Category Archives: Reviews

Review of books

My Musing ~ A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber

A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber is the first book in the NEW “French Bistro” mystery series. Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, coming November 7, 2017

In Agatha-Award winning author Daryl Wood Gerber’s delectable series debut, Mimi Rousseau serves up piping hot suspects to clear her name of murder.

It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working Bryan’s bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.

The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s wealthy friend, Eddie, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Eddie gets drunk and rowdy at the rehearsal dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and as Mimi arrives at the bistro to begin wedding preparations, Bryan is found dead with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan’s will.

Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.

Talk about a culinary delight, this book is the pinnacle of deliciousness as I devoured all that was written in this exciting new series featuring Mimi and her friends. When her beloved mentor is found dead on her property, Mimi takes it upon herself to find his murdered and the more questions she asks, the more the killer wants to remain cloistered.

This was a wonderfully light whodunit that had me involved in the various interactions between Mimi and those who visit her bistro. The mystery was nicely baked to perfection filling me with suspects and peppered with clues and a few twists that propelled this story forward. I did like that with each clue Mimi discovered, she went straight to the sheriff. The narrative was enticingly pleasing keeping me glued to the pages as I had to know how this was all going to end. All the main characters played pivotal roles that enhanced the telling of this tale. This book had everything, a nice little mystery, engaging conversation, camaraderie between friends, romance and the perfect setting of a French bistro. I can’t wait for the next book with Mimi, Nash, Tyson, Jo and the rest of the gang.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Unholy City by Carrie Smith

Unholy City by Carrie Smith is the third book in the “Claire Codella” mystery series. Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, coming November 7, 2017

Despite their rocky history, Detective Claire Codella and Precinct Detective Brian Haggerty come together when senior churchwarden Philip Graves’s bloody body is found lying in the herb garden of historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side just two days before Good Friday. Upon first glance, it looks like a random act of big city violence, but it soon becomes clear churchwarden Philip’s death was the result of a meticulously calculated ploy by someone who knew him.

There are five vestry members and a choir director in addition to the ten homeless men asleep in the church basement. Any one of them could have done it, but what did Philip Graves do to warrant such a merciless death? Struggling to share the case and salvage their personal relationship, Claire, Brian and trusted Detective Eduardo Munoz work around the clock to uncloak the desires, secrets, and resentments that find home through the iron gates and into the hidden beauty of one historic Romanesque church in Unholy City, the haunting third installment in Carrie Smith’s Claire Codella mysteries.

So many secrets among the church member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where multiple murders took place and no one is telling a soul. It’s up to Claire, Brian and Eduardo to dig deep into the suspected parishioners’ consciousness to shine a light on a murderer hiding in plain sight.

This was a well-written drama that captured my attention immediately and I could not put this book down until it was all said and done. The pacing was on par with the ease in which this tightly woven story was told. The author did a great job in keeping all the suspects involved throughout giving each one a voice that was heard amidst all that was happening as the detectives worked their case. I liked the way the author directed the storyline so that systematically those secrets were exposed and would eventually lead to the revelation of the killer’s identity. Bonus to me was the outcome with her Lieutenant. This was one of the best in the series and I can’t wait to see where we go next with Codella and her friends.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Purple Palette for Murder by R.J. Harlick

Purple Palette for Murder by R.J. Harlick is the 8th book in the “Meg Harris” mystery series. Publisher: Dundurn, coming November 7, 2017

With her husband under arrest for murder and Meg desperate to prove his innocence, she flies to Yellowknife, where a tangled web of family secrets and greed awaits her.

Meg Harris is forced to leave the sanctuary of Three Deer Point and fly to Yellowknife, where her stepdaughter lies near death and her husband is in jail for killing a man. Expecting to find Eric shouting his innocence, she instead finds him cowed and willing to do hard time. But Meg doesn’t believe he’s guilty.

Convinced that there’s more to the murder victim — and the attack on her stepdaughter — than the police think, Meg finds herself on a sordid trail of family secrets and greed, hoping she can prove her husband’s innocence. Fragments of an ancient embroidery lead her to a remote Dene hunting camp, where all is not what it seems.

Meg has to leave her self-cocoon to help her husband and what an adventure she finds herself involved in when trying to clear his name. From concerns about her husband and her step-daughter, to stepping into family issues, and to missing embroidery, they all seem connected and the question is how?

I found this drama to be both intriguing and full of suspense as I didn’t know what was going to happen next. The mystery was well-written where greed, cultural betrayal, secrets and the past all play heavily in this tightly woven tale. The twist and turns were done in a manner that enhanced how well this story was being told. The visually descriptive narrative gave me a sense of time and space as the words and dialogue put me in the middle of all the action as I navigated through streams of emotions from Teht’aa to Gloria to Uncle Joe to Eric and to Meg, to name a few. This fast-paced drama held my attention from beginning to end and when it was all said and done, I was not ready to let go of Meg and her journey. A terrific read and I look forward to reading more stories with Meg Harris in this wonderful series.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Death, Taxes, and a Shotgun Wedding by Diane Kelly

Death, Taxes, and a Shotgun Wedding by Diane Kelly is the 12th book in the “Tara Holloway” romantic mystery series. Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, coming October 31, 2017

LOVE BEGINS―AND ENDS―WITH A BANG.
For IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway, this case is personal. . .

Wedding bells are ringing as Tara and her soon-to-be-husband Nick prepare for their big day. But along with all the RSVP cards are a series of death threats from an unknown source. The culprit must be someone from an earlier investigation―a white-collar criminal with a red-hot grudge―but Tara has run across too many lawbreakers to narrow down the search. And time, like her biological clock, is ticking.Now, while dodging attempts on her life, Tara also finds herself embroiled in a rental scam in which a heartless crook is ripping people off left and right. Will she be able to track down the con artist and make it down the aisle in one piece? Or will “til death do us part” come before Tara can even say “I do”?

