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A Smart Chick Mystery #1

The Trouble with Tulip

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Josephine Tulip is definitely a smart chick, a twenty-first century female MacGyver who writes a helpful hints column and solves mysteries in her spare time. Her best friend, Danny, is a talented photographer who longs to succeed in his career...perhaps a cover photo on "National Geographic"?

When Jo's next-door neighbor is accused of murder, Jo realizes the police have the wrong suspect. As she and Danny analyze clues, follow up on leads, and fall in and out of trouble, she recovers from a broken heart and he discovers that he has feelings for her. Will Danny have the courage to reveal them, or will he continue to hide them behind a façade of friendship?

304 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2005

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About the author

Mindy Starns Clark

54 books567 followers
Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, and has received numerous literary honors, including two Christy Awards and RT Book Review Magazine’s 2012 Career Achievement Award. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

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5 stars
413 (31%)
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495 (38%)
3 stars
312 (23%)
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70 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 103 reviews
Profile Image for Stephanie.
109 reviews15 followers
April 30, 2011
I really wanted to like this book. In fact, I read it first, expecting a wonderfully trashy murder mystery with a love story attached. What I got, however, was a book filled with God-isms, an awful love plot line and too many other plots to count. You would think that this book would be good enough with one or two plots, but between the murder, the love, the wedding, her career, his career, his life, the brothers life and everyone else involved, I was left sort of confused and rather letdown. I am fine if a book wants to bring God into the story, but it felt rather forced, jammed awkwardly when the author did not know what else to write about. The ending was rather old, since it happens in so many books. There was supposed to be a twist at the end, but that too just felt off. This story had a great chance of being really good, but it veered off with a sense of 'too many cooks in the kitchen'.
Profile Image for Kelly.
274 reviews6 followers
June 11, 2012
I love, love, love this book! I had previously read the Million Dollar Mysteries Series by this author and I loved them. I love mysteries and it can be hard to find clean ones, but this is a Christian mystery so it didn't have anything that would be objectionable. Well-written and engaging and I love Jo.
Profile Image for Loraine.
2,957 reviews
November 6, 2014
Josephine Tulip is definitely a smart chick, a twenty-first century female MacGyver who writes a helpful hints column and solves mysteries in her spare time. Her best friend, Danny, is a talented photographer who longs to succeed in his career...perhaps a cover photo on National Geographic?

When Jo's next-door neighbor is accused of murder, Jo realizes the police have the wrong suspect. As she and Danny analyze clues, follow up on leads, and fall in and out of trouble, she recovers from a broken heart and he discovers that he has feelings for her. Will Danny have the courage to reveal them, or will he continue to hide them behind a façade of friendship?

I really liked the characters in this book: Bradford fit his very formal name and was definitely a jerk. Jo was a unique individual who was still lost in the times of her grandparents who had had such a powerful influence on her during her growing up years, but she was trying hard to catch up with the modern times. Danny was a sweetheart who finally understood his feelings for Jo were more than just a lifelong friendship. The plot had enough twists and turns to keep you wondering who was behind the murder. I look forward to hopefully another book involving Jo and Danny.
Profile Image for Danae Mckain.
244 reviews1 follower
November 7, 2021
Good, clean mystery. I enjoyed the characters and the plot was enjoyable. I’ve already started the second one.
Profile Image for Theresa.
144 reviews9 followers
July 27, 2009
Josephine (Jo) Tulip writes a syndicated helpful hints column, Tips from Tulip, that she's "inherited" from her beloved Grandmother, who wrote the column with the help of her chemistry-loving husband. In addition to inheriting the column, she has also inherited their home. Her best friend, Danny Watkins, an aspiring photographer, bought the house behind her and lives there.

Because she can't sleep on the eve of her wedding to Bradford, a rising-star executive at the company where her father is the CEO, she goes for a late evening jog and notices some strange activities at a neighbor's home. The next morning, the sheriff calls her to help answer some questions about the death of the neighbor living in that same home. Never mind that she has a wedding to prepare for -- it won't take long.

After explaining the strange things at the neighbor's home -- all "Tips from Tulip" on inexpensive ways to clean the home and body -- she heads to her wedding. Then demonstrates that the "Tips from Tulip" truly are tips from Tulip when her wedding dress is torn and she mends it on the fly with an iron, eggs and oatmeal. But there is one thing her tips can't fix -- and that's the groom running from the altar when asked to say "I do."

