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State Fair (Benni Harper, #14)
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State Fair (Benni Harper #14)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,422 Ratings  ·  151 Reviews
"Each Benni Harper mystery is better than the previous" ("Midwest Book Review")

Folk art museum curator, rancher, and sometime sleuth Benni Harper returns with a long-awaited new mystery that has her attending the San Celina Mid-State Fair-a place for caramel apples and 4-H calves, colorful quilts and homemade jams, and maybe just a little murder...
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Berkley Hardcover (first published May 2010)
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Rating details
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Due to computer woes, I'm extremely behind on my reviews. So I'll make this brief, as I'm not overly fond of tapping on a miniscule phone screen. My mid-century eyeballs tend to revolt at the abuse. Not to mention, the ever so 'helpful' autocorrect is annoying, at best. It gets rather obstinate when I insist an atypical spelling is indeed correct. A real techno vs old school tug-of-war.

Ah, but life is an adventure. I shall plow onwards - bloopers, typos, eyeball strain and all.

September: state
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
As one of my favorite mystery series, I've almost always rated the books in this series with at least 4 stars. This time, however, the story spent more time on the agenda of racism and the possibility of murder as a hate crime than the mystery or its investigation. Every few pages, the main character was either thinking about or discussing with someone her concern about racism. Rather than giving just enough to make me think about the issue (as has been done with other topics in previous books), ...more
It's been a while since I read a Benni Harper/Ortiz mystery but the characters are all there: Benni, Chief of Police Ortiz and his grown son Sam, Benni's Gramma Dove, Blind Harry's Book Store and all the rest. It is time for the County Fair (not State as stated in the title) and the whole agricultural community is involved as well as the craft community and the quilters who exhibit in the museum of which Benni is the manager. The new fair manager is a member of the Black community and there are ...more
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a little lighter novel that made the reader want to go to a state or county fair to see the sights and eat the food. There were a lot of descriptions of fair life as Benni volunteers there and finds a dead body. Aunt Garnet is out for a visit and seems to be channeling Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher both as she assists Benni in looking for the killer. It seems to be racially motivated and I was a little annoyed with her naivete, especially since "Arkansas Traveler" involved hate crime ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: listened-to
I do love this series even if it takes me a while to get back to it. It takes place along the Central Coast of California so I get to visit my old stompin' grounds. There's the quilting aspect in the periphery and that always makes me want to find a class somewhere to learn how to do it myself. And then there's always a great mystery to solve along with Benni.
This one has racial aspects along with white supremacists causing havoc, something the little town of San Salinas hasn't really had to de
May 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite cozy series. I really like the characters and even if I figure out the mystery early in the book I like the story and hearing what the people are up to. The one negative about this book is the high number of spelling errors, words left out or duplicate words in a sentence, etc. I find that kind of thing distracting, I guess that books on tape would be good because you wouldn't see the errors. Hopefully the publishers will get some of these things corrected before the b ...more
May 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Another of my favorite authors! I so much enjoyed this one about Benni and her adventures with her family in a California small town. Her husband is the police chief and she has her hand in so many pies she ultimately winds up in the middle of a murder mystery. Her mysteries are light, not graphic and always full of family humor. Delightful!
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have read all of the Bennie Harper mysteries by Earlene Fowler. They are easy read sand I always know that Benni is not going to listen to her husbands warnings. She is very noisy. I love herGrandma. dove and all the friendly people in her home town.
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Good chick lit book, beach read, and family safe for the most part. Benni is married to a cop and finds herself mixed up in murders or mysteries. I found the characters of her grandmother and her sister to be amusing as they bicker and Benni gets stuck in the middle. The writing is clear but not necessarily riveting. There are questions of race in this book and many sides are brought in with bi-racial kids and how they see themselves and are seen in society. Quick and fun read, I am reading more ...more
Bonnie Drummond
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
State Fair book #14 of A Benni Harper Mystery is a end of summer must read book. A story that will make you look at the world around you and the people. Find the truth about a murder and try to put the past in the past.
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, series
I set aside the book I'd been reading, The Big House, when I found this latest Benni Harper mystery by Earlene Fowler the day Travis and I went to the library. State Fair was so new, it was a 14 day book. I read it in three.

