Review: Mad Men, Bad Girls and The Guerilla Knitters Institute by Maggie Groff

Title: Mad Men, Bad Girls and The Guerilla Knitters Institute

Author: Maggie Groff

Published: Pan Macmillan Australia March 2012

Synopsis: When a secretive American cult moves to the Gold Coast, freelance journalist Scout Davis’s investigative antennae start quivering. She sets out to expose the cult’s lunatic beliefs and bizarre practices, but when she learns the identity of a recent recruit, her quest becomes personal. And dangerous. The cult isn’t the only case on Scout’s agenda. Someone is cutting up girls’ underwear at an exclusive school and Scout agrees to look into it. And the sinister secret behind the vandalism is not nice. Not at all. But Scout has her secrets too. In the dead of night she sneaks out with an underground group of yarn bombers to decorate the locality with artworks. The next mission ticks all the right boxes – it’s risky, difficult and extremely silly. However, not everyone is amused, and Scout has a sneaking suspicion that the local police sergeant, Rafe Kelly, is hot on her tail.

Status: Read from March 16 to 18, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Pan Macmillan Australia)

My Thoughts:

Who can resist a title like Mad Men, Bad Girls and The Guerilla Knitters Institute, it promises a fun, quirky story with a little intrigue and danger which is exactly what it delivers. This fiction debut novel by Australian author Maggie Groff is quite the departure from her non fiction titles dealing with motherhood (Mothers Behaving Badly) and cooking (Hoax Cuisine) though Groff’s irreverent sense of humor remains intact. A freelance investigative journalist, Groff’s protagonist, Scout Davis, is asked to look into the establishment of a secretive American cult on the Gold Coast. A cursory study reveals some bizarre practices but when she discovers her daughters childhood friend has deserted her young family and joined them, it becomes personal and Scout is determined to expose their corrupt lifestyle. In amongst investigating the members of The Luminous Renaissance of Illustrious Light, Scout is helping her sister solve a nasty incident at the exclusive private school where she works, wondering who filled her car with weed, knitting frantically and avoiding Detective Rafe Kelly’s knowing gaze. Scout flirts with danger, disaster and romance in this entertaining contemporary mystery.

Set against the backdrops of Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, the laugh out loud humour of Mad Men, Bad Girls and The Guerilla Knitters Institute is paired with a more serious exploration of issues such as bullying, corrupt spiritualism and post natal depression. It’s a strong combination that makes for an interesting and entertaining plot. Scout’s investigation into the cult of Bacchus Rising is the central plot, it leads her to contact first with the family of an American member and then the mother of an Australian victim whom she was once acquaintance with. As with many cults, the messages of peace, love and harmony hides a sexual and financial predator who preys on the weak minded and ruthlessly protects his ego driven empire. Scout finds herself vulnerable when she infiltrates the group as an interested wannabe disciple and her cover is blown.
Groff deepens the plot with smaller mysteries including a runaway child, a suicide attempt and a teacher accused of inappropriate behaviour at an exclusive high school where Scout’s sister, Harper, works.
On a lighter note, Scout’s yarn bombing group, which includes a doctor and lawyer and in which she involves her nephew, is a fun sub plot as is the steamy relationship between Scout and Rafe. Scout is half heartedly involved with a fellow journalist who spends more time overseas in war zones than in Australia. Rafe is a temptation she finds difficult to ignore and throughout the novel the pair smoulder in each others company.
I really like Scout, she is smart, clever, loyal and fun (and yes her parents were fans of To Kill A Mockingbird). In her early forties, Scout is older than the usual heroine in this genre and its something I appreciate being of a similar age. She is also an insulin dependent diabetic which is something Groff makes a point of mentioning regularly through the story. Scout has to monitor her blood sugars, eat regularly and be prepared for a hypoglycemic emergency. I felt as if it was perhaps mentioned too often, but on the other hand diabetes can be an intrusive disease and Groff raises awareness of that.

With a strong plot, witty dialogue and likeable characters, Mad Men, Bad Girls and The Guerilla Knitters Institute is a wonderfully entertaining read. Apparently Groff has plans for a series featuring Scout Davis and I am looking forward to the second, so make sure you pick this up!

Available to Purchase

 @ Pan MacMillan Digital I @ Boomerang Books I @Booktopia I @Amazon Kindle

About the Author

Maggie Groff is the bestselling author of two non-fiction books, Mothers Behaving Badly and Hoax Cuisine. She has worked as a columnist for Sunday Life magazine in The Sun-Herald and extracts of her work have been published globally by Readers Digest. She lives with her husband in northern New South Wales and is currently working on her next Scout Davis novel.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mareelouise
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 08:04:53

    This sounds really fun!



  2. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 12:03:17

    Love the sound of this one, although I know I’ll never remember that title!



  3. Leeswammes
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 17:21:16

    I love the title and the book sounds good fun. Indeed a book I want to pick up when I get the chance.



  4. The Australian Bookshelf
    Apr 05, 2012 @ 18:57:58

    This sounds like a fun read and i love the title!



  5. Trackback: 2012 AWW Challenge Wrap-up: Crime, Mystery, Thriller and Suspense « Australian Women Writers Challenge
  6. Trackback: Review: Good News, Bad News by Maggie Groff | book'd out

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