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War and Peas (A Jane Jeffrys mystery) Mass Market Paperback – 31 Dec 1998

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Avon Books; First THUS edition (31 Dec. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380787067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380787067
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 1.8 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,054,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

When the innovative director of the Snellen Museum is fatally shot during a reenactment of a Civil War battle, single mom and sometime sleuth Jane Jeffry finds herself surrounded by likely suspects. Reprint. PW.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ms. E. A. Thompson on 6 Jun. 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
O the perils of re-enactment pageants! Passions overflow at the annual pea museum festival, and someone uses more than a pea-shooter on the museum director.
Jane is a volunteer who gets more than she bargained for, having to unravel why the long-lost hybrid pea should be suddenly so interesting to museum visitors and benefactors.
Surprising twists in the plot and characters keep up the interest. This is my favourite Jane Jeffry mystery (and infinitely more fun than War and Peace)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Museum Mystery 18 May 2008
By Andrea - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book starts off with a reenactment of a historical battle.

Jane, the main character, and her best friend Shelley are doing volunteer work at a museum. The museum's main focus is peas because the founders were pea growers. At the gift shop, there are pea t-shirts, pea jumpropes, etc.

There is a murder or two. And some very interesting things that happen along the way. Jane and Shelley are mystified, but they are determined to figure it out.

I love museums and history, so needless to say, I enjoyed the setting. Unlike some of the other books in this series, very few scenes were at Jane's and Shelley's houses; most of the action took place in the museum.

This book took a very interesting twist at the end. I was surprised.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good, light cozy mystery 12 May 2008
By drebbles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is the annual Pea Festival in Jane Jeffrey's hometown and Jane and her friend Shelley Nowack are participating in a number of activities including sorting through items at the Snellin Museum and taking part in a Civil War reenactment. Jane thought the reenactment would be interesting, but she wasn't expecting museum director Regina Price Palmer to be murdered during the battle. Jane's boyfriend, police detective Mel Van Dyne, is investigating the case, but Jane's work inside the museum gives her a good way of also investigating the murder since most of the suspects are involved in the museum. When there is a second murder, Jane is even more eager to solve the case before there is yet another victim.

"War and Peas" is an enjoyable, yet somewhat light cozy mystery. The book gets off to an interesting start with the Civil War reenactment and having the murder take place during the battle is a great touch since it provides plenty of suspects. Having the novel set around a pea festival and a pea museum is a very funny touch and not meant to be taken seriously by readers although the characters in the book are serious about it. There is a nice gentle sense of humor throughout the book with a few laugh out loud moments - one involving notes Jane's children leave her and when Jane cleans out her car. At this point in the series (this is the eighth book in the series) Jane is a fully developed and rich character as are the supporting characters in the book. The mystery is well written and well plotted and readers will have fun trying to figure out who the murderer is.

"War and Peas" is another nice cozy mystery by Jill Churchill.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
where's the mystery? 2 Dec. 2008
By D. K. Stokes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is one of the reasons why I didn't read as much on vacation as I might have. It's a short book, only 250 pages, but it was far too easy to put down and not tempting enough to pick up again. It took me over two days to read it.

The title is awfully clever and cute, referring to the setting of the mystery: a pea museum and Civil War reenactment.

I suspect I'd have liked the book more if I'd read more than just one other book in the series--if I'd already known the cast of characters and looked forward to spending time with them again. Unfortunately, the characters weren't developed enough in this particular volume of the series to make me care about them.

The story did have potential--the pea museum's director is murdered during a Civil War reenactment, in front of scores of witnesses, none of whom saw anything suspicious.

But the solving of the mystery consisted of Jane Jeffry, the series protagonist, periodically speculating with other characters about who might have killed her and why. There's no gathering of clues, no gradual unfolding of the plot. The solution, when it's presented, comes completely out of left field with no foreshadowing, the motive not even so much as hinted at throughout the story.

