Charlotte Adams, the amateur detective in a series of five novels by Mary Jane Maffini, is a highly accomplished Professional Organizer (for real: the tips in the books are, some of them, quite good and she has awesome “technique.”). She even belongs to my professional society NAPO (page 146, The Cluttered Corpse). She is otherwise a twit. Which is one of my favorite elements of the two books I’ve read (#2 = Organize Your Corpses), back-to-back in a day. Charlotte may be the worst hobbyist gumshoe with whom it’s ever been my pleasure to solve a case. If I say more, I may inadvertently spill spoilers, so you’ll just have to read them yourself.
I found the stories whimsically funny: Ms. Maffini has accomplished the difficult task of making a well-meaning sleuth’s bumbling appealing, while simultaneously making the character multi-dimensional enough that a reader won’t just dismiss her. Charlotte is loyal, gutsy, stubborn, creative, a pushover for animals, has a prodigious appetite for sweets, and is only 4′ 11″ and a bit. I’m only five feet, love sweets and animals, and can be mulish, so maybe I’m identifying just a little too much with the heroine… But Charlotte’s one of “those” Organizers who is always organized, in the car, at home or while planning a baby shower. Not me: I freely admit there are days my clients might fire me if they saw my place. Charlotte sprang to life in 2007, the first year NAPO offered a Board-certification process to its members. But Charlotte solved her last case in 2011, the year I Certified, so I bet she doesn’t have a shiny gold badge. Nyah.
There is also a credible cast of supporting characters surrounding Charlotte, from long-suffering gal pals to two larger-than-Rottweiler miniature dachshunds. So if you enjoy the cozy subgenre of mysteries, find one and try out the organizing tips for starters. You’ll probably solve the mysteries faster than Charlotte.