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Armed and Outrageous
by Madison Johns
Senior sleuth – Grandma Mazur meets Murder She Wrote – cozy mystery.
Agnes Barton is not your typical senior citizen living in Tadium, MI, on the shores of Lake Huron. She drives a red hot Mustang, shops at Victoria’s Secret, rankles local police officials, and has a knack for sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong.
What does a murder that happened forty-three years ago have to do with missing tourist Jennifer Martin? Agnes makes it her personal mission to find out, and she’s not letting the fact she’s seventy-two get in the way. Butting heads with Sheriff Clem Peterson is something she’s accustomed to, but lately Clem seems to be acting even more strange, making Agnes wonder what he may be hiding ala the Martin disappearance.
Agnes’ partner in crime, Eleanor Mason tags along, Watson to her Holmes.
Together, they unearth clues. If only Eleanor would behave, as although lovable, she has a knack for getting into trouble by tangling with her rival, Dorothy Alton, or flirting with anyone—male or female—and gossiping! She’s incorrigible, but she does carry a Pink Lady revolver in her purse, one that has proved useful at times.
Life for Agnes and Eleanor is shaken up when Agnes’ former boss and secret crush comes to Tadium. Before long, the lady sleuths have more on their hands to contend with as goons roll into town and bullets begin to fly.
As mysteries go, this is probably not your grandmother’s “cozy,” but it may be your grandmother! Agnes Barton, a 72 year-old widow, is sometimes down, but never out. She’s got a hot car and a hotter wardrobe, and an insatiable desire for…justice. While there have been other elderly female sleuths – Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple comes immediately to mind – I doubt there have been the likes of Agnes Barton and her side-kick Eleanor Mason. Not content to sip tea and eat a crumpet or two, Agnes is all action and always on the go. She’ll solve this crime or die trying (and almost does). The story revolves around – and weaves together – a newly missing young woman (Jennifer), a previously missing young woman (Agnes’s granddaughter) and an unsolved crime from 1968. Toss in an old flame who’s back in town, a rather inept sheriff, some out-of-town “goons,” and an understanding State Trooper, then season with a bit of sass, a special “lipstick” that would make James Bond blush, some very adult shenanigans and a pinch of pot, and you’ve got the perfect mix for a great read. And did I mention the cat … and the mice? Oh, and be prepared to laugh … a lot.
While the mystery itself is well handled, what really makes this book a stand-out is the portrayal of the old folks who populate the story. Madison clearly knows the elderly, and not only has a handle on how they talk – and what they talk about – but also is very adept at showing us the humorous side of old age. But more importantly, Madison also sensitively delves into the things not generally discussed – the need for companionship, love, sex, and the difficulty of adjusting to the loss of a spouse. Her people are real people, with real needs, and they are not afraid to talk about them – or seek out ways to meet them. It is clear that Madison has affection for her characters.
This book is a first-class read. It moves along well, is full of colorful characters, and is very, very funny. I can’t wait for the sequels; I’d like to see these people again. Madison has described this book as a “cozy,” and that’s exactly how you should be when you start this … and a glass of wine would be just fine, too.
About the Author
As a child, Madison Johns preferred to distance herself from other children her age, and had been described as a dreamer. Even as a small child, she remembers staying awake many a night fighting dragons, whisked away to foreign lands, or meeting the man of her dreams. She was a voracious reader of historical romance in her teen years and has always wished to one day journey to England, France, Ireland, and Scotland.
The writing bug bit her at the age of 44 and she pounded out three books since that time. As the publishing climate changed she took a risk and decided to self publish, first a collection of two horror short stories geared for YA, Coffin Tales Season of Death.
Madison’s caring nature had led her to work in the healthcare field, where she was employed as a nursing care assistant at a nursing home, and it was there that she was inspired to write her first mystery, Armed and Outrageous, introducing amateur detective Agnes Barton. The book depicts two elderly ladies digging up clues with enough laugh out loud antics to make James Bond blush. Madison has just released the sequel, Grannies, Guns and Ghosts, as well as the romantic comedy, Pretty and Pregnant.