Blind Date by Frances Fyfield

 

 

I have not read any other work by Frances Fyfield, however I did watch and enjoy the TV series of the Helen West Casebook, which was based on her Helen West books.  I picked up this book because it was a selection for this month for the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads.

I liked a lot about this book, the characters of Elisabeth Kennedy and Joe, were interesting in themselves and as a relationship.   The villain(s) twisted relationship revealed over time was intriguing and well done.  I found the setting, Elisabeth’s church tower apartment well done (and it is an important part of the story). The psychology of Elisabeth, the relationship between her and her mother, sister, and nephew is well done.

The mystery has more of psychological thriller feel to it than any other sub genre of mystery. The pacing was well suited to this type of mystery.

The issue I had with this book was with  character development.  I didn’t really get  a sense of Joe’s back story and I had trouble keeping his friends straight because they were not well defined enough.  I didn’t even understand entirely the idealization of Elisabeth’s sister, unless that was just some post-mortem “don’t speak ill of the dead” kind of thing but it seemed like an ongoing aspect of their relationship.  Even Joe realized that the story of Emma was too good to be true.  On the plus side, by eliminating some back story and character development, the pacing is accelerated.  This is fast moving and a quick read.

Overall, I did enjoy this and would read another book by Frances Fyfield.

The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen

  I just read the first one in this series and really enjoyed it so I was happy to get this one so quickly.  I love the character of Carl Morck.  I liked seeing how his success on the first Dept. Q case has changed him, making him more confident and more passionate about his work.

I do think this second outing in the series was not as good as the first.  My first issue was that the translation did not seem done as well.  The dialog flowed better in the first book and I am assuming that this is a translation issue not a writing issue.  The second “problem” was the limitation of Assad’s role in this book, he was not as prominent or as humorous as in the first one.  I really enjoyed this character and the developing relationship with Carl in the first book.  I will say that Assad came back strongly in the last 50 pages.  Finally, the plot as a whole seemed  more far fetched in this book. The over the top villain and all the animal hunting/cruelty was a little much.

The reader should be aware this is not really a whodunnit.  From the beginning, it is just an effort to find proof to link the group to their crimes, rather than determining a culprit.   I did not have an issue with the  violent, destructive nature of the group, I actually find that very timely with stories in the news today of teens “wilding” and events that occur in the city I work in, so that part was believable for me.   There was still plenty to like here and so even with the issues I had with The Absent One, I still will continue with this series.

The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen

 

I  just recent read the first in the series and enjoyed it so much that I picked this one, The Killing of the Tinkers, up from the library.  In this  outing of the series, Jack Taylor is more messed up (if you can believe that is possible) than he was in the first book.  Jack has decided to add a side of cocaine addiction to his already rampant alcoholism on his path to self destruction.  On top of the drugs and alcohol he also is burning through women, including a wife he picked up in London.  Now that Sutton is gone, Jack has acquired some new sidekicks, Keegan and Sweeper, who add their own color to the book.

In this book, the mystery surrounds murdered gypsies (tinkers) and as a side plot, murdered swans.  Jack stumbles his way drunkenly  through the mystery, acquiring some pretty brutal injuries along as the way and losing some teeth.  It seems like you should be able to smell the whiskey dripping off the pages at some points.   The resolution is messy, not a typical  “neat and clean with all the ends tied up”, but it suits Jack and his decidedly messy life.  I am definitely going to continue with this series of very engaging page turners, even though this biggest mystery might be how Jack stays alive.

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.