Tag Archives: cozy mystery

Book Review: Every Trick in the Rook (A Birds of a Feather Mystery)

every-trick-in-the-rookEvery Trick in the Rook

A Birds of a Feather Mystery

By Marty Wingate

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

Julia Lanchester is juggling work and her personal life just like many of us do. She is excited to get away from the tourist bureau for a weekend with her boyfriend Michael. Things have been busy for her, planning events in and around the Fotheringill estate, the most popular place to visit in the village.

She and Michael head out and disconnect from everything for a wonderful few days. They spot unusual birds and enjoy each other until the hotel notifies her of an urgent phone call

The news opens the cage on crazy – turning a relaxing weekend into an abrupt return to reality. Julia’s ex-husband has been found murdered. Even worse, he was on the Fotheringill property. Why has he returned to a place he didn’t like from the isolated island he retreated to when they divorced?

The local constable has questions for Michael and Julia, surely they are not suspects! They are questioned and released, but Julia is warned to keep her nose out of the investigation. She has good intentions, but just can’t seem to let the questions about her ex-husband’s arrival and murder go. Will this put her in the crosshairs of the killer?

Wingate spins a great cozy mystery. It has all the elements that keep loyal cozy readers interested and turning pages. This series is exceedingly interesting to nature and bird lovers. One of my favorite characters is avian – a super smart rook named Alfie. He flies in and out of the plot at the most interesting times. The little girl he lives with is also very interesting. Her name, Tennyson, is as complex and fascinating as the child. I hope both of them show up in later books.

This is the third book in The Birds of a Feather Mystery series. It works perfectly well as a stand-alone mystery as I have not read the previous two books in the series. I did read one of Wingate’s Potting Shed Mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries or mysteries in general, I highly recommend checking out one or both of Marty Wingate’s series. I am willing to bet you will come back for more.

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Book Review: A Fatal Twist – Yoga, Puppies, Babies and a Murder!

Karma's a Killer

Kate Davidson is a multi-tasking maven. She juggles owning and teaching classes at her yoga studio with her busy personal life. She has a beloved dog Bella, who isn’t really too fond of other dogs, some people, has separation anxiety and to top it off lacks an essential enzyme which makes mealtime dicey at best. Kate also has a live-in boyfriend, Michael who is pretty understanding considering Kate has stumbled upon more than one dead body. He is less happy about her urge to jump in and help solve the crime.

You might be thinking that you are as busy as Kate (minus the dead bodies of course) but she stepped up her game in this book. She is dealing with a young woman that she really doesn’t like, but has agreed to let her work at the studio to pay off a debt. Again, what could really go wrong?

Kate’s best friend Rene is expecting twins. So, Kate agrees to be her Doula (a non-medical person that gives moral support during and after the birth of her child, or in this case children). And the cherry on the top of Kate’s crazy triple scoop sundae of her life – Michael brings home a pair of adorable abandoned puppies. They wiggle their way into Michael and Kate’s hearts, but unfortunately also wiggle their way out of an escape proof crate and proceed to leave a path of destruction in their wake.

As if this wasn’t enough to wear out our favorite Yoga instructor, during the open house for the brand new birthing center where Rene will have her babies, a dead body shows up. Then someone Kate knows is arrested, but she knows her friend is innocent and sets out to prove it with an unlikely accomplice. Michael has warned her against sticking her nose in where it shouldn’t be, but Kate can’t help herself. Will this be the time she steps over the line?

Tracy Weber’s Downward Dog Mystery series is entertaining and fun. She also treats readers to a solid mystery. By the end of the book, before the crazy climax of finding out who the killer is there are no less than eight plausible suspects. And we aren’t talking way out, red herring, reader groaning connections. LOTS of people wanted to kill this guy and they all had good reason. But it was only one of them. It took until the very end to figure it out. The clues were laid out perfectly, as a mystery buff, it is satisfying to realize I could have figured it out, but didn’t.

Weber’s characters are people you would meet every day at work or in your social life. I didn’t necessarily want to spend time with some of them, but others seem like they’d be really fun to invite to a party. Each book adds more layers to the main characters, but you could honestly read these as stand-alone cozy mysteries. This is the fourth book in Weber’s series, so you may want to start at the beginning, but you really don’t have.

If I haven’t convinced you to give this series a try, I only have one more thing to say – babies and puppies. Both adorably cute, frustratingly funny if they aren’t yours. I highly recommend this fast paced cozy mystery.

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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Book Review: Death Steals a Holy Book – Fast Paced Cozy – Perfect Fall Book!

death-steals-a-holy-bookDeath Steals a Holy Book

By: Rosemary & Larry Mild

Dan and Rivka Sherman are back in Rosemary and Larry Mild’s latest cozy mystery. In their Annapolis, Maryland  bookstore, the Shermans are quite happy visiting with patrons, participating in a writer’s group and spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately, they often find themselves unwittingly involved in investigating murders. What is the couple supposed to do when the police don’t seem to be getting the job done and one of their friends could be mistakenly sent to prison?

