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What Has Mother Done? (Thea Browne Mystery, #1)

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“Barbara Petty has written a riveting mystery reminiscent of Psycho. Somewhere, Hitchcock is smiling. And to think, this is just the first of the Thea Browne Mysteries.” —J.M. LeDuc, author of the Sinclair O’Malley series “A gripping drama unfolds as Barbara Petty explores the tensions between a woman with Alzheimer’s accused of an unspeakable crime, and her daughter, an “Barbara Petty has written a riveting mystery reminiscent of Psycho. Somewhere, Hitchcock is smiling. And to think, this is just the first of the Thea Browne Mysteries.” —J.M. LeDuc, author of the Sinclair O’Malley series “A gripping drama unfolds as Barbara Petty explores the tensions between a woman with Alzheimer’s accused of an unspeakable crime, and her daughter, an investigative reporter determined to clear her mother’s name. Well worth the read.” —Sheila Lowe, author of the Forensic Handwriting Mystery series In a small Midwestern town, on a cold, blustery March day, a man plunges to his death off a high, rocky cliff, setting in motion a string of events that lead to murders and rips open the long-hidden secrets of the town’s most prominent family… The man is George Prentice, and the woman the police suspect of murdering him is his wife, Daphne. But Daphne has Alzheimer’s and, as she is likely to be incompetent to stand trial, has not been arrested. Daphne’s daughter, Thea Browne, is a trained investigative reporter, who is furious that the police haven’t bothered to look any further for a culprit other than her mother. She suspects her stepfather made enemies when meddling in local politics and, according to one of his cronies, George wrote a memoir threatening to “blow the lid off this town.” As Thea follows her own investigation, she discovers a widening circle of suspects, some much closer to home than she expected. Even her best friend from childhood, Annie Biggs, seems to be keeping a deep dark secret that she refuses to share with Thea. More murders push Thea to the point where protecting her mother forces her to put her own life on the line to track down a diabolical killer. “Thea Browne returns to her small hometown to discover nothing is at it seems. Struggling with the death of her beloved stepfather and her mother’s Alzheimer’s, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue as events from the past lead to danger in the present. A must read.” —Mike Befeler, author of “Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse” and the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery series “Petty builds a strong character and supporting actors in this compelling story.” —Peg Brantley, award finalist for “The Sacrifice”


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“Barbara Petty has written a riveting mystery reminiscent of Psycho. Somewhere, Hitchcock is smiling. And to think, this is just the first of the Thea Browne Mysteries.” —J.M. LeDuc, author of the Sinclair O’Malley series “A gripping drama unfolds as Barbara Petty explores the tensions between a woman with Alzheimer’s accused of an unspeakable crime, and her daughter, an “Barbara Petty has written a riveting mystery reminiscent of Psycho. Somewhere, Hitchcock is smiling. And to think, this is just the first of the Thea Browne Mysteries.” —J.M. LeDuc, author of the Sinclair O’Malley series “A gripping drama unfolds as Barbara Petty explores the tensions between a woman with Alzheimer’s accused of an unspeakable crime, and her daughter, an investigative reporter determined to clear her mother’s name. Well worth the read.” —Sheila Lowe, author of the Forensic Handwriting Mystery series In a small Midwestern town, on a cold, blustery March day, a man plunges to his death off a high, rocky cliff, setting in motion a string of events that lead to murders and rips open the long-hidden secrets of the town’s most prominent family… The man is George Prentice, and the woman the police suspect of murdering him is his wife, Daphne. But Daphne has Alzheimer’s and, as she is likely to be incompetent to stand trial, has not been arrested. Daphne’s daughter, Thea Browne, is a trained investigative reporter, who is furious that the police haven’t bothered to look any further for a culprit other than her mother. She suspects her stepfather made enemies when meddling in local politics and, according to one of his cronies, George wrote a memoir threatening to “blow the lid off this town.” As Thea follows her own investigation, she discovers a widening circle of suspects, some much closer to home than she expected. Even her best friend from childhood, Annie Biggs, seems to be keeping a deep dark secret that she refuses to share with Thea. More murders push Thea to the point where protecting her mother forces her to put her own life on the line to track down a diabolical killer. “Thea Browne returns to her small hometown to discover nothing is at it seems. Struggling with the death of her beloved stepfather and her mother’s Alzheimer’s, she becomes caught in a web of intrigue as events from the past lead to danger in the present. A must read.” —Mike Befeler, author of “Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse” and the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery series “Petty builds a strong character and supporting actors in this compelling story.” —Peg Brantley, award finalist for “The Sacrifice”

