"The Highland Havoc Caper" By Sally Carpenter: Review/Giveaway

 Review by Kathleen Costa

Comment Challenge: Enter to win an ebook copy of The Highland Havoc Caper by Sally Carpenter by making a comment below about some childhood memories or Scottish insights: (1) a favorite childhood television star or teen idol, (2) attend a Highland Game event, or (3) bagpipes good or bad. Details on how to also enter via email and a link to purchase the book at the end of this post.

Lights! Camera! …Murder!

Sandy Fairfax is the stage name for Stanford Ernest Farmington II. He was a teen idol starring in the popular 1970s television show, Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth, which included a successful singing career. Fame, however, is fleeting. His addiction and subsequent public divorce destroyed his career and alienated him from family and friends … then, he hit bottom, a scar as a reminder. He began working diligently on his sobriety, rebuilding his relationship with family, enjoying more stability with, now, fiancée Cinnamon, spending quality time with his two children, and putting his efforts into a professional comeback. Of course, challenges occur in the form of suspicious deaths he’s been compelled to investigate, and despite earning a reputation as a good detective, it’s been dangerous. He has promised to stand down, but how long will that last? Maybe just until the next death is made public.

Enjoy this fascinating Bio for Stanford Ernest Farmington II aka Sandy Fairfax.

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Image Source Cozy Cat Press
The Highland Havoc Caper
Earns 5/5 Kilt Tartans … Cleverly Complex Cozy!

News alert: Angus Glendenny, forty-six, was found beaten in the alley behind a popular Scottish watering hole, Bonnie Prince Pub, in Encino. The victim still had his wallet and watch, so the local police are not looking at the crime as a robbery turned murder. They have no suspects, yet, to calm public concern.

It’s Christmas Day, 1993, and the radio news of a suspicious death will not deter Ernest’s holiday spirit. The Farmington clan enjoys the holidays which oddly includes celebrating Ernest’s birthday; this year it’s thirty-nine. But, tonight he adds to the festivities the surprise announcement he and Cinnamon are now engaged. Almost everyone is thrilled with the news; since his two children remember his bad “Dad” times, they fear the change. It’s made worse when Ernest’s thirteen-year-old son is disappointed by receiving his own full kilt attire from his dad. It’s a tradition important to pass down to the next generation, no matter their lack of interest. The Seaside Highland Games are soon, and with the Farmington’s Scottish ancestry, everyone will need to look the part.

It’s the New Year, 1994, and the weather is perfect for the Highland Games situated not far from Lockhart Castle, residence of Lord Ewan Lockhart of Lockhart Processing. It should be a great father/son bonding situation for Ernest and Chip, but it turns into a curious mystery … or two, or three. The father and son duo find a dead body in the castle’s cellar that later disappears; a bagpiper playing from the castle tower falls out of the window, yet no body is found, and don’t forget Angus Glendenny whose name pops up while Ernest is snooping around. Are these incidents just coincidental discoveries or are they connected? Ernest has quite the dilemma pitting his overactive curiosity with his promise to family and his fiancée to not investigate, but I’m on Team Curiosity.

All That And a Bag of Chips! I came to Sally Carpenter’s Sandy Fairfax Mystery series late, but I was so entertained by its 90s, SoCal setting, teen idol past, flawed, yet endearing protagonist, and realistic predicaments putting the rest of the series high on my reading queue. The sixth book was extremely engaging with several mysteries, seemingly unrelated, to capture the main character’s attention (and mine), and although Ernest is a persona non grata with castle authorities adding an acting gig, not an Oscar quality production, to give access to the castle was clever. Three bodies, a curling rivalry, Scottish history, culture, and fashion, ghost stories, and lots of dangerous predicaments added a complexity to the drama that had me quickly swiping the screen to learn how Sally was going to connect it all together: fraud? greed? cheating? murder? Seems like a few of the deadly sins!

Sally’s writing style is very entertaining. I was hooked through it all with descriptive language that created a recognizable SoCal environment, a medieval Scottish castle, a movie set, a pub, and a plethora of diverse personalities. The humor and realistic interactions among characters added to my enjoyment, and each had some role in the protagonist’s life, sobriety, and investigation: an antagonistic ex-wife with reason, a supportive family with reservations, a loving fiancée with expectations, an annoying teenager with hormones, and witnesses, suspects, and curious figures all with their own agenda. Also, it was a very cool cameo appearance of real-life EMT persona, teen heartthrob, and my personal 60s-70s favorite, Bobby Sherman!

Fun for fans! Don’t miss the ten-question Teen Idol Quiz at the back of the book! What’s your score?

SandyFairfax Teen Idol Mystery

The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (2018)

The Sinister Sitcom Caper (2020)

The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper (2020)

The Quirky Quiz Show Caper (2020)

The Notorious Noel Caper (2021) KRL Review HERE

The Highland Havoc Caper (2023)

Be a Big Sally Carpenter Fan!

Sally Carpenter, “Author of Mystery Retro-Cozies,” has two exciting series sending cozy fans into the fun eras with which many baby boomers have personal experience. The 70s are the setting for the delightful Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Mystery, and ThePsychedelic Spy Series puts the 60s on parade along with a super-secret spy agency, SIAMESE (Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Surveillance and Espionage), and their new recruit, actress Nicole McNabb.

Facebook: Sally Carpenter

Website: Sally Carpenter

Enter to win an ebook copy of The Highland Havoc Caper by Sally Carpenter by making a comment below about some childhood memories or Scottish insights: (1) a favorite childhood television star or teen idol, (2) attend a Highland Game event, or (3) bagpipes good or bad, or simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "highland." A winner will be chosen May 13, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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 check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

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.


  1. I was always partial to Melissa Joan Hart.

  2. Shawn Cassidy was a favorite childhood star of mine I enjoyed the Partridge Family and read some Teen Idol magazines with his picture on the Cover ah Child hood. deborahortega229@yahoo.com

  3. My favorite childhood teen idol was Shawn Cassidy and I watched the Partridge Family and had Teen Idol magazines with his picture on the cover.

  4. I liked Shawn Cassidy and loved watching the Partridge Family and had Teen Idol magazines with his picture on the cover.

  5. We have a winner!
    Lorie Ham


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