Title: The Cluttered Corpse (A Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery #2)
Author: Mary Jane Maffini
Published on: 15th June 2021 (reprint)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
The Cluttered Corpse is the second book in Mary Jane Maffini‘s Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery series.
Charlotte Adams, a professional organizer, is on her first visit to a new client’s house. The client is a well-known businesswoman, Emma Lou. The house is immaculate so Charlotte wonders why was she called. Her doubts are cleared when the client takes her upstairs and shows Charlotte her outrageous collection of soft toys. Emma’s neighbor and his friend play a prank on Emma while she and Charlotte are in the bedroom, going through the endless pile of stuffed animals. Emma’s mood changes within a fraction of a second and she literally pushes Charlotte out of the house, promising to call later.
When Charlotte arrives at Emma Lou’s house the next time, she sees a commotion on the street. Emma Lou is on the street, screaming on top of her lungs that she’s killed him. When Charlotte enters the house, she sees the lad who played a prank on Emma previously lying dead at the bottom of the stairs.
Wow! I can surely see why this series is going to be adapted into a TV show. A quirky amateur sleuth, a group of misfit friends, two furry babies and whole lotta fun!
Charlotte Adams is called to a client’s house and she’s asked to organize the client’s huge collection of soft toys. When I say ‘huge collection’, that might very well be an understatement. The stuffed animals are everywhere – on the bed, on the floor, in the cupboard, in a room (meant for toys), on the stairs… Phew! Looks like a soft toy explosion in there! But the client is also jittery about something. Charlotte soon learns two lads from the neighborhood are the reason for her client’s nervous state. Charlotte warns them once and gets under Pepper’s ‘line of fire’ for ‘threatening the innocent boys’.
Pepper is Charlotte’s frenemy. The girls were close friends throughout high school and then, something changed. This has mostly got to do with Pepper’s husband Nick; Nick wants to take Charlotte on a ride in his Mustang. Oh-hum! Sally, Charlotte’s friend, is preggers (again). Sally’s married to the nice doctor Benjamin and they have three kids. Meanwhile, Jack has set up a cycle shop CYCotics and business seems to be… um, let’s not talk about it.
Pepper is convinced Emma Lou murdered the young man while Charlotte thinks otherwise. She starts snooping around, gaining the killer’s attention. Her car tires are slashed, her house is broken into and finally, someone close to Charlotte is injured in a hit-and-run. Charlotte has to catch the real killer and bring them to justice.
I enjoyed every bit of this story. Be it Jack and Charlotte’s silly banter or the ongoing hostility between Pepper and Charlotte, this cozy mystery is a complete hoot! Quirky characters and a murder mystery to keep one guessing till the end, Maffini is a master storyteller. Charlotte’s two rescue dogs, Sweet Marie and Truffles have calmed down a bit (when compared to the ‘snow incident’ months ago). Jack seems to be training them and their favorite game is ‘Where’s Charlotte’ – this comes in handy at the end when Charlotte’s come face-to-face with the killer…
Two other characters who made an appearance in the previous book – I had mentioned in my review they might end up playing a major role in the series – are Rose and Lilith. In the previous book, we saw Lilith agreeing to look after Rose; Rose also got a rescue dog from Jack. The group is growing bigger with each series. Rose, Lilith, Jack, Margaret and Sally, all pitch in to help Charlotte in solving the case.
The ending is mind-blowing. I could not guess the identity of the perp; also, their motive for murder and personal attacks on Charlotte was nothing less than Evil (yep, with a capital ‘e’). I am eagerly looking forward to reading the next book. Two books through the series and I am already a (super) fan!
If you love quirky cozy mysteries with plenty of twists and turns, you might want to give The Cluttered Corpse by Mary Jane Maffini a try.
I received an ARC from Beyond the Page Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.