Killer Research by Jenn McKinlay (Library Lover’s Mysteries #12) – 5
The election for mayor is six months away, but the politics is already heating up. Mayor Hensen is upset that Ms. Cole is running against him, and he’s making life difficult for Lindsey Norris and the rest of the library staff. Then, Ms. Cole finds a dead body in her trunk. When her connection to the victim comes to light, the mayor uses everything he can to drive Ms. Cole out of the library and out of the race. Can Lindsey figure out what is happening before Ms. Cole’s reputation is ruined?
I love it when background characters get time to shine, and I’ve enjoyed watching Ms. Cole go from a one note character to a fully developed character over the last few books. That continues here. The rest of the cast is just as fantastic, and I loved seeing them again. The plot is strong with plenty to keep me engaged as I read. The climax was a bit theatrical, but it was also fun, so I’m willing to let it go. Speaking of fun, I laughed multiple times over the course of the book. We’ve got the usual book discussion, craft, and recipe extras at the end. Fans will enjoy this book, and if you are new to the series, be sure to check it out.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Debonair in Death by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran (Murder, She Wrote #54) – 4
Everyone in town, especially the women, seem captivated by Nelson Penzell, the new co-owner of the art gallery on the water front of Cabot Cove. Jessica Fletcher feels like something is off about him, however. Still, she didn’t expect him to be murdered. Sheriff Metzger is sure that Coreen, the nail tech from the hair salon, is a good suspect since she was seen screaming outside the gallery where Nelson was found covered in his blood. But Jessica thinks something else is going on. Can she prove it?
As much as I enjoyed the Murder, She Wrote books that came out over the last few years, I felt like something was off with the characters we loved from Cabot Cove. This book fixes so much of that. The characters and their relationships to each other feel like a natural extension of the series. The suspects are just as strong. Unfortunately, I did feel the pacing could have been better in the first half, but we get plenty of fun twists in the second half. Any fan of the TV series will be happy they picked up this book for a visit with old friends.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Honeymoon with Murder by Carolyn Hart (Death on Demand #4) – 4
Annie and Max’s wedding turned out beautifully, despite Max’s mother’s attempts to hijack the ceremony. Their plans to leave the next morning on their honeymoon are sidetracked, however, when they get a panicked midnight call from Ingrid, Annie’s employee, friend, and matron of honor. Ingrid is cut off before they can get much out of her, so they race over to Ingrid’s cottage, where they find a dead body in the middle of her living room but no sign of the woman herself. The victim is Jesse Penrick, one of the residents of the cottages that Ingrid manages. With the police looking to Ingrid to arrest her for murder, Annie starts her own investigation to find and clear her friend. Can she do it?
I was very impressed with Max in this book. While he did grumble to himself a bit about the way these days played out, he showed his love for Annie by digging in and helping out. We get the usual assortment of colorful supporting players and suspects strong enough to keep us guessing. The wedding doesn’t really slow down the beginning of the book, and the mystery is strong. It kept me guessing until Annie put everything together at the end. I know the series is known for its mystery author name dropping, but it did get excessive at times. Also excessive was the foul language. Still, I did enjoy this book overall and look forward to Annie and Max’s next case.
Doggone Deadly by Deborah Blake (Catskills Pet Rescue #2) – 5
Kari Stuart has taken a booth at a regional dog show to promote her newly renovated pet rescue shelter. Her best friend, Suz Holden is grooming dogs for the event and helping to run it. The first night, Kari is helping Suz make sure everything is shut down when they find the dead body of a local dog breeder. The murder weapon appears to be a pair of Suz’s distinctive grooming scissors, so she leaps to the top of the suspect list. Naturally, Kari adds playing detective to her weekend plans. Can she figure out what is going on?
