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Tumbling Blocks (Benni Harper #13)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,439 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
With Christmas just a few weeks away, Benni's queenly boss, Constance Sinclair, demands that she investigate the death of a local socialite. It's not long before Benni recognizes that there may be some deadly truth to Constance's suspicions. But with a famously reclusive artist about to put Benni's quilting museum on the map-and her daunting mother-in-law and her "surprise ...more
Published May 6th 2008 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published 2007)
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Jul 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Does reading a book count if you listened to the audio book? That's what I did with this.
At first, the story seemed to be more about Benni Harper Ortiz dog-sitting a puppy and her mother-in-law's upcoming Christmas visit to San Celina, Calif. (and ensuing drama between her husband, police chief Gabe Ortiz and his mother, Kathryn) than about finding whether Pinkie Edmondson, a member of the prestigious 49 Club, was murdered, and, by whom.

But I realized the ancillary characters of Hud, Dove and Al
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one seemed a little lighter after the last couple novels in the series as Benni is puppy-sitting for Hud and preparing for an opening of Outsider Art at the museum while hosting Gabe's mother for Christmas. She's also faux-investigating a murder for her socialite employer, Constance. As with all her novels, the family relationships are the biggest part of the story and that is on display here as Gabe deals with old baggage with his mother. The opening letter from Dove to Benni's deceased mo ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to admit that this is NOT typically the genre of book I read; however, a friend lent it to me because I was under the weather, so I thought I would give it a go. I was stunned at how much I enjoyed it. Great storyline without being gratuitous in any way. In fact, it was kind of a wholesome story which was a great change of pace. I look forward to "investigating" her other pieces in the Benni Harper mystery series.
Laura Fields
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
*Review Coming Soon*
Emily Cullen
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Museum curator Benni Harper is asked to investigate when her boss thinks her dear friend was murdered, even though no one else thinks so. Meanwhile Christmas is coming and so is her mother-in-law! I love the "Benni Harper" cozy mystery series. Benni is a great heroine and the supporting cast is well thought out with great personalities. I also enjoy the romance between Benni and Chief of Police Gabe Ortiz in their not so perfect marriage.
Tumbling Blocks is the 13th book of the Benni Harper mystery series by Earlene Fowler, set in fictitious San Celina along California's Central Coast.

Benni is curator of Josiah Sinclair Folk Art Museum in San Celina. Famous "outsider" artist Abe Adam Finch has donated a painting to the museum, and Benni must write a speech for the museum's celebration.

Her mother-in-law Kathryn is coming to visit for the Christmas holidays, and her longtime friend Hud begs her to puppy-sit while he travels. And if
Katharine Kimbriel
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Earlene Fowler seems like a supremely nice person, and she writes a great cozy, amateur detective mystery. The continuing stories of Benni Harper and her extended network of family, friends and frenemies are the perfect comfort reads. The books have real life intrude, with a dollop of danger, and sometimes people die. But it's never gratuitous, never put there for shock value. Benni is a tough gal born of ranch stock who occasionally runs into the dark side. She understands people, has an eye fo ...more
A Christmas book, although I didn't realise it at the time. Benni's Mother-in-Law is coming from Kansas for the holidays and Benni is terrified at the thought of what she will make of Benni's home. Kathryn Ortiz, however, has a surprise for Gabe and Benni. She has remarried and not told them. Now, Gabe did the same thing to his Mother but "that was different." The tension between the mother and son remain all through the book as does the question of how Pinky Edmonson died if it wasn't just a he ...more
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book rather quickly. It happens just 1 month after Delectable Mountains and it is the Christmas season, California style. And yes there is another murder. Gabe and the NE are sure that Pinky died of natural causes, Benni isn't so sure, and Constance, Benni's overbearing boss is sure that poor Pinky was murdered. Gabe decides to let Benni do a faux investigation to keep Constance off his back.

Benni, one who loves the hunt and the investigation is a stickler for details and that l
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The holidays bring their own kind of stress,but this Christmas Benni has a larger than usual share. An exhibit of outsider art is opening at the Sinclair, Hud has persuaded her to babysit a new puppy, and her intimidating MIL is coming to town for Christmas. Then, Constance decides to hire Benni to investigate the murder of a dear friend whose death has already been ruled "of natural causes." One final trial to totally ruin everything--when she and Gabe arrive to pick up his mother at the train ...more
Most Benni Harper mysteries are inspired by a quilting design. This one is "Tumbling Blocks." Much of this plot revolves around domestic drama concerning Benni's husband, Chief of Police Gabe Ortiz, and unresolved feelings that come to the surface when his mother comes to visit for Christmas.
His mother has unexpectedly married and Gabe can't seem to accept this shift. Playing against previous habits, he actually encourages Benni to become involved in solving a local mystery concerning a women's
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I had about a zillion things I should have been doing and I was just going to read one more chapter .... a few hours later and I had finished the book. Just love the Benni Harper mystery series. It almost feels like the characters are old friends. In this book, Benni and Gabe are still recovering from the events that took place in "Delectable Mountains" just the month before when Gabe announces that his mother is coming to visit. Meanwhile, Hud imposes on Benni to puppysit his not yet hous ...more
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a great treat to be back to the Benni Harper series. I always enjoy Fowler's novels, and I think I enjoy them as much for what they are not as what they are. They are well-plotted; the characters and their relationships definitely grow on you as you read the series. I like the setting, particularly with Benni's job as curator of the Folk Art Museum because the little tidbits are always interesting. In the "are not" category, I enjoy the lack of over-sophisticated posturing as far as morals ...more
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder for admission into an exclusive social club-- but it really appears to be a heart attack. In the midst of a forthcoming art show at the museum where Benni Harper works, one of the town's matriarchs dies and her friend insists Benni investigate. It's almost Christmas and her intimidating mother-in-law is coming to visit. Pressure!! The museum has been given a painting by a reclusive artist whose work has been highly acclaimed as a great piece of "outsider art" and is quite a coup. The arti ...more
Virginia Hill
I've read and enjoyed all of Earlene Fowler's books. This one may be her most personal novel yet. The addition of the Pembroke Corgi, Boudin, to the series had me comparing the parallel lives of the author and the main character, Benni, more than ever. I've been reading about Earlene and her Boudin on her website for years.