While dealing with the humiliation of being an abandoned bride, Jo learns that the sheriff has ruled her neighbor's death an accident. Jo doesn't believe that -- especially after what she'd witnessed the night before. She enlists the help of her friend, Danny, to help her prove that the woman's death was really a murder.

I enjoyed reading this book. It's definitely light reading material. I found myself rooting for Danny to Jo his true feelings and saddened that Jo's parents show so little concern for the feelings of their daughter who was dumped at the altar. In fact, they seem more concerned about the "poor" groom that they'd wanted their daughter to marry.

I didn't know this when I purchased the book (it's the first in a trilogy) but the author is a Christian writer. It's something that you would probably pick up while reading it as the characters will often say prayers, mostly to themselves. Christianity is not the main focus of the stories but it does play a role in the book.
Profile Image for Denise.
43 reviews2 followers
June 24, 2012
The Trouble with Tulip is the first book I have read by Mindy Starns Clark. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Clark expertly interwove several sub-plots with the main plot setting the stage for future books in this series. The development of the main characters was not deep; however, I trust she will continue to develop them in future books.

Clark also included a Christian aspect to the book with her characters making the mystery good, clean fun. I recommend reading this book for pure enjoyment and an semi-easy read. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.
Profile Image for Kat.
153 reviews10 followers
August 23, 2018
charming with an interesting enough plot to want you to know what happens next!
658 reviews
December 16, 2018
This book filled the same role for me as a Girls' Movie Night. It was very definitely chick lit.

The description of the plot is pretty awful. I mean, for most of the book Jo is the only one who believes that there was actually a murder committed: while everyone else thinks the death of Edna, who lived a couple blocks away from Jo in her small Pennsylvania town, was an accident, Jo can't believe that such a die-hard fan of her Tips from Tulip cleaning column would ever do anything as obviously wrong as mix ammonia and bleach. And there's the fact that Jo heard an argument happening at Edna's house and saw a car driving away a short while later, all while on a midnight, wedding-jitters-inspired job.

At any rate, after Jo is called in to explain the oddities found in this woman's house--on her wedding morning, no less--and her fiance leaves her at the alter, the book takes lots of interesting turns, from her best friend's realization that he might be in love with Jo to a situation with a mystery man who seems to have been around for hundreds of years. The main focus of the book, though, is on Jo's quest to prove that Edna was murdered and figure out why and by whom.

While the book has a few preachy moments, it's generally pretty well-written and definitely an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Myra Hill.
Author 1 book1 follower
January 5, 2022
I don't think I've ever read a story that was so Hallmark-y WITHOUT being a Hallmark book. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, but it did make the story horribly predictable. I mean... I knew EVERYTHING that would happen before it would actually happen.

Predictability aside, I actually really liked the characters. Danny was... kind of bland (and definitely the author's "preacher" character), but Jo was very spunky with a bit of an old-fashioned charm to her. I really liked her little character trait of being a neat freak (reminds me a bit of myself...) and how that helped her see things other's didn't.

Overall, the characters were lovely, but the actual plot coupled with some technical issues made this slightly less enjoyable.
Profile Image for Susan Marie Graham.
Author 2 books5 followers
April 19, 2022
This is such a fun story! I read it once a few years back, and just re-read it as part of a 2022 reading challenge that had to have a flower on the cover. I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first time, and now I want to read the other 2 books in the trilogy again. I love Jo and Danny and the funny interruptions to her sleuthing in the form of her day job, providing cleaning solutions for her readers. It's nice to pick up a mystery that's as clean as it is entertaining.
Profile Image for Erica Warren.
211 reviews5 followers
May 19, 2017
This was a really cute little book. Clark tells a believable story without being too cheesy (though there were some moments) and presents a wonderful mystery that kept me guessing. Every time I thought I knew what had happened or who had done it, she proved me wrong, and it just kept getting more and more intriguing. I was disappointed with the ending, though.
Profile Image for Wendy H..
Author 30 books58 followers
January 2, 2020
I loved this book. Tulip is a superb character - feisty, funny, tenacious and invincible. I also loved her sidekick, Danny. Together, they form a detective lair I cared about and wanted to succeed. The mystery is strong and the Christian viewpoint enhances, rather than overwhelms, the narrative. An excellent example of Christian fiction which I can highly recommend.
7,344 reviews24 followers
November 23, 2017
Jo has taken over the column which her grandmother had started, the answers to household problems. Danny, taking the photos, suggest she may know the answers..Victim's house had been a tribute to the cleaning ideas of Jo's, but what about the bump to the head.
Profile Image for Melissa Rhoads.
309 reviews1 follower
May 5, 2018
Not bad for Christian fiction. The murder mystery was enjoyable enough, just slightly hokey.
July 2, 2020
Love this book! This is actually the second time I’ve read it and it was as great as I remembered! Mindy Starns Clark does a great job with her books! Definitely one of my favorite authors!
Profile Image for Kimia Wood.
Author 12 books3 followers
January 23, 2016
Josephine “Jo” Tulip is an independent, take-charge kind of young woman. Her house is organized and spotless, and she’s considered an expert of household tricks, partly because of the newspaper column she writes about everything from removing stains from clothes and carpets to getting more use out of your cleaning supplies.