I enjoyed the first book in this series, and I’m thrilled to say that the second is just as much fun. The set up before Kari and Suz find the body is good, and things only pick up from there. The background of the rules around dog shows is presented in an entertaining way, so it never feels like a data dump. It’s wonderful to see the returning characters again, and the suspects are just as strong. Plus, there’s plenty of cuteness from the four-legged animals. You are in for a treat when you pick up this book.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
It All Began with a Scream by Padraic Maroney – 3
This book covers the history and production of all four movies released to date in the franchise. With new interviews and research into previously released articles, Padraic dives into what went into the creation of each movie in the franchise. He starts with the origins behind Kevin Williamson writing the first script and covers casting, production, releases, and everything in between for all of the films.
Despite my normal cozy mystery reads, I am obsessed with the Scream franchise, so as soon as I learned about this book, I knew I had to get it. I appreciated the interviews and research that went into this book. There were fewer bits of trivia I didn’t know about the original movie, but the sections on Screams 3 and 4 made me understand some of my issues with those films better. I did feel that the writing lacked a bit of passion that kept me out, and many of the quotes could have been cleaned up for clarity to make the reading better. I would have really appreciated it if the author had included a person’s full name and their position in the crew more than the first time he mentioned them. There are a handful of typos throughout the book, and that wouldn’t bother me, except that each time my alma mater was mentioned by name, it was listed as Santa Rosa high school instead of Santa Rosa High School. Yes, it’s silly, but it bugged me. I also take exception to the producer interviewed about that controversy saying not getting to film at the school was censorship. While there is much to be said on the subject (and both sides behaved poorly during the controversy), it was never censorship. Overall, the writing issues keep me from giving the book a full recommendation, but I am glad I read it.
Tropical Depression by C. Michele Dorsey (Sabrina Salter Mysteries #3) – 5
Sabrina Salter has returned to St. John from a disastrous vacation to New England to find out that one of the seasonal employees she and her business partner, Henry, have hired has been murdered. The police are looking at Henry as the killer since the weapon had his initials on it. As the fallout from Sabrina’s vacation shows up on the island, Sabrina tries to find a killer. With Hurricane Irma bearing down on the island, can she do it?
Yes, there is a lot going on in this book, but it all fits together perfectly. Honestly, I can’t imagine this book without any of the elements. We get a logical conclusion to the mystery, and the other storylines allow the characters to grow. I did find some of Sabrina’s behavior a little irritating, but it also allowed for some good development. There were more typos than there should be in the book. Since this is more a traditional mystery, there is a smattering of foul language. Both are worth noting only in passing. The book makes good use of changing the point of view character to fully develop the characters and tell the story. Overall, I loved getting to spend time with Sabrina again. I’m hoping we get to see how she is fairing after the events of this book soon.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
Murder at Morrington Hall by Clara McKenna (Stella and Lyndy Mysteries #1) – 4
American Stella Kendrick is thrilled to join her father on a trip to England in 1905 until she learns that he has arranged for her marriage to Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst. Before she can fully process this news, Stella and Lyndy find the body of the vicar who was supposed to marry them. What does this mean for their future? Can they figure out what is going on?
I might have passed by this series had I not won the first three in a contest earlier this year. I’m glad I did. The romance is a stronger part of the story than I would normally like, but I’m torn on that here since I really found it easy to root for Stella and Lyndy. The story is told from multiple points of view, and early on, it is the scenes from the local inspector’s point of view that really advanced the mystery. Ironically, I found myself wanting to get back to Stella and Lyndy when we got those scenes. There is a solid mystery here, and I appreciate how the clues were scattered throughout the story. While I loved Stella and Lyndy and some of the others, some of the characters fell into the love to hate category, which was actually fun. I definitely want to find out what is next for the lead characters, so I’ll be picking up the next book soon.
