Mysteries

Murder at the PTA by Lee Hollis

I loved this book. I love Sandra, the senator’s wife as she dives into solving the mystery of the death of the vice principal who was putting out an anonymous blog that was telling salacious secrets (real or innuendo) about people connected with a high school. She becomes involved with the murder when Maya (a private detective who’s daughter goes to the school and “hired” her to find out who is behind the blog) and Sandra find the vice principal hanged in her office with a “suicide note.” Neither of them buys it, but the police rule it a suicide. Maya is a former cop who left the force after her (now ex) husband and supervisor was sent to prison for corruption. The officer in charge of the investigation doesn’t want to listen to her theory that it was murder.

Maya and Sandra team up in a suspenseful story that unmasks the murderer. There are plenty of suspects and interesting characters. It kept me reading and guessing up to the end. I’ll definitely read the next installment. 

Rating: 4+ Stars

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a review e-book. All opinions are my own.

Gourd to Death by Kirsten Weiss

This was a fun mystery. It is not the first book in the Pie Town mysteries series, but I enjoyed coming in at this point. There’s a hint of humor in this fall pumpkin festival-focused book, starting with the body being found squashed (had to go there) by a giant pumpkin. The main character owns a pie shop and is part of a mystery-solving club that includes her sidekick, the shop’s pie crust dough maker. The two investigate the murder of one of the town’s optometrists and wind up in wacky situations. Add to it that another town has a competing pumpkin festival, and the hijinks get really next level.

The ending was satisfying and the characters are likeable (or wonderfully unlikeable) and interesting. There’s depth to them. The plot moves swiftly for a cozy and it is a great fall read, especially just before Halloween.

Rating: 4 stars 

Tea and Treachery by Vicki Delany

This was a compelling cozy. I loved the Maine setting and the tea shop that Lily owns. The author must really have a love for tea.

Lily owns a tea shop and cooks breakfast for her grandmother’s B and B next door. When a neighbor want to redone and sell their house to a developer to build a golf resort, Rose (grandma) threatens the developer. Then the developer ends up dead and Rose is a prime suspect. Lily and her friends work with Rose to clear her name. This is a twisty mystery with lots of good suspects. I only figured it out just ahead of the reveal and that’s unusual for a cozy reader like me. 

The characters are realistic and fun. Rose is feisty but not stereotypical. I loved this. It’s the first in a series but I’m looking forward to the next. I only gave it for stars because it’s just the first in the series and who knows how awesome the next one will be. 

Rating: 4 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the review ebook. All opinions are my own.

Nacho Average Murder by Maddie Day

What a fun book set in a great location (Santa Barbara)) for a summer read. Robbie is on vacation For her ten year high school reunion and comes across information that her mother, who died of a brain aneurysm, might have been murdered instead. Before she knows it, she’s trying to sort out a feud with a high school nemesis, a toxic chemical, and an old friend trying to get her life together. This has a few twist and turns with no shortage of clues. I liked the ending but kept expecting one more twist that left me feeling a little unsettled. Would definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the Review copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

Deadly Sweet Tooth by Kaye George

I really liked the premise of this book. The sweet shop setting in Texas opens up a lot of possibilities. However, I had a hard time investing in the characters. The main character always seemed stressed and that made me stressed. Some of the plot elements seemed to come together too easily or not at all. The mystery was compelling and even though I figured out the mystery about 2/3rds of the way through, I was wrong about some of the circumstances. A fine book, just not for me. Rating: 3 stars

**Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic review copy. I always give my honest opinion!**

Cocunut Layer Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

I love Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series. The mysteries are always engaging and I love to reconnect with the people from Lake Eden. This latest installment doesn’t disappoint. Hannah has to help clear her sister’s boyfriend and sheriff’s detective Lonnie of a murder he didn’t commit. The path through the book is familiar to readers of the series and can, for the most part, be read as a stand alone. You’d miss out on a lot of the backstory though. (I skipped a few books in the series and was at a loss for some of the storyline, but it didn’t affect solving the mystery).

The solution is a satisfying one, but there aren’t a whole lot of twists and turns. Should be another favorite for fans of the series. For those who haven’t met Hannah yet, I’d suggest starting at the beginning so you can really become familiar with the interrelated arcs of the characters. I’ll definitely keep reading (but I’m going to have to go back and catch up some)

**Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic review copy. I always give my honest opinion!**

Rating: 4 stars

Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon

This is the first book in the Tourist Trap mystery series and follows Jill Gardner who runs a bookstore and coffee shop in South Cove, California. When her elderly friend Miss Emily is murdered, Jill inherits her dilapidated home that happens to be on prime property. While trying to figure out who killed Miss Emily, Jill is hounded by a greedy developer and threatened to sell or else by the mayor. Jill works to renovate her new home before a condemnation order by the city takes effect, and she’s assisted by the handsome Chief of Police, who is also on the case.

This was a fun book. I related well to Jill, who was slightly quirky but not in an annoying way. She is frazzled through most of the book, and you can feel the tension mounting as the city’s deadline nears and death threats start to come in. The suspense is really good, and though I had a good idea of whodunit, it was still a surprise ending and wrapped up in a satisfying way.