About some things, however, she’s woefully clueless. The newspaper column she inherited from her grandmother is just that: an item in a newspaper (sometimes called the “dead-tree media”). Living in the modern world, Jo struggles to adjust to the shifting market: a new world of blogs, websites, and TV shows – a world where little old ladies still worry about the proper method to scrub down their window sills, but young mothers will buy pre-sliced apples from the grocery store because they have more money than time (a trend we can relate to as we watch it unfold in our own culture).

Jo’s personal life is also complicated. While she prepares to marry a young man she’s only known a few months – but who seems to be her soul mate – she doesn’t notice that her best childhood friend is in love with her.

Danny Watkins is, in some ways, very different from Jo. He’s an artistic type – a photographer – who nevertheless has a very practical and perceptive view of people. After trying to warn Jo against walking down the aisle with her six-month-aquaintance fiancé, he discovers an ulterior motive in himself when he realizes he loves her. He knows it. His family full of sisters knows it. It seems the one person who doesn’t know it is on-top-of-it, got-a-solution-for-everything Jo.

When Jo’s neighbor is found dead, she’s convinced the old lady was murdered – and she’s determined to find out why and by whom. Though Danny isn’t as sold on her theory, there’s no way he’s going to refuse to help her. So begins a tangled, unconventional mystery where things are not what they seem. The villains are not cut-and-dried, and the root of the crime possesses a refreshing twist. Jo puts her household tricks knowledge to use in ways that would make MacGyver proud, and Danny stands by her, waiting patiently (with me, not so patiently) for Jo to realize what she has in him.

There’s one more character we get to know closely in this book, but to avoid spoilers I’ll just say this: when I think of his storyline, I feel sad.

The Trouble With Tulip gives us a solid mystery that kept me guessing until the end, characters that resonate, and a strong friendship just starting to turn into romance. Jo’s willfulness can make her hard to work with, but there’s no doubting her passion to find answers, no matter where they lead. Danny’s compassion and common sense shine, and his devotion to Jo is something any girl could envy.

Although the novel stands by itself, there are two sequels in the “Smart Chick” series. If you’re interested in seeing how Jo and Danny’s relationship plays out further, see the other two books: Blind Dates Can Be Murder and Elementary, My Dear Watkins.
Profile Image for Shirayuki Zen.
28 reviews
February 23, 2017
Best murder mystery series I have ever encountered in all my years on this planet. I love it's reminder to let go and give God the steering wheel.
1 review1 follower
March 1, 2013
I thought this book sounded like a light, fun read - it was light all right, but nowhere near fun. I could not even finish the book. I found both the plot and characters to be exceedingly annoying. All of the plot threads (and there were too many) were cliched, making the outcomes tiredly predictable. Even the letters to Tulip were disappointing. If done well, they would have made the book more tolerable. Instead, they were scattered haphazardly throughout and were so bad that they were laughable. For example, the letter from the woman whose bank account wasn't balancing by $50 every month. She throws in that her nephew has been helping her and she just can't understand what's going on. Please!!! He's scamming you, lady! I didn't need Tulip to spell that out for me.

