Two NetGalley Reads…


These are two of my latest NetGalley Reads. I received free ebooks of these titles in exchange for a fair review from NetGalley.  I requested Christmas at the Dog & Duck mainly because I am a sucker for Christmas stories in general.

The protagonist in Jill Steeples book is Ellie Browne, who recently was made redundant at her big city accountancy job and has returned home to lick her wounds, recover and decide what to do next with her life.  Her parents are away on contract work, so she has the family home to herself as she cobbles together a living from a dog walking/sitting service and shifts as a barmaid at the local pub.  She develops a couple of love interests, one old and one new and deals with changes happening in the little village that she holds dear.  There are classic misunderstandings and poor communication between the lovers and a HEA Christmas for all.  There was not as much emphasis on the Christmas theme here as in many of these novels, that came more at the end.  I didn’t really feel the chemistry between the leads and so the book fell a little flat for me.

A Killer Closet opens with a body being found in the closet of the newly ready consignment shop about to be opened by mother and daughter team, Irene and Adelle.  Irene is a big city DA, called home to help her mother through her latest financial crisis resulting from the death of her latest spouse.  She decides to stay since her mother refuses to move to the city and open a high end goods consignment shop.  The victim has connections to the shop and Adele and the clues begin to pile up as the local police look hard at Irene and Adele.  The novel covers murder, theft and plenty of secrets.  I had a difficult time getting into the book and the characters, that may be because I read and enjoyed Duffy Brown’s series, A Consignment Shop Series, and couldn’t help but compare the two.  An okay cozy mystery with a fashion/consignment shop theme.

Bramard’s Case by David Longo


I received a free ebook of this title, Bramard’s Case, from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

The summary of this book sounded really intriguing, a serial killer who targeted the policeman’s family, the crime going unsolved for years, the policeman living a life of “quiet desperation” basically waiting to die, and a series of clues in the form of letters.  Finally, one of the clues gives Corso a break.  He picks up the case pursuing the killer with new energy.  This is not fast paced or not even what I would call a thriller.  A great deal of the book is spent inside Corso’s head, which can be a monotonous place.

I really thought I would like this but I just didn’t connect with it or get drawn in to the story as I would expect to.  I found myself skimming rather than reading at times.  A disappointing read for me but it might work for someone else.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner


I read this because it was the book of the month at the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads.

Manon Bradshaw is a 39 year old, desperately single police officer in Cambridgeshire.  We get glimpses of her desolate internet dating life intertwined with the opening of a VIP missing person case.  Edith, the missing woman, is a grad student, involved in a long term relationship with highly connected parents.  As the case slowly seems to be wending its way from a missing person case to a murder case, a body appears.  It is not Edith, but is it connected?  and if so how?  Connected to the 2nd body is a ten year old boy, that Manon cannot just forget about as she continues to uncover clues and look for connections.  The media bursts of news and commentary  lead to more tragedy as the case becomes more and more muddied.

Manon Bradshaw is a complex and intriguing character.  She represents the classic figure of the lonely, single,  middle aged woman, yearning for a companion, with a cynical dark view of the world.  She is submerged in her job and yet still finds her life lacking.  Her characters shows growth through the course of the novel.

I figured out part of the ending, but it didn’t mar my enjoyment of the novel.  A very intriguing, thrilling read.  I would recommend this novel to readers of British Police Procedurals.


Putting on the Witch by Joyce and Jim Lavene

28504472I received a free ebook of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review and to participate in the book tour hosted by Escape with Dollycas .  This is the third in the A Retired Witches Mystery Series written by the prolific team of Joyce and Jim Lavene, who have both recently  passed away and are  missed greatly by the cozy mystery community. Their website, which includes all their series is found here.

In this book the coven is still missing their spellbook and feeling the effects of its loss.  Molly and Elsie, along with their ghostly friend Olivia and her daughter Dorothy jump at the chance to attend the Witches Ball, even with Dorothy’s “wicked witch” father back in the picture.  The ball opens at a fantastical castle location and all and sundry are swept along with the festivities, until a murder occurs.  Molly and coven find themselves trying to solve a  murder and retrieve their missing spell book.

So much more than the average paranormal cozy, the story sweeps you along into a  whole new world of magic and a little mayhem.  Fun, exciting and intriguing, it is really a great read!  As so much of Joyce and Jim’s work, this book provides an escape from the every day monotony and troubles, but to perceive the work as “just a cozy” would be to do it a disservice.  After all, Margery Allingham famously said, “light reading is not light writing.”

