Fool's Puzzle (Benni Harper Mystery)

Fool's Puzzle - Earlene Fowler The style is smooth enough, and Benni Harper, our narrator, is sympathetic enough to have kept me reading for about 150 pages, but she acted stupidly one too many times, so that not even the resolution of the mystery or romance or Arts and Crafts theme could make me keep going. I hate mysteries where some amateur detective keeps things from the police, or lies to them or hides evidence. Now, there are reasons people act this way I could buy, without marking them in my eyes as Too Stupid to Live. Some people have had bad experiences with the police that makes them wary. It could be a case where there's reason to believe the department of this small California town is corrupt. Or maybe there's reason to believe the police aren't taking the case seriously. I could even understand, even if not condone, wanting to protect someone very close to you--a best friend, child, spouse. None of those things apply here--and Benni does it again and again, in one case over a "fifth cousin" she doesn't care for and another time she doesn't hand over the computer disk belong to a murdered acquaintance because she doesn't want to embarrass him! She even hides evidence after she's been called on her behavior several times by the acting police chief, been threatened by him with jail and after delaying telling them what she found caused the loss of key evidence. Then she does it again. She removes crucial evidence she doesn't entrust to the police in the person of an acting police chief who is conscientious, smart--and with whom she has a mutual attraction. Really, the detective protagonist doesn't have to be as brave as Buffy and brilliant as Miss Marple to win my liking and respect--but I do like at least some common sense. I think we were supposed to feel sympathy for Benni acting that way because the chief was soooooo mean as to be annoyed when she does this again and again. But my sympathies were completely with Chief Gabe Ortiz--too bad Benni is a fool.