Monday, September 1, 2008

Everybody Loved Roger Harden, by Cecil Murphey (Heartsong Mysteries)

(Click cover for more information)

What a fun book! Cecil Murphey is a prolific writer (just Google him), and Everybody Loved Roger Harden is a great addition to his repertoire.

This is a whodunnit with a Christian slant. A classic murder mystery, Roger Harden is written mostly in the first-person through the eyes of Julie West, a psychologist and one of the two primary sleuths investigating Mr. Harden's murder. Her co-investigator is James Burton, a pastor who, like Julie, is a dinner guest of Harden's the evening of his murder--and who, again like Julie, shares a first-person perspective alternately througout the story.

It seems a carefully selected group of Roger Harden's "friends" have been invited to his private island for dinner. The guest list has been carefully prepared, for each one of the invitees has a unique relationship with Mr. Harden. Unfortunately, before dinner even begins, their host is found murdered in his study. The remainder of the story has Julie and James piecing together the puzzle of who may have killed Harden.

As the story unfolds, each of their fellow guests reveals--some less willingly than others--why they probably appeared on the guest list for this special dinner, and how they really felt about Roger Harden. Each one of them, it appears, has a motive for eliminating their host. But who stands to gain the most by his death? His wife, who inherits her husband's considerable estate? The TV weather personality, who's indebted to him for her success--and hates it? The professor, who Mr. Harden discovered cheated on his dissertation and holds this knowledge over his head?

Everybody Loved Roger Harden flows wonderfully from chapter to chapter as, bit by bit, the facts emerge about a manipulative, hard-hearted millionaire who craved control over people and their lives. But something has happened in Roger Harden's life, and he has invited--no, not invited, but summoned--them all to his island for dinner and a special announcement, one that will affect each one of their lives. Does his announcement die with him? Can Julie and James ferret out the truth, or is there more to the story than can ever be told?

If you enjoy a light-hearted mystery with plenty of twists, but don't want to be nervous about turning the page into a gory or explicit scene thrown into your face for effect, Everybody Loved Roger Harden is for you. Oh yes, did I mention there's chemistry between Julie and James that teases their efforts to concentrate on the mystery at hand? The fun never ends!

This was another one Jeannie and I enjoyed reading together at night. Give it a try. See if you can finger the culprit before Julie and James do. We didn't...


Anonymous said...

This one I will have to read! It reminds me of Agatha Christie's novel, "Ten Little Indians", then later renamed and turned into a movie staring Barry Fitzgerald called "And Then There Were None".

Bruce Judisch said...

You're absolutely right, Jennifer. I've seen other reviews that have likened it to just that work. I think you'll really like it. Tell your friends! :-)

I shared e-mails with Mr. Murphey today (Delightful man! Check his Web site at He has a second cozy mystery on the street through Barbour's book club, with a third to follow soon. The new one is Everybody Wanted Room 623. Jeannie and I are getting a copy, as we will the third when it becomes available.

Thanks for commenting. Hope you're weathering the hurricane season okay. There appear to be more on the way...

Cheers! Bruce

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the website, Mr. Judisch! I look forward to reading this book. :-)

We're weathering the hurricanes pretty well. We live in Panama City (stationed at Tyndall AFB). We're along the Gulf of Mexico coast line...thankfully not the East coast! Been getting a lot of rain but nothing too bad. And the winds, we have seen and been through worse winds when we lived in Oklahoma City. But if we have to evacuate we have a couple of AF bases within driving distance we can go to in Alabama and Georgia. The most comforting thought is the base and the city have worked it all out that the military will evacuate first (a day or two before the city announces to the public we need to leave), and I can live without all of our possessions - those things you can always get again. But my family is a different story! Out of everything I would prefer to have them than all the possessions in the world. But thankfully the Lord has seen to our protection and knows what's best for our part of the country. I will continue to trust Him and rest in His use in worrying about something when you can't do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

Got this one for Christmas and finished it this afternoon. Took me a couple of days with all the holiday celebrations. :) Really enjoyed this book. I like how it starts out mirroring "And Then There Were None" and then branches off with its own twist. I was pleasantly surprised when the murder was solved...didn't see it coming. :) And I like how the books ends without giving too much away but has you hooked, wanting more. I look forward to reading the sequels. :)