Silver Anniversary Murder
September 28th, 2018 by diane92345

There are two mysteries in the Silver Anniversary Murder.

The first is the death of Lucy’s old friend Beth. Beth’s jump from her penthouse’s balcony is ruled a suicide. But Lucy, a reporter in small town Maine, doesn’t believe it. After all, Beth has three ex-husbands and one almost ex who all had motive to kill her.

The second is why Warren and Sylvia Bickford are having a town-wide celebration of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Sylvia is constantly putting Warren down in public. Could it just be a publicity stunt for her wedding shop and his limo service?

The Silver Anniversary Murder is the 25th book in the Lucy Stone series. I disliked the last entry, the Turkey Trot Murder, intensely. My 1 star review is here. I’m glad to report this entry has returned to form. It is recommended to cozy readers who want a nice simple evening’s entertainment. 3 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller
September 24th, 2018 by diane92345

“Your eyes are bigger than a hooch hound at a hop joint” says Jack in the Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller. That perfectly describes my feelings when I saw this delightful series return after a ten year long Big Sleep.

Penelope runs a bookstore with her aunt Sadie in Quindicott, Rhode Island. A widow, after her husband’s suicide, Penelope returns to her hometown with her eleven year old son. While renovating the bookstore, she disturbs Jack, the ghost of a 1940s hard-boiled detective. Jack offers Penelope much unsolicited advice in the patois of his time.

At the bookstore, new customer, Emma, sees an author photo on a steamy novel that disturbs her. While the author’s name is not familiar, the author’s photo is. It’s Emma herself! Without paying, Emma races out with the book in hand.

Penelope uncovers Emma’s address and goes there after work to recover the book. She finds the door unlocked, rare books everywhere and Emma dead of an apparent suicide. When incompetent Chief Ciders refuses to look into the case as a suspicious death, Penelope and Jack investigate.

I read most of this series as they were published in the 2000s. I always enjoyed the gentle joshing of Sam Spade type detectives. The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller carries on seamlessly in this tradition. Despite his language and tough guy attitude, Jack seems like a real and caring person. Emma is an excellent amateur detective who rarely makes a wrong move—mostly because of Jack’s help.

The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller is highly recommended for cozy mystery readers looking for something a bit different. There are plenty of suspects and deaths to keep armchair detectives busy. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Berkeley Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Die Me a River
September 8th, 2018 by diane92345

In Die Me a River, the small rural town of Scumble River is still recovering from the tornado in the last book in this cozy mystery series.

The town is abuzz with complaints about the shady practices of Homestead Insurance. Claims are being reduced, denied and seldom paid timely. When their insurance inspector turns up dead in a bombing, Police Chief Wally must investigate a plethora of suspects. Wally would much rather be at home with his school psychologist wife, Skye, and their still unnamed newborn twins. Skye is on maternity leave. She is seemingly being stalked by a new town resident, Millicent Rose, who just wants to go the twins’ baptism. According to their priest, Millicent has gone to both of the other baptisms since she arrived in town and gave each baby some type of verbal gift.

Die Me a River is the second in the rebooted Scumble River series. However, there were nineteen books in the original series too. Despite never reading any of those books, I had no trouble catching up with the character’s backstories. This works well as a stand-alone.

Most readers, and I include myself, read cozies more for the ambience and characters than for the puzzle. This book does a great job pulling the reader into small town Illinois life. While there are a lot of characters here, each has such a diverse personality it is is easy to keep them separated.

The two mysteries are well-presented. I actually liked the fairy godmother sub-plot better than the insurance main plot but that was just personal preference. I enjoyed the minor mystery around the naming of the babies too.

Die Me a River is a great, relaxing cozy mystery. It is recommended for anyone wanting to immerse themselves in someone else’s life for a day. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, and NetGalley for an advance copy.

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Deadly Habit: A theatrical mystery
August 25th, 2018 by diane92345

A Deadly Habit plops Charles Paris in a West End play where a real murderer is afoot.

