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Sunshine and Shadow (Benni Harper, #10)
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Sunshine and Shadow (Benni Harper #10)

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  1,723 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
One of Benni's favorite mystery writers, Emma Baldwin, is coming to San Celina. Her purpose: to reconnect with the town she left years before. Benni is thrilled when Emma agrees to display at the folk art museum a crazy quilt that inspired Emma's first book. It's an exciting time for Benni - and it also stirs up some bittersweet memories of her first husband.

Her current hu

Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 6th 2004 by Berkley (first published 2003)
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Cyndy Gabe told Benni he came to San Celina while working undercover in narcotics with the LAPD. He told her he blew the sting and was almost killed. In…moreGabe told Benni he came to San Celina while working undercover in narcotics with the LAPD. He told her he blew the sting and was almost killed. In Jack's journal he wrote about finding a young Mexican man beaten on his father-inlaw ranch and took him to the hospital and it was Gabe. (less)

Community Reviews

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Feb 14, 2009 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-mystery
This is my favorite Benni Harper Mystery so far. At first I was frustrated by all the flashbacks and the diary entries. I was pretty sure who the murderer was from at least the middle of the book, and I was right. But the last chapter, with the last entry Benni read from Jack's journal blew me away and brought tears to my eyes.
Nov 04, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it
This was by far the best of the Benni Harper series. In this book, Ms. Fowler went back to 1978 when Benni and Jack were first married. We have not met Jack in the previous books. The chapter flip back and forth between 1978 and 1995. Each chapter is titled and I did not find it distracting at all.

Because the story line links to when Benni was a young newly wed, the story is told from two different time frames. From 1978 when Benni and Jack were newly weds on the Ramsey Ranch. Jack's relationsh
Apr 08, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This installment has alternating chapters that tell the story in the "present" and in the beginning of Benni's and Jack's marriage to show two time lines leading to a conclusion in the present. It was interesting to actually meet Jack, her deceased husband, rather than always seeing him through Benni's memories. In this story, her college paper on a local author comes around to her current life as the author returns to San Celina and Benni displays her quilt in the folk museum. Renewing their ...more
Jan 26, 2010 Debby rated it really liked it
#10 in the series. Amateur sleuth Benni Harper is drawn into a 1995 murder of a friend of her 2nd husband, police chief Gabe Ortiz, in San Celina, CA. The tale interweaves stories from 1995 and 1978 when Benni was a young married ranch wife and still in college. Benni has to figure out how the stories connect to solve the murder. Interesting characters with a not-too-obvious mystery. I picked this up out of series order and it made me want to go back and read the rest of the series. The narrator ...more
Aug 15, 2010 Judy rated it really liked it
287 pages . . . First Edition, May 2003. Without question this is my favorite Benni Harper mystery. Jack was brought to life (and snuffed out). He was given personality and dimension and I loved that. This was another of Earlene's mysteries with a twist. Sort of O'Henry-ish I guess. Highly recommended reading . . . but I'm an advocate of reading her books in sequence. This was my favorite book in the series, I can't emphasize that enough. The young love story line was compelling but Jack's last ...more
Susan Keraus
Sep 07, 2012 Susan Keraus rated it really liked it
Finished my 10th Benni Harper mystery - Sunshine & Shadows. I thoroughly enjoy the characters in this series, plus the fact there's a bit of quilt history along with the "who done it." Easy to read - a good mix of seriousness & humor. I plan to keep up with Earlene Fowler, as long as she keeps writing!

Apr 07, 2009 Brenda rated it really liked it
I found this audio at the library and decided to give it a listen since in the past I have enjoyed books written by this author. The narriator, Johanna Parker, made this tory really easy to listen to. The characters are true to life and well rounded, they almost feel like real people. I enjoyed the sprinkling of quilt history throughout the story.
May 01, 2010 Grey853 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, cozy
I would've enjoyed this Benni Harper book more if there wasn't the back and forth in time as she changed chapters. She tried to show a connection from the past and present by writing about her time with Jack, her first husband, and her present life with Gabe.

