Tag Archives: cozy mystery

Book Review: Claws for Concern – Cute Cat Cozy Mystery

Claws for Concern  (Cat in the Stacks #9)

By Miranda James

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Retiree and amateur gumshoe Charlie Harris and his famous Maine Coon cat Diesel are back in the ninth episode of their adventures. Harris is minding his own business as a volunteer at the library when he notices a stranger. It is not unusual for people to seek shelter from the heat in the public library, but this fellow seems different.

As it turns out he is a distant relative of Harris with a shady past. Why has he felt the need to make contact now? Harris feels a tenuous connection as well as an obligation to help the stranger. But the more he finds out about him, the more uneasy Harris becomes.

Coincidently, an author of true crime books contacts Harris requesting to write about some of the crimes he has helped solve in the past. Reluctant at first, he is unsure about returning the author’s calls. Eventually, his curiosity gets the better of him, so he agrees as long as the author gives credit to the police department as the real heros. This arrangement with the author pulls Harris into a new investigation of an old crime that may have a big connection to the newly found relative.

James’ characters are delightful. How could you not love a Maine Coon cat that is as big as a bobcat and a perfect judge of character? It amuses me that Harris has to find a cat sitter because Diesel did not like to be home alone. The entire Harris family weaves in and out of the story adding depth, emotion and humor. I can’t wait to see how little Charlie grows in the next book. Harris’ friends and love interest pop on and off of the pages as well as his delightful house keeper Azalea.

The plot is interesting and holds a few surprises, ticking all the boxes of a great cozy mystery, Claw for Concern has a super supporting cast as well as interesting main characters. This is the first book I have read in the series, even though it is the ninth in the series. I was not confused or lost at any point during the tale as it works well as a stand-alone cozy mystery.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Murder in the Manuscript Room – Delightfully Twisting Tale

Murder in the Manuscript Room

By Con Lehane

Raymond Ambler doesn’t want to be involved with murder. He is a librarian, not a cop. But when it hits close to home, he is not only upset, he is driven to help his buddy NYPD Detective Mike Cosgrove work the case. Cosgrove doesn’t always welcome Ambler’s assistance, but the homicide detective realizes quickly that Ambler is invaluable to the investigation since the body was found in his library and he knows all of the suspects.

Unfortunately, Cosgrove and other police officials don’t always listen to or appreciate Ambler’s take on the case. Knowing he is just an amateur detective, most of the time Ambler is good with that, but when it gets too close, he has no choice. What Ambler doesn’t bargain for is his personal, professional and amateur sleuthing worlds colliding with such force. Threats are being made and chances are being taken that only police professionals should be involved in, not librarians. Should Ambler back off or is it too late?

Lehane’s story could be ripped from today’s headlines. One of the suspects is under scrutiny because he is Islamic. It doesn’t matter that he is a scholar; the authorities are suspicious of him and possibly rightly so. The resulting fallout could seriously affect the relationship Ambler has with his friend Adele Morgan. She sympathizes with the suspect, maybe a bit too much and Ambler is a little jealous of the two of them.

I love the writing style as well as the characters. The story is an intricate web but never confusing. It took me less than 48 hours to finish it because I absolutely had to know what was going to happen next. Don’t confuse easy reading with simplicity. Lehane knows how to draw his reader in and keep them wanting more throughout the entire book.

Murder in the Manuscript Room ticks all the boxes for a cozy mystery. Raymond is the curious librarian that helps solve murders that he quite accidentally encounters. But it is much meatier than most cozies. It is like comparing a 99 cent burger from a nationwide chain to a specialty burger bar that has fresh beef, caramelized onions, homemade sauces and artisanal cheeses. They are both burgers, but occasionally you really love to be treated to the surprise of flavors you enjoy with that specialty – in this case Lahane’s fabulous book.

I am delighted that this is a series. This is the first I have read, but it was not confusing in the least and easily works as a stand-alone novel. That being said, I am going to put the first in the 42nd Street Library mystery series Murder at the 42nd Street Library, on my list to read. Outside of the series, Lahane has published three other mysteries.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: A Deadly Eclair: A Delicious Cozy Mystery

A Deadly Éclair (A French Bistro Mystery)

By Daryl Wood Gerber

Mimi Rousseau is living her dream – until the nightmare of murder darkens her door. Her life has known sorrow before; namely the unexpected death of her husband that revealed they were broke and deep in debt. Coming home to Napa Valley isn’t easy, but when she is introduced to Bryan Baker she dares to think her dreams of owning a successful restaurant might come true. Baker is willing to finance the bistro as well as the attached inn because he believes in Mimi.

With her every step of the way, he encourages and supports Mimi both financially and emotionally. Like a big brother, he is always there for her – until he is found brutally murdered the night before the first wedding planned at Bistro Rousseau.

