Spring is here! Time to once again believe that I can actually grow things and keep them alive. Also time for walks while listening to audiobooks and reading out on my patio. It is nice to come out of hibernation after a chilly winter.
Winter is a busy time for me, so I don’t generally get a lot of reading done. But I was able to squeeze in two mysteries and two cozies. These were just enough to round out the season. The four books I chose included my favorite mystery so far this year (The Appeal) and maybe of all-time!
I’ve decided this year (based on a recommendation I heard) to keep a top five list of all the books I’ve read this year and, as I add new books, see if any crack the top five. I thought this was a cool idea and a great way to analyze how I feel about my reading year overall. Here are the first few candidates:
The Appeal by Janice Hallet
The book is amazing. I don’t often say that but the premise, the structure, and the execution of the novel was just stunning to me. The book centers around a theater group in England, where the leaders are making an appeal (thus the title) for money to pay for a cancer drug for their granddaughter. The cure is said to be from the United States at a cost of one-million dollars.
The structure is made up of correspondence between one attorney and two others asked to review the material and draw conclusions, along with emails and texts between members of the theater group and those involved in the appeal. We know from the opening correspondence between the attorneys that a murder has been committed. The rest of the case slowly reveals how that murder came about, and drops a hefty number of suspects on the table. To tell more would give too much away.
The mix of characters includes some likeable people, some not so much, and all unreliable narrators. It’s an easy to access mystery with plenty of twistiness to it. I enjoyed sorting out what happened from the perspective of the people involved. It was almost an Agatha Christie style locked room mystery, in that you know someone among the emails and texts is responsible.
I highly recommend this book. It is the best I’ve read this year and I believe it will stay in my top five through the end of December.
Rating: Five stars! This will be one of the rare books that I will reread as time passes.
Batter Off Dead by Maddie Day
Maddie Day’s latest in the Country Store Mystery series is a delight. Robbie Jordan finds herself trying to unravel the murder of the special friend of Grant Bird, father of South Lick’s police Lieutenant Buck Bird. She was stabbed with a knitting needle after the town’s summer fireworks show. The investigation takes a turn to include a look into the death of Buck’s mother years ago.
Day’s writing is fun and engaging and I find myself rooting for the characters. Robbie is interesting and intriguing as a newly married woman to her husband Abe. I last read Maddie Day’s seventh book in the series, Nacho Average Murder and I liked her then too. I’m definitely going back to read from the beginning of the series to see how things started and progressed. Definitely worth a read.
I recently got to interview Maddie Day for my blog and she was great fun to talk to. It was nice to get some insight into her books in this series, as well as her others.
Rating: Four Stars
Fortune and Glory: Tantalizing Twenty-Seven by Janet Evanovich
Another rollicking adventure with Stephanie Plum, New Jersey’s wackiest bounty hunter. This one has Stephanie and Grandma Mazur on the hunt for a treasure that Grandma’s late [mob-connected] husband Jimmy held the key to (or keys). Jimmy’s mob cronies, the Laz-E-Boys (named for their favorite chairs set up in the back room of a strip club) are after the treasure too and won’t hesitate to kidnap or kill to get the clues and keys needed to get the treasure.
Stephanie and Lula still doing her bounty hunting and gains a massively allergic follower who insists he needs to protect her. But Stephanie’s got her hands full protecting her family and avoiding scary mobsters who want to kill her. Morelli and Ranger make their appearances, and a mysterious woman in a Mercedes that has the skills to step in in a difficult situation shows up in Morelli’s kitchen.
I enjoyed the progression of this book, which moves Stephanie from just doing bounty hunting on to trying to find the treasure. A lot of it is familiar territory, but the new emphasis adds some kick. It gives the book a different flavor than the others. It makes me wonder if the series is drawing to an end soon, but Janet Evanovich hasn’t made any indications that she’s wrapping things up. Not my favorite, but in the top five.
Rating: Four stars
Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Joanne Fluke continues to impress readers with her long running Hannah Swenson series. This installment has Hannah trying to clear her sister from a murder charge when Andrea finds Mayor Bascomb dead in his office, other hours after she’d argued loudly with him. Hannah has the sheriff’s department’s blessing to investigate and she gets right to work on the lengthly list of suspects. This one has an interesting twist and is an engaging whodunit.
I’m a big fan of the series and devoured this and am ready for the next. My only issue is that it does seem to be getting a little repetitive. Fluke keeps it interesting, but once again we see Hannah in her familiar position of investigating by delivering baked goods and doing a will-they or won’t-they dance with Norman. The author shakes it up some in this book, but is running the risk of becoming formulaic. Then again, fans like knowing what to expect from a Hannah Swenson book, so that’s comforting. I’m not sure which way I lean on that. But that’s the only reason for my slightly lower rating.
Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
Rating: Four Stars
I’ve got a good TBR lined up, which includes more cozies from Leslie Meier, Vivien Chien, and Allie Pleiter (new to me!) along with The Club by Ellery Lloyd, a romance by Mary Kay Andrews and some audiobooks from the library. What are you looking forward to this spring? I love to hear from readers, so share your plans below.