BACK STABBERS: The “Ton” of Kansas City

Back Stabbers

BACK STABBERS coverBook 8 in the Country Club Murders series
Author Julie Mulhern
Narrated by Callie Beaulieu
Published by Tantor Media
Publication date Nov 27, 2018
Running time 7 hrs 24 min

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


All Ellison Russell wanted was an update on her stock portfolio. Instead, she found her broker dead. With an unexpected out-of-town guest at her house, Ellison is too busy for a murder investigation. Only this time, Detective Anarchy Jones wants her help, and she can’t deny the handsome detective. Can Mr. Coffee supply her with enough caffeine to keep her brain sharp and everyone else happy?

Juggling bodies (one, two, three, four), two-faced friends, her social calendar, and a cat (yes, a cat) is taxing but Mother might be the biggest challenge of all. With a killer drawing closer, can Ellison put together the pieces or will she be the one getting stabbed in the back?


My Take Oblong Shaped


As I listened to this nuanced mystery placed in 1975’s Kansas City, Missouri I was struck over and over again by the parallels between the high society of that mid-western city and the British Regency.  There’s the moneyed-class of the “best families,” like the British Ton, only smaller,  like Ellison and her family, versus the not so moneyed, those with breeding and those without. In one scene a club member with the hauteur of Lady Catherine DeBourgh reminds the the mean girl character that her father was in trade — hardware store.  There’s a lot of attention to money, societal rules, and even Ellison’s status as a widow does not give her Carte Blanche to behave as she wishes.  And, for Ellison the finding of body after body is seen by her mother, and some others, as a choice outside of their norms.

As regards Feminism, the Regency period was fomenting feminist ideas, and this is also happening to Ellison.  In this story she goes out on a limb for how women of the era were expected to be polite, and so then when she got a compliment and thanked the guy she was seen as willing.  If the woman did not like it she didn’t have to work there after all.  The office in this book was a box of candy for the guys and, though the woman lost their jobs, there were no consequences for the guys. 

The story has more than issues, there are a few murders and, technically, she only finds two bodies. She and her beau are involved in a sort of love triangle, that harkens back to issues with Ellison’s sister, Marjorie. 

So it is not like Ellison is going to throw away her bra and march with Betty Friedan, she has a arch-side, but with good manners. It’s interesting when and where that comes out.  She is able to have these thoughts and make demands because she is high up in the class structure, she knows the names and families of the country club staffers, but they’re still waiting on her. It’s some complicated class stuff.
At the same time Ellisson is fraught with insecurities and Mulhern offers up a sweet couple of paragraphs that I just loved.

The book and the series is clean.  Back in 1975 it took more than three dates for a sleepover — especially when the widow has an impressionable kid at home.  There are kisses but it hasn’t gone upstairs in any of the books I have read. They don’t even make-out on the page. 

I don’t know where the series is going – I have a few books to catch up on. I can’t wait. 


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