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An Auction Block Mystery #3

Death & the Gravedigger's Angel

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When former army medic Tony Dozier is accused of killing a member of the hate group that disrupted his wife's funeral, the prosecution charges premeditated murder and the defense claims temporary insanity. Former marine Death Bogart and auctioneer Wren Morgan think there's more to the story.

They're both led to the long-abandoned Hadleigh House, where Wren begins preparing the contents for auction but ends up searching for the story behind an antique sketchbook. As Wren uncovers the century-old tale of a World War I soldier and his angel, Death finds a set of truths that will change...or end...their lives.

264 pages, Paperback

Published February 8, 2017

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About the author

Loretta Ross

6 books160 followers
Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri - Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Death and the Redheaded Woman will be her first published novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
Profile Image for Janet.
2,162 reviews25 followers
November 23, 2016
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a book that I'm on the fence about. Since I haven't read the first two in this series, I felt confused having jumped right into this one. Reading the others is highly recommended before starting this, otherwise, you're left with questions and piecing things together as you read further in. That being said, the characters are likable enough and the mystery held my attention that I would like to check out the first book to see where it all began and how Death and Wren became a couple. I also liked the spooky feel of Hadleigh House.
Profile Image for Tracey.
1,078 reviews244 followers
February 12, 2017
Pardon me while I hop up on a soapbox.

Ladies and gentlemen, readers and especially writers of cozy mysteries, this – (allow me to wave a copy of Death and the Gravedigger's Angel in the air) this is how it's supposed to be done.

The object, last time I looked, of a cozy mystery is pure entertainment. They're supposed to have a main character who is not a cop but has some sort of access to mysteries that makes sense. They're supposed to be light in tone, or even funny. They're supposed to be long on characterization and charm; a twisty plot is a bonus, but not a necessity.

And The Gravedigger's Angel does it right, in spades. The titular main character, Death Bogart, is a private investigator, with an auctioneer girlfriend named Wren. Both are well-written and engaging, and are surrounded by characters I enjoy. I laughed out loud reading this, often. Do you have any idea how long it's been since that happened more than, say, once in a book? The flying buttresses. "Yaaaarrrrgh". The French lesson. And, best of all, the battle of the Bible verses – marvelous.

“Hit your head again?”
“Umm, no.”
“I wasn’t asking. I was offering.”

“I had a possessed rabbit once.”
“I’m not even surprised.”

It wasn't perfect. My eyebrows rose a little at the idea that someone could forget they had sold an authentic Civil War Confederate uniform, especially early on in her career – I can't believe I would ever forget about something like that – but I guess the reasoning was the sheer volume of stuff that was sold. And probably by the time of publication someone will fix the point that the auctioneers make that they keep records for six years, and the uniform was sold less than six years before what I assume is the setting for the book (2016-17).

But any quibbles I had with small plot holes or what-have-you were more than outweighed by the references to Star Trek and Tolkien, and indeed Lord Peter – and the fact that the story behind Death's name was not rehashed from the first book. (If Loretta Ross was trying to earn brownie points, she totally scored with me.) On the one hand, I'm wary of the trove of puns and wordplay that can (and do) spring from the name in a series of murder mysteries… the fact that that horse Death comes to know is a gray kind of made me sigh a little … but … how can I hold it against the author when a) the man is named for Lord Peter Wimsey, and b) it would really be inhuman for anyone to resist riffing on the name now and then. Just once and a while. I mean, really. And given the conceit of the main character's name being Death, how could anyone resist using it in the titles?

Woven in amongst the humor and book-geeky goodness is a very serious and very well handled exploration of PTSD and depression. Death has been broken, and while the pieces are coming back together, and he's beginning to be able to see daylight, still the depression never goes entirely away – "lurking like a dark, tentacled monster under the surface of a sunny pond". The PTSD never goes entirely away – it impacts every day. It's not the focus of the story. But it makes for a solid foundation, a gritty background for the froth and fun. And the joy. Just as there's a real strain of darkness in the book, so is there actual joy. That's an accomplishment.

And then there's a joke about teaching French using Lady Marmalade, and I'm giggling like a kid again.

