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Death Loves a Messy Desk by Mary Jane Maffini

Title: Death Loves a Messy Desk (Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery #3)

Author: Mary Jane Maffini

Published on: 13th July 2021

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Death Loves a Messy Desk is the third book in Mary Jane Maffini’s Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery series.

A local company calls Charlotte Adams to help straighten out their offices – and especially the cluttered desk of one of their employees. When Charlotte said yes to the job, she did not expect herself to be entangled in dirty office politics and toxic workplace. To add to this mess, the owner of the cluttered desk has gone missing. If that wasn’t enough, when Charlotte was on her way to visit the place, she was almost run over by… the same employee.

There’s a murder in town – a unidentified man was found dead in a car trunk – killed by execution style. One employee missing, a stranger killed and Charlotte wants to train her dogs to be Therapy Dogs. Well, that’s one heck of a mess and Charlotte has a hard time concentrating on her job – after all, murder can be distracting…

Death Loves a Messy Desk was initially published in 2009 by Berkley Crime and is currently republished by Beyond the Page Publishing. The Charlotte Adams Professional Organizer Mystery series will be made into a TV series soon. I have been following this series from the start (reprint version) and I must say this is one of my favorite cozy series of all times. Apart from the usual murder-amateur-sleuthing-doodah, the spotlight is also on Charlotte and her group of misfit friends. Sally, Charlotte, Pepper, Margaret and Jack have been friends since school. Among the five, the only person who had a decent childhood and upbringing is Jack.

Charlotte currently lives in the second floor of Jack’s Victorian-mansion-converted-to-apartment. Sally is happily married to a doctor and has four children. Pepper and Charlotte’s friendship took a turn for worse years ago when Pepper accused Charlotte of dillydallying with her boyfriend (and current husband) Nick. Margaret is a lawyer and is often found ‘rescuing’ Charlotte from mess (read ‘interfering in police business’). Jack and Charlotte are best buddies… um, I mean, they were best buddies – but in Death Loves a Messy Desk, it is pretty obvious that Jack’s deliberately avoiding Charlotte.

You lose some and you gain some – Charlotte’s friends (Margaret and Sally) are either too busy or too tired to listen to her woes. Jack is MIA most of the time but there’s a silver lining here – Pepper and Charlotte’s relationship improves. When Charlotte learns one of the employees has gone missing, she goes to Pepper (who is currently on a sick leave due to complicated pregnancy) for help. Pepper warns her and tells her not to interfere in police business but when has Charlotte ever paid any heed to advice or warnings, eh?

There’s a murder in town and the identity of the victim is not known. There’s also a missing employee to consider. The rest of the staff at the organization are not friendly either. Gossip, rumor and jealousy galore in the workplace. Charlotte is accused of scaring away the ‘missing’ employee. Charlotte also her hands full trying to train her two dogs – Sweet Marie and Truffle. The only commands they currently recognize are : Drop that shoe right now! Where are my keys?! Get out of the fridge! Definitely not Therapy Dog material… Uh-oh!

When compared to the first two books, I felt the quirk factor is a tad low in Death Loves a Messy Desk. The mystery behind the murder and the missing woman kept me guessing till the end. Having said that, the ending – where Charlotte has a light bulb moment and comes face-to-face with the killer – did not do justice to the suspense and tension built throughout. Nevertheless, this was an entertaining and fun read. If you love Cozy Mysteries, you might want to give Death Loves a Messy Desk 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.

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