Book Review: Bidding on Death by Joyce Harmon

Bidding on DeathBidding on Death
Joyce Harmon
Joyce Harmon, May 2012

From the author—

1998 – On-line auctions are the new craze, and tech writer and vineyard co-owner Cissy Rayburn is joining the frenzy. New friend Amy is teaching Cissy and old friend Julia how to navigate the wonderful world of eBuy. But while the ladies were at Cissy’s house on the computer, someone broke into Amy’s and Julia’s houses.

Could it have something to do with the weekend estate sale they all went to? The other big buyer at the auction was Rose Jackson, retired county government employee and on-line auction shark. Cissy wonders if Rose’s house was broken into as well. But when she stops by Rose’s house, she finds that not only was the house broken into – so was Rose’s head.

Now Cissy is once again hip-deep in a murder investigation, but with the added aggravation of providing a temporary home for Rose’s untrained and obnoxious chihuahua Paco. Both identifying the killer and finding a permanent home for this awful little dog seem like impossible tasks.

Do you remember what the computer world was like back in 1998? I had to stop and think about it and do a little googling (which was not really possible in 1998 as that’s when Google was first incorporated and it was still a garage operation) to see what the primitive “interweebs” were like in those good old days.  Ebay, the barely-hidden online auction site in this novel, started in 1995 and I recall first hearing about it in 1997. By 1998, it was on its way to making financial history.

Online auctioning is at the core of Bidding on Death and makes for a really interesting story. I first met Cissy and her friends in Died on the Vine and was struck then about two things in particular—how much I liked them all and how smart Cissy was. Both of those thoughts are still true. Cissy also reminds me very much of myself the first time I heard about Ebay, completely fascinated. She takes it a step further than me, though, by jumping right in to the new way of making money off stuff just lying around the house.

While Cissy’s learning how to do this, she’s also sniffing around the murder of a woman she barely knew but who had a really long list of potential enemies that might have wanted to do her in. Could it be that it’s all about her auction offerings? And how did Cissy end up with Rose’s nasty little dog, Paco, who seems to have a hate on for the whole world?

Joyce Harmon has once again written a delightful mystery with a handful of red herrings and characters that I enjoy spending time with. I really hope she’ll be coming out with a third book soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2013.