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Pinot Red or Dead–who is messing with the wineries?

Pinot Red or Dead

by J. C. Eaton

Pinot Red or DeadDon’t you love it when a cozy mystery is as fun as you expected? Pinot Red or Dead by the husband/wife author team known as J.C. Eaton maintained my interest, kept me guessing, and put a smile on my face all the way through.

In the third mystery in this series, Norrie, a screenplay writer who is temporarily in charge of the family winery, becomes involved in yet another murder mystery as problems beset the Lake-to-Lake Wine Distributors which distributes wine for Norrie’s winery as well as the other wineries that surround Seneca Lake. Norrie is determined to discover the identity of the murderer. Is it the same person who is trying to drive prices of Pinot Noir sky high? In the process she gets to know Godfrey Klein, an entomologist. She tours a convent with him, ostensibly to observe his methods to eradicate through natural means an infestation of stinkbugs, but she has an ulterior motive. Her friends Don and Theo, owners of the neighboring Grey Egret Winery, play pivotal roles in this mystery. Look for theft, sabotage, and a very surprising ending.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Wine Trail Mysteries, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   March 26, 2019—Kensington (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

And then the tears again. And the sobs. People handled grief differently and they went through all sorts of stages, but watching Lavettia Lawrence was like having a front seat at Wimbledon.

Delving into social media was like falling into a never-ending pit, but what choice did I have? If I could focus on Miller and Lavettia and not get sidetracked by cute kittens or craft projects I’d never make, I’d be okay.

In my mind, I was the epitome of “grace under pressure,” but Theo, who caught sight of me on his way to the restroom, later told me I looked like Hermione Granger after she fought off the troll.

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One Potato, Two Potato, Dead–family of friends

One Potato, Two Potato, Dead

by Lynn Cahoon

One Potato, Two Potato, DeadWith an emphasis on choosing your family from the friends grouped around you, Lynn Cahoon’s One Potato, Two Potato, Dead  is a fun cozy mystery featuring Angie Turner, chef and owner of the County Seat restaurant, her boyfriend Ian, her best friend and business partner Felicia, and a number of other staff members. Set in a little town in Idaho, the book introduces Taylor, who seems like a really nice guy dedicating himself to a homeless mission. In this book there are a number of people who are not what they profess or appear to be. A visiting professor from Canada is found murdered, and one of Angie’s staff is accused of the crime, leading to  Angie’s involvement in the investigation. There are many complications and distractions to add to the enjoyment of solving this mystery.

One Potato, Two Potato, Dead is an entertaining story with plenty of activity, a huge focus on food, and many conflicts of interest as Ian’s uncle is the local sheriff. A little romance is presented for various characters. All-in-all, a highly recommended mystery by one of my favorite cozy writers.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #3 in the Farm-to-Fork Mystery Series

2.  It took me a long time to read this mystery because I was sick, but it was easy to remember the events and pick right up each time I returned to the book.

3.  Recipe included at the end for Idaho Potato Pie which sounds delicious for brunch or with a salad for lunch.

Publication:   March 19, 2019—Kensington (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

Dom sat on his bed and watched her. Somehow, the dog knew when she was upset. And unlike people, the dog always knew how to listen.

Man, the woman was toxic. Why anyone would want to be in a social club with her didn’t make any sense to Angie. Popularity at any cost. She’d thought that mind-set had died when they’d left high school. Apparently not.

Food healed. It wasn’t a magic bullet, but cooking and eating and coming together over food was the best way to deal with any problem.

Desert Redemption–excellent mystery, intricate plot

Desert Redemption

by Betty Webb

Desert RedemptionCults and communes, terrifying memories, and learning to love and trust all take top billing in Betty Webb’s Desert Redemption.  I have read several other mysteries in this series, and this one is probably the best. The plot is intricate with difficult to determine motivations and victims found in various locations, but with similar causes of death. As P.I. Lena Jones has reasons to take the deaths personally, she gives more than one hundred percent of  effort to solving the cases. This fast paced mystery has a lot of excitement, some danger, and an unusual method of escape. There are interesting subplots involving Lena’s goddaughter and Lena’s relationship with her patient Pima boyfriend. Most important, however, is a thread that keeps popping up about a woman named Helen. This part of the tale occurs 35 years prior to the current action. At first the significance of the thread and its relationship to the main plot is obscure, but it broadens and develops as Lena remembers more of her past.