Mimi is devastated by the loss of her mentor and is determined to find out who could possibly do such a thing. Unfortunately, there is a smorgasbord of suspects staying at the inn for the wedding that was preempted by Baker’s death. That doesn’t stop Mimi’s investigation, much to the local law enforcement’s chagrin. She is hoping to serve up justice with a side of incarceration to the person responsible. The killer isn’t about to take her meddling laying down – will she be the next victim?

This delightful cozy mystery has more ingredients than a French pastry and is just as delicious. The main characters are quirky, fun and likable. Of course there are a few that I wouldn’t want to eat lunch with, slimy characters that are absolutely necessary for a great cozy mystery.

Another great addition to this delightful mystery is the recipes the author has included at the end of the book. It is always fun to have the recipes discussed in the book available to enjoy. Seriously, who doesn’t crave a delicious éclair or creamy, crunchy topped Crème Brulee after reading about the characters enjoying these decadent treats?

I really enjoyed A Deadly Éclair. It is the first book in the French Bistro Mystery Series, and the first book I’ve read by award winning author Daryl Wood Gerber. She writes two other series, the Cookbook Nook Mysteries and the Cheese Shop Mysteries (writing as Avery Aames). I plan to check out both of these series in the near future.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: A Murder For the Books – First in the Cozy Series

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher/author in connection with Killer Nashville in return for my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

Nursing a broken heart and a bruised ego, Amy Webber flees to a small town in Virginia. Leaving a prestigious university job to become the director at the Taylorsville Public Library wasn’t part of her life plan, but it just might be what she needs at this point in her life.  She is enjoying the slower pace of life. Living with Aunt Lydia, whom she has adored since childhood, has been good for both of them.

Amy’s tranquility is upended when the tiny town is shattered by a murder. Not only is the body found in the library, but there may be a connection to one of Lydia and Amy’s long dead relatives. The mystery is too much for Amy to ignore. She begins to dig into the past with the help of her handsome new neighbor, Richard.

There is just enough romance to lighten up the tension of the mystery that must be solved. Richard is not only a partner in the investigation; he is also clearly smitten with Amy.  How long does her heart have to heal before she can trust anyone?

Against her better judgement, Amy impulsively jumps into the investigation. The closer she gets to the truth; she realizes that many of the people she loves may be in danger. Will she find the answers she seeks before the killer strikes again?

Murder for the Books is the first book in Victoria Gilbert’s new series.  It is the perfect cozy mystery.  The characters are interesting and can easily be seen as people you might know. The town sounds delightfully quirky with the beautiful setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Shelved Under Murder, slated for publication July 2018.

https://killernashville.com/murder-books-victoria-gilbert-review-laura-hartman/

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Book Review: Brew or Die – A Java Jive Mystery – Caffeinated Cozy Fun

Brew or Die – A Java Jive Mystery

By Caroline Fardig

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher.

Juliet Langley is pumped! She has been an amateur sleuth for a while, but now she has worked hard and earned her private investigator license. Pete, her best friend and owner of Java Jive Coffee Shop, is happy for her, but has serious reservations. She has been known to take risks that scare Pete and put her in more hot water than she would like to admit. Besides, they are attracted to each other, but are afraid to jeopardize their friendship by becoming a couple so he is afraid of losing her.

Juliet assures Pete that working for her friend, Maya Huxley, the owner of a private investigation agency, will keep her safe. In fact, she will start out doing the boring part of investigations, like surveillance. The other thing that makes Pete apprehensive is that Julie is the part time manager at Java Jive while he works as an audio engineer for a studio in Nashville. How will she do both jobs without one or the other getting short changed?

The first case seems simple enough. Photographing a cheating husband’s clandestine meeting with his paramour should be a snap. Juliet watches, waits, takes the pictures to prove his infidelity and then abruptly gets mixed up in an attempted murder. Much to her dismay, her boyfriend, cold case Detective John Stafford comes to her rescue. Even worse, her ex-boyfriend Detective Ryder Hamilton finds out about the incident. They had a bad breakup and she has been avoiding him ever since. Now Juliet is back on his radar, and it is making her crazy.

Then Java Jive’s cook has a personal tragedy. His girlfriend is found dead of a suspected overdose, but he is convinced it is murder. Pete begs Juliet to help investigate the case even though the police have ruled it an accidental death, not murder. Juliet agrees, and reluctantly allows Pete to help her. This pulls both of them into a crazy situation full of models, parties and recreational drugs.

Meanwhile, Juliet is assigned to a new case, involving possible money laundering and theft. Again she crosses paths with Hamilton. She is angry and hurt but since it is beneficial to the case, she agrees to work with him as long as he keeps it strictly business. Things are getting tricky in her personal life and new profession. She is on the wrong side of a millionaire and is having trouble keeping her personal feelings out of her investigations. Is she in more danger than she can handle? Which one of the men in her life will help her and which ones will hurt her? The bodies are starting to stack up!

