Two NetGalley Reads…

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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.

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Bramard’s Case by David Longo

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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

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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