30 review for What Has Mother Done? (Thea Browne Mystery, #1)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    I almost stopped reading this more than once. Thea was not, in my opinion, a likeable character, though her sister was far less likeable. We don't get to know her mother except through Thea, and her view is just plain harsh. The book ended with many loose ends and no desire to read further in the series to pursue them. Thea simply was not likeable enough for me to want to read more of her.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Thea Browne never had a particularly loving relationship with her mother. She moved away from her mid-west home to work as a reporter. Her mother, Daphne, re-married, and her new husband, George, became the primary caretaker as his wife experienced the decline of Alzheimer’s disease. When George tragically falls from a cliff and dies, rumors suggest that Daphne may have pushed him. Thea comes home and embarks on a mission to clear her mother’s name. She also gets a close look at her mother’s men Thea Browne never had a particularly loving relationship with her mother. She moved away from her mid-west home to work as a reporter. Her mother, Daphne, re-married, and her new husband, George, became the primary caretaker as his wife experienced the decline of Alzheimer’s disease. When George tragically falls from a cliff and dies, rumors suggest that Daphne may have pushed him. Thea comes home and embarks on a mission to clear her mother’s name. She also gets a close look at her mother’s mental condition, and a new appreciation of George’s dedication. Petty has created an engrossing story, peopled with the quirky characters of a small town. She demonstrates a keen understanding of the psychological factors that create tension among them. As Thea moves toward the truth, she also contemplates staying on to continue caring for her mother. The book reaches a satisfying resolution, with just enough question marks to warrant a continuation of the series.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Kelly

    Another book that could've been a 5* read but was let down because nobody proofread it properly. This author clearly struggles with using apostrophes correctly but surely she knows one person at least who is aware of how to utilise them correctly !! It did drive me to distraction despite my enjoyment of the actual story. This author is a new one to me but I enjoyed it and liked Thea and her family and friends so will definitely stick with this series. The American authors do have a very peculiar Another book that could've been a 5* read but was let down because nobody proofread it properly. This author clearly struggles with using apostrophes correctly but surely she knows one person at least who is aware of how to utilise them correctly !! It did drive me to distraction despite my enjoyment of the actual story. This author is a new one to me but I enjoyed it and liked Thea and her family and friends so will definitely stick with this series. The American authors do have a very peculiar phraseology at times as well, as illustrated in this sentence, "Annie Biggs was her best friend since they were five years old." Then I'm aware of what a gaberdine raincoat is but not "....a six-foot wall of rusty black gabardine...." It makes no sense to me. There were the odd dropped fullstops but those apostrophes, whether missed or misplaced in words such as Cubs, Collins, Liddles's, ladies, Biggses's, Notes, cripes, short-circuit's......a lot of these were oft-repeated, unfortunately. It made me chuckle in a few instances, one passage near the end was a tad gruesome and I loved something Thea did near the end which touched me a lot, too. A little something for all comers but probably best described as a cozy mystery.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Magic Mary Austin

    Barbara Petty once again shows her skills as a writer with What Has Mother Done?, an engaging mystery that will leave you guessing until the very end. Thea Browne has returned home to care for her mother after her step-father plunges to his death from a high cliff in a public park. The only real suspect the police are pursuing is Thea's mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's and is unable to defend herself. Because Thea is a trained investigative reporter, she can't leave the investigation to just t Barbara Petty once again shows her skills as a writer with What Has Mother Done?, an engaging mystery that will leave you guessing until the very end. Thea Browne has returned home to care for her mother after her step-father plunges to his death from a high cliff in a public park. The only real suspect the police are pursuing is Thea's mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's and is unable to defend herself. Because Thea is a trained investigative reporter, she can't leave the investigation to just the police. Her journey to discover the truth is a great read with twists and turns and surprises. I was happy to see that Goodreads identified this novel as number one in the Thea Browne Mystery series. I am looking forward to reading the next one when it appears.

