After reading her Yooper Series, I went right on to The Dolls To Die For Mystery Series by Deb Baker. Mixed feelings. There was a lot to love. I started collecting dolls as a child (Madame Alexander) then went on to making ceramic ones from molds and eventually sculpting my own original dolls. So a series revolving around dolls was something to look forward to. In the first book, Gretchen Birch goes from Boston to Arizona when her mother, Caroline, goes missing and teams up with her Aunt Nina to find her. In addition to Caroline being missing, Martha Williams, a former doll collector, is dead and the police suspect Caroline. By the second book, Gretchen has moved to Arizona, leaving behind a cheating boyfriend, and joined her mother’s doll restoration business. Gretchen is in danger because someone thinks she has gotten a particular doll at an auction and a reporter who was also at the auction turns up dead with one of Gretchen’s knives in his back. The cheating boyfriend has come to Arizona in an attempt to win her back and his fingerprints are all over the knife. In the third book we have the owner of a dollhouse store murdered and enter the world of miniaturists and the fourth has both an old and a new murder and the group of doll collectors becoming the beneficiaries of a home for a doll museum.

The books have some good characters. Nina is a quirky hoot. She trains miniature dogs to be purse dogs. I thought you just shoved them in there but it seems there is a lot more to it. She also sees auras and fancies herself a psychic. Gretchen’s overweight friend, Alice, is another good character – all the doll people meet every morning at Curves to workout. Alice doesn’t let her weight stop her from being a very flamboyant dresser. She also does things like trying the sub sandwich diet and is a driver whose bumpers apparently never met an object they didn’t want to hit. Bonny is another good character and the mother of Matt who is a detective and the romantic interest once Gretchen is free of the cheating boyfriend. The thing is, the characters around Gretchen are more interesting, and I feel, more developed than she is. And other than her silver hair, Caroline is just kind of nothing more than a name to throw in there now and then. There were a couple of little errors. Like Nina couldn’t read men’s auras but then in, I think, the fourth book she describes the color of a man’s aura. And Gretchen goes from being someone who could string a doll to help her mother to being some kind of master restorer. But I will admit to being something of an OCD reader. I retain everything while reading a series – of course a week later I can’t even remember if it is one I read! But the stories were good, very well plotted out, and will keep you turning the page. ♥♥♥+

For Gretchen Birch, her mother Caroline, and her aunt Nina, doll collecting is a family affair. They may disagree on other things, but when it comes to dolls, they share a passion for the most exquisite (and expensive) creations in history. But they have never imagined that doll collecting could inspire foul play.

A sleazy reporter has been found dead with doll restoration artist Gretchen Birch’s craft knife stuck in his back. And when someone begins sending her boxes of Kewpie dolls with threatening messages inside, she knows she must watch her step.

When doll restoration artist Gretchen Birch finds the owner of a dollhouse shop murdered, she winds up in the thick of a mystery of miniature proportions.

Doll restorer Gretchen Birch and the other Phoenix Dollers can hardly wait to open their doll museum. But when an out-of-town doll-maker meets her own maker, the Dollers’s dream-come-true will soon prove more of a nightmare.

Published by Kate Eileen Shannon

Artist, Crafter, Writer, purveyor of ephemera and bagatelle

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