Select one of the keywords
Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels    by Mindy Starns Clark order for
Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels
by Mindy Starns Clark
Order:  USA  Can
Harvest House, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Mindy Starns Clark has followed her promising debut novel, A Penny for Your Thoughts with another nicely plotted mystery, Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels. Both books feature Callie Webster, who combines law enforcement and legal backgrounds in her job at the JOSHUA Foundation. There she investigates non-profit agencies to determine their suitability to receive grants.

Callie is a young widow still grieving for her dead husband, and she is an especially endearing and down to earth heroine. She is also a devoutly religious woman and her beliefs affect how she approaches life and the investigation. However, the series is not preachy; both religious and non-religious readers can enjoy it. In the rapidly growing mystery market, there are sleuths with all types of professions and hobbies, but these books stand out in originality of subject matter. Who knew that non-profits could be involved in so many nefarious activities? Since Clark's husband is a tax attorney for non-profits, it seems likely that some of the plot ideas build on real life events.

Callie has just finished an investigation and returned home to the scenic shores of Eastern Maryland when she becomes embroiled in murder involving a young woman she has helped through Advancing Attire, a charity that trains and clothes poor women to give them a second chance. Shayna Greer had finally pulled her life together when she was arrested for the murder of her loser boyfriend Eddy, found dead in her car trunk. Callie, trusting her own judgment of the young woman's character, believes Shayna is innocent. Rather than leave her at the mercy of an over-worked and under-motivated public defender she steps in to find out what really happened.

At the same time she is asked by the director of Advancing Attire to investigate an offer that seems too good to be true. A mysterious organization wants to take over administrative work for the charity and help them expand into the large space they desperately need. In a surprising and creatively plotted storyline the two cases eventually link up with Callie placed in the requisite danger along the way. In a touching sub-plot, she also progresses in her attempts to move on and re-connect with life's possibilities.

These first two novels began Clark's series of Million Dollar Mysteries. We can look forward to more creative titles and to more of Callie Webster.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews