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.

“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.

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.


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

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Pajama Frame by Diane Vallere

Madison Night, who bears a close resemblance to Doris Day, and loves all things mid-century, is left Sweet Dreams Pajama Factory, which produced sixties pajama and peignoir sets. I  drooled over the buttery yellow and mint green designs. That is one of my favorite Era for clothes. One of the fun parts of this book is that you are descriptively indulged with wonderful house designers and cute clothes. Madison runs her own shop, Mad for Mod, that specializes in getting these wonderful items first. To that end she cultivates Estate Planners and those in the know. But Alice Sweet leaving her a deserted building and a six decades old mystery has the historical society, and a group of protesters after Madison.

The Factory, where a woman died sixty years ago -in suspicious circumstances, yields another dead body. That's only the beginning. Not too many people can deal with murder and a shih tzu,who has gotten skunked all in one day. But Madison had help in the form of a hunky Captain she had met on other cases. Keys, mysterious letters, storage units and Mrs. Sweet's family are hard to deal with but Madison is as worried about her boyfriend in California as she is being set up. What about the gun?

I liked the wise cracking and the flow in this newest mystery of Diane Vallere. There is a continuation of build-up between the characters and I loved the retro angle. I have a soft spot for vintage and movies from that Era, so, I really enjoyed visiting with these characters. A good little mystery and now I need to go back to the first one and read Book One. Like me- I am sure you will enjoy this series.

My thanks to Netgalley and Henery Press


Interior decorator Madison Night is no stranger to the occasional odd inheritance. But when an octogenarian friend dies and leaves her a pajama factory, the bounty is bittersweet. Once a thriving business, Sweet Dreams closed decades ago after a tragic accident took the life of a young model. Or was that simply a cover up?

Between her friend's death and her own stagnant life, Madison is tempted to hide under a blanket of willful ignorance. But when family members and special interest groups lobby to expose the secrets of the factory, Madison gets caught in a tangle of secrets and lies and discovers that sometimes, the bed you make is not your own.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Phantom of Oz (An Ivy Meadows Mystery Book 5) by Cindy Brown

Cindy Brown writes a fun, clever little mystery. Her zingy Heroine works for her P.I. Uncle but Olive/Ivy is also a theater actress who works in plays and auditions. The fun begins when Candy Treat calls Ivy and asks her to meet her backstage at the famous old Deco Playhouse,The Grand Phoenician. Candy is working in The Wizard:A Space OZpera. Ivy gets hired for an understudy, as a series of incidents happen, that land one cast member in the hospital. The Lady in White, who is the resident ghost, is blamed for most of the accidents that happen. But a ghost doesn't loosen screws on a chandelier do they?

The Theater is also rife with competition and ugly scenes from Babette, the Star of The It Girl. She is hunting for her new hopeful Actress, who turns out to be Candy. Olive is worried about her friend, who has been hiding secrets, and lying to her. The play is loaded with children munchkins both playing a part and trying to meet people to further their Careers. In amidst the constant activity are barbed remarks from Babette. The mix of people with jealousies, ambition and protective stage mothers furthers the plot. Add in creepy underground sets and a well- the Lady in White drowned herself in, and you have a fantastic blend of characters and plot.

I laughed out loud several times reading this book. It is hard to pull off wit and mystery but Cindy Brown does both very well. Ivy is likeable and the cast of characters in the play are unique. I admit to a penchant for Theater Mysteries. This one has everything. A very enjoyable read and I look forward to the next one. I gave it five stars.


Creepy munchkins. A mysterious phantom. And a real Wicked Witch.

Are you ready for it? Actress and part-time PI Ivy Meadows has been hired to uncover the cause of the creepy accidents that plague the roadshow The Wizard: A Space OZpera and find out who dropped a chandelier on the Wicked Witch of the East.

Was it the ghost who haunts the Grand Phoenician Theatre? A “wicked witch” in the cast? Or is it someone—or something—more sinister?

It’s Ivy’s most personal case so far.

Her best friend Candy, who’s touring with the show, is caught in a downward spiral of self-destruction, and is in more danger than she knows.

To save her friend and the show, Ivy must answer even tougher questions: Do spirits really exist? What is real beauty? What does friendship mean?

