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Telephone Line–mystery set in the 70’s

Telephone Line

by Julie Mulhern

Telephone LineIf asked to recommend only one cozy mystery series to be read in its entirety, I would select The Country Club Murders. It (like Ellison’s beloved Mr. Coffee machine) never lets me down. Telephone Line has characters you can care about. The main character, Ellison, really doesn’t want to live up to her reputation and find yet another dead body. Her interactions with her mother, a country club matriarch known as a force to be reckoned with if crossed, play out with great humor. The setting is Kansas City’s upper crust in the 70’s. It’s hard to believe the etiquette-following country club set can be involved in such shenanigans, but crime knows no boundaries. Ellison is aided by her kaftan wearing housekeeper with an investigative background, her boyfriend Detective Anarchy Jones, and her former boyfriend Taft, a lawyer.

With several murders upsetting the city, Ellison has to work hard to stay alive and take care of those she loves. Her dead husband’s blackmailing schemes give her some insider knowledge, but will she be forced to reveal information to Anarchy that will embarrass her family and cause her to  relive past traumas?

Although Telephone Line is a great mystery with a surprise ending and lots of humor, it contains a serious side. It deals with rape and the inability of the justice system to adequately support the victim.

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: #9 in The Country Club Murders series, but can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Publication:   June 18, 2019—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“Mother—“ maybe I could reason with her (and maybe Gloria Steinem and Hugh Hefner would run away together) “—this is ridiculous.”

“It can’t be Mother.” Mother only called early when things were dire—when she’d heard I’d found a body or when someone with newly acquired wealth was put up for membership at the club.

“Painting centers me. Does that sound too woo-woo?”

“I’m from San Francisco. There’s nothing you could say that would sound too woo-woo.”

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Little Girls Sleeping: an absolutely gripping crime thriller

Little Girls Sleeping: an absolutely gripping crime thriller

by Jennifer Chase

Little Girls SleepingMy general philosophy is “I don’t read thrillers, especially psychological thrillers.” They just hold too much impact for me. I read an online review, however, that led me to believe that perhaps I should make an exception for Little Girls Sleeping, the first in a new series by Jennifer Chase. As I started reading this thriller, I wondered if I had made a mistake as the story involves the disappearance of young girls and gives some insight into the twisted mind of the perpetrator. Soon, however, the tale expands into the story of returning veteran Katie Scott and Cisco, her K9 military companion.

A former police officer, Katie is taking some time to decide her next career move when she comes across a cold case file on her uncle’s desk. For Katie, the case is personal because it brings up memories of a childhood friend at camp who was murdered. The rest of the book tracks Katie’s pursuit of the truth and is part thriller, part mystery, and part police procedural. If you are drawn to K9 stories you will certainly enjoy this one as Cisco plays a major role.

Katie, who suffers from PTSD, is a strong and determined young woman. Her character is likable, and readers will look forward to watching her develop in future books in this series. She has support from a childhood friend, Chad, and from her uncle, Sheriff Scott. The plot line is engaging. At about 60% through the book, I had figured out who the evil “Toymaker” is—but I was wrong, and at about 80%, the true murderer is revealed. At that point, however, the action just gets more intense. I’m glad I read this page turner, and I am happy to report no nightmares as a result.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery and Thriller

Notes: 1. If you are interested in the review that inspired my choosing this book, visit blogger/reviewer Shalini.  

          2. #1 in the Detective Katie Scott Series

Publication:   May 31, 2019—Bookouture

Memorable Lines:

The detective didn’t scare her. She had encountered some real tyrants in the army, from sergeants to training officers, so Templeton was like a yapping little dog to her—fierce, but only annoying at best.

Anxiety was a stealthy and unpredictable enemy.

She rubbed her hands together and let the happy memories flood her mind—at least for a short period. Sometimes it was difficult for her to let the positive things into her life. Her experiences had skewed her perception so that everything seemed on the verge of catastrophe. It was as if she had blocked out anything good in her life.

Some Choose Darkness–very twisted serial killer

Some Choose Darkness

by Charlie Donlea

Some Choose DarknessI am very conflicted as I finish Charlie Donlea’s Some Choose Darkness. The reason? It turned out to be more of a thriller than I had anticipated. This reader’s taste leans towards Agatha Christie and cozy mysteries. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I avoid thrillers because they stir me up too much. I chose to read Some Choose Darkness because I had read a book by Donlea previously and enjoyed it. Somehow I did not expect an intense work of fiction about a serial killer. The problem is that although in some ways I didn’t enjoy reading it, I felt compelled to finish the tale, to make all of the pieces fit together. Donlea has masterfully crafted a thriller with so many layers and connections that rapid page turning is a necessity. Add to the plot not one, but two characters with autism and obsessive/compulsive disorder and this retired teacher is all over it.

