Tag Archives: Mystery Series

Book Review: Murder She Wrote: Killer on the Court – A Perfect Cozy Mystery

By Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran

Jessica Fletcher, famous author and amateur sleuth is back doing what she does best; solving crime and endearing herself to readers in the latest Murder, She Wrote whodunit. This adventure takes Jessica away from her beloved Cabot Cove. Her cherished nephew, Grady, his wife Donna and son Frank have invited Jessica to spend a few weeks with them on Rockaway Beach in New York. Donna’s boss, Jason Courtland, owns the beach house they will stay in, as well as many others. She was awarded the beach stay for her family for a job well done at his company.

Jessica arrives happy to see all of them and ready to relax. But a murder disrupts her visit. Jason Courtland is brutally murdered by an out-of-control tennis ball machine that is hurling balls at him long after he succumbs to the barrage of lethal blows. Sadly, his siblings are more concerned with who will take over the company instead of mourning loss of their brother. At first his death appeared be a horrible accident, but soon is ruled a homicide.

The local police have several suspects, including Jessica as she found the body along with her niece. Luckily, one of the policemen on the case previously worked with Jessica’s dear friend Mort Metzger. Together in Cabot Cove, Mort and Jessica have worked on more cases than she would like to remember. Once the local police established her petulance for solving murders, they begin consulting with her while working their leads. Neither the police nor Jessica will quit until the killer comes to justice.

The characters are interesting and fully developed. I especially enjoyed the interaction with Jessica and her ten-year-old great nephew Frank. Aside from Jessica, he is my favorite character. I love a youngster that is polite, loves to read, enjoys playing games both inside and outside and is taking art classes while he is at the beach.

I highly recommend this book to cozy mystery fans. Even if you have never seen an episode of Murder, She Wrote you will enjoy this book. I have read many of the books in this series. Each one is different, interesting and has plot twists before the killer is revealed. If you have watched Murder, She Wrote, Angela Lansbury’s voice will be present in your mind during all of the conversations Jessica has with the other characters. It is like listening to an old familiar friend. I absolutely love this book, the characters and the series.  

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2022 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Perfect Bind – A Perfect Cozy Mystery

A Perfect Bind                      

by Dorothy St. James

Assistant librarian Trudell Becket is frustrated. Her beloved library in the tiny town of Cypress has changed – and not for the better. All. Of. The. Books. Are. Gone. They have all been replaced with electronics. Tablets, computers, e-readers and crazy enough, a café and yoga classes now fill the rooms instead of actual books. While there is a time and place for new technology, Tru feels the loss of books is blasphemy and has taken secret steps to keep readers in touch with a secret library. Housed in the basement beneath the library, a chosen few have access to real books and research materials. If Mrs. Farnsworth, the head librarian, finds out about the hidden library, surely Tru will lose the job that she loves.

Keeping it secret is vital, but someone has discovered the library. Tearing down shelves and ripping books and papers, an unknown vandal has been striking at night when the library is closed. It saddens and puzzles Tru. Who is getting in, why are they destroying books and most of all how are they gaining access? Tru loves mysteries – one of her mottos is “What Would Miss Marple Do?” so she begins poking around in places that might get her in trouble. Or possibly killed!

When a body is found behind the library, Tru’s old flame from high school starts poking around. Jace once was a detective in NY, but has returned to the Cypress police department. He flusters Tru in more ways than one. As her secret crush in high school, she has always held a torch for him. He has feelings for her, but she is afraid to take their friendship to a different level. With him on the case, it is more than difficult to keep the secret library under wraps. When the case heats up, Tru and her band of amateur detectives may have bit off more than they can chew, hopefully it will not get anyone killed.

A Perfect Bind is a delightful cozy mystery. The plot is very well written, and the killer was not who I expected. The red herrings were perfectly placed to throw readers off the trail. Quirky, small town characters perfectly accompany the plot, and are fun and interesting. The bit of humor is also a welcome element. If you have read any of my reviews, you’ll know without me saying I am a huge fan of cozies, and this one hits all the marks to make it very enjoyable.  