Charles Paris “spent a great deal more time out of work than in”. But things are looking up when his lackluster agent Maurice finds him a three-month job playing a monk in The Habit of Faith in London’s West End. Little does Charles know that he will soon be investigating a cast member’s murder while also trying to quit drinking his beloved Bell’s whiskey and reunite with his long-estranged wife, Frances.

It is hard to believe this is the twentieth book in the series. I read the first one in middle school and nine more during my twenties. Charles’ life is still as feckless and humorous as I remember. There is no need to read the series in order though this one does share a few minor spoilers to the earlier books.

The mystery was relatively easy to solve with the clues and red herrings plain to see. The setting of a British play and its petty backstage grumblings was a nice change from the usual cozy’s crafts or small businesses as was using an older male amateur detective. The inclusion of the #MeToo movement modernizes a tale that could be set any time in the 20th or 21st century. Overall, there is enough different here to recommend A Deadly Habit to cozy fans. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Severn House, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Toucan Keep a Secret
August 13th, 2018 by diane92345

Toucan Keep a Secret about a thirty-year-old robbery and murder.

By all accounts, Junius Hagley was not a nice man. Frustrated by the paperwork to disintern his wife’s cremated remains, he took matters, and a crowbar, into his own hands to rectify the situation. When someone interrupts, and then murders him, Meg investigates for Pastor Robin, who is on pregnancy bedrest.

It’s always a pleasure to return to Meg’s world. After 23 books, her family and friends feel like my friends too. I would have liked more time with Michael and the boys—even with her ironwork—which were much more prevalent in the early entries in the series. Still Toucan Keep a Secret is a good cozy mystery worth 4 stars.

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Against the Claw
July 31st, 2018 by diane92345

The second Lobster Shack mystery, after Curses, Boiled Again (reviewed here), is as good as the first!  Against the Claw starts with Allie pulling lobster traps with Bertha. The last trap also pulls up a dead girl.

With Aunt Gully’s Lobster Shack expected to host a huge number of customers on the Fourth of July, a catering opportunity that is too good to pass up appears. Catering the famous modeling agent Stellene’s annual party would be excellent publicity. When Allie and her sister Lorel get the opportunity to stay on Stellene’s massive yacht with only superstar singer Eden and her guitarist boyfriend on board, it seems like the perfect day. But when Lorel’s recently ex-boyfriend Patrick is found dead in the morning in a raft tied to the yacht, the party abruptly ends.

I love the characters in the Lobster Shack books. They feel like old friends who are stuck in bad circumstances whose wits will ultimately win out over evil. The mystery was good—not to easy or too difficult to figure out. You definitely do not need to read the first book in the series, Curses, Boiled Again, to enjoy this one. Even better, Against the Claw has no spoilers to the first book so they can be read out of order. Highly recommended to cozy mystery fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Midnight Snacks are Murder
July 29th, 2018 by diane92345

Midnight Snacks are Murder is a good humorous cozy with a wonderful setting and characters. The addition of gluten-free recipes makes this series unique.

Poppy is opening a bed and breakfast with her Aunt Ginny. Her contractor, Smitty, is incompetent. Worse, her investor and former mother-in-law, Georgina, has come to help if helping means firing the maid, cancelling guest bookings and undermining Poppy’s design decisions. Things are looking up with Poppy’s love life after her husband’s death nine months earlier. There’s Tim, her high school sweetheart, and the sexy barista, Gia. Gia is buying Poppy’s gluten-free goodies for his coffee shop. But his Italian momma spends all her time trying to break up their romance. When neighborhood thefts of food and worthless items lead to murder, Poppy is intent on solving the crime and freeing the accused murderer, Aunt Ginny.

