Sunday, November 4, 2018

Tandem Demise: A Cycle Path Mystery by Duffy Brown

Evie wandering around the dockside at night finds a dead body-one more to add to her black cloud. Evie had been trying to save money on freight, apparently her bike rental shop makes just enough to pay bills yearly. Fiona and she are intrigued and determined to be in on the solution. The local Police come in the form of Nate Sutter. The body appears to be one that Sutter recognizes or else he likes looking at the stars in thought...a lot. There is a sweet addition in the form of Evie having a romance, not that stops her from dogging the investigation. The Wedding planners added a nice touch as did the Police Clerk and her boyfriend...but Evie's Mother was quite simply a hoot.

Duffy Brown writes a quirky, just-fun mystery. Mackinac Island is one that anybody would want to visit with no car traffic and charming little shops. The characters are people you would like to revisit and build a relationship with if you knew them in person. The dialog is hilarious at times with a touch of slapstick events but I found myself laughing more than once.


Do yourself a favor and read this one if you like warm, rollicking mysteries with likeable people, charming places and a few red herrings. Five stars for this one.


Blurb:
Smugglers on the hunt, a police chief on the run, lost loot and a dead wedding planner have the Mackinac Island regulars riding in circles

After solving two murders, bike shop owner Evie Bloomfield thought life on Mackinac Island would settle into boredom until she finds out Nate Sutter, island police chief and once-upon-a-time under cover cop is on the run. Some badass guys from Nate’s Detroit days think he stole money from them in a champagne smuggling operation and now they’re headed to the island to get their loot. Evie is determined to help Nate because he’s a good cop, Nate is determined to keep interfering Evie and island locals out of harms way, and the crooks are determined to get their money.
To add to the island’s problems there’s a dead guy on the dock and the new wedding planner is more interested in playing bedroom bingo than ordering bridal bouquets.

With the help of Fiona, Evie’s BFF and local newspaper editor, Evie is determined to prove Nate innocent, figure out how champagne smuggling, bodies on the dock and a bad wedding planner are tied together and not wind up taking a long walk off a short pier herself.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Tied up with strings by Madeline McEwan

Betty Grape has flown to England and ultimately Devon, to visit her old friend's Daughter, Catia. She has promised her mother to check up on her. She finds the cottage is seven miles from town and the nearest neighbor are two brothers living in a caravan in a field. Katia is babysitting the house for a Professor Braithwaite and his wife. On the first day that Betty arrives someone has left a package with a cat collar in a box. While visiting the outside loo she finds a lot of medicine that belongs to the Professor's wife. Her bedroom though, has been cleaned out and is cold and sterile. This will lead to a two-fold mystery. 


I found Betty a strong, opinionated, character. She obviously would like to convert the British to American ways and food.  I can see that the character could be amusing. Katia has a sad history with a fiance that committed suicide. She is working on a thesis but remains sullen more than friendly. But there is a surprising twist to the Novella. I liked the characters of Peter and Paul and the introduction of a character in Peter that is not mainstream.

The questions throughout the plot threw me out of the story a few times. I felt as though I had no background about Betty's Detective Agency. The premise deep in Devon with a mysterious death looming over it has a lot of promise-but there is an odd, jerky quality to the plot. The heart of the story was the mystery and possible murders but they sizzle out without a definite end. I am rating this three stars.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen

Ellery Queen is once again involved in a mystery and this one is a real puzzler. He has been invited to dine with Kirk, whose Partner collects valuable stamps and jewels.  A plump, middle-aged man shows up, who refuses to state his business, and is put into the Office sitting area. By the time Kirk's Secretary, Mr. Osborne, remembers he is there...it is too late. He is dead. The room has had all the furniture turned the wrong way and all his clothes have been put on backwards. Two African spears have been inserted between the body and behind the head, giving the appearance of horns and of a trussed-up offering.

This Mystery is considered to be one of the best of the series. It was written in 1934 and it has all the elegant sophistication of William Powell in the Thin Man Series. Wealthy people live in Hotels with Secretaries and dress for dinner. The elderly Father is looked after by a private nurse and even though the Depression is on- it does not touch wealthy collectors of stamps. The writing flows like a well- filled cocktail and the who "dunnit" aspect is intriguing and led me to read these pages till four in the morning. The Chinese Orange  Mystery was voted the eighth best locked- room mystery of all time by seventeen well known Detective Writers and Reviewers.

