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!

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.

Death of a Hollow Man by Caroline Graham

  I have been on  a Midsomer Murders binge lately.  Being laid up off and on with my ankle injury, I have watched the whole series on Acorn TV and loved it.  I finally decided to start reading the books.  This is the second in the book series.

An all round good mystery read, Death of a Hollow Man, was adapted very closely in the TV series.  The characters of Barnaby, Joyce, Cully and Troy were all here.  Cully didn’t have much space devoted to her but the reader still develops a sense of who she is as a person from her father’s thoughts.  I also developed more insight into Joyce’s character than I had from the TV show.  Barnaby himself is a great protagonist and detective.

The other characters, suspects and villains, are laid out with twists and turns of the plot including red herrings.  The sense of place is well developed, which is important in a village mystery. The reader gets a good feel for the social dynamics and character ofthe village.

Highly recommended read, I just wish I would have read them first before watching the series, but they are enjoyable nonetheless.

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.

The Strangling on the Stage by Simon Brett

 

Read this book by mistake, I picked it up from the library thinking it was the next book, however it turns out I missed two books from the series.

I have been reading the Feathering series by Simon Brett for quite a while and I really enjoy them.  I love the characters of Jude and Carole and their atypical crime solving partnership.  This outing in the series involves an amateur dramatics group that Jude and then Carole become involved in.  One of the actors is strangled with a noose and the investigation takes off!

I always like Simon Brett’s humor at the expense of comfortable middle class life with petty vanities and rivalries galore.  I am going to have to go back and read the two books I missed before I say anything more because Carole and Jude’s friendship/partnership seems somehow different in this, number 15 in the series.  Perhaps it is something that I missed in the previous books.   I didn’t feel that Carole had a strong a role, especially initially in the book and that Jude’s “healing” practices took over at times.

Really great series overall and I will go back and read what I missed.

 

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.