Somewhere between the age of thirty-five and forty I became invisible. How do I know this? Having grown up in the south I was accustomed to speaking to everyone I passed on the sidewalk, at the mall or in the store, wherever I went. There was no requirement to know them, speaking was just something we all did. Lest you think this was unique to the south, it continued when we moved to Colorado. People continued to speak, or at least smile and nod as we passed. Again, no requirement that we know them, it was just something we did.
But somewhere in my late thirties that all changed. When did this happen? I’m not sure exactly, since the habit of acknowledging others was something that was more automatic than deliberate. When it actually penetrated my thoughts that this had become a reality was when doors started closing in my face. Not deliberately being slammed, you understand, just let go to close even as I reached out my hand to take control of it. I didn’t expect anyone to hold the door open for me so I could pass through, but up until I reached the age of invisibility, more often than not people would hold it back a little longer so I could catch up to it.
When a door swung shut in my face the first time, I didn’t think much about it. Then I noticed it started happening on a regular basis; and it wasn’t just doors closing. Although I would still smile, nod my head or speak to people in passing, most of the time my greeting went unnoticed. Finally, I asked my husband one day if I had become invisible. It was just after a person had smiled in my direction and when I went to respond they trundled right past me to gaze in awe at a display window of a local store.
“You’re just now noticing?” he asked. “I’ve been invisible for at least a year now,” With that revelation, I started truly tuning into the people around me on a regular basis and sure enough, for the most part they didn’t see me. Oh sure, the occasional person would acknowledge me, especially if I was standing in front of a shelf they wanted to access, but not much more beyond that.
I’ve grown accustomed to this anonymity now. As a matter of fact, there is something a bit freeing about it, or maybe it’s just that being old enough not to really care about what others think anymore, I’m that much more relaxed about everything these days. Anyway, while it was initially a bit of a shock, it’s now become so matter of fact for me I’m surprised when someone I don’t know does happen to speak to me. Perhaps that’s one reason I found Murder among the Tombstones by Kim Carter such a delightful book.
In Murder Among the Tombstones by Kim Carter, Iris and Clara are two senior citizens who have retired and decide to open their own private investigation office. Their first client, JaQuita quickly convinces them to hire her as their office manager/consultant telling them they are a “goldmine” because they’re old and no one will ever suspect them of anything. As they begin work as investigators they quickly learn how easy it is to do surveillance because no one notices them anyway.
While Iris and Clara become involved in several cases along the way, Detectives Pitts and Nettles with the Atlanta Police Department get called in to investigate the murder of a young girl whose body is dumped in Oakland Cemetery, one of the landmark cemeteries of Atlanta. They make very little progress however, and are soon sidelined by a drive-by shooting related to another of their cases.
As Clara and Iris experience success, it’s only a matter of time before they are approached by the young murder victim’s sister and agree to take her case because of the sympathy they feel for her. That sets Clara and Iris up to renew their acquaintance with Detective Pitts and begin an investigation which ultimately leads to the satisfactory conclusion of the young woman’s murder.
Clues that lead to solving the murder mystery are sparse, and unless the reader is well acquainted with misdirection typical of mysteries, it is unlikely they will solve this one prior to the final reveal. Instead, the book’s strength is sitting back and enjoying the two delightful senior citizen detectives and the accompanying cast of characters including Detective Pitts and JaQuita along with some notable minor characters who will, hopefully, find their way into future books.
Initially, I found the book to be a bit choppy as the chapters are short and there are several threads that are introduced separately, with each one being given chapters of their own. This trend follows through the entire book, and about ten percent into the book, I began to not only expect this, but appreciate the way it defined the book’s pace. The only thing I would have liked to have seen was clues and red herrings sprinkled more liberally throughout the book so that the conclusion was one the reader had an opportunity to reach along with the detectives as opposed to it feeling more as if it were sprung on the reader.
All in all, I would like to see more books featuring the adventures of Iris and Clara along with the rest of the secondary and tertiary characters introduced here. It is a delightful mix of police/detective fiction populated by characters more often found in cozy mysteries.
By the way, in no way do I feel my invisible status extends to those who are part of my life and who truly matter to me. I feel fully recognized and loved by friends and family who surround me and that’s pretty much all I want or need. The same might be said for Iris and Clara in Murder Among the Tombstones, by the way. They seem to revel in the fact that old age has afforded them a new status among the general population and they are busy gathering together people who do matter to see them and be part of their ongoing adventures. Sounds like a pretty good goal to me.