This book, and series, sound great. Thank you, Sally, for sharing with us.
The family that sleuths together stays together
I want to thank Kathy for this opportunity to write a guest post for her blog.
My eighth and most recent cozy mystery and clean read, The Highland Havoc Caper, follows the ongoing exploits of Sandy Fairfax (his stage name), a 39-year-old former teen idol and TV star. Over the years, he’s faced numerous challenges: a career that peaked and then crashed, divorce, alcoholism and estrangement from his family.
But now he’s determined to get his life back on track (and solve a few mysteries along the way). Sandy quit drinking, returned to work and is mending broken relationships.
Sandy’s only son is called Chip because he resembles his father, with his blue eyes and blond hair, and also that his full name is the unwieldy Stanford Ernest Farmington III. Chip was seven years old when his parents divorced. Now he’s 13 years old and living with his mom, stepdad and younger sister.
Until recently Chip seldom spent time with his father and when he did, Sandy was often drunk. Chip more frequently saw his dad in reruns of his TV show. His dad’s fame didn’t endear him with his classmates, who made fun of Sandy’s well-publicized brushes with the law. Like most boys, he longed for a real dad. Chip loves his time with his dad, who is more adventuresome and foot-loose than his staid stepdad and disciplinarian mom.
Now that Sandy’s sober, he’s asking his ex, Becka, for more frequent visits to see his kids. Becka’s dismayed that when they’re with Sandy, something bad happens. In a previous book, The Sinister Sitcom Caper, Chip helped Sandy to catch a murderer. Chip, of course, enjoyed the adventure; his mother was less enthused.
In Highland Havoc, a sober Sandy spends a good deal of time with Chip, more so than in the previous books. Sandy must start asserting himself as a father, not as a pal. Chip is yearning for more independence. When Sandy tells him it’s time to stop talking to some girls and come home, Chip replies, “Eat my shorts!” Sandy is not pleased at the rebuttal. He spoiled his kids so they’d want to see him, but that approach may not work anymore.
When Chip spends the night at Sandy’s house, Dad is shocked to discover that his son is afraid of the dark and must sleep with a light on. Just how well does Sandy know his kids? Having been absent from their lives during their formative years, Sandy is having a hard time catching up.
Chip is fiercely interested in the opposite sex. Sandy attempts to have an awkward talk with him about “the birds and the bees.” Chip is aware of his dad’s wild past with women and his string of girlfriends since the divorce. As a pop star, Sandy was quite the lady’s man in his heyday. Sandy preaches, “Do as I say, not as I did.” He hopes Chip will avoid some of the pitfalls he stumbled into, but do kids listen to their parents? Then a 19-year-old TV star takes a shine to Chip, and Sandy worries that the world-wise actress will take his son down a wrong path.
What bonds Sandy and Chip is that they solve a mystery together. In an attempt to expose Chip to culture, Sandy drags him to a guided tour of an old castle. Chip’s bored, so he takes an unauthorized detour into an abandoned wine cellar where he finds a body. Sandy rushes to get help, but when they return, the corpse is gone! How can the killer be found when there’s no body or even a name for the deceased?
Sandy and Chip look for clues together and share theories. Chip finds this exciting, but Sandy fears that his son’s involvement will get him in danger. And it does. No spoilers, but Sandy and Chip end up in a dire predicament, and only by working together—and overcoming Chip’s phobia—can they escape. Sandy beams with pride at his son’s accomplishments. Chip has a new appreciation for his dad.