Thursday, June 30, 2016

Murder Comes to Booktown Again

Stoneham, New Hampshire, is known as Booktown, but lately it might be called Murder Town. In Lorna Barrett's Book Clubbed, book store owner Tricia Miles and her sister Angelica discover the body of grumpy Chamber receptionist Betsy Dittmeyer crushed to death under a bookcase. Is it an accident or is it murder?

As they investigate they find that Betsy was a hoarder and had embezzled large amounts of money from the Chamber of Commerce. In addition she had a file on her computer with not nice comments about all Chamber members.

In a side story Bob Kelly, former president of the Chamber, has disappeared and his real estate clients are angry and annoyed that he has not responded to their needs. Is Bob connected to Betsy's death or is their some other reason he is evading the law for other reasons?

Tricia and her sister Angelica complicate their relationship when Angelica discloses some long
hidden family secret. In addition Tricia's ex-husband Christopher is still in the picture and wants to reconcile. It's a wonder Tricia has any time to run Haven't Got a Clue bookstore.

There are lots of twists and turns and Tricia seems more introspective in this book than in any of the others. I'm finding her a less interesting character as this series progresses. She seems to have lost her spark. I'm hoping that returns, but I don't foresee that in the next book.

The first nook in this series is Murder Is Binding.

Update: I was right Tricia is even more depressing in A Fatal Chapter.  I'm sorry to hear that because she was an excellent character in earlier books.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lighthouse Library Hosts Murder

A library in a lighthouse is such a unique concept, I just had to read it. The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library is on the Outer Banks in North Carolina near Nag's Head. Although there is a lighthouse on Bodie Island, it does not contain a library, but what a great idea.

By Book or by Crook, written by Eva Gates features life on the Outer Banks in North Carolina., beachlife like none other.

Lucy Richardson arrives from Boston to take a job as an assistant librarian just as the library is opening its Jane Austen exhibit. A complete set of first edition Jane Austen books, including Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, has been loaned to the library for three months. At the reception kicking off the celebration, the Library Board president Jonathon Uppiton and his soon-to-be-ex-wife Diane are heard arguing with Diane threatening that she will "dance on his grave."

Before too long, there is a thump, a scream, a dead body and the head librarian Bertie is holding the
neck of a broken beer bottle next to the body.

When the Austen books begin to disappear, the police start looking at Lucy, as the newest resident to the community, as a suspect. With two library board factions arguing about the future of the library and the annoying Louise Jane trying to get Lucy's job and scare her with spooky lighthouse stories, Lucy and her library friends try to clear Bertie, find the Austen books and keep the library open.

I enjoyed this book for several reasons: the plot was clever especially with the Austen books, the location is one of my favorites and the entire concept of a library in a lighthouse is so fantastic. I only wish it were true. I would be sure to visit when I am in the Outer Banks next summer.

The next book in the series (which I am reading) is entitled Booked for Trouble.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Library Archives and Civil War Secrets

In Denise Swanson's latest book Between a Book and a Hard Place, trouble comes to Shadow Bend, Missouri. When Devereaux Sinclair's long-estranged mother Yvette returns with her current husband in tow, Dev is not pleased. She hopes to keep her parents apart, but when she finds them standing over the dead body of Yvette's current husband Jett Benedict in the, as yet unopened Shadow Bend library archives, Dev springs into action.

She sends her father home, wipes down the crime scene and then calls the police. Her father, newly paroled from prison cannot afford to be involved in any crime. Is Yvette guilty or is something else going on? When Jett promised to endow the Shadow Bend library so it could reopen, he asked to spend time in the archives before anyone else. What was he searching for?

Rumors of Civil War treasure begin circulating and Dev and friends
try to figure out what is behind the rumors. Who knew Shadow Bend was such a hot bed of Civil War intrigue. With soldiers fighting on both sides of the war, there's bound to be some secrets that need to be kept hidden.

Dev is an interesting character and her Dime Store is a throwback to the '50s with the added perk of her naughty basketmaking side business. But Dev, Dev, Dev, please choose between one of your suitors. I cannot believe in the 21st century two such handsome and available men would put up with your indecision for as long as they have. My vote - choose the U.S. Marshall, dump the doctor!

The first book in the series is Dying for a Cupcake.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Combes and Watson in Oregon

When stockbroker Shirley Combes decides she wants to change careers and become the world's greatest living detective, who else but Dr. Mary Watson, naturopath (that's correct), could be her sidekick. In The Hounding by Sandra de Helen, Combes is called upon by Goldenhawk Vandeleur, the daughter of the deceased, to find the murderer of her mother, heiress Priscilla (Cilla) Vandeleur Leoni.

Cilla, the heir to the Baskerville timber fortune, is mauled by dogs on her morning run and dies of cardiac arrest. Golden is sure her stepfather is the murderer because he stands to inherit the bulk of Cilla's estate and his furniture company has been failing.

As we soon discover, Cilla has an abiding fear of being killed by a dog, as had many of her family members. This parallels The Hounds of the Baskerville book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but in contemporary Oregon, it doesn't appear to be a realistic phobia. But ah, it is and the game is afoot (even though Sherlock never said that except on TV)! The trail leads an all directions and even includes a baby monkey and a group of animal rights activists.

This book tickled my Sherlock Holmes fancy especially as Shirley is the cold, detached, lanky and blunt character everyone knows and loves in Sherlock. She is slightly nicer to her Dr. Watson though than Sherlock is to his. Dr. Mary Watson wonders why she is asked to take notes as Shirley has a remarkable memory. She is an efficient lockpick and is handy to have around in a crisis, and hard as it may seem, Shirley wants her as a friend.

I enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to others in this series. For other books in this series, click here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Banner Day

No book post today but I wanted to let you know what a great day I had. My friend and author Connie Archer posted a link to MapYourMystery blog on her Facebook page and then alerted her Sisters In Crime friends. I heard from 15 authors telling me about their books. I should be very busy reading for the rest of the year.

I've also decided to include interviews with authors periodically through the blog. Hope that interests you and you will check back to read them.

Thanks again for reading the blog. I love writing it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Wedding of the Year

When mother-of-the-bridge Evelyn Montgomery arrives in River City, Missouri to organize the "wedding of the year," florist Bretta Solomon is thrilled at the prospect. In A Deadly Bouquet, Janis Harrison plants the seed early on that this is not going to be a run of the mill wedding. Bretta and several other small business owners have been asked to provide various elements of the wedding, but Evelyn is a taskmaster and makes frequent additions and alterations.

When the Oliver, the landscaper dies of a heart attack, and Claire, the beautician, is found murdered on the same day, Bretta feels there is something more sinister going on behind the scenes. She discovers the four women business owners attended high school together and she believes they are hiding a secret.

To complicate matters, the enigmatic Bailey Monroe, a DEA agent Bretta met in a previous adventure, has taken up residents in the cottage adjacent to Bretta's property.

As Bretta digs deeper into the mystery, trying to stave off Evelyn's over-the-top demands for
perfection, she and Bailey are forced off the road with Bailey seriously injured, then her car is vandalized in front of her shop with a note saying "Strike Two." Along with her long estranged father, Bretta seeks the truth, but is stymied at all ends, When a third person is killed in an explosion, Bretta is not deterred.

What long-dead secret are the vendors hiding and how will it impact the wedding planning and the event itself. The explosive conclusion is one you won't see coming.

I like Bretta Solomon. She has struggled with being overweight, and losing her husband early in life, but her spirit is not dampened. The addition of Bailey Monroe adds some mystery and intrigue to the series.

The first book in the series is Roots of Murder.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

By the Spoonful

The residents of Snowflake, Vermont, are excited to have a best-selling mystery author in town for a book. When the original venue is damaged by a flood, Lucky Jamieson steps in and offers her restaurant By the Spoonful in A Clue in the Stew by Connie Archer as the signing site.

Before the author arrives, Lucky's one and only waitress threatens to quit unless another one is hired, and fast. Enter a flashy redhead with a "southern drawl" who enthralls Jack, and worms her way into being hired. As if Lucky doesn't have enough on her plate with the her new waitress who cannot produce identification or a social security number, then the author and her obnoxious entourage arrive.

The evening ends in murder and if that isn't doesn't spoil the event, the killer uses the same method as the murderer in the book. Before long another body is found, murdered in the same manner. Is there is a copycat killer on the loose or is there more to the murders than meets the eye.

Lucky and her crew decide to investigate despite Police Chief Nate Edgerton's request not to get involved. Even young waitress Meg wants to be part of the "Murder Investigation Club" and that almost leads to a third murder.

This book had me guessing from the start. I really thought I had it figured out and was totally surprised at the solution. And we finally learn Lucky's real first name.

The first book in this series is A Spoonful of Murder.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Cakes Have It!

The Cakes of Monte Cristo (Piece of Cake Mystery, #6)The Cakes of Monte Cristo by Jacklyn Brady
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoy these books for their attention to detail and the ins and outs of running a bakery. The New Orleans locale helps too. I wish Rita would get past her "poor little Hispanic girl" chip on her shoulders. She has mingled with the very rich in New Orleans and has successfully catered their events. It's time she started to believe in herself and her skills. I am ready for her to grow up. I like her, her staff likes her and her mother-in-law loves her. She has two men interested in her and she needs to come out of her shell a bit more.

For more books in this series, click here

The Power of Christie

Never underestimate the impact Agatha Christie has on today's cozy mystery genre. In Ellie Alexander's On Thin Icing, the Christie legacy is prominent. Jules Capshaw has expanded her bakery, Torte, to include catering meals as well as baking delicious treats. She is asked to prepare meals for a weekend retreat at a lodge in the mountains by her friend Lance, director of the Ashland, Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Bringing along Sterling as her sous chef, she loads every possible kitchen appliance, including a pressure cooker and other supplies into her four-wheel drive vehicle and heads to Lake in the Woods, 5,000 feet above sea level. Naturally as they begin to climb into the mountains a snow storm is brewing. The road is treacherous and snow covered, but they finally make it to the Lodge.

