Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Murder She Wrote: A Date with Murder

Jessica Fletcher is at it again in, A Date with Murder. Her close friends Hal and Babs Wirth have hosted a Labor Day Barbq with games. Hal Wirth dies during the event and everyone takes it for granted it is a heart attack. But something is nagging at Jessica and her instincts will take her into a complicated murder and us a great mystery.

Donald Bain wrote 46 mysteries in the Murder She Wrote Series. Television and these books have made Jessica one of the most beloved characters in mysteries. Jon Land brings a fresh approach to the 47th in the series, more in line with his background writing thrillers. He brings a harder edge but the plot has all the turns and twists that keep you reading late into the night.

I have loved revisiting this Series and Cabot Cove. There was always something so special about the Character and formed our own version of an American Miss Marple. Land has his writing cut out for him, but, he is first class and I look forward to him continuing the series. I gave it five stars.

Blurb:

Jessica Fletcher investigates a friend's murder and a dangerous dating service in the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series...

Jessica Fletcher takes up the case of her good friend Barbara "Babs" Wirth after Babs' husband Hal suffers a fatal heart attack that Jessica has reason to believe was actually murder. At the heart of her suspicions lies a sinister dating site Hal had used while he and Babs were having marital issues, a site that may be complicit in somehow swindling him out of millions.

Jessica's investigation reveals that Hal was far from the only victim and when his former business partner is also killed, a deadly pattern emerges. Jessica teams up with a brilliant young computer hacker to follow the trail but as she gets closer to the truth, two near misses force her to realize that she may very well be the next victim.

The stakes have never been this high as Jessica finds herself being stalked by the killer she is trying to catch. She must now set the perfect trap to avoid her very own date with murder.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Murder in the Locked Library (A Book Retreat Mystery) by Ellery Adams

Ellery Adams writes a sparkling cozy-  flush with details. I am enthralled with rare books and secrets that have to be kept...well who isn't? This book is loaded with them. The characters will remain favorites once you are introduced to them. Butterworth, the Butler, was one of mine-but he is backed up by a strong recurring cast. I cannot wait to read the other books in this series and I will have my nose buried in Book One to Three next week.

Jane is the Guardian of Storyton Hall along with her two sons. Her Mother and Father live upstairs. Sinclair, who is the Head Librarian, works with clients and is a rare book expert.  Certain aspects that Visitors learn may later be important for clues.  I was fascinated by the details..how to hold a book by cradling it or washed hands versus gloves. In fact, all sorts of technical things are imparted. Are they information or red herrings? Cradling the book is definitely worth knowing for those of us who collect at any rate...  The workers in the soon- to- be- spa area dig up the bones of a man. But how long has he been dead? The book found with him in the grave was unreadable, so, the text might be written with onion juice or some other secret way of writing. But how does this affect Storyton and will there be more deaths?

Secrets, rare books, invisible text, a gutsy heroine and delicious food...how much better can a mystery get? Not much...five stars on this one.


Blurb:


Welcome to Storyton Hall, Virginia, where book lovers travel from near and far to enjoy the singular comforts of the Agatha Christie Tea Room, where they can discuss the merits of their favorite authors no matter how deadly the topic . . .
 

With her twins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, back in school, Jane Steward can finally focus on her work again—managing Storyton Hall, and breaking ground on the resort’s latest attraction: a luxurious, relaxing spa named in honor of Walt Whitman. But when the earth is dug up to start laying the spa’s foundation, something else comes to the surface—a collection of unusual bones and the ragged remnants of a very old book. The attendees of the Rare Book Conference are eager to assist Jane with this unexpected historical mystery—until a visitor meets an untimely end in the Henry James Library. As the questions—and suspects—start stacking up, Jane will have to uncover a killer before more unhappy endings ensue . . .

