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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.”

October Kiss–Love Amongst the Pumpkins

October Kiss

by Kristen Ethridge

October KissSeriously, you can’t start a book made from a Hallmark movie without knowing how it is going to end. October Kiss has all the requisites: a smart, attractive twenty-nine year old woman who has commitment issues in work, relationships, and most other areas of her life. She becomes a temporary nanny for a handsome, workaholic widower with two kids. It’s no spoiler to predict a happy ending, but like a good motorcycle ride, reading this book is not about the destination, but the journey. Even though you know what the conclusion will bring, it is just so much fun watching the story of Poppy, Ryan, and the children, Zoe and Zack, play out.

Kristen Ethridge, the author, reveals the worst faults of the four main characters in the beginning of the book, but pretty soon their true and more positive characteristics shine. They are all likable, and you will be rooting for that inevitable successful ending. A quick read with a beautiful fall setting will convince even the most adamant naysayer of Halloween that fun and whimsy can still be found through the eyes of children.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Notes: The movie October Kiss premiered in 2015.

Publication:  August 2, 2019—Hallmark Publishing

Memorable Lines:

These kids weren’t complicated. They just needed a little undivided attention and unconditional love.

The mere acknowledgement of the other woman tasted like black licorice on Poppy’s tongue as she spoke. Poppy hated black licorice.

The truth hurt like rug burn on her soul.

The Case of Syrah, Syrah–good story concept, difficult execution

The Case of Syrah, Syrah

by Nancy J. Parra

A Case of Syrah, SyrahA Case of Syrah, Syrah starts off as an interesting cozy mystery in a great setting and proceeds with building excitement. Unfortunately, by the time the book reaches its conclusion, the reader is ready to commit a crime against the main character. There are two major issues. First, the usually enticing twists and turns of a mystery evolve into a ride on a hamster wheel, churning round and round on the same territory. Second, the main character Taylor, in her efforts to prove her innocence, refuses to follow instructions from her own lawyer and from the sheriff to stop talking to people and to stay out of the investigation. She keeps exposing herself and others to danger, and her friends and aunt encourage her compulsions. By the end, I was ready to arrest her for obstruction.

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

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the Wine Country Mystery Series

Publication:  December 12, 2017 —Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

It was a fun and carefree moment with the wind whipping through my hair. The night smelled of vineyards and warm earth. Stars twinkled in the dark sky.

Taylor says of her investigative efforts—without altering her actions:

I couldn’t help myself.

It seemed the more I investigated, the more I incriminated myself.

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