Untimely Death

26993666Untimely Death: A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery by Elizabeth J. Duncan

I had  trouble getting through this one.

I think a big part of the issue for me is, having read the author’s other series, The Penny Brannigan series, I expected a solid read. It’s not like this is the first time the author has written a mystery, so I was more than a little disgruntled with how shoddy this book was. Perhaps it’s an unfair to compare it to the other series, but it’s so well written, I can’t help but wonder what went wrong with this.

The plot was okay, but barely. It was largely buried in a lot of filler that I’m guessing was meant to add dimension to the story, but it didn’t. The characters were not very easy to relate to and one-dimensional. The main character and a few of the other characters were English but spoke as if they were poorly trained actors putting on an English accent.

Overall, I’m very disappointed with this. Perhaps someone who is unfamiliar with the Penny Brannigan series would enjoy it, but I won’t recommend it.

Untimely Death is available at bookstores or on Amazon
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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate

Book 3 of the Potting Shed Mystery has Pru heading to Edinburgh, Scotland for a temporary job authenticating a newly discovered journal by Archibald Menzies, a noted 18th century botanist. Trouble starts with her colleague, Iain, whose disapproval and snide comments about how she got her job lead to tension and arguments between the two. When Iain is found dead, Pru finds herself under suspicion and begins investigating to clear her name.

The plot was very good; lots of twists and turns and suspicious people. The whole wedding planning was a little over the top, I had a hard time believing that a 50 year old woman would have so much trouble picking out a dress that she had to have her friend take care of all of the details. And all the fawning over the details with the detective investigating the murder was also a bit weird. I don’t know, I think subtracting the whole wedding planning and the wedding itself wouldn’t detract from the story in the least. It was cute and all, but a little too much drama considering it was a pair of late-middle-agers getting married and not a blushing 20 year old virgin.

Overall a great read and a very enjoyable series.  This book can be read as a stand alone, but I recommend reading the whole series in order.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is available at book retailers or on Amazon.

 

The Red Book of Primrose House

22751280The Red Book of Primrose House: A Potting Shed Mystery by Marty Wingate

Pru begins her new job at the Primrose House and is set with the gargantuan task of returning the gardens of a manor house back to the original landscaped designed by Humphrey Repton. As she begins work, she is beset by vandalism, and then the murder of one of her staff, the elderly Ned. Of course, Pru dives in to solve the murder, while trying to make her long-lost brother like her and mooning over her fellow, Christopher (because calling him her boyfriend is hysterically funny or something.)

This is the second book of the Pottery Shed series and while it was pretty much just as good as the first, there were a few tiny things that niggled at me. For one, it annoys me that Pru, while saying she’s “not a police officer” and will “stay out of it” seems to go out of her way to keep information from everyone. What little information she does divulge, it’s it’s usually not to the right people. Oh, you have knowledge of someone’s alibi? Just tell your boyfriend and not the cops who are investigating. Nah, it’s cool. They don’t need all the info.

The other niggling thing is all the mooning. Every other page was a mopey sigh how much Christopher and Pru were missing each other. Just a tiny bit too heavy on the romance, I think. I mean, it can be excused as a way to keep Christopher pertinent in the story but bleah….

The plot was really good, I enjoyed it. While the first book had a culprit who wasn’t a part of the story, in this one it was more figuring out how they did it, rather than who did it. I also loved the letters from Pru’s employer with more and more outlandish requests. It was just the kind of comedy relief that was needed to break up the book.

Overall, a great read and I’m really enjoying sinking into this series.

The Red Book of Primrose House is available in Kindle format  or on Audible.  Pick up a copy today!

 

The Garden Plot

20612644The Garden Plot by Marty Wingate

Pru breaks up with her life in Texas for the drizzly glamour of England with the hopes of securing a position as a head gardener at one of the many estates that dot the English countryside. After nearly a year, all she’s been able to find are a few small jobs, including one at a townhouse in Chelsea where she’s asked to create a garden space for a wealthy couple. She expects to clear up the ivy and prune the trees, but she doesn’t expect to find a dead body in the potting shed.

Despite the slow start (at first, I thought this was going to be a DNF) it quickly engrossed me. In fact, I read it in about a day, over half yesterday evening and finished the rest this afternoon.. Couldn’t put it down!

Of course, I loved the location and the characters. It was a very cozy cozy mystery. Lots of friendly folks, which I don’t really associate with the English but my experience is only based on what I see on UK tv, so I could be wrong.

I loved the riveting plot, but it was one of those where the culprit, although mentioned in the book, was not a part of the story until the end. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the bad guy had a gun. This irritates me no end. There’s a ban on handguns in the UK, very, very few people have them and yet, if you read British crime novels, it’s like the Wild West. One of those niggly, nit-picky things that always jars me from the story.

Also, I thought the romance between Pru and the Inspector moved a little fast. It wasn’t forced, and it was sweet but it just seemed like one minute he’s interrogating her about finding a dead body and the next, he’s murmuring “my darling….” into her hair.

Or maybe things just move along faster when you’re over 50. I dunno. I’ll just think that, ok? Gives me something to look forward to in a few years.
Overall, a great start to a series and very enjoyable.

The Garden Plot is available on Kindle and Audible at Amazon

A Familiar Tail

26101371A Familiar Tail by Delia James

A great start to a new series. There wasn’t much I didn’t like about it; likeable characters, a great plot that spanned the book without getting bogged down and a cat. A cat that can disappear. Oh and witches. I know, totally irresistible, right?

Annabelle Britton arrives in Portsmouth, NH for a 2 week visit with BFF Martine. Right after arriving, she encounters Alastair, a cat belonging to a recently deceased witch named Dorothy who died under mysterious circumstances, and Annabelle (Anna to her friends, A.B. when she’s talking to herself) is drawn into solving the mystery

The plot was well written, it had a good balance between the paranormal and the mystery. Actually, now that I think about it, most of the sleuthing was done the old fashioned way, not by using spells and so on. But it was well-paced with a lot of twists and turns. And just the right number of characters to keep you guessing without being confusing.

The only thing I didn’t like was that there were a few plot lines that were introduced and dropped. A little annoying, but not terrible.

A solid start and a great read. I’m looking forward to visiting A.B. and her friends more in the future.

A Familiar Tail is available at bookstores or on Amazon