Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay

18526939  This is another re-released British Library Crime Classic.  Death on the Cherwell involves a group of young women, students at an Oxford Women’s College, who have formed a secret “club” or group, mainly it seems for the purpose of complaining about the college bursar, Miss Denning.  The girls find the bursar dead, at first apparently drowned, but very quickly found to be murdered.  They join in investigating the murder with Detective Inspector Wythe.  The story ebbs and flows, there are parts that are very good, particularly after the niece arrives and some of the conversational pieces are excellent.  Fans of college based mysteries will in particular enjoy this.  I liked it but not as much as the John Bude books, also released as part of this set by the British Library.

Jamie Quinn Mysteries Box Set Books 1 – 3

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00038]  I received this, Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection:  Box Set Books 1 -3 free from the author in return for a fair review.   The collection includes  Death By Didgeridoo, The Case of the Killer Divorce, and Peril in the Park.

I read these through this afternoon as I lay inside avoiding the heat.   The series is based around a reluctant family  lawyer, Jamie Quinn, who has some leeway in how much she works due to the recent death of her mother and the inheritance she received as a result.  The three cases are very different.  The first involves Jamie being called in by her desperate aunt to defend Jamie’s cousin, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and has been arrested for murder.  The second involves one of her family court cases that turns criminal, when her client is accused of murdering her soon to be ex and the third involves corruption and murder surrounding a real estate deal.  Throughout these, there is an overarching mystery about the identity and location of Jamie’s father.

Jamie is a great character, who shows resourcefulness and intelligence.  The cast of supporting characters include a PI, who Jamie helped in his divorce and now she calls on  for help.  Also, a long term lawyer friend, who Jamie consults with frequently, Nick, a prosecuter, who seems to have a grudging respect for Jamie, and Kip, an employee of the park service and an old friend that Jamie had lost track of for quite some time.  The mysteries are interesting, fast paced and resolved successfully.

My only issue with the set is that the individual books are too short and so to me they feel rushed, although to be fair I should clarify.  The three books together are just over 300 pages and so I would say that each one is just about a novella’s length.  I don’t tend to care for reading short mysteries and that is just a personal preference. I do know that there is a market now for these shorter stories, even James Patterson is releasing Bookshots, books under 150 pages.   I will say that reading them together, book 1,2 & 3 made it better for me because I could see the development of relationships between the recurring characters that you would get in a longer novel.  Nicely done mystery, interesting characters and setting, would be especially good for fans of shorter mysteries.

 

An Unsuitable Attachment by Barbara Pym

I stumbled upon Barbara Pym some time ago after reading this article  A Nice Hobby, Like Knitting:  Barbara Pym   .  I first read Excellent Women and loved it and now I moved on to An Unsuitable Attachment, Barabara Pym’s so called lost novel.  It was written in 1963, but not found until after death in amongst her papers.  Originally published then in 1982.

 

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An Unsuitable Attachment is about love, what is it and how do we know, relationships, how they form with the help or hinderance of others, men and women, and social expectations and transactions.  The characters are written in ways that allow you to see these quite ordinary people behaving in a variety ways with changes in circumstances and yet remaining true to their characters, much lke real people.  The issues of power between men and women are written here in such a way that neither sex is demonized nor idolized.  I really appreciate that!

Love and marriage are not easy, nor are they THE solution seems to the takeaway from this novel.  Just as in Excellent Women, many of the characters are involved directly or indirectly with the church and yet this is not a preachy or religious book. Some of the characters reveal that they are not believers or they simply go to church as a social event or to be polite.  The church is presented more as a social institution about good works, than a religous one.

The plot involves matchmaking attempts and failures, an eventual love match, hope for the future, hinted infertility, and acceptance of disappointment.  It begins with an eligible bachelor moving into a not quite fashionable community in London and the vicar’s wife setting her sights on him for her sister.  If you want to know more, you’ll need to read the book!  Highly recommended.

Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz

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This is book 2 in the Spice Shop Mystery Series by Leslie Budewitz.  I love the theme of a spice shop.  I use a lot of spices and herbs in my own cooking and enjoy reading about them.  In this book, a customer of the spice shop is killed with one of the shop’s products.  Pepper’s ex-boyfriend is implicated and calls her for help, which is how she begins looking into the crime. This one includes hidden identities, abused spouses, corruption in the restaurant business, murder and maybe even ghosts to keep the story feeling fresh and exciting.  Lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.  The Seattle location is well done and feels realistic.  I visited Pike Place Market years ago and remember it vividly as having a vibrant “foodie” atmosphere.  This comes to life on the pages of the book.  Well written cozy with great atmosphere and theme!

 

 

A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley

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I just read this one at the recommendation  of Booktrader of Hamilton.  I  loved it!  The marriage of cozy mystery and romantic suspense works so well here.  The theme concerns a young writer, Lena London, who is chosen to be the apprentice of her life long favorite romantic suspense author, Camilla Graham.  A young man is killed not far from Camilla’s home and so the investigation begins.  There is a subplot  involving the neighbor and his missing ex-wife and other storylines involving Lena’s friends and a possible romance.  This book has it all,  great protagonists, writers, books, cats, dogs, romantic possibilities, murder and other criminal activity.  Great start to a new cozy mystery!

Devices and Desires by P.D. James

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I have been working my way through P.D. James, Adam Dalgliesh series, for a while now.  I had put a lot of my reading aside to work on the Save Our Cozies Readathon and other things.  But I am back in the swing of it now:).  Last night I read this, Devices and Desires, which is book #8 in the series.  I loved it!  The plot was intricate and well done.  All the characters, motives and alibis woven together in a way that kept you thinking about not just who the murder is, but also how all the other pieces were going to fit together in the end.  I particularly liked the Mrs. Dennison’s story, it just resonated with me.

In this book, the author has  developed a stong sense of place and this impacts the whole experience of reading the book. You can feel the isolation and the sense of despair coming right off the pages as you read.  So well done.  The plot involves some political commentary about nuclear power, village life, and social services, along with common themes of love, hate and jealousy.  Overall, a highly recommended read!.

Look what came in the mail…

hint…it wasn’t the furry felines!

 

Thank you Sofie Kelly/Sofie Ryan for gifting me a bookmark (with a tassel that seriously fascinates Milo) and a copy each of:

 

I am excited to get to both of these series.  They have been recommended to me by friends several times.

Thank you again Sofie Kelly, they are much appreciated!