An interesting mystery at a retirement community. Give a senior a mystery to solve and some will surely sink their teeth into it--or it may come back...moreAn interesting mystery at a retirement community. Give a senior a mystery to solve and some will surely sink their teeth into it--or it may come back and bite them! When a very popular man collapses and dies in the first hand of a bridge game, all are devastated, especially the women. The death is blamed on anaphylactic shock by a severe allergy to shellfish. Not everyone assumes the death is accidental. Bring on Lillian and her friend Tess, who are determined to prove it was murder.
Alan Cook has done a lot of unusual research to bring us this murder mystery. Mental games, a "perfect" bridge hand, friends and suitors all combine to solve the mystery...or to confuse it. Complicated connections in Lillian's own life adds both to the mystery and to her stress and her peace of mind. Several missteps along the way make the story more enjoyable. This is a quick, easy and entertaining read. I love the puzzle-solving aspect of the book, and I always enjoy learning something new. A touch of romance, a different way of looking at the lives of retirees, this is not a nursing home--this is a vibrant retirement community with individual apartments and individual interests all of which play a part in this quirky yet human book.(less)
Trixie Matkowski is thrilled but very nervous when her Aunt Stella practically gives her the vacation spot of her childhood, Sandy Point, with an offe...moreTrixie Matkowski is thrilled but very nervous when her Aunt Stella practically gives her the vacation spot of her childhood, Sandy Point, with an offer she won't be able to resist. And she doesn't resist. She is now the new owner of the Silver Bullet Diner, Victorian house, summer cottages, bait shop and a huge chunk of valuable waterfront land.
This is the first book in a new series The Comfort Food Series, and in many ways this cozy is as comforting as apple pie. The Diner is especially meaningful to Trixie, who loves to cook. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and trustworthy and this 24-hour Diner is always full. In a small resort town one doesn't usually expect anything out of the ordinary to occur. But this small town is not without its share of mysteries and murder.
On her very first day the food inspector dies in the Diner kitchen. This definitely is not a good omen! Especially when it turns out that he was poisoned. When word gets around the small town, Trixie suddenly finds herself with lots of food and no customers, except for the enticing cowboy Ty, Deputy Sheriff Ty Brisco. Just what Trixie needed in her life...not. Hadn't she just divorced from Deputy Dog...oops, I mean Deputy Doug? Doug the cheater? Definitely Ty is a man she should avoid, even though they have agreed to share a friendly lost dog that has decided the Diner is home.
Determined to solve the mystery and get her clientele back before she goes bankrupt, Trixie does some investigating on her own. Naturally, Ty does not want her doing this, but she does turn up a few leads and evidence, sometimes by hilarious means. Christine Wenger writes with a flow I enjoyed, great characterization, description, humor and mystery. It is my opinion that the series will do very well, and those recipes that are included sound wonderful. Comfort food indeed.(less)
I completely enjoyed this entertaining and fascinating Private Eye book! A genre within a genre not normally included in this type of book, but it sui...moreI completely enjoyed this entertaining and fascinating Private Eye book! A genre within a genre not normally included in this type of book, but it suits me fine to have some scientific bantering around, and such a variety of sciences. I'm sure my fascination was because of the main character. Randal Koster has created a most unlikely yet exceptional protagonist. What do you do when you suddenly realize that you are the appointed prime suspect in a murder case? Why, go to a coffee and donut soiree in the morgue at the police station of course. mix and mingle with the cops!
Charlie Blackwood aka Chester, Knight of the Round Kitchen Table seems destined to be in the right place at the wrong time. A scientist and mathematician by trade, he has decided to try his hand at detecting. Don't let the math and science terms get to you, just plough on through them and they'll sort themselves out, in fact you may be surprised at what you know.
The writing is fun, tense, informative and suspenseful with surprising characters. Every type of emotion is realistically shared with the reader. From the first action the tension builds and takes the reader along with the characters. A final revelation of the garbled last words of the dying man the story begins with explains much of the plot...or does it? A veritable potpourri of a plot, very entertaining.(less)
I was hooked in the Prologue, and I knew right then that I would enjoy this book. The characters are well-formed, with faults and strengths as real pe...moreI was hooked in the Prologue, and I knew right then that I would enjoy this book. The characters are well-formed, with faults and strengths as real people have. The action begins quite quickly, while Pat Tierney is still reeling from the disclosure that her daughter Tracy has 'come out' and moved in with her partner Jennifer Collins, or Jamie as she chooses to be known. Now suddenly the whole world seems to have turned upside down as the police call to ask for Tracy, and because she loaned her car to Jamie, they are both immediately considered 'persons of interest' in a murder case in Braeloch, some miles north of where they live in Toronto. To make matters worse, Jamie has disappeared but Tracy's car is still at the scene. Because Tracy has been told by police she can't leave town, Pat finds herself in Braeloch, meeting Jamie's mother Veronica, a good thing because after talking with her, Pat finds she is now able to put Tracy's life choice into perspective. But she is unable to locate Jamie and fears something has either scared her off or something has happened to her. She is absolutely sure Jamie is not a murderer. This is bolstered after a chance meeting with an old friend and confidante, Sister Celia, who knows Jamie and also knows the victim well as an employee at the Church.
Pat, a financial advisor, comes up with a plan thanks to her employer at Norris Cassidy, and positions herself at the newly opened branch in the town of Braeloch. So begins the search and chase, the sleuthing to find a killer...and hopefully Jamie. But murder is not the only thing that Pat will find taking her attention and threatening her family. Will she be able to work out the numerous oddities that turn up? Rosemary McCracken's writing is descriptive, the camaraderie amongst many townspeople brings Pat comfort and some of the unusual characters bring some humor and pathos to the mix. An interesting storyline with surprises in store for everyone.(less)
Where can you find more legends than in Ireland and Scotland? This story takes place in 1950, the main characters are seniors, the mannerisms of speec...moreWhere can you find more legends than in Ireland and Scotland? This story takes place in 1950, the main characters are seniors, the mannerisms of speech are true to time and place. The people involved are Scottish, Irish and American. This is a story "written" by Gertrude from Ireland, found by her great-great nephew and presented in Gertrude's own words.