This particular Novel is also cited in reference works referring to the locked- room puzzle. It is intriguing and keeps your mind working furiously to solve it. What more could a Reader ask for than a top of the line puzzler? I know you will like it.The ending alone is a minor miracle. This is another in the golden mystery time frame that I highly recommend.

My thanks to Netgalley and Penzler Publishers

Blurb:

A topsy-turvy crime scene sends a detective on a puzzling quest for the truth.

The offices of foreign literature publisher and renowned stamp collector Donald Kirk are often host to strange activities, but the most recent occurrence­―the murder of an unknown caller, found dead in an empty waiting room―is unlike any that has come before. Nobody, it seems, entered or exited the room, and yet the crime scene clearly has been manipulated, leaving everything in the room turned backwards and upside down. Stuck through the back of the corpse’s shirt are two long spears―and a tangerine is missing from the fruit bowl. Enter amateur sleuth Ellery Queen, who arrives just in time to witness the discovery of the body, only to be immediately drawn into a complex case in which no clue is too minor or too glaring to warrant careful consideration.

Reprinted for the first time in over thirty years, The Chinese Orange Mystery is revered to this day for its challenging conceit and inventive solution. The book is a “fair-play” mystery in which readers have all the clues needed to solve the crime. In 1981, the novel was selected as one of the top ten locked room mysteries of all time by a panel of mystery-world luminaries that included Julian Symons, Edward D. Hoch, Howard Haycraft, and Otto Penzler.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer, famous for her Regencies, also added to her stock some delectable mysteries set in the Golden Era. The writing is crisp with snappy dialogue and eccentric characters. I found myself laughing more than once. Part of the charm of this Era is coming across sophisticated people-very reminiscent of The Thin Man Movies. This book is of course set in pre-war partying of the thirties with dinner parties and lots of drinking.

The Verekers, Tony and Kenneth are brother and sister. Along with Murgatroyd, their maid, they live in artistic quarters and rub along. Arnold, the older brother, is murdered and discovered in the Stocks near a Village, where he has a little hideaway for Women. It could almost be a bad joke but it isn't. Inspector Hannasyde is assigned to the case and focuses on the Verekers and their friends. The mixture of secretiveness and naivete mixed with a second murder adds to the mix. I didn't try to figure out who the Murderer was I just enjoyed the Story for its mixture of fun and buildup.

If you enjoy Mysteries from the 1930's and 1940's add this one to your collection. I am a big fan of that period and I really enjoyed this Story with all its froth and cunning characters. I plan on continuing with the series and I am giving it five stars.

Blurb:

A Moonlit Night, a Sleeping Village, and an Unaccountable Murder...
In the dead of the night, a man in an evening dress is found murdered, locked in the stocks on the village green. Unfortunately for Superintendent Hannasyde, the deceased is Andrew Vereker, a man hated by nearly everyone, especially his odd and unhelpful family members. The Verekers are as eccentric as they are corrupt, and it will take all Hannasyde's skill at detection to determine who's telling the truth, and who is pointing him in the wrong direction. The question is: who in this family is clever enough to get away with murder?
"Miss Heyer's characters act and speak with an ease and conviction that is refreshing as it is rare in the ordinary mystery novel."-Times Literary Supplement

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Traitor's Purse by Margery Allingham

There is something so delightful about a really good Margery Allingham Mystery. She is one of the best at complicated plots and so very English. This story was published in 1941 and has complex characters, murder and enemy agents. It also has more of Amanda and romance if you are familiar with the Allingham Series.

Albert Campion wakes up in a Hospital with total amnesia. The thing that is driving him is his mission. It is terribly important and very secret. During this time he has to "act normal" even among his dearest which includes Amanda and Lugg, his Servant.  The problem is he can't remember anything, including the mission. He is afraid that he has killed a policeman and that the force is after him. Albert escapes from the hospital and ends up riding with Amanda and a guest- who will soon be murdered. Amanda and he are staying at a Place called the Institute he found out.  She has been following him...but how does it all tie in? Why the murder?

The texture of the first half of the book, at least, has Albert Campion sick and working in the dark. But it is a finely-drawn wording that has him discovering his friends and enemies in a new light. Allingham, is a master at leading you through a mosaic of word patterns holding it tense and fine in parts. She also has the ability to make you feel that you are at a golden time of the mystery and privy to the well-educated class of Great Britain. I always feel I have read a Master when I finish. If you enjoy Sayers and Christie then you should enjoy Allingham and in the words of Amanda,"Be gone across the raging tide"


Blurb:
Celebrated amateur detective Albert Campion awakes in hospital, accused of attacking a police officer and suffering from acute amnesia. All he can remember is that he was on a mission of vital importance to His Majesty’s government before his accident. On the run from the police and unable to recognize even his faithful servant or his beloved fiancée, Campion struggles desperately to put the pieces together—while World War II rages and the very fate of England is at stake.