In her last hurrah, Tara has hit the trifecta with her upcoming wedding, a rental scam and a stalking bent on killing her. What is Tara supposed to do? Knowing Tara she’ll doggedly pursue what needs to be done so that she can get to the church on time. I love this series and will miss the many adventures of Tara Holloway.

The author did a great job in wrapping up this engaging and entertaining series with what Tara does best, go after those trying to cheat the system and stop a stalker in their tracks with assistance from her IRS co-workers. This was a well-written drama where all the players played pivotal roles that enhanced the telling of this tale. From multiple attempts on her life, from going undercover as a driver, from family gatherings, from enjoying life to the fullest, this was one of my favorite book in the series and again, I’ll miss Tara and Nick. Love the epilogue which put a smile on my face.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the author and publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Death Overdue by Allison Brook

Death Overdue by Allison Brook is the first book in the NEW “Haunted Library” mystery series. Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, October 2017

Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she’s offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies.

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie’s determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it’s the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura’s case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al.

Now it’s due or die for Carrie in Death Overdue the delightful first in a new cozy series by Allison Brook.

This was a fun book to read and I enjoyed the pacing and the ease of how this drama moved from chapter to chapter. The mystery was nicely done and the author did a great job in presenting the suspects and clues to keep me glued to the pages. Every time I thought I had a handle on the killer, the author changed direction which added to how well this story was being told. The characters were well-developed and the narrative put me in the middle of all the action. Boasting a likeable cast and engaging dialogue, this was a good introduction to this debut series.

My Musing ~ How the Finch Stole Christmas! by Donna Andrew

How the Finch Stole Christmas! by Donna Andrews is the 22nd book in the “Meg Langslow” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur, coming October 24, 2017

Meg’s husband has decided to escalate his one-man show of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol into a full-scale production with a large cast including their sons Jamie and Josh as Tiny Tim and young Scrooge and Meg helping as stage manager.

The show must go on, even if the famous―though slightly over-the-hill―actor who’s come to town to play the starring role of Scrooge has brought a sleigh-load of baggage and enemies with him. And why is Caerphilly suddenly overrun with a surplus of beautiful caged finches?

How the Finch Stole Christmas! is guaranteed to put the “ho ho hos” into the holidays of cozy lovers everywhere with its gut-bustingly funny mystery.

Meg takes center stage along with a quirky cast of characters, that includes a washed-out-drunken-past-his-prime actor, in this delightfully charming tale that spans the Christmas season of the annual production of a holiday show as well as murder and mayhem. Thanks to the author’s visually descriptive narrative and play-by-play action, this fast-paced drama had me devouring every page as I had to know what happens next. What we have is an overabundance of animals that cast their light on the story being told with smugglers and murder. What prevails is a fantastic story where every time I thought I had a handle of the person responsible, the author changes direction with sneaky twists and turns that enhances the telling of this tale. Donna continues to keep me engaged and entertained in the latest adventures of Meg and her friends and family in the town of Caerphilly, Virginia.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff is the 5th book in the “The Huntress/FBI” thriller series. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer, coming October 24, 2017

Revenge has no limits.

Special Agent Matthew Roarke has abandoned his rogue search for serial killer Cara Lindstrom. He’s returned to the FBI to head a task force with one mission: to rid society of its worst predators. But as the skeletal symbols of Santa Muerte, “Lady Death,” mysteriously appear at universities nationwide, threatening death to rapists, Roarke’s team is pressured to investigate. When a frat boy goes missing in Santa Barbara, Roarke realizes a bloodbath is coming—desperate teenagers are about to mete out personal, cold-blooded justice.

Hiding from the law, avenging angel Cara Lindstrom is on her own ruthless quest. She plans to stay as far away from Roarke as possible—until an old enemy comes after both her and the FBI, forcing her back into Roarke’s orbit. This time, the huntress has become the hunted . . .

This is a complex and all-encompassing read that pulls you in and never lets go, not even at the conclusion. Darkness abounds throughout the telling of this story where the narrative is pitch-perfect striking a cord that had me intensely rooted in all that was happening with a take on societal woes that is prevalent with only one thing left to do. . .put an end to it. And in this hard-hitting drama, a group is determined to rid this behavior and it is that action that propels this drama in the manner that I could not put this book down until I knew how this ended and the author did not disappoint me as I knew that she would leave it in such a way.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

October 10, 2017 – New Releases

Death of the Kona Man by Catherine Bruns

Death Overdue by Allison Brook

A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron

The Skeleton Paints A Picture by Leigh Perry

Murder on the Toy Town Express by Barbara Early

Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

Running Out Of Time by Suzanne Trauth

Fireworks in Paradise by Kathi Daley

My Musing ~ Scrapbook of Murder by Lois Winston

Scrapbook of Murder by Lois Winston is the sixth book in the “Anastasia Pollack Crafting” mystery series. Published: October 2017

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but “normal” deserted crafts editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth. When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

This is a great book that I devoured in one sitting. I love the antics of Anastasia as she sets out to find who put her friend in the hospital and in another case, a frivolous lawsuit is filed against her friend. Putting two and two together and you just know that Anastasia will solve both cases and it’s the visually descriptive narrative that keeps me engaged in all that is happening from the discovery of the letter, to Cloris’ lawsuit concerns to Lucille up to her old tricks and to Zack who know exactly what Anastasia needs. All the gang is here and it was a joy to visit with them once again.  This is one of the best books in this delightfully entertaining whodunit and I hope there are more stories in the future. Bonus, of course, are scrapbooking tips.