Photo from Killer Characters.   RIP Joyce and James Lavene

The Shortest Journey & The Secret of Annexe 3

So, anyway I had the flu this weekend.  My town’s free flu shot clinic is October 19th and I guess waiting for that was not a good idea.  Lots of adults and kids out at work, so I guess I am lucky that I seemed to have had the worst of it over the weekend.  I read these two while I was sick and that may not have been the best idea.  I don’t think I enjoyed them as much as I should have because I just wasn’t concentrating. I got completely confused with the Colin Dexter, whose writing I usually love and I found Hazel Holt’s The Shortest Journey, somewhat depressing.  I just will chalk this up to the flu and the meds I was taking and not any fault with the books.

The Secret of Annexe 13 is an Inspector Morse mystery involving a private hotel hosting a special holiday event complete with masquerade party.  The guests were mainly staying in the new annexe, hence the title, and of course one of them winds up dead after the party.  The guests have various secrets, including infidelity and false identities, that leave Morse and Lewis, his sidekick, following trails and piecing together what really happened and who did it.  All tied up neatly in the end.

The Shortest Journey, other editions titled Mrs. Malory’s Shortest Journey, is by Hazel Holt.  I have just started reading the Mrs. Malory books and I really enjoy the character and her sleuthing style.  In this book, Mrs. Malory is visiting ladies in an old age retirement/care home.  One of them, Mrs. Rossiter, seems to be there more for the convenience of her daughter than for any particular need.   Mrs. Rossiter goes missing and causes a great deal of upheaval due to the contents of a family trust.  Sheila Mallory realizes that Mrs. Rossiter’s family is only concerned with the money and doesn’t really care about Mrs. Rossiter herself.  Sheila takes it upon herself to investigate and find out what has really happened.   I guessed the ending, however that didn’t really spoil the book for me at all.   I did find the subject matter a little depressing, senior women losing control of their own lives, being depressed at the end of life, and having no family or anyone that cares about them.


See How They Run & The Deep End

I read these two, very different books on my Kindle when I couldn’t sleep the other night.  The first,  See How They Run by Tom  Bale concerns Harry and Alice, a young married couple , and their infant daughter Evie.  Harry and Alice are terrorized and their daughter’s life threatened by masked men in the night in their own house.  The men are looking for someone, Edward Renshaw, a man unknown to them.  At first, relieved the event is over and no real harm done, the couple assume they can put it all behind them.  But strange events and people who are not who they seem start popping up in their life.

Soon Alice is on the run with Evie and Harry is wanted for questioning in their disappearance.  An exciting thriller with twists and turns and double crosses to keep you turning the pages.  When you suspect everyone and everyone has an agenda, who can you trust?    I loved the sense that every story has two sides and you don’t really have a way to know who is telling the truth and who is lying.  Fast paced enjoyable read.

The Deep End was fun, quick, perhaps not quite cozy due to some of the subject matter, read.  It is essential to this story to get yourself in the 1970s mind-set.  Swinging singles, wife swapping “key” parties, and the country club life style all feature heavily into the story.  Ellison is a woman in an “open” marriage.  Open in the sense her husband sleeps around and they are just waiting for their child to grow up to divorce.   She is a successful artist and  he can’t quite handle it.

There is murder obviously, but also blackmail, sex clubs, jealousy, and fraud.  I grew up in the 70s and quite enjoyed the setting and the story line.  Ellison shows growth through the course of the book and becomes a protagonist you really want to root for by the end.



Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen

22930914  I received a free ebook of this title, Dying for Christmas, from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

Jessica is being held captive by a blue-eyed stranger for the 12 days of Christmas.  Each day he provides her with a present to unwrap usually connected to some horrific story of his past.  He embarks on some horrifying and some disgusting tortures for her and alternates between moments of seeming concern to deep cruelty with whiplash speed.

Jessica has secrets of her own.  What does she know that no one else does?  Her connection to her kidnapper and other characters we meet is revealed mainly in the second half of the book, a before and after effect.  It is difficult to say much  more about the plot or even some of the literary devices without giving away some key twists.  Jessica as a character is easy to feel sympathy for at the start of the story.  She is in the hands of a deranged man, her family doesn’t really seem to understand her, and neither does her live-in boyfriend.

The other principal character is Kim, the police woman looking for Jessica in the midst of her own domestic crisis.  She seems unable to learn the hard lesson that sometimes you really can’t have it all.  I found her a pretty unsympathetic character, but she was a good counterpoint to Jessica as the story unfolds.  Fans of The Silent Wife, Girl on the Train, etc.  will probably like this one.