Published in 1941, Traitor’s Purse is “a wartime masterpiece” (The Guardian).

“Uncommonly exciting stuff, replete with Allingham’s skill in story-building and the plausible characters that make her as much a fine novelist as a mystery writer.” —The New Republic

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tail of the Dragon by Connie Di Marco

Julia Bonatti, an Astrologer, goes back to work for a week with her old Boss, David. He is a lawyer. She reports to work for Secretarial duty and falls back into her old routine. Until... the whole floor hears a scream. Of course no-one expected to find the other Co-Partner stabbed. For several weeks Julia had thought of calling David because he had disturbing signs in his chart. This is about the time he and two more people got death threats. This is Book three in the Zodiac Mystery Series for Connie Di Marco. I had no problem following along and I don't think any other Reader will...

It's an unusual premise to have a "whodunit" built around Astrology. But I like it. There are many planets and adverse aspects in a Chart with a Client. Julia had been making a living at it, although, not a great one. There is a romantic interest in this mystery which is Julia's first, after the death of her fiancee ,who was murdered. The Killer has never been caught. That has a mystery attached to it but a photograph has surfaced. Will that help identify the car or the person driving?

The characters are integrated with a diverse crew which always adds to a Book. How else are we to start guessing who did it? This was a good read for a rainy night and I enjoyed it.

Blurb:

A rare astrological event could help San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti avoid a deadly destiny
Julia Bonatti loves the freedom of working for herself as a professional astrologer. But after receiving several unexpected bills, she considers a temp job offer from her old boss a stroke of luck too good to pass up.

On her first day, the posh law office becomes a crime scene when one of the partners is found dead. Julia discovers that a series of death threats have been sent to several employees of the firm, and she uses her astrological expertise to discover possible motives. But before she can convince the authorities of what she knows, the killer strikes again. Will Julia unmask the culprit before he, or she, takes another life?

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Prisoner in the Castle: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal

Maggie Hope has been assigned to the Isle of Scarra, off the West coast of Scotland, with a group of other SOE Agents. They all are there because they know too much or have committed a transgression in training- like Camilla. The atmosphere is brooding at Killoch Castle, a Victorian hunting Lodge filled with hideous decor.

Years before the Owner of this Castle- Marcus Killoch, had hunted men like animals and performed unspeakable acts. He in turn was murdered, along with his hunting friends. Some say the ghosts were still there, along with the servants.

The Agents are all trained and bored, sitting out the war with their cigarettes and alcohol. Maggie explained it like this-broken, powerless, and trapped. D
eath returns to the Island, filling the scene with a déjà vu. The murder of the Officer, who is in charge of the facility, has set the zoo loose. Hysteria, rears its ugly head in Anna, one of the Agents, who believes the ghost of the former Owner-  has come back. Something is terribly wrong on Forbidden Island and suspicion builds with each page.

This is a tense story, loaded with atmosphere and murder. The characters are each filled with boredom, guilty secrets, tension and an occasional liaison. The conversation is witty, flippant and at times terrified among them, but, that makes for interesting reading. Who is the psychopath among them is the only unanswered question? I found the deaths reminiscent at times of Agatha Christie's, And Then There Were None.

An Island set in the west coast of Scotland, gray and remote, certainly added to the thriller aspect of this Mystery. I could smell the fear coming from the characters before the end of the book. Yet there is one more twist in store for the readers.This historical thriller rates Five Stars...

Blurb:
A series of baffling murders among a group of imprisoned agents threatens the outcome of World War II in this chilling mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

World War II is raging, and former spy Maggie Hope knows too much.

She knows what the British government is willing to do to keep its secrets.

She knows the real location of the planned invasion of France.

She knows who’s lying. She knows who the double-crossers are. She knows exactly who is sending agents to their deaths.

These are the reasons Maggie is isolated on a remote Scottish island, in a prison known as Killoch Castle, out of contact with friends and family.

Then one of her fellow inmates drops dead in the middle of his after-dinner drink—and he’s only the first. As victims fall one by one, Maggie will have to call upon all her wits and skills to escape—not just certain death . . . but certain murder.

For what’s the most important thing Maggie Hope knows?

She must survive.