Burned by Thomas Ender


This book is the first in the Henning Juul series.  The protagonist, Henning, is a journalist who has literally been burned.  He and his son were in an apartment fire in which his son lost his life.  Henning has now returned to work and is assigned to a story involving the brutal murder/”honor killing” of a young aspiring film maker.  To throw salt on his wounds, he is partnered with his es-wife’s new boyfriend to work on the story.

Henning doesn’t buy the commonly accepted theory of the young Pakastani boyfriend committing an honor killing.  There is discussion of sharia, honor killings, and perceptions of Muslims interspersed with Henning’s investigation.  He leads a careful investigation with the help of an online informant, even at the risk of his own life.

Henning is an interesting character in that he has had this terrible tragedy occur, the loss of his son and his own injuries, and yet he doesn’t come across as whiny or self-absorbed.  He has some minor quirks as a result of his experiences but other than that, he very admirably goes about the business of moving forward.

This is an excellent thriller that hooks the reader right from the start.  Well drawn characters, good pacing, and finely crafted mystery plot all add up to a great read.  The ending gives a hint of what is to come in the series and I can’t wait to read more about Henning Juul.









3 More Reads


Glazed Murder was a total impulse by for me.  I have a confession, I have always avoided this series because I have a pretty big aversion to donuts.  I worked for a nation wide donut chain that will not be named in college, back in…1984, and I think that I can count the number of donuts I have eaten since then on one hand.

Anyway I picked it up and read it last night and was really surprised, I will admit i flipped quickly past the donut recipes, which were plentiful, so anyone who does want to make them will have lots to try here.  The main character, runs a independent donut shop and has a dead body of a local banker dumped in her parking lot one night.  Suzanne Hart is an interesting character and I like the push-pull relationship with her mother, who she has had to move back in with since her divorce and purchase of the donut shop.  A couple of the secondary characters need more development, but I am sure that because this is the first in a series that will come later.  Anyway, this is a fun light cozy mystery that has potential to become quite a good series.

Murder in Volume was this month’s read for the Cozy Mystery Corner Mystery Group on Goodreads. There is a plethora of book/library/bookstore themed cozies and many of them are among my favorite cozy series.  This is an book one of a 5 book series.  The protagonist is Megan Clark, a librarian and frustrated paleopathologist.  She has a sidekick history professor, Ryan, who is much older than her, and in fact is the father of her childhood friends.  She drags Ryan along on all of her adventures.  It is on one of these new activities, a book club, that Megan and Ryan stumble on a body and are embroiled in the mystery.

The point of view switches back and forth throughout the book.  It is in this switching that we learn that Ryan is having romantic feelings towards Megan, seemingly unrequited as Megan is dating someone else.  The mystery includes references to other mystery series, similar to Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand series.  Part of these are understandable as discussion in the mystery book club meetings.

I did not connect with Megan Clark as a protagonist, she seemed arrogant and takes herself and her paleopathology degree far too seriously, even though it seems like it is not an employable degree. I also didn’t like the developing romance with Ryan at all, not being able to stop wondering what his kids would think of it.

I don’t think this is a series I will continue with, especially when there are so many other very good book themed cozies.

Perfect Love by Elizabeth Buchan is a women’s fiction novel, about Prue  a woman, wife, mother, and stepmother in her forties, who begins to be lured into infidelity.  This is a classic midlife crisis family drama novel, with complex family relationships and situations.   Added into this book is a running Joan of Arc metaphor that really doesn’t seem to work.  It actually could be eliminated from the book altogether.

I have read several of Elizabeth Buchan’s books and I have a strange relationship with them, I always find them very well written, with fully developed characters with all their flaws, and interesting plots. On the other hand, I would not say that I like them, if that makes sense.  Her stories are too realistic, there are never satisfying conclusions, no neat endings, no  punishment for the wicked or rewards for the good.  It always seems like things just trudge along and end with the characters still having numerous issues to work through, much like real life.

As someone who reads women’s fiction, for an escape from reality I am always frustrated, but I still keep reading them for some reason.

The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey


The Last Detective is the first novel in the Peter Diamond mystery series.  I saw it mentioned as a recommendation and picked it up from the library and I am so glad that I did.  The character of Peter Diamond was engaging in his own way.  I am not normally a fan of the “anti-technology” quirk but it works for him.  He has an earnest manner about him and his lack of arrogance is quite endearing.  I also liked the changing points of view as the book progressed.  It was handled very well.  I have read books in which changing points of view can be confusing or just a device that adds nothing to the plot, but that is not the case here.

