Friday, August 26, 2016

The Black Thumb by Frankie Bow | Blog Tour with Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway

Frankie Bow is back, with a new book in the Molly Barda Mystery series!

The Blurb

When a violent death disrupts the monthly meeting of the Pua Kala Garden society, Professor Molly Barda has no intention of playing amateur detective. But Molly’s not just a witness  the victim is Molly’s house guest and grad-school frenemy. And Molly quickly finds to her dismay that her interest in the murder of the stylish and self-centered Melanie Polewski is more than just… academic.

The Black ThumbIn Which Molly Takes on Tropical Gardening, a Toxic Frenemy, 
a Rocky Engagement, Her Albanian Heritage, and Murder by Frankie Bow

Series: A Professor Molly Mystery, #3
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Hawaiian Heritage Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2016
Hardcover: 344 pages
ISBN-10: 1943476195
ISBN-13: 978-1943476190
Paperback: 342 pages
ISBN-10: 1943476187
ISBN-13: 978-1943476183
Kindle: 915 KB File Size
 Amazon | B&N | BAM! | IndieBound | Goodreads


The Review

I just read a really good book, y'all — The Black Thumb by Frankie Bow. Let me tell you a little about it.

The Black Thumb is Book #3 in the Professor Molly Mystery series, following Book #2, The Cursed Canoe. I have reviewed Book #0, The Case of the Defunct Adjunct, here, and Book #1, The Musubi Murder, here

While The Black Thumb can be read as a standalone, I really recommend that you read the series from the beginning, so that you learn the answers to such burning questions as:
  • Why does Emma, born and raised in Hawai′i, include a bit of Yiddish in her speech every now and then?
  • How did the curmudgeonly Pat become such good friends with Molly and Emma?
  • What's the whole story about Sherry and Davison?
  • What exactly happened in the hotel room, Labor Day weekend?
  • What did Molly do after she took a dose of pharma samples she received from the clinic's Dr "Spinner"?
  • What's the scoop about Molly's, Emma's, and Pat's online reviews?  
The Black Thumb, in fact, each book in the series, is a fast, fun read. Author Frankie Bow has created very detailed worlds in Mahina, Hawai′i and Mahina State University. The Black Thumb has a marvelous plot, with surprising twists and turns. I was surprised by whodundit. Can you figure it out before Molly and I did? I was even more surprised by whydunit. It was totally unexpected. The climax is thrilling and exciting. 

Author Frankie Bow has planted The Black Thumb with some real characters, who have some great lines. Here are some examples.

•  Molly and her fiancĂ© Donnie, discussing their future children:
The Hanakoa River rushed along the bottom of the gorge, out of sight.
Donnie had asked me if I thought the Brewster House might be unsafe for small children.
“Why?” I’d replied, obliviously. “Do we know anyone with small children?”
We probably needed to talk through the whole “having children” issue through a little more before we actually got married.
    •  Molly's thoughts about makeup:
    With her dark eyelashes and warm complexion, Mrs. Fontanne Masterman needed no makeup.
    At half her age, I made liberal use of all kinds of cosmetic enhancements. Donnie assured me I didn’t need makeup, claiming I looked better without it. I would smile patiently when he said such things. Donnie had never actually seen me without makeup. What he really meant was he preferred fawn eyeshadow and peach blush to black winged eyeliner and scarlet lipstick. 
    •  Donnie trying to comfort Molly, after the death of her frenemy:
    “Terrible you had to see it, Molly.” Donnie squeezed my hand. “It’s hard to get over witnessing something like that. I had a fry cook once, at the Drive-Inn, the old location, before I met you... I better not tell you the details. You’ll never go near the teriyaki beef again. I’m very sorry about Melanie.”
    •  More about Molly's makeup:
    “Molly. You look terrible.” He pressed his wrist to my forehead, and then guided me over to the couch.
    “You’ve been working so hard preparing your fall classes.” He tenderly brushed my hair back from my face. “Lie down and rest. I’ll call the doctor.”
    “Donnie, I’m fine. Don’t call the doctor.”
    I got up, went into the bathroom, and locked the door behind me.
    “Are you going to be okay?” Donnie called through the door.
    “Never better.” I opened my makeup drawer. “Just give me a few minutes.”
    It was the first time Donnie had seen me ... with no makeup on. I decided it would also be the last.
    Aren't those mini-excerpts wonderful? Hilarious? And don't they make you want to read more about Molly? Have I convinced you yet, that The Black Thumb is a must read? If not.... The Black Thumb is a must read!

    I recommend The Black Thumb to all cozy fans! I think it will appeal especially to residents and vacationers of Hawai′i, people with green thumbs (or black thumbs, like me), people in academia, proud Albanian-Americans, and fans of Frankie's other books. I really enjoyed The Black Thumb by Frankie Bow, and award it Four Kitties!
    Four out of five kitties
     Note:  I received a complimentary copy of The Black Thumb in exchange for my honest review. 
    All opinions shared are 100% my own.

    Follow the tour, to read other reviews and Author Guest Posts, plus Author Interviews! 

    The Guest Post

    Who is Ettore Sottsass, and why does my heroine’s love interest have his sofa?

    Professor Molly Barda is not living the life she’d planned for herself. Thanks to the tough academic job market, she’s had to leave the big city to take a job at remote Mahina State University, in rural Hawaii. She doesn’t know anyone there, it’s too hot and humid for her fancy vintage wardrobe, and worst of all, she’s using her prestigious literature degree to teach business communication.

    But there are some bright spots. One of the brightest is Molly’s love interest, local fast-food entrepreneur Donnie Gonsalves. Molly suspects they might share some common interests the first time she visits his house:
    Framed posters hung on the pale yellow walls: Commedia Del’Arte, Django Reinhardt Paris Swing, a past season of the Honolulu Symphony. A low-slung sofa in gunmetal leather with black seat cushions sat on a squat frame of chrome tubing.
    “This is lovely,” I exclaimed. “I like the sofa. It has that midcentury Memphis thing going on.”
    Why did I say that? I had to name-drop furniture designers now? What was I trying to do, show off my big-city sophistication? I felt like a jerk. Why couldn’t I just say, “nice couch”?
    “Good eye,” he said. “It is an Ettore Sottsass. Nineteen eighty-six, though. A little past midcentury.”
    --The Musubi Murder

    Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) was an Italian designer and founder of the Memphis Group, a “postmodern” design collective specializing in playful shapes and a wide-ranging palette.

    Carlton room divider, 1981

    The Memphis aesthetic has been derided as “Pee-Wee's Playhouse meets Miami Vice” and “a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price,” but the pieces are highly collectible. A Sottsass couch sells for $14,000 and up. 

    Italophile that he is, Donnie has no problem shelling out for a genuine Sottsass, but his taste tends to the conservative. So while he might admire the bold lines of something like this,

    What Molly saw in Donnie’s living room probably looked more like this:

    Donnie has an eye for Italian design, but his powers of observation aren’t perfect. He assumes Molly is as Italian as his Tre Spade coffee grinder. (She’s actually Albanian.) 

    Her reaction? 

    “I’d never gotten around to setting him straight. Donnie was a bit of an Italophile, and I’ve always hated to disappoint people.”

    The Author

    About Frankie Bow

    Like Molly Barda, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, a loving family, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining.

    In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

    Find Frankie on the web at

    The Giveaway

    Frankie will award a Professor Molly Mystery — winner's choice 
    to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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