Read Strangled Prose by Joan Hess Online


She would have killed for a bestsellerbut someone beat her to it...Professor of Passion, the smutty new romance from Mildred Twillera.k.a. Azalea Twilightisn't the kind of book Claire Mallow likes to hock at her bookstore, but Claire agrees to host a book party for her friend's trashy tale. As torrid as the novel is, it's nothing compared to the evening. After the party, pShe would have killed for a bestseller—but someone beat her to it...Professor of Passion, the smutty new romance from Mildred Twiller—a.k.a. Azalea Twilight—isn't the kind of book Claire Mallow likes to hock at her bookstore, but Claire agrees to host a book party for her friend's trashy tale. As torrid as the novel is, it's nothing compared to the evening. After the party, poor Mildred is found dead in her home—stranged with a tightly knotted silk scarf. Now it's up to Claire to find Mildred's killer, and it won't be easy—the two-bit author had offended nearly every faculty member she worked with at nearby Faber College. But who could have hated Mildred with such smoldering passion?...

Title : Strangled Prose
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 11633142
Format Type : Other Book
Number of Pages : 183 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Strangled Prose Reviews

  • Jonathan
    2018-11-28 06:47

    In some of my spare time over the last few days I've been cleaning and going through my bookshelves, and I was honestly shocked to see how many books I had that I forgot about. This was one of them. I had started reading this soon after I first got it almost a year ago but I soon lost interest. However, I have like five books in this series on my shelves and I need the space so I read it to see if I hated it all the way through. Luckily, I didnt. In fact, I really enjoyed this book!The main character, Claire, had an extremely hilarious, dry sense of humor that I loved and the potential love interest did also. I also loved the way the author portrayed Claire's daughter, even if she was a bit on the whiny side.The setting was simply realistic. To me, realistic is one of the highest compliments that can be put on a setting because in many books the setting falls flat, or is too perfect. However, though the setting wasn't featured, the town did seem quaint and very realistically portrayed. The mystery was onkay, however it was extremely transparent. I saw the killer long before the reveal, and I'm surprised Claire didn't.Overall a very good book. I may or may not make this one of my 'series projects' (longer series I enjoy enough to read all the way through). I've already started the second one, which was also sitting on my shelf for longer than this one had. Recommend!

  • Kimberly [Come Hither Books]
    2018-11-19 05:04

    The mystery itself was okay, with a decent number of plausible motives and opportunities to keep things interesting. I read this book primarily because the narrator was a bookseller and I expected to relate, but the narrator's resentful hostility towards customers, authors, and readers of genres other than her own made me thoroughly dislike the main character. This was a cozy mystery capitalizing on the infighting and personal dramas of an academic setting, whose narrator constantly complained about the cheap thrills and torrid drama of a romance doing exactly the same thing. Though the plot itself was okay, the narrator's harsh criticisms of the book within the book highlighted the similarities, and made it hard to enjoy the escapism of what might otherwise have been a satisfying quick read.

  • Mary
    2018-12-06 10:12

    The only reason this book is getting 3 stars is because the mystery was good. So why only 3? It's because the central character, Claire Malloy, is so thoroughly unlikeable. She is belligerent, caustic and too sarcastic for words. I also don't think much of her as a mother, friend or companion. I thought I had discovered a wonderful new cozy mystery series but I won't be reading any more books in this series. I suggest you don't waste your time or money either.

  • Dianne
    2018-12-16 09:55

    If you don't mind a verbose author (in my opinion she could\should have cut at least 50 pages of snark, innuendo and sarcasm) then this seems to be the author for you.If you like the Arly Hanks series don't expect this one to be similar. It is so far into a different realm as to be nearly unrecognizable as the same author. Perhaps that was Ms Hess's intention. Perhaps she thought that she should write something 'highbrow' to offense the fun that is Arly Hanks.The plot had holes big enough that you could drive a truck through some of them, the characters were not fleshed out very well (although perhaps they flesh out better later in the series), the back story comes at very odd times. Such as the author talks about Ms Malloy's late husband at a time in the book that left me wondering if I had missed a book and that this one wasn't the first in the series. Claire's daughter is obnoxious (not all 14 year old girls are obnoxious) in a very trite way.The relationship that is most likely going to develop (actually by reading the synopsis of some of the later books I know it does) is with the cop that is investigating the murder and Claire specifically. And maybe I'm not a cop, but boy, unless things really are that different in small college towns in the South this "investigating" was far from realistic. Yes I know that this is fiction so an author can pretty much write about things in whatever manner they want---but it sure help the authors credibility to stay within the realm of realism.Perhaps the series gets better as it goes along and maybe the snark and sarcasm will grow on you -I'm not going to give it a chance.Beside I really dislike authors that put down people who like certain book genres that the author doesn't produce -- it sort of reminds me of a child who makes fun of another child because the second one can do something well that the first child can't.