This is the first book I have read by Dorothy St. James, but Ms. St. James has written several cozies. A Perfect Bind is the second book in the Beloved Bookroom Series, the first is A Broken Spine. I plan to read it, as well as her other cozies in the near future.

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 © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Striking Range – Page Turning Mystery

Striking Range

A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery

By Margaret Mizushima

Deputy Mattie Cobb is finally going to get answers from the man in prison that is responsible for the death of her father. Upon arrival at Colorado state prison, the closure she needs is ripped from underneath her as the killer is found dead in his cell. The only clue she has is a map that is discovered in the dead man’s sparce belongings. Hopefully the answers she seeks will be brought to light.

With the help of her canine partner, Robo, she will be part of the search team looking for evidence in the long-ago crime. The weather is against them but even worse, something sinister awaits them on Redstone Ridge. When Cole, the local veterinarian who is Mattie’s boyfriend goes missing in a storm, Mattie is determined to find him at any cost. Unfortunately, that means putting herself and her beloved dog in grave danger.

Striking Range is the sixth book in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series. I have been fortunate enough to read every book in the series and I have loved each and every one of them. The characters are fully developed and the plots are solid. It is interesting to learn about K-9 dogs, how they train and work. The added storyline of Cole’s vet practice also adds depth to the novel. This particularly comes to light in the latest book because Robo becomes a father.

I highly recommend Striking Range as well as the rest of this series. The plots are solid, the characters interesting and the action is page-turning. Each of the books in this series is written as a stand-along novel, so you can read them in any order. I enjoyed each of them, especially the ending of Striking Range – but I’m not telling you what happens – that is for you to discover when you read it.

Margaret Mizushima is an award-winning author – she was awarded the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers of America. Her award-winning Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries are internationally published, which is no surprise to her fans. The realism in her writing comes from her own experiences. She is married to a veterinarian and was raised on cattle ranches in Colorado and Texas.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Glitter End – Fast and Fun Cozy Mystery

The Glitter End by Vivian Conroy

Delta Douglas has an idea to bring more people into the stationery shop that she owns with her close friend Hazel. She has agreed to have Tilly Tay, a famous miniature artist, bring one of her works to the shop. It is a tiny world showcasing the small town’s gold rush history, featuring tiny replications of actual structures from the Old West days.

Unfortunately, Tilly is an eccentric character that quickly irritates the town folks. Shortly after arriving she is arrested for murder. Delta thinks Tilly is quirky, but doesn’t believe she is a killer. Ray Taylor, a man that Delta would love to be more than friends with, agrees with her. He is a retired football player with ties to law enforcement so they quietly begin to investigate the case running under the radar of the cops. Hopefully no one will get hurt if and when the killer catches on to their plan.

This cozy mystery is a fast and fun read. The setting is beautifully brought to life and the characters are interesting. Like most cozy mysteries there is a hint of romance, however difficult it is for the main characters to connect and share their feelings.

Ms. Conroy is a prolific cozy mystery writer, having written several series in addition to this series, the Stationery Shop Mysteries. This is the first book I have read by her and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is the second book in the series but reads well as a standalone cozy. I can’t wait to check out her other series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Buried in Books – 12th Bibliophile Mystery Must Read for Cozy Lovers

Buried in Books

By Kate Carlisle

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.

Rare book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright has it all together. She is a renowned bookbinder/restorer and has a wonderful fiancé, security expert Derek Stone, whom she is set to marry in a few days. She is so confident that all of the wedding plans are on track, she agrees to not only attend the annual book conference, but will be teaching a group how to create a book as well as give a tour of literary highlights for charity.

Things start to go a bit strange when she realizes some of the booklovers that have signed up for her class and tour are dying to hear about the dead bodies she has stumbled upon in the past. They seem to be encouraged by comments made by her well-meaning mother and future mother-in-law. Brooklyn loves these two ladies, and tries to discourage the conversation, but her attempts to bring things back to books seem futile with this group.

The two moms have another surprise up their sleeves. Brooklyn is shanghaied into attending a surprise wedding shower. But the bigger surprise is seeing her two former best friends Sara and Heather. The trio split company after Sara stole Heather’s boyfriend. The feud has not ended, but both are somehow there in the same room. And both brought beautiful copies of rare books for gifts. But one of the books could be a fake and one of the women will not survive the night.

