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Death by Intermission–cozy mystery with a mastiff mix

Death by Intermission

by Alexis Morgan

I had been looking forward to reading another book in the Abby McCree Mystery Series and was not disappointed in Alexis Morgan’s Death by Intermission. Abby, a relative newcomer to Snowberry Creek, already has a reputation as a “murder magnet.” She doesn’t go looking for trouble when she and her tenant/boyfriend Tripp attend the local movie-in-the-park event, but she discovers more than trash during the clean up session after the movie.

There are new interesting characters involved in the excitement in this plot. Abby’s mother, Phoebe, is staying with her for an extended visit, and the two clash in ways they never had before as they find a need to establish boundaries with each other. After all, when is flashing the porch light on a couple saying goodnight appropriate when everyone involved is an adult over age thirty?

Owen is another newcomer to town. He has opened a barbecue restaurant. Owen is dating Phoebe, and she explodes in his defense when Gage, the local police chief, holds him for suspicion of murder. A knife from his restaurant was the murder weapon.

We are also introduced to Jada, a college student working for Owen. Jada finds herself in the middle of the murder investigation. Has she lied to the police? Why is her godfather taking a sudden interest in her? Why was she fired from her former job at the insurance agency that had been managed by her father, and why did the new agent refuse to give her father’s personal possessions to her?

I must mention Abby’s mastiff mix Zeke. Weighing in at almost one hundred pounds, he is her companion and protector, and he is a good judge of character. He adds much fun and interest to the book.

There are so many tangled threads in this plot. Abby, Phoebe, and Jada find themselves in physical danger, and Tripp, Owen, and Gage, who share a common military background, are called upon to defend them. The complications don’t unravel themselves; it takes action from the group to discover and overwhelm the criminal.

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: #4 in the Abby McCree Mystery Series, but excellent as a standalone.

Publication: January 26, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“So bottom line, you’re willing to put up with two testy women and a slobbery dog because you’re hungry and haven’t made it to the store recently.” “Pretty much.”

“Come on, everyone, let’s head inside.” With his uncanny sense of who needed him the most, Zeke remained right by Jada’s side all the way into the kitchen and then parked himself right at her feet with his big head taking up most of her lap.

On the surface, it seemed simple. Nothing could go wrong. Right?

Broken Heart Attack–good series

Broken Heart Attack

by James J. Cudney

broken heart attackThe best way for me to describe the beginning of Broken Heart Attack is “hyperactive,” a label which is meant to be descriptive, not positive or negative. Author James J. Cudney packs a lot into the first several chapters as he brings readers up to speed on the events in the first book of the series and introduces a complex plot with a lot of characters.

The main mystery of Broken Heart Attack centers around the Paddington family, murder, and a missing will. Unfortunately, the Paddington family is quite dysfunctional, and there is not one member of the family that I could relate to or invest myself in. In other words, by the end of the book, I really didn’t care who the murderer was.

A side issue to the murder is a paternity case. Other stories that affect the main character, Kellan, continue from the first book but make little progress: the reappearance of a presumed dead wife, conflict with co-worker Myriam, a potential love triangle involving friends Connor and Maggie, and a possible softening in his relationship with Sheriff Montague.

I purchased this book; it was not an advance copy. Therefore, I was surprised to see a number of errors. Some were obviously a case of  autocorrect gone wrong, some were spelling, and some were, more egregiously, pronoun usage. This is particularly startling because the author rarely has errors in his posted book reviews.

On the positive side, Nana D continues to provide humor and Kellan is a likeable character. Would I read another book in this cozy mystery series? Absolutely! I would particularly like to see what happens as Kellan is pressured by his wife’s mob family, the Castiglianos. I would urge the author to write the next book at a less frenetic pace with more character development. He has the beginnings of a good series with interesting plots and a college setting that provides a background with multiple possibilities. The Braxton Campus Mystery Series definitely has a lot of potential.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series. It could be read as a standalone, but would be more fun in sequence.

Publication:   November 25, 2018—Creativia

Memorable Lines:

I loved my nana, but her friends were harder to handle than standing upside down catching a greasy pig in a mud slide.

Eustacia and Nana D had some sort of symbiotic relationship where they often couldn’t stand to be around one another but if ever two days went by without time for tea or gossip, the world might’ve come to an end.

I woke up Thursday morning with a hangover so painful my head had put out a foreclosure sign.

Died in the Wool–in pursuit of a murderer

Died in the Wool

by Peggy Ehrhart

Died in the WoolDied in the Wool, like the first book in Peggy Ehrhart’s Knit and Nibble Mystery Series, has a calmness that gives me pleasure as I read. Although the main character Pamela sometimes follows inadvisable investigative leads like other cozy mysteries’ main characters, neither her pace of life nor her pursuit of justice is frenetic. I sometimes wonder how some main characters manage to maintain a job while trying to solve the mystery and juggle their many personal issues.

Pamela, like author Ehrhart, enjoys knitting and food, and those passions are evident in Pamela’s life as a member of a knitting club whose meetings  also feature snacks or desserts. Ehrhart includes a knitting pattern and recipes in the back of the book, but more pointedly, her descriptions of various foods are detailed and mouth-watering.

The knitting club Knit and Nibble works for weeks producing stuffed animal aardvarks, the school mascot, to sell in support of the football team at Arborfest. Unfortunately there is a murder and the knitting group’s reputation is damaged. Pamela and her friend Bettina try to find the murderer. This cozy has twists and turns with the criminal’s identity discovered only after many understandable, but wrong assumptions and some exciting scenes. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, Knit One, Die Two.

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: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Knit and Nibble Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:  August 28, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

She tested several ice-breaking comments in her mind, settling on “Your daughter’s tabouli is delicious.” He turned, looking as startled as if she’d announced a taste for human blood. Terribly shy, Pamela said to herself, awkward in social situations.

At that moment, the sandwiches arrived, on cream-colored oval plates with slender pickle spears tucked alongside. Gobbets of tuna salad and golden streaks of melted cheddar were barely contained by bread that had been grilled to buttery and toasty perfection.

Pamela wasn’t a wary person. She woke up every morning expecting the day to unfold predictably, just the way a knitting project moved predictably toward completion with only an occasional dropped stitch that could easily be picked up again.

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