And there's a bit of a clever mystery as well, in which the non-sleuthing main character only accidentally ends up in danger (as opposed to sticking her nose into places it has no business and ending up in danger). So, yes: this is my benchmark for a cozy mystery done well. I love this series, and I hope it keeps coming for a long time.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.
Profile Image for LORI CASWELL.
2,413 reviews271 followers
February 10, 2017
Dollycas’s Thoughts

I love this series! Morgan is working at Hadleigh House, an old abandoned mansion, to inventory the furnishings and other contents for auction. She finds an old sketchbook that is truly a treasure. It seems to tell a story from World War I about a soldier and his angel. Meanwhile Tony Dozier, an army vet is arrested for killing a man that was protesting his wife’s funeral. Wren and Death (Dee-th) “it’s a family name” Bogart meet the man and know right away he didn’t kill anyone. Death also has PTSD and knows that is what the vet is dealing with. Maybe the sketchbook can help explain the vet’s confusion and lead them to the real killer.

Three books and we are still peeling back the layers on these characters. They continue to grow closer and deal with each other’s battles. They are falling in love but still have barriers up so as to not cause each other pain, both physically and emotionally. The author seems to understand that their healing is a process, not something that can be fleshed out in a hurry but revealed over time. For me as a reader that draws me to these characters in a major way.

The setting this time was quite interesting. A big old house, a cemetery, and a camp for wounded veterans are all located close together but getting to the house is difficult because there is only a walking path until a bridge car be rebuilt for vehicles. The picture on the cover depicts things very well.

The theme of the story is very current, there is a group, the Church of the Army of Christ (CAC), a militant hate group, they protest around the area. This group disrupted the Dozier funeral because Tony’s wife was a Muslim. She and Tony were the only survivors of an attack in Afghanistan only to get back to the states and have her killed by a drunk driver. Tony dealing with the tragedy he witnessed overseas as a medic combined with his wife’s tragic death has left him just a shell of a man. The author wrote this book long before the current administration was sworn in but she clearly saw the degree of hatred during the election and she tackled that and the plight of veterans so well in this story.

As for the mystery, it wasn’t exactly complex but it wasn’t straight forward either. I knew who didn’t do it, just as Morgan and Death did, so I was really tuned in to all the others I viewed as suspects. I just had a feeling and surprisingly I turned out to be right, but it played out in a really scary, edge of your seat way.

The topics may seem heavy for a cozy mystery but Ms. Ross adds the humor, romance and character building in a way to keep it all balanced. I was very happy with the last chapter set up to take us into the next Death and Morgan story. It is going to be hard to wait a year to have it in my hands.

If this is a new series for you I really recommend you start with Death & the Redheaded Woman, then Death & the Brewmaster’s Widow, before you read this story. These are rich characters you will enjoy more if you meet them from the beginning.
Profile Image for Ian.
1,345 reviews188 followers
June 14, 2017
It's predictable, if you've read cozy mysteries you've probably read something very much like this book. But characters you love and want to know better separate this book from the average and make it something a little better.
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
3,028 reviews645 followers
November 3, 2017
So we have a few mysteries. Who is the owner of the antique sketchbook and where is the final art piece? What's up with the dead man and the civil war uniform? Who killed the man Tony is accused of murdering. Themes and situations found within the story are relevant to events in the news, and I liked the subtle way these were mentioned. All of the threads soon became woven together and I quite enjoyed the solving of these mysteries.

While not perfect, Ross does offer a nice balance between mystery, small-town character development and a healthy dose of humor. Ross addresses some serious issues such as PTSD and depression. Death a Marine Veteran left the service after sustaining a permanent injury that has damaged his lungs. He suffers PTSD, so much so that he won't spend the entire night in Wren's bed. This brings about bouts of depression and Ross had a firm grasp of what this entails. Tony an Army Vet suffers from blackouts, nightmares and flashback episodes added details that enlighten while providing an interesting murder mystery.

Wren and Death's romantic relationship continues to develop and we get to spend time with townsfolk, their families and take part in an auction. Of course, we get plenty of laughter. There was a heated verbal exchange using biblical quotes that had me laughing so hard, I had to stop and wipe away tears. We get hints about things to come and a nice epilogue.

Amanda Ronconi once again narrates and is perfectly matched for Ross's characters. She has become the voice of Death and Wren for me, and I hope she continues.

Audio provided by the publisher. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
Profile Image for hana.
395 reviews
April 8, 2018
I had to stop reading this book in public. I suddenly laugh out loud and had people staring at me.

This book is golden, simply marvellous and pure entertainment. The mystery is twisted enough. The characters are odd, loveable and hilarious, it’s a comedian. I always like the Keystone clan who are funny and endearing, eccentric and caring. But the main star in this book is Death Bogart, an ex-marine-private investigator, and Wren Morgan, an auctioneer and awesome girlfriend. Both are well-written and engaging and are surrounded by characters I come to love.

Death trying to come to terms with his disability while still pushing himself. But after discovering that his brother is still alive (in the previous book) and now living with him, Death is lighter and happier. Death, Wren, and Randy are often seen together and Death bantering with his brother a lot.
Wren and Death’s romantic relationship continues to develop.

There are plenty of hilarious lines and scene between the brothers, the twin, the flying buttresses. "Yaaaarrrrgh". Best of all, –The Battle of the Bible Verses Showdown–
OMG! I never thought of arguing with Bible verses and Google.

Underneath the humour and fun, there are serious and sensitive matters of a militant hate group, PTSD, depression and Army Veteran in the background. Loretta Ross is an awesome storyteller, weaves the story filled with joy, darkness, love and humour.

An Auction Block Mystery Series is best read in order for the best understanding of the characters:
1. Death & the Redheaded Woman
2. Death & The Brewmaster’s Widow
3. Death & the Gravedigger's Angel
4. Death & the Viking's Daughter

Each book is excellent, and each book is even better than the previous one. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series!

2,711 reviews31 followers
March 26, 2018
this book was much better than book one. Auctioneer Wren and her boyfriend former Marine Death jump to the defense of a former Army medic Tony when he is accused of murder. Wren is preparing the contents of the long abandoned Hadleigh house and tries to find the lady who is several sketches she found. This book had some really funny parts.
Profile Image for JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book).
1,248 reviews19 followers
February 27, 2017
Wren Morgan, her boyfriend Death (pronounced Deeth) Bogart and his brother Randy are making their way to Hadleigh House, an old abandoned mansion that's just been handed to the Keystone and Sons auction house. Wren works for them and is going to catalogue and pack up everything for auction. But while they are wending their way to the house, Death tells Wren about a recent event: it seems an old man wearing a Civil War uniform was killed on their path, also known as the Vengeance Trail. He was drunk, riding a stolen horse, and the horse ran him into a low-hanging branch and he had been killed. Then Death tells Wren the 'creepy' part, which is the fact the uniform was saturated with formaldehyde and traces of human decomposition - which means the dead guy removed the uniform from a recently-deceased corpse. Not a pretty picture to Wren (or to anyone, I would imagine).

The brothers leave Wren to her task and decide to explore the surrounding area, which (without going into great detail) puts them in contact with Kurt Robinson, who runs Warriors' Rest, a camp for wounded vets. When Kurt finds out that Death is a private investigator he asks for his help in proving his friend insane. It seems the friend, Anthony Dozier, is on trial for murder because he was found with a dying man in the back of his car. The man had been stabbed several times, because Tony was seen arguing with the man's father earlier - and here it gets a bit involved - at the funeral of Tony's wife. Tony married a Muslim woman who died in a car crash, and the CAC (Church of the Army of Christ) is a hate group that want to convert or eradicate anyone who isn't Christian, so they showed up to protest. Tyler Jones is the head of the church and the man Tony confronted. Tony was found the next morning, thinking he was back in Afghanistan with a wounded soldier in his car and was trying to find the base hospital. So the defense wants temporary insanity, and the prosecutor wants murder since he believes it was premeditated.

Meanwhile Wren, while going through the house finds an old sketchbook with a drawing of a woman and soldiers. The woman is holding her hair away from her face with one hand while holding a ladle in the other. Many of the drawings are similar, all with the woman, and it intrigues Wren to want to know more about the artist and occupier of the home.

Then Orly Jackson, the deputy sheriff of East Bledsoe Ferry, shows up asking Wren if she knew the man because he had a note in his pocket with her name on it and her handwriting. The note is a reference authenticating the uniform and would have been sold with it but neither Wren nor any of the Keystones remember him, which leaves Orly back where he started - trying to identify the dead man, and also the dead man the uniform was removed from. As I said, it gets pretty involved...

When Death visits Tony Dozier, Tony tells him he saw his dead wife, and when we went toward her, he found August bleeding and tried to help him. Death, hearing the story, is sure of one thing: he's convinced the man didn't kill August Jones, and sets out to find out who did.