“Combines clever clues, a smart and courageous heroine and an interesting setting in a whodunit that will inspire readers to make further visits to Storyton Hall.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

Nun After The Other (A Giulia Driscoll Mystery Book 5) by Alice Loweecey

Alice Loweecey writes a bang-up mystery from the first chapter.  Frank, a police officer and Giulia, who runs a Detective Agency, are on a married, date- night when they hear a scream. They arrive too late to see what happened, but, they are confronted with a dead Nun and a rabid little Chihuahua, who keeps nipping at ankles- while licking the face of Sister Mary Margaret. The Nuns are being terrorized and Eagle Developers is the likely Candidate. But someone is hiring people to paper the windows with smut and calling at all hours. They have had two people break in. Giulia is hired to find out what is going on and stop them being harassed or worse.

Meanwhile, Giulia's brother has an accident at work and is in a coma. Giulia and Frank take his three kids into their small Cape Cod House. Salvatore, who was enough to drive a Saint to leave and did manage to isolate everyone, including his wife and Giulia. Her name is not mentioned in his house.

This book is a combination of fast- paced mystery with lots of humor. The scene in which each Nun quotes a bible verse in order to get the Mother Superior to hire
Giulia is laugh-out loud funny. Although it may help if you went to Catholic School as I did. But there are topics worth exploring in the Book too. One is the commercial greed of the Developers working to redo and make huge sums out of the slums. Or the fact the three kids had to hide the fact they slept in one room and were not with their Father because of Child Protective Services. I couldn't decide if I should say a rosary or enjoy the quips. I can tell you I finished this book in one night and laughed a lot. A very enjoyable quirky Mystery I gave it five stars.

My thanks to Netgalley and Henery Press

Blurb:

Nuns and murder and ghosts, oh my! Here comes Giulia Driscoll again, and boy, is she in for it this time.

It all starts when a frenzied Chihuahua leads Giulia and Frank Driscoll to the body of a nun in the street near a convent. The nuns fear they’re being harassed by the biggest developer in town and quickly embrace Giulia as their savior.

Of course, the former nun who exposed the drug ring run by a priest and nun will save their home and discover the murderer.

And of course, Giulia not only takes this job, but also all the other jobs clamoring for her attention. The result: Driscoll Investigations is pushed to its limit.

Then Giulia’s brother falls into a coma and she brings his kids to her house. Talk about a crash course in parenting for pregnant Giulia!

Did we mention the convent ghost? She loves the house, hates the nuns, and chain-smokes. Why couldn’t Giulia’s first honest-to-goodness ghost be shy and sweet?

More importantly, does the ghost hate the nuns—or the developer—enough to indulge in a bit of murder to liven up the afterlife?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton.

Paige Shelton, has written a charming premise with her character, Delaney, who works for The Cracked Spine. This bookstore specializes in rare books and manuscripts. Set in Edinburgh, I loved the fact that it started out with the moody background of Scotland and lots of artifacts.

Sophie and Rena, came into the shop to sell, "an Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Medicine, Surgery and Pathology" made up of 25 books which are very rare. I, along with Edwin, Delaney's boss, would have had eyes filled with tears at the hand- drawn illustrations. I just wish I had cataloged them at an Archives. Although graphic, they are an amazing example of medical knowledge at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

Several months later...Sophie, Rena, Delaney and Mallory are four girls on the town enjoying the group, "The Mad Ferret"  until Sophie and Rena see Dr. Eban of their Medical School. He is one of the fascinating Professors they have, but slightly eerie in his thirst for Robert Knox, who bought murdered corpses from Knox and Hare. These two were famous killers during the early 1800's. The Medical Students, have a service for the Corpses they work on, and it is held at Greyfriar's Kirk. Dr. Eban invites all of them to the funeral.

He makes it clear that he is fascinated with Edwin's Secret Room, the place where he keeps all his treasures. In fact, he is interested in the scalpel of Dr Knox- which disconcerts Delaney. She is used to denying that the room exists to protect the valuable holdings. But not everyone believes her.

Delaney has a boyfriend who is the proprietor of Delaney's Wee Pub. The sign and her name- she thought was meant to be. Tom met her at The Cracked Spine that night, so that she can look for the scalpel. Her boyfriend of ten months is the romantic interest in the series. The relationship between them is strained by a Reporter hot on the trail of a story, which adds some tension to the plot because of the prior dating of her and Tom.

