"Hippie Haven Homicide" Psychedelic Spy Mystery By Sally Carpenter

by Kathleen Costa

Peace, Love, Spies, Murder!
It’s late 1960s Yuletide, Indiana, with its flowery fashions, princess phones, vinyl records, and attitudes sans the contemporary “politically correct” filter. Twenty-something Noelle McNabb works at Groovy Vinyl Record Shop on Kringle Avenue and to supplement her income, she plays the Winter Witch in the Candy Cane Capers show during the fall and winter months at the town’s largest employer, Country Christmas Family Fun Park. This was suppose to be just a footnote on her acting resumé, but Hollywood remains more of a dream than reality. Noelle’s mother stays home, it’s the sixties, raising twin eight-year-olds Donny and Dolly, and her dad works at a factory, but no one knows on what. She has a close friend, Trevor Spellman, a reporter for the Yuletide Herald, and at home on Ornament Lane, she rooms with a pushy, demanding feline named Ceebee. But, Noelle has a secret...she’s an operative for the Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Surveillance and Espionage...SIAMESE, for short! Move over, James Bond! Noelle is on the case!

Psychedelic Spy Mystery
Flower Power Fatality (2016) Reviewed HERE
Hippie Haven Homicide (2020)

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Hippie Haven Homicide earns 5/5 Feline Operatives...Engaging Fun!
Poinsettia Park, usually filled with families and seniors enjoying the fresh air, has been invaded by blue-robed members of the SPARK family: Spiritually Pure and Radiant Kin. The day-to-day care and feeding of the group and monitoring of their mission to spread good news with others is done by a man who answers to “First Sage,” and although the devotees ride on a bus emblazoned with “SPARK LOVE CAMPAIGN TOUR,” he rides in a chauffeured white Cadillac. The disciple’s true leader is one referred to as “Wise One,” and his reach in growing, but to what end? Noelle is curious, and Trevor’s “spideysense is tingly,” but a library search of microfilm and newspaper clippings (no internet) provides little fruitful insights. The “Wise One” is elusive,” but “First Sage” says they’re only in town for a short time to hold a big rally. But, how are they supporting themselves? What is their ultimate purpose? Noelle meets Blossom whose sad family past has led her to join the group, but there seems something not right, something Blossom is afraid to share, and when her body is found, Noelle is seriously motivated to uncover the why-s and who-s.

Noelle’s need to be secretive about her undercover persona causes some problems with friends and family as she’s been contacted by the head of SIAMESE, Dash Hanover. “Fido Brown calling Tabby Gray!” They’ve been tracking a surge in activity, and a spy, code name “Old Scratch,” dealing in government secrets, may be responsible for the “expiration” of two agents. So, Noelle has been assigned a mission, and to join her? It is necessary to recruit a four-legged James Bond. CeeBee is perfect for surveillance, getting himself his own security badge. Will the two issues have connections? Can Noelle, her two-legged partner Destiny, and a cranky cat save the country?

Groovy! Sally Carpenter has once again transported readers back in time to the transformative 60s with references I still remember from my own childhood with a giggle: spinning records, obsessions with teen magazines, The Monkees, and VW bugs. This mystery highlights the “cult” culture prominent during the hippie era with disillusioned youths, resentment of the mainstream, and misunderstandings along with truth and faith. But, nothing is obvious! The victim was sad to see, although the innocent often become collateral damage, and justice. Although a big surprise, is finally served, but not without some nail-biting peril. “The Girl From...S.I.A.M.E.S.E.” mission adds a delightful element reminding me I always wanted to be Agent April Dancer when I was young! Sally’s writing style is engaging with a third-person narrative, although I miss the ‘I” perspective, descriptions paint a “groovy” picture, illustrative dialogue sets tone and personalities, and her use of retro language and phrases takes me on a fun walk down memory lane. Noelle seems well crafted for the 60s era, a young and realistic, modern woman who has dreams to achieve, loves her family, the twins, too, has faith in God, puts her life on the line for country, but won’t shoot anyone, has a healthy skepticism, and earns my praise! Totally cool!

Check out Sally’s guest post: Kings River Life: Animals in Espionage (7/22/20).

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And speaking of podcasts, check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up last week.

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Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


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