  • Jane
    2018-12-16 02:59

    Picking up the first book in a nineteen book series is not something I do lightly, but this particular book in this particular series had a protagonist I was curious to meet.Claire Malloy was the proprietor of a bookstore in a small American college town, a widow with a teenage daughter, and a woman who readers seemed to either love or hate. I think I’m coming down on the side of love. I found her to be brash and outspoken, I appreciated that she was strong and capable, and I loved her dark wit. I wouldn’t want to meet her in real life, but she was excellent company on the printed page.Hosting the launch of an erotic romance was not something Claire would usually do – and ‘The Professor of Passion’ was definitely not the kind of book she would have on her shelves – but she agreed because the woman who stood behind the pseudonym ‘Azalea Twilight’ was her friend and neighbour Mildred Twiller. And because Mildred was the type of lady who would not take no for an answer.The launch party was one to remember. There were protestors outside. A reading from the book revealed that it was a very thinly veiled roman a clef. And later that day the author was found strangled with her own silk scarf.There were plenty of suspects. A good number of people recognised themselves in the text, and had secrets come tumbling out that they had hoped to keep hidden.There were lots of reasons for Claire to get involved. Her business was affected; her friends were affected, her daughter was taking rather too much interest in what was going on; she was getting on rather well with the detective in charge; and she was the kind of woman who had to do things, had to find out for herself.I appreciated that; there weren’t any of the contrivances that some books use to pull a protagonist who isn’t a professional detective in the story,And I appreciated the way that Joan Hess handled the drama. She brought different characters to the fore, she showed another side to Claire through revelations in the book, and she twisted her tale very well.There were some nice nods to classic detective fiction – but you shouldn’t read this book before you read ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ – Claire considers a theory that gives the ending away.I have some reservations. The tone was a little uneven, some of the characterisations were less than subtle, and the finale was disappointing.But those are all things that I hope will settle down as the series progresses. I see a good deal of potential here. And some interesting ideas in the next few books in the series.This was a short book, a quick easy read, and a lovely diversion between more serious books.

  • Damaskcat
    2018-12-15 05:52

    This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it. Claire Molloy runs a book shop in a college town and agrees reluctantly to allow a local celebrity romance author, Azalea Twilight to host a book signing party at the store even though she doesn't usually sell romances. A feminist from the college gate crashes the party and starts reading passages aloud from the book which appear to libel well known people in the community. Claire herself is affected because the book reveals something disreputable about her own late husband that she thought no one knew. Claire has a few murderous thoughts about Azalea but someone else has actually murdered the author - strangled with her own silk scarf.Claire soon finds herself a suspect in the murder enquiry along with several of her friends and have the college staff. Can she find out who really did it before she finds herself charged with the murder? I enjoyed this entertaining cozy mystery. It has interesting characters and plenty of humour as well as puzzling mystery to solve. I liked the way Claire's spiky relationship with the officer investigating the case was dealt with too.While this wasn't quite a five star read I did enjoy it and I have already downloaded the next book in the series to read.

  • Tab
    2018-12-11 08:11

    I usually grade 1st-in-series books on a curve, which is why I gave this book 3 stars. I plan on maybe reading the next book in the series.What killed me about this book was how damn combative Claire was towards the head officer. I mean down right rude. I know there is some suspension of belief when reading cozy mysteries, but man! I kept thinking "if I ever smart-off to a cop like that, I would be in the back of the squad car."Although the head officer was dimwitted, anyway. He let a prime suspect (Claire) do whatever she wanted.Hopefully, the next books in the series will run smoother now that all of the main characters and settings have been introduced.

