Tag Archives: mystery

It Cannoli Be Murder – A Delicious Cozy Mystery

It Cannoli Be Murder

An Italian Chef Mystery

By Catherine Bruns

 

Tess is on the verge of something big – opening her very own Italian restaurant – a dream she has had forever. It is bittersweet because her husband died six months ago. He shared her life and her vision for the future, but Tess is slowly moving on from his loss.

Her cousin Gabby, who is more like a sister is there for her, supporting and encouraging the opening of Anything’s Pastable . When Gabby schedules an author event at her bookstore, Tess jumps in to help with the refreshments even though she is crazy busy with the final prep for her restaurant.

The author talk was a disaster. He is obnoxious and his assistant, Daphne, is an old high school nemesis of the cousins. When Tess finds her dead late that night in the bookstore, both Gabby and Tess are at the top of the list of suspects. They are not going to stand for being accused of murder, nor are they going to let the murder close the bookstore and forestall the opening of the restaurant. They begin investigating and soon find several people who wanted Daphne out of the picture. Unfortunately for the girls, someone will go to any lengths to keep the amateur sleuths from finding the true killer.

This is the first book I have read by Catherine Bruns. It is the second book in the Italian Chef Mystery Series. I was not confused or lost at anytime in the book, it works very well as a standalone novel. I’m a huge fan of cozy mysteries. It Cannoli Be Murder is a fun, interesting read with so many viable suspects I didn’t know who the murderer was until the last pages. I really enjoyed the plot and characters and highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a fun and interesting cozy mystery.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Murder on the Silver Screen – Perfect Marriage of a Cozy Mystery and Classic Movies

Murder on the Silver Screen

The Movie Palace Mystery Series Book #3

By Margaret Dumas

San Francisco Vintage theater owner Nora Paige has her dream job, but unfortunately murder keeps creeping in ruining her mojo. She loves her coworkers, accepting and embracing their quirks. Then there is the resident ghost, Trixie who was an usher back in the 1930’s. She can only be seen by Nora but others feel her presence.

Troubles are piling up for Nora. Her actor ex-husband wiped out her savings before leaving her for another woman. She knows he has it hidden, but finding it seems impossible so she is living pay check to small paycheck trying to get her life back in order. She is cooking up a plan to recover her losses with an acquaintance from her former life in Hollywood, but is doubtful it will work.

When a multimillionaire gamer creates a new game and has decided to debut it at the theater, Nora is thrilled with the publicity. That is until he is poisoned in front of the standing room only crowd on the stage of her theater. She has to find the killer because this could be the final blow for the theater and Nora because the killer is not done yet.

Murder on the Silver Screen is an interesting and fun cozy mystery with a solid plot. The ghost element is a great twist, mixing new technology with the old-world use of a séance to try and reach the ghost that everyone thinks might be there. Nora knows Trixie is there because she sees and talks to her all of the time.

The other element of this cozy mystery is Nora’s alter ego, Sally Lee. She is a movie critic for vintage movies, writing and publishing reviews for the films shown at Nora’s theater. She gives the reader inside info to the actors, history of the film, facts about the screenwriters, set and costume descriptions and fabulous quotes. I was so enthralled with her “review” of Notorious starring Ingrid Bergman and Carey Grant, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, I immediately ordered it and loved it.

This is the third book in the Movie Palace Mystery Series. It is the first one I have read, and it reads well as a standalone novel. I highly recommend Murder on the Silver Screen to movie buffs and cozy mystery fans. It is a fast, fun read with a few surprises to keep readers guessing until the satisfying last chapters.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Dash Away All – Christmas in July Leads to Murder

Dash Away All

Merry and Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series Book #3

By Christina Freeburn

 Merry is as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. She has been hired to work on a movie that features Luna Carmichael, the grand dame of television Christmas movies. Supplying the set with handcrafted Christmas items is Merry’s dream come true – until people start dying.

Arriving in her Christmas themed RV and Ebenezer, a very vocal and opinionated guinea pig, Merry is ready to get crafting. Anxious to meet the woman she idolizes, she is surprised to find Luna demanding, self-centered and downright mean to some of those working for her. Keeping a low profile is the best defense, but Merry finds it difficult to keep her curiosity at bay. She is soon knee deep in a murder investigation to the chagrin of the local authorities. Sticking to the crafting she is hired to do and keeping away from the investigation is in her best interest. The amateur sleuth could become a target if she doesn’t stop snooping.

