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Broadcast 4 Murder–mystery with lots of humor

Broadcast 4 Murder

by J.C. Eaton

Get ready to solve several mysteries, laughing your way through the pages of J.C. Eaton’s Broadcast 4 Murder. Sophie (aka “Kiddo” to her boss, “Phee” to her mother, and “Hon” to her boyfriend Marshall) gets pulled into a murder investigation when her mother discovers a dead body at the Sun City West radio station as she prepares to broadcast a show about cozy mysteries. As soon as Sophie’s mother enters the scene, the reader can expect demands on Sophie to nose around, daily phone calls, and wacky shenanigans as the residents of this Arizona senior community interact. Streetman, her mom’s chiweenie, gets a delightful starring role.

The first murder is not the last, and other crimes are discovered in the process of the investigation. Lots of characters are implicated as possible suspects, but they don’t appear to fit all the requirements—motive, means, and opportunity. These crimes are a puzzle to local detectives as well as the private investigators Sophie works with. She is not a private investigator; she is an accountant. In this book, however, she is able to do some informal forensic accounting along with on the ground sleuthing to catch some crooks. Broadcast 4 Murder is funny, has a complicated plot, and will keep you turning pages while you just don’t want it to end.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #7 in the Sophie Kimball Mystery Series, but you can enjoy this cozy mystery as a standalone. This husband/wife writing team does an excellent job of beginning the action simultaneously with providing pertinent details of the backstory. They never miss a beat.

Publication: October 27, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Someone misplaced an apostrophe on some boxes? That’s the trouble these days. Schools no longer teach the important things. They’re too busy with social skills and self-esteem building. How can anyone build self-esteem if they can’t write a decent sentence?”

“You don’t have to worry about social media. She doesn’t use it. She prefers yenta media. It’s faster and commands a larger audience.”

It played out during the entire week with more and more salient details every night. It was as if we had our own version of Telemundo, only instead of seasoned actors, we had greedy retirees.

Christmas Card Murder–three novellas

Christmas Card Murder

by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Peggy Ehrhart

The book Christmas Card Murder is a compilation of three novellas. The first one is also called Christmas Card Murder, and it’s written by Leslie Meier. It is an acceptable cozy mystery about a writer for a small town Maine newspaper who discovers a Christmas card with a hateful, mysterious message during a remodeling project. When a snowstorm brings more than snow, the main character Lucy finds herself in danger. With themes regarding the effectiveness of our criminal justice system, DNA evidence, and reasonable doubt, this mystery’s last few chapters have a very serious tone and the conclusion provides mixed outcomes for the characters. This story is more thought provoking than fun.

Death of a Christmas Carol
As I began the second novella, I sensed a theme. Also set in Maine, Death of a Christmas Carol’s plot is centered around a Christmas card. This card is addressed to three friends and includes a threat. The sender of the card is a flirtatious woman who has had conflicts with all the ladies. Is the card a joke or is someone’s husband unfaithful? Lee Hollis’ tale is about female bonding, marital happiness, and murder. Embedded are some short stories by the main character who is a writer for the local newspaper and some of her favorite seasonal recipes.

Death of a Christmas Card Crafter
Karma Karling was Penny’s favorite teacher in high school. A talented artist, she created a new card each Christmas season based on the “12 Days of Christmas.” Clearly the last in the series, this year’s card features 12 drummer boys—but there are thirteen depicted. Could that be a clue to Karma’s untimely death? Bettina and Pamela, both knitters, make it their business to discover the murderer while absolving a fellow knitter.

All of the novellas in this trio appear to be part of each author’s series. I enjoyed this novella the most—partly because, of the three, this is the only series that I have been following. I credit this one as having the best descriptive passages, the most interesting plot, and a surprise ending that was truly unexpected.

All of these novellas work as a stand-alone, but the author of Death of a Christmas Card Crafter excels in pulling the reader into the story while giving back information that makes the characters more appealing. Peggy Ehrhart’s book includes directions for knitting doll clothes using only the knit stitch and recipes for an intensely chocolate cake and a quick bread featuring dried fruits.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Publication: October 27, 2020—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

Christmas Card Murder—She knew that kids frequently didn’t realize that their actions had consequences; this was something most people learned the hard way.

Death of a Christmas Carol—“I got him to talk by threatening not to make him dinner. He’d make a terrible spy. He’d give up the nation’s secrets for a box of Hamburger Helper.”

Death of a Christmas Card Crafter—The spicy pine scent carried all the way to the sidewalk, and its evocation of a season that should be happy seemed an incongruous contradiction to the crime-scene tape and the uniformed officer.