Rating: 4 stars

A Crafter Quilts a Crime by Holly Quinn

I love a great cozy mystery, and this one didn’t disappoint. Sammy runs a community crafting store and must involve her cousin Heidi and sister Ellie (who together make up the S.H.E.s) when a woman dies when posing as a live mannequin in Sammy’s window display during the Fire and Ice festival in Hartford, WI. 

This book kept me guessing. I’m usually pretty good at guessing the killer by about halfway through, but this one took a little longer. There are some good suspenseful scenes that turn the plot on its head and were great ways to speed along the story through the middle. (No saggy middle here!) 

The ending left me with a few questions, but overall it was satisfying. This is the third book in the series, and while it wasn’t hard to read as a standalone, I think some of the characterization would have been easier to understand if you have read the first two books.

A delightful author. I’d love to read more by her.

Rating: 4 stars

**Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

Silver Anniversary Murder by Leslie Meier

A newer book in the Lucy Stone series, this one focuses on two things: the Silver Anniversary wedding weekend planned by a local Tinker’s Cove wedding shop owner and the death of one of Lucy’s friends from her days in New York City. Authorities say Lucy’s friend Beth committed suicide by jumping off the balcony of the apartment she shared with her billionaire fourth husband. Lucy doesn’t believe this conclusion and spends a week in New York City to prove it was actually murder. She focuses on Beth’s current husband and her three ex-husbands: the first a religious cult leader with whom she had a son, the second a troubled artist, and the third a seemingly mild-mannered chiropractor. 

As her investigation proceeds, the danger level increase and Lucy finds herself in a sticky situation. The backdrop of the wedding weekend lightens things up and involves a couple where the wife is verbally abusive to the husband, but wants to celebrate their Silver Anniversary with the whole town as a way to promote her wedding shop and her husband’s limo business.

This is one of Meier’s better books. I love the change of scenery and Lucy striking out on her own. The author throws in some political commentary, which she has in several of the later books, and I find it distracting and preachy. Otherwise, a solid mystery where I suspected the murder, but never saw the end coming. A great read! **Thank you to NetGalley for gifting me this book**

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Sunset Beach is a great hybrid of a beach read romance and a mystery. Drive Campbell is at loose ends after her mother dies. Her estranged personal injury lawyer father show up at the funeral with the keys to a beach cottage she’s inherited and a job offer at his firm. She’s soon investigating of his father’s cases on her own involving a murder at a nearby resort. As Drue wades through a network of lies, she battles her (very young) stepmother/office manager, home repairs, and a growing attraction to a coworker. 

Drue is an interesting heroine for a beach read. She’s sarcastic, skeptical, wile at the same time compassionate and at times too trusting. The author adds in an interesting subplot that parallels closely with the main plot and adds depth to the characters. The setting adds to the story, almost a character of its own. The plot moves swiftly and believably, though is a little neat in places. 

I wasn’t expecting a full on mystery and that added to the enjoyment. A good, satisfying quick read.

**Thank you to NetGalley for the advance e-book copy.

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

A great reimagining of Agatha Christie’s classic. The characters were well drawn and the plot skipped along nicely. It wasn’t predictable despite having read Christie’s book. Some of the drama got a little over the top, but was still generally believable. There’s a twist that is satisfying. I listened on audio and it really brought the story alive. Highly recommend!

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Curses, Boiled Again! by Shari Randall

A fantastic debut from Shari Randall. Allie Larkin is injured as a ballerina and dimes back to help her Aunt Gully at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster shack. When all four judges were poisoned at a Lobster Roll contest sponsored by the Yum! Network (one dies), Allie helps unravel the whodunit with the help of her friends and family. The story is highly original, though as a frequent cozy reader I figured out the murderer fairly early. But it definitely wasn’t predictable. The best cozy I’ve read in awhile. Nice New England flavor with being overbearing about it. Delightful! 

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Halloween Murders by Leslie Meier

**Thank you NetGalley for this free ebook review copy. **

Leslie Meier’s Halloween Murder is a delightfully suspenseful two-books-in-one compilation. They each, of course, center around Halloween in Maine’s Tinker’s Cove and the town’s amateur sleuth and reporter Lucy Stone.

In Trick or Treat Murder, the annual kids Halloween Festival planning is underway. Among all her other duties of raising children and reporting for the paper, she’s up to her elbows and, soon enough, murder. A series of arson hits the town and when Lucy’s friend is found dead in one of the houses Lucy goes into investigation road. The story has some good twists and turns and a surprise ending. Meier builds up the suspense to the end well, though the resolution is a bit convenient. A satisfying read for Lucy Stone fans.

Wicked Witch Murder takes place years later beginning in the summertime when new shopkeeper Diana Ravenscroft appears on the scene offering Wiccan products and psychic readers. Meier weaves a unique and believable story centering around the town’s reaction to the shop and its owner. Lucy is skeptical about magic but finds Diana basically harmless. When Diana’s friend is brutally murdered, the sentiment of the town begins to turn against Diana and Lucy must unravel a web of clues. As always, Meier ratchets up the suspense to the very end. I’ve read many of her books and found this one to be the most twisty and suspenseful with a surprising ending. Fans will love the interpersonal relationships and the natural way Lucy comes into the clues. The stretch between the murder and when the action pumps up again about halfway through the book drags a little bit still an enjoyable read. Not for people who have difficulty with witchcraft and Wiccan storylines.

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