  • Clare
    2018-11-30 04:49

    I read this for readers advisory-trying to broaden my usefulness to patrons in search of recommendations-and I liked it, much to my surprise. It's quick and light and funny and of course the main character's name is Claire... Some bias I suppose-plus she loves scotch and she owns a bookstore, what more can I ask for? I'll be reading more of this series for sure, and it will be for my own pleasure not just for work :)

  • Kate
    2018-12-14 07:52

    I've been reading a lot of recently published "cozy mysteries" and finding them wanting. It all seems so unbelievable. An amateur sleuth goes around asking people questions and they talk to her - why?, they don't even know her. And nothing about their lives seems realistic. Claire Malloy is something else again. I was shocked when I started reading this book. Claire not only had thoughts about people trying to impose on her or making suggestive comments, but she actually says them out loud!! She is annoyed by many people and says so. When something infuriates her she "flounces" out of a reception being held at her book store. And when she tries to go around asking questions of people they don't tell her anything!!! I found it all refreshing. This is the first book in the series and I'll have to read more to see if she stays this touchy in the following books. But it is great to have someone who doesn't make nice all the time. I like Claire very much!

  • Bridget
    2018-12-06 03:55

    When Claire Malloy reluctantly agrees to host a reception her friend's new book, she is mainly dismayed because she doesn't generally sell steamy romances at her bookstore, the Book Depot. But when the reception is interrupted by a local women's group, and selections are read aloud that bear an unsettling resemblance to some in attendance, and even to a part of Claire's past, she is both surprised and annoyed.When she later receives a call from the friend's house, saying she has been murdered, and then the police think she is a suspect, things start to get really sticky. When she starts looking into things herself, she finds that the book wasn't the only place where there were some secrets. And there were a lot of people in the town who could have been involved - but hopefully not her teenage daughter!This was a quick and entertaining read.

  • Megan
    2018-12-14 05:51

    Frankly, I was a bit underwhelmed by this book. Perhaps my expectations were too high because of Hess's work on the Painted Queen, but the structure of this book was entirely predictable. The characters were common prototypes, and the set up was trite. I'm used to reading mystery novels that are of a type, but this one fell short in implementation.I suspect that Joan Hess gets better as she goes; certainly she has managed to publish a lot of books and win awards, so I assume she does. I'm not actually particularly enticed to find out, though. Maybe I'll come around in a few months.

  • Brooke
    2018-11-24 09:56

    Strangled Prose started off with a bang, drawing me into the story and the life of Claire Malloy. I've always enjoyed mysteries that center around academia and this seemed so promising, but the book quickly spiraled downwards. Although the plot of a murdered romance writer was interesting, I really struggled to connect with a lot of the characters who had started out strong. Claire's interest in the murder seemed lackluster as did her interactions with other characters. Too bad this wasn't a better read.

  • Julie C-F
    2018-12-10 07:13

    It was a bit tame for me, in terms of the meddling and participation of the townspeople. I was looking for a confidante who will listen, suggest and probably drive the unlikely sleuth to where the action is. She loves to drink, it would have been cuter if she just likes cupcakes or chocolate chip cookies.

  • Tammy Lee Bradley
    2018-12-14 04:59

    I am going back and rereading this series of hardcovers that I own. I'll read any book based on a bookstore or bookseller. Years ago, I loved this series but now I find the characters to be snarky but not in a Molly Harper fun way... just in an unlikable I want to slap Caron way. I will still plod my way through my collection... we will see how it goes.

  • Beth
    2018-11-24 07:11

    First read as the mother of a 14-year old daughter (who could have been the model for Malloy's character Caron) and then reread with that daughter (whose 14-year old daughter is yet another Caron Doppelganger). Great fun!

  • Dru
    2018-12-08 03:57

    Here was an old book copywrited in 1986. It is the first in a Claire Malloy series. It was interesting but at times a little confusing. I think I will read more of this series though to see if the author gets better in time.

  • Phyllis
    2018-11-23 09:44

    I gave this little mystery two stars: one for the humor, and one for the fast pace.