Candy Cane Crime–sweet cozy mystery

Candy Cane Crime

by Amanda Flower

I just love that Amanda Flower has contributed Candy Cane Crime to the growing list of Christmas themed cozy mysteries. Why? Because it has a real Christmas flavor to it, not just a background setting. More importantly, because there is no murder! The mystery revolves around the Candy Cane Exchange, a fundraiser for new costumes for the town’s Christmas parade and pageant. Even without a murder, there is a villain to be rooted out in the little town of Harvest.

Charlotte, a young Amish woman who works in the candy shop, volunteers to be coordinator for the project. At age twenty-two, Charlotte is considered “old” to have not yet decided on whether to join the Amish church or to become Englisch. She becomes obsessed with who her secret admirer might be with several candidates under consideration and observation. The story is told from Charlotte’s point of view since, for most of the story, the usual main character of the series, Bailey, is in New York. This change in POV works perfectly for Candy Cane Crime.

The word “sweetest” is used many times and has a special significance in this story. It is a fast read, and I was sorry to come to the end. This is the sweetest cozy mystery! If you are searching for something gentle, Christmasy, and guaranteed to make you smile, seek out Candy Cane Crime.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #6 in the Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series, but is perfect as a standalone.
2. A recipe for Peppermint Popcorn is included that sounds delicious.

Publication: October 6, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Other than the bishop’s wife, Ruth Yoder, Margot is the most determined woman I’ve ever known. If the two of them joined together, none of us would have any peace. It’s for the best the pair of them are rarely in agreement.”

Since I had left my conservative home district, I had heard little from my siblings and parents. I knew that I had made the right decision, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I missed them and wished they would at least speak to me from time to time.

But that wasn’t how I was. It was why I had never fit well in my old conservative district. I had this need to know and ask why and how.

Death, Dismay and Rosé–opportune timing

Death, Dismay and Rosé

by J. C. Eaton

Norrie is a screenwriter and part owner of Two Witches Winery on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. She is counting the days until her sister returns from Costa Rica to take over the winery again and she can return to her lawyer boyfriend Bradley and her urban life.

Unfortunately, Norrie finds herself, yet again, in the middle of a murder she needs to solve to get a friend released from jail. The situation is not simple, however. Although Norrie is not superstitious, one of her staff members and lots of tourists are. Now Norrie has to deal with a local, two hundred year old curse that supposedly takes effect when a full moon and the summer solstice occur on the same night. The results could be deadly.

Neighboring winery owners Don and Theo and entomologist Godfrey are Norrie’s friends and are dragged reluctantly into her investigations which are not always legal and are sometimes dangerous. The clock is ticking as time draws near for the solstice to occur and for the local police to give up on their murder investigation. Will Norrie be able to solve the crime before another death occurs, Alex is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, some thieves get away with a stolen Porsche engine, or Norrie and Godfrey are arrested? So much is riding on her investigation. Fortunately, Norrie is both spunky and determined.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Beyond the Page Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #6 in the Wine Trail Mystery Series, but OK as a standalone

Publication: September 29, 2020—Beyond the Page Publishing

Memorable Lines:

It’s never good when someone says they hope something doesn’t upset you, because inevitably, it will upset you. I held my breath and waited for her to continue.

“Do you have any idea what kind of danger you’re putting yourself in? And I don’t mean the skunk. The mess you’re getting into won’t be solved by a can of tomato juice and a hose!”

Funny how food can make people forget whatever else is on their minds, because for a brief respite, I found myself immersed in a whole other world…

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard–town of Pelican tries to attract tourists

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

by Ellen Byron

Although I do not usually favor Halloween themed mysteries, I had a good time with Murder in the Bayou Boneyard. Obviously set in Louisiana, Ellen Byron’s series takes the reader to the Crozat Plantation where the family works together to maintain their property by running a B & B.

A lot is going on in the little town of Pelican as the B & B’s in the area try to attract tourists with Pelican’s Spooky Past packages including a special mystery play, themed edible treats, crafts, and spa specials. Hopefully this will counteract the efforts of Gavin Grody who is buying up affordable housing and using them as tourist rentals. 

There are so many plot threads! While all this is going on in the town,  the Crozat’s distant cousins from Canada arrive bringing chaos and murder with them. Oil companies are making offers on the plantation land whose ownership may be in question. Don’t take any of the characters at face value; some are not who they seem to be, from the scary gardener to the amiable stage manager to the overacting thespian. There are multiple murders and other dangers along the way, but I promise that all the threads connect with a surprise ending. 

My only disappointment was the minimal inclusion of Gopher, the Crozat  family’s rescue basset hound in the story despite being featured prominently on the book’s cover. Byron makes up for neglecting Gopher by introducing Louie, a quite talkative parrot with a pivotal and humorous role.

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.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #6 in the Cajun Country Mystery Series, but could be read as a standalone. The author dumps you into the story with a prologue that may seem confusing, but will be made clear in the conclusion of the novel. Then she proceeds to provide some background even as the story begins.

