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A Field Guide to Homicide
by Lynn Cahoon
As a book lover, to hear an author’s thoughts on writing embedded in a cozy mystery is a special experience. Lynn Cahoon provides just such an opportunity through her Cat Latimer Mystery Series, but there is even more sharing of the writing process in the latest installment of the series. Cat Latimer, a former professor, conducts writers’ retreats in her restored Victorian mansion one week per month while she continues her own writing. She appreciates that she has the best of both worlds, authoring her own books while helping other writers develop their unique potential.
In A Field Guide to Homicide, Cat is hosting an unusual group that has two writing couples and a rather awkward college student. She is just beginning to recognize the different dynamics of this group and attempt to mesh them into a working team, when they have to cut an outing short due to a gruesome discovery. Seth is Cat’s boyfriend. He restores old homes and helps out with the retreats. Suddenly he finds himself in the middle of a mystery that seems to revolve around some old army buddies who are gathering for a reunion. Cat’s Uncle Pete plays a role too; as chief of police, he attempts to solve the crime and keep everyone safe. At the same time, he tries to entertain his girlfriend Shirley, a retired Alaskan deputy and aspiring writer, who is in town for the week.
A Field Guide to Homicide is structured so that as you finish one chapter, you absolutely must keep reading into the next. The characters are likable. The relationships are complicated, but not overly so. Although the writing process is a major theme, the all-important mystery takes the lead as it heads in unexpected directions. The setting is a writer’s dream come true with Cat having her special writing space on the third floor with both a view and privacy. Her best friend and business partner, Shauna, cooks for the trio of Cat, Seth, and herself as well as providing breakfast and delicious snacks for the retreat group. This is a bookish mystery you won’t want to miss.
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.
Notes: #6 in the Cat Latimer Mystery Series, but holds up well as a standalone. Cahoon has a talent for jumping right into the plot while bringing readers up to speed on the characters.
Publication: January 28, 2020—Kensington Books
…she settled onto a living room couch and got lost in a futuristic world where good did conquer evil, even if it took three hundred pages.
She was sitting in the living room, in what she liked to call a good book coma or hangover. Where her mind didn’t want to leave the magic of the world she’d just created as she read the story.
Some people never found their true voice because they want to write what they think will sell or worse, what they think they should write. People needed to realize that writing is all about telling the story. And if you don’t like the story you’re writing, write something different.
Silent Knit, Deadly Knit
by Peggy Ehrhart
Various cozy mystery series stand out for special strengths. The strong point might be humor, breathtaking setting, fast pace, intricate plot, or interesting characters. Peggy Ehrhart’s Knit & Nibble Mystery Series is different from most in its genre. The main character, Pamela, is calmer. The pace is slower. The descriptions of everyday life are more detailed. And somehow the combination works. Ehrhart’s latest mystery, Silent Knit, Deadly Knit, is no exception. Set in the Christmas season, we get to join Pamela, her daughter Penny who is home from college, and their friends and neighbors as they celebrate the Christmas season while trying to discover who murdered their friend.
Silent Knit, Deadly Knit provides a nice break from the overly sweet seasonal romances. The characters are not depicted as saints. Pamela struggles with letting her daughter gain her independence. Bettina pushes her friend Pamela to make a connection with a single neighbor. The plot does not get lost in all the character interaction, however. There are deadly doings in little Arborville, and Pamela and her friends are caught up in the action. My favorite character is Bettina’s retired husband, Wilfred—always a helpful gentleman, but never stuffy.
As the crime is being solved, Pamela and the reader work through various theories. When the character who appears to be the murderer is found murdered, the investigation takes a whole new direction resulting in a surprise ending.
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.
Notes: 1. #4 in the Knit & Nibble Mystery Series, but is excellent as a standalone!
2. At the end of the book, there is a recipe for a poppy seed cake and directions for knitting fingerless gloves.
Publication: October 29, 2019—Kensington Books
A soft form stirred at her feet, migrated up the side of her leg, and inched its way delicately across her torso. It eased its head out from under the down comforter that Pamela used on chilly winter nights. Two amber eyes stared at her from a heart-shaped face covered with silky jet-black fur.
Pamela was a kind person, but she occasionally enjoyed the slight feeling of power that came from having a secret to share. Bettina’s lips, which today were a shade of deep orange that matched her coat, curved into a tiny smile that acknowledged she knew she was being strung along.
It was tempting, especially at holidays, to imagine a past in which joy had been unalloyed. But Pamela knew she’d been happy about some things, worried about others then too, just like now.