When Wren shows Death the pictures she took of the sketchbook on her phone, they both agree that they've seen the woman somewhere before but can't remember; she eventually shows the sketchbook to Doris Keystone who also thinks she's seen the woman before. What she does tell Wren, however, is that Hadleigh House was also known as 'the gravedigger's house' since it belonged to an old man who lived there by himself and rarely spoke to anyone.

And this, my friends, leaves several mysteries to be uncovered: Who is the gravedigger? Who is the woman in the sketchbook? Who was the dead old man, and where did he get the uniform? And finally, if Tony didn't kill August, who did?

This was quite a book. The plot is complicated, detailed, and utterly fascinating. We have several subplots that are quite engaging also, and Ms. Ross weaves them together in a tapestry that threads suspense, mystery, and humor effortlessly to create a final product that is gratifying to read. The best of these (while they are all good) is "watching" Death come to some conclusions of his own (and I will let you find these out on your own).

I think of all the books in this series I enjoyed this one the most, because we are gaining more insight into our characters, and as I have a fondness for them (as one should in each book one reads) I was quite delighted with it. There are some very funny scenes which had me outright laughing; and I do love the fact that Wren is no shrinking violet - she's a woman who can think on her feet and stand on her own. There is genuine feeling between all the characters in the book, and you can feel the warmth come through the pages.

When the end comes, and everything ties together nicely, we are given a satisfying conclusion to a very good mystery indeed that keeps us intrigued throughout and leaves us waiting for the next in the series (which I hope is soon!) Highly recommended.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Barbara Hackel.
2,114 reviews22 followers
March 12, 2017
This is the third book of the series, and with the rescue of Death's (pronounced Deeth) brother Randy in the previous book, the book is back in the original setting of East Bledsoe Ferry, MO. Now Randy has relocated to be close to his brother, and Death, Randy and Wren are frequently together. While Wren is cataloging and organizing a house for the auction company, the three are swept into a recent mystery concerning a drunken man dressed in Civil War uniform, a stolen horse, and a low hanging branch that results in the man's death. A near-by veteran's camp was where the horse was originally from, and there are problems there as well. It seems one of their campers found an injured man on the night of his wife's funeral. He became confused and suffering from PTSD he proceeded to put the injured man in his car while looking for HQ. The man died, and now the veteran is being accused of murder. Death agrees to help a fellow vet, and takes on the job of trying to prove the innocent of the arrested vet.

With the skill of a great storyteller, Ms. Ross weaves the story of Wren's work and finds within the house; the dead drunken man in the Civil War uniform; and the falsely accused veteran into the most interesting and compelling series of events to be solved thus far in these books. Along the way we learn about other people in the community as well as small town life.

Although the story is complete within the book, it really isn't a stand alone book. You should read the entire series in order for the best understanding of the characters. You will be glad you did, because each book is excellent, and each book is even better than the previous one. I can't recommend this series enough for mystery lovers who also enjoy a little history along with a little romance. Male or Female, young or old, it will appeal to a wide range of readers. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series!
Profile Image for Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard.
854 reviews153 followers
January 22, 2018
Death & the Gravedigger's Angel is the third in the Loretta Ross's terrific Auction Block Mystery series. It's hard to say what I like best about the series: Death and Wren's relationship; Wren's resourcefulness; Death trying to come to terms with his disability while still pushing himself; the sibling banter with Randy and between the Keystone twins; the realistic way the books acknowledge trauma and PTSD, especially among vets and crime victims; even the whole Keystone clan, who are funny and endearing and eccentric in a believably realistic way.

Death (pronounced "Deeth," and named after Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey) is the official detective, or rather, private eye, but both he and Wren take a hand in solving the mysteries. They're also a solid romantic pairing—they have very little relationship angst to speak of, and by this third book, there's no "will-they-won't-they" guessing, either. And it's just as well, because there's plenty of interest and suspense without it.

I enjoyed this one particularly for the old mansion and the stories associated with it. There's something almost irresistible about exploring an old house, as Wren gets to do in the process of preparing its contents for auction. As she does, she gets caught up in the question of who was the "gravedigger" who once lived there, and why did he create sketch after sketch of a young woman in a war-torn village? PTSD becomes the common thread between Wren's historical mystery and the pair of contemporary mysteries puzzling Death: How did a dead man end up in a Confederate uniform with a grisly past, and who killed the son of a religious fanatic?