And there was zero reason given for the bizarre method of the second murder, which was the last straw. Not that I'd intended to seek out more books in this series before that, but at that point, I wasn't just disappointed, I was mad.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A fun read 1 Jan. 2003
By Jeanne Gibbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm a sucker for titles that make me groan, and I've liked other light mysteries by this author, so I knew about what to expect. It is not profound literature, but it was a fun, fast read. And, gee, I don't think I've ever read a murder mystery set in a pea museum, so it was a familiar experience with a touch of novelty.
Don't Pass the Peas? Sweaty Re-enactment. How Real is it? Dangerfield? Museum Director Down. 17 Oct. 2006
By Linda G. Shelnutt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The opening scene in this # 8 in the Jane Jeffry series caught me off guard, as it set Jane and Shelley (modern-day, Chicago-suburb-housewives) back in time as heavy-skirted pioneer woman dragging long, hot petticoats, trudging across a prairie, in bullet-hissing jeopardy from soldiers engaged in a Civil War skirmish.

What? Would Jill Churchill work a sci fi time-warp into this series?

The confusion cleared when the amateur sleuth neighbors approached a cluster of aluminum lawn chairs holding an audience of applause, and the setting-shift crystalized when Shelley quipped an aside to Jane about how many Elizabeth Arden treatments it would take to undue the damage from the historic enactment in which they had immersed their bodies, attempting to get their souls to play, too.

Instead of immediately stepping into a Jane and Shelley novel, as usual, I had to reread that opening scene a couple times to allow it to "sink in"; and then to trod onward past that shift in plot initiation. The work was worth it, as reading gears engaged effortlessly when Mel sauntered into the scene and gallantly helped Jane out of a painful dilemma of what to do first in her heated exhaustion, grab a chair and sit, or dredge up water and drink.

As soon as Jane had seated herself and taken a swaggering swig of the lemonade obtained by Mel, murder was up.

The amateur sleuth housewife quickly found herself lifting out of her chair and handing over her drink to an overwrought young woman who had discovered that her boss had been downed by a too true-to-life firearm used in the enactment.

After only a few pages into the book (with the murder on page 7), Churchill had the story pleasantly percolating. I sighed in relief along with the women when they were generously given plot space to take turns releasing themselves from itchy Civil War clothing, and sliding into hot & cold showers. After I had connected securely into the narrative flow, I looked back at the opening toss of a time curve to notice its ingenuity, even though the twist had caused a short-term hurdle.

The suspect sleuthing and motive menagerie were entertainingly convoluted in this one, working around various people and positions related to the museum board of directors, staff, and family funding. With a bit of old-money snobbery schmoozed into the labyrinth, Shelley shined, honing her abilities to snub, snort, snicker, or sneeze at social-strata brats.

Kindly outside the strata, one quiet scene immediately took hold, deepening my interest. A mannerly older man, visitor to the museum, happened to snag the attention (luckily) of the most polite and caring staff member, telling his story about an experimental pea from Snellen, which he had grown, then lost years prior to his current retirement. The pea had been unique in growing along the ground rather than vertically up a trellis, which made that variety difficult to pick, yet which allowed a surprising quality to take hold. Potatoes and other vegetables grown in the presence of the slithering pea vine gave phenomenally increased outputs of quality and quantity. Somehow the seed was lost, however, and not recovered by this man nor by Snellen, as far as he knew.

There was something mesmerizing to me about the way that story was told, gracefully and graciously by the gentlemen, and about the way at least two listeners attended the tale (Jane happened to be in a position to eavesdrop, unnoticed).

Speaking of eavesdropping, a second scene which took hold in a similar way to the above, took place with Jane overhearing a snippy conversation between Derek Snellen and Tom Cable, who had discounted the fact that Jane was in the room. I enjoyed the way Jane described (to the reader) the cause of her "invisibility" to these two men who had emotionally charged each other into giving away a few secrets, which they likely would not have done in any other complex run of circumstance. The beginning of that scene, prior to Tom's entrance, had also triggered my interest, when Derek had stepped into the room, which he had thought was empty, and was taken off guard by Jane's presence, as she was typing entries on the museum's computer.

In plot places like these I often notice that I've "fallen into" a scene, whereas prior to that I had been reading along in comfortable containment, but not at a level of "awakening later" to realize I had been so thoroughly immersed I had lost awareness of reading.

Awareness of this captivating ability of eavesdropping scenes reminded me that Sue Grafton regularly used a similarly effective technique when she had her P.I., Kinsey Millhone, point out the guilty pleasure she relished when in process of breaking into someone's house to unlock clues.

Another engrossing scene in PEAS featured Babs recounting to Jane and Shelley a horrifying time she had in her youth, verbally purging what she had done to end the nightmare of a short marriage.