Anytime of the year it is fun to read a Christmas themed cozy mystery. Especially if it is set in July, which makes it interesting and opens up more possibilities than the usual holiday books offer. Ms. Freeburn expertly weaves the different types of crafts Merry creates with an intriguing plot. The whodunit unfolds perfectly in the pages, encouraging the reader to read one more chapter to see what happens next.

The characters are interesting and most of them appear to be hiding something. I enjoyed finding out things about the characters throughout the book. This helped me start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but kept me wondering who the murderer was until the final pages.

Cozy mysteries are interesting, easy to read and are about everyday people you might know. Dash Away All ticks all of those boxes and more. This is the first book I have read by Ms. Freeburn, but it will not be the last. While it is the third book in The Merry and Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series, I was not confused or lost at any time. It works well as a standalone novel. Like me, you will probably seek out the previous two books, Not a Creature Was Stirring and Better Watch Out as well as her other series of six books; The Faith Hunter Scrap This Series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Spent Identity – Solid Mystery with a Side of Romance

3.25.20Spent Identity

By Marlene M. Bell

Annalisse Drury needs the fresh air and open places that her brownstone in Manhattan cannot provide. Luckily, she has the perfect outlet, the family farm she grew up on in Goshen. As a small child her parents died, so she came to live with her beloved Aunt Kate. Unfortunately, when she lived with them, Kate’s now dead husband and two obnoxious children reminded her constantly that she would never be a part of their family, no matter how much Kate cared and loved her.

When she arrives at the farm for the weekend, Annalisse realizes that something is bothering Kate. Annalisse finds a letter from Kate’s son stating he is selling the family farm out from under his mother. Heartbroken and furious, Annalisse vows to stop him. Unfortunately, when a dead body is found in the barn by the hired hand, they all must leave the farm per the sheriff until the investigation is complete. They head over to Annalisse’s boyfriend’s estate, which is fairly close to the farm. Kate disappears right after she and Annalisse arrive. Annalisse and Alec, her boyfriend, are soon on the hunt to find her missing aunt. Luckily, Alec is wealthy. He calls in a private investigator to assist in the search. Annalisse and Alec soon realize they are also in danger. Will they live to find Kate? Who is behind the killing and kidnapping? Are the two crimes related?

This fast-paced mystery combined with the slow burn of romance features a solid plot and interesting characters. Revenge is served up with a side of tension, twists and turns making readers fear for the outcome, all the while trying to figure out what would happen next. Ms. Bell serves up a surprising and satisfying ending that mystery lovers will adore.

Spent Identity is the second book in this series, but the first one I’ve read. In the first few chapters, the author summarizes the background needed to make sense of the relationships between the main characters. It works well as a stand-alone novel, I was not confused or lost. I recommend Spent Identity to everyone that loves mysteries, thrillers and a bit of romance.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery (https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/spent-identity-marlene-bell) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: A Shadowed Fate – Intriguing Historical Mystery Series

A Shadowed Fate

A Lord Byron Mystery

By Marty Ambrose

In this second book of the Lord Byron Mystery trilogy, Claire Clairmont has grown old but not elderly. She has lived through the loss of Lord Byron, the man she loved even after he left her for another woman. Many years ago, she bore his daughter but realized she could not raise her alone. It was not acceptable in 1816. She sent her child, Allegra, to live with Lord Byron. For reasons unclear to Claire, he sent Allegra to live in a convent where the child succumbed to illness and died. But recent revelations have hinted that Claire’s daughter lives. She is determined to find her daughter before she dies. So begins her quest for the truth.

Claire lives with her niece and grandniece in genteel poverty. She has personal letters from Lord Byron that would fetch a more than generous price, but cannot let go of the writings of a man she loved so deeply. When Trelawny, a man she and Byron once knew, brings her a valuable sketch that Byron wanted her to have, she sees relief in their money situation. But Trelawny also brings her hope that her daughter has not died, but had been hidden away by Byron because she was in grave danger.

Danger has touched Claire and her family before, bringing death and sorrow into their home. Now, amidst the hope of finding Allegra, Claire and her loved ones are robbed of the sketch that would have eased their money problems. More disconcerting is the fact that Claire and those she loved may now be in mortal danger. Getting closer to discovering the secrets of the past could prove fatal for one or all of them.

