By M. Louise Smith

Highbridge Press  -- November 2000
ISBN: 0967883237  -- Trade Paperback
Msytery / PI - Detective

Reviewed by: Jo Rogers, MyShelf.Co
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Madge Murdock Middleton Brown was a mouse.  She was married to George Brown, an engineer, whom she had put through college, sacrificing her own chance at a college education to do so.  She and George had two perfect children, George Jr., called Geo (pronounced Gee-oh), and Pam.  Geo had gone off to college and Pam was a very busy senior in high school.

When Pam got her driver's license, Madge sacrificed the use of the family van so Pam could drive herself and her friends to all their school activities.  Madge, who volunteered at the Coalition, simply took the bus to her work, as was expected.  George was one of those male chauvinists who would not permit his wife hold down a paying job outside the home now that he had completed his education.  Nor did he share any of his work with her as he did with his children.  According to George, Madge "wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed."  The Coalition, which coordinated volunteers with the agencies that needed them, was enough to keep Madge busy.  He didn't think she was capable of more.

With Geo in college, Pam busy with the drill team, and George locked into an engineer's chat room on the Internet, Madge was virtually neglected by her family.  She was just a robot that was supposed to appear when they needed or wanted something.  Madge was somewhat disheartened, but she had her volunteer work.

Then, one day, the Coalition director called Madge into her office.  She unceremoniously handed Madge a plaque that thanked her for her years of service.  Then, she informed Madge that her services were no longer needed as they were replacing her with someone that had a college education.  Madge had been fired from her volunteer job.  She was devastated.

For days, she moped about the house, totally depressed, until one evening in January, she got a glimpse of her reflection as she stood in front of the bay window in the living room.  What she saw was not Magde Brown, successful wife and mother.  Instead, she saw Madge Brown, overweight, slovenly mouse and total failure.  She didn't like that image and she decided to do something about it.  She would change -- reinvent herself.  George had said she might look for a part time job, so when she saw the ad for StarWay beauty consultants, she decided to go to the meeting.  That began her transformation from Madge Brown, unnoticeable mouse, to Middy Brown, woman extraordinaire!

Madge was a fashion catastrophe from her hair to her shoes.  But God had plans for her.  At the meeting, she won the door prize - a complete makeover.  She couldn't afford the starter case to begin calling on clients, but there was a client route already established with no consultant to serve it.  StarWay desperately needed someone to take the place of the consultant who had quit.  Middy accepted the route.  George helped her to open her own bank account for her business.  Little did he know what had been unleashed on the world.

Middy Brown was fabulously successful as a StarWay consultant, more successful than George in terms of income.  His immense ego would be severely bruised.  And then, there was the part time job with Calvin Cleere.  George wanted her to work in Cal's "safe" office and quit her "silly beauty business."  She was running the wheels off the van.  She never told him that Cal was a private investigator whose job was so dangerous, he'd given Middy a .38 snub-nose revolver.  Cal had also taught her to be a crack shot and gotten her licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

Middy Brown didn't know how long she could keep the double life secret from George.  After all, he was smarter than she was.  He'd said so himself.  But his bulb was apparently dimmer than he thought, for he never seemed to notice the change from Madge to Middy.

An Appointed Time is a book that is filled with mystery, international intrigue, danger, excitement, romance and heartache.  It is also the story of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.  And it is the first of what this reviewer hopes are many more Middy Brown stories.

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