Lineage Most Lethal
by S.C. Perkins
Having read a very positive review of the debut novel in S.C. Perkins’ Ancestry Detective Mystery Series, I decided, when the opportunity arose, to give Lineage Most Lethal, the second book in the series, a try. I am fairly neutral on the interest continuum when it comes to genealogies, but this cozy mystery afforded a different perspective for me on family trees. I also learned a little about the intricacies of researching lineages.
Lucy Lancaster is an outgoing young woman who shares office space with two friends in downtown Austin, Texas. Currently she is spending a week at the high-end Sutton hotel working for Pippa Sutton to investigate her family’s history and compile the information into a video to be presented at a family gathering. As the plot progresses, we learn about Lucy’s own beloved grandfather’s involvement in World War II and a little about her former boyfriend, Ben, an FBI agent who has ghosted her.
Lucy’s research turns dark when a stranger dies before her eyes, Pippa’s mother Roselyn begins acting strangely, and Chef Rocky is found dead. Lucy’s grandfather shares secrets from the past, and suddenly it seems many in the present are in a dangerous state. As Lucy tries to juggle all the balls, she is pushing against a murderer’s timetable as well as her professional and personal commitments.
Although I suspected the identity of the murderer, I did not grasp the intricate connections of the victims, potential victims, a nutcase who appeared sane, and their descendants. The tale includes a few red herrings dealing with cipher codes and given names as well. The solution is definitely complicated. Well played, S. C. Perkins!
I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #2 in the Ancestry Detective Mystery Series, but worked well for me as a standalone.
Publication: July 21, 2020—St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur
“The point is, do yourself a favor and halve your problem by sharing it with someone.”
I would do my part to protect these people, even if I would never meet them and got branded by the APD as a genealogist who was a taco short of a combination plate.
Ben took my hand and led me out the French doors into the winter wonderland, the white fairy lights making the falling snow glitter like diamonds.
by Wendy Tyson
I am overwhelmed at the plot complexity in Wendy Tyson’s Sowing Malice. When a rich man dies in Winsome, Pennsylvania, a storm of activities is released including a murder, distraught widows and lovers, planted evidence, semi-abandoned houses, and inheritance issues. More importantly, a murder victim is transferred to Megan’s property where it can’t be missed and attention is diverted to Megan Sawyer. Megan, the widow of a soldier she loved deeply, lives in Winsome with Bibi, her grandmother. She owns and manages an organic farm that supplies her café and other restaurants with fresh organic produce. In this book in the series, she is also finishing renovations on a house on adjoining land she purchased. Her goal is to convert it and a barn into an inn, education facility, and event center. Her Scottish boyfriend, the local veterinarian, continues to play a role as he supports her and patiently waits for her to be ready for a deeper commitment.
All of this story background is the vehicle for delivering a plot with more legitimate suspects than you would think possible. Megan has to work hard to discern the motivations of the various characters and determine who is lying and why. Family relationships keep the focus on tangled connections; extra effort is needed to sort out what occurred when and who benefits from it.
It will come as no surprise to Wendy Tyson fans that she achieves success with this cozy mystery as she racks up yet another page turner. As the book concludes, there are also several surprises in the personal arena that will leave the reader smiling with satisfaction.
I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #6 in the Greenhouse Mystery Series, but would be great as a standalone.
Publication: July 14, 2020—Henery Press
“My grandfather liked to play games with people. If you understand that about him, then everything makes sense.”
“You’re impossible, you know.” “I think these days I’d be called strong and independent.” Megan laughed. As usual, her grandmother was right.
“I don’t follow.” “Because you’re probably sane, and the actions of cruel people don’t make sense.”
Memorial Day in the United States is observed on the last Monday in May and honors those in the U.S. military who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our protection and freedom. In my mind it also honors the families who have lost their loved ones to that cause. Their lives will never be the same.
As I walked around our home in the mountains this weekend, I saw inspiring red, white, and blues in nature and am sharing them in honor of those heroes. Some of the reds have an orangish glow on the camera and the blues tend more toward purple, but we’ll use our imaginations and call it creative license.
