Totally Buzzed

1 star1 star1 star Adult
Trouble seems to follow Buzz Miller, and this time it finds her outside the town of White Bass Lake, Wisconsin, where the dead body of a neighbor woman turns up stashed under her mother's house! The retired detective is reluctantly roped into finding out "who dunnit." More

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Published by Echelon Press LLC
Published: Jan. 13, 2011
Words: 80,220
Language: English
ISBN: 9781590809570
About Gale Borger

Gale Borger has been involved in law enforcement for over 20 years. This gives her an endless source of background material for her books. Growing up in a screwball household also gives her a sense for the zany and the bizarre. Gale writes what she knows, and she knows bad guys and funny stuff?but not necessarily in that order! Gale lives in Southeastern Wisconsin with her husband and daughter, a Dogue de Bordeaux, two cats, about 1500 tropical fish, an African Horned Toad, a side-neck turtle, two dwarf hamsters, and a leopard gecko. When Gale is not writing, she and her husband breed and swap tropical fish. Gale is also a Master Gardener and after work can usually be found in a flower bed up to her ears in weeds, or volunteering at a local gardening event. Totally Buzzed is the first book in the Miller Sisters Mysteries.

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Reviews

Review by: ktwonder on Dec. 22, 2011 : star star star
Totally Buzzed is a quick enjoyable read and I will definitely read the next book in the Miller sister mystery series. The actual mystery in this book was entertaining and thought provoking. And the reason why I enjoyed the book. I think the author has a talent for storytelling and could develop into one of the authors I keep on my “definitely read” list.

The book is not quite a cozy mystery. Most elements of the book fit my definition of cozy mystery however some language and a “sex sells” scene force it out of that category. Fortunately, these elements did not prevent me from enjoying the book. And you skip over these elements without affecting your enjoyment of the story.

The humor of the book is of a slapstick type. People falling over each other, food flying and dogs passing gas. I felt there were too many of these scenes for my taste. I hope in the next installment the author will go for a more sophisticated humor and have the characters grow up and quit using the adolescent nicknames, ie. Calling Maggie – Maggot. These images just didn't seem to fit with the 50 something main character.

I recommend this book if you are looking for a fun, easy read.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Cindy Kerschner on Dec. 21, 2011 : star star star
Totally Buzzed by Gale Borger is classic mystery-comedy spoof in the vein of The Three Stooges romps and Police Squad antics.

If you like your murders mixed with folksy shenanigans then a visit to White Bass Lake, Wisconsin is the place to go. Buzz Miller can’t seem to retire gracefully (or do anything gracefully for that matter) from the town’s police force. When a body turns up under her parents’ porch, Buzz sees it as her duty to get involved by assisting her ex-partner, Sheriff James J. Green in the investigation. Unfortunately the rest of her family feels the same way. Amateur sleuths and plot twists abound to keep you guessing at which characters are the good guys and who (if anyone) will eventually solve this murder. Throw in a few picnics, some romance brewing and a couple of strange pets and you have the makings for something to please everyone.

Borger aptly uses her knowledge of law enforcement and Master Gardener skills to keep the story supplied with interesting facts. As characters go, I found Buzz’s family, their friends and the police force a little too laid back about the bodies, gangsters and drug dealers to take any of the attempts at drama believable. Borger’s backstory on Buzz’s abusive ex-husband, the “Irish Magic” visions and graphic murder scenes are offset by too much slapstick, silly metaphors and juvenile behavior. This novel could have easily been reworked as a lighthearted mystery, serious crime plot or supernatural mystery-suspense; not as all three at once.

Overall the visits to Sal’s Diner are enjoyable and the narrator’s descriptions of her family entertaining. If you can overlook a few typos and tasteless “R-rated” scenes, Totally Buzzed offers a refreshing look at a more laid back lifestyle in the American Midwest.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Bob Sanchez on Dec. 19, 2011 : star star star
Totally Buzzed is a lively murder mystery that's full of humor and potential.

A body turns up in the crawl space underneath a Wisconsin farmhouse, and the vic turns out to be a local woman named Carole Graff. Who killed the poor woman, and why? Luckily, retired investigator Buzz Miller takes on the case. She's smart but a little crazy, just like the friends and family who get mixed up in the case.

The story has all the elements of an intriguing mystery and contains plenty of interesting detail about forensics. There is no problem with the plot.