Also, I agree with a previous commenter about the forced placement of God and Christianity into the book. While I am not opposed at all to the mention of God, I was turned off by the way it unnaturally materialized in the characters' thoughts and dialogue. Danny irritated me endlessly; he was too self-righteous and goody-goody. He felt like a caricature instead of a character. These were just a few examples of things that were poorly handled by the author.

Overall, a disappointing book for which I did not have especially high expectations in the first place.
687 reviews8 followers
January 24, 2009
(Genre:Mystery/Christian fiction) This was an okay read that I would probably give 2 1/2 stars (If that were possible). It is about a young woman named Jo Tulip who is following along in her grandmother's footsteps with a household hints/advice column. Jo has an answer for any household problem or dilemma, but her personal life is a bit of a mess. Her fiance backs out of their wedding, leaving her at the alter. To make things more complicated, a neighbor dies in a suspicious way and it is up to Jo and her best friend Danny to investigate and convince the police that it was murder. The author keeps the mystery moving along with many possible suspects, but I had a hard time connecting with the main character, so it lessened my interest in the process as well as in the ending or it all. Maybe I was comparing this book (first in a series of three) to Clark's other series, The Million Dollar Mysteries which I enjoyed more. I will read the next two books in this series, but I feel no hurry to find out what awaits Jo Tulip.
Profile Image for Pamela.
191 reviews35 followers
August 11, 2010
It is a book that in the beginning makes you think it will talk about house shore things, but latter in introduce you to a police plot, which involves the main character a day before of her big wedding. It is interesting, as I keep reading I will say my point of view, for the moment, it is a nice story.

Now I am in page 240, the story about the dead of the character gets more interesting each time, Jo Tulip interests more on find it out why Edna Prats is dead, since she thinks is a murder. Jo starts to investigate the murder after Edna’s daughter allows here to clean the house and sell everything is on it.
That process helps Jo to feel better after what her fiancé did to her, letting her on the altar and going away without any explanation, besides the help from her best friend Danny who is deep in love with her, allowing him to be around so he can make his move and confess her his eternal love.

It is a nice book, I guess it will like to women, since is a story tell by a smart chick. As Jo calls herself and Danny too.
Profile Image for Nora St Laurent.
1,390 reviews75 followers
July 14, 2015

I really liked this book. It is about this girl named Tulip that writes this column for the newspaper about cleaver ways to do things and save money etc. She finds herself in the middle of this murder investigation. IT is scary and fascinating all at the same time. Tulip learns about live and love. It was a fun book to read.

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com
Profile Image for Ruth.
318 reviews
October 24, 2014
After reading Mindy's other detective series earlier this year, I was happy to see that she also writes chick lit, which is becoming my new favorite genre. So, I picked up this book, which is the first in her new "Smart Chick Mysteries." It was hilarious, and I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series (which came out two days ago, and I am on the hold list for the library already. :)

Jo Tulip writes a household hints column for a newspaper, and solves mysteries. In this book, she solves the murder of a local woman which has been set up to look like an accident with the help of her best friend Danny.
729 reviews1 follower
May 4, 2011
This is a cozy mystery series with a definite Christian slant. Jo Tulip has inherited her grandmother's job of writing household hints for the newspaper along with a call-in radio show and lives in the place she was happiest - her grandparents' house. After being jilted at the altar, Jo discovers a dead body and works with best friend Danny, a photographer who also performs in a family band for local churches to solve the murder even though the police are convinced it was an accidental death. Similar to Clark's other series in tone, this book is a good read and had several interesting plot twists involving secrets.
Profile Image for Laura.
296 reviews2 followers
August 13, 2011
Fooled me! It's a Christian romance-comedy murder mystery...and here I thought it was chick lit. Fairly good plot and pretty well written. Wasn't as obnoxious as most christian fiction as the characters weren't busy testifying every chapter, & people of faith in my world do seem to pray about every little thing so that seemed real but when I read Christian fiction the "I'm saved" passages do get tiresome.
Profile Image for Novel Nymph.
398 reviews68 followers
January 6, 2015
I don't like writing bad reviews, because I don't like being cruel . . .but this book was annoying.
The main character is so freakin' anal I just couldn't take it. And when she says things about her guy friend being messy I was like "Seriously? He's a GUY." The only guy that would be as clean as this woman would be Mr. Clean--and even he might not live up to her standers. Tulip was just too OCD to make this novel enjoyable. (BTW, I'm not exactly a messy person, myself.)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 103 reviews

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