Being gluten-free, I love the inclusion of seven gluten-free recipes for Paleo Espresso Brownies, Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins, Paleo Chocolate-Orange Muffins, Paleo Banana-Walnut Muffins, Honey Maple Pecan Shortbread (with notes to convert to pie crust or Pecan Pie Bars), and Butterscotch-Oatmeal Bars. The romantic triangle is great and similar to the one in the Stephanie Plum books basically hot vs. nice. The madcap antics of Poppy and her friends and family are amusing. The mystery is more challenging than most cozy series. All in all, 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Shelved Under Murder
July 11th, 2018 by diane92345

Amy and Richard stumble upon another body in the second novel in the Blue Ridge Library series, Shelved Under Murder.

Amy is the head librarian and Sunny is her assistant at the perpetually underfunded Blue Ridge library. Sunny convinces a local artist to donate three paintings to the library. While retrieving them, Amy and Richard find the artist, Rachel LeBlanc, stabbed to death in her artist’s studio. In the same studio are several art forgeries hidden in a secret closet.

The romantic relationships shine more than the mysteries in Shelved Under Murder. My biggest complaint is that there are no gray areas in the characters. They are either devils or saints. In addition, no one has much of a reason to be a villain other than for the love of money. With such shallow motives, this book receives 3 stars.

Be aware that Shelved Under Murder describes the conclusion of the first book, including the murderer’s name, multiple times so plan to read them in order.

Thanks to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Romance Tagged with: ,

Blue Murder
June 29th, 2018 by diane92345

Flaxborough is crying Blue Murder in the 10th mystery in the excellent British small town police procedural.

A writer for a London tabloid is sent to find a porno supposedly filmed with the town’s citizens. Mayor Hockley challenges the writer to a duel. Several mysterious deaths are investigated by the local police.

For such a short book, Blue Murder has a multitude of plots. However, the conclusion nicely merges them together well. This British mystery is extremely well written. The ending is surprising but fair. 4 stars!

Thanks to Farrago Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Bodies in a Bookshop
June 28th, 2018 by diane92345

In 1946 London, the Bodies in a Bookshop pile up while a would-be Sherlock Holmes tries to find the killer.

Allan Leslie is a bookseller. When he is found murdered in a locked room with another victim, thriller reader and amateur detective Professor Stubbs and his assistant Max Boyle are on the case. Mr. Leslie was into unsavory pursuits like porn and stolen property. Could his sidelines have been the motive for his death? Also, what was the connection between him and the other victim, Cecil Baird?

It is hard not to laugh at the frequent allusions to book buying being as addictive as alcoholism. The book was written in 1946 London and the atmosphere of relief from wartime fears is palpable. Everyone, even Chief Inspector Bishop, is constantly drinking. While the setting is evocative of an earlier time, the mystery itself was extremely easy to solve so only 3 stars from me.

Thanks to Dover Publications and NetGalley for a copy.

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Keep It Quiet
June 27th, 2018 by diane92345

Keep It Quiet is a witty British golden age mystery chock full of curmudgeons complaining about minor issues while members are being killed in their club’s easy chairs.

The chef at a London’s men’s club may have accidentally poisoned a member to death. The club’s secretary, Ford, wants to Keep It Quiet to avoid bad publicity. He enlists the help of a member, Dr. Anstruther, to put the cause of death as heart failure. Thus begins a comic farce of blackmail, threats and other crimes.

This book is hilarious! I enjoyed the hunt for the blackmailer. Despite guessing basically everyone in the book at various times, I still failed to guess correctly by the end.

Overall, highly recommended to armchair detectives and anyone looking for a droll golden age mystery. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Ipso now Agora Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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One Man's Meat
June 17th, 2018 by diane92345

One Man’s Meat is Gone Girl 60s style!

The ninth Flaxborough mystery was published in 1977 but is set in the “swinging” 60s. Motorcycle gang member Digger Tring falls from a carnival ride 100 feet to his death. Julia Harton’s husband wants a divorce to marry his mistress who is willing to play the waffle game with a tennis racket, butter and her bum. Con man Mr. Rothermer convinces Julia to use the “classic ploy of the vanished wife” to ensure she receives $20,000 in her divorce settlement. Inspector Purbright and Detective Love investigate.