A murder is discovered. Has it been brought on by the mystery of "The Dark Side," which is aptly protected by a red door? This, of course, houses Edwin's wonderful finds that he keeps for himself. Odd how a myth has spread and everyone is interested in and determined to see it. Is the killer?

So began a multi-faceted mystery with lots to recommend it. I will certainly be reading more of this series and enjoyed the addition of the Hare and Burke murders. Everyone has secrets and that is how I like my mysteries. 

My thanks to Netgalley the opinion is my own.

Blurb:

A delightful new mystery featuring bookseller and amateur sleuth Delaney Nichols, set in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Delaney Nichols, originally of Kansas but settling happily into her new life as a bookseller in Edinburgh, works at the Cracked Spine in the heart of town. The shop is a place filled with curiosities and surprises tucked into every shelf, and it’s Delaney’s job to research the rare tomes and obscure artifacts that people come to buy and sell. When her new friends, also students at the medical school, come to the shop to sell a collection of antique medical books, Delaney knows she’s stumbled across a rare and important find indeed. Her boss, Edwin MacAlister, agrees to buy the multivolume set, perhaps even to keep for his own collection.

But not long after the sale, one of Delaney’s new friends is found murdered in the alley behind the Cracked Spine, and she wonders if there is some nefarious connection between the origin of these books and the people whose hands they fell into. Delaney takes it upon herself to help bring the murderer to justice. During her investigation, Delaney she finds some old scalpels in the bookshop’s warehouse—she and discovers that they belonged to a long-dead doctor whose story and ties to the past crimes of Burke and Hare might be connected to the present-day murder. It’s all Delaney can do to race to solve this crime before time runs out and she ends up in a victim on the slab herself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The China Governess (the Albert Campion Mysteries) by Margery Allingham

Margery Allingham, sweeps you into a Mystery-complex and intricate from the very first page. Her writing is as excellent as any of the great English Mystery Writers from the Golden Age of Mystery. The Characters are likeable and eccentric, much like a favorite Professor, you might have had. The Scenery is descriptive with roads and places, that were bombed during World War II. The Turk Street Mile, with all the deceptiveness and squalor it was capable of, laid the foundation for a first class mystery.

Superintendent Charles Luke is called in to visit a middle age Couple, whose apartment has been torn apart. On the mirror in the guest room are the words, "Go home Dick." It resulted in the death of one of the first class tenants as they are named by Luke. Councilman Cornish is outraged and demands that Scotland Yard do something.

Timothy Kinnit has taken his fiance, Julia, to his old Nanny, Mrs. Broome. She hides the eighteen year old in The Treasure Room of the ancient building, when they have unexpected guests. While Julia is hiding behind curtains leading to a stairway- she hears a conversation that shocks her. Her engagement is put on hold until Tim can find out the truth.She appeals to Albert Campion to help her. The truth... which ever way it falls, does not matter to her, but it does strongly to her Father and her intended.

The complexity of the plots that Margery Allingham wrote were a thing of beauty. Her descriptions shimmer with 1940's language, and places. Often, the people are built around the class system of England before and after World War II. But the characters have charm, with their intellectual naivete and good humor. Mrs. Broome quickly became a favorite. If you enjoy Dorothy L. Sayers you will certainly like Allingham who was just as good a writer. Although we have many good Authors today I still favor the Era of the 1930's to 1940's for quality mysteries.

Blurb:
“Margery Allingham stands out like a shining light. And she has another quality, not usually associated with crime stories, elegance.” —Agatha Christie

Timothy Kinnit is rich, handsome, and successful, but his past is a mystery to him. When he learns, on the eve of his elopement, that he is adopted, he must question everything he thought he knew.

In desperate search of answers, Kinnit calls on private detective Albert Campion to shed some light on his past, and how it connects him to the notorious Turk Street Mile slum. Meanwhile, his illustrious adopted family has a sinister secret of its own—involving a murderous nineteenth-century governess—that must also be brought to light by Campion’s investigations.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Brush with Shadows (A Lady Darby Mystery) by Anna Lee Huber

Anna Lee Huber writes a tight, compelling mystery with Gothic overtones. The dark, brooding, landscape sets the tone for a grim Manor and a clutch of forbidding relatives. It has been fifteen years since the last visit. Gage's Grandfather has sent for him to investigate the disappearance of his cousin. But the visit has an eerie turn that night, when a mysterious figure, watches from the foot of the bed. The next morning- the windows were open... when they had been closed... and a rope has been attached to the building allowing access.

