good way to escape for a few ho ...more
This is the first in a new series I'm trying and it has an interesting main character. She's a sassy cowgirl on the Central California coast who's lost her husband and is trying to start a new life. She's engaging and funny but also vulnerable as she deals with being a widow, leaving the ranch and starting a new job, and meeting a new guy in town. She's introspective and also headstrong. She runs a museum and artists' co-op and dabbles in a little mystery solving. It's a cozy mystery with heart ...more
Cute, funny, entertaining.
Susan Dalley
I'd read a few of the Benni Harper mysteries and decided to go back and read the series from the beginning. My major problem with the book is the same problem I have with all these books where the main character plays amateur detective: I spend most of my time annoyed that the character is interfering with the police investigation and thinking they need to mind their own business. Having said that, the actual mystery was decent and I liked the way it connected with the questions Benni had about ...more
Finally found book 1 in the series, which is where I usually like to start. Enjoyed this one; felt the dialogue was a strength, at times the long list of people who came and went were a disadvantage. Decent puzzler. A series I'll probably come back to every now and then when I need something quick and lighter. Didn't leave me feeling like I had to get my hands on book 2 ASAP.

Comparable to Katherine Hall Page's "Body..." series.

Also similar (and preferred), the "Ruby the Rabbi's Wife" books by
Donna Fox
I like the small town feeling of this series and the historical information about quilts. The characters are well-drawn - interesting and fun.
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Earlene Fowler was raised in La Puente, California, by a Southern mother and a Western father. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Allen, a purple pickup truck, and many pairs of cowboy boots. She is currently working on the next Benni Harper mystery.

* Benni Harper Mysteries
* Love Mercy Johnson Mystery
More about Earlene Fowler...

Other Books in the Series

Benni Harper (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Irish Chain (Benni Harper, #2)
  • Kansas Troubles (Benni Harper, #3)
  • Goose in the Pond (Benni Harper, #4)
  • Dove in the Window (Benni Harper, #5)
  • Mariner's Compass (Benni Harper, #6)
  • Seven Sisters (Benni Harper, #7)
  • Arkansas Traveler (Benni Harper, #8)
  • Steps to the Altar (Benni Harper, #9)
  • Sunshine and Shadow (Benni Harper, #10)
  • Broken Dishes (Benni Harper, #11)
Kansas Troubles (Benni Harper, #3) Irish Chain (Benni Harper, #2) Sunshine and Shadow (Benni Harper, #10) Goose in the Pond (Benni Harper, #4) Mariner's Compass (Benni Harper, #6)

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