Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Dutton Books / Penguin Putnam
Release Date: June 26, 2003
ISBN: 0-525-94738-8
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
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Genre: Mystery
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson

Reviewer Notes: Sarah Strohmeyer is the author of Bubbles Unbound and Bubbles In Trouble.

Kristin Johnson's second book, Christmas Cookies Are For Giving, co-written with Mimi Cummins, will be released September 2003. Her third book, Ordinary Miracles: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., will be published by PublishAmerica in 2004.

Bubbles Ablaze
By Sarah Strohmeyer 


     You don't have to know Pennsylvanians to love the "Polish-Lithuanian Barbie" hairdresser/reporter/detective/single mom Ms. Bubbles Yablonsky, but it helps. Richard North Patterson's The Dark Lady covered the soulful gritty intrigue of Steelton, Pennsylvania. Sarah Strohmeyer's comic mystery introduces us to Slagville and Lehigh, to the coal miners, the hairdressers, the old Nag 'n Feed matrons, the conspiracy theorists, the comfort food (hoagies and Entenmann's rule), the batty academics, the small-town-girl makes good reporters, the small-town police chiefs, the union men, and the spoiled-brat Kenneth Lay-type coal bosses. Spend a few days in places like Conneaut Lake and Sharon, PA and you'll understand.

      Or you could just read about the mystery misadventures of Bubbles: her love triangle with hunky AP photographer Steve Stiletto and dolled-up small-town-girl-makes-good reporter, Esmeralda Greene; her struggles with brainy teenage daughter Jane, echoing her mom's pattern by tangling with teenage slacker boyfriend G and Professor Higgins-type Professor Tallow. There's her crazy-like-a-fox mom, LuLu's good-natured interfering (after LuLu takes Bubbles to dish and eat cake with wise woman Vilnia, she lambastes Bubbles for wasting time not getting a major scoop) and the rivalry with the Slagville Sirens; the deadly peashooter and mashed potatoes wielded by conspiracy theorist and LuLu Yablonsky pal Genevieve. Then there's Bubbles' struggle to get her editor to take her seriously and her constant threat of being fired; rescuing her cousin, Roxanne's daffy inventor/mapmaker husband, Stinky Koolball from certain death and hiding him from the police; not to mention, solving murder and mining corruption, and, as an afterthought, escaping being blown up in a mine and trapped in a burning church.

     Bubbles, who only learned how to peroxide her hair and roll cigarettes in high school, has the common-sense wisdom and love of fashion of Princess Diana, enshrined forever in the hearts of the working-class American woman, the muckraking of Michael Moore (except she's funnier and dresses better), the proletariat loyalties, and the stubborn determination and sense of right and wrong that crack the case. The only unbelievable note is Steve Stiletto's vow of chastity. You have as much chance of resisting the ebullient Bubbles as she has of giving up hoagies.

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