  • Michale
    2018-11-27 10:45


  • Jayme(the ghost reader)
    2018-12-06 06:55

    This is the first book in a series. Claire Malloy is an owner of the Book Depot. As a favor to her friend, she agrees to host Mildred's book signing. After the book signing, the author is found dead. It is up to Claire to help her former friend solve her murder. I like the main character's humor. It is sarcastic. I also like the banter between Claire and Detective Rosen. He is the investigator assigned to the case. I wouldn't be surprised if they end up together even though Claire seems to hate him. She goads him by calling him Sherlock. :) This is a new series and author for me. I will have to check out more books in the series.

  • Clara
    2018-12-16 07:57

    Joan Hess is the author of two long-running series. This is the first in her Claire Malloy series (1986). It's also her first book, and you can tell. Then again, I haven't read any of her other novels, so they may all be like this one. I picked up Strangled Prose because I'm in need of light reading and because the protagonist, Claire Malloy, is a bookseller. Unfortunately, Claire is generally caustic (not in a good way) and negative, and owning and running a bookstore doesn't seem to make her life any happier. We rarely catch her being pleasant to anyone, not her "neighbors" at the college in the small college town in which she lives, her friends, her customers, and particularly not the police detective who is assigned to solve the book's mystery (the murder of a local romance novelist).Claire, a widow, learns a devastating piece of information about her deceased husband, who was an English professor at the local college before dying in a car accident. Claire's reaction to this is glossed over so quickly, and seems so perfunctory, that Hess squanders the opportunity for the reader to sympathize with Claire and get closer to her. And when Claire's daughter independently gets the same information, Hess again misses an opportunity to humanize Claire by not staging a mother-daughter moment in which the two discuss what they've learned, although Claire tells herself that she needs to do that.Finally, if the detective and Claire are going to be set up as a couple in a Hepburn/Tracy-like combative relationship in future installments, it's done in a fairly unpleasant way. Hess gives neither character the least amount of charm in their interactions, with Claire's sarcasm particularly over the top. The book started off well, but headed south from there. Here's hoping Hess's other Claire Malloy mysteries give Claire, and us, more to work with. Since the series appears to be nearing its 20th book, Hess may well have accomplished this. But as to this particular book, I can't recommend it.

  • The Badger
    2018-11-27 05:04

    The Claire Malloy series is a step above a Cozy, mainly because you actually LIKE the characters. Claire is the single mother of Caron, a teenaged daughter who's at the age of speaking in ALL CAPS. Claire is also the proprietor of a bookstore (which she doesn't seem to spend much time in, on account of solving murders and trying to calm Caron down to at least italics). Peter is Claire's detective boyfriend whom she's lucky to have, otherwise she'd spend the majority of her time in a holding cell for interfering with crime scenes. If you're looking for a mystery series where you actually LIKE the characters (I love Christie, but spent much of my extracurricular time plotting the death of the sanctimonious bitch Ms. Marple), start on the Claire Malloy series. Likewise, if you're wondering whether to have children, pay close attention to Caron. I work with kids and can assure you that all teen girls go through the "I HATE YOU--I NEED A RIDE TO THE MALL" phase. Unless you're saving for boarding school, pay attention.

  • Lisa (Harmonybites)
    2018-12-02 10:46

    I'm afraid the title is quite apt. The plot involves a murdered romance writer, and the prose was on the level I expect from the romance aisle--strained metaphors, intrusive irksome dialogue tagging--and even more irksome characterizations. This is told first person, and our narrator, Claire Malloy, describes her own daughter in ways that make her sound like a twit. And yes, I know, Caron and her friend Inez are 14--an awkward and annoying age--but I still never bought either character. We're also supposed to believe that a campus equivalent of NOW is so shocked, shocked by the very idea of a romance book they're planning to protest it even before it's released. Well, given romance books are fifty percent of paperback sales, I'd say they have their work cut out for them. I just never believed in any of the people in this book as real--and I guessed the major twist and identity of the murderer within a few dozen pages--before the actual murder.

