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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Wrong Good Deed

Narrator: Mary Boyer

Dreamscape Media

ISBN: 9781728269863

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: 05/02/2023

Format: Paperback

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

Caroline B. Cooney, beloved international bestselling author, captures the technicolor complicated human heart in this literary Southern mystery about one secret afternoon in 1964 when a young wife barreling down a dirt road in her station wagon chooses not to be a bystander.

Until this Sunday, Muffin never looked back.

1964: Christaphine is twenty years old, newly married, and determined to make a home and a life for her and her husband, Tommy. But when Christaphine discovers Tommy and his friends on the verge of committing a horrible crime, she does what she has to do to stop them. Afterward, she knows she can't ever go home again―so she disappears...until this Sunday.

50 years later: When Clemmie's neighbor, Muffin, drags her from Sunday morning service at Trinity Hill Church, convinced that the man she's just spotted across the aisle is a dangerous figure from her past, at first Clemmie thinks she's being dramatic. But as Muffin reveals to Clemmie what happened in the middle of a field in South Carolina five decades ago, Clemmie realizes her friend has been keeping dark secrets--just as Clemmie herself has. And the secrets that belong to both women are not the kind that can be revealed without dire consequences...

My Review

Caroline B. Cooney returns following Before She Was Helen with a gripping suspense mystery spin-off, THE WRONG GOOD DEED —when the past and present collide for two women in their seventies with dark secrets pasts.

There are good deeds.

There are bad deeds.

There is also THE WRONG GOOD DEED.

When a good deed turns deadly.

Set in South Carolina in the retirement village of Sun City, two wild and crazy friends in their seventies, Muffin Morgan and Clemmie Murray (Helen Stephens), are at church.

Muffin sees some man from her past. She is afraid and does not want this man to spot her. She quickly lets Clemmie know they need to make a quick exit.

They do so, and on the way home, there is an accident involving two girls. Clemmie wants to stop and help, but Muffin (hiding on the floor of the backseat, says no).

However, Clemmie stops. A strange man comes by, and then the police. She thinks nothing of it, but this will haunt her later.

Flashbacks of 1964. Muffin, a young woman in her early twenties (then named Christaphine Nearing), married to Tommy Nearing in Ferris, SC.

This was during the Jim Crow era, and the husband's family did not like blacks. The father kills a black man and instructs the others to take care of the body.

There was also a northern city reporter at the time, MacBurton Ward, who was white. The orders were for them to take care of him.

Christaphine intercedes and saves him from a lynching. She knows she cannot return and leaves, pregnant, escapes to her aunt's home, and changes her name to Muffin.

With her old life behind, she divorces and remarries. Years later, the reporter is searching for the woman who saved him. She wants to remain hidden.

A parallel storyline is Clemmie's story. You must read the previous book to learn more about Clemmie/Helen's past. Both women must face their past, which has come to the surface.

The story becomes multi-layered and complex, with other resident involvement from Sun City. Also note that Clemmie and Muffin dress alike often, which may be deadly.

Someone winds up dead in a hit-and-run accident, which may have been intentional. Clemmie starts sleuthing and is determined to track down the murderer.

Several good deeds saved lives but put them in danger—a fitting thought-provoking title. #CoverCrush

A riveting, thought-provoking Southern mystery exploring our dark history— featuring two senior women with dark pasts and a cast of well-developed characters—blended with wit and humor for a satisfying read.

I had not read Before She Was Helen, so I quickly purchased the audiobook before writing my review. It helps to know the background of Helen/Clemmie.

Although Clemmie is the main character in THE WRONG GOOD DEED, this is Muffin's story. Both timelines were equally as compelling.

I adore books centered around active women of this age (since I am in the same age range) and love hearing the crazy wild stories of seniors set in their independent living facilities. Watch out you never know when someone may cross your path from your past living in the same place. There is always plenty of drama and juicy secrets.

Both were courageous, strong women who tried desperately to hide from their past. I enjoyed the author's writing and look forward to reading more— for fans of Colleen Oakley's The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise and authors Diane Chamberlain and Elizabeth Berg.

Thanks to #PoisionedPenPress for an e-ARC via #NetGalley for review purposes. I also listened to the audiobook narrated by Mary Boyer for an engaging listening experience.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: May 2, 2023


"Grit and courage wrapped in charm." ― Sulari Gentill, USA Today bestselling author of The Woman in the Library

“Cooney pulls a creative twist out of the story and surprises the reader with the true meaning of The Wrong Good Deed.” New York Journal of Books

Narrator: Kimberly Farr

Random House Audio

ISBN: 978-1728205120

Publisher: Poisoned Pen

Publication Date: 09/08/2020

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: 4 Stars


"As Before She Was Helen opens, readers are drawn into what appears to be a light, retirement-community caper. But author Caroline B. Cooney quickly flips expectations upside-down in this deceptively dark mystery. Between old crimes and fresh murders, septuagenarian protagonist Clemmie faces an unspeakable fear that will keep readers hooked in this twisty whodunit."

―Julie Hyzy, New York Times bestselling author

From the critically acclaimed, international bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney comes a domestic thriller perfect for fans of mystery books by Laura Lippman and Alice Feeney.

Her life didn't turn out the way she expected―so she made herself a new one.

About the Author

CAROLINE B. COONEY is the bestselling author of teen suspense, mystery, and romance novels that have sold over 15 million copies worldwide, including The Face on the Milk Carton.

I was born in 1947 in Geneva, NY, and grew up in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. I went to several colleges (I’m still going to college! I love taking classes; I still daydream more than I listen.) but graduated from none.

I have three children: Louisa, Sayre, and Harold, and four grandchilden: Lizzie, Maggie, Max, and Simon.

I’ve lived in several places, but now I live in South Carolina where it’s warm and sunny. I love the sun. WEBSITE







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