Rivka finds an old book. A very, very old book. She feels it could be of major significance, so the couple has it appraised and find they are correct in assuming the it’s value is high. The Menorat ha-maor, The Candlestick of Light is not only worth a lot of money, it has great significance in history.

They take the book to Israel Finestein to have it restored. Unfortunately, he is brutally murdered and the book is missing. To make matters worse, a dear friend of theirs has been arrested for the murder they both knew she would never commit.

The clues wind in and out of the Jewish community, with more suspects than books in The Olde Victorian Bookstore the Sherman’s own. The police don’t seem to be paying attention to the facts, and are content with the original person accused. Hopefully  Dan and Rivka can unravel the mystery of the book that vanished as well as the identity dof the killer before it is too late.

I love this unlikely crime fighting duo. They are wily when on the hunt for clues, but sometimes Dan forgets to feed the bookstore cat. Rivka gets irritated with Dan but never for a minute doubts him or stops caring for him. They are the old couple that have been together through thick and thin and their loving relationship is obvious to the reader. The Mild’s have crafted these rich characters that develop more with each book. I liked them before and love them now like a couple of kooky next door neighbors.

This third book in the series is fast paced and extremely interesting. The Milds have many other books, collections of short stories and a few written by just one of this dynamic duo. I have only read one of the others in this series, but plan to pick up the one I haven’t read Death Goes Postal. My review of Death Takes a Mistress can be seen here https://writeknit.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/book-review-death-takes-a-mistress-delightfully-twisted-tale-of-intrigue/

The extra added bonus of this book is the background as to why it was written. Take time before diving into Death Steals a Holy Book to read the Preface. It is fascinating.

 

Copyright © 2016 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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Book Review: Quick Walk to Murder – Fast Paced Cozy

 

quick-walk-to-murderQuick Walk to Murder

The Second Jessie Murphy Mystery

By: JD Daniels

Tomas is dead! Jessie’s friend Zen is beside herself. Supporting Zen while she is mourning her friend changes Jessie’s mind about returning home from her stay on Pine Island as planned. But before she had time to make a firm plan, she is given a mysterious package from the dead college student. This development makes his death look very suspicious. Jessie might have a murder to solve before leaving for home. She would rather paint than be an amateur gumshoe, but Zen is brokenhearted after the death of Tomas and the police aren’t buying the murder theory. Someone has to find out what happened to the promising college student whose life ended too soon.

The clues are confusing. Tomas was working for his family’s fishing business, but seemed afraid of someone or something the last night he was alive.

Enter Tomas’ girlfriend – a very rich girl with a very snooty family. They met at college, but something drew them together despite the opposition from their families as well as their social and economic differences. Could this have been a factor in his death?

Then there is his college roommate, who seems to be hiding something. The professors aren’t as forthcoming as Jessie hoped. Is there a reason they aren’t cooperating?

Some of the fishermen Tomas worked with have shady pasts. Have they changed or should Jessie put them at the top of her suspect list? Or maybe they are just crusty, grumpy characters who don’t want a young gal nosing around their business.

Unfortunately, Jessie’s quest for answers only creates more questions. Will she find the answers before someone else dies? Will it be her or someone she loves?

Daniel’s keeps the action moving while ratcheting up the tension to keep the reader in suspense. Quick Walk to Murder is Daniel’s second Jessie Murphy Mystery. All the perfect elements are present – a reluctant untrained investigator, police that are not investigating, an unlikely victim and a list of possible suspects as long as your arm.

This is the first book I’ve read in the series and I didn’t feel as though I was lost or missing something I needed to know from the first novel to enjoy this one.

Copyright © 2016 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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Book Review: The Crepes of Wrath – A Pancake House Mystery

Crepes of WrathThe Crêpes of Wrath

A Pancake House Mystery

by Sarah Fox

Random House Publishing Group – Alibi

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher in connection with NetGalley in return for my review. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

Marley is no stranger to Wildwood Cove. Her favorite cousin, Jimmy and his wife live there and own a popular breakfast restaurant, The Flipside Pancake House. She hasn’t been in the quaint little town as much as she would have liked since Jimmy’s wife passed away but her job in Seattle kept her away. But Jimmy’s recent bout with pneumonia landed him in the hospital so Marley stepped in to help.

Then the unimaginable happened. Cousin Jimmy died the day he was released from the hospital. Was it a tragic accident or murder? Marley was suspicious as were the local police. Soon foul play was confirmed. But what motive could anyone have to murder a beloved member of the quaint little village? Unfortunately, suspects started coming out of the woodwork.

Could it have been an old love interest of Jimmy’s? Or perhaps someone who wanted to shut down the popular restaurant? Or maybe one of the residents lusted after the beautiful old home on the perfect piece of property he lived in? Or even worse – could Jimmy’s less than legal past have caught up with him and was he the upstanding citizen everyone believed him to be?

Determined to find out what happened to Jimmy and dispel any rumors that were swirling around his death, Marley decides to do a bit of investigating on her own. Between a couple of gentleman friends that have popped up expectantly and the time she is spending at the restaurant that she now is in charge of, she quietly starts probing. Unfortunately, the killer is looking for something that he or she thinks is either in Jimmy’s home or the restaurant. Marley is in the way so will she become the next target?

Sarah Fox’s cozy mystery has all the elements I love. An unlikely detective, a few handsome men and an interesting setting round out a perfect cozy and The Crepes of Wrath has all of them. She also adds a few yummy sounding recipes to the end of the book, which I can’t wait to try. Seriously, who would not love to have Bacon Cheddar Waffles for breakfast on a Sunday Morning?

The Crepes of Wrath is the first in Fox’s Pancake House Mystery Series and the first book I have read by this author. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys a cozy mystery. Her other books include three titles in her Music Lover’s Mystery Series. Watch for the release of The Crepes of Wrath on September 20, 2016 or pre-order from Penguin Random House, Amazon, Google Play or Barnes & Nobel. It is a fun, fast cozy mystery perfect for fall.

 

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Book Review: Maggie Dove by Susan Breen – Christian Cozy Keeps Readers Guessing

Maggie DoveMaggie Dove

By Susan Breen

Maggie Dove has suffered loss in her life. She lost her husband, and then her daughter died in an accident a few years later. She finds comfort in her church family, her friends and the man that once was the boy her daughter loved. Living in her childhood home brings a type of peace and belonging to her. Until the neighbor next door decides he hates the tree in her front yard and wants to either cut it down or move it.

That is the last straw for Maggie. She is willing to fight for her tree to the death. That is until her irritating neighbor is found dead under it. His wife blames Maggie, even though the cause of death is a heart attack. Or is it?

She is even more upset when someone she cares about seems to be in the Police Chief’s radar as a suspect. When she goes to the nursing home to talk to her best friend, Winifred; Maggie gets a bit upset that she doesn’t even seem to be listening. To be fair, Winifred is having a bad time. The once vibrant woman, wife of no less than four husbands, has become so crippled with disease she cannot move without effort and pain. Even though the women have been friends for over fifty years, there were times they didn’t exactly see eye to eye, but this visit ends up being the bee in Maggie’s bonnet to do something about finding the real killer since the Chief doesn’t even seem to be looking for him or her.

Maggie begins her own investigation by talking to people in her hometown that she thinks might have had a reason to kill her neighbor. She is comfortable digging around for clues since everyone knows her as well as she knows them. Unfortunately, she pokes more than one bear, but just can’t stop. Will she be the next victim?

Maggie Dove is a great character. She is the kind of person you would want in your corner. She loves her Sunday School class. Most of them, especially the naughtiest ones, have been on the receiving end of her love and kindness. She professes her faith, yet struggles with doubts at times. Her imperfections are part of her charm.

This is the second book Susan Breen has written. The first is a work of Literary Fiction entitled The Fiction Class. Maggie Dove is her second novel and first mystery. It reads like the first of a series of cozy mysteries so I am going to be watching for the next adventures of Maggie Dove. While it is fair to say the values of the characters are Christian based, this is not a religious book. I found it quite enjoyable and honestly did not know who the killer was until the last chapter.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Random House Chatter Box Monthly Mystery 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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Book Review: Goodbye Ms. Chips – Perfect Cozy British Mystery

Goodbye Ms. ChipsMs Chips
by Dorothy Cannell

Goodbye Ms. Chips, an Ellie Haskell mystery, begins with Ellie going back to school. Not grad school or a university, but the boarding school she attended as a girl. She has mixed emotions about returning. Her schooling was marred by witnessing something she should not have. The event weighs heavy on her mind even though she is an accomplished woman with a loving husband and children.

The reason the headmistress called for Ellie is that there has been a robbery and she needs Ellie’s keen observation skills and her proven ability to solve mysteries to help. The object in question is a missing trophy, the Loverly Cup. The Cup is traditionally passed to the championship lacrosse team each year and has been held by St. Roberta’s Boarding School for ages. Unfortunately they did not win this year and must pass the missing trophy to the new winning school during the dedication of the new gymnasium. It must be found before the event.

Ellie may have had misgivings about going back to a school she had mixed emotions about, but her dear friend Dorcas Critchley is now teaching there and Ellie feels compelled to help. Little did she know there is more afoot than the missing Loverly Cup. Deception abounds with double crossing students and arrogant acquaintances from Ellie’s past throwing monkey wrenches in her investigation at every turn. When an accident occurs, Ellie is suspicious of foul play, but can she prove it?

This is the 12th book in the Ellie Haskell Mystery Series. Ellie is an interior designer who is married to a professional chef and cookbook author. Her partner in solving crime is her housekeeper, Mrs. Malloy who arrives late to this investigation due to family visiting. Cannell’s description of Mrs. Malloy is priceless and instantly gives the reader a mental picture that will pop up when she enters a scene.

There is nothing better than a tightly written cozy mystery with engaging characters and a solid plot. There were so many characters with secrets, I did not figure out the culprit until the last pages. Cannell writes a perfect British cozy with delightful characters, twists, turns and a liberal sprinkling of humor. This is the first one I’ve read in this series and it reads perfectly as a stand-alone novel.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Random House Books 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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