Brooklyn didn’t plan to solve a murder hours before her wedding, but she cannot ignore the fact that one of her besties from college is dead and the clue to finding out who did it may be in her possession.

This cozy mystery brings the best of the genre to light. Engaging characters, a quirky murder and a solid plot that teaches the reader a thing or two about book restoration are all wrapped up in a page-turning story. It was fun and had a nice twist at the end. Every element of this book works so well together it is not surprising that readers love this series.

Buried in Books is the twelfth Bibliophile Mystery written by award winning author Kate Carlisle. She is a NY Times best-selling author for good reason. In addition to this book series, she is the author of the Fixer Upper Mystery Series also. The latter series has moved to television and is now part of the Hallmark Mysteries Movies.

This is the first book I have read by Carlisle, but it works well as a stand-alone. I was not confused or lost at any point. I will go back and check out more of her books because her writing style is easy and informative, not to mention fun to read.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman


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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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Book Review: Bye, Bye Love by K.J. Larsen – Perfectly Plotted Fun

Bye, Bye Love

By K.J. LarsenBye-Bye-Love-cover

218 pages

PI Cat DeLuca has a habit of annoying the police while in pursuit of cheating spouses. She owns the Pants On Fire Detective Agency that is known for catching lying, cheating spouses. Cat seems to stumble into trouble and over dead bodies routinely. Lucky for her she has a long family history of Chicago cops to help her even when she doesn’t think she needs it.

After a particularly hairy stakeout situation, Cat decides to unwind with a run. Even though it is late, she feels safe running in the park with her partner Inga – who happens to be a beagle. Cat literally lands face first on a dead body. The only problem is the bad guy is still around and zaps her before she can get her tazer out. By the time she is able to call the police the body is missing.

Even though her father is an ex-cop, her brother is a current cop and her uncle is quite probably a dirty cop, Captain Bob of the Chicago police department doesn’t believe Cat.  He makes the big mistake of letting Cat know how little he thinks of her detective skills. She vows to find the killer herself and hopefully the body that went missing and made her the laughing stock of the Ninth Precinct. Lucky – or unlucky for her – she saw the guy she thinks is the killer. But of course that means he saw her also. Now she is hunting for the killer, looking for the corpse and trying not to get killed herself.

Zany circumstances force her into predicaments that include going to a biker bar, being ambushed by a mobster and into dead people’s homes to search for clues. Her assistant Cleo tends to make things worse, but her heart is in the right place even though she often ends up in the wrong place.

While all of this is going on, her pushy mother keeps trying to guilt her into marriage and starting a family. To complicate matters more, her boyfriend’s parents are coming in to meet her parents. It is planned to be one happy family dinner. The question is how will ex-hippy vegetarians get along with meat loving Italians? Cat can see the impending train wreck and tries everything she can think of to not be on board when it happens, but nothing works. She is going to have to have dinner and hopefully make it through the evening without losing her boyfriend in the process.

This is K.J. Larsen’s forth book in the Cat DeLuca Mystery series. It read great as a stand-alone novel, just enough background info to let people new to the series get up-to-date, but not so much as to become repetitious to readers of the series. This witty read kept me laughing with one-liners and outlandish situations that could actually happen if a PI had bad luck and crazy friends, foes and family. Here are the other three, because I know you are going to want the series. I do!

Liar, LiarSome like it hotSticks and stones
K.J. is actually three sisters, Kari, Julianne and Kristen Larsen. This award winning trio writes under one name and if you didn’t know it was more than one person, you could not guess by the writing. The sisters brilliantly combine their efforts to create a fun series with quirky characters both human and animal.

If you are a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Mysteries, you will love K.J.’s Cat DeLuca. There is a perfectly plotted mystery among the poker games and car chases. The twist at the end was masterful; I totally did not see it coming.

Bye, Bye Love is a fast paced, fun book. I especially liked all of the Chicago references since I live in the burbs and have seen many of them myself.

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 © 2015 Laura Hartman

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