It's this sort of realism—PTSD and the aftermath of war, religious fanaticism not played for laughs, and a small-town setting that's never idealized—that makes this series more serious and believable than many cozy series, from the character depictions to the overall tone.  Yet it's not all seriousness. Ross has just the right touch, blending in humor by expressing it through characters' dialogue and the jokes they make, rather than the narrative voice. It feels like the level of humor in everyday life, and balances the seriousness of death and murder without diminishing it.

I mentioned Wren's resourcefulness, and boy, does she need it in this book! I can't describe the scene without spoilers, but I loved the way she uses her wits and her skills (not to mention her scorn for horror-movie characters) to good effect, essentially rescuing herself from a really dangerous situation. Kudos also to Ross for creating a female character who is the antithesis of TSTL (too stupid to live.)

I first read Death & the Gravedigger's Angel in January 2017, shortly after death of a good friend (over the weekend of his memorial service, in fact), and I had a very hard time staying focused on it. At the time, I wasn't sure whether the problem was that I was too shaken up to concentrate, or whether the plot was confusing and hard to follow. I'm happy to report that on rereading it with a clear mind, I found the plot complicated but completely coherent, and it was easy to get caught up in the story.

Death & the Viking's Daughter comes out on February 8, 2018, and I can't wait!


*TSTL is one of my biggest mystery-related pet peeves.
Profile Image for Kristen.
2,203 reviews50 followers
June 10, 2017
I really love this series! This is the third book, and I loved it just as much as the first two. I am really hoping the author has more books in her for the series, because it is great!

I am continuing to love the smart, funny, loving relationship between Wren and Death [prounounced Deeth]. They are both terrific people, and the banter and play between them is one of the best things about these books. They are not sappy or annoying, instead they come across as real, sensible people who happily found each other and get along famously.

I also like the interactions between Death and his brother, which ramped up a lot in this book. They are every set of male siblings you've ever met, who love each other, but cover that up with pranks and insults and making fun of each other. It makes for some very funny scenes.

And speaking of funny, one of the funniest scenes ever happens where Wren is having a set-to with a religious nutbar kook, and he starts spouting bible references at her. Wren has a young boy helping her with auction stuff at the time, and he calls his aunt [Wren's employer from the auction company and a woman who takes nobody's shit!] and she snaps back from memory competing bible verses which are repeated to Wren to throw back at said kook. The verses start flying fast and furious and while I am not doing it justice, it is an absolutely hysterical scene, as the woman bests the bible thumper at every turn, unfuriating him that a mere woman could possibly know the bible better. I loved it! It is just one scene that showcases the delightful humour that this book, as well as the other two are full of. The author clearly has a wonderful sense of humour and uses it to great effect through her characters. Definitely one of the best parts of the book!

I did take off one star because the identity of the killer and why the murder happened was so incredibly obvious that even I figured it out really early on. Since I never even TRY to figure out whodunnit, if I know first, then it's a really open secret. That's not a criticism exactly, but for a cozy, it is something to be aware of, if you are the type who likes a tough mystery to solve. But it really didn't take away any of my enjoyment of the story or the characters.

This is definitely one of my favourite series, and one I will continue reading if the author plans more books. I really love everything about this series!
Profile Image for Andy N.
445 reviews23 followers
February 1, 2017
This review was originally published on NetGalley.

A fun cosy-mystery, good for a quick read. This was the first volume I’ve read from “An Auction Block Mystery” and I want to take a look at the previous novels of the collection to see what I’ve missed. I must say that having a character named Death is peculiar and actually compliments the story very nicely.

The mystery starts with the beginning of an investigation. Apparently, a drunken old man stole a horse and dressed in a cavalry uniform got into a fatal accident in the forest when he hit his head against a branch. When the results of the lab come in, it’s revealed that the uniform in saturated with decomposing body fluid, meaning the uniform belonged to someone that has been dead for quite a while.
Meanwhile, Death is asked to look into a homicide. The son of Tyler Jones, head of a radical church group, is found dead in the back of the car of Anthony Dozier, an army vet recovering from the horrors of the war in Afghanistan. The motive? Earlier that day, Jones and his group invaded the funeral of Dozier’s Muslim wife. Death’s job is to prove that Dozier committed the murder while suffering from PTSD.
At the same time, Wren is helping out on preparing a house for auction when strange noises and events start happening all around her.

The style of writing is great, very engaging and witty. The descriptions are brief but they hold enough detail to be able to picture the settings and the environment.