I believe I've read all thirteen previous quilt titled novels in this series. I's been a while since I've read one though; there was a gap where Fowler wrote a stand alone novel, Love Mercy, which I've not been able to get my hands on yet.

I like Benni Harper. She's a five foo
State Fair is the 14th book of the Benni Harper mystery series by Earlene Fowler. The series is set in the 1980s in fictitious San Celina on California's Central Coast; for this story, the setting is the annual Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles CA.

Benni has attended and actively participated in the state fair all her life. She has many happy memories from past fairs, including riding horses with her father in parade, and eating her favorite junk foods.

This year her many duties at the fair include
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: whodunnit
I've been reading Earlene Fowler's cozy mysteries for a number of years. Each is named after a quilting pattern that relates to the subject matter. In this case it's the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, just outside the fictional town of San Celina (which is fairly obviously San Luis Obispo).

Benni's aunt Garnet is visiting from Arkansas, and just happens to be right there when a murdered youth is found in one of the family farm competition exhibits. This youth, Cal, had a troubled background ... w
Sep 14, 2016 rated it liked it
This is the 13th or 14th in the Benni Harper series, but you don’t have to know anything about the previous books to enjoy this one. The title is a bit misleading.. The book is about a Mid-State Fair in a fictional county near the real place of Paso Robles, California. Things start going wrong when a famous quilt is stolen – and later found wrapped around a dead body in one of the family farms exhibits. Not only is Benni drawn into the mystery surrounding the murder, but she finds she has to dea ...more
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the 14th book in the Benni Harper series.

Benni is overseeing the special showing of traditional African American quilts at the state fair. One special quilt is on loan for the exhibit and it goes missing. This quilt is irreplaceable, although they will try to make a similiar quilt from photos, there is no way to replace it. In addition to that racial prejudice ia raising it's ugly head this time around, and Benni is finding out that she is even receiving it some herself. Add to all of Be
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
For Benni, the annual San Celina Mid-State Fair is a much anticipated break in her normal routine of overseeing museum exhibits, temperamental artists and stubborn cattle. Even her police chief husband Gabe Ortiz, takes time from his busy schedule to enjoy the fair's activities and exotic fried foods.