Lodge owner Mercury Rule greets them an assigns them each a cabin
outside of the Lodge. All of the guests will be staying in cabins away from the lodge, but the meals will be served in the Lodge. Jules is confronted with a drunk and abusive bartender immediately as well as a surprise guest - her estranged husband Carlos.

As the blizzard heightens in intensity and fallen trees block the roads, the Lodge becomes isolated in the snow storm.  And then Jules discovers a body stuffed in a deep freezer.While cooking up wonderfully delicious foods, Jules sifts through the suspects, including Carlos, and finally unmasks the killer.

I enjoy this series because never in a millions years could make the wonderful baked goods created at Torte. The wood-fired brick oven used in the Lodge will, I'm sure, be making an appearance in upcoming books.

The first book in the series is Meet Your Baker. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Too Much Stuff

The Wrong Stuff by Sharon Fiffer features Chicago-based antique picker Jane Wheel. Jane is obsessed with vintage flowers, Bakelite buttons, old report cards, and ephemera from all eras, essentially she is a junk collector. Her garage and all rooms in her house are crammed with bits of other people's lives.

In The Wrong Stuff she is pondering becoming an associate with her friend Tim Lowry, an antiques dealer, or joining former police detective Brian Oh's private investigation company. When Oh's wife Claire is arrested for murdering another antiques dealer, Jane combines both offers and tries to solve the case.

I plodded through the first two books in this series in the hopes that I could get out from under all the junk Jane collects. Finally this book has seen the light and there is not as much description of the junk Jane is viewing nor the running monologue in her head. There's still too much of the bickering parents - Don and Nellie, but the story is interesting and the plot is intricate.

Tim and Jane travel to Michigan to Campbell and LaSalle, an idyllic community of artisans and furniture crafters, to discover how Claire's one-of-a-kind Westman dresser delivered there to be restored became a fake. When another murder takes place on the property, Jane and Tim are drawn into this case. Is there a connection between the two deaths? Jane, Tim and in disguise Brian Oh try to connect the dots.

I keep hoping these books will draw away from all the junk descriptions and move up a level. So far The Wrong Stuff was a good step in that direction. I hope to read the next book in the series, but I need a break from all the junk first. The first book in the series is Killer Stuff.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Who-Dun-Him Inn

Take a trip to Utah and there you will find The Who-Dun-Him Inn owned by Vicki Butler. Each bedroom is named and decorated in the style of a famous mystery author. In Snowed Inn by Heather Horrocks, it's Vicki's plan to use actors and stage a murder mystery each weekend for her guests' enjoyment and participation.

Unfortunately when the guests arrive - a literary agent, his young girlfriend, her jealous soon-to-be-ex husband and his many disgruntled authors, the air is tingled with hostility and anger. Complicating matters are Vicki's twin sister Liz and Grandma Ross, a pistol-packing granny on the hunt for a man.

The guest of honor Georgio Calabria and his girlfriend insist on staying in the Magnum P.I. carriage house behind the Inn. Vicki argues with him to no avail and they trudge outside in the snow to the accommodation.

As the play begins during dinner, a blizzard rages outside cutting the Inn off from the town below. The play centers on a cheating husband and, of course, Georgio is the fictional focus or is it fiction. An unexpected guest appears and threatens Georgio with murder. When a real murder takes place, all eyes point to the unexpected guest who has now disappeared.

This book takes a long time to unravel the plot and there are way too many characters - authors, actors, neighborhood friends and family. I struggled with the names of all the characters and had to refer back several times. The concept of an Inn with rooms decorated with mystery authors or characters is an interesting one for me and so is the mystery play.

Snowed Inn is the first book in the series.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mayhem at the Orient Express - Not Agatha Christie

As a huge Agatha Christie fan, this book title hooked me immediately. Kylie Logan's Mayhem at the Orient Express takes place in Put-in-Bay in Lake Erie. New B&B owner Bea Cartwright, winery owner Kate Wilder and aging hippy cat lover Chandra Morrisey are ordered to form a book club known as the League of Literary Ladies by a local judge. They cannot get along and have been in court numerous times to the dismay of local magistrate Alvin Littlejohn.

At their first meeting they are joined by Luella Zak and they decide to read Murder on the Orient Express. When the discussion ends, they decide to walk to The Orient Express, a new Chinese in town to order everyone's favorite orange/peanut chicken. What they discover is Peter Chan, the owner, dead on the floor with a knife through his heart.

After speaking with the police, the Literary Ladies wind up back at the B&B as a snowstorm brews outside. Bea's first guest has arrived and another stranger appears out of the storm asking for a room. With the power out at most of the homes and businesses on the island and the ferries not running, the League of Literary Ladies holds up in the B&B tickled to be living through a real life murder mystery. More guests arrive and before too long their numbers parallel
those on the famous train.

Snowbound like the passengers on the Orient Express train, are the ladies in the company of a murderer? These use their wits and emulate Hercule Poirot's "little grey cells" to solve the mystery.

I enjoyed this book, mostly because of the witty play on the original book by Agatha Christie, but also the characters are funny and realistically written. This is the first in the series and I am looking forward to the other books