They Were Sisters & Morse’s Greatest Mystery and Other Stories

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 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.

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Three Cozies…

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Claire Donally’s Sunny and Shadow Mystery series until I picked up book 5 series, Catch as Cat Can.  Shadow is a great snarky counterpoint to even keeled Sunny.  There is a great deal of humor in Shadow’s thoughts about the behavior of all the two legs in his life.  This mystery involves witness protection, gangsters, loan sharking, and more in the small fishing village in Maine.  Mike, Sunny’s Dad, is still a recurring presence in Sunny’s life and the series, along with her boss, Ollie, and boyfriend, Will.  A great cozy, particularly for cat lovers!

The Cakes of Wrath is another good installment in this New Orleans based series by Jacklyn Brady.  An antique necklace, an old curse, and a shameful past, all come together to drag Rita Lucero into the middle of a suspicious death.  Putting her self at risk to investigate the connections, Rita finds out more than she expected about her mother-in-law, her co-workers, and the building that houses her business, Zydeco Cakes.  A great installment in this cozy series.

I read the first in the A Love or Money Mystery Series quite a while ago and honestly couldn’t understand what would be done about the theme for a series.  I did really enjoy the first book in this series, however this second one didn’t really work for me.  Instead of a wedding/dating type show, it is one of those survival type reality TV shows.  Perhaps this would work for fans of those type of shows.

 

Killing Thyme by Leslie Budewitz

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This is the third installment in the Spice Shop Mystery series.  Pepper  finds herself embroiled in a mystery from her mother’s past.  The mystery concerns not only Pepper but her mother, father, and her best friend Kristin.  A woman has returned to Pike Place Market and she has connections to an old unsolved crime.  When she ends up dead, Pepper investigates to be sure her mother does not end up in the detective’s line of sight.  An interesting mystery that connects both to the days of hippies, and “peace, love and flowers” and to today in the colorful setting of the Pike Place Market.  Fun cozy in a very good series.

A Murder for the Books

35286383  I picked this up at my local library after seeing a post about it on Goodreads.  The mystery was good (although I guessed who the villain(s) were).  I enjoyed it through to the end.  I found Amy, the protagonist, likable and very real seeming.

 

Amy has returned to her Aunt’s home, giving up her university library position to take a job in the local public library.  The small town is having the classic battle with the developer who is trying to swoop in and push out the old.  When a library patron is murdered in the archives room, Amy gets sucked into the mystery and uncovers links to her family’s past.  The only part I found weak was the romance.  The romantic lead, Richard Muir, doesn’t really sweep me off my feet.  Very promising start to a new series.

A Ghost in the Machine

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This is the last in the Chief Inspector Barnaby Mystery books, which the TV show Midsomer Murders is based on.  It was a really good mystery with many threads and stories that needed to be connected together.  You have Mallory and Kate with their horrid daughter Polly,  Bennie, the faithful companion and then the neighbors, the psychic connection, the accounting firm, and of course Barnaby, Troy and Cully.  There is a great deal going on here to keep the reader guessing.  A much more in-depth story line than usually appears on the shows.  I am a big fan of the TV show, but I will say that I liked this book, in particular, in the series  more.  There is more examination of the character’s inner lives and motivations which drive their actions.  Themes of greed, honesty, and family are all well represented.  Great final book in the series.

As the Pig Turns & Death of Yesterday

Two more M.C. Beaton books as I work my way through books left in both the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin series.

As the Pig Turns sees the death of a police officer in a particularly gruesome (for Agatha books) style.  The entire book has a somewhat darker turn than other Agatha Raisin books.  I really enjoyed it and thought perhaps it reflects Agatha’s aging and maturation after everything she has been through in the first 20 or so books. The police officer’s death and life leads Agatha on a twisting, turning race through a multitude of suspects.  Leading for a little bit to a jaunt to Las Vegas for Toni and Agatha.  This book also sees the return of Simon, along with the other regularly recurring characters, such as Charles Fraith, Roy Silver, and Mrs. Bloxby.  Very good, although darker, installment in the Agatha Raisin series.

Death of Yesterday sees Hamish investigating a murder and then complicating his life by attempting to date the relative of a suspect, all in the vain desire to forget about the lovely Priscilla Halburton-Smythe.  The first victim is a bit of a drama queen, who saw something she shouldn’t and then there is a flurry of murderous activity to cover up crimes.  Mistaken identity, blackmail, and greed drive a great story line in this book in the series.  Hamish is also reconnected with another love interest, the reporter, Elspeth Grant.  A quick, good read with lots going on in it.  From the crimes themselves, to Hamish’s ongoing fight to save his beloved police station from attacks by Blair, and his complicated love interests, there is plenty here to entertain the reader.

Cookies and Scream

19486425  This is book 5 in the A Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery.  I really enjoy this series for the relationships that occur on the pages.  Olivia and Maddie are great as friends and business partners in the shop.  Olivia and her adventurous mother, who is always up for learning and trying new things.  In this installment, Olivia returns from vacation to find that a woman has selected her to sell her valuable antique cutter collection.  When the seller dies unexpectedly, Olivia uncovers mysteries in the woman’s past and connections to others in the town.  This was a fun cozy mystery with great characters and an interesting setting.