Capable of Murder & Better Off Without HIm

  I read these two on my Kindle.  Capable of Murder was this month’s read at the Kindle English Mystery group on Goodreads and Better Off Without HIm was a recommendation for me.

Capable of Murder is the first in a series with Belinda Lawrence as a protagonist.  An older aunt dies and leaves her a cottage with an interesting garden history.  Belinda doesn’t believe her aunt’s death was an accident and engages in some cursory sleuthing.  There is a pair of odd siblings living next door, a somewhat sleazy real estate broker, a lawyer who seems to disappear when she needs him most, and some other interesting characters.

The idea behind the mystery was really interesting, however the execution was lacking.  The book was too short coming in at just over 200 pages and this make the plot seem rushed and relationships between the characters happened too quickly.  On top of that the antagonist was pretty  obvious even with attempts at red herrings, but the main issue was that Belinda had instincts about characters and then in the next scene just seemed to ignore those gut feelings and be best friends with them and trusted them.  It didn’t really work for me.  If you are interested in gardening history and mysteries, try Anthony Eglin’s work instead.

Better Off Without HIm is an older chicklit, so maybe hen lit.  Husband unexpectedly announces he wants a divorce and leaves the heroine for a much younger, chic French woman.  Mona is distraught at first, but then begins to realize the wisdom in her crew of friend’s words, “You’re better off without him.”.  Mona is a hard protagonist to feel sorry for or even connect with.  She is wealthy in her own right even without her husband’s money.  She has a dream job, romance novelist, a beach house, and a plethora of hunky men waiting to help her pick up the pieces.  High on romance and a “you go girl” vibe, but low on realism.  Overall, an okay, quick read.

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Three reads…

These are my latest three reads, State of the Onion was this month’s read for the Cozy Mystery Corner on Goodreads. This was an okay cozy mystery, more action or tension than the average cozy and less character development.  I think this is mainly due to the White House setting and all the attendant security and political issues.  The book was well written and paced, however some of it seemed to push hard at the boundaries of belief suspension.  Many readers do enjoy this series and so I am inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt and think about reading another in the series.

Stirring the Plot is the third in the Cookbook nook series by Daryl Wood Gerber, who also writes the Cheese Shop Mysteries that I like under the name of Avery Aames.  This book has a Halloween setting and witches abound, all in good fun until one of them ends up dead.  The witches, a charitable group, and others come under suspicion and the twists and turns uncover secrets and misdirect the reader and Jenna, the sleuth.  The romance subplot begun in earlier books continues to develop here as does Jenna’s life and immersion in the community, which she moved to in order to recover from her husband’s death.  I heartily recommend this fun, fast paced cozy mystery.

Making Marion was an impulse pick up for me from the library. I was scanning the new arrival shelves and the cover popped out at me.  This book handles the topic of childhood neglect and its impacts sensitively without being maudlin.  Marion is still, as an adult, dealing with the rejection from her mother and the resulting selective mutism, but has bravely chosen to strike out on her own in search of answers about her beloved father who died when she was a child.  She meets a motley crew of campground characters and makes her way into their unconventional “family” with the help of Scarlett, the owner.  Lovely happy ending after some bittersweet moments, themes of loving yourself, forgiveness and family are all explored in this charming book. I will definitely look for more by this author, Beth Moran.

I “read” another book besides these three this week, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death.

I read this as the November read for the Kindle English Mystery book club.  I use the word read lightly.  This book is organized into a series of loosely connected short stories with recurring characters.  I read the first one and then skipped around and read another.  Finally, I skimmed most of it.  For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into the character or the book.  To be fair I don’t really read many historical fictions and very few with religious undertones, so it might work for other readers.

By Cook or By Crook by Maya Corrigan

Just finished this new cozy mystery, first in the series of Five Ingredient Mysteries.  I enjoyed reading this one, more than I expected.  The cover drew me in…I know, I’m shallow, but the idea of  5-ingredient recipes is not, on its own, a big draw for me.  The protagonist, Val,  has crashed and burned from her big city life as a cookbook publicist and has arrived at her grandfather’s home, ostensibly to get the house packed up, sold, and him moved, but really to work on her own cookbook and find her footing again.

Her day job is in  a fitness club cafe and on the side she is working on her own recipes.  Her grandfather is somewhat of a typical grouchy old man with a heart of gold.  He seems to have her best interests at heart, although he is not against finding something in it for himself.  There is a lot going on between real estate deals, tennis fanatics, affairs, disguises, gambling rings, fraudulent business practices, and murder.  There is also a romantic subplot with two love interests to choose between.  Aside from the main murder mystery and the romantic subplot, there is also a mystery from Val’s past which  she is trying to work through but can’t quite remember due to the side effects of a concussion.

Lots going on and lots to think about making for a fast, fun cozy read.

And as an aside the recipes were not what I thought.  When I think of the 5 ingredient recipes, I think bland, tasteless food or worse the classic …”start with a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup” recipes and these didn’t seem like that.  I am tempted to try out the crab cake recipe because it really sounds good.