I did know who the “villain” was prior the reveal but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.  I am definitely going to continue this series.  Great mystery read!


Pain Killers = No Sleep


  I am taking pain killers for my ankle and they are seriously disrupting my sleep cycle.  Due to this I have been getting a lot of reading done at  night.  Last night I read the above four novels, all relatively short and quick reads.  My favorite by far was Peter Mayle’s French Lessons.  His books evoke a fantastic sense of place and his obvious love of France and all things food comes through in his writing.  The book is broken up into topics or explorations into food and wine throughout France.  From snails to wine and from cheese to spa food, Peter Mayle’s writing allows the reader to experience La Foire aux Escargots in May and  Les Glorieuses in December among many other excursions.  Well written and interesting, a highly recommended read for anyone interested in food, wine and/or France.

The other three books were all cozy mysteries and were all firsts in their series.  Pleating for Mercy is a Magical Dressmaking Mystery, Family Skeletons is a genealogy themed, Torie O’Shea Mystery, and Frankly My Dear, I’m Dead is a travel agency/tour company themed mystery.  All three of these would just fall under okay, as far as I would say. There was nothing to make them stand out from the vast selection of cozy mysteries.  The characters seemed standard cozy mystery fare and somewhat one dimensional and/or unlikable.  In Frankly My dear, I’m Dead, there was an attempt to make a Christie-esque isolated house where the murders occurred and all the suspects are trapped there…except they really weren’t, the police were there and other people were coming and going.


The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Burning


I read these two last night, unable to sleep because I have given up on pain meds.  Anyway it can only get better, at least that is what I keep telling .

I loved The Keeper of Lost Causes!  Sometimes translated works can have awkward translations and be problematic especially for dialogue, but I didn’t notice that here.  Carl Morck is a wonderfully realistic character.  I could completely understand his giving up on things and counting the hours each day and the days to retirement.  Assad as a catalyst was very well written and a character in his own right.  As a watcher of the TV series, Cold Case, the whole concept of Dept. Q was fascinating.  The actual crime itself and the victim’s story is horrifying and totally enthralling.    I had a sense of who the perpetrators were but no real conclusive evidence before the reveal.   Highly recommended read, particularly for readers who like their sleuths “damaged”.

The Burning by Jane Casey is a mystery about a serial killers who burns his victims when he is done with them.  After coming off of reading The Keeper of Lost Causes, this simply did not compare.  Maeve Kerrigan did not seem really grip me as a character and the mystery seemed predictable.  Overall, the plot and the characters lack depth, everything seemed one dimensional.  As a reader, you totally lose sight of “the burning man” during the course of the book. Since this is the first in a series, perhaps depth will develop over time.


Death of a Policeman by M.C. Beaton


I just finished this, the 30th (I can hardly believe I’ve known Hamish that long) outing in the Hamish MacBeth series by M.C. Beaton.  I do feel as though these books are like visiting an an old friend.  I’ve followed Hamish through his ups and downs in his romantic and professional life and through various threats to his beloved station in Lochdubh.

In this book, there is another threat to Hamish’s posting in Lochdubh.  Small stations are closing all over and Hamish obviously doesn’t want that to happen.  Blair sends a young officer, Cyril, to spy in Hamish.  Cyril ends up dead with Hamish as a suspect. With that opening, the mystery is up and running.  This book had a slightly different feel than others in the series, a bit faster pacing, more violence (murders), and more twists and turns in the mystery and in both Hamish and Dick’s personal (romantic) lives.  It actually came across as a more modern soft boiled mystery than a cozy.

I hope that there will be many more Hamish mysteries to come.  This one is a highly recommended read!

Honor Hartman: The Unkindest Cut


Just finished this book, the second, and unfortunately to the best of my knowledge the last in the A Bridge Club Mystery series.  I loved the Bridge theme.  I used to play years ago and this was so much fun to “play” vicariously with Emma and her friends.

The series premise is a widow moves to a new home to be closer to her best friend for support and gets involved in a local bridge club.  Through her activities with the club she stumbles on murders which she solves.  The character of Emma is very believable and likable.  She is a widow and still grieving and that is dealt with in a realistic manner, but the book is not depressing at all.  Her friends make up an eclectic group and support her sleuthing activities.

In this episode, Emma travels to a bridge conference to support a friend and learn more.  At the conference, a “celebrity” is murdered and Emma is right in the  middle of it.  The mystery is will crafted and has many probable suspects to spread suspicion  among.

A very enjoyable read and I am sorry that there are not going to be more in this series!


Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber


Finally! My copy came in to my local bookshop.  This is the first in a new yoga themed cozy mystery.  The series opens with the reader meeting Kate, a yoga studio owner, who has a run-in with a homeless man and his dog Bella.  Eventually, they become friends or at least Kate tolerates George and Bella’s presence outside her studio.  George is murdered and Kate can’t just let it be written off as a dispute between the homeless, which is what it seems the local police are doing.

She investigates with her sometimes side kick, Rene, and Bella, George’s dog.  Along the way, she meets Michael, the owner of Pete’s Pets, and a romantic interest.  There is a lot of investigation and quite a few leads and suspects.  The mystery is very well crafted.  The main characters are all developed and realistic.

I really appreciated the urban setting, which is very different from the average cozy.  This is very reminiscent of the urban setting in Kerry Greenwood’s Corina Chapman series, which I love.  Very different characters, themes and settings, but both series have a similar contemporary urban feel.


The mystery plot and the yoga theme flow seamlessly together.  The theme does not overwhelm the mystery plot or the characters.  A fun, well written first in a new  mystery series.  I’d recommend it to anyone who likes cozies, especially ones with a more contemporary feel.  I am definitely going to be looking forward to the next one in this series.


Corpse Pose by Diana Killian

  Ordered this cozy while waiting for another yoga based cozy, Murder Strikes a Pose, to come in to my local indie bookshop.

I was looking for a break from the many book store/library and cat based cozies that I read.  I love them, but sometimes they start to run together in my head :).  I am not a crafty person so many of the craft cozies don’t really appeal to me, but the yoga theme really got my attention.

This cozy was very good. I ordered the next in the series already.  The opening starts with a murder (off screen) of AJ’s beloved aunt.  The murder brings her home to New Jersey as her aunt’s next of kin and heir to a yoga based empire.  AJ is a free lance PR person living in Manhatten and recently divorced and not doing well in her personal or professional life.  Her husband left her for a man and she is really feeling the sting.

I thought the mystery plot was pretty good. I liked the characters of AJ and her mother Elysia.  The characters were well done and I really liked the inclusion of Lily as I have had the misfortune to meet a yoga teacher like her so that character struck me as particularly “real”. I actually found that the yoga theme doesn’t overwhelm the story, so if a reader is not a yoga practitioner they can still enjoy this book.  There is a love interest in the form of Detective Oberlin.  I actually think the romantic elements and AJ being able to step in right back into yoga after years away were weak parts in the book.  I don’t want to discuss specifics because I can’t really do that without a spoiler so I’ll just leave it alone.

Overall, I liked AJ, the theme and the mystery, so I will definitely read the next one in the series.  I think this series may be finished because there are only four books published and the last one was in 2011.


Murder on the Rocks, Staged to Death, & Dipped, Stripped & Dead

staged on the rocks dipped

Three quick cozies that I finished.  The first, Murder on the Rocks, is the second book I’ve read with that title.  In this case, the rocks are actual rocks on the Maine coast line, while in the other one, it was ice in a drink. This was a book I read for the Cozy Mystery Corner on Goodreads.

It was an “okay” mystery.  The plot, setting, theme and the characters were fine, but for some reason it didn’t really grab me.  I can’t  put my finger on why.  There was nothing wrong with it, I just didn’t connect with the characters or get involved with the story.

Staged to Death was the second mystery.  Again, this one was just okay.  I will say that the writing style didn’t work for me.  Over use of adjectives, just wore me down.  Sample:

After checking Dylan’s progress, Caprice went to the coffeemaker and pulled out a lime-green, yellow-flowered canister. She and Bella both enjoyed flavored coffees….Caprice’s buttercup-colored 1950s vintage style stove that matched her retro refrigerator…


After she set the royal blue dish with a spoonful of cream in its center on the floor, Caprice arranged the turquoise, yellow, and lime-green mugs on a tray with a crystal creamer and sugar bowl. She poured cinnamon-hazelnut coffee into the mugs, and then carried the antique tray with its picture of pink peonies under the glass into the living room.

This was a long book for a cozy, most seem to run around 270 pages, and this one comes in at 374, mostly adjectives or descriptors.

I saved the best for last.  Dipped, Stripped, and Dead, A Daring Finds Mystery was my favorite of the three.  I liked the protagonist Dyce, a divorced single mom, and her sidekick, Ben. The mystery was well plotted.   There were some interesting and humorous characters to add color to the story, a cross-dressing ex-Marine furniture maker for one and Dyce’s parents and son for others.  The romantic interest in the form of Cas was intriguing and I’m sure the romance will be developed more in later books. The dual nature of the mystery was well done, but I won’t say more than that.  This is a series that I will continue to follow.