Angel’s Advocate by Mary Stanton

This is my second book in this series and I am still not really sure about it.  The concept of a Celestial court and justice system being  served by a terrestrial lawyer is interesting, but we still don’t really know much about how it works.  The setting of Savannah is detailed with loving care.  The focus on the setting is definitely something that the author is emphasizing.  Some pieces still seem a little disjointed and  Bree’s behavior is often unprofessional or irrational.  I get the sense that everything will be explained if the reader hangs in and continues reading the series. This series came highly recommended from a friend who had finished it, so I probably will continue.

 

 

 

 

The Big Kitty by Claire Donally

I have had this book hanging around for quite a while and to be truthful, I don’t even remember where I picked it up.  It is not my normal type cozy, being told in part from the perspective of Shadow, the big grey cat pictured on the front of the book.

I am really glad that I finally read this, it was very well done, not overly cutesy or full of anthropomorphic animals.  The reader knows Shadow’s thoughts, but they are really from a cat’s perspective, not a cat with human emotions or perceptions.  I did enjoy it greatly.  The human characters of Sunny, Will and Mike in particular are well crafted.  Sunny is a character, who after leaving home and starting a career has returned to care for a parent, which is  a situation that many can relate to I am sure.   There are current elements involved in the story line, the victim’s son is a meth addict and this is integrated in the story line.  This gives the cozy a more modern feel than many cozies.

The mystery was fun and had quite a few twists and turns, including several attempts on the sleuth, Sunny’s, life.  Lots of  crime elements are included in the plot, murder, arson, attempted murder, fraud, drug production and use, and conspiracy, which makes for a a rich story line.  This is a very good cozy mystery series and I look forward to reading more of it!

Witch Hunt by Shirley Damsgaard

This is the 4th book in the Ophelia and Abby Mystery series.  I am not a big reader of paranormal cozies, but I really enjoy this series.  Mainly due to the character of Ophelia, I like her a great deal.  She has shown tremendous growth over the span of the four books so far in the series.  In the beginning, she was very untrusting and closed off from everyone around her.  Over the course of time she has opened up to more people and relaxed her rigid outlook somewhat, fostered a child, and has come into more of an accord with her powers.

This story involves a 1%er motorcycle club that has moved into town and is causing all kinds of chaos.  Darcy’s cousin who comes to town to visit is implicated in a murder and Ophelia gets dragged into the investigation.  The mystery is interesting, however I figured one of the main things pretty early on and then I just spent time waiting for the mystery to be solved.  The resolution was interesting and watching Ophelia work through the clues was fun.  Tink is becoming more of a substantial character and the relationship between her, Ophelia and Abby is fun to read about.

There are only 7 books in this series and I have been told the 7th is the best so I am looking forward to completing the series.  Highly recommended paranormal cozy series!

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black

I ran out and got this one from the library the minute I heard that Gabriel Byrne was going to be starring in the TV series, Quirke.  Benjamin Black is a pseudonym for a literary writer, John Banville.  The writing of this mystery definitely reflects the literary writing craft of Mr. Banville…a much more elegant style than the average genre novel.  That being said I definitely can appreciate  simplicity of sparse prose as well.

The book takes place in Ireland and in Boston with Quirke as a pathologist following up on a mysterious death of Christine Falls.  His adopted family via his brother, Mal, is wrapped up tightly in this mystery.  As the first book in a series, there is a great deal of explaining Quirke’s background and “family relations”.  As much as the writing was well done and the character of Quirke was interesting, the mystery fell flat.  Either Quirke was stupid or simply was being obtuse, but there is no way that he could be unaware of the Catholic Church and baby smuggling/orphanages, especially when he himself was plucked from one by the Judge.  The mortal danger that he put another character in through his seeming unawareness was just not to be believed.  Although perhaps we are to believe he is that dense, there seem to be many characters who hold him in disdain.

The book seemed more interested in making statements about “the evil Catholic Church” and “the 1950s repressive morals” than being a mystery. The ending falls completely flat.  The big “mystery” (which all the readers already figured out pages and pages before) is just  a “so what”?  This just didn’t work for me, however I am still interested to see how the TV series turns out.

 

Rosemary and Crime by Gail Oust

 

This is the first in a new series with a Spice Shop Theme.  The protagonist, Piper, is a transplanted Yankee divorcee contending with an arrogant ex-husband, a moody teenage daughter, and opening a new business, into which she has poured all her money so  it must succeed.  She stumbles across a body of a fellow business owner and the mystery begins.  Piper is a good character, reminiscent of Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy. In fact this book reminds me very much of the style of the Goldy Bear series, so if you enjoyed that there is a good chance that you will enjoy this one as well.

Usually in theme based cozies, I get concerned with the theme overwhelming the plot, but this is the first time where I think there could have been a bit more about the spices included here.  It doesn’t seem that there was anything said about them other than you need to restock and not have old spices.   Fans of culinary cozy mysteries usually expect a recipe or two or at least hints of some kind.

Other than that the characters were interesting, there was quite a bit of humor involved.  A slight love triangle seems to develop and Piper’s relationship with her husband seems to mature slightly.  The mystery included a variety of suspects and the reader follows along as Piper investigates in an attempt to clear herself.  The mystery was brought to a satisfying conclusion.  I will be reading the next one in this series

 

The Killings at Badger’s Drift by Caroline Graham

 

I have watched all the seasons available on Acorn TV of Midsomer Murders and finally decided to read one of the books.  This is the first book in the series that Midsomer Murders is based on.  In this book, we meet Chief Inspector Barnaby and Sargeant Troy and the additional characters of Joan, Barnaby’s wife and Cully, his actress daughter.  I have seen the episode based on this book so there was not much to surprise me, especially because the book and TV show were very similar.

This is a well written, at times humorous introduction to the series.  It captures the classic English village mystery feel to a T.  The characters are well drawn and interesting and the mystery is well plotted with red herrings and misdirection.  I am really glad I finally read one of the books and will look to read others in the series.  Very enjoyable read that immersed me in the world of Midsomer Murder.

 

The Chessmen & Knots and Crosses

Two more books down from my giant TBR list…The Chessmen by Peter May is the final book in a trilogy that included The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man.  At this point in the books, Fin is no longer a police man.  Now he is private security and is given the job of stopping poaching that is occurring on the estate.  His job reconnects him with Whistler, a childhood friend, and then embroils him in a mystery involving a missing airplane and pilot  from decades before.

First rate writing and plotting of the mystery.  There is some resolution of events from the first two books, so I would suggest reading the trilogy in order, I’m not sure how it would do as a stand alone.  The setting and the characters, especially Fin, really are what makes these books stand out among many of the other mystery/thrillers that are out there. This is a fast paced read, yet it manages to have a dark, moody feel to it.  Fans of atmospheric thrillers, such as Ann Cleeves work will enjoy this!

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin is the first book in the Inspector Rebus series.  This is a mystery novel in which the focus is really on the detective more than anything else…and he is a hard character to like, seeming to be tortured by demons from his past, related to SAS training, he drinks and smokes too much.  He is divorced and doesn’t seem that close to his daughter, although he does love her.  His performance in the police force has not led to promotions or success.  His relationship with his only brother, Michael, is strained.  Perhaps as the series progresses and he faces some of his issues he becomes a more likable character.

The mystery although initially presented as a random serial killer, has a personal connection to Rebus.  I don’t want to say anything more to spoil the book for anyone else, but just that some of his actions made no sense to me, but I suppose they are intended to demonstrate the depth of his issues??  I might pick up and read a later one in this series to see how it progresses.