Shifting back and forth is an annoying technique. I did finish the book, but I thought the ending a bit contrived and expected.

Jun 19, 2016 Clare rated it really liked it
This was a surprisingly good read! It turns out it is part of a series so now I can read others! Although a rather standard mystery, the writing is good and the setting interesting. The characters weren't as fleshed out as I would like but if I read others I will no doubt find out more about them.
Jun 22, 2010 Judy rated it really liked it
This book is the 10th in the Benni Harper mystery series. The book takes place in two different time periods, the present and 1978 when Benni and her first husband, Jack, were newly married. The murder of an LAPD buddy of Gabe's becomes the pivoting event that links the two time periods.
Emily Cullen
Nov 30, 2016 Emily Cullen rated it it was amazing
Benni Harper is thrilled when her favorite childhood author is moving back to town. Her husband Gabe is also having a visitor in town, a former cop turned private eye. What's the connection between Luke getting stabbed to death and Benni being stalked? This has been my favorite "Benni Harper" mystery yet. Besides what happens in the present, widowed Benni is reminded of her life with her former husband Jack and we get to see what the two of them were like when they first married. It was a really ...more
Oct 02, 2011 Kieraanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: murder-mystery
I really like this installment in the series. I like getting a look into the past and getting to "meet" Benni's first husband Jack. I love the connections you find out about at the end and really that's what I remembered about the plot of this book more than anything else. I don't want to spoil it so I won't say. I don't know if it had anything to do with the plot, but all through this book I was thinking how different their lives would be if they had kids. There's no way Benni would be able to ...more
Kevin Kern
Feb 08, 2016 Kevin Kern rated it really liked it
Being a quilter, who grew up in So. California and spent many vacations on the Central Coast, I love the Benni Harper series. This one was very special, because for once, Benni doesn't throw herself into the mess. She is targeted, as a friend, of a local author. The history is rich and I have to see if that festival is part of San Luis, today. I did find, what I believe, to be a discrepancy on the date of the adobe, near the mission. Benni said it was built in 1858, as a look out for the ...more
Oct 20, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it
I have now read all 13 in the series and liked them all but SEVEN not read that one!
I like her witty dialogue, and well developed characters. I enjoyed the setting in a central California small town where she is the curator of a folk art museum, but there is also a generous sprinkling of ranch life, as it is cattle country. There is always a festival or holiday of some kind going on in the background, and they make you wish you were there to celebrate with them. Mysteries are surpri
Lori Limberger
Nov 07, 2013 Lori Limberger rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara Bartlett
Aug 12, 2012 Sara Bartlett rated it it was ok
I read Fool's Puzzle and was hooked, so got a second Bennie Harper mystery. What a disappointment. No tension, no reason to read on because I knew who did it immediately, even when the white car attempted to run over the returning town author. Just too simple a plot, too much cute banter between family members to fill the pages, too much copy on the city fair...the total number of pages that actually related to the plot must have been under 20% of the book, I had to make myself finish it. I ...more
Aug 04, 2016 Donna rated it really liked it
Benni reconnects with a quilt maker she met nearly 20 years ago. There is a quilt show that is featuring old quilts and their histories. Emma is reluctant to tell all of her story.

In the meantime, Gabe's friend visits San Celina looking into some family business. One night he is brutally murdered. With Benni's help the mystery is solved.

This selection flips back and forth with Benni's first marriage to Jack and later as Gabe's wife. Spoiler: But the last chapter will have you in tears. No peekin
Jan 28, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
When the blurbs indicate that a book is both a western and a mystery, I get prepared for a rather mediocre story and characters, but I was happily surprised with the books in this series that I've read. The characters were interesting and well drawn out, and the plots were intriguing as well as amusing. Also, just because the stories take place in the west with ranches and deserts nearby, that doesn't mean it is a western, which generally contains a whole bunch of stereotypical cowboy, black ...more
Mar 04, 2014 George rated it really liked it
#10 in the Benni Harper California rancher mystery series set in ranch country in the Coastal Mountains in the Santa Barbara area. The story is set in 1995 and has frequent flashback chapters to 1978 with the events in both being connected. The mystery involves a former police partner of Benni's police chief husband Gabe who gets together with Gabe while investigating something. He is found dead the next day and Gabe becomes personally involved in finding his killer. At the same time, Benni has ...more
Aug 16, 2014 Roberta rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I read the earlier books in this series a long time ago. When I recognized the author's name I picked this book up at the library sale and now I remember why I enjoyed the series so much. It's the characters. How many women are lucky enough to have two good husbands?