Desert Redemption is the tenth and last book in the Lena Jones Mystery Series. In it author Webb brings closure to Lena’s storyline—past, present, and future. Even though Lena’s story reaches a conclusion, the final novel just piques my interest to watch this talented P.I. at work on previous cases. The characters are interesting. I particularly enjoyed the relationship Lena has with Sylvie Perrins, her “frenemy” from the Scottsdale Police. They engage in humorous and biting repartee, but obviously have respect for each other. The Arizona desert backdrop is almost a minor character and one that makes the story more interesting. This is a book you will want to search out for its many good features, but especially to watch Lena solve possibly the most intricate puzzle of her career.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #10 in the Lena Jones Mystery Series, but will work as a standalone.

Publication:   March 12, 2019—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

I wouldn’t be a teenager again for all the money in the world. Everything was now or never, black or white, ecstasy or sorrow.

Downtime can be dangerous time for me, because when I have nothing to do, my mind acts up. It always wants to take me on a forced march down Memory Lane, where monsters dwelled.

We’d lost one of the great saguaros, though. It had been split apart by lighting, its skeleton scattered along the desert floor. A reminder that nature could be cruel as well as kind. As could people.

As Directed–pharmaceutical poisoning

As Directed

by Kathleen Valenti

As DirectedIf you have a master’s degree in pharmacology but come up on the wrong side of Big Pharmaceuticals, you might end up like Maggie O’Malley as a pharmacy technician working her way up to becoming a pharmacist. Along the way Maggie stumbles over dead bodies, gets wound up in several investigations, and finds that her deadly nemesis has been released from jail.

As Directed by Kathleen Valenti is a complicated mystery that makes you feel like you are in a maze. There are lots of victims and many potential criminals. Maggie makes an engaging main character, trying to do the right things but often stumbling along in the frustrating fog of post-concussion syndrome. Her ever supportive boyfriend Constantine is  always ready with IT help and amusing quips.  His pet hamster Miss Vanilla and a stray dog that the couple is “definitely” not going to keep make multiple appearances along with interesting characters who people the book. I recommend this book as a fascinating whodunit especially if you like mysteries with a medical bent.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:  5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone.

Publication:   March 12, 2019—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Levon Petrofina was particular to the point of rigidity, committed to not just following the letter of the law but alphabetizing each letter.

She used to think of the place where she shoved the uncomfortable, the painful, as the Wall. Now she realized she had added to her repertoire of denial, creating a blister around her heart that encapsulated the feelings and memories she wanted so desperately to avoid.

Broken out windows gaped like empty eye sockets. The front door, splintered and half off its hinges, sagged in a toothless frown.

Criminally Cocoa–disappointing

Criminally Cocoa

by Amanda Flowers

Criminally CocoaI have read books in two different series by Amanda Flowers and generally find her plots intriguing, her characters interesting, and her writing style excellent. Criminally Cocoa, except for the kitschy title, was disappointing. Normally I like the rare cozy mystery that doesn’t revolve around a murder. No murder here, but no plot success either. Flowers and her characters kept strolling through the same territory with two themes (Amish girl in the big city and the success or failure of a new cooking show) over and over again. Fortunately this book is a novella. Otherwise, I would have broken my own rule for my book world and not finished the book. I did complete it, but only so I could write a proper review.

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

Rating: 2/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: Novella in the Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series

Recipe for Bailey’s Easy Easter Birds’ Nests included.

Publication:   February 26, 2019—Kensington Press

Restaurant Weeks are Murder–competition in the kitchen

Restaurant Weeks are Murder

by Libby Klein

Restaurant Weeks are MurderOnce again Libby Klein treats her readers to the adventures of Poppy McAllister, creator of wonderful, gluten free pastries and owner of a B&B, and her octogenarian Aunt Ginny, a spunky lady with an attitude. In Restaurant Weeks are Murder, Poppy competes on her ex-boyfriend’s team of three with other restaurant teams on a taped production of a competition. Chefs are provided baskets of mystery ingredients which must be incorporated into the culinary creations. What could go wrong? Plenty!

The characters in this series are always fun, and there are a variety of romantic attractions. Restaurant Week is a full seven days which makes the story perhaps a tad too long, but with different disasters occurring each day, and with complicated backgrounds and motives, attention stays high. A cozy mystery to pique your interest and appetite!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com 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: #3 in the Poppy McAllister Murder Series, but works as a standalone.

Recipes are included.

Publication:  February 26, 2019—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

I plopped down on the floor in the sunroom and ran a brush through Figaro’s black smoke fur. He hummed like a Harley, his copper eyes slitty like two winter crescent moons reflecting on the Atlantic.

When I’m with Gia, I feel like my heart explodes, and my brain goes mush. But when I’m with Tim, I’m home again. He’s all I’ve ever wanted, and the years just melt away.

“Don’t be salty with me. I’ve seen you without makeup.”

I could tell Miss New Jersey was trying to wrap her brain around what Gigi was saying. The strain of it was making a wrinkle in her perfect forehead. I had to intervene before she passed out from the stress.

One Feta in the Grave–murder under the boardwalk

One Feta in the Grave

by Tina Kashian

One Feta in the GraveWelcome to the New Jersey seashore where Ocean Crest is having a beach festival. Lucy has returned to her hometown to take over the family’s Mediterranean restaurant. Her best friend, Katie, is in charge of judging the festival’s sand sculpture contest. That seems like an easy enough job until a contestant insists that one of the judges should be disqualified. Later Lucy finds one of the men involved in the argument dead under the boardwalk.

The subsequent cancellation of the festival could mean financial ruin for many in the town. Lucy steps up to try to solve the crime to help her town and to clear Katie from suspicion. Lucy may have taken on an overwhelming task as there are many suspects and leads to follow. As Lucy manages the restaurant and acts as an unauthorized private eye, she is also trying to balance relationships with two charming men.

I like the characters and enjoy watching their interactions. I think Lucy and Katie, who is a policeman’s wife, did step over a line as some of their investigative “techniques” were clearly illegal. Their actions put Katie’s husband, Bill, in an obvious conflict of interest when he learns what they have done. Lucy’s moral compass needs a little adjustment, but her heart is in the right place. She is later faced with another issue in which doing what is right hurts other people, but she does it anyway, following it up with an attempt to lessen the difficult consequences.

There are references to delicious foods from pita with various flavors of hummus to baklava all through the book. Lucy is an adventurous foodie who enjoys tasting outside her arena of Mediterranean comfort foods. Recipes for date cookies, lentil soup, and Greek salad are included.

One Feta in the Grave is not as fast paced as Tina Kashian’s first two books in the series, but is quite enjoyable anyway. I’m looking forward to the next book in the Kabob Kitchen Mystery Series.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com 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: #3 in the Kabob Kitchen Mystery Series, but works as a standalone. Recipes are included at the end.

Publication:   February 26, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Butch can look scary.” Butch had a chest the size of a small armoire and hands that looked like meat pounders. With his checked bandana and gold tooth, he was downright intimidating. The funny thing was that Butch was the kindest and most mild-mannered man she knew.

“Double chocolate brownie chunk. Definitely decadent if you are a chocolate lover.” “It’s too chocolatey,” Katie said. Lucy shot Katie an incredulous look. “Is that even possible?”

If there was one thing she’d learned since returning to town and stumbling upon a body…or two…is that not everyone was as innocent or guilty as they appeared.

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