Helena Handbasket

Created by Donna Moore

Tired of mysteries that seem to spin out the same old tired clichés, one after another? Bored with the same old-same old private eye schtick? Had enough of books with all the fizz of that half-empty bottle of club soda left over from last Christmas?

Then might I humbly suggest going to HELENA HANDBASKET?

Donna Moore’s subversive private eye novel …Go to Helena Handbasket (2006) is just what the librarian (or possibly the mental health specialist) ordered, a kick in the balls to the same-old same-old, a welcome blast of recycled air that doesn’t take anything–much less the po-faced conventions of the mystery genre–seriously.

Make no mistake here–we’re talking full-tilt parody here, a full-frontal assault on just about everything you’ve come to expect in crime fiction. It’s a bungee jump down the rabbit hole of literary predictability.

You’ll laugh, you’ll giggle, you’ll snort whatever you’re drinking through your nose. But mostly you’ll groan… and ponder if the author is all there.

In her first outing, Moore comes off like an unholy cross between Raymond Chandler and Alfred E. Neuman, leaving no pun unspun and no turn of phrase unstoned. In Moore’s world, no cow is too sacred and no play on words too painful.

Certainly, Helena herself isn’t quite right — she makes Honey West look like a nuclear physicist. Imagine Dan Turner and Mae West‘s bastard love child, a man-hungry bozo with a penchant for martinis, gourmet food, designer shoes and zero aptitude for detective work, plunging head-on into a convoluted and complicated case that may get your head to spinning and your gut to convulsing, hopefully with laughter–and recognition.

Long-time mystery fan Moore lovingly makes her way down a checklist of the genre’s usual suspects and most beloved stereotypes, ticking them off one by one, and letting the air out of each and every one.

The elderly cop due for retirement?

The crime-solving cat?

The psycho sidekick?

The long-suffering secretary?

The cop boyfriend?

The enigmatic FBI profiler?

The obsessed serial killer?

The missing loot from a long-ago jewel heist?

The mysterious next-door neighbour who smells of cheese?

Check, check, check! They’re all here, all deliciously grilled and lambasted over a low but constant heat of buffoonery and lampoonery. Also along for the ride are a slew of characters with monikers like Smilla daCrowde, Evan Stubezzi and Fifi Fofum.

This is Ms. Moore’s first novel, and it’s clear this saucy wench will go far.

Maybe even as far as Siam.


  • “Of all the books of which I’ve read this year which are very many because I’m the world’s and possibly the universe’s number one mystery reviewer and this is a mystery novel which I did so read (so there) even if it was very quickly because I’m a speed reader and even though as I said I’m a speed reader I understood every single word of it including even the big ones and I don’t care what smart alecks whose names I won’t mention (like Kevin) sometimes say about of which my syntax is occasionally fractured because I would have to say that …Go to Helena Handbasket is one of those very many mystery books that I have read and it was most delightful and a real page turner of a roller coaster ride that I couldn’t put down all night long and I would give it five big stars and all I can say is Moore, Moore, Moore.”
    — A Big Name Reviewer
  • “At last! Ms. Moore puts the pun back into Crime and Punishment.”
    F. Dostoyevsky



  • May 23, 2023
    The Bottom Line: Tired of the same-old same-old, mystery fan? This loopy, deranged spoof of everything you hold dear will have you snorting stuff outta your nose. Moore, Moore, Moore!
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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