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 and Thriller

Publication:   May 28, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

With Lane’s reputation as a forensic psychologist and criminal profiler for the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, and Rory’s credentials as a reconstructionist who pieced together the very findings the algorithm looked for, they made the perfect team. Police departments listened to their conclusions, and many had started using Lane’s software to track homicides on their own. 

Like a tuning fork that has been tapped, the vibration from the mystery surrounding the woman was at once barely audible but yet impossible to ignore.

Rory’s greatest gift was her ability to piece together cold cases, to pore over the facts and discover things other investigators missed until a picture of the crime—and sometimes the perpetrator—became clear in her mind. Her understanding of a killer’s thinking and motive came from examining the carnage he left behind.

Seeing Red–who’s in the freezer?

Seeing Red

by Dana Dratch

Seeing RedLiving right across the street from a four story Victorian turned into a B&B and run by a handsome, blue-eyed British gent could be a real plus for Alex who is currently single and a freelance writer. In Seeing Red by Dana Dratch, there are an abundance of interesting characters, lots of twists and turns, and an adorable pup named Lucy. Alex ends up with a full house of temporarily upended friends as she tries to discover the identity of a baby as well as several frozen bodies. Throw in some art fraud and a vengeful health inspector and you have an engaging plot with lots of twists and turns. I enjoyed the book but was a little let down at the end as things just got tidied up a little too quickly and easily with few apparent consequences. I do want to read the next in the series to follow the characters and look for improvement in the resolution of the next plot line in Red Hot.

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: #2 in the Red Herring Mystery Series, but could be read as a standalone

Publication:  May 28, 2019—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“She’s been looking at that poor innkeeper the way a hungry freshman looks at a vending machine.”

Baba, our dads mother, was ninety pounds of Russian dynamite. Not quite five feet tall and who knows how old, she was a strike force of one. Literally. She’d recently saved me from a psycho killer armed with nothing but common sense and a cast-iron frying pan.

“Mom can’t stay here,” Nick said, quietly. “Not with Baba here. Those two are like garlic and chocolate. You can have one or the other, but never both.”

Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches–secrets in the family

Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches

by Karen Rose Smith

Murder with Cucumber SandwichesAlong comes a fairly gentle cozy mystery in Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches by Karen Rose Smith that is half personal relationships and half murder mystery. Interestingly enough, Smith manages to tie in a lot of the personal issues with the murder. Daisy, a widow, owns Daisy’s Tea Garden with her Aunt Iris. This mystery begins with uncomfortable anticipation for Daisy and her staff caused by the upcoming visit by celebrity food blogger Derek, known for giving unfavorable reviews. He is found dead after his visit. 

There are so many questions about Derek’s death that Daisy must try to answer while juggling personal dilemmas with her college age daughter Vi and with Foster, Vi’s boyfriend, who is also an employee of Daisy. Her other daughter, Jazzi, is undergoing emotional trauma because of possible rejection by her birth mom. Daisy is moving slowly in her relationship with former detective and current local woodworker Jonas. Daisy’s parents live in the same town, and her mother tends to be critical. What a lot of things for Daisy to deal with at one time!

At the teashop, business is off because potential customers are deterred by the possibility of poisoning. Daisy needs to find the murderer to save her shop and her employees’ jobs. Her major method is listening as she informally interviews suspects and watches for their reactions. The characters are interesting, and I enjoy visits to the tea shop where all kinds of teas and goodies are available as well as more substantial fare such as soups. Before the murder, bus loads of tourists frequently stopped for tea, but the murder has squelched enthusiasm for the tea shop.  As the setting is Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, there are some Amish references as Daisy and Jonas interact with Amish friends and employees. Willow Creek is a welcoming little town, and Daisy’s Tea Garden, set in a charming Victorian house, is a comfortable spot to chat with a friend. Come on in! The tea is hot, the hostess is friendly, and the treats are (not literally) “to die for.”

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: 1. #3 in the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone thanks to the author’s ability to dive right into the plot while simultaneously providing background.

