Dunne, Aug 2002, 22.95, 224 pp.
Mandy Dyer, owner of a Denver dry cleaning company, is surprised to inherit two trash bags filled with clothing no one would want. In her will octogenarian customer Thelma Chadwick left the bags of clothing to Mandy. More of a shock than the bags to Mandy is how Thelma died. The elderly woman fell down the stairs leading to her basement. Considering that Thelma never used the stairs because of her arthritis coupled with the fact that the deceased complained about a prowler leads the successful amateur sleuth to conclude that someone killed her friend.
Mandy notices the odd variety of non-matching designer buttons sewed onto the dresses. Wondering if there is value to the buttons, Mandy makes inquires into button collecting, which turns out to be a very popular hobby with several local clubs. Over the objections of her plant manager Nat Wilcox she also begins investigating Thelma's neighbors and her dearly departed customer's sleazy California relatives.
The latest Mandy Dyer investigative tale is an entertaining amusing amateur sleuth novel. The story line is fun though the audience will need to overcome the hurdle (shared by most sub-genre books) of why Mandy would conduct any inquiries into Thelma's death especially when the dry cleaner's life seems threatened. Still, readers will want to take that leap because BUTTONS & FOES showcases Mandy at her inquisitive best and provides a new romantic entry for the heroine. With this novel and series, Dolores Johnson takes her audience to the cleaners, which fans will welcome the spin.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner