Tag Archives: cozy mystery

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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Book Review: The Spring Cleaning Murders – #8 in Dorothy Cannell’s Cozy Series

The Spring Cleaning Murders

By Dorothy Cannell

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Ellie Haskell has discovered a book about cleaning, including recipes for DYI cleaning products  in her attic. It was written by one of her ancestors, and she is so excited about the find she decides to do a thorough spring cleaning. Now she is in a pickle. Ellie’s cleaning lady, Mrs. Malloy, quit because her newborn granddaughter needs a nanny. Mrs. Malloy hasn’t always been the most efficient employee, and now the situation has become awkward because Ellie’s cousin Vanessa married Mrs. Malloy’s son. Being related wasn’t the most comfortable situation, but Ellie really counted on the extra help around the house. The replacement cleaning lady is not exactly what Ellie was hoping for, especially after she turns up dead.

Was the death an accident or was it murder? Ellie has a feeling it was foul play, and she sets out to prove it.  Unfortunately, there are lots of obstacles along the way. First of all her husband has been a bit distracted because some activists have targeted his restaurant. Her gardener/handyman is not feeling well, and she is concerned that his age is finally slowing him down. Her twins are in a half day play school, but afternoons can be a hectic with them home, no help in the house and quite possibly a murderer on the loose.

The Spring Cleaning Murders is a cute cozy mystery.  Ellie and her family have been the stars of this and twelve others in the series. It has all the elements of a perfect cozy. The quirky characters are endearing, the group of cleaning ladies is eclectic and interesting and the list of possible suspects includes almost everyone Ellie encounters.  Will she be able to find out who the killer is before anyone else dies?

I loved the characters in this book. It was fun to try and figure out “who done it” with Ellie and her sidekicks. The bits of cleaning tips at the beginning of each chapter were a throwback to the past and fun to read. The end was cute with an unexpected twist.

There are thirteen books in the Ellie Haskell Mystery Series. this book is #8.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

 

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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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