Monday, October 2, 2017

September 2017's Monthly Reading Summary

Here we are the second day of October.  I think that means I need to get the monthly reading summary for September up.

As always, the links take you to my full review.  Unfortunately, I did not get the index updated this month.  Next month, I'll get everything up to date.

All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

Beyond a Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman (Carol Childs #2) – 5
Reporter Carol Childs is on the scene when the police pull up the body of a young woman from a Los Angeles canyon.  The victim is Monica Channing, who went missing two weeks ago.  While the rest of the media begin to focus on the murder, Carol sees a pattern with other missing young women.  What might she have stumbled on?

This book is a fast paced read from the very beginning.  It’s definitely not the light reads I often go for, but the story never gets as dark as it could either.  Watching Carol try to prove what she thinks is going on is fun, and the climax was very satisfying.  Carol leads a strong cast of characters, and I’m looking forward to her next adventure.

A Christmas Peril by J. A. Hennrikus (Theater Cop Mysteries #1)
Retired cop turned theater manager Edwina “Sully” Sullivan should be focusing on her theater’s production of A Christmas Carol.  After all, the name star they’ve brought in can’t remember his lines, and actors are leaving in frustration.  But what has captured her attention is the murder of Peter Whitehall.  He’s not only the wealthiest man in town, but also a distant relative and the father of her friend Eric.  Thanks to his security system, the police know someone in the family is the killer.  Despite her intentions, Sully gets drawn into the puzzle.  Can she figure out what happened?

This is a wonderful start to a new series.  With my love of A Christmas Carol and live theater, I was looking forward to it, and it didn’t disappoint at all.  The mystery is a modern-day twist on the isolated house mystery, and it is strong, with some surprises before we reach the logical end.  Sully is already a wonderfully developed main character.  There are some strong supporting characters here, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest grow as the series progresses.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James (Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries #1) – 4
Charity Penn has been raised to trust no one, so she is immediately suspicious when she receives a letter stating she won a contest for cooking lessons in a chocolate shop in South Carolina – a contest she didn’t enter.  When her friend goes down to investigate, he calls her teasing good news and then winds up dead in a vat of chocolate.  Determined to figure out what happened to her friend, Penn goes to investigate.  But can she trust anyone?  What is going on?

This book started out slowly, at least mystery wise, since it had the hard job of setting up the series as well as solving the mystery.  However, the second half included some good twists and turns as well as payoff for the set up.  Penn is an interesting main character since she is pricklier than we normally see in a cozy mystery, but the reasons for her behavior as fully explained and understandable.  I’m looking forward to seeing some growth from her as the series progresses, and we already see some of that here.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Deadly Brew by Karen McInerney (Dewberry Farm Mystery #3) – 4
Lucy is trying to deal with a dry well in the middle of October heat.  Meanwhile, in town, rumors are flying that there is a mythological creature attacking animals in the area and the house Lucy just moved to her property is haunted.  She is looking forward to a night out at the Witches’ Ball, but that doesn’t happen either when a man dies.  When it is ruled a homicide, Lucy knows that her friends are going to be the prime suspects.  Can she find out the truth?

Obviously, there is a lot going on with the strong mystery and the multiple sub-plots, and that kept the pages turning.  One plot point is dropped, but the rest are wrapped up successfully in a great climax.  We get some updates on minor characters as well as plenty of time with Lucy and the other leads.  The copy I read needed another pass for continuity issues, but they annoyed rather than truly interfer with the mystery.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

“H” is for Homicide by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #8) – 3
Over the last couple of months, Kinsey has become friends with Parnell, an investigator at California Fidelity.  So, she is shocked when Parnell is shot in the parking lot.  With no leads, the case begins to fade, and even Kinsey is given a new case to investigate Bibianna for potential insurance fraud.  Her plan is to get close to Bibianna and confirm the fraud, but Bibianna has secrets that complicate Kinsey’s plans.  What will happen next?