  5. 4 out of 5

    S

    I am a first time reader of Barbara Petty, so I was not really sure what to expect. This turned out to be a great mystery that really kept me on the edge of my seat looking for clues to the killer. I love a book that can keep me guessing and give me a good story also. In between the mystery the book gives you a glance into the life of children who become caregivers for their parents. And the similarities you can equate to taking care of your own children. Everyone is different and there is no man I am a first time reader of Barbara Petty, so I was not really sure what to expect. This turned out to be a great mystery that really kept me on the edge of my seat looking for clues to the killer. I love a book that can keep me guessing and give me a good story also. In between the mystery the book gives you a glance into the life of children who become caregivers for their parents. And the similarities you can equate to taking care of your own children. Everyone is different and there is no manual you make it up as you go along. I would definitely read this author again.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    A man has been pushed off a cliff, and the likely suspect is his wife, who has Alzheimer's and thus can't tell anybody what happened. The woman's daughter decides to exonerate her mother and find the killer of her beloved step-father. The mother is cleared too early for the title of the book to be apt. We go through the usual run down of various people in town who seem to have motives just to keep the reader guessing, and the daughter makes various stupid decisions (to keep the plot going). The A man has been pushed off a cliff, and the likely suspect is his wife, who has Alzheimer's and thus can't tell anybody what happened. The woman's daughter decides to exonerate her mother and find the killer of her beloved step-father. The mother is cleared too early for the title of the book to be apt. We go through the usual run down of various people in town who seem to have motives just to keep the reader guessing, and the daughter makes various stupid decisions (to keep the plot going). The ending, where the killer is revealed, reads like the plot of a Grade B movie. Still, it is a good mindless novel for the beach or plane while vacationing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mary Baker

    This was a freebie on Kindle so I didn't know what to expect. I was, however, pleased to find myself involved with the main character Thea as she tried to prove that her mother didn't kill her husband. Parts of the plot didn't seem to come together well; for instance, the part that Matthew played in the mystery left me with questions. I thought this novel was a decent read and hope to find more of this author's books to read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lady Delacour

    This story and the characters are all a bit askew and I liked it. 3 Stars. Listened with TTS. Clean. Foul Language.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gloria Vandemmeltraadt

    Good mystery Petty has done good research on Alzheimer's disease. Characters are well developed and believable. Loved the ending. Now I'm eager to see what else petty has done.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wendell Hennan

    Well I am not a murder mystery fan but this book was sooo bizarre. It's only redeeming feature were the realizations that occurred to Thea from time to time as she dealt with and came to understand her mother's Alzheimers. The only likable character was her friend Annie's son, Joe, a teenager who was respectful and kind to everyone especially Thea's mother, Daphne Linley Prentice. Elderly people pushing others over cliffs and crazed care givers hiding their mother's bodies in the freezer. TOO OV Well I am not a murder mystery fan but this book was sooo bizarre. It's only redeeming feature were the realizations that occurred to Thea from time to time as she dealt with and came to understand her mother's Alzheimers. The only likable character was her friend Annie's son, Joe, a teenager who was respectful and kind to everyone especially Thea's mother, Daphne Linley Prentice. Elderly people pushing others over cliffs and crazed care givers hiding their mother's bodies in the freezer. TOO OVER THE TOP.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn B. Tiner

    Contrived Ending There were too many loose ends at the close of the story. A romance between Thea and the younger detective wasn't a real possibility. Was justice served for anyone?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    Who killed George? Thea came home to care for her mother after her step-father plunges to his death. The only real suspect the police are pursuing is Thea's mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's and is unable to defend herself.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steven Ramirez

