Desperate Housewife of Coachella: POPPY HARMON INVESTIGATES

Poppy Harmon Investigates



Book 1 in the Desert Flowers Mystery series
Author: Lee Hollis
Narrated by Kim Niemi
Publisher: Tantor Media
Publication date Oct 22, 2019
Running time 7 hrs 23 min


When Poppy goes from complacent retiree to penniless widow in a matter of weeks, the idea of spending her golden years as the biggest charity case in Palm Springs renders her speechless. With no real skills and nothing left to lose, Poppy uses her obsession with true crime shows to start a career as a private eye . . .

But after opening the Desert Flowers Detective Agency with help from her two best friends, Violet and Iris, Poppy realizes that age brings wisdom, not business—until she convinces her daughter’s handsome boyfriend, Matt, to pose as the face of the agency. It’s not long before Matt’s irresistible act snags a client desperate to retrieve priceless jewelry burglarized from an aging actress at the Palm Leaf Retirement Village. Or before Poppy stumbles upon the bloodied body of the victim’s arch rival . . .

In a flash, Poppy’s innocent detective gig is upstaged by a dangerous murder investigation riddled with slimy suspects and unspeakable scandal. As she and her team uncover the truth, Poppy must confront the secrets about her late husband’s past and swiftly catch a killer lurking around the retirement community—even if it means turning her world upside down all over again.

My Take Oblong Shaped

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

I listened to about half of this again today, and  other than a surprising twist at the end it was not clever The series  tool too long to get up the  first case to be solved and there are a lot of characters.  Poppy is a  sixty-something former actress and recent widow.  Her husband left her completely destitute and desperate.  She becomes a private investigator  based on her experience playing a secretary of a PI on television.  Apparently she helped the writer write the mysteries: it brought to mind the soap star who had an ad on TV, “I’m not a doctor, but I played on e on TV.”

There are immediate red flags in the story – a second mortgage that she signed but would have had to be notarized.  The author uses some redundant or overly-worded language: for example “She has a “foreboding sense of dread.”  This can be a presentiment of dread or a sense of dread — a presentiment sense of dread is a dreadful turn of phrase.

The characters are two-dimensional; Poppy is the most developed, but I couldn’t tell you anything about her other than she is often indignant and quick to adapt. I also think she is fighting the against we women of a certain age face,.  She has a daughter who is an immature brat, a virago who has absolutely no charm.  Poppy’s friends, Violet and Iris are stereotyped:  Iris in particular is a German, a Brunhilda of a wannabe starlet.  The narration enforces this stereotype by fully expressing the starchy, militant woman’s accent. 

There is promise in the author’s surprise twist, although I was split about it being brilliant or a deus ex machina. 

I don’t like to dis an author’s hard work, so this was hard to write.  I had hopes for Poppy but my wish for an American rendition of Agatha Raisin or a well-off version of Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schulz, but I think it was only because I love the name “Poppy.”

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