Green Leaf in Drought
by Isobel Kuhn
Arthur and Wilda Mathews and their baby spent a frustrating two years trying to discern and follow God’s will as missionaries for the China Inland Mission, a group spread widely over mainland China. Under the Communist regime, they were not allowed to witness to people about Jesus or to help people in need. They were eventually confined to their meager and uncomfortable quarters and socially isolated. Their living situation was desperate as the authorities tried to starve them and forced them to live in unhealthy conditions. Why had God brought them to this place? Why wouldn’t the authorities allow them to leave? Having arrived with enthusiasm, they eventually suffered through round after round of seeking God’s will in the midst of despair. Their little girl was a bright note as she absorbed and repeated the songs and Scriptures that sustained her parents during the difficult times.
If you are inspired by missionary stories or want to read about God working in the hearts of His children when times are hard, then you would probably find Green Leaf in Drought to your liking. The content is very interesting. Stylistically speaking, this book is not in the excellent category. Author Isobel Kuhn had very difficult resource materials to work with, mainly the writings of Arthur and Wilda Mathews. Their compositions were letters intended for family and recordings on paper of their thoughts, prayers, and poetry, which we would refer to today as journaling, often written in tiny script on thin airmail paper. Others were involved in deciphering and organizing the events which Kuhn then transformed into a readable narrative. As Kuhn tries to translate the couple’s thoughts into dialogue, the result is somewhat stilted. The descriptions, however, are well executed. Kuhn maintains the integrity of a biography. She does not veer off into historical fiction and is to be commended for that. Readers who want a more in depth character study will not find that because it was not provided in the source materials.
Rating: 4/5 (3/5 for writing style, 4/5 for interest and historical veracity)
Category: Christian, Biography
Publication: January 1, 2007—OMF International (first published in 1957)
The bamboo curtain shouts and bellows as it descends, boasts and preens itself. The Feather Curtain of God falls silently. It is soft and comforting to the sheltered one; but intangible, mysterious and baffling to the outsider.
Amazing how we plan everything so carefully and then God walks sovereignly right across the lot with something far better.
The slow wearing down of the human spirit is a species of torture which the communists delight to use and have found very productive for their purposes.
by Veronica Heley
Much to her dismay, Bea Abbot, the owner of the Abbot Agency becomes desperately entangled in the affairs of the rich and influential Trescott family. All is not as it appears in that closely knit family…well, closely knit in terms of the secrets they try to keep. Mysterious deaths keep piling up. Bea’s ward Bernice is rather forced at boarding school into a friendship role with the Trescott matriarch’s niece Evelina (Evie), a disheveled and almost incoherent teenager. Evie is meant to marry an older cousin Joshua who has promised to take care of her and, Bea suspects, her fortune too. Meanwhile, some rather disturbing patterns arise when Joshua’s tempestuous brother Benjy takes an interest in Bernice who is only 14 and also destined to be wealthy.
Veronica Heley’s False Conclusion is a good mystery that combines reasoning, investigation, and character conflicts with action. The author’s writing style insists that the reader sneak a quick peak at each “next chapter” which, of course, segues into the next and the next; it is a book that is hard to put down.
If you have been following this series, you will be interested in the relationship developments between Bea and her ex-husband Piers, a famous portrait painter whose artistic skills and quick thinking play a role in False Conclusion’s plot. If this series is new to you, don’t hesitate to dive in; you will quickly be brought up to speed on the characters and find that the plot is fresh. In fact, the intriguing opening lines throw both new and returning reader into the story without hesitation: “Bea Abbot shut the front door on her departing guests and demanded, ‘What on earth was that all about?’ ”
I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Mystery, Christian
Notes: 1. #14 in the Abbot Agency Mystery Series, but would work as a standalone.
2. Although not overtly a Christian book, the author does show Bea’s reliance on God through a few short prayers for wisdom and protection during difficult times.
Publication: July 7, 2020—Severn House Publishers
His hand on her shoulder had been heavy. He’d meant her to feel the weight of his hand, and to remind her of the power behind it. He was smiling, but his eyes glittered, needle sharp. He had ceased to dismiss her as a pawn in the game.