Alfred, the missing Cousin, went for a walk on the Tors and never returned. His Mother and Brother are both determined nothing has happened, yet, there is a definite mystery here. Why is someone determined to hinder the investigation with missing trunks and footwear laces that have been cut? Then his Grandfather is acting strange. The Villagers have no idea Alfred is missing, threatening letters have been sent and there is a supposed witch. Add all this, to the brooding landscape, and the places a man may get lost on the moor, and believe me you will start and finish this Book in one night.

I found the scenery, with its beauty and deadliness, added to the story line. The characters intensified the dramatic undertones and fast pace. I will definitely be picking up the books I have not read yet. Huber has a winner with this Series. I gave it five stars.

Blurb:
Sebastian Gage returns home to battle the ghosts of his past and prevent them from destroying his future with Kiera in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.

July 1831. It's been fifteen years since Sebastian Gage has set foot in Langstone Manor. Though he has shared little with his wife, Lady Kiera Darby, about his past, she knows that he planned never to return to the place of so many unhappy childhood memories. But when an urgent letter from his grandfather reaches them in Dublin, Ireland, and begs Gage to visit, Kiera convinces him to go.

All is not well at Langstone Manor. Gage's grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, is gravely ill, and Gage's cousin Alfred has suddenly vanished. He wandered out into the moors and never returned. The Viscount is convinced someone or something other than the natural hazards of the moors is to blame for Alfred's disappearance. And when Alfred's brother Rory goes missing, Kiera and Gage must concede he may be right. Now, they must face the ghosts of Gage's past, discover the truth behind the local superstitions, and see beyond the tricks being played by their very own eyes to expose what has happened to Gage's family before the moors claim yet another victim...

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Plum Tea Crazy ( A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

Laura Childs has continued the adventure in her wonderful Tea Series. Theodosia Browning and  Drayton Conneley are invited guests of Timothy Neville at the Gaslights and Galleons Parade. The  widows- walk on the roof is the perfect place to watch the ships come in from all over the World for the Event. Amidst a volley of cannon...a scream rings out and a man falls. Carson Lanier, is impaled on a wrought iron fence. It is an obvious case of murder, but he seems to have no enemies...or even a good reason why this should happen.

  Theodosia, who works side- by- side with Drayton in the Indigo Tea Shop is asked by Timothy to help investigate the mystery. She is dragged into a feud, with a scene worthy of a cat fight in a film noir, between Sissy Lanier and Betty Bates during a showing at Delaine’s shop. A rock is tossed through her window. Sissy shows up at the tea shop bereft because her Fidelity account had been raided. Jud Harker’s apartment is illegally visited  and she finds out some juicy information concerning Bob Garver’s grant money and loan. A very entertaining plot unfolds with some of the locals providing the bounty.

But for me... the Teas that are served and the food throughout this book are especially charming. Imagine a carefully blended plum-flavored Ceylonese black tea. This was a visit for me with old friends in their elegant Tea Shop and a chance to try some of these wonderful blends... as I sat with my cup of Tea and read this book. A delicious little mystery and a surprise twist at the end. Very enjoyable.

Blurb:

Theodosia Browning investigates a Charleston steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.

While viewing the harbor's Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow's walk of Timothy Neville's Charleston mansion, local banker Carson Lanier seemingly tumbles over a narrow railing, then plunges three stories to his death. But a tragic accident becomes something much more sinister when it's discovered that the victim was first shot with a bolt from a crossbow.

At the request of the mansion owner, Theodosia investigates the tragedy and is soon neck deep in suspects. An almost ex-wife, a coworker, a real estate partner--all had motives for killing the luckless banker, but one resorted to murder to settle accounts.

My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley