Kissing Christmas Goodbye, A Spoonful of Poison, & Ditched 4 Murder

I am continuing to work my way through the Agatha Raisin books that I was missing.  Kissing Christmas Goodbye and A Spoonful of Poison both see Agatha tackling cases though her detective agency with the assistance of her employees.  There is an additional staff member, Toni,  who adds a great deal of interest.  I believe that she reminds Agatha of herself in her youth.

In Kissing Christmas Goodbye, Agatha is hired by a woman who believes she is about to be murdered.  When her client does die, there are plenty of suspects and motives to sift through in this manor house type mystery.  A Spoonful of Poison sees Agatha working for a village fete, which ends in murder.  Agatha feels obligated to investigate as she is being blamed.  Lots of twists and turns and suspects to choose from here.  Both were fun, cozy reads in a wonderful series.

Ditched 4 Murder is the second in the Sophie Kimball Mystery series.  Sophie is a bookkeeper for a private investigation firm.  She moved to Arizona to be closer to her mother and family, as well as for the job.  A body turns up near to her mother’s house, when everything is already in an uproar due to her aunt’s wedding.  Soon there is another body and Sophie finds herself, and her aunt’s fiancée embroiled in the mystery.  Lots of the humor fell flat for me and I wasn’t crazy about the portrayal of the older relatives.  This was an okay cozy mystery.

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Death of a Hussy & Death of a Prankster

Much like the Agatha Raisin series, I’ve read quite a few of these but not in any particular order and  it was quite a long time ago.  I’m going back now and trying to fill in some gaps.

Death of a Hussy follows a young cancer survivor taken in by her not so benevolent aunt, the so-called Hussy of the title.  The aunt is older now but had quite a colorful past which she intends to tell the world about in a no hold barred memoir.  Hamish must sort through all the suspects and try to find a motive for the murder while fending off the unwanted attentions of the lonely, somewhat desperate Alison.  I found Hamish to be somewhat more standoffish in this book than I remembered him from earlier reads, but I enjoyed this quick cozy mystery.

Death of a Prankster takes place on a country estate, where a group of people gather to try to ensure their place in the will of bullying prankster of a relative.  This is a take on the classic manor house mystery, with everyone a suspect and few iron clad alibis.  Hamish must sort through the suspects and their backgrounds to solve the murder.  A quite humorous reveal scene at the end of the book.  Another very quick cozy read in an excellent series.

Original Skin by David Mark

16158497This is book 2 in the Aector McAvoy series.  Aector gets permission to look into a death with an open verdict.  What he finds leads to a twisting, turning case involving very important people of the political variety and secret (or not so secret) sex clubs.  Aector juggles this case along with an outbreak of violence due to a drug turf war in Hull under the supervision of Trish Pharoah, his boss in the Serious and Organized Crime Unit.  Themes of bigotry, power, love and family are all explored here.

The depiction of the relationship between Aector and his wife, Roisin is particularly well done and is such a strong and moving relationship.  They truly are a couple united against all the forces that want to see them apart.  I am really enjoying this series and looking forward to reading more.

3 Agatha Raisins and Dying Light

 

I have been trying to fill in gaps in M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin .  These three were actually all in a row and represent the time in the series in which Agatha opens her own detective agency.  This introduces some new recurring characters in the form of Patrick and Harry, who help at her agency, while keeping the mainstays of Mrs. Bloxby, Sir Charles Fraith, and James.

Agatha’s agency goes through the gamut of cases from lost dogs and cats, missing teenagers, divorce work (which Agatha really doesn’t like still stinging from her divorce) and of course the odd murder or three.  James really shows his true colors through the course of these three and Mrs. Bloxby comes into her own, more than she had in earlier books.  Really enjoyable mystery reads, with great characters and intriguing story lines.

Dying Light is book 2 in Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae series.  There is a so much going on in the form of characters, connections, twists, turns and red herrings, so you really need to pay attention.  McRae has been transferred to a screw up squad based on the outcomes of book 1 and has a new boss, DI Steel, who I found thoroughly unlikable.  The case begins with a prostitute beaten to death and that is only the beginning.  The bodies stack up at an alarming rate leaving McRae to try to make connections to get ahead of the killer(s).  Just a FYI to readers, there is “on-screen” torture and the murder of children, very much a brutal book, but a good read.

Death Takes a Priority

24611752  I am feeling back in a cozy-ish mood and picked up this one when I was out at Barnes and Noble.  I love the idea of the theme, the postmistress in a small town.  I have a small town near me that had a town post office and it was the hub of the town.  There was quite a protest when it was moved outside and people could no longer stop by there on their walk through town.  Needless to say I was eager to read about this.

So, I liked the theme and the main character, I read other reviews and some people didn’t seem to find her likable, but I didn’t have a problem with that.  The mystery was well paced with some red herrings to keep you guessing about  who the killer actually is.  Those were the positives for me.  On the other hand, I found some aspects of it too unbelievable.  Cozies can often stretch your ability to suspend your disbelief, but some of this went beyond my ability.  Still there is enough here to like to say that I would read another.

The Unquiet Dead

22545465  I have no idea why I ordered this from the library, I have no memory of doing so and the book rings no bells. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway I am glad that I did because it was a very good mystery read and a very meaty story overall.  A man is killed who may or may not have been who he seemed.  Esa Khattak who works for a community policing organization to deal with culturally sensitive cases is assigned and he brings along his partner, Detective Rachel Getty.  The death is bound up in history, specifically war crimes arising from the murder, rape and torture of Muslims in the Srebrenica massacre.  I am admittedly not entirely clear on the history of the region and other than knowing of the attempted genocide I don’t really know much else.

The historical details are woven in elegantly, it is not heavy-handed at all.  There is no “brain dump” of facts to bring the reader up to speed, instead there are flashbacks to the events at the time.  There are side plots involving the “victim” and his fiancée and her two daughters and Detective Getty and her dysfunctional family.  Really a fascinating read, I did feel that one part of Esa’s story was a little far-fetched, however I see that it was needed to bring about healing with him and his former best friend.

Overall a very well written mystery with an unfamiliar (to me) context and fascinating characters.  Highly recommended!

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House

278557  This is number 14 in the delightful Agatha Raisin series.  I am continuing to fill in books that I missed from the series.  In this outing, Agatha and her new neighbor Paul, begin by investigating a house haunting. After putting aside the case as hoax, they end up finding themselves with a murder to investigate instead.  I am more and more charmed by Agatha as this series progresses.  Her vulnerability and desire to be liked is so human and relatable.  The scenes where she dithers about getting ready to go out feel particularly real.  Her new neighbor (and love interest) is as usual undeserving of Agatha and their interactions are humorous and engaging.  Lovely cozy read in a great series.