Death in Disguise by Caroline Graham

  This is another book that the series Midsomer Murders is based on.  In this series, Barnaby is investigating a murder that occurs in a new age commune.  The contrast between the supposed mission of the new age center and the back stabbing and open arguments that occur among the varied guests and staff is quite amusing.  The book begins with establishing the community and all the players, Barnaby does not even appear in the first hundred pages or so.  Those hundred pages require attentive reading to keep all the players straight for later on.

There are secrets upon secrets leading to many twists and turns in the plot and numerous red herrings.  This kept me turning the pages right to the very end.  Very engaging mystery, even though I have watched the TV episode, I still enjoyed the book immensely.

Dating Can Be Deadly by Victoria Pade

This is the second and unfortunately it seems to be the last in the A Jimi Plain Mystery Series.  I recently read Divorce can be Murder and decided to pick this one Dating Can Be Deadly based on that.

The protagonist, Jimi Plain, has bought her grandmother, Nell’s, house and lives there with Jimi’s two children, Nell, and her detective cousin, Danny.  In this mystery, Jimi’s family, have conspired to send her to a new age self improvement/dating center as a gift and kick in the pants to her dating life.  A murder occurs in the center and Jimi find the body putting her right in the middle of the mystery.

The mystery is well crafted and the characters from the center are an interesting addition to the cast.  There were plenty of red herrings and many characters to spread suspicion among.  Jimi is showing growth and is an interesting and engaging character.  Her relationships are developing and it is a shame that the series did not continue so that we could see where the author intended the characters to go over time.

Fun mystery read!

 

Cloche and Dagger by Jenn McKinlay

 

This book is one of the group reads for the Cozy Mystery Corner on Goodreads this month.  I had just finished book one in another series by this author, Sprinkle with Murder, and I enjoyed that so I was looking forward to trying this one.

This was a great cozy  mystery!  I liked it more than the other series by this author, although that might also be the setting.  In Cloche and Dagger, the protagonist Scarlett returns home to London from Florida after a particularly embarrassing breakup that was recorded for posterity on the internet.   The London setting was a change of pace from other cozies that I have been reading lately.

The pacing was excellent, I finished the book in one sitting.   The characters of Harrison, Andre and Nick added humor and romance to the story line.  The mystery was interesting and the twist revealed at the funeral was well done.  Two mysteries are really involved here,  the disappearance of Viv and a murder of one of the hat shop’s customers.  They are both solved satisfactorily at the end.

I don’t wear hats or know anything about them really, however no prior knowledge or interest is necessary to enjoy this story.  The  hat theme is present but not overwhelming.  The only criticism I would have is that the disappearance of Viv was somewhat far fetched, required a  little suspension of disbelief.

Fun, quick read and I will be looking to read the next in the series.

Brownies & Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

 

Just finished this one, I will start by saying I don’t read too many paranormal/magical cozies.  I prefer the plots to be heavier on the mystery and lighter on the magic/paranormal elements when I do read them.  I loved the Savannah setting.  I visited Savannah last summer and it is a lovely city, so I really did enjoy reading a book set in Savannah.

Mungo the Magnificent as a sidekick was cute and entertaining without being obnoxious.  The protagonist, Katie, is not aware of her powers or history at the beginning of the book.  She moves to Savannah to help her Aunt and Uncle start a bakery business.   Through her Aunt she learns more about her history and her powers.  There is an entire coven of witches waiting to bring Katie into the fold.

At an initial party hosted in the bakery, one of the city’s leading ladies is murdered.  Katie’s uncle is the suspect, so Katie takes it upon herself to attempt to clear his name.  Her investigation involves varied side kicks and sometimes magic.  There are also two competing romantic interests thrown in to the mix.

The red herrings are plentiful, but the resolution was lacking.  Information to solve the crime wasn’t revealed until the reveal. Overall, a cute, quick cozy, that will be good for readers who like paranormal/magical cozies.

Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay

 

Fun first in a series.  Well written with a fun trio of main characters, Melanie, Angie and Tate.  Melanie and Angie are co-owners of  the Fairy Tale Cupcake Bakery.  Tate’s fiance is murdered and that puts both Tate and Melanie directly in the path of the investigation.  Melanie start investigating to save herself and Tate.  There are several probable suspects and Melanie does conduct her own investigation into the murder.

I did figure out the mystery far before the end, so perhaps a one of the clues was a little too obvious, but I still enjoyed reading it to the end.  The only other issue I had was the relationship between Angie’s brother Joe and Melanie.  It seemed to me unrealistic that Melanie was Angie’s best friend and yet had not had contact or interaction with Joe since she was in middle school and so had never gotten over her crush.   This romance was a pretty light element in the book though so this is not that big of a problem.

I will read more in this series and see where it goes.

 

Tressed to Kill by Lila Dare

 

Very cute first in a new series.  The southern setting is charming and the author doesn’t overdo it by interjecting too many cutesy southernisms.  The premise is that the protagonist, Grace,  has returned home from a life and marriage in Atlanta to the small town she grew up in and where her mother,Violetta, still lives.  She now works in her mother’s salon and is attempting to start over.

One of the town’s leading ladies is murdered after a public argument with Violetta, which makes Violetta the prime suspect.  There is the prerequisite hunky cop, Dillon, or Marshall as Grace refers to him in their bantering.  Hank, Grace’s ex, is also in town and they often run into each other adding to the drama.

The red herrings were well done and I didn’t solve the main mystery ahead of time which is always fun.  A well done mystery plot tying together multiple, mysteries past and present.

Some of the descriptions could have been a little less wordy but that was a very minor issue.  All in all, a fun quick cozy mystery read and good start to a new series.

Exile by Denise Mina

Just finished Denise Mina’s , Exile, book 2 in the Garnethill Trilogy.  I did enjoy book 1, Garnethill, however this book was much better!  Maureen’s character is in a self-destructive post-traumatic stress downward spiral fueled mainly by alcohol.  She is investigating a murder at the request of her friend Leslie, who is not much less of a mess.  A woman has been brutally tortured and murdered with her body dumped.  She was recently a resident at a battered woman’s shelter, so all fingers point toward the husband, Jimmy, who is the only surviving parent for their 4 small boys.  Only things are not what they seem and Maureen through her alcohol induced haze and her desire to maintain her friendship with Leslie seeks to prove that Jimmy didn’t kill his wife.

The characters are what makes this work stand out.  Denise Mina has crafted incredibly human characters with all the dirt and despair that one could stand to read.   Maureen is a walking train wreck, yet in this book she comes across as more intelligent, not just crafty in the way of many street survivors, but also analytical.  Jimmy is a portrait of despair and a born victim.  Even Winnie, in her own alcohol fueled rages, is a fully developed character.

Liam and Vik are some of the only positive characters in the book.  Liam has made great strides to pull himself out of his past.  Vik is strong enough to insist that he deserves to be treated right by Maureen.  There are still differences between these two:  Liam wants to save or protect Maureen, while Vik wants her to save herself.  After the ending of this book, I will be interested to see what happens here.

The mystery is well done  with great twists and turns and an ending that I did not see coming.  There is a great sense of place in this book, even though most of the places are nowhere the reader would want to be.

Great read!  I can’t wait to read the third one.