For me, it took a while to get cozy in the setting at the museum, with Jane and Shelley having set themselves up for volunteer work. But, as I passed that second hurdle (which probably wouldn't cause any slow-down for most readers), I noticed that this book seemed a bit longer than some of the others, and was pleased to discover I was glad of that fact, because, once I had warmed into it, I didn't want to leave any time soon.

From page 206 of the mass market paperback, through a few pages of soliloquy, Jane gave an interesting slant on amateur sleuth-ery, which I marked to reread periodically.

This type of mystery has a nearly unsolvable problem in excusing amateur actions within criminal investigations, because in any point-of-globe reality, police-related-personnel cannot allow civilian outsiders extensive access or ingress to any type of procedural investigation, let alone a murder.

The elderly Miss Marple, as one of the first of her kind (amateur sleuths; see my review of Murder At The Vicarage) handled this situation amazingly well, with her natural reticence, gracious manners, and trod-gently respect toward police presence, ultimately winning a quiet place in an investigation, from which vantage point she had an opening to subtly expose her unique types of insight, in a believable, acceptable, even admirable manner.

My problem with most amateur sleuth series I've read is that the amateurs are inevitably irritating in their feelings of superiority over police professionals. Since, to me, this is an essential "pea-in-the-mattress" of this mystery category side-genre; I've purposely seated a habit of dissolving this type of irritation in favor of enjoying the story (sometimes an author uses the potential irritation to tap my funny bone, which usually works). When my "suspend irritation" habit has been activated, I'm impressed when I come across a better than normal explanation, which Jill accomplished here, of the amateur's unique "powers" of criminal-act solution, and an elevation of excuses offered for his/her being allowed into the informational (and sometimes action-al) inside of an investigation.

Even Private Eye offerings have their problems acting within and around police policies, but in that case there is a historic reality (in our world outside the art of the novel) from which to work, since P.I.'s often have well used contacts within a police organization.

Some of the more difficult situations of accomplishing the amateur's acceptance by police and by readers are in the cases of suburban housewives, cookie store or catering operation owners, and cordon blue chefs. All of these female sleuth series provide entertainingly unique setups to allow entry into closed areas, with a particular chef winning the ribbon (see my review of RED HOT MURDER, by Joanne Pence), using the type of relationship she has with a San Francisco police inspector, and the unique type of spirited personality she possesses.

Speaking of difficulties getting into the framework of a murder investigation, even police personnel are very much preyed upon by natural human conflicts around who gets the clues and who gets to polish them to crafty completion. Sometimes boundaries are hurdled between jurisdictions; other times the tension juggle-and-hustle is in-house. But, where there's murder there's curiosity afoot, and competitive desire to be on top of an unraveling ball of mystery. Even the reader is not immune. In fact, ...

But we won't go there. At least, not in this review which is coming to a close.

As was the case in WAR AND PEAS, in this series Churchill has repeatedly been successful at incorporating various hobbies and industries which had never been areas of overwhelming interest in my natural inclinations.

In the concluding scenes of PEAS the author (metaphorically) pulled a cat out of the bag, and unlocked a "closed room," as she teased about a historic misconception about one of the most natural of functions. With the door open and the cat romping free, Churchill made me smile at Jane's final, somewhat open-ended statements to Shelley.

Since I've already read and reviewed (see my Listmania for blurbs on each book, listed in order) the latest books in this series, now I have only 2 more Jeffry novels left to read. Now, THAT'S a tragedy. Thankfully, a huge variety of other cozy mystery series are available out there, and within Amazon's vast domain. I've been alternating and rotating many of these, to my great engrossment.

I've just started reading MERCHANT OF MENACE, # 10 in the Jane Jeffry series, and my mass market paperback of that one (with the most recent cover design worked around the "C" in Churchill) includes promotional excerpts from a few other series into which I could burrow when the bottom of the Jeffry well runs dry, and I'm forced to wait for the next faucet to fall off the press. (Mixed metaphors really make a mess of logic, don't they?)

I picked up MERCHANT (along with A GROOM WITH A VIEW, # 11) during the pilgrimage trip to Portland, OR, mentioned in my recent review of Jane's # 5, A KNIFE TO REMEMBER.

Oh! There's the coop! I should flew it.
Linda Shelnutt
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