Fogged Off by Wendall Thomas (Cyd Redondo #3) – 5
When Shep Helnikov, a regular client of Redondo Travel, dies while in London, Cyd Redondo quickly realizes that her family’s travel agency is on the hook for the expenses to get him home. A chance to do it for the college where he worked in exchange for the fees is too good to pass up, so Cyd heads over there with her uncle Leon in tow. As soon as they arrive, Leon makes it clear he has his own agenda. Some of Shep’s colleagues in London start hounding Cyd for his Jack the Ripper research. Then comes the news that Shep might have been murdered. Can Cyd figure out what is going on?
This book has so many plot threads that it is truly amazing how much is crammed into the book. Yet author Wendall Thomas does an excellent job of balancing it all, so that we are always able to follow what is happening. Even more impressing, everything comes together for a logical climax. Obviously, the pace was fast. Some of the characters are realistic, but others are a bit broad, which is in keeping with the caper ton of the book. There are plenty of smiles and laughs. There’s also a smattering of foul language that I could have done without, but that is a minor point. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, you are in for some fun and wild rides. Fans will be thrilled with Cyd’s latest outing.
Pearls Gone Wild by Diane Vallere (Samantha Kidd #6) – 4
It’s the week before Christmas, and Samantha Kidd is looking forward to a relaxing week off from work and the return of her boyfriend from Italy. That’s before her friend, Cat, calls upset. Cat is eight months pregnant, but her husband just announced he needs some space. Things get even worse when Cat and Samantha interrupt a burglary at Cat’s boutique only to discover her husband’s body behind the counter. Can Samantha figure out what is going on?
If you are familiar with the series, you’ll know what to expect here. We get another plot with plenty of surprises to keep us engaged the entire time. I did feel the resolution left a few things out, but it was a minor issue overall. The characters, both new and returning, are fantastic. There is some humor in the book, but it mixes well with the more serious elements, and we get some nice growth in Samantha. This book is a little edgy for a cozy, but it’s nothing too bad. Christmas is more in the background than in some cozies set during the season. Both of these are worth nothing only in passing. If you are as behind on this series as I am, you are in for a treat when you pick up this book.
Gingerdead Man by Maya Corrigan (Five-Ingredient Mysteries #7) – 5
Bayport, Maryland, is kicking off the holiday season with a Victorian themed Christmas event. While Val’s granddad is upset about being demoted from Santa to Scrooge this year, Val is looking forward to helping out at the teas throughout the afternoon. The final tea of the day is for the event’s volunteers. As it is getting started, someone in a weird costume comes and starts passing out gingerbread cookies. When this year’s Santa eats his, he drops over. Can Val figure out what is going on?
I really do appreciate the relationship between Val and her granddad in these books. While Granddad is a senior citizen, he isn’t a stereotype. He acts appropriately for his age and yet still contributes to Val’s investigation. The other characters are strong enough to keep us engaged in the story and keep the suspects straight. The story seemed to wander a bit at the beginning, but I was ultimately impressed with how everything came together. Naturally, we get more five-ingredient recipes at the end of the book, including several seasonal delights. If you are looking for a cozy to curl up with this Christmas, this is one you’ll enjoy.
Bear a Wee Grudge by Meg Macy (Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mysteries #5) – 4
Silver Hollow, Michigan, is hosting a Highland Fling weekend, and the Silver Bear Shop is getting in the spirit with teddy bears wearing kilts that Sasha Silverman and the rest of her family plan to sell at the event. Unfortunately, before the event kicks off, their rival, Teddy Hartman, is found dead near the festival’s grounds, and Sasha’s dad is the prime suspect. Can Sasha clear his name and still be ready for the festival?
As a fan of the series, I’m surprised that Teddy lasted as long as he did, he’s been that obnoxious in earlier books. It was nice to see this series thread come to the forefront. While the plot starts well, it does stall a bit in the second half before coming to a logical climax. I still have a hard time keeping all the supporting players and their relationships straight, but they are supporting players. Sasha and her immediate family and friends are strong, and the suspects keep us guessing. This mix of Scottish and teddy bears is one that fans will enjoy.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.