2. Three original recipes are included at the end of the book for items served in the tearoom.

Publication:   May 28, 2019—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“I know a therapist who’s very good with teenagers. She has a cat who sits in on most sessions. She finds that Lancelot relaxes her clients. He’s very loving, and in that intuitive way cats have, he knows whether to come closer or stay away.”

Daisy felt as if she was living in more than one universe—one filled with the tea garden and friends and customers, tea and sweet goods. And the other with a family dilemma she didn’t know how to handle.

The tea might have been brewed for them, but by their expressions and body language, she could tell tension brewed between them.

Something Borrowed, Something Mewed–canine sidekick

Something Borrowed, Something Mewed

by Bethany Blake

Something Borrowed Something MewedCelebrating the 4th of July in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania, means a weeklong pet-centric Wags ’n Flags affair complete with fireworks, patriotic decorations, dogs in costumes, and the canine All Paws on Deck Rowboat Regatta. This year pet-sitter and pet bakery owner Daphne Templeton and her Basset hound sleuthing sidekick Socrates are immersed in solving crimes. Daphne’s sister Piper is engaged to be married. The wedding planner has multiple bookings set up at the same venue and at the same time and has plans to abscond with all the bridal payments. Murder ups the ante on the scam. Who is behind all the nefarious shenanigans? 

On the personal scene in Something Borrowed, Something Mewed, Daphne and her detective boyfriend Jonathan seem to be getting emotionally closer at a time when physical separation is imminent. Daphne’s fun and a little wacky friend Moxie is Daphne’s support throughout it all. Humor is injected as Daphne has interesting, but fairly one sided, “conversations” with Socrates throughout the book as she tries to solve the mysteries swirling around Sylvan Creek’s celebration.

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: #5 in the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery Series

Publication:   May 28, 2019—Kensington 

Memorable Lines:

…a black whirlwind flew past our feet and Tinkleston finally launched himself at the world’s meekest, most clueless and most accident-prone cat, who went flying off the icebox with a familiar, plaintive yowl.

I prized allegiance to family and friends. I also admired people who looked out for lost souls, whether they were siblings or Chihuahuas and pugs with oversized personalities. Or very insistent cats.

“I won’t even ask why you rode something you pedal to a biker bar.”

Sconed to Death–another fun writers’ retreat

Sconed to Death

by Lynn Cahoon

Sconed to DeathIt’s hard not to want to be Cat Latimer. Who wouldn’t enjoy living in a small Colorado college town far enough from Denver to avoid the big city traffic but close enough for occasional trips for shopping and dining? Oh, to completely own a large Victorian house where you can write in a third floor turret and host periodic writers’ retreats! What satisfaction in sharing your business with your best friend who manages the household and cooks gourmet foods for you on a daily basis. She also feeds breakfast to the retreat guests while keeping the retreat stocked with drinks and homemade goodies. The only thing better would be to reconnect with your handsome, very nice, high school heartthrob who can landscape, perform handyman jobs, and chauffeur guests to the airport. Cat has it all!

In this engaging mystery, Cat’s guests are a group of cozy mystery writers from Chicago. They thoroughly enjoy their week at the retreat with an additional day devoted to cooking lessons by resident chef Shauna who is also writing a cookbook. I think I gained ten pounds just reading about all the delicious cookies they consumed.

The murder of a famous Denver chef is the central focus of Lynn Cahoon’s Sconed to Death. What is he even doing in little Aspen Hills and who would want to kill him? Despite Uncle Pete’s warning to stay out of the investigation, Cat finds herself asking questions and using her online research skills to assess motives and alibis. Look out for a dramatic surprise ending to this page turner that’s sure to appeal to mystery lovers and especially cozy aficionados.

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:  1. #5 in the Cat Latimer Mystery Series, but works quite well as a standalone as Lynn Cahoon has a talent for bringing the reader up to date without boring.

  2. Includes a recipe for Cranberry Scones.

Publication:  May 28, 2019—Kensington 

Memorable Lines:

“So, cozy mysteries? What are those?” Seth had finished the paper and pushed it into the center of the table as he finished his breakfast. “Low on gore, low on sex, high on fun.”

The trees were just starting to drop leaves and the crunch of dried leaves under her feet made her think about all things autumn. Chilly nights with a bonfire. Hot chocolate in the evening by the fire. More time to read. All these memories made her happy.

She took a big bite of the pasta. This was one of her favorite dishes that Shauna made, and yet, today, it tasted like sawdust. She kept her head down and willed away the tears.

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