    I’m just going to come out and say it. Barbara Petty is a little sneaky. When I began reading What Has Mother Done, the author introduced a story that could easily have been a cozy mystery. Sure, right off the bat, there’s a body. But we’ve got a main character who is wicked-funny with her internal thoughts and asides pitted against the proverbial small town where everyone—and I mean everyone—has a secret. Petty’s Thea Browne is no ingenue, either. She’s a hard-bitten investigative reporter who h I’m just going to come out and say it. Barbara Petty is a little sneaky. When I began reading What Has Mother Done, the author introduced a story that could easily have been a cozy mystery. Sure, right off the bat, there’s a body. But we’ve got a main character who is wicked-funny with her internal thoughts and asides pitted against the proverbial small town where everyone—and I mean everyone—has a secret. Petty’s Thea Browne is no ingenue, either. She’s a hard-bitten investigative reporter who has been around the block a few times. When we meet her, she faces the bleak prospect of looking after her recently widowed mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. During the investigation, Thea is forced to put up with her best friend, Annie, who has gone a little wonky of late. And she must also deal with her sister, Beryl. Yeah, they don’t get along. As if all that wasn’t enough, let’s throw in some hot flashes. Yes, the story could have been a perfectly respectable cozy mystery. That is until the body count goes up. What Has Mother Done is a first-rate mystery thriller. The characters are engaging—and often frustrating. As Thea goes about trying to solve the mystery of her stepfather’s untimely death, I found my pulse quickening. If you enjoy smartly written scenes of small-town intrigue, violence, and questionable loyalties, then I suggest you check out this excellent novel.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hari Brandl

    This is a book that disappointed me. I have read a book about a woman with Alzheimer's who may or may not have committed a murder, and liked it (I forget the author; possibly Anne Pachett), so I was thinking there would be similarities, but I was wrong. Ms Petty's characters are inauthentic, (and she absolutely does not have a CLUE about cat behavior!), and even though I know Alzheimer's affects personality in different ways, Thea mother is written too much like a petulant 6 yr old over-eater for This is a book that disappointed me. I have read a book about a woman with Alzheimer's who may or may not have committed a murder, and liked it (I forget the author; possibly Anne Pachett), so I was thinking there would be similarities, but I was wrong. Ms Petty's characters are inauthentic, (and she absolutely does not have a CLUE about cat behavior!), and even though I know Alzheimer's affects personality in different ways, Thea mother is written too much like a petulant 6 yr old over-eater for my taste. The ending, while not a surprise, is over done, and randomly and hurriedly plays out. All of a sudden people with different dementias and mental illnesses seemed to be coming out of the walls. Then there's the unprofessional, not to say bizarre behavior of the police guy in the hospital near the end. A potentially good story gone wrong.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Asten

    You Never Can Tell Everything crashing down on Thea. It's always the pits to be considered the reliable one. Expectations by others in the family are always higher on you and you never get beyond that feeling of never being able to please your parent enough and being disappointed with what you get in return. Widow Thea rushes from warm L.A. to cold northern Illinois to pick up the pieces after her stepfather's mysterious death to become primary care giver to her cold Alzheimer's diagnosed mother. You Never Can Tell Everything crashing down on Thea. It's always the pits to be considered the reliable one. Expectations by others in the family are always higher on you and you never get beyond that feeling of never being able to please your parent enough and being disappointed with what you get in return. Widow Thea rushes from warm L.A. to cold northern Illinois to pick up the pieces after her stepfather's mysterious death to become primary care giver to her cold Alzheimer's diagnosed mother. Little help is expected of her kid sister who is going thru messy divorce number 3 and one very elderly aunt. Violence keeps happening. Enjoy following the red herrings as Thea proves to herself her mother's innocence.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Extremely well written. The use of uncommon words was refreshing; I highlighted 33 of them to use in future speeches and presentations I'll be writing. To avoid spoilers, I am writing my review in a specific manner to prevent giving away any details. This story is a murder mystery and has several twists, from the first of several deaths to the final paragraph. I suspect I will have to order subsequent books in this series to find out why the aunt and the best friend couldn't hear Thea when she s Extremely well written. The use of uncommon words was refreshing; I highlighted 33 of them to use in future speeches and presentations I'll be writing. To avoid spoilers, I am writing my review in a specific manner to prevent giving away any details. This story is a murder mystery and has several twists, from the first of several deaths to the final paragraph. I suspect I will have to order subsequent books in this series to find out why the aunt and the best friend couldn't hear Thea when she spoke at the hospital.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Adams

    3 1/2 stars - an entertaining mystery. But although one reviewer compared it to a Hitchcock story, I cannot agree. It is well written which is why I did not give it 3 stars but, while the who-done-it was not readily apparent, I found the conclusion a bit contrived and unsatisfactory...the whole who killed George a kind of ho hum now we know who but no real meat as to why. All that build-up only to fall....pardon the pun...flat.