However, I can totally understand other readers giving it a lower rating. The author uses flash-backs to fill readers in on past doings that led to present murder. The flash-backs chop up the story a little. Also, I liked the conclu
❂ Jennifer
Dec 06, 2011 ❂ Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Ok, aside from two huge continuity errors within the story (one where she skips Easter Sunday and another where Sweetheart hill alternates between being part of her fathers ranch and part of her husbands ranch) that drove me a bit bonkers, this story was great. Flashbacks are not my favourite device, but these were worth it in the end. I knew who the bad guy was from the very start, but it didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of the story.
This is another well-done entry in the Benni Harper series. Benni's grandmother Dove is not doing well in her new marriage and Benni is finally perusing her dead first husband's things which tie in to what is happening in Benni's life now. The author does an excellent job of connecting the past with the present and how the sunshine parts of our life are intricately connected with the shadows.
Jeff Dickison
Aug 27, 2016 Jeff Dickison rated it really liked it
As usual, Benni Harper does not disappoint. A crime in 1978 is linked to a crime in 1995 by an author of one of Benni's favorite childhood books. Warning to guys: these books are character driven and talk a lot about feelings, so if you are addicted to action.... I, however, think there is enough action to keep them interesting. Recommended.
Nov 09, 2008 Anne added it
This is the first book that I have read by this author. At first it was hard to get used to as she kept changing from an earlier date to a later date. I finally learned to read the dates under the Chapter numbers. It had a real surprise ending although you were slightly prepared for it. I would read another of her books.
Dec 21, 2015 Rita rated it really liked it
A well written mystery with fun characters. Set in 1978 and 1995 the author did a great job of weaving the storylines.

My main complaint is the heavy use of Spanish amidst English sentences. I know people talk this way but I wish there was a glossary in the back to look up the meaning especially when they were talking about customs and food. Frustrating.
Kitty Tomlinson
Nov 27, 2011 Kitty Tomlinson rated it liked it
Shelves: cozy-mysteries
A modern-day crime sends folk art expert Benni Harper on a nostalgic journey back to 1978 to look at her college days and her first husband, Jack, when she discovers that an event from her own past could hold the key to solving a mystery from the present.
Kt, Kt
May 09, 2014 Kt, Kt rated it really liked it
Shelves: quilting-books
Great local author. Great book. I love the way she draws her characters personalities. Some Re so real you feel like you know them. Love Dove and her new love and of course Benni, Gaberdine, Elvia and Cousin Emory.
Fun books.
Becky Galambos
Nov 27, 2014 Becky Galambos rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite of the Benni Harper series - very thought provoking premise. Just as good the second read through. It really makes you think, whose life you might touch and never know it.

Read September 2010, Reread April 2013, November 2014
karen otto
Jul 12, 2010 karen otto rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I have now chewed through the entire 14-book series and I'm so sad that I'm done. San Celina is a nice place to "live" vicariously for a while, and the continuing development of the characters has been exactly what I'm in the mood for!
Dec 02, 2009 Judith rated it did not like it
A friend recommended this author as light mystery, easy reading. I found it to be uncomfortable reading - hokey plot line, flat characters, poor writing (grammar, punctuation, word usage mistakes throughout). Not my cup of tea. Sorry, friend.
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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)
  • Fool's Puzzle (Benni Harper, #1)
  • 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)
  • Broken Dishes (Benni Harper, #11)

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