Ivy needs to learn the answers, and fast—before Candy reaches the point of no return.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Murder on the Rocks (A Red Carpet Catering Mystery #5) by Shawn Reilly Simmons

Three Characters gather for a meeting and breakfast and end up in the middle of a robbery. They are set to work on a Movie. Arlena will star, another will offer set advice and Penelope runs the catering. Nadia, who offers tennis advice,is hurt by an attack during the holdup but the real nasty stuff for the friends will start once they relocate to Vermont.

Penelope's boyfriend is apparently a long- time character and works for the Police Department.  Joey, with a new Partner, is tracking down the thugs while Penny and he stay in contact as much as they can. The Director insists the Catering Unit work with Conservation so they are not allowed to use plastic anything. They are out in the Country so far Penelope cannot even get service for her phone. She is also assigned to morning yoga. Her Catering Assistant starts a romance with the Brother who directs the Movie. Add a family argument over a farm and all kinds of sightings of a mystery man and you have a real "who dunnit!"

I had not read any of these books before so I have to admit I was lost part of the time. I definitely feel you want to read these in order. They have a lot of action and are easily read in one night. Joey and Penny have an ongoing romance that readers will build on... a fun read.


Shawn Reilly Simmons has cooked up something rocky this time, and it’s going to be a delicious read.

After surviving a brazen attack at one of her favorite local cafes, Penelope Sutherland is ready to escape the big city and head to her next film set. She and her Red Carpet Catering crew set up their kitchen on location in the tranquil mountains of Vermont.

But peace and quiet aren’t on the menu.

It starts to get hot when a series of accidents befall the celebrity tennis pro consulting on the film. Then mix in an uptight director, an isolated location, and a quirky bunch of locals with secrets of their own and that’s a recipe for disaster.

Penelope soon suspects a connection between the cafe attack and the incidents on set, and you know what comes next. She must uncover the truth before her goose gets cooked.

This page-turner is serving up the coziest of entertainment, and you do not want to miss it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Curses, Boiled Again! by Shari Randall

 I looked at this Title and knew I had to read it. Come on, who wouldn't smile? The Lobster on the Front just added more humor as did the almost 1950's illustration look to the Cover. This is a well- plotted book with a few twists easily finished in one night.

Aunt Gully, Owner of the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack, entered a contest with her famous lobster roll. The Contest is televised and has footage. Along with three other entrants she watches in horror as the Judges show all the symptoms of poison. Each of the four Restaurant Finalists are under suspicion until the Police can find the guilty party. How much competition and jealousy among the Finalists I will leave you to read and enjoy. Because the plot builds a first- class, cozy mystery. The actual Detective work will be done by Allie, one of Gully's nieces, along with her Sister Lorelei. Oops, she prefers to be called Lorel. But I don't want to forget Allie's best friend, Verity, who runs a vintage clothing store with an eye for couture and drives a 1962 DeSoto with fins.

Mystery fans will like the twists in the plot and the warmth of the background. I mean how do you beat the Ocean for scenery? The driving question throughout the plot... would they overcome the rumors of food poisoning? Would they find the Lobster Libber? Yes, this has one and a lot of other surprises going on. Allie will have to find the key to it all and Readers will delightedly follow right along beside her.

Welcome to the seaside hamlet of Mystic Bay, where the fish is always fresh, the folks are ever-friendly, and murder is on a roll. . .
Allie Larkin was living her dream as a ballet dancer when a bad fall put her out of business. Now she’s back home in Mystic Bay to heal a broken ankle while also helping her dear Aunt Gully get her Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack off the ground. Nothing would help Gully more than winning the local food festival’s Best Lobster Roll contest. The competition is sure to be killer—especially after one of the contest judges dies after eating a roll from one of Gully’s biggest rivals.

Soon, all eyes fall on Gully as the prime suspect. Allie may only have one good leg to stand on, but she’s not going to let her aunt go down for a crime she never could have cooked up. Can Allie, along with her devoted crew of friends, family, and customers, find a way to trap the killer and claw herself out of this hard-boiled murder case?

Shari Randall:

A native New Englander, Shari loves hanging out with the gang at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack in fictional Mystic Bay, Connecticut, where the lobster rolls are delicious, the company’s good, and murder’s always on the menu.

When she’s not committing murder (on the page, of course), Shari enjoys walking the beach near her house, traveling, reading, visiting her globe-trotting children, and dancing. She’s currently trying to talk her husband into a tango class.