The characters in this series are well developed and interesting. The fact that they have troubles in their personal lives but carry on their jobs makes them easy to relate to and identify with. The relationships between Juliet and the men in her life are amusing and heartbreaking at the same time. She is always getting in too deep, but seems to be able to swim her way out of the situation. Her spunky attitude makes her the perfect star of this cozy mystery series.  I really enjoy reading about Juliet and the men in her life, as well as life in the coffee shop with a side of murder served up sprinkled with a side of romance.

Brew or Die is the fourth book in Carolyn Fardig’s Java Jive Mystery Series. Previously I read and enjoyed the second book in the series, Mug Shot. Both of them are solid cozy mysteries with all the elements cozy readers enjoy. I highly recommend this series as well as the others written by Ms. Fardig.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: A Measure of Murder – Cute Culinary Cozy

A Measure of Murder

By Leslie Karst

Sally Solari has more on her plate than the delicious meals she is serving at Gauguin, the restaurant she recently inherited. Her schedule is full with the management of Gauguin. She is also helping her father at Solari’s, the restaurant her family has owned for years. Sally is slowly trying to find a replacement for herself so she can focus more on Gauguin, but her father is resisting her efforts. He is sure no one can take his daughter’s place in their family’s Italian restaurant.

Even though Sally loves the restaurant business, she decides to carve out a bit of her precious free time to do something for herself. Deciding she will spend some of the precious few hours of her free time by joining a local chorus that needs members.

Like any social group, the choir has personality conflicts, but overall they are a great bunch of dedicated vocalists that enjoy each other and their craft. The director has found fame with the discovery of some sheet music by a famous composer making the pull to be a part of the choir more desirable. Unfortunately their first rehearsal ends in tragedy. One of the tenors falls to his death. His girlfriend seeks out Sally and asks her to investigate the accident because she is sure it was murder.

The police have closed the case, but Sally agrees to switch her chef’s hat for a deerstalker a la Sherlock Holmes because she doesn’t think the evidence adds up to an accident. That means that one of the members of her choir could be a murderer. Let’s all hope Sally isn’t the next victim.

Karst writes a meaty cozy mystery. Her characters are strong, multi-faceted and interesting. Sally juggles her career and personal life just as most of us. She loves the restaurant business, her family and friends. It is refreshing to read a cozy mystery without the main character being a bit ditzy. Her father and grandmother enforce the family values she believes in as well as adding humor to the story.

The plot is interesting and solid. There are several suspects, all of them likely killers. As Sally quietly works the case in her spare time, the motives are varied and believable I was convinced I knew who the killer was until a new theory was introduced that was as likely as the previous one making me change my mind in an instant.

A Measure of Murder is the second Sally Solari Mystery by Leslie Karst. It is the first one I have read, but it worked well as a stand-alone novel. That being said, I enjoyed it so much I plan to read the first in this series, Dying for a Taste. It was really a sweet treat to get to the end of the book and see that some of the delicious recipes discussed in the novel were in the final pages. All of them look delectable. I can’t wait to try the Grilled Salmon with Papaya and Avocado Pico de Gallo.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: River City Dead – Cozy Mystery in a Cool Setting

River City Dead

By Nancy G. West

Aggie is excited but nervous. Her boyfriend Sam has booked a suite in a hotel right on San Antonio’s River Walk during Fiesta Week. This is the first time they are going to actually spend the weekend together. Aggie cares for Sam and wants to be with him, but this is the first time she’ll actually be spending a night with a man since her ex, whom she refers to as Lester the Louse.

Sam is nothing like Lester. He is a San Antonio police detective. The bad news is Aggie keeps sticking her nose in cases that Sam is working on. The good news is he is allowing her to help out a bit on investigations. Both of them were hoping to avoid any kind of crime during their getaway, but it has a way of finding them.

This time it is really too close to home to ignore. A dead body is found in the suite they were supposed to be staying in this weekend and the victim is someone Aggie knows. Sam wants her to leave so she is out of harm’s way. Aggie is determined to stay and help find the killer.

The problem is Aggie may be getting in too deep. She starts hanging out with some of the girls that are there to perform as a group during Fiesta Week. There are several of these groups staying at the hotel and Aggie is sure someone in or connected to them could be responsible for the dead girl in the suite she should be staying in.

Aggie soon finds herself at odds with Sam. Is her relationship going to end before it goes any further? Will the killer target another one of the girls in the group, or possibly Aggie to keep her from finding out the truth?

River City Dead is a great cozy mystery. It has all of the essential elements. Sam, the hot detective is the perfect love interest for guy shy Aggie. The fact that he lets her help solve crimes, albeit grudgingly, makes them a dynamic duo. I loved the setting. I’ve been to San Antonio’s River Walk, but never during Fiesta Week. The bits of history add a nice element to round out the story.

This is the fourth book in the Aggie Mundeen Mystery Series. It is the first one I’ve read, which worked fine as a standalone mystery. I learned bits and pieces of Aggie and Sam’s history. It was enough to know what was going on, but my curiosity wants a bit more info. That is encouraging me to read the other books in Ms. West’s series to get the scoop.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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