It’s the type of story that I couldn’t guess what would happen next. Information and details are revealed in a steady pace and it the beginning I couldn’t see the relation between them. It all worked out perfectly in the end though. Since I didn’t read the previous books, I felt like I was missing something, more in the relationships between the characters than anything else. The characters are good, but I was a bit disappointed not to have some more depth to them, to know more about them, especially Randy. Death is a great character and I loved to see the interactions with his brother Randy. I think they’re really different from each other but even so I could see they had each other’s backs.

A cosy-mystery perfect for an after-work evening!
Profile Image for Jessi.
4,936 reviews18 followers
October 31, 2016
Wren and Death are back, this time with Death's brother being included in the fun. The book opens with a dead, drunk man wearing an authentic Confederate coat. It seems that he stole a horse and died when his head hit a branch. Oh, and the coat has chemicals on it that make it obvious that it was recently buried on someone else.
Death is asked to look into the murder of a bible-thumper's son. It seems that the man's church picketed a Muslim woman's death and now the son has turned up in the backseat of her husband. The supposed-murderer's friend asks Death to prove that the man committed the murder under the strain of PTSD.
Meanwhile, Wren is helping to clean out a house for auction and is running into some mysterious happenings there. And it's her handwriting that is found on a note in the drunk dead man's pocket.
I always feel like I'm missing something in these books. I have read both of the other books in this
series and, while it seems like the information is all there... I just don't know if it's that the characters aren't quite fully developed or whether the story isn't quite finished, I don't know. I am frustrated that I can't put my finger on what it is that makes me feel like I'm only reading 90% of the story. I definitely know that I didn't feel like the stories in this book were tied together well. I'm also frustrated that we didn't get to see a lot of Wren in this story and we didn't get to know more about Randy.
Profile Image for Kimberly Ann.
1,658 reviews
April 21, 2018
Former Army Medic, Tony Dozier, is accused of killing a member of the hate group that disrupted his (Muslim) wife's funeral. Tony says he saw his wife's ghost beckoning to him and came across the bleeding man & tried to save him. Tony's defense hires Death (deeth), to prove Tony insane.

Meanwhile, Death's fiancée, Wren, is cataloging the contents of the neighboring Hadleigh House and comes across detailed drawings from WW I depicting a soldier & his Angel of mercy, which turns out to be of the local Gravedigger's monument stone, which is what Tony saw the night of funeral.

Adding to the mystery is the newly dead man in a Confederate Uniform found on the Vengeance Trail: where legend tells of a Confederate Soldier that lost his life after robbing & killing the occupants of the house, then stealing a horse & riding to escape; only to have the horse run under a low branched tree, breaking the soldier's neck, knocking the soldier off, & leaving behind the body.

I liked the combined stories they held my interest. I liked most of the characters, however, I found Death's brother Randy was a constant source of irritation. His mouth was always sarcastic, putting Death down, and he little to do with anything other than being an irritating leftover from the previous book, which kept this from a 4th ★. The Keystone auctioneering family was funny as always.

Profile Image for Leslie.
1,124 reviews5 followers
December 11, 2017
I'm completely sad because I've now read all four of these wonderful books and now must wait for book five. These are such fun adventures with interesting characters. They are well written, well paced and there is good continuity between the books. I kind of wish I could have discovered Loretta Ross after book 30, so I could devour her books for a longer period of time. Wren and Death are involved in more auctions and action in this book. This time there's hate crimes, a Civil War uniform, and horses. This book has an excellent discourse and treatment of PTSD in vets and might help someone come to terms with their or a loved one's very real issues. Anyone who has served or been around military or police and firefighters knows what that means.
One of the things that I like about these books is that while Wren is falling for Death who is no longer an active Marine, she is not some shrinking violet and can completely cover his back with her atlatl, slingshot, and her quick wits. She is a total warrior when trapped in a house with a murderer; she arms herself with a cue stick in one hand and a pool ball in a sock as a cosh. Wren is a badass! What a fun series!
Profile Image for April.
2,593 reviews14 followers
March 24, 2017
Death and Wren return in a third story and Randy, Death's brother, is along for the ride.
There are some funny lines throughout the book with some of them being ironic.
Wren is trying to prepare Hadleigh house for an auction. There are two dead men. One was wearing a civil war uniform and died while riding a horse. The second was the son of a rather radical religionist. Near Hadleigh house is a sort of refuge for war veterans who need help recovering for their experiences. The horse the first dead guy was riding came from the veterans camp. The second dead guy was murdered and the main suspect is related to the man who owns the camp, Kurt. Kurt asks Death to help prove his relative is innocent.
Most the book is just life and the interactions of the characters. Death has his investigation. Wren doesn't really get involved in the investigation but ends up in the middle of the danger.
It is a nice addition to the Auction Block Mystery series.
Profile Image for Jennifer Brown.
2,251 reviews42 followers
May 6, 2017
Absolutely love this series!! The only bad thing about this book, is that the killer is easy to guess early on. It didn't matter though...the path to get there was wonderful!! Death, Wren and Randy are such lovable characters. They have fun with one another and still know how to work along the way. This one had 2 stories that kind of twisted together. Wren and the family she works for, are auctioning stuff in an old house where a drunk guy was just found dead. While the cops are trying to figure out his identity, Death agrees to help with the defense of a vet who was found with a dead guy in the back seat of his car. While trying to solve that mystery, Death and Wren's relationship grows stronger and stronger. I laughed quite a bit in this one (especially the fight with bible versus'!!)!! I would recommend this book to all mystery lovers!!!
Profile Image for Dianne Landry.
974 reviews
July 8, 2017
Thank god this book went back to what I loved about the first one. After the ridiculous story in the second book I was a little worried.