She stared into the future. It was a dark pit, filled with crashing noises and a seething tangle of snakes. It was more real than her bedroom. It horrified her. She couldn’t look away. She couldn’t even pray.
“Forgiveness comes with understanding. And remorse. And courage to look into the future and not back at the past.”
Great Quotes from Cozy Writers
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Of Mutts and Men
by Spencer Quinn
Although I really enjoyed reading the first book in the Chet and Bernie Series, I was a little disappointed as I read Of Mutts and Men, the tenth book in the series. I felt like I was reading a clone of the first book, sporting a different cover and title and with the same jokes, but repeated too often. The mystery concerning a murder, an aquifer, and big business is fresh but somehow did not thrust me into a page turning mode. Chet, a K-9 school failure but faithful sidekick to P.I. Bernie, is always devotedly at Bernie’s side, but his role in capturing the “perps” in this book is less than I think he deserves. He has valuable deductions, but as a dog can not share them effectively in this tale. The story includes a personal side of Bernie’s life as a former flame reenters the picture, but there is no deep examination and it doesn’t seem believable.
I recommend this book if you like mysteries that involve canines and you want a light read. Unfortunately, although it reads well as a standalone, it does not compel me to read the eight books that I skipped over in the series. I am planning to read the next book in the series to inspire me to read more or to convince me that the series is not worth investing more time.
I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Macmillan—Tor/Forge for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: 1. #10 in the Chet and Bernie Series, but can be read as a standalone.
2. Contains some profanity.
3. Link to my review of the first book in the series, Dog On It.
Publication: July 7, 2020— Macmillan—Tor/Forge
“Sometimes I don’t understand you.” Well, right back at ya. Which didn’t change how I felt about him, not the slightest bit. And just to show him, I put my paw on his leg and pressed down firmly, so he’d know how much I cared. We shot through the intersection, the light luckily turning green at that moment, or just about to.
The big heat of summer was coming very soon, and the back of Bernie’s shirt—one of his nicest, with the flamingos drinking at a bar pattern—was getting sweaty, and he was huffing and puffing a bit. I followed him up the slope, first from behind and then from in front, where I do my best following.
I started feeling very good about the case. As for what it was about, exactly, those details would come to me soon, or later, or not at all. But the important thing was that we were cooking, me and Bernie.
Mums and Mayhem
by Amanda Flower
Fiona Knox transplanted herself from Tennessee to the east coast of Scotland when she inherited Duncreigan, a very small cottage with its magical garden, from her godfather Ian. She became Keeper of the garden and is learning how to care for it through trial and error. She also owns a floral shop in the little town of Bellewick where she has made a number of friends despite some animosity against her as an American.
In this mystery, world famous fiddler Barley McFee has returned home for a concert, but there are complications to his visit. Fiona’s parents have also come to Scotland for a visit. She plans on pinning them down on the identity of her biological father. Fiona and her sister Isla also want to introduce them to the men in their lives. Complications added into the plot are disputes in Barley’s backup band, a historian who wants access to the magic garden, a businessman who wants to restore a tumbling manor house, a fire at sea, vandalism in the magic garden, and a murder.
With so much going on in the little village, Fiona is stretched to her limits, but her boyfriend, Chief Inspector Neil Craig, her friend Presha, and her Scottish Fold cat, Ivanhoe, are a constant source of support.
Amanda Flower’s Mums and Mayhem is a cozy mystery with a Scottish flair and a sprinkle of magic of the whimsical variety. Fiona is desperate to restore the magical garden and the conclusion not only reveals the murderer and resolves the personal conflicts with her parents, but also shows Fiona regarding the garden in a new light.
I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #3 in the Magic Garden Mysteries, but can be read as a standalone allowing the author to fill in any needed background information.
Publication: July 7, 2020—Crooked Lane Books
The American tendency is more and bigger and better and new. We don’t always buy into that in Scotland. We appreciate old and tradition.
My heart sank. I wanted to grab the words out of the air and shove them back into my mouth. But it was too late for that.
“I think it’s the right thing to do. It feels right, in any case, and when dealing with the garden, I have learned that going with my gut has always been the best choice.”