Highly recommended for its dry wit and great mystery. Definitely one of the best in a series that just keeps improving. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Spook in the Stacks
June 14th, 2018 by diane92345

Spook in the Stacks is an entertaining cozy mystery.  It is the fourth Lighthouse Library Mystery.

The Bodie Island lighthouse library is located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Rich Jay Ruddle is looking for somewhere to house his historic documents.  The library and a local college are in the final round. At the same time, the library is holding several Halloween events in the days leading up to the holiday. During the first event, a murder occurs in the library.

I only read the third in the series before this one.  However, I had no problem keeping up with the large cast of characters and the characters are the best part of Spook in the Stacks. Everyone, even the difficult Louise Jane, are clearly differentiated and have reasonable motivations.  Teddy takes center stage in this series entry. But Lucy and Connor’s relationship are also featured. There is a paranormal element that is not resolved that hopefully will be revisited in book five.

Spook in the Stacks is a fun mystery for cozy fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Probable Claws
June 2nd, 2018 by diane92345

Probable Claws continues the 18th century tale from the previous book along with a modern day mystery.

Harry, her Corgi Tucker, fat cat Pewter and even tempered cat Mrs. Murphy are hunting a killer again in the 27th entry in the long-running series. When a motorcycler shoots Harry’s architect, Gary, dead right next to her, she decides to investigate. In alternating chapters, the story of slave holders in early Virginia is also told.

The animals always have the best lines in this series. This one is no exception. Pewter has an ongoing feud with a “dinosaur spider”. New Irish Wolfhound puppy, Pirate, is perplexed by Pewter’s dislike of anything that doesn’t bow down at her feet.

I liked the modern story best. In the 1780s story, there were a multitude of characters and French history to wade through. If I lived in Virginia, it would have been more interesting. The modern plot had a few surprising twists and the killer wasn’t easy to determine even though the clues were fairly presented. Probable Claws is recommended to both cozy mystery and historical mystery fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Bantam Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Naked Nuns
May 31st, 2018 by diane92345

More trouble for Flaxborough in the 8th book in the series.

A contentious boat race leads 2 of the town’s leaders almost to blows. Nighttime escapades show the naked frolicking of a town leader, his friend, and two working girls to the neighbors. A mysterious note from the states promises “naked nuns” and a paid “hit”. An old friend of the series welcomes an “olive oil importer” to town. Eventually, a brutal murder occurs. What is happening in this quaint and usually quiet British town?

The town characters are well-utilized in the Naked Nuns for those already familiar with the series. However, for newbies, this is not the place to start. One character shown is the answer to a previous book’s mystery-ruining the ending for anyone reading this first. There are many characters introduced in the first few chapters that will be confusing for newcomers. The trademark dark humor is not as obvious as in previous books. The murder occurs near the end. Overall, not one of the best books in the series. 3 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

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Flaxborough Crab
May 12th, 2018 by diane92345

“Something or other is sending half the over-sixties round the twist” in the Flaxborough Crab.

A rash of panty theft, quick grope and runs, and window peeping has befallen Flaxborough. The perps are described as elderly men who scuttle away sideways like a crab. When an esteemed villager is accidentally killed while perpetrating an attack, the police rest easy. But hours later, two more incidents are reported. What is causing the disruption of the usual calmness of Flaxborough life?

This is the sixth book in the Flaxborough Mystery series but it can easily be read as a stand-alone. By using metaphors, the Flaxborough Crab successfully combines naughty details with a totally clean story line that is fine for all ages. Some of the metaphors, especially at the senior picnic using flowers, are laugh-out-loud funny. The mystery is more of a whydunnit than the traditional whodunnit.

The Flaxborough Crab is highly recommended for 20th century police procedural and British cozy mystery fans. It could be likened to a 1950’s precursor of the Stephanie Plum series with the elderly women of the village playing a clean version of Lula. Seriously, this book is funny! 5 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Farrago Books, and NetGalley for a copy. I can’t wait for the next in the series!

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