This book starts well with an interesting first half, but then the second half really bogs down.  The climax is almost anti-climactic in fact, and a huge change to Kinsey’s life is dashed off in a sentence.  Furthermore, insurance fraud is the focus more than the homicide, which is disappointing for the “H” entry in the series.  It’s not a bad book, but it’s definitely the weakest in the series to date.

Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao (Change of Fortunate Mysteries #2) – 5
Between plans to open the new pier in Old Orchard, Maine, and suffragist Sophronia Foster Eldridge being in town, things are busy for Ruby Proulx.  The Belden, the hotel her aunt owns, is completely booked.  Then a guest is murdered.  With the police focused on the pier opening, Sophronia finds herself trying to track down the killer.  Can she do it?

Once again, I found myself caught up in turn of last century Maine.  It’s a great look at life back then.  The mystery took a little while to really take off, but the story did a good job of using that time to introduce us to the suspects.  Once the murder happened, I was glued to the page.  Ruby is a fascinating main character, and I also enjoy the scenes we get from police detective Yancey’s point of view.  The supernatural element is prevalent but still mild.  I’m not usually a fan, but here it works well.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Murder on Gramercy Park by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries #3) – 5
Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy arrives at the scene of Dr. Edmund Blackwell’s death thinking it is a suicide.  However, as soon as he views it, he realizes it was murder.  By that point, he’s already involved midwife Sarah Brandt as she is attending the dead man’s wife, who has gone into labor from the shock.  Dr. Blackwell was a magnetic healer, bring relief to people suffering from pain.  Who would want to kill a man like that?

And just like that, we are once again traveling back in time to 1890’s New York City.  The book really does a great job of bringing the time and place to life.  Frank and Sarah are fantastic main characters who share the sleuthing and page time as our third person point of view characters.  The mystery is sharp with plenty of secrets to be uncovered.  I thought I had it figured out early, but I was missing a big piece of the puzzle.

Lost Beneath Manhattan by Sigmund Brouwer (Accidental Detectives #11) – 5
Ricky Kidd’s class trip to New York City turns into a disaster when he has to take his six-year-old brother with him.  Joel is always disappearing, even at home, so Ricky is worried that Joel will do that on the trip.  When an encounter with a security guard at a museum frightens him, Joel takes off, and Ricky begins to search for him.  Where will the search lead him?

Author Sigmund Brower does a good job of making the premise believable.  Of course, it doesn’t take much in a middle grade series for readers to root for the main characters to solve the crime.  The book takes a little while to take off, but once it does, it never lets go until we reach the climax.  The characters are a lot of fun; they get a lot of personality for a short book.  Ricky wondering how God can allow suffering adds some depth to an already solid story.

Death of a Bachelorette by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen #15) – 5
Jaine is thrilled when she lands an assignment writing suggested dialogue for a new reality dating show that takes her to an island near Tahiti.  However, when she arrives she finds the conditions are horrible and the star of the show is a man of few words, even if she tries to feed these words to him.  When one of the bachelorettes hoping to win this man’s heart dies, Jaine has to find the killer to be allowed to leave the island.  Can she do it?

Those familiar with this series need no further explanation or encouragement to read this book.  It’s more of the same.  If that doesn’t mean anything to you, it means you get plenty of laughs from several sub-plots.  The characters work for this series but they are a bit broad, think a sitcom character.  Yet you still get a strong mystery with plenty of suspects, secrets, and surprises.  If you enjoy light mysteries, you need to give this one a try.

Angels Flight by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #6) – 5
Harry Bosch and his partners are called to handle a special assignment – the murder of a lawyer in downtown Los Angeles.  This lawyer had built a career out of suing the LAPD, and he had his biggest case set to start in two days.  Bosch and his team must deal with the politics of the LAPD and a town set to riot depending on the results of the investigation while looking for the truth.  Can they balance it all?

This is another engrossing mystery from Michael Connelly.  When I was a step or two ahead of Bosch, he caught up to me in just a few pages.  There were still plenty of twists that surprised me, and I found the book completely engrossing.  The characters are strong with plenty of shades of gray to them as well.

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