Thursday, June 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper by Sally Carpenter



In the 1970s, teen idol Sandy Fairfax recorded 10 gold records and starred in the hit TV show Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Now he’s a 38-year-old recovering alcoholic with dead bodies getting in the way of his comeback! An easy gig as the guest celebrity at a Midwest Beatles fan convention turns deadly when a member of the tribute band is murdered. When the police finger Sandy as the prime suspect, the boy sleuth is back in action to interpret the “Beatle-ly” clues and find the killer.



While I may be a little on the young side (only just) to have been a Beatlemaniac or have been a screaming fan for a 70's teen idol, I can so relate to those feelings and the special childhood afforded by the 1960's and 1970's.  Flash forward a couple of ... decades ... and we have Sandy Fairfax, more than a little tarnished 38 year old 'fair-haired boy'.  

The first thing that struck me about "Baffled Beatlemaniac" was the fact that it felt very 'real'.  I could definitely see something like this happening to me or someone close to me.  Former (child) stars keep chasing that elusive dream of fame, hoping the squeeze the last little drop of celebrity out of the game called life.

I loved the multiple layers of this book as well.  You have a small Beatles fanvention, with a name star from relatively the same era for a headliner.  Mix in a little alcohol, some big (and all-to-fragile) egos, fans believing the stories they have made up in their mind about their idols, rabid memorabilia collectors and you can see how a supposedly quiet weekend in a Midwestern town could turn into a huge indoor concert where you are standing right in front of speakers that are bigger than you are.



Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif.
She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award and “Star Collector” was produced in New York City.
Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.
She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
“The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel.
“The Sinister Sitcom Caper,” the second in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series, is published by Cozy Cat Press. The third book, “The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper,” is due in 2015.
Her short story, “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in,” appears in the 2013 anthology “Last Exit to Murder.”
“Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” was published in the “Plan B: Vol. 2” e-book anthology.
Her short story “The Pie-eyed Spy” appeared in the Nov. 23, 2013, issue of Kings River Life ezine.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles and “mom” to two black cats.
"Did the victim do or say anything that might identify the murderer?
“Yes, sir.”

Braxton waited, his pen poised over his notebook page. “Well? What was it?”

I licked my dry lips. I felt terribly thirsty. I knew Braxton would hate my answer.

“He said, ‘Rocky Raccoon.’”

Sure enough, he frowned at me. “Is that a joke?”

“No, sir. That’s exactly what he said.”“Is that the name of the murderer? An animal? What’s a Rocky Raccoon?”

“It’s a song.” Bunny stepped up beside us as she closed the zipper on the pouch that hung from her waist. “By John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Paul sings lead. It’s on disc one, side two, track five of The Beatles’ 1968 double record, ‘White Album,’ which isn’t the name, but everyone calls it that because it was issued in a plain white cover with no artwork. I have a 1978 French import reissue with the records in white vinyl.”Braxton stared at her, too stunned to take notes, but I took it in stride. Fans possess encyclopedia knowledge of the minutest trivia.


  1. Thanks for the great review! I had fun dabbling in nostalgia as I was writing the book.

  2. Yes! Glad that this has been reissued. (I read it the first time around! See my Amazon review.)