This year there is a special showing of traditional African American quilts cosponsored by the folk art museum and the Ebony Sisters Quilt Guild. When the exhibit's main attraction - a replica of a
Sabine Bamber
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abby Miller
Aug 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a good cozy.
I was looking forward to this book just as one looks forward to the arrival of old friends at a dinner party. It had all the great elements and characters of a Fowler mystery, but at times it felt as though the author were trying too hard to capture her characters when all she needed to do was to just let them be. I particularly found the conflict between Dove, (Benni's grandmother) and her aunt Garnet to be a not only well over the top, but a bit grating as well, and I saw it not as humorous, b ...more
Apr 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf, read-2010, mystery
The newest installment of the Benni Harper mysteries just couldn't keep my interest. I ended up mostly skimming the book. I'm afraid Fowler's book, Love Mercy, ruined the Benni Harper series for me. Love Mercy is set in the same town and has some of the same characters, but takes place about 10 years later. (Benni Harper series was set in the 90's, Love Mercy is present day.) By showing the characters from the other series ten years down the road, Fowler removed part of the reason for reading th ...more
Jun 10, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked this book but I was disappointed after waiting over a year for a new Bennie Harper Ortiz mystery that it wasn't more suspenseful. It was a light pleasant mystery focusing Bennie's Aunt Garnet who has come to visit with something on her mind. Bennie entertains her aunt by visiting the State Fair and keeping tabs on her museum's display featuring African American quilting and handmade black dolls. As usual, Bennie stumbles on a dead body and becomes involved. All the regular characters, he ...more
Chi Dubinski
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Benni Harper, folk art museum curator and rancer, looks forward to the local county fair each year. She’s judging Four-H animals, eating deep fried Oreos, and volunteering at the museum’s booth. She’s also entertaining her elderly aunt Garnet, who has shown up for a visit without her husband, but hasn’t said why.
When a body is discovered under an exhibit, wrapped in the replica African-American story quilt from the museum display, many suspect a hate crime. The victim, a young man with a trouble
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2010
This is probably more like 3.5 stars, but since you can't do a half star it's 4. Has been too long since I last visited with Benni and company and while it was nice to catch up with them it just seemed a bit off for some reason. Since Aunt Garnet, Dove's sister, was in for a visit Dove wasn't her usual self which bothered me. And the murder, which appeared racially motivated, brought up issues that just don't seem to fit this series for me. Benni & Gabe are finally at a good place with their ...more
Nathalie S
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading about the Benni Harper's series for years. I'm not into quilts and quilting but it's veryinteresting to read about their history and such. I love books which broadens my horizons anyways. Benni leaves in a small Central California town. She is the town's museum curator which features local quilts and other forms of craft arts. She is married to Chief Ortiz of the local police department. Her extended family is composed of her father, grandmother Dove, cousin Emory and best frie ...more
I like these books. I think it's a shame that more libraries don't carry them. I've wanted my bookclub to start reading these several times, but they're just not available. I wish there had been more interaction between Benni and Gabe in this book as I miss the ones about them, but it looks like the next book may make up for it. :) Also I thought the edition of Aunt Garnet to the crime solving fiasco was hilarious. Especially considering her personality in the other books. The race issues were u ...more
Jo-Ann Murphy
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I bought this book because of the cover and the price was right. I have never read this author but had seen her name so bought it on impulse. I am so glad I did.

I had no idea this was a mystery. The characters are well developed and it reads more like a novel with great historical information. I really found the mystery to be just an element of the story instead of the main topic as in many mystery books.

The social issues are very relevant and open an interesting discussion. The town and people
Aug 07, 2010 rated it liked it
I've been reading Bennie Harper books for years. Some are better than others. This one is in the middle for me. I like that quilts show up in the book more often than in some others, both in terms of actual quilts, and just the mentioning of patterns. I started the series because of the quilt association, so I like it when it's really there. Some side plots are dragged out too long, though, especially the Aunt Garnet/Dove plot. But the resolution of the mystery was one of the better ones for the ...more
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
State Fair (Benni Harper Mysteries #14)State Fair by Earlene Fowler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

this book so far when i start to read it is so good i am <3 it

View all my reviews
Jun 03, 2011 rated it liked it
I always enjoy the books in the Benni Harper series. This one not so much as some of the previous in the series. Benni is up to her ears in trouble, as usual. The state fair is in town and so is Benni's Great Aunt Garnet. Since Aunt Garnet and her sister, Grandma Dove, are at each other's throats (arguing like the sisters that they are), Benni gets recruited to entertain her great aunt. Of course, at the state fair, they find a dead body (Benni has a knack) ... and Garnet and Benni get wrapped u ...more
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is my favorite mystery series and it's been a couple of years since the last book was released, so I was happy just to be spending time with these characters again! I liked a lot of the changes in the characters's lives and how far Benni and Gabe's relationship has progressed.

However, I thought the racial stuff in this book was more heavy handed than usual. And the writing felt a little sloppy. I think some of that was the copy editing (I noticed a few mistakes), but it took me a little out
May 30, 2012 added it
I continue to enjoy the Benni Harper series. I once lived in San Luis Obispo County so it's always fun to see which local details the author includes in each new title. This time she uses the setting of the Mid State Fair in Paso Robles. Earlene Fowler weaves elements of Black History, her visiting aunt from Kansas, deep-fried everything in the food stalls, and memories of Benni's experience of being a 4H participant into this latest rambunctious romp. She nicely captures the annual cattle drive ...more
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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)
  • Sunshine and Shadow (Benni Harper, #10)