Title: Organize Your Corpses (A Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery #1)
Author: Mary Jane Maffini
Published on: 20 May 2021
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Organize Your Corpses is the first book in Mary Jane Maffini‘s Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery series. This series is being reissued by Beyond The Page Publishing. So far, there are five books in the series (Mary is in the process of writing the sixth one) and all five have been signed for a TV adaptation. How awesome is that!
Meet Charlotte Adams, our quirky protagonist, professional organizer and owner of two mischievous dogs. Her life revolves around her fur babies, work and Jack. Jack is her childhood friend and current landlord. The story begins with Charlotte being warned by her friend Sally (another childhood friend) not to take up a new client; the client in question is their high school teacher Hellfire Henley. Well, her name is Helen and not Hellfire but she certainly created a lot of enemies (her students mostly) in the past few decades.
Charlotte reaches the historic Henley house, which Helen currently inherited. Helen wants Charlotte to go through the mess her late cousin Randolph Henley left behind – someone in the stacks of moldy newspaper is an important document. Helen gives Charlotte a down payment and hires her. Charlotte stops at the local supermarket on her way back home and while looking for her favorite ice cream, a handsome man stumbles upon her, dropping a tub of ice cream on her foot. Well, not all love stories start on a…um, freezing note.
Charlotte reaches home with three tubs of ice cream and a handful of Mars bars – who wouldn’t like to eat ice cream and chocolate for dinner! She receives a call from Helen asking her to come to Henley house immediately. Charlotte says it’s past 7pm but Helen refuses to listen, stating she’s paid her so she must come over when called. Charlotte refuses and Helen disconnects the call. The next day, Charlotte’s calls to Helen goes unanswered so she pays a visit to Henley house and finds Helen dead in the midst of mold newspapers.
What a smashing series debut! A quirky protagonist, a murder mystery to keep you entertained – um, that didn’t sound right, let me try again… a murder mystery filled with oodles of quirky humor, a pair of naughty yet adorable dogs, a group of misfit-friends and much more.
After leaving her cheating ex-fiancé and other useless clutter behind, Charlotte Adams moves to her hometown in Upstate New York to start a career as professional organizer. A shooting has the townspeople glued to the local news for juicy gossip.
When Charlotte finds Miss Henley’s body, she becomes the new talk of the town. Wherever she goes, people recognize her. Meanwhile, her best-friend-turned-foe Pepper is a sergeant now. Charlotte avoids Pepper as much as she can, until Pepper comes knocking at her door one fine morning – well, the cops must interrogate the ‘main suspect’, right?
The best parts of this story includes a mystery to keep one guessing till the end and quirky characters. We also have a handful of side-stories to keep us extra entertained. Of course, the furry devils Sweet Marie and Truffles create quite a scene at times – but at the end of the day, Charlotte cannot imagine her life without them.
We also have a potential love angle between Charlotte and the man in leather jacket (the one who dropped a tub of ice cream on her foot at the supermarket, remember?) Well, it seems like leather jackets and dropping ice cream tubs do not go well… Only if Charlotte knew that. Jack, her best friend has a tinge of jealousy when she says the leather jacket man has asked her out on a date – now, this is the kind of potential love angle that I would love to see in the next book.
The mystery behind the murder stretches to more than just an angry ex-student of Miss Henley wanting revenge. Charlotte discovers Henleys had a murky past – Olivia, Helen’s cousin did a dance at Helen’s funeral; the rest of the cousins are dead. Also, something sinister is going on at the care home where Olivia currently resides.
Charlotte cannot find out more as she’s banned from going there, and so is Jack. The young caretaker (Lilith) who worked at the care home is fired a day after Charlotte’s visit. I had to mention Lilith because as the story ends, we do see Lilith and Rose play one of the major roles in the story – and will appear in the next book (hopefully).
The ending is mind blowing! The identity of the perp was a huge shocker! We also have a nail-biting scene just before the killer is caught red-handed. As a debut in the series, if you are expecting a slow start, think again. Just the right amount of character introduction and whole lotta mystery make Organize Your Corpses by Mary Jane Maffini an entertaining and completely engrossing cozy mystery.
I received an ARC from Beyond the Page Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.