I always enjoy her description of San Celina (San Luis Obispo) and surrounding areas, ranch life, and her loyal friends and family. Benni's view of family and friends seemed m
Moving opening: Benni's grandmother writes a letter to Benni's dead mother...

"Ultimately, each of us has to flat out decide on our own what we're going to do with this gift of life"

"I picture heaven being a place where every person we worry about is right there for us to see-all safe and happy and healthy"

On page 79, Benni asks Ray what his kids think of his marriage, when already on page 73 Ray had said that he never had any kids of his own, but that he had "been owned by a whole array of canin
Jan 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In reading this book, I found myself thinking "oh yeah, somebody did get killed, didn't they?"- which is not a really bad thing. Yes, the mystery is there, but on an almost secondary storyline. This story is set at Christmastime, so emotions/stresses are hightened. Fowler shows us the tangled, complex interpersonal family relationships which I found myself more interested in rather than the murder. She's very good at it. In fact, both ended up being satisfying, though as you can probably tell, I ...more
Nov 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only part about Earlene Fowler's novels that I don't thoroughly enjoy is the end -- it always comes too soon! I fell into this, the latest in Fowler's Benni Harper series, head over heels and didn't emerge for days.

Benni's investigating the death of a local society matron at the behest of her boss, Constance. In the meantime she must deal with a new installation at the art museum, puppysitting Hud's new corgi, and dealing with her visiting mother-in-law -- who has a mystery or two of her ow
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murder-mystery
I thought this book was kind of a let down after the last one. But I guess it's nice to have a more light hearted book following one so heavy. Anyway, the storyline on this one kind of dragged and I felt they spent way too much time talking about Outsider art which I had no interest in. Also I found Benni to be a little annoying with how she kept pestering Gabe to talk to his mom and insisting it was her business. Not everyone solves their issues the same way. The murder was a little random, but ...more
Lori Limberger
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Library Maven
Bennie Harper has no intention of seriously investigating the death Constance Sinclair's best friend. She's too tied up in a new exhibition of 'outsider art,' scheduled to open soon at the folk museum where she is the curator. Unfortunately, her husband, the Police Chief, wants Bennie to keep Constance out of his hair and she shouldn't offend Constance, one of the museum's benefactors. Isn't this a useless waste of time? ... of course it isn't, and fans of this series will enjoy the twists and t ...more
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The more I read Fowler books, the more I like them. It is not only the characters and the plot, but also the intertwined feelings, the delicate family relationships that she describes that makes her books so real and enjoyable. Moreover, in this one you know something is going to happen, but it happens very late in the book and it build slowly through the pages, keeping you wondering and turning pages... I loved it! I hope Earlene Fowler could write forever!
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery buffs
Its Christmas for Bennie and her husband, affectionately called "Friday' since he is the Chief of Police. But his Mom is coming for Christmas and what a surprise she has for them. The mystery is tied into the Folk Art museum and centers around Outsdier Art, a topic new to me. The relationships between the characters are explored in some depth, and the family visit provides strong insights into Benni's and Gabe's pasts. A good read in this series!
Becky Galambos
Sep 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Benni Harper manages to find herself in the middle of mysteries. This time, her husband, police chief Gabe Ortiz, asks her to investigate as he doesn't think there is a case and he wants to get rich socialite Constance Sinclair off his back. Boy is he ever wrong this time! Favorite characters make an appearance, and we meet some new ones as well.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
another good installment of these now very familiar characters. i love the setting and the stories are always good. this one moves us further into the personal history of gabe and gives us some of his back story, while moving other characters forward - all while solving a murder. just another day at the museum.
Nichole Rottinghaus
My least favorite in the series. The mystery in this book was overshadowed by all of the relationship issues. I don't mind reading about Gabe and Benni's lives and the personal struggles they have, but since this is a "mystery" novel, I would rather see a bigger emphasis on the mystery itself.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is part of a quilting murder mystery series (the author throws in some interesting history about different quilt patterns in each book). I love this light, easy-to-read series; Benni, the main character, is so lovable and fun. As the wife of the local police chief, she gets into her fair share of trouble and solves many of the town's mysterious murders.
❂ Jennifer
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cozy-mystery
Great story, although the murder mystery takes a back seat in this one. Most of the time the book focuses on the fractured relationship between Benni's husband Gabe and his mother. Coming from a very vocal background, it was hard for me to understand the lack of communication, but the author does a good job making everything seem real and true.
Nov 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A series I began years ago and have enjoyed, however sometime during the writing the author seems to have found god and I find it a bit of a turn off other than that I like the books being a quilter and lover of light mystery.
Diane Perkins
Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot get enough of Benni Harper...I wait with great anticipation for Earlene to write the next one and then try to read it slow because it makes me so sad to finish....I have read every book in the series and will continue as long as she will write them!
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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)

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