Though presented as based on fact, the book is fiction. I enjoyed reading it as based on a legend, a creation supposedly told by Gertrude. She is heading to Scotland with some visiting American friends, embarking on a relaxing visit to another of her old friends from the war, Marit Baltry. Considering this sparsely populated coastal area, it is not so strange that there would be legends. But within days the population has grown as a circus comes to the tiny village, while at the same time, scientists have rented a carriage house to do "experiments" at Marit's closest neighbour's home. Quite a crowd to suddenly appear in a somewhat unknown locale.
Gert and her friends immediately hear of the legend when they take a break at the local pub before carrying on to Marit's home. The legend has been resurrected upon a mysterious case of a circus performer balloonist who has disappeared from the high roof of the home of the widow Marit, and the disappearance has sparked rumours of the return of the "Beast from the Sky." The tale of the disappearance immediately brings the sleuthing instincts of Gertrude and her friends from earlier adventures to the fore. Henry and Judith, the Americans, decide they must solve this mystery. The legend itself goes back in history to a sect of Druids who occupied Groll Island, believed to house the Beast. The Druids died out long ago. The Beast was said to be guarding a treasure of some kind.
It happens that the island "home" of the Beast is part of Margit's land. That and the disappearance from her home make this all-too-tasty a morsel to investigate, much to the displeasure of Inspector McInnes, and the discomfort of Gert, who is inveigled into pursuing the mystery. What is even more enticing is that the first person to have encountered the Beast and kept a journal was Lord Baltry, ancestor to Marit's deceased husband. Cryptic references were made to the possible location of the treasure. Legend has it that anyone who sees the Beast will soon be dead, and this certainly seems to be the case over the decades with few daring to defy the Beast.
What are these people seeing, and what is killing them or causing their complete disappearance? The very small islands around Groll Island certainly appear to be uninhabitable. Tempestuous seas and rocky shores preclude that on all but Groll Island. Where the Druids lived in their insular community, there are only ruins. About the only way one would actually be able to view the vista of Groll would be from overhead, and there lies a clue to be deciphered.
An interesting mixture of what is in the eye of the beholder; is the Beast real, and who knows but isn't telling? Steven Donkin has presented an unusual and imaginative story, I might have preferred a sharper ending, but perhaps it is leading into a further adventure. Overall, a tantalizing look back in time only to find it is now.(less)
This deliciously entertaining book based in Florida, is a murder mystery taking place over the duration of a conference of food critics and cookbook a...moreThis deliciously entertaining book based in Florida, is a murder mystery taking place over the duration of a conference of food critics and cookbook authors. The attendee characters run a gamut of restless, snobbish, overzealous, and friendly, but all have secrets buried and the star speaker has just announced that there should be clarity and transparency in the writings of all, basing it particularly on transparency of who the original recipes come from. One might expect this to be a reasonable statement, but he goes on to naming names and explicitly states he will expose all their secrets over the next few days.
At first glance this seems like it will be a high-class conference, but once we get into the meat of the book, comfort meals are more readily embraced when the arrogant yet esteemed food critic, star of the conference, ends up dead. How many cooks cherish their grandmothers' recipes I wonder? It seems that not only traditional home cooking revolves around these treasured memories, but some of the cookbooks also feature original recipes from the past, but whose past?
This is a question that runs through the story and appears to be related to a further death. Was it murder or suicide?
Our plucky food critic reporter, Hayley Snow, on her first major assignment for "Key Zest" to the conference, befriends some of these authors and food critics, and of course, is the first to discover not one but two bodies. Accompanied by her mother with whom she has had a volatile relationship for years, these two play off each other beautifully. As their relationship changes during her mother's visit, the partnership becomes serious yet playful as they involve themselves in solving these murders, a matter that is causing some major stress for Hayley, particularly when her mother goes missing, and in her blooming relationship with the very handsome and very protective Detective Nate Bransford. But how can they leave this alone when one of their long-time friends is being investigated for murder?
I really enjoyed reading this book, the second in the Key West Food Critic mystery series. It is well-written with good solid characterizations, great descriptions of place, and as a bonus a few recipes are included which I'm sure I'm going to enjoy as well. I'm sure this series by Lucy Burdette will soon be on the menu for many readers. 4 1/2 stars(less)
This was a wonderful read! Even without the mystery, sleuthing and unique manner of deaths and attempted murders, I was fascinated by what I learned a...moreThis was a wonderful read! Even without the mystery, sleuthing and unique manner of deaths and attempted murders, I was fascinated by what I learned about oil paintings, by newbies and the old masters alike ... how paints were made, detecting forgeries, techniques, styles and more. Jean Sheldon's research into all types of subjects never fails to amaze me.
On the other hand, the crimes committed and how they were carried out are compelling and complicated. It seems like what could be described as a relatively straightforward mystery becomes a full-blown investigation that takes many twists and turns. Rayna Hunt, a somewhat uncomplicated individual, a brilliant artist who is thwarted by a horrific injury to her hand is the main character. Once she overcomes her frustration, fear, and depression, and finally embraces the use of a prosthesis, she trains to paint again, her character blossoms and she takes on teaching painting. Her class of seniors and troubled teens become the family she misses, with her daughter living in New Mexico. Rayna still has issues with self-esteem though and a very patient Paul, director of the Stratford Art Museum, waits in hope of a return to the relationship they had prior to her accident.
The characterizations in this book are so much fun yet realistic. The unity built between the seniors and the teens is wonderful to watch and they soon become a team with the purpose of keeping Rayna safe when she unknowingly becomes a target while embroiled in a police investigation. As an expert at discovering forgeries, her life is seriously threatened but who is responsible? Is it her beloved friend Paul? Why is she a suspect? How did so many paintings get switched in several different museums? It's not as though you could carry one in under your arm and replace the original hanging on the wall.
I am quickly becoming a huge fan of this author who can write such good mysteries in so many different styles. With several people involved in the crimes, the detective Diane Parker, Rayna and her art class involved in trying to solve the crimes, this book is a great balance of friendship and criminals. Fun and sometimes grisly at the same time. As the only member of my own family who can't even draw, I thoroughly enjoyed my romp in the art world. With Jean Sheldon's ability to bring a feeling of comfort in the midst of chaos, I loved this book.(less)
Excitement and chaos reigns among Kelly Flynn's familiar and friendly group in Fort Connor, Colorado. Their good f...moreReview based on Advance Reading Copy
Excitement and chaos reigns among Kelly Flynn's familiar and friendly group in Fort Connor, Colorado. Their good friends Megan and Marty are getting married and Kelly is in the wedding party. Megan has everything under control down to the minute. The dresses are gorgeous and ready, designed and made by Zoe Yeager, a local seamstress, assisted by her sister Vera.
Zoe is friendly and creative, but she has a secret. Zoe suffers from spousal abuse, hiding her bruises and nightmarish life from the world. This all-too-familiar scenario is discovered by Kelly and her friends, who try to help her make the decision to finally leave Oscar, her husband, and go to a shelter. When she does call her friends and tell them she is ready to leave they make plans to get her out of the house quickly and secretively. With shelter volunteers keeping her away from her husband, her friends feel she should be safe from danger, but is she?
Though Zoe's problems put a damper on the friends' spirits, they pick up the threads of their plans. When Zoe is found dead of a single shot to the head in the church parking lot, everyone immediately turns their radar toward Oscar as the murderer. There seems to be no question about it, but questions have a way of turning up strange things. Kelly and her friend Burt get to sleuthing quickly when other suspects for the murder come under scrutiny.
Meanwhile, Megan, organized as always yet easily panicked in unforseen changes, has been feeling confident that all is in order for her wedding, when her sister announces she has become pregnant and needs her dress adjusted. Prior to starting her own business, Zoe had worked for Leann O'Hara, long-time local seamstress. Fortunately, Leann steps in to help with the adjustments, another problem solved ... or is it?
Maggie Sefton writes with the ability to bring her readers right into the lives of her main characters, and this book is no different. The warmth and camaraderie is engaging and shared. With a permanent cast of this size, I appreciate the Cast of Characters page in each book. Kelly's sleuthing methods are definitely a part of her personality and with the help of retired police detective Burt and his buddy on the force, everything comes to a satisfying conclusion. In this, the 9th book in the series the conclusion satisfies in more ways than one. Knitting pattern and recipes included. 4 1/2 stars(less)
Samantha is up to her neck in trouble. Call it a sudden atmospheric and/or culture shock, but she is about to be transformed from a dinosaur of the Co...moreSamantha is up to her neck in trouble. Call it a sudden atmospheric and/or culture shock, but she is about to be transformed from a dinosaur of the Computer Age into a somewhat savvy Dotcom California fledgling quickly learning the lingo. If that weren't enough, she has a fear of heights and is sent to California's coast along the Pacific Highway resulting in terrifying cliff driving, and Carey Wells, the Isis CEO she is to interview not only lives on a cliff, but has a glass floor at the edge where one can look down at the ocean below and watch the sea otters. All this because the nice paper magazine “Real Life” has been taken over by a Japanese digital conglomerate and will now be operating strictly on-line as “E-LIFE”. Joining the cyberworld has her editor in a panic for a groundbreaking story from Sam.
Sarah Browne writes with tongue-in-cheek (and often cheeky) humour, this ebook is fascinating and funny reading. Sam's first encounter with the CEO is breathtaking since she finds herself interviewing a very distracting hunk in a hot tub. But it isn't all daydreams and wishful thinking, oh, no! There is quite a cast of characters in this book ranging from the mysterious and missing ex-galpal Lily, the old friends from Carey's hometown, Jake and Danny, who are also dotcom literate and technical, and Ben, the good friend but also technically the competition CEO.
The evening of her arrival in Carmel coincided with the eve of a marathon which she was definitely not planning on running. She was, however, destined to be at Carey's pre-marathon party. By the next morning, Sam discovers her first dead body. With pressure from her editor, pressure from the police, and pressure from her vertigo, Sam finds herself without a story and stuck in California. Who can she trust? Who is killing off dotcom bigwigs? This is a story with lots of detail, descriptive and peopled with unique characters. Fun, rich in cybertalk, and a compelling murder mystery. A very entertaining read.(less)
I completely immersed myself in this well-written book enjoying every minute. It was definitely deserving of b...moreKindle version published by Imajin Books
I completely immersed myself in this well-written book enjoying every minute. It was definitely deserving of being short-listed for the Crime Writers of Canada "Unhanged Arthur". Gloria Ferris' writing reminded me somewhat of one of my favourite authors, Donna Andrews, especially with the very large quirky extended family interaction and antics. She brings "skeletons in the closet" to a whole new level. Take a decades-old cold case of a missing child, a sudden unexpected inheritance of a huge fabulous and museum-like home to divorced grand-niece Lyris Pembroke, who must then quickly plan and host the annual Pembroke family reunion comprised of about 400 extended family members all too soon after moving into her new home. Throw in a good helping of the paranormal and hidden secrets, a headstone with no name, a fire, attacks on Lyris and you have a pretty good perception of what fun this book is going to be. Lyris definitely has her work cut out for her. Fortunately she has also inherited Conklin the butler, and is able to hire Caroline, an excellent cook and housekeeper. For the reunion, Lyris shows admirable organizational ability as she works her way through what must be done prior to the reunion.
Not all is fun and games, though. There are also some dangerous intruders lurking about, not all of them necessarily human. Or perhaps otherworldly would be a better way to put it. Toss in a small dog with sharp teeth, soon joined by an oversized black cat, and the house begins to fill with more rooms occupied than the residents realize. Spanning so many decades, it would be strange if there were not romances, both current and decades old. Reignited passions, and reawakened love and trust with those who have suffered at the hands of their exes in the past and discover there is still a chance for happiness, even if it comes almost too late. The book is loaded with many different types of chaos and stress and yet it doesn't confuse the reader, it is just all a part of the whole. I loved the balance of the book, I laughed at the shenanigans, shed a few tears as the cold case is dealt with, worried with our heroine, relived the past with the few remaining WWII veterans even enjoying the singing of Vera Lynn in my mind, went through terror, thrills and chills, and loved the ending. This book certainly ran through a gamut of emotions, old and new. I am really looking forward to the further adventures to come.(less)
Nancy Gettelman writes with an authenticity and realism I find comforting. It often feels as though she is personally telling me about something she...moreNancy Gettelman writes with an authenticity and realism I find comforting. It often feels as though she is personally telling me about something she has been doing. Of course, in the case of a murder mystery that is not what she has been involved in other than trying to figure out "whodunit". The best way to describe this feeling is that parts of every story give me the feeling of familiarity. Exceptional physical descriptions of Milwaukee bring pictures to my mind. An awesome experience and very good writing to involve the reader to such an extent. If Gretchen Meier is typical of the people of Milwaukee, then I would put Milwaukee on my list of cities to visit.
Gretchen is a widow of several years with two grown sons working at a large beer distributorship. She has a very close relationship with her sons, and also with her mother-in-law. Immediately as the reader begins the story, Warren Reuter, the owner of the distributorship, is found dead in bed at his home. Assumed as an insulin overdose accidentally taken by the diabetic Warren himself, it takes a while for the coroner to discover this is not only a murder case, but the weapon and usage is very unusual. Gretchen is not your usual in-your-face nor butting-in-with-the-police type of protagonist, and most of her investigation is done in her thoughts. She thinks everything through thoroughly, she is very human and concerned about the people she suspects. She is also concerned about the fate of her sons, both as suspects and for their future in the business.
Who would have the knowledge and the motive to kill him? He was engaged to a young widow from California who sold her house at his request and moved to Milwaukee; she has a son who works in another town but visits her occasionally. He had recently offered to sell his share of the Green Bay distributorship to Gretchen's two sons, over the objection of his partner. Warren has two estranged sons. Who of these people and others would have a motive to kill him? Someone expecting to benefit from an inheritance? Who would have the special knowledge on how to kill him? Why does Marla, his fiancé, act so strangely? Life is, really, just a mirage. What we see is not necessarily real.
These are the questions that keep Gretchen awake at night and her mind will not leave her alone, especially once her sons become suspect. Enjoying her visits to talk with Warren's lawyer, Stephen Boswell, whom she has known socially for some time, they discover a mutual feeling of romantic interest. When his sister visits, she and Gretchen become fast friends, and Patricia encourages them. As a therapist, Patricia goes with Gretchen to visit Marla, and soon finds that she has a psychological personality disorder that has a bearing on Marla's isolation from the death, and which coincidentally also applies to Warren. She feels that both show signs of being sociopaths.
These are the bare bones of this latest book by Nancy Gettelman, enjoyable, suspenseful, and with psychological intrigue. There is enough in this book to make it part of a series, if the author wishes to. I think the combination of Gretchen, Stephen, and Patricia would make an excellent team for private or amateur investigation. Another intriguing novel for Nancy Gettelman, every one very different, and every one interesting.(less)
Flowers For Her Grave by Jean Sheldon Published by Bast Press
A twenty-year-old mystery is about to come to life again, stirring up old doubts, old fea...moreFlowers For Her Grave by Jean Sheldon Published by Bast Press
A twenty-year-old mystery is about to come to life again, stirring up old doubts, old fears and, perhaps, old memories. On this, the twentieth anniversary of a murder and a disappearance, the Gazette, this small town's local paper, has run a story revisiting the long ago unsolved crime. Louise Vandenberg, the only surviving member of the family has just passed away. She chased the mystery for years, writing every clue into diaries, did she have the answer to who killed her husband and what happened to her daughter? Who killed Jack? Was five-year-old Kimberley kidnapped? Is she alive or dead?
The little town of Raccoon Grove was stunned by this crime in their usually crime-free community, but twenty years is a long time and memories fade. David and Tracy run the paper, and Tracy definitely has an inquiring mind. When two unsigned letters arrive at the paper, one purporting to know who killed Jack, and another simply saying Kimberly is alive in Chicago, and giving a phone number, her clue-sniffing persona takes over. Tracy and Kate are best friends, so sleuthing together does not deter them.
This is also a tale of renewal, family relationships, growth and confidence, and how terrible things can happen without intent. Kate, never with faith in herself, lived in an empty shell most of her life until she discovered her love of flowers and her skill with arrangements. Jean Sheldon is an expert at description, and no less so in this book. Her description of the flower gardens is so beautiful it is possible to picture them in the reader's mind. I'm sure if I didn't suffer from lack of smell, I would even have smelled them. Her gardens have given Kate a feeling of worthiness she has never known before and made her stronger.
Jack Vandenberg was "the" attorney many women chose to obtain divorces, for his compassion, understanding, and as a very good divorce lawyer. We meet several quirky characters in this book, many ex-husbands firmly ensconced in their bar stools. Some husbands blamed Jack for the breakups of their marriages and convinced themselves their wives were having an affair with him. Kate's ex-husband Dirk was one of these. Was it possible that a disgruntled ex-husband had done the deed?
Tracy and Kate begin with old files from the Gazette and an interview with Ben, ex-police chief, who soon turns up dead raising even more questions. Coincidence or accident? There are enough dead ends, false leads, threats, and pretenders to keep the reader guessing. Sara Collins as Kimberley's best friend spent many years treated for depression after the disappearance, but with 20 years behind her and an excellent therapist, she is doing very well, even with the inevitable gaps in her memory. When Kate takes her on as assistant in her gardens and mentors her, her health improves dramatically, but Sara is unable to go near pink roses. Is there a connection?
Throughout the book, odd incidents happen. The tension mounts bringing with it danger for our protagonists. In their haste to stall off more crises, some errors in judgment occur, but a reality check makes up for those slips. Uncertain memories sometimes steer them in wrong directions as the townspeople try to remember who was where, and when. The most crucial evidence is expected to show up in Louise's journals, but a break-in at the Vandenberg house has resulted in the disappearance of the most recent ones. Can they ever be found? Will they be destroyed? When Tracy and Kate find themselves as targets, they become more determined to find the culprit.
Ms. Sheldon has a wonderful sense of history, mystery, and the flaws of mankind. She has written several stand-alone books, and though mysteries, they are entirely unique. They all pique the reader's interest. Each is carefully researched, presented, and keeps us reading. She is sharp as a tack in nailing her diverse mysteries, always with a touch of humor. My thanks to the author for keeping me entertained and guessing! Another great mystery by Jean Sheldon, who will shock you by the end of this book
Another unique foray into the forensic use of acoustics in aiding murder investigations. Who would have thought what a grea...morePublished by Cozy Cat Press
Another unique foray into the forensic use of acoustics in aiding murder investigations. Who would have thought what a great tool this can be? I had the privilege of reviewing Patricia Rockwell's first book in this series, Sounds of Murder, this is the second. We have several of the same characters as in the first, but this time out the location is completely different. The book is written in two time periods as well as the present. This may sound confusing, but the times are well laid out, and essential to the mystery.
The story begins December 15 just before midnight with a late-night radio broadcast of alternative music, hosted by "Black Vulture", normally running from midnight to 4:00 a.m. During his patter, he mentions that he can hear that he has a visitor coming, the door opens, and the listening world hears the shooting death of the local celebrity, Black Vulture a.k.a. Theodore Ballard, on air, then deathly quiet as the mike is switched off. So here we are with a mysterious death and the shocked alternative music world as audio witness, right in the first two pages, the Prologue.
Back to a previous day in the week, December 11, we meet a dying carpet king, his son Daniel who is currently running the business, and the family lawyer Harold Vickers, among others. Now, what could a carpet manufacturing business possibly have to do with an alternative music disk jockey? There are a few secrets in this family, including Amy, Daniel's secret sweetheart and his desire to reunite his father and his long-missing and disowned brother before his father passes away. This is no easy task because they have never heard a word from him since he left many years before, but he asks the lawyer if he will look into it..
Next, we move into "present" time, which at this moment in the story is December 16. Before long, a pattern of timing will appear explaining why these three time periods are important, how they connect up, and eventually reach the present in all three parts. We are now at the home of the intrepid and feisty heroine, Pamela Barnes, who is trying to sleep in on this Sunday morning, while her dog is trying to wake her up. We also get to know her husband Rocky, and daughter Angie. Rocky is the main cook in this family and there are recipes in the back of the book. Rocky is also against his wife "sticking her nose in" when it comes to murder, akin to Columbo-like Detective Shoop, nor does he approve of Angie's relationship with Pamela's graduate assistant, Kent, and refers to him as "that hoodlum" and says he "looks like a weirdo".
Kent and Angie are into alternative music. They had been to a movie the night before, then at a friend's home where they were listening to Black Vulture's show and so it is that they also became audio witnesses to his murder, and called the police. When she mentions his real name, Rocky is shocked to learn that he has met him. He is one of the doctoral students in the English Department at Grace University, where both Pamela and Rocky work. Their friend Trudi is his advisor.
Of course, Pamela's mind switches into investigative mode, while Rocky slips into his over-protective mode both for his wife and his daughter. Since the murder was recorded, this time Detective Shoop asks for Pamela's help in analyzing the audio with her specialized equipment for any possible clues. Pamela, naturally, jumps at the chance to help. She soon has others helping her with knowledge of accents and guns, as well as her entire class as a project they jump right in to. Her research also extends itself into attending a Vampires Ball in New Orleans.
There is a blend in Patricia Rockwell's writing of pathos and humor, intelligence, surprises, shock and very interesting investigative methods. For all the switches in time, it's fascinating how she draws all these into one. Patricia, you totally shocked me with the murderer. I thought it was between 3 possible suspects, but no. Fantastic!.Again, I look forward to what's in store for Pamela, her family and friends, next time.(less)
This is the third book in the Maggie and Odessa series, however this is the first I have read. The book is entertaining with...morePublished by CreateSpace
This is the third book in the Maggie and Odessa series, however this is the first I have read. The book is entertaining with distinctive continuing characters, as well as a mixed bag of tricky characters filling out the current book. I found it unusual and interesting that although I believe Maggie is the main character, the story is told by Odessa, like Watson to Sherlock Holmes. Maggie is ostensibly working as file clerk and receptionist for a private eye but she is determined to take on a case of her own. In "Semisweet" she gets her chance, or more correctly, she makes her chance. Odessa, O to her friends and Dessa to her boyfriend Lee, is Maggie's "sidekick". Odessa is a dessert chef, working both privately and at her sister Candace's restaurant, the Blue Moon, when she isn't running after Maggie helping solve crime.
The story opens with a terrified Odessa being held with a knife at her throat in the almost empty restaurant. Good opening, certainly gains the reader's attention, and I liked the humorous touch in this scene as well. We meet Maggie first via cellphone, as the knife wielder is handcuffed and led out of the restaurant. A bright, cheery happy voice breaking the tension. We meet her in person two days later accompanied by the woman involved in what Maggie refers to as her first case. Her boss was out when she took the call and she decided this was a good time for her to take on a case of her own, licensed or not.
The story revolves around this case, a strange one if ever there was. Maggie is to act as a wedding planner for Mrs. Verde's daughter, Eloise. The well-to-do Mrs. Verde will pay whatever the cost. Odessa is to make the wedding cake and desserts, and even Candace is involved as caterer and assistant to Maggie as a planner. Strangely, while planning the wedding for Eloise, Maggie is also supposed to be digging up dirt on Henry, the bridegroom-to-be, and make sure the wedding doesn't happen! What could be cozier? If this were not enough, Maggie has to take along her 8 year old Houdini son part of the time, frustratingly helpful as he is. This, then, is the theme of this humorous but captivating book.
Jill Brock has created many opportunities for sleuthing, especially when finding dirt on Henry is not panning out very well and time is running out. When strange events start gearing up, usually with Odessa as a victim, things get interesting.. This causes the story, though focused, to take several changes in direction. These events run the gamut of lies to murder, but who is really involved? Is Henry really Mister Nice Guy, or is he an expert at illusion? There is a lot of fun and adventure in this cozy mystery, with enough questions to mull over and enjoy. I predict these characters will become favorites.(less)
The cover of this book is a portent of things to come. A good man walks from the light into the dark side, where man becomes f...morePublished by Enterabooks
The cover of this book is a portent of things to come. A good man walks from the light into the dark side, where man becomes fool. A story of opposites, complications, passion, action, threat, going from confusion to comprehension. Opening with the dead body of a naked woman on the beach, with two male witnesses to the accidental death, the story takes a sudden turn to our heroine Sandy Reid, met in "One Deadly Sister", Book 1 of this series. She is studying to become a lawyer. She receives a phone call from an "old acquaintance" the caller tells her. However, there are two reasons why Sandy is unsure about this caller who wants to get together to talk over old times. The caller, identifying herself as Abby Olin, her married surname, a name not known to Sandy, and she calls her Sandra, although Sandy has never been known as Sandra to friends and acquaintances. Yet Sandy becomes curious and decides to meet with her. A grave mistake which brings back some old memories and also traps her in a whole web of trouble.
Rod Hoisington has put together another fast paced murder mystery with a strong protagonist in Sandy. The book is filled with a wide variety of unique characters from her nemesis State Prosecutor Moran, to Abby and her assortment of odd acquaintances. Moran is once more his harassing self, unjustly aimed at Sandy, actually putting her under arrest to destroy her chances at graduating law school at the very least, or blacklisted for the bar at the worst.
Once again Sandy is involved in a high-profile case, plus two other cases that may or may not be connected. She must try to solve everything while she is out on bail and before Moran finds something he can use to rescind her bail. He is planning to charge her with conspiracy to commit murder. Wonderful story-telling as it weaves its way throughout the book, even to a possible kidnapping the mother won't report. These are but a few of the strange happenings she stumbles upon. Fortunately for her, Sandy has many friends in law enforcement and her personal lawyer. Between all of them, and unexpected help from Abby's ex-husband, the net begins to gather all these facts and possibilities, crimes and perpetrators into a loose net, not convinced fully whether they are related cases or not. Rod Hoisington is very good at keeping the mystery going and bringing surprises along the way. My attention was held through to the surprising ending.(less)
A very creative and enjoyable first novel, Rod Hoisington has created a complicated whodunit with red herrings to spare. At the basic root we have the...moreA very creative and enjoyable first novel, Rod Hoisington has created a complicated whodunit with red herrings to spare. At the basic root we have the remaining two members of a family, a brother and sister, who have had no real contact since the day their parents died several years ago. In fact, sister Sandy is living her well-ordered life quite satisfactorily, thank you, doing legwork for a highly respected law office. A late night call brings her brother Raymond back into her life like a slap in the face, she has all but disowned him and the call is like a blast of ice. He is calling from a Florida jail in a small town, with a murder rap hanging over his head. Sandy is determined that in no way is she going to help him, she is still too angry about his lack of support for her when she needed it.
A quick look at the News, and she starts to get second thoughts. Too many questions, Ray is not the type to murder anyone, much less a high-profile Senator. Confusion reigns as she arrives to find her brother being railroaded through the system so that State Attorney Moran can win a famous trial whether his "held in custody" suspect is guilty or not. Moran is ignoring the many other possible suspects and zeroing in on his target, creating a case for conviction. A stranger in town? What a break for him, everyone will hate this guy Ray for assassinating their Senator!
From this point on, there are misunderstandings, misdirections, underestimations, especially underestimating Sandy, a pit-bull in a sexy body. Ludicrous statements and outright lies are flying everywhere. Not only are there lots of twists in the case itself, but in the many strange relationships that show up here and there throughout. This book is written almost tongue-in-cheek and I loved it. It grabs hold of you early on and you can't get away from it. The action suddenly takes off with a few diverse leads and builds very quickly toward the final setups, lies and implausibilities that give the reader a sense of fun and satisfaction as the story finally wraps up all the loose ends, finding more to deal with than meets the eye. I will definitely be looking for another novel by Rod Hoisington!(less)
A very entertaining treasure hunt and thriller, somewhat reminiscent of the "Sisterhood" series by Fern Michaels with its mixed group of heroes. Jean...moreA very entertaining treasure hunt and thriller, somewhat reminiscent of the "Sisterhood" series by Fern Michaels with its mixed group of heroes. Jean Sheldon has written an adventure based on legend and history from the invasion of the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s and the discovery of a journal presumably dated from 1539.
The reader is brought into the story very quickly with the abduction of Jacqueline Tracy, who has unwittingly purchased this journal at a book auction because she liked the carved leather cover. She has a tendency to forget about auction purchases until they are delivered and so is unable to tell her kidnappers where the journal is.
Jackie's friends, almost all middle-aged including Jackie, soon realize she is missing. The police won't do anything until there is more information, so the women turn to Jackie's friend Nicole, an ex-cop and now private investigator. Little do they know the abuse Jackie is going through, nor the kindness of one of her captors, a giant of a man.
Her group of merry girls manages to rescue her, but they are incredulous when Jackie hires Chuck, the captor's 7'4" assistant, to be her bodyguard, and she won't take "no" for an answer. She is sure he is a good man and didn’t want any part in the kidnapping but had his own reasons for being involved. What impressed her was his kindness and his assistance in helping with her escape. Their group now numbering six including Jackie's Aunt Beth and Chuck, starts trying to sort out what the kidnapping was all about. While Jackie was away, a parcel that had been overlooked in a delivery truck finally made its arrival, and of course, it is the journal being sought after by somebody pulling the strings in the background regarding Jackie's kidnapping. Someone with a great deal of money and a ruthless greed.
Gwen, a psychiatrist in their close-knit group of friends, is able to translate most of the ancient Spanish, touching off a decision to go to New Mexico. Several things happen that hurry them on their way. Our modern group sets off on a vacation which, though exciting, is not at all the kind of excitement they expected or wanted.
There are several interesting characters in this book, not all in a good way. Our motley but hardy crew is made up with Jackie and her adventurous aunt Beth. Beth Tracy has raised Jackie in Chicago from childhood, the city where all their friends live, but still maintains the house in New Mexico where Jackie lived before her parents died. Pat, whose partner recently died, lives with her cat Zodiac above the bookstore Jackie owns. Nicole, the P.I., Gwen, the psychiatrist, and Chuck, Jackie's new friend, bodyguard and excellent cook. Then there are the "bad" guys under the thumb and threat of one psychotic "Conquistador".
This book surprised me. I learned some history along the way, the legend of the "streets paved with gold" as understood from the journal, that middle-age can be exciting, loyal friendship is a wonderful thing to have, and when you are being chased by a madman always watch your back! Ms. Sheldon has mixed adventure, terror, history, and the beauty of New Mexico into a story I didn't want to put down. The characters, even the worst of them, molded a certain fascination into the story. I feel with these characters she has the makings of a series, though I have no idea if that is in the author's future. She has written a variety of books and possibly prefers stand-alone stories. I want to keep my eye on this author's output, I'm sure it will be interesting.(less)
Patricia Rockwell is an academic with an extensive portfolio of publications, journal articles, textbooks and presentations. She holds a doctorate in...morePatricia Rockwell is an academic with an extensive portfolio of publications, journal articles, textbooks and presentations. She holds a doctorate in Communications. This is her first book of fiction. With her solid and prolific background in academics, it would be easy to think the transition to fiction might be a bit weighty, or overly academic. This is absolutely not true of Dr. Rockwell. She has written a cozy novel in an untapped area of the study of sound waves that is very definitely readable. I chose to review this book because I'm fascinated by all kinds of science, and love cozy mysteries. I was not disappointed.
"Sounds of Murder" does take place in a university, and sprinkled throughout, the politics of a university come dashing through. But this is a murder mystery set in a faculty dealing with communications. As in all cozy mysteries, there are several interwoven characterizations. Anyone who has gone to, or worked in, a college or university will appreciate the diverse personalities they find there.
Our heroine, Pamela Barnes, specializes in Acoustics, the study of sound waves, voice patterns, and basically anything to do with sound. She teaches this at a graduate school in the university. On this night, she has a three-hour class and has just made sure that her student assistant, Kent, has locked the Communications Lab before they go to class, since the school is usually empty at this time of the evening and there is a great deal of very expensive equipment in there.
The author's characters range from meek to extreme behaviour. Dr. Charlotte Clark is one of the latter and very quickly the story takes off with a terrible argument between Dr. Clark and the Head of the Department, Mitchell Marks. Pamela has just come into the front of the main office to get her mail and the strength of the argument is coming right through the Head's office door. She can hear it, although she can't hear the words, When she hears Charlotte getting louder as she approaches the door, she hurries out of the office and into class.
On leaving at the end of the evening, Kent is sent to double-check that the door to the lab is locked. Next thing she hears is Kent running and calling her to come to the lab, he has found the door wide open and a body slumped at one of the special computers. Now our story is really underway as police arrive and question them both together and separately, only with a brief pause for Pamela to call her husband Rocky to let him know she would be late.
From this point on, the action begins to build, everybody seems to have a motive of some type, but as well, we are witness to all Pamela's thought processes, which I found to be unique and fascinating. Her mind goes over and over but jumps to inane things in between just as a person who has met with trauma would do. Here I began to have the feeling of being inside her head, a remarkable piece of storytelling. This happens a few times as the investigation moves along, but the reader almost always knows what Pamela herself is thinking. Though this may be anticipated to be monotonous, in reality it most certainly is not; there is even some humor to be found in this method. One thing she is thinking is that she may well be the only person available with the expertise to possibly solve this case or at the very least present compelling evidence, because she has a small sound byte on a CD that she knows she is the most likely to be able to analyze it.
Meanwhile, Rocky and the lead Columbo-like Detective Shoop both try to stop her from "sticking her nose in" but she just can't leave it alone. This is a well-written mystery, with some unique features. I do enjoy finding cozies or any book that has something new and different. This appears to be the first in a series, and I certainly hope so. There is humor and pathos, surprises, lots of interaction of characters, and a most tempting house to come home to. Regardless of the murder and political academia, this is essentially a warm friendly story, a perfect cozy to curl up with.(less)
Lorna Barrett writes with a flow that takes the reader into the story as eye witness to the events. You are there, it feels real. What I like best ab...more Lorna Barrett writes with a flow that takes the reader into the story as eye witness to the events. You are there, it feels real. What I like best about reading a series is the character development and consistency; you soon feel you know these people personally, and Lorna is very good at giving her readers those characters. "Chapter & Hearse" is the fourth in the Booktown series.
An explosion rocks the little town of Stoneham, completely demolishing one of the heritage buildings as well as the store manager, and giving the biggest tourist draw in town the look of a mouthful of teeth with one missing. What's more, the property is sold within four days of the explosion, which naturally causes our heroine, amateur sleuth and bookseller Tricia Miles, an itch in her sleuthing bones. Fortunately, her ever-faithful employees and friends are on hand to mind her store "Haven't Got A Clue", while she pursues the case. Three men from her past tend to interrupt her concentration on sleuthing, especially the Chief who definitively tells her to not put herself in the way of danger.
Review based on Advance Reading Copy.
