All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

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I used to read and greatly enjoy the Aurora Teagarden mystery series years ago when it was first written.  There were 8 books written from 1990 to 2003.  When True Blood, the Southern Vampire Series based TV show, became very popular Charlaine Harris turned her attention to that series. I remember reading interviews that stated that she would not be writing any more Aurora Teagarden mysteries.

Fast forward to today and there are two more Teagarden mysteries, probably spurred by the interest in the Hallmark Mystery Movies based on the series.  I was happy to see new books in the series and picked this one up.  Unfortunately I found this to be a disappointment after the earlier books. The character, Roe,  seems to have changed and the story pacing was uneven.  I feel like the charm from the earlier books is no longer evident.

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The Spook in the Stacks & Holiday Grind

I am working my way back through my FictFact account.  Trying to finish series that I had lost track of with the influx of new ones.   These are two more great cozy mystery series, that I was able to get the next book I needed from the library.

The Spook in the Stacks is book 4 in the A Lighthouse Library Mystery series by Eva Gates. I love the setting for this series, a library in a lighthouse on the Outer Banks.  I took a vacation there a long time ago and it is really a beautiful place.  Lucy Richardson not only works as a librarian at the lighthouse, she also lives there in a tiny apartment on the upper floors, it sounds just divine to me!

In this installment, the library is up for receiving a substantial donation in the form of cash and a collection of historical documents.  The donor visits the library several times to try to make his decision.  One of those visits, someone leaves in a body bag.  Lucy is desperate to protect the library’s reputation and solve the murder.  This is all occurring while Connor is busy with his election campaign to remain mayor of the town.  This is a great installment in a really entertaining series.

Holiday Grind is a Christmas installment of Cleo Coyle’s A Coffeehouse Mystery series.  Clare Cosi is determined to discover who murdered her friend and customer, Alf, a traveling Santa.  She enlists the help of Esther, one of her employees and even her ex-husband tags along for some of the events.  Her romance with Mike Quinn is still buzzing along nicely, even though they both have busy lives.  Whiffs of blackmail, insurance scams, loan sharking and just general skullduggery are blended together  with  great characters and an awesome setting, like one of the Coffeehouse’s custom drinks.  This is another great installment in the series.

Live and Let Chai & The Whole Enchilada

 

Live and Let Chai was an impulse buy from Barnes and Noble for me and I was really happy that I picked it up.  Everly Swan has returned home after leaving for culinary school and romance.  She’s opening a beachfront tea, as in iced tea, shop using secret Swan family recipes handed down through the generations.  When a customer dies after drinking one of her teas, Everly’s whole business and home is put at risk.  She investigates to clear her name, butting heads with the new detective in town the whole way.  Well written, fully fleshed out characters, with an interesting mystery plot, I will definitely read the next in this series when it comes out in February 2019.

I have put off reading The Whole Enchilada for a long time because I really didn’t want the Goldy series to end.  This was written in such a way to provide nice closure for this long running series, a giant among the food based mysteries.  The recurring characters are in evidence here and the mystery is interesting  and fun to read. A surprising  change in life occurs for Goldy and Tom in this book, one that I wasn’t expecting.   All in all a bittersweet farewell to a cozy character that I  related to and loved reading about over the years.  If you haven’t read this series, I’d suggest going back to the beginning and starting with book 1.

A Trio of Cozies

I’ll admit to being shallow, it was the cover of Natural Thorn Killer that grabbed me.  It really stood out from the other mysteries on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.  The second thing of interest to me is the setting, Portland, Oregon, my birthplace.  And the third thing, it didn’t really need a third, were the Swedish touches.  I’ve been taking Swedish on Duolingo and loved seeing the Swedish words included in the text.

