Sandy Fairfax, aging teen idol, has been given an ultimatum by his ex-wife. Ditch the booze and get a job, or his visitations with his kids will become nonexistent. Even though Sandy is an alcoholic, and hasn't done any serious work in years, he loves his kids and wants to be a part of their life. Between the two, Sandy thought giving up alcohol would be the hardest, but it turns out the easy gig in a little Indiana town-speak at a Beatles convention-turns out to be the task that just might kill him.
The Baffled Beatlemanic Caper is a mystery novel focused around an aging teen idol and his middle-aged biggest fan. The characters in this book are one of the best parts of this story. Sandy's character is very in depth. Carpenter did a lot of research and built a completely believable backstory for a teen idol. There were times when I was tempted to look up Sandy Fairfax on the internet just to make sure he wasn't real. I loved that Carpenter even detailed out past episodes of Sandy's TV show, as well as lyrics to songs he sung back when he was an idol. Her hard work really lent credibility to the story.
Bunny was another great character. She is a middle-aged super fan, and is at first so starry-eyed over meeting Sandy it's hard not to picture her as a sixteen year old crushing ont he latest pop star. She has this ideal of what Sandy should be like, and when he falls short her disappointment is palpable. Carpenter really got inside the head of a super fan who has to face reality. I enjoyed the development of Bunny's character through the book.
For the most part the characters were all well crafted. The only characters I didn't particularly care for were the hotel manager and the detective. For me, both men were a bit too Scooby Doo-ish. Both immediately pegged Sandy as a troublemaker because of his looks and Hoolywood status, and both tried to pin every mishap on him. Even some of their dialog and mannerisms reminded me of seventies era cartoon bad guys. I kept waiting for one of them to say "meddling kids." Now, these characters did add some humor to the book, because I think they were meant to come off like this, but I thought it could have been toned down. It was hard to take either one very serious or see them as a real threat.
The mystery itself was very good. I stayed entertained throughout the search for the real killer. There was enough suspicion to throw around that it was hard to dump it all on one character. I mentioned yesterday how much I enjoyed the Beatles elements that helped build the mystery and the eventual answer. I did wonder if serious Beatles fans would have figured the mystery out sooner, but for me I was guessing right up until the end.
The only other complaint I had for this book was that the editing could have been better. I review a lot of small press and self-published books on my blog, and while I tend to be more lenient with editing on indie books, small press books should be pretty near flawless in their editing. This book was not, and it was a little disappointing that there were so many errors, but it wasn't enough to detract from the story as a whole.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. It was a fun, slightly goofy, entertaining read. A great book for summer. It was funny, interesting, and had some really good characters. I look forward to the second book.
Who would I commend this book to? Teen readers and adults will both enjoy this book. The language was fairly clean, and there were no sexual scenes. There is a murder, but it isn't gruesome. Obviously, mystery readers will enjoy this book, but it isn't a police crime drama. There isn't a strong romance, but there's the possibility for one in later books. Beatles fans will definitely enjoy all the Beatles references, talk of death clues, and the incorporation of Beatles elements into the solution. If you're looking for a light, fun mystery, this book is for you.
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