Tricia's sister Angelica, owner of both the Cookery bookstore, next to Tricia's bookstore, and the eatery "Booked for Lunch" across the road, is out of town through most of this book She is out on a book-signing tour for her cookbook, "Easy-Does-It Cooking", but hurries back when her boyfriend Bob is not only an 'almost' victim in his own home, but also suspected of the crime already being investigated.
There are many surprises in "Chapter & Hearse", misunderstandings, outright lies, misdirections, suspicious accidents, several suspects, tangled connections, and a funny scene where Tricia tries to bake. Lots for the reader to chew on. There are also recipes included. If you are looking for a good cozy murder mystery, you will not be disappointed in this book. Once again, Lorna Barrett has delivered an absorbing and extremely satisfying read. Very enjoyable and hard to put down, a real treat.(less)
A rash of student suicides has hit the campus of Ellsford University! What can be the cause? Sammy Greene is determined to get to the bottom of things...moreA rash of student suicides has hit the campus of Ellsford University! What can be the cause? Sammy Greene is determined to get to the bottom of things as a reporter and talk-show host for W.E.L.L., the campus radio station. She is tough, dedicated, and prone to exclamations in Yiddish, a result of being raised by her traditional grandmother. She plans a Memorial show for the most recent, a young man with a great future ahead, a talented musician and composer, and homosexual.
Interviews with professors, students, and friends trigger some questions as to whether these suicides are what they seem. A fanatical religious group, with an overly zealous leader preaching, anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-corporate funding of research, she begins to investigate the group as possibly responsible for the "suicides".
Having left her purse at the home of her biology professor during an interview, she returns the next morning to retrieve it, and the tape from her interview. When she arrives, Sammy discovers Professor Conrad is dead from a self-inflicted bullet. Another seemingly unrelated suicide? But why then did his mentor commit suicide in the same manner with the same gun 3 years before? Retrieving her purse, she realizes that it was running until it ran out, and possibly there will be some evidence on it.
Thus begins Sammy's thrill-ride as she battles against all comers including the police chief, her boyfriend, the Dean, other professors, and the Reverend Taft. No one will listen to her, and all warn her to leave it alone, they are satisfied with the suicide theory. Even Professor Conrad had tried to warn her off. If he was going to commit suicide, why the warning?
This story is fast-paced, factual in many ways, researched thoroughly by the authors who are well-versed in their subject. The suspense is high and the action continuous with little snippets of humor to ease the tension. Suspicions take sidetracks throwing Sammy and Campus Police Chief Pappajohn off course several times. Danger lurks everywhere. She is not even sure she trusts Pappajohn. Now, two students are missing. What is the connection?
A strong story and very current, the dangers in the world of today as we lose control of who owns what in business, what conglomerate is supporting life-saving research, this is a medical thriller that satisfies. When Sammy's missing tape is located after a suspicious fire destroys the radio station, answers start flowing thick and fast and in several directions. Everyone seems to suspect the wrong person(s). The race heats up all through the book, to a heart-stopping climax.
Both authors have written thrillers before. Both are in the field of health care and research. This is the first collaborative story by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, and the first introduction of Sammy Greene, which appears to me to be the beginning of a series. If so, I will be watching for the next episode!(less)
I have always found forensics of any type interesting and this forensic handwriting mystery did not let me down. Well-formed...moreDead Write by Sheila Lowe
I have always found forensics of any type interesting and this forensic handwriting mystery did not let me down. Well-formed plot and characters, with suspense building throughout the book. This is the third in the Claudia Rose series by Sheila Lowe, but the first I have read. There are a few hints here and there that bring the reader up to date without going into a lot of repetition for those who have read the previous books.
On the strength of a television interview, Claudia receives an offer, albeit a rather demanding offer, to come to New York for an interview to work with Baroness Grusha Olinetsky -- immediately. The Baroness is a "world class matchmaker" and just fired her handwriting expert who also happens to be Claudia's nemesis. Claudia's first instinct is not to go, she is still recovering from the recent murder of a close friend and was nearly a victim of a psychopath herself. Her partner Joel Jovanic doesn't want her to go, nor does her ward, Annabelle. However, Grusha has arranged a flight the next day from California to New York, and offered a sum she feels she can not refuse. Besides, she is concerned about how serious the "bad mistakes" were that the previous expert made.
Once in New York her life becomes a whirlwind of unique characters, handwriting with "red flags" that were ignored, and too many coincidental deaths. Who is trying to bring Grusha and her business to ruination? The action picks up as the book goes along and Claudia becomes more involved with every page, while problems are also stirring back at home.
I found the book held my attention, loved learning bits and pieces of graphology, and will definitely be reading more of Sheila Lowe's books, starting with the first. Fascinating characters, bodies piling up, until the final diabolic debacle comes crashing down. An entertaining, cohesive story with lots of conceivable suspects. (less)
I want to go to Caerphilly next Christmas to watch their parade. Better still, I wish I had been there to see the one just past! Who knew putting toge...moreI want to go to Caerphilly next Christmas to watch their parade. Better still, I wish I had been there to see the one just past! Who knew putting together a Christmas parade could entertain a reader throughout most of a book, have an acting "Mary" go into labor on the nativity float, and in between have and solve a murder? Not to mention the llamas and camels and elephants, oh my! Elephants? Well, it is really a Holiday parade incorporating several December holidays and Meg Langslow has been put in charge.
Donna Andrews knows how to entertain and be completely unexpected at the same time. In her several books, she consistently brings to her reading audience laughter, mystery, and a cast of characters that must be read to be believed. This is one author I would love to meet, her imagination knows no bounds, even to the name of the town. She also has the uncanny ability to combine characters both human and animal and this time she has done it in a big way.
Her cast of regular characters is surprisingly large and interactive and yet there is always room for more. Who will solve the murder? Why was it committed in the first place, and why at Christmas? There are enough suspects with motive to fill the jail and then some. I’m always sad in a way when the mystery is solved and the story ends, but very thankful that so far there is always another on its way. This is one series you can depend on to lift your spirits. A great cozy read that makes you feel like part of the family.