Thursday, June 22, 2017

Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

Victoria Hamilton writes in a smooth, cozy style. It's almost like coming home to a neighborhood and a group of people you know well. Even though this was my first read out of a series of six books, it will stand alone.

I am also drawn to her covers and titles. I admit it I am a sucker for a clever pun. I have been known to buy a book just for the cover as have many of my friends.

Although the story starts in the present, the mystery part began many years earlier. Two bodies are found murdered in bizarre ways and the town is shocked. The hunt to track a killer is on..Jaymie can help as these victims were classmates of her Sister. But will this stir up more deaths?  How safe is Jaymie?

The Book is written, with chapters fluctuating between the past and present. In some Authors this is confusing but not Victoria Hamilton. She is a clever enough Writer to blend the two well. There are pending marriages between Jaymie and her Sister, which add a nice touch to the mystery. The added charm of vintage cookware and recipes made it that more palatable.This mystery is perfect for anytime reading.The pages turn by themselves.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Hiss Before Dying by Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown wrote a multi-layered story of friends and family, interspersed with historical facts, in this cozy. There are two mysteries occurring in the book. I found myself wishing I had started with the first book, because the animals in this series are full of personality and quite amusing. The beauty of fall in the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Crozet, Virginia had lovely descriptions, almost like poetry at times.

In the opening Chapter, the three animals, Pewter, Tucker, and Mrs. Murphy are wandering along as an Eagle goes over. I felt the same terror that the small animals do, at this large predator on the hunt. From the Eagle's huge talons hangs a blue eyeball. A seamless start to the new Mystery and one- I was prepared to enjoy.

The gorgeous scenery and bits of history had me so enthralled I actually forgot this was a mystery at times. Then the bodies started turning up and Mary Minor Haristeen ( Harry) identifies a slave pass...well, I won't say anymore.


The Mystery moves slow, layering the time frames, while the personalities of the animals and people work well together. I do like getting to know historical facts and different time frames. But the heart of this series is in the current day I felt and the charm of the animals too, while they talked, fussed and helped. The recent format of switching back and forth between past and present could be confusing to new Readers but not long- time followers. Finally, I enjoyed getting to know all the characters very much and will be adding the first few books of the Mrs. Murphy series to my reading list.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ivy Get Your Gun (An Ivy Meadows Mystery Book 4) by Cindy Brown

Cindy Brown manages to combine humor and mystery in a delectable little cozy. Ivy, whose real name is Olive, stars in a western- themed play set in Gold Bug Gulch. She is on the trail of a pack of Chihuahuas, who have enticed a pug to join them owned by her friends.  Ivy is also trying to figure out who set up a Cowboy for death. But when the murders keep happening, Ivy follows the path of a killer- who will stop at nothing.

There are many chuckle, aloud moments, as when our heroine deals with cacti, and no toilets, to settle for a bush. The description of that little interlude alone is worth reading the book for. Although, Ivy and her costumes as a P.I. provide some pretty amusing reading as well. Can I say Nun?

The array of characters add to this neat little mystery. We have a bat-loving Conservationist and the sudden addition of a son for her friend, Arnie. There is the cast for the Arnold Opera House
and multiple Investors. Let's just say there is plenty of opportunity for laughs and Ivy to track down the killer.

I have enjoyed Brown's addition to the series. It is not easy to write a mystery with this much humor.The book is a page turner and I finished it in one night.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Nearly Nero: The Adventures of Claudius Lyon, the Man Who Would Be Wolfe by Loren D. Estleman

Loren Estleman does a very clever satire of Nero Wolfe in this book. Claudius Lyon has no license to practice as a Detective. So, he never takes money and his cases are very different than Wolfe's. He has copied Wolfe as much as his life will allow. His sidekick is not Archie Goodwin but Arnie Woodbine. If you mumble, it sounds kind of alike-or does it?

The Chair in his Office is not the famous yellow of the Wolfe Books but orange. His sidekick takes every advantage of him, rounding off checks to the next hundred and his Cook serves pigeon and charges the Boss for chicken. Still they all rub along...Saints and Sinners.

If you are familiar with the Nero Wolfe stories this book has some laugh out loud moments. The comparisons are adroit and very colorful but not always to Claudius Lyon's advantage may I add. He has the girth of Wolfe but very little else. His problems are much smaller but they get solved in a timely way. The comparison of  Lyon's townhouse  to anything Wolfe is very aptly described as working out of a Motel Six.

So if you are a fan of Nero Wolfe you will like Nearly Nero very much. And even if you haven't read the Wolfe Books there are plenty of comparisons to satisfy your curiosity and keep you reading. Each story is different and I enjoyed the characters very much.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rhinehart

I had forgotten how well Mary Roberts Rhinehart puts her mysteries together. The opening page pulls you in and sets the flow. The Era she is writing in is Downton Abbey's time frame of plastic collars and alligator suitcases. The Women are Ladies even if they are scheming and old fashioned words are thrown around like "cur." Still there is a forgotten mystique about the authors who wrote and wove these tales and a charm.


Reading this story, set in another Era, you also get a social history lesson. I can spend hours just listening to the slang, savoring the descriptions of costume. As I am a train aficionado I also loved the lurid and inconvenient train trips during this murder mystery. There was a particularly amusing description of a horse and buggy ride too. But I will let you discover that for yourself.


When you read this... go into it with the enjoyment of a student in a strange land. Small details and the larger plot are both here and a cast of amusing and somewhat villainous characters. Personally I enjoyed the housekeeper very much as well as several of the side characters. But in the end the mystery stands on good writing and from her time frame Rhinehart was one of the best.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rogues' Holiday by Maxwell March (Margery Allingham)

Inspector David Blest has two choices, jump or die. Trapped

aboard a motor boat with a pistol to his head and the life of his unconscious companion on the line, he’d better make his decision quick.

On the trail of the mysterious death of a gentleman in the Senior Buffs Club, young Inspector Blest is led to a fashionable seaside resort on the English coast, where the locals appear all too happy to help his investigation. Things take a turn when Blest meets Judy Wellington, an apparently sickly young woman desperate to escape her past. But who is Judy Wellington? What exactly is she running from? And how has Blest found himself the murderer’s next target?




Margery Allingham, famous for Albert Campion, also wrote serialized stories for Magazines under the name - Maxwell March. While Campion and Black Dudley took off the serials were put together and formed three Novels. And that is the thing about Allingham, no matter what name she wrote under, the plots build nicely and are page turners. They are filled out by Characters that add interest and that I wanted to spend time with.

From the very first page, I was lost under the old spell of the Golden Age of Writers. The Characters are likeable and sometimes hold a certain naivete. The Inspectors are tough and intelligent. This mystery has a rainy night...cozy reading feel to it. I turned pages so fast,that I was through with the book, about the same time I am halfway through others.

The Characters include an intelligent Inspector, a sickly, young Woman who holds the key to a mystery and a dying, Con Man. Margery Allingham is a great, master builder of the eccentric- particularly in people. But what may be the
cream of her writing is that she has preserved a certain way of life in England where the "whodunit" lives forever...like Agatha Christie, Allingham needs to be read and savored for the charm her books have.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Elementary, She Read: A Sherlock Holmes Bookstory Mystery by Vicki Delany


Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her Great Uncle Arthur's Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium. The shop--located at 222 Baker Street--specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche.

When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Homes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.

The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman's suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it's a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good.

This mystery has a good mix of background, food and interesting characters. Next door to the Bookstore, we have Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room so prepare for mouth-watering descriptions. The luminous view of a water- front Restaurant adds to the blend, as does the hint of a past romance. 


We are led step by step through the passionate and at times frenzied world of Collectors. But would one of them actually have been desperate enough to commit murder...not once but twice for a rare object?

Gemma Holmes, an Englishwoman, cannot help but sense things. Like her Counterpart, Sherlock Holmes, she is good at following small clues... that no-one else would notice. When the Beeton's Christmas Annual is stuck on a shelf in her Bookshop...Gemma decides to track down the Owner. The red herrings in this story catapult Readers to a surprise ending and Murderer. But isn't that the way we like to shadow in our mysteries- fellow Sherlock's?


Vicki Delany does a great job at putting Holmes in this story. Her characters are a blend of amusing and eccentric. To give you an idea- the Cat's name is Moriarty. I could not wait to read this book as I am a huge fan of Conan Doyle and this cozy was a welcome addition to my Holmes- related Mysteries.