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Strangled Prose (Claire Malloy, #1)
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Strangled Prose

(Claire Malloy #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,960 ratings  ·  96 reviews
She would have killed for a bestseller--but someone beat her to it...

Professor of Passion, the smutty new romance from Mildred Twiller--a.k.a. Azalea Twilight--isn't the kind of book Claire Malloy likes to hock at her bookstore, but Claire agrees to host a book party for her friend's trashy tale. As torrid as the novel is, it's nothing compared to the evening. After the
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published December 28th 1985)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  1,960 ratings  ·  96 reviews

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May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading Claire Malloy's debut outing as an amateur sleuth. She runs a bookshops in a university town. Who doesn't like a bookshop or a university town? Sadly, they're not as many bookshops now where I live. Claire is a fiery, good-hearted soul. The dialogue was snappy and humorous. The murder mystery had an interesting premise. A great rainy Sunday read.
In some of my spare time over the last few days I've been cleaning and going through my bookshelves, and I was honestly shocked to see how many books I had that I forgot about. This was one of them. I had started reading this soon after I first got it almost a year ago but I soon lost interest. However, I have like five books in this series on my shelves and I need the space so I read it to see if I hated it all the way through. Luckily, I didnt. In fact, I really enjoyed this book!

The main
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have read all these books and I love them dearly but I have not added them as it takes too much time sadly the author died last year :(
Kimberly [Come Hither Books]
The mystery itself was okay, with a decent number of plausible motives and opportunities to keep things interesting. I read this book primarily because the narrator was a bookseller and I expected to relate, but the narrator's resentful hostility towards customers, authors, and readers of genres other than her own made me thoroughly dislike the main character. This was a cozy mystery capitalizing on the infighting and personal dramas of an academic setting, whose narrator constantly complained ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it liked it
The only reason this book is getting 3 stars is because the mystery was good. So why only 3? It's because the central character, Claire Malloy, is so thoroughly unlikeable. She is belligerent, caustic and too sarcastic for words. I also don't think much of her as a mother, friend or companion. I thought I had discovered a wonderful new cozy mystery series but I won't be reading any more books in this series. I suggest you don't waste your time or money either.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: never-read-again
If you don't mind a verbose author (in my opinion she could\should have cut at least 50 pages of snark, innuendo, and sarcasm) then this seems to be the author for you.

If you like the Arly Hanks series don't expect this one to be similar. It is so far into a different realm as to be nearly unrecognizable as the same author. Perhaps that was Ms. Hess's intention. Perhaps she thought that she should write something 'highbrow' to offset the fun that is Arly Hanks.

The plot had holes big enough that
Kaitlyn Dunnett
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery
This is a reread of an older book by an author I enjoy. It holds up well, although the references to pay phones and the like do date it. Claire's personality will probably grate on some readers, but personally I enjoy a sleuth who speaks her mind. I don't know that I'll reread the entire series, but I have fond memories of the last couple of books and will probably read them again, especially the last. Sadly, Joan Hess is no longer with us, but she's left a distinctive legacy with the Claire ...more
Aug 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Picking up the first book in a nineteen book series is not something I do lightly, but this particular book in this particular series had a protagonist I was curious to meet.

Claire Malloy was the proprietor of a bookstore in a small American college town, a widow with a teenage daughter, and a woman who readers seemed to either love or hate. I think I’m coming down on the side of love. I found her to be brash and outspoken, I appreciated that she was strong and capable, and I loved her dark wit.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it. Claire Molloy runs a book shop in a college town and agrees reluctantly to allow a local celebrity romance author, Azalea Twilight to host a book signing party at the store even though she doesn't usually sell romances. A feminist from the college gate crashes the party and starts reading passages aloud from the book which appear to libel well known people in the community. Claire herself is affected because the book reveals ...more
Sep 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I usually grade 1st-in-series books on a curve, which is why I gave this book 3 stars. I plan on maybe reading the next book in the series.

What killed me about this book was how damn combative Claire was towards the head officer. I mean down right rude. I know there is some suspension of belief when reading cozy mysteries, but man! I kept thinking "if I ever smart-off to a cop like that, I would be in the back of the squad car."

Although the head officer was dimwitted, anyway. He let a prime
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this for readers advisory-trying to broaden my usefulness to patrons in search of recommendations-and I liked it, much to my surprise. It's quick and light and funny and of course the main character's name is Claire... Some bias I suppose-plus she loves scotch and she owns a bookstore, what more can I ask for? I'll be reading more of this series for sure, and it will be for my own pleasure not just for work :)
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Operating a small bookstore in a renovated train depot, Claire Malloy, a 38-year-old widow of a college English professor, supports herself and her teenage daughter. The Book Depot is a small literary cache, adjacent to Faber college, where Claire’s husband worked until his fatal car crash punctuated his life.
When a Harlequin writer, who also happens to be a friend, requests a book release & signing party at Claire’s shop, the train of tragedy is set in motion and steam rolls through the
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been reading a lot of recently published "cozy mysteries" and finding them wanting. It all seems so unbelievable. An amateur sleuth goes around asking people questions and they talk to her - why?, they don't even know her. And nothing about their lives seems realistic. Claire Malloy is something else again. I was shocked when I started reading this book. Claire not only had thoughts about people trying to impose on her or making suggestive comments, but she actually says them out loud!! She ...more
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
When Claire Malloy reluctantly agrees to host a reception her friend's new book, she is mainly dismayed because she doesn't generally sell steamy romances at her bookstore, the Book Depot. But when the reception is interrupted by a local women's group, and selections are read aloud that bear an unsettling resemblance to some in attendance, and even to a part of Claire's past, she is both surprised and annoyed.

When she later receives a call from the friend's house, saying she has been murdered,
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Frankly, I was a bit underwhelmed by this book. Perhaps my expectations were too high because of Hess's work on the Painted Queen, but the structure of this book was entirely predictable. The characters were common prototypes, and the set up was trite. I'm used to reading mystery novels that are of a type, but this one fell short in implementation.

I suspect that Joan Hess gets better as she goes; certainly she has managed to publish a lot of books and win awards, so I assume she does. I'm not
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Strangled Prose started off with a bang, drawing me into the story and the life of Claire Malloy. I've always enjoyed mysteries that center around academia and this seemed so promising, but the book quickly spiraled downwards. Although the plot of a murdered romance writer was interesting, I really struggled to connect with a lot of the characters who had started out strong. Claire's interest in the murder seemed lackluster as did her interactions with other characters. Too bad this wasn't a ...more
Julie C-F
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it
It was a bit tame for me, in terms of the meddling and participation of the townspeople. I was looking for a confidante who will listen, suggest and probably drive the unlikely sleuth to where the action is. She loves to drink, it would have been cuter if she just likes cupcakes or chocolate chip cookies.
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Here was an old book copywrited in 1986. It is the first in a Claire Malloy series. It was interesting but at times a little confusing. I think I will read more of this series though to see if the author gets better in time.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing

First read as the mother of a 14-year old daughter (who could have been the model for Malloy's character Caron) and then reread with that daughter (whose 14-year old daughter is yet another Caron Doppelganger). Great fun!
REALLY wanted to like this book. I only finished it (5 days to read less than 200 pages!) because I needed it for a challenge. I enjoyed the author's Maggody series. No more of this series for me, unfortunately; too many 4 and 5 star books on my shelves waiting to be read.
Ho hum. Another series I don't think I'll read any more of. It has its moments, but the main character irritated me most of the time, and especially in her behaviour towards the detective.
Christina Startt
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Sassy and fun! I'll definitely be picking up the next one!
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
After reading all of the Arly Hanks mysteries, I was happy to start Claire Malloy's forays. A lot of fun and easy, much like Arly's.
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I gave this little mystery two stars: one for the humor, and one for the fast pace.
Gale Wilkinson
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Slow start but then picked up it quickly. Great characters and plot. Plan to read other books in the series.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, small-town
Figured out the murderer way too soon, but still liked how it was revealed. Nice to read about a world-weary woman, even though she runs a bookstore, and isn't a detective.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great characters and a quick read.
Jul 22, 2019 marked it as abandoned
I read the first few chapters and wasn't pulled in enough to continue. I was kind of getting a judgmental vibe which wasn't really appealing.
Jayme(the ghost reader)
This is the first book in a series. Claire Malloy is an owner of the Book Depot. As a favor to her friend, she agrees to host Mildred's book signing. After the book signing, the author is found dead. It is up to Claire to help her former friend solve her murder. I like the main character's humor. It is sarcastic. I also like the banter between Claire and Detective Rosen. He is the investigator assigned to the case. I wouldn't be surprised if they end up together even though Claire seems to hate ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Joan Hess is the author of two long-running series. This is the first in her Claire Malloy series (1986). It's also her first book, and you can tell. Then again, I haven't read any of her other novels, so they may all be like this one. I picked up Strangled Prose because I'm in need of light reading and because the protagonist, Claire Malloy, is a bookseller. Unfortunately, Claire is generally caustic (not in a good way) and negative, and owning and running a bookstore doesn't seem to make her ...more
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Joan Hess was the author of both the Claire Malloy and the Maggody mystery series. Hess was a winner of the American Mystery Award, a member of Sisters in Crime, and a former president of the American Crime Writers League. She lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Joan Hess also wrote a mystery series under the pseudonym of Joan Hadley.

Series contributed to:
. Crosswinds
. The Year's 25 Finest Crime and

Other books in the series

Claire Malloy (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Murder at the Murder at the Mimosa Inn (Claire Malloy, #2)
  • Dear Miss Demeanor (Claire Malloy, #3)
  • A Really Cute Corpse (Claire Malloy, #4)
  • A Diet to Die For (Claire Malloy, #5)
  • Roll Over and Play Dead (Claire Malloy, #6)
  • Death by the Light of the Moon (Claire Malloy, #7)
  • Poisoned Pins (Claire Malloy, #8)
  • Tickled to Death (Claire Malloy, #9)
  • Busy Bodies (Claire Malloy, #10)
  • Closely Akin to Murder (Claire Malloy, #11)