A Shadowed Fate is a continuation of Claire’s Secret. While I do not think anyone would be confused by reading it without reading the first book in the series, I still recommend reading them in order. The fascinating way Ms. Ambrose weaves the real-life drama of Claire, Lord Byron and Mary Shelly (author of Frankenstein and Claire’s step-sister) into the plot takes the readers to a different level than most mysteries. But do not discount the solid plot lines and twist in the mystery of Allegra’s fate and the person or persons that are willing to do anything to obtain items associated with Lord Byron.

By opening both Claire’s Secret and A Shadowed Fate the reader must slow down a bit to appreciate the style in which Ms. Ambrose writes. It is literary, yet contemporary and easy to read. The prose takes readers to a different place than most current novels. Each chapter has quotes from The Prophecy of Dante written by Lord Bryon in 1819, published in 1821, setting the scene for the reader to settle back and enjoy. I highly recommending you do just that.

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 ©2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Murder of a Needled Knitter – Honeymoon and Homicide!

Murder of a Needled Knitter

By Denise Swanson

Newly married Skye Denison Boyd and Wally, her brand-new husband have set sail on a romantic honeymoon cruise. The two of them are happy little love birds until they realize that there are a group of knitters on the cruise with them. Knitting doesn’t bother either of them, but they didn’t realize that Skye’s overbearing mother May is part of the knitting group and her father Jed has joined her. When they also see Skye’s friend Trixie and her husband aboard ship, the newlyweds realize they are sailing into different seas than they imagined.

When an obnoxious knitting instructor is found dying by Skye and Trixie, they realize a murderer is also aboard the ship. The bad news is, May is the lead suspect. The good news is Wally is a member of the police force back home and this isn’t the first dead body Skye and Trixie have stumbled upon. The three of them team up with a little help from Skye’s parents and Trixie’s husband to find the real killer before they reach the end of the cruise so May can go home instead of being remanded to FBI custody.

I love cozies, and Swanson is a master of this genre. Murder of a Needled Knitter has all of the elements cozy readers love. Amateur sleuths, hot hubbies and boyfriends, just enough bloodshed, but not too much and a solid plot that wraps up splendidly in the end. Swanson’s books are fun to read and beautifully written. The descriptions of the food on the cruise ship made me hungry and phrases like, “Rumors were spread like suntan lotion at the pool—thickly and with little regard for the slippery consequences.” made me chuckle.

This is not the first book I have read in the Scumble River Mystery Series. Denise Swanson is one of my favorite cozy writers. Since I live close to where the series is set, it is fun to read about places the characters go that I have been to myself. But you certainly don’t have to live near Chicago to relate to this fabulous cozy series. I highly recommend any and all of Denise Swanson’s books to readers who love a well-written cozy with interestingly engaging characters.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Red Lotus – New York Times Best Selling Author’s Latest Gem

The Red Lotus

By Chris Bohjalian

A bicycle trip takes Alexis, an ER doctor and her medical researcher boyfriend Austin to Vietnam. While both of them enjoy biking and the scenery, the trip is personal for Austin. His father was wounded and his uncle died in the very jungle they would bike through within the safety of the group.

Due to weather, things change a bit and Austin decides to go off on his own to complete the pilgrimage and closure he came for. When he doesn’t return, the local police are called in. His body is found, apparently the victim of a hit and run accident. But was it? Alexis has a feeling it was murder, but how can a doctor back in the states investigate a possible murder in a faraway country?

Soon she finds evidence that Austin has been lying to her. Even though their entire relationship was built upon these newfound lies, she is determined to find the truth and his murderer. Digging where someone doesn’t want you to find anything can be deadly, but Alexis and a PI she retains won’t stop until the answers they seek are revealed.

From the opening pages of this novel to the last, Bohjalian skillfully keeps the readers breathless with fear and the expectation of evil just around the corner for Alexis. She has her own demons to deal with as well as roadblocks by officials and Austin’s family throughout the book.

The reader is swept into the beauty of Vietnam’s jungles and the grittiness of the ER. The author paints us the picture of both with his words, juxtaposing the good and bad of both places throughout the novel.

I found this fast-paced mystery absorbingly interesting and was immediately hooked on the plot and characters. This is the first book I’ve read by New York Times Best Selling Author Chris Bohjalian, but not the last. Looking over his list of best-sellers it will be difficult to choose which one to read next.

 DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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