Britta returns to her Aunt’s home and floral design studio and wine shop after a bad marriage.  There is a bad guy developer looking to buy up the character filled neighborhood and replace it with new higher-end buildings.  He ends up murdered right in the flower shop, dropping Britta into the middle of the investigation.  There is a lot going on in this first book of the series besides the murder investigation and a good-sized cast of characters that make up the community.  I enjoyed this first in a new cozy series and will read more in the series.

Busy Body is the next book for me in the Agatha Raisin series.  In this one, a PITA Health and Safety officer meets an untimely demise.  The chief suspect hires Agatha’s agency to clear her name.  Meanwhile Agatha takes on a new detective, Simon, who partners up with Toni to help solve the case.  Agatha’s team ends up putting themselves in danger to solve the crime.  Appearances from series regulars, Charles, James, and Roy Silver add fun to the story.  A fun installment in the series.

I have started back on the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke.  I checked in with my Fictfact account and picked up where I left off with Peach Cobbler Murder.  I really am glad that I’ve picked up this series again.  In this book, Hannah has competition in the form of a new bakery in town cutting into her business.  When the competitor ends up dead, Hannah needs to clear her name and jumps into the investigation.  Along with the murder investigation, there are romance story lines for Hannah and her mother.  Enjoyable cozy mystery with a great setting and familiar characters.

The Killer’s Wife

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I saw a post about this book and it sounded interesting so I picked it up at the library.  The killer’s wife of the title is Leigh Wren.  She has moved away, changed her name, altered her looks and started over in an effort to build a new, safe life for her son and herself.  This life gets blown up when one of her husband’s victim’s family members uncovers her new identity and exposes her to the media.  As this is happening a new serial killer is continuing the “work” of her husband, leading suspicion to land on Leigh.

This was okay.  For some reason, I didn’t really feel a sense of tension or urgency that one would expect to feel with this type of story line. It felt a little flat to me.

Final Fondue & The Tell-Tale Tarte

 

I revisited my old Fictfact account and it has reminded me of series I haven’t been back to in a while.  One of these was the A Five-Ingredient Mystery series by Maya Corrigan.  I picked up Final Fondue to continue with the series.  In this case Val’s grandfather, is perfecting his fondue into an entry for the town’s festival at the same time he is hosting paying guests in his home.  Val’s past is coming back to haunt her in the form of an angry ex-client, her old boss from the city, and her ex-fiance.  Val deals with all this and a murder in her backyard.  The relationship between Val and her grandfather is really the driving force in this series and it is shown very well here as Val helps her grandfather and he pursues and professional license.

In The Tell-Tale Tarte  a local actor dies in the street in front of Val.  She is shocked by the striking resemblance of the victim and her grandfather.  The story involves a reclusive writer, a long-lost child, threats to Val’s cafe, and her grandfather’s new investigation business.    Val is juggling many balls in this book and adds a private catering contract to the mix, in part to investigate the mystery.  The ending felt a little rushed to me, but I did enjoy the development of Val’s grandfather’s character.  It is great to see an older person being independent and spreading their wings in retirement.  He now has a newspaper column, he’s a local celebrity, and an investigator.  Fun, quick cozy mystery.

 

Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple

3069345  I saw a tweet about Dorothy Whipple from @Persephonebooks and realized that I had never read anything by her.  I picked up Someone at a Distance to rectify that situation.

This plot seems at first straightforward, the story of  the breakdown of a marriage and its far-reaching impacts.  The strength lies in the authenticity of the voices.  This was such an immersive novel.  I was pulled into the lives of Ellen and Avery and their children and of course the manipulative and cunning Louise with her long-suffering parents.   The characters are so well written that they stand as real people and the world built in the novel flows seamlessly around the reader.  The character of Ellen stands out to me as similar to one of Barbara Pym’s “Excellent Women” as she picks herself up and soldiers on with the business of family and life.  The line acknowledging  that hope is a dangerous thing was  particularly  perceptive. Themes of familial love, entitlement, forgiveness, and regret are all wrapped up in this extraordinarily well written novel.  Highly recommended read!