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The Spirit in Question–mysteries abound in the old playhouse

The Spirit in Question

by Cynthia Kuhn

The Spirit in QuestionHaving enjoyed the first two cozy mysteries in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series, I was looking forward to another. This book has many good features. Readers are filled in on background quickly. The series branches out from the typical college professor tenure issues by focusing on Professor Lila Maclean’s role as dramatic consultant to a play written by one Stonydale professor and directed by a visiting professor from France. The play is embroiled in conflicts over changes the director wants to make as well as picketing by the local historical society over potential damages to the Opera House, an old theater with a flamboyant and murderous past. 

Cynthia Kuhn, the author of The Spirit in Question, chooses to develop her plot with a lot of paranormal activity, even bringing in the Spirit Wranglers who try to prove ghostly existence for their TV viewers. Is a ghost responsible for accidents and murders or is there a human element at work? Not a fan of paranormal novels, I did not enjoy this cozy mystery as much as the others in the series. I did enjoy watching Lila unravel some of the mystery threads and obtain a confession. I’m assuming the author will drop the paranormal focus in future books and resume mysteries that look more at life in the Colorado university town of Stonedale and Lila’s role there as a professor.

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: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #3 in the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series, but effective as a standalone

2. Author and characters seem to be unable to decide if there was paranormal activity involved in the mysterious happenings in the theater.

Publication:   October 2, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

I knew I needed to focus the conversation so that she wouldn’t begin regaling me with a cascade of memories about the time she went here or there with future celebrity x, y, or z. Once that train left the station, there would be no stopping it.

Gavin scratched his head, resulting in a dry little scratchy sound that made me want to run for the nearest tank of hand sanitizer.

…somehow it was difficult to think of him as actively guilty. He was more like a casualty swept up in the tsunami of her relentless determination.

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Staged for Murder–danger on the catwalk

Staged 4 Murder

by J.C. Eaton

Staged 4 MurderSophie Kimball really just wants to do her job as an accountant and bookkeeper for the Williams investigations firm. She gets roped again, however, into doing some sleuthing on her own as the members of her mother’s book club in Sun City West, a retirement community in Arizona, recruit her to help discover the murderer of a member of a community acting troupe.  Avid readers, they branch out as performers and crew in a production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap.

There are lots of twists and turns to the plot of Staged 4 Murder with suspicion cast like a shotgun blast in multiple directions. Just when you (and Sophie) think the murderer has been found, new evidence comes to light. Sophie is an interesting main character, and the interactions with her mother are humorous. This book is not destined to be a classic for the ages, but it is an enjoyable cozy mystery, and I look forward to the next in this series written by a husband-wife team under the pen name J.C. Eaton.

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: #3 in the Sophie Kimball Mystery Series, but delightfully fun as a standalone

Publication:  June 26, 2018 — Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

I got up from my chair, took the list from my mother, and muttered six regrettable words before heading home for the night. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“My God! Now you’re sounding like my mother. Next thing I know you’ll be reusing paper plates.” “Whoa. That was unfair.”

My mother tried calling the dog, but he ignored her. Selective hearing must apparently run in our family.

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