Book Review: Foul Play on Words by Becky Clark
By Amber KellerApril 23, 2019
In Foul Play on Words by Becky Clark, mystery writer Charlee Russo has to juggle a kidnapping, a writer’s conference and a hotel that has gone to the dogs, and she worries that she may have bitten off more than she can chew.
When mystery author Charlee Russo helps her friend Viv Lundquist by agreeing to be a speaker at her writers’ conference, she had no idea what would be in store. Soon after arriving in Portland, Charlee is thrown into a mystery by way of Viv’s adult daughter Hannah’s kidnapping. Add in the charming complication that the hotel has double booked the conference with a dog agility competition. Now Charlee will need to help solve the mystery, find Hannah before Viv has to pay a large ransom and organize and run the conference. No big deal, right?
Charlee is a charming yet strong main character. She’s loyal to her friend Viv, and her mystery writing side wants to help by solving the kidnapping. She truly feels for Viv as she watches her spiral into some seriously bad decision making, and she wants to help find Hannah for her safety. Charlee and Viv have a history as conference buddies and low-key high-jinks.
Despite my exasperation with having to wait for her, I couldn’t help but smile when I thought about hanging out with her again. I hadn’t seen her in a few years, but we’d had some glorious adventures in the past. Sharing hotel rooms at writers’ conferences like two teenagers at a slumber party, sitting on panels, teaching workshops together, and going on that book tour. Oy, that book tour. Our first books were published within three weeks of each other so we organized a tour together, hitting every major city in the eight states encompassing my home in Colorado and hers in Oregon, as well as many podunk towns in between.
Our publishers didn’t foot the bill for our book tour. Viv and I paid for everything out of our minuscule advances, so after every signing event, she talked our way into free meals, drinks, or hotel rooms along our route. After a while, I couldn’t remember what was the truth about us and what was the fictional embellishment she wrapped us in. Regardless, we seemed like the two most interesting women in the world. So what if it wasn’t completely accurate? At least it was entertaining, especially for us.
If I felt uncomfortable when she got too outlandish, Viv convinced me that it was what people came to hear. We were obligated to give them their money’s worth. When I reminded her we spoke for free, she said, “If they only met boring old us, they’d be disappointed. At least now they have awesome stories to tell at parties about the time they got to hang out with those two crazy writers.”
The mystery of Hannah’s kidnapping is the main storyline, but author Becky Clark keeps the reader on their toes with plenty of side story action and a cast of wonderful characters. The scenes really fill out with these quirky characters as they bring more humor, and sometimes intrigue, to the pages.
He held out his hand. “Hi. I’m Brad Pitt.”
I laughed out loud. As he moved closer to shake my hand I saw he was at least twenty years older than me. Good looking, but still, what a line. “That’s hilarious. Girls fall for that?”
He slid into the stool next to me, placing his half glass of beer in front of him. “I’ll have you know that I was Brad Pitt before Brad Pitt was Brad Pitt.” He pulled out his driver’s license and handed it to me.
“Bradley Calvin Pitt, born June 14, 1962.” I handed it back. “I have no idea how old the real Brad Pitt is.”
“I just told you, I’m the real Brad Pitt. I got him beat by six months.”
The bartender brought me a gorgeous, deep-orange-colored beer, then turned toward my companion. “Ready for another, Brad?”
“Are you kidding me?” I laughed. “You heard us talking.”
The bartender looked confused so Brad said, “She doesn’t believe that’s my real name.”
“I saw his ID.”
“So did I.” I waved it at him, then handed it back. “But I still don’t believe him.” I sipped my beer. A bit sweet. A bit fruity. Very mellow. Just what the doctor ordered.
“And I don’t believe I’ll have another. Still have work to do.” He sipped his beer, then set it down and looked at me. “You won’t hurt my feelings if you tell me to shove off. I didn’t mean to insinuate myself in your lunch.”
I decided it might be nice to have a little light conversation before I had to return to problem-solving movie. “Nah. Stay and finish your beer. I could use some company. But just so you know, I have a boyfriend.”
“Good to know. I won’t waste my A material on you.”
“You have A material? Did you get it from your namesake?”
“I told you, I’m older than him. And I notice you haven’t told me your name yet.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” I held out my hand. “Angelina. Angelina Jolie. Pleased to meet you.”
Here’s another sly little injection of humor concerning another supporting character.
The girl adjusted her name tag one last time, then lowered her hands and looked at Jack. I leaned a bit closer to read her name. “Sarah, yesterday didn’t I hear you say that Hanna isn’t getting her way about something this time?”She looked up but didn’t respond.
“It’s pronounced saRAH,” Jack said.
“You put the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle,” Jack explained.
This installment in the Mystery Writer’s Mystery series was a funny caper filled with laughs, twists, and questions to be answered. It kept me wondering what would happen from one chapter to the next. Clark delivers a witty and smart mystery that is sure to entertain.