Death and Wrens till have an amazing rapport but the addition of Death's brother, Randy, is a delight.

I did figure out who did it pretty quickly but that's okay. I only have one little quibble and it really did annoy me. One of the characters was Muslim and the author kept saying she wearing a hijab and that it was covering her face. Hijab's do not cover the face, only the hair. I know a lot of people won't know this but it is something simple to find out and I really was disappointed that the author didn't get it right. That said, I still loved the book and will read the next one in the series.
498 reviews
June 9, 2018
A pair of interlocking mysteries keeps this novel very interesting. A former Army medic suffering from PTSD is accused of murdering the son of a man who disrupted his wife's funeral. Death meets with him and does not think it possible he did it. In the meantime Wren is getting an old dilapidated mansion ready for auction and stumbles across a set of beautiful drawings from a soldier from WWI and starts trying to discover his identity.

I love this series because the author's characters are realistic and interesting and her plots are very believable. I figured out who the murderer was a while before it was revealed, but that did not destroy the enjoyment of the rest of the story at all. Five stars from me and I hope there are more stories coming.
Profile Image for Patrick S..
355 reviews23 followers
December 20, 2017
A fan of the series, this one feels like a bit of a misstep. The main mystery starts immediately and the nice build up from the previous two are gone. I thought the actual beginning of my book was missing. On top of that, there isn’t as much banter and character development as the others had.

However, all the good characters are there and they are still consistent with their past stories. The world built is still fun and the characters are what makes it such. The mystery this time isn’t the best and there’s some parts I don’t remember if they resolved or not. A misstep in the series to be sure, but I’ll pick up the next one no problem. Final Grade - C+
Profile Image for Sanny.
94 reviews2 followers
June 16, 2017
Not the best follow up to the prior two

Good read. Randy is back from not being dead, Death and Wren are coming along. Keystones are generous and supportive, etc. Story is cliche and little guesswork required. Murdered fundamentalist purported Christian, dead Muslim woman (drunk driver), ptsd vet husband the obvious suspect. Yawn.
288 reviews
June 28, 2017
Second in the series. Death (as in Lord Peter Whimsey's family name) is a military veteran, in this book trying to help a fellow veteran accused of murder. His girlfriend Wren and other regulars in the books, will help. Very good. Not dragged down by repeatedly questioning the same people. An auction business is involved, so some interesting asides about the value of various treasures.
773 reviews15 followers
August 14, 2018
This is an engaging story.
Good characters, very interesting, and complex.
I'd like to go back to the earlier ones to see the development.
And a very exciting resolution to the mystery.
Really touching presentation of the reality of armed service veterans.
259 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2019
this was a really good book, I might go back and read the first two, but this one can stand all on its own too.
Profile Image for L Kate.
1,156 reviews5 followers
April 30, 2021
Great mystery and supporting cast. And again, the “banter” Is fabulous.
1,590 reviews18 followers
April 7, 2023
A Library find.
Wow! What a series!
Clever writing!
Amazing characters!
Well thought out plot!
Glued to your seat reading!
Profile Image for Ming.
619 reviews4 followers
February 6, 2017

not quite a cozy, but not a trad. mys. either .. a solid, but not great series
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