The question that comes to mind, though, is this: Is Totally Buzzed a murder mystery that happens to be funny, or is it a comedy that happens to include a murder? At times it's hard to tell as the story pauses for a joke or for some totally unhinged silliness that may or may not advance the plot. Buzz, who is fifty-something, has a sister Margaret, whom she regularly calls "Maggot." That's the talk of a twelve-year-old, and much of the dialog is laced with mild profanity. That is fine for establishing a character trait or for showing how a person talks in certain situations, but it's greatly overdone here. And for the family dog to pass gas once might be cute--and is probably enough. Humor can be tough, because not everyone laughs at the same things. As a general rule, though, not many people laugh at the same clever line or funny event twice.

Also there are lots of cliches and some repetition, for example "Dead bodies piss me off," followed later by "As I said, dead bodies piss me off."

This looks like a good first draft. Fix some typos and get rid of most cliches. Give the reader an occasional rest from the nonstop daffiness, and try to incorporate more of the humor into the story itself, to keep things moving. Cut the repetition. There's no need to call the same person a "rat-bastard" three times.

The crime detail is good, and the story as a whole can be fun after it gets a little TLC.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Kana Tyler on Dec. 19, 2011 : star star star
Set in a small Wisconsin town where everybody has known everybody forever, Totally Buzzed is a murder mystery with a lot of spunk, a lot of humor--and a few flaws. Protagonist Buzz Miller, who narrates most of the story, is a retired cop who discovers a body beneath her parents' farmhouse and gets pulled in on the murder investigation with one of her three sisters in tow. Buzz herself is a kick in the pants, and her earthy, no-nonsense narration and humorous descriptions of her neighbors and relatives are worth the read in themselves.

The intriguing storyline offers up enough twists and new developments to keep a reader's attention, beginning with Buzz's foray under the house to retrieve an ugly floor-lamp with a cowboy-boot base, and dragging out instead a cowboy boot attached to a body. The local crime-solving team of Buzz, her best-buddy the Sheriff, and her bumbling and loudmouthed sister Mag uncover developments that include illegal importation of plants, international drug smuggling, thoroughbred horses, and more murders--not to mention the (sometimes bizarre) shenanigans of the hometown folks while the investigation unfolds.

The crime gets solved, some romance advances, and I enjoyed getting to know Buzz (and her dogs, and the hometown folks)... I will say, at the same time, that a few aspects of the writing chafed at me. While Buzz's narrative voice is slangy and down-home and enjoyably illustrative of her character, some of the dialogue (including hers) is oddly stilted. The character whose narrative voice uses "ain't" and "ass" suddenly speaks more formally when she's speaking aloud within the story, using words like "cannot" and "does not" which no informal speaker uses in un-contracted forms. If this seems like a petty complaint, I mention it because the stiff usage in dialogue repeatedly jolted me out of the moment--particularly from Buzz, whose narrative style proves she ain't that kinda talker.

Some of the physical humor is rather too vaudevillean for my taste--too many instances of people's faces ending up in other people's plates, for example--but no doubt that's a matter of personal preference. I did enjoy the character quirks, descriptions, and humorous dialogue.

Buzz's detective instincts include a gift from her Irish heritage--visions to which her mother refers as "The Sheeny," and which illuminate scenes like the murder of the woman whose body was stowed beneath the house. I'm down with the idea of the visions themselves, but given their inclusion in the story, I was puzzled (and irritated) by the fact that Buzz didn't put them to use at all in the course of the investigation. She describes the vision itself in detail, but none of the information she might have gleaned from it is put to use as she tackles the mystery, which leaves me wondering why it's included in the story at all. It's not the only loose end in the book--there are a number of times when I wanted to holler for the characters' attention to prompt them to ask the obvious question or pursue a line of inquiry... But then, they did manage in the end to solve the thing without my help. ;)

Totally Buzzed is billed as the first in the "Miller Sisters Mystery" series, and I expect that as the author continues with the series, she may find a more comfortable balance between the storytelling and the "home-folks exposition," which tended at times to slow down the telling over-much. The initial scene featuring the discovery of the body and the launch of the investigation took a full fifth of the book, and I was ready for the story to get going already. Having said that, I enjoyed the Miller Sisters well enough that I'll be reading the next installment to find out!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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