  • Janet McCord
    2018-12-07 10:53

    I must be in the minority to just think this book was marginally ok because it came highly recommended from people whose opinions I value. I found it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth and I really doubt I want to continue with any others in the series. I found Claire Malloy, the main character, to be a real pain in the backside with all her snide comments and responses that were supposed to be witty. I imagine the author was trying to make her a 30's type of wise-cracking broad but it just came across to me as nasty and uncalled for. And speaking of nasty, don't get me started on her teenage daughter and the lack of parenting skills! Ugh. The characters were stock, the plotting lame and I'm starting to wonder now if 2 stars is too much. I wish now I'd borrowed a copy rather than paying money for even a used copy.

  • Tiffany
    2018-11-19 10:58

    There is a book group of women that attend my church that selected this book to read. It is a novel about an author Mildred who rights steamy semi-pornographic novels. This author writes a story with some details from some of the local citizens lives. When she is murdered several members of the college town are under investigation. It was an interesting read. The beginning of the book was somewhat questionable with many discussions about romance novels. After that main piece it wasn't discussed much after. The book was somewhat entertaining. I kept falling asleep reading the book during the last 2 days. I would read a page or two and then find myself asleep. This was everytime I was reading so it prolonged the reading.

  • Jamie
    2018-12-09 05:03

    Umm, ok, Strangled Prose was ok. I like Joan Hess but I'm not sure I dig this series all that much...It was great in the beginning but as situations began to unfold, I kept asking myself why Claire Malloy is being such a difficult witch?? I get that she's trying to help solve the murders that she has unfortunately become involved in. But when it comes to her daughter, a 13 year old girl, and her friend, why not be more responsive to the acting detective? It does have all the little twists and turns a good mystery needs, some a little too obvious. You do get sick of the phrase "poor Mildred". I would like to give this series a chance though. It wasn't a great read, but it was a good one.

    2018-11-19 05:09

    Being only 89 pages in I have to sort of disagree with most of these reviews on this book. Well maybe it's just me and how cynical and jaded I am but I love the sarcasm of Claire and I liked her right away. She has a right to sell what she wanted to sell in her store and she had a right to be angry over being accused of murder.I just guess i'm used to used to sarcasm and using it on a daily basis.And after what she went through I think she deserve to be the way she wants to be considering the life she has lived.I know the trials raising a teenager and Its a tough thing. I see alot of myself in her. I will continue with this series so far.

  • Anissa
    2018-11-28 04:00

    This was just okay but mostly because it felt terribly dated. Because of that it took me much longer than I usually would have to finish it. It's a cozy mystery so the dated thing is not something that ruined it for me but I admit I found it distracting at times. The mystery itself was well done and I found the main character sleuth to be plucky with enough quirks to keep things interesting. I felt the same way about other characters that I suppose will be featured throughout the series. I'll probably skip to books later in the series to those at least in the 2000s because I didn't so much enjoy the 80s stuff. It was still worth picking up at the library.

  • Beth
    2018-11-18 07:01

    I've always liked Hess's Maggody series better, but I enjoy the goofy bookstore owner series too. This is the first in the series and Hess's first novel as well. A pretty good start all around.ETA: The offhand homophobia about the closeted lesbian prof was a disappointment, I have to say. At least Hess didn't make the character a 100% stereotype, but I would have expected Claire Malloy, based on her character development, to be a little more of an ally or at least a little less accepting of community bigotry.

  • Anjula
    2018-11-17 09:45

    There's a difference between snarky and bitchy and the main character is definitely the latter. She looks down on everyone, treats her daughter as an unpleasant afterthought (and then seems mystified that her daughter is unpleasant), and is the least solicitous bookstore owner in history. I wish one character in this book had been redeeming, but no such luck. The other characters weren't fleshed out enough to get me to read more of this series.I should give the story an extra star, but I don't want to influence anyone to spend time with Claire.

  • John
    2018-12-04 10:44

    A moderately entertaining comedy mystery; I chuckled a few times, but Colin Watson it ain't.In a small college town, the wife of an English professor is author of a string of successful "romantica" novels under a pseudonym. When her latest contains thinly veiled portraits of faculty staff and their seedy secrets, someone strangles her. Local bookstore owner Claire Malloy investigates while pretending not to have the hots for Lt Peter Rosen of the CID.