  18. 4 out of 5

    R.L.

    A good how-done-it, who-done-it. After she got the call from her small mid-western hometown that her beloved stepfather had fallen off a cliff and died, Thea caught a plane and came home. A former investigative reporter, she is experienced at seeing through a flimsy police investigation. With plenty of suspects and plenty of motives, she wasn't sure who had done what but she was determined to dig deeper to find out.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eirlys

    An exciting mystery A very unusual story that kept me riveted to the last page. It was beautifully crafted with twists, turns and red herrings . Thea returns home for her stepfather, George's sudden death. Her mother has Alzheimer and needs constant attention for her own safety. Thea feels duty bound to stay and care for her mother. There are secrets that run deep and are looming over the town.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lin Shultz

    Summary of book I liked the book overall. It kept my interest throughout the book. I felt the character development could have been more detailed. What was the big secret Wilt was going to tell The a? I felt like the author got t tired of writing and just kind of left the reader dangling at the very end. It's too bad because I wanted a clearer ending. I wouldn't give it a high recommendation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Boots S

    Thea leaves California on learning of her step fathers death. Her mother is suffering from Alzheimers and she was totally cared for by her husband. Who will take charge now? then she hears her mother is suspected of pushing her husband off a off and causing his death. Thea decides to investigate and meets many old school mates from the days she lived in town. Some are possible suspects.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rick Lacy

    Excellent storytelling! Another lost night's sleep, but we'll worth it. Exceptionally this book is amazingly seductive. It starts with characters who are so believable that I thought they would be dull. But soon I was finding myself reading faster to find out what happened next. Definitely not dull! Enjoy it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    An absorbing story . Alzheimer's has taken hold of her mother . As her caretaker , the heroine of the story has so much to learn Unfortunately, her mother's husband was no longer around and she is quite sure his death wasn't an accident. When the police is convinced that her mother killed him, she is determined to prove her innocence. Well-written with believable characters.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Gecowets

    The stark horrors of mind altering conditions and diseases.. Wow,I never expected a murder mystery to deal with Alzheimer's, mental illnesses, alcohol abuse turned into a mental disease. It was a very well researched,well written book. I enjoyed this gripping ,page turning book alot.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Janet Cooke

    Kept me flipping Got this one as a Book Bub bargain, so I didn't expect very much. I was pleasantly surprised. The protagonist was very natural, considering, discarding, and creating theories all while adjusting to direct care for a mother she doesn't have even fond feelings for. Pleasing twists and turns.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Mystery I liked the characters and the conflicting emotions dealing with Alzheimer’s parent as the mystery unfolded. Also emotions she brought to dealing with friend and sister. I thought it was unrealistic that her friend was so detached from her daughter Heather and she was okay with that. It just didn’t feel authentic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbara George

    Hometown mystery Thea leaves the big city to care for her aging mother accused of killing her husband. The story being told strikes The A wrong and she is determined to find answers. Old school acquaintances offer confusing help until Thea starts to find answers that shock and confuse her until it all comes together one tragic night.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Golik

    My mother has died. She did not have Alzheimer's but was forgetful. I enjoyed this book so true to life. People are exhausted from caring for others. Plus finding out about the past helps you understand more of there life.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charlene Davis

    Very Good At first I thought the book was slow to start but once you get pass the first two chapters, wow did it become a great mystery. The ending was not what I suspected. I liked that one of today's most difficult disease of our century played a major part in the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    mary ann mcdonald

    What's Mother Done? Th is book was a journey a person takes to find ones self! There were a lot of stuff patches & old hurts to work through! But I'm the end love prevailed & proved true love can conquer all! The ending is a surprise & a gift! Great book! What's Mother Done? Th is book was a journey a person takes to find ones self! There were a lot of stuff patches & old hurts to work through! But I'm the end love prevailed & proved true love can conquer all! The ending is a surprise & a gift! Great book!

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