2. The characters in the book are listed with relations and connections if the reader needs a reference.

3. The book includes 5 recipes with a Cajun twist.

Publication:   September 8, 2020—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

“Sandy’s got me on this health kick. There should be a state law against making jambalaya with quinoa, whatever the heck that is.”

“He can be smug, overbearing, opinionated, lazy, a total slob—“  “And you’re with him why?”  Sandy teared up. “Because he’s smart and funny and loves me more than anybody I’ve ever known.”

“Whoa, whoa,” Bo said, flummoxed. “That’s a whole lotta word salad, chère. You need to calm down. Take deep breaths.”

Hanging Falls–a different sort of community

Hanging Falls

by Margaret Mizushima

Three story threads are woven together to form the foundation for the plot of Hanging Falls:

  1. Mattie’s reconnection with long lost family members.
  2. Two separate violent murders near Hanging Falls.
  3. An unusual community, the Brothers of Salvation, comprised of a few males and many more women and children.

With a predominant theme of family, it is not surprising that a big part of this K-9 mystery focuses on Mattie’s canine partner, Robo, who is like family to her. Also important is her boyfriend Cole, a veterinarian, and his two daughters. Mattie’s sad past colors her relationships as she struggles to lead a normal life and help others as a deputy.

As always with the books in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Series, the information on Robo’s skills and training is fascinating. Mattie and Robo encounter some dangerous situations. Margaret Mizushima’s Hanging Falls is another page turner in a very good series.

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.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #6 in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Series, but could be read as a standalone.

Publication:   September 8, 2020—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

Their sudden distance had lasted longer than he’d thought it would, and it chafed him like an ill-fitting harness on a workhorse.

Hanging Falls would never be the same to her again. It was like trading a little slice of heaven for a big chunk of hell.

The turgid river roared off to one side, and he hated having it flow downhill at his back, knowing full well that a wall of water could come down the canyon at any moment, sweeping them off the trail into its maelstrom.

Knit of the Living Dead–murder at the bonfire

Knit of the Living Dead

by Peggy Ehrhart

If you enjoy a cozy mystery with a lot of well-composed descriptions, likable characters, and clean language, you might enjoy the Knit & Nibble Mystery Series. In Knit of the Living Dead, Pamela, an editor for a fiber arts magazine, follows screams at a Halloween bonfire. She discovers a young woman who has found a dead body. With almost everyone in costume, it is difficult to tell who is in attendance, much less who the murderer is. It is possible that the deceased is not even the intended victim.

Pamela and her best friend and neighbor Bettina are joined in their sleuthing activities by Nell, an elderly member of their knitting club. They interview possible suspects under various guises, narrowing down the pool and often hoping the perpetrator is not someone nice that they have difficulty imagining as a killer. Both the murderer and the motivation are a surprise when revealed.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #6 in the Knit & Nibble Mystery Series, but would work as a standalone.

  2. Includes directions for making a Trick-or-Treat tote for children and recipes for Pumpkin-Spice Crumb Cake and Candy Corn Halloween Cookies (which have a chocolate base).

Publication:   August 25, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

Despite the festive atmosphere and good cheer, the bonfire awoke feelings more appropriate to a pagan celebration marking nature’s mysterious powers. The flames illuminated rapt faces, dramatizing features and rendering the familiar unfamiliar.

The air was chilly but still, and the day was bright and cloudless. Lawns on Angler Road were still green, with fallen leaves like bright paint spatters here and there.

Wilfred had outdone himself. The beef was meltingly tender, savory, and meaty, infused with the flavors of carrots, mushrooms, and the subtly sweet onions—all melded together during the stew’s long, slow cooking.

Penned In–Idaho Halloween tale

Penned In

by Lynn Cahoon

Penned In is a novella in Lynn Cahoon’s excellent Farm-to-Fork series which does not typically contain paranormal references. This novella has a paranormal twist to it, however. The story takes place on the night before Halloween at the old Idaho Penitentiary where the County Seat Restaurant’s staff goes for a team building exercise. The book contains a little history which is interesting. As a novella, neither the plot nor character development are extensive.

My enjoyment of the novella was probably colored by my dislike of both paranormal novels and team building exercises. As a diversion, it was satisfactory, but not something I would ever reread. If you are a fan of locked room mysteries, you would probably enjoy this little mystery!

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. Would work as a standalone.

  2. Includes paranormal, but is not scary.

  3. Locked room mystery.

  4. Includes a recipe for chocolate chip muffins.

Publication:   August 31, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Anyone that mean, he has to be the killer. The other people are nice. Tad doesn’t have a nice bone in his body, as my grandmother would say.” Hope leaned back in her chair and folded her arms. No one was going to mess with her logic.

“They said I wasn’t smart enough to sell computers. Hell, I could sell ice to Eskimos.”

It was all just posturing for him. He didn’t want her but he wasn’t sure he wanted her to be happy with another guy.”

Dead-End Detective–murder of a P.I.

Dead-End Detective

by Amanda Flower

Romy is a large Maine Coon cat with a propensity for climbing ninety-year-old Mrs. Berger’s tree on her forty beautiful acres of lakefront property in Herrington on the shores of Seneca Lake. Darby, a P.I., is frequently enlisted, as she passes by on her morning runs, to perform a voluntary rescue operation. Darby’s real job as 40% owner of Two Girls Detective Agency involves helping her business partner Samantha with normal investigations—pilfering, marital affairs, etc. Never major violent crimes. Until Samantha’s car is forced off the road. Was it an accident or caused by malicious intent?

The plot involves lots of threads. Business owner Matt Billows wants to buy Mrs. Berger’s land to restore his Lake Waters Retreat. Samantha’s nephew Tate suddenly returns to town and stands to inherit 60% of Two Girls. Samantha has been negotiating with Billows over a job as his head of security. Billows’ ex-wife is full of stories, and jealousy rules the day in their relationship. The green-eyed monster also rears its head as sparks fly between Darby and Tate as her on again, off again former boyfriend investigates the crime and tries to keep Darby from being charged with murder.

Dead-End Detective is a fun and fast read. I enjoyed meeting the characters in this new series and look forward to seeing them again. If you think you know Amanda Flower as an author, you’ll want to try her new series which is a departure from her previous books, but every bit as satisfying and engaging.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Hallmark Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. A Piper and Porter Mystery

2. Recipe for Berry Trifle included.

Publication:   August 25, 2020—Hallmark Publishing

Memorable Lines:

She blamed Austin for everything that went wrong in our relationship. Maybe that wasn’t fair, but it was girl code. The guy was always wrong in girl code.

“I took the liberty of pulling a number of books for you that will help. We have a nice section in the library about grief and dealing with adversity.”  I nodded. I should have expected this. There was nothing that my mother didn’t believe was fixable with the right book.

My father had liked Austin just fine when we were dating, but every time we’d broken up. he’d hated him again. He was a good dad the way.

Tea & Treachery–new cozy mystery series

Tea & Treachery

by Vicki Delany

People who enjoy the experience of indulging in a specially prepared tea at a tearoom will also enjoy reading about it in Tea & Treachery, the first book in Vicki Delany’s new cozy mystery series Tea by the Sea. Lily has left behind the fast paced life of a Manhattan pastry chef to fulfill her dream of owning her own teahouse. It is located in a restored house next to Lily’s grandmother’s B & B. As part of their agreement, Grandmother Rose lets Lily live in a cottage on the property. Lily prepares breakfast at the B & B in addition to doing all the cooking for her own tearoom.

The property overlooks the Cape Cod Bay, but its appeal is marred when Jack, a local developer, is found dead at the bottom of a bluff. Unfortunately, Rose previously had a very public disagreement with Jack. The lead detective is focused on pinning the murder on Rose so Lily, of course, has to find the real killer.

The plot is inventive, and the author’s descriptive powers shine. We are introduced to a number of interesting characters. Some are employed at one of the two businesses. Others already are or become friends of Rose and Lily. Lily’s best friend Bernie (aka the Princess Warrior) is a spunky, red-headed, aspiring writer. Simon hires on as a gardener; he is not only handsome, but is talented in horticulture, has culinary skills and a British understanding of tea, and rides a motorcycle. The locals include police officers along with town councilmen and a mayor who have interests in rezoning issues that affect Rose and Lily and their businesses.

There are lots of suspects to keep the reader guessing, some romance in the air, and dangers that arise from the ladies’ investigations. You will be exhausted just reading about Lily’s efforts to juggle her two jobs. Rose and Bernie add some humor to the tale. The book ends with hints of future developments for the tearoom, the B & B, and the main characters.

I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #1 in the Tea by the Sea Mystery Series

  2. Recipes included for scones, coconut cupcakes, and tea-scented bath salts

Publication:   July 28, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

It was a day full of promise: the sun was a huge yellow circle in a pale blue sky, and the lightest breath of wind carried the scent of salt off the ocean.

A wave of warm sugar and spicy cinnamon goodness washed over me, and I almost groaned in pleasure. No matter how many pastries I’ve made over my lifetime, I never get tired of these scents. Or of the pleasure in producing beautiful food and having it enjoyed.

More than once, people have complained when they saw the prices. We never apologize. Good food, well prepared with excellent ingredients, much of it sourced locally, costs money. Not to mention fresh flowers on the table and real china and silver and linen at every place. Afternoon tea isn’t an everyday thing, not even in the UK and certainly not in America. It’s a treat, an indulgence, and I believe it needs to be presented accordingly.

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