The Missing Housewife

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The Missing Housewife (Steven Wade Mystery #2) by Iris Wynne

When a women long believed dead is spotted in China by an old friend on holiday, it opens a real can of worms. If she is indeed the woman believed murdered, than her drug dealer has been falsely imprisoned and there is a dead body who’s identity still needs to be discovered.

With the sister of the accused pushing for involvement to free her brother, and the family of the “deceased” wanting the dead to remain dead, it turns out to be a real muddle.

With such uncertainty there is only one thing to do, hire someone who can look into the matter: a private investigator Steve Wade.

On the case!

Since Wade solved the case of “the missing mah jongg player”, he has become a hot commodity and is asked to check out the case. But is the deceased, Patricia, really alive, or is it just a look-a-like in China? And if she isn’t dead, who died in her place? Did the drug dealer murder this Jane Doe, or was it someone else?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, The Missing Mah Jongg Player, which gave me high expectations for the sequel. Wynne didn’t disappoint with a cleverly crafted mystery that takes murder into mistaken identity and even further into assassins and a cover up.

We also have a return of the characters we enjoyed from the first novel; such as the intelligent, imaginative, analytical, and methodical Steve Wade; Candy the stripper turned private investigator, who is still coming to terms with her insecurities and the shadow of the past; and sweet Sarah, Steve’s secretary, who finally gains confidence and the ability to assert herself.

The only problem I had with this novel was that the secondary characters were not as well done as in the first book. In The Missing Mah Jongg Player, the other mah jongg players created a more personal connection to our missing person causing the viewer to see her as a person rather than a “victim”. Their different personalities also balanced well with Wade’s logical approach.

All of you

In this book our new cast of characters were interesting and developed, but not as fun or colorful as in the first.

On a whole I enjoyed this novel and give it a four out of five stars.

For more Steven Wade Mysteries, go to The Missing Mah Jongg Player

For more novels centering around a disappearance, go to The Sign of the Four

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to C is for Corpse

For more mystery reviews, go to Triple Six

Peppermint Bark Chocolate Cupcakes

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So the book I reviewed this week was The Missing Mah Jong Player.

the Missing Mah jong player

While this book contains no recipes, one of the characters owns a cupcake store, so I felt it was the perfect time to include a recipe I created.

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I love anything minty chocolate and we had a plethora of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark, so I thought I would test something out.

Now I love making everything myself and don’t care for using boxed things, but I was baking a ton of cupcakes for a party, in a limited amount of time and used a cake mix from a box. If you make a favorite chocolate cake recipe and just follow my little extras it should be just as good, if not extra.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Chocolate Cake Mix (If not from scratch, I usually use Duncan Hines)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Peppermint Extract
  • Cupcake Liners
  • Ice-Cream Scoop
  • About 10 Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares
  • Chocolate Frosting (If not from scratch, I usually use Duncan Hines)

Directions:

  1. Either follow a recipe for a cake from scratch or the directions on the box of cake mix.
  2. When adding your wet ingredients, add a teaspoon of peppermint extract to the cupcake batter.
  3. Using an ice-cream scoop, place the batter into the cupcake liners.
  4. Bake according to box directions.
  5. While cupcakes are baking, chop up the peppermint bark into tiny pieces. Make them as small as possible, sprinkle size.
  6. When cupcakes are finished let them cool, otherwise the frosting will melt.
  7. When cupcakes have completely cooled down, frost them.
  8. After you have frosted the cupcakes, sprinkle the chopped peppermint bark along the tops of the cupcakes.

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Thoughts After Cooking:

I LOVED THEM! and everyone else did too. They were absolutely amazing. I’m just sorry that they were snapped up so quick that I wasn’t able to take a picture.

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For more desserts, go to Special Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

For more recipes, go to Chicken, Asparagus, and Tomato Pesto Pasta

The Missing Mah Jongg Player

the Missing Mah jong player

The Missing Mah Jong Player (Steven Wade Mystery #1) by Iris Wynne

In The Missing Mah Jong Player, by Iris Wynne, divorced Marilou is looking for love in online chat rooms. She has been very busy with her dates and other commitments, that she hasn’t really had a lot of time for her mah jong group. So when she misses a day after confirming she would be there, Harriet (friend and fellow mah jong player) begins to grow worried.

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She goes to her house and discovers that Marilou is missing. When the police make no headway into solving the crime and are giving up, Harriet decides to hire a private investigator.

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Their investigator, Steve Wade is an ex-policeman who at first doesn’t want to take the case. After much arm twisting and free cupcakes from Harriet’s bakery, he complies. But Marilou’s disapperance raises a lot of hard questions. Was she killed? Did she willingly leave? Was one of the guys she was dating responsible for her disappereance? Or was the criminal someone much closer to her? Not only is Wade investigating a hard case, he also has the five remaining mah jong players intent on helping him discover the truth. From staging a speed dating dinner, to questioning family and friends; these ladies and Wade are hot on the trail.

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Thoughts After Reading:

When you read the synopsis of the book it is very centered on Steve Wade and sounds like a modern Philip Marlow or Sam Spade type of detective fiction.

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I am not sure if the author changed her direction while writing, or is hoping for a Steve Wade series, but that is not the case. Instead of being solely focused on the private investigator the story is shown through the eyes of Wade, Harriet, Sarah (mah jong player and Wade’s new secretary), and Candy Kane (stripper turned private investigator). I believe this actually improves the story as it transforms it into being more than just a mystery, but also how a loss affects people and what they do to deal with their grief.

Whoa

Everyone’s reactions to Marilou’s disappearance range across the board. You have some of her friends in denial, believing she just ran away; some who don’t want to think on the issue and are intent on forgetting it as it is a matter for the police; Sarah who won’t stop crying as Marilou was a mother figure to her, and Harriet who needs closure and answers so she hires a detective. Not only does this more personal approach make a stronger story, but it really helps you connect to the characters. This also causes you to really care for Marilou, as all these personal reactions make her into an actual person instead of a “body” or “victim #1”.

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Steve Wade was a great character as well. He was intelligent, imaginative, analytical, and able to solve the mystery after a series of time. I liked that it wasn’t instantaneous but methodical, and that at times Steve would sometimes miss what was right in front of his face as he was too heavily concentrated on another aspect. He is also a perfect compliment to his surrounding characters. I hope that this will be turned into a series and that we may see more Steve Wade in the future.

Please!

As for the mystery it was pretty compelling. We at first have the question of whether or not there is an actual crime or if Marilou just left of her own accord. Then when it is established as a murder we have a long list of motives and suspects; everyone from Marilou’s cousins, friends, men she was dating, to even her children. It progresses realistically and the only complaint I have was that the end seemed a bit rushed as they present the resolution.

I thought this book is fantastic and the perfect addition to any mystery lover’s bookcase or kindle. I give the story a five out five.

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There is one thing that bothers me. It isn’t really about mah jong, in fact mah jong is mentioned maybe one or twice. It makes a great title, but that and the cover don’t really match the story.

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For more Private Investigators, go to Lane Changes

For the previous mystery, go to Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder