This is the tenth in the A Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery. Hayley meets her lifestyle guru/cookbook author idol at a book signing and gets invited to a cooking competition at her estate. Once there, Hayley meets an interesting cast of characters, the perhaps errant husband of her hostess, the femme fatale assistant, the other chefs, and an old boyfriend, now landscaper. A murder occurs and that is just the start of mysterious incidents at the event. Hayley investigates to try to prove that she isn’t a hysteric. This was a pretty good cozy mystery.
I have put off reading the Eleanor Oliphant book for quite some time, despite seeing it everywhere. I just wasn’t sure it would be for me or thought it would be too similar to Britt Marie is Here, A Man Called Ove, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, etc. Eleanor is a nearly 30 year-old woman who is completely fine, really. She lives independently, she holds a job, she pays her bills, she even has weekly chats with Mummy and weekend vodka binges. A few small changes and the encroachment into her controlled life by a co-worker and the cracks (of gigantic proportion) in the entire existence begin to surface. The story takes the reader through an entire gamut of emotions and moods. From witty barbs and sarcasm (unnoticed or not), to touching and funny moments, to rage inducing commentary and finally to heartbreaking reveals, the book and Eleanor will stay with you. I will say the situation with Mummy was pretty obvious early on but it didn’t ruin anything for me. Highly recommended read.
Cat About Town by Cate Conte is a new to me cozy series. It reminded me greatly of the Sunny and Shadow series, which I really loved and have finished. Maddie James as returned home for a funeral and to spend time with her family. Her beloved Grandfather is being pressured (by evil developers of course) to sell the family home. When a murder occurs and accusations begin flying around, Maddie investigates trying to solve the murders before the body count gets too high. I would say this was okay, however it pales in comparison to the Sunny and Shadow series by Claire Donally.
This is the 8th book in the Ruth Galloway series. Ruth is an archaeologist, who has assisted the police in their inquiries on multiple occasions. She is contacted by an old friend who has since become a Reverend and has received some disturbing letters. When women are murdered there appears to be a connection. Ruth immerses herself in the information about the old dig sites and the artifacts recovered there while Nelson investigates the people involved in the case and the links between them.
There is a well-developed sense of foreboding about the village and the threats to the women. As always the sense of place is extremely well done and adds to the mood of the book. The regularly recurring characters are all here, including Cathbad, Nelson, Shona, and Michelle. The themes explored include religion, opposition to change, love, and motherhood. Well written, engaging installment in a great series.
A Dark and Twisted Tide is book 4 in the Lacey Flint series. Lacey is a great character, with a complex and “twisted” history. This book delivers on a sense of place, with the descriptions setting the mood and atmosphere of the book. Lacey draws the attention of a killer of young immigrant women, while at the same time Joesbury is so deep undercover there are questions of his loyalty. There is also a side plot involving Dana and her quest for motherhood.
The novel utilizes non-linear time and multiple view points to tell the tale. For me. this book was not as strong as others in the series as far as the mystery plot/resolution. Themes of immigration, sex based roles, and trust. I have enjoyed the series thus far and will continue to read it. It is important to say that this is a series which needs to be read in order, also be aware that at least one of the books has a different titles in the US and the UK.
Chili con Carnage is the first in the A Chili Cook-off Mystery by Kylie Logan. I have liked other series by this author, in particular her Button series. The mystery here is good and well done with elements from the past coming out to implicate someone in a present crime. There is also an overarching mystery to be continued in future books, the protagonist’s father is missing. I just had an issue with not liking the protagonist at all. Immature, lazy, and selfish are just words off the top of my head to describe her. “Who died and left you boss?” actually comes out of her mouth as an adult woman speaking to her adult sister, multiple times in a non-ironic way.
A friend loaned me this first in the A Scottish Bookshop Mystery series and I am so glad that she did. The Cracked Spine was a very good cozy. At times I felt the protagonist, Delaney, pushed the bounds of belief with her sleuthing, but overall she is a likable character and easy to relate to. I loved the setting. The sense of place is well developed and immersive and is what makes the book for me. Delaney has come to Scotland to take a job at a specialized rare books and antiquities shop after having a few years of museum and preservation experience. She is immediately drawn into an investigation when someone connected to the shop dies and a valuable artifact goes missing. A charming cozy read, I will definitely read more in this series. I already added it to my Fictfact tracker.
In Death of a Liar, Hamish finds himself dealing with a fantasist, a con man, death by fairies, and international criminals. As he investigates, he also deals with the never-ending saga of his love life. Old loves Priscilla and Elspeth make appearances along with new romantic interests, Anka and Christine. Dick, Hamish’s constable, has his own significant story line and it was nice to see him get a good story. In addition, Blair is up to his old tricks, trying to discredit Hamish and get him removed from his comfortable station and job. Lively installment in this great series.
I really like yoga themed cozies, I especially liked the one set in NJ, the Mantra for Murder series and was sad to see it finish. Downward Facing Death is the first book in a new series with a yoga and food theme. Keeley has returned to what she feels is home to open the vegetarian cuisine based Yoga Cafe at the site of her deceased father’s butcher shop. She runs into some resistance especially with the discovery of a body before she is even open. Keeley feels like she needs to solve the crime if her business is going to have any hope of getting off the ground. I really enjoyed this mystery. I especially liked how it showed that sometimes going home is not what you expect. I thought that was well done. I will read more in this series.
Simon Brett’s Fethering series has long been a favorite of mine, with rigid Carole Seddon and her more “go with the flow” neighbor Jude. In this outing, Carole is just settling in to the idea of being a Grandma. She gets invited to a gallery showing and goes along with Jude, although she is quite sure it is not her thing. After the events at the gallery a young woman is dead, but is it murder or suicide? Jude and Carole investigate uncovering secrets and dealing with a family in denial. The usual pokes at class structure and people who suffer from self-importance are here along with an interesting mystery. I am still enjoying this series, thirteen books in.
Death Overdue is the first in a new series called A Haunted Library Series. The sleuth, Carrie, is a recently hired librarian in the small town which she spent summers in as a child. Carrie has difficulty staying in one place and is itching to move on when the job becomes available. Along with the library duties, Carrie deals with the murder of a presenter at a library program, the ghost of a former library aide, and a co-worker who wants her job. There are lots of good ideas here, the pacing felt a little rushed and so the characters, other than Carrie don’t feel fully developed. Carrie is supposed to be 30, but she comes across in her thoughts and some behaviors as 18 or 19. This may appeal to younger cozy readers, which makes sense because the author wrote YA and middle grade fiction as Marilyn Levinson.
I really enjoy the violet eyed,widowed character of Mrs Pargeter. In this installment, she is still trying to continue her husband’s “philanthropy” and it involves her in quite a tangled web of stolen identities, gun running, kidnapping, a wedding and a funeral. For people not familiar with Mrs. Pargeter, I’d suggest reading the series in order to get a sense of the recurring characters and the relationships among them all. There are some very strong pokes here at certain anti-immigrant right-wing British political groups and the usual fun with class distinctions and Mrs. Pargeter’s views on her husband’s legacy. Fun mystery read with a great character at the helm.
Hiss and Hers is Agatha Raisin #23 and it picks right up where #22, As the Pig Turns, left off, with Agatha pursuing (in a romantic sense) the new gardener in the village. As is to be expected by now, Agatha’s romantic affairs do not go smoothly or happily. The desired affair meets a particularly nasty end involving adders, hence the hiss in the title. Agatha, with the help of her team, investigates to solve who the adder-happy killer is before she ends up bitten. Great installment in the series and seemingly to me at least, a lighter turn after the last book which was quite dark!
I read about American Housewife Stories on a blog and put it on my TBR. This turned out to be a hit and miss collection for me. I enjoyed the epistolary styled The Wainscoting War. The warring neighbors theme was handled cleverly and told in a tightly written style with dark humor. Most of the rest of the entries did not appeal to me.
The Gathering Murders was this month’s read at the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads. I have to admit it, rather red-facedly, it was my selection. I struggled starting this as the beginning didn’t grab me at all. I liked the setting and the idea of murders at a literary festival, but the characters, a he-man motorcycling bagpiping cop and the leather wearing, motorcycling “Queen of Crime” came across as caricatures rather than life-like characters. The resolution was a little far-fetched for me.
They Were Sisters is my second Dorothy Whipple book, the edition that I read is part of a reprinting by Persephone Books. It is on the surface, the story of a family, originally a father, 3 boys and 3 girls. The focus is on the three sisters Lucy, Vera, and Charlotte and how their lives unfold through the choices they make and the limited power of middle class women at the time.
Dorothy Whipple’s writing is evocative and provides a voice for these women that feels real and is enduring in the mind of the reader. The story of how a woman’s life was determined by the man she married is laid out plainly and powerfully. As a reader, the sense of powerlessness comes through clearly. Charlotte’s fate is sealed by her marriage to Geoffrey, an abusive bully. His abuse is made clear through its effects on Charlotte and her children without any physical violence occurring in the book. Lucy’s inability to help her sister or her sister’s children is heartbreaking.
At the same time, there are also themes of responsibility, love in many forms, and hope. Lucy is responsible for her sister’s care after the death of her mother and often thinks in terms of choices and repercussions. Charlotte loves too much and Vera seeks love in “all the wrong places”. The novel ends on a bright spark of hope for the future even as the nation stands at the brink of WWII . Highly recommended read!
Morse’s Greatest Mystery and Other Stories is a set of short stories, some more like vignettes. Many of them are set in the Morse universe. I enjoyed Morse’s Greatest Mystery as a lovely look into Morse’s character, a Morse holiday story if you will. There is also a quite funny Holmes and Watson story included. I am not a huge short story fan, however I found this to be a good read, especially as there are no more Morse books to be had.