Title: Hartfield Mysteries series
Author: Chautona Havig
Major Themes: Mysteries
Synopsis: This is a series of four books about Alexa Hartfield, murder mystery writer who suddenly finds herself in strange situations.
Murder mysteries? Not my cup of tea—usually. I prefer books that have sage advice woven throughout, books that make me really think about things. The Hartfield Mysteries, however, do that.
Alexa Hartfield is an author living in the small town of Fairbury, near Rockland. Her specialty is murder mysteries. She lives alone and likes her life that way. To most people, she appears eccentric; most of her clothing appears to be from other eras, from medieval times to the 1980s. Her comfortable life is suddenly shaken up when, in the first book, Manuscript for Murder, people start dying. The strange thing is that they are being killed in exactly the way she’s writing about in her current book! What is going on? Joe, the policeman who comes to her rescue a few times, ends up a frequent visitor, but she is certainly not interested in romance—and neither is he.
Crime of Fashion tells of a new business which Alexa becomes involved in—but odd things happen there, too, and tragedy strikes close to home for her. After that is all resolved, she goes to California for her biannual visit to her parents (in the author’s hometown!) in Two O’clock Slump. She anticipates the usual stressful visit, with her extremely religious parents trying to get her to repent of something that happened when she was a teenager, but then a man is found dead in the next motel room to hers, which was supposedly empty. During the investigation, she must flee. I had a hard time with this book; you don’t find out until one of the last two or three chapters who the villain is, and it’s very hard to put the book down at that point.
Front Window picks up soon after Two O’clock Slump ends; one of the main characters is Alexa’s Aunt Faye. We met her in the last book, but she really shines in this one. She has moved from California to Fairbury in the interval between the two books, into a retirement apartment. While Alexa is away from home, Aunt Faye finds the perfect excuse to annoy her greatly—someone is stealing things from the residents! The police are convinced that the thief is someone who lives in the complex, but Aunt Faye doesn’t believe that. Can she find a way to prove her point?
If you want a clean Christian mystery series, check out the Hartfield Mysteries. Just be careful when you get engrossed in them, or you may find meals being put on the table late—and you may well find yourself annoying the people around you as you hoot with laughter at some of the situations described. I hear that my children heard me laughing hard a couple of times in one day as I read Front Window! Mystery and humor aside, I really enjoyed watching Alexa grow and change in her relationships with other people, especially Joe, and the community in general. The only thing I did not appreciate about the books was the character who married a divorced woman; I take Matthew 5:32 literally.
WARNING: There is at least one murder in each book, not graphically described but there all the same. In Front Window, the police chief is mentioned as swearing a time or two.
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults