A Will to Die

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A Will to Die by Russell Atkinson

A Will to Die is the 7th Cliff Knowles mystery but also a standalone. What sets this book apart from the other books in the series is that Cliff is a bit of an outsider to this investigation, since it was his estranged sister who died, he was more on the sidelines, not that Cliff let that stop him.

This was an intriguing case, and I have to hand it to the author, he comes up with some pretty unsettling plots (read Fatal Dose!) and this one, a suicide cult preying on Cliff’s sister is no different. Lots of twists and turns, what you think is an insignificant scene comes back later to be very relevant to the investigation, so it keeps the reader on their toes. Since Cliff wasn’t right in the middle of the official investigation, I really liked watching Cliff and the detectives come to the same conclusions separately by different means. Detectives Sanchez and Martin were a great pair, I liked their friendly rivalry and dogged determination. A sprinkling of geocaching (I always find that interesting, one of these days I’ll have to give it a try) and the moving storyline about Denise’s daughter gave a human touch to the story.

Overall, another fantastic book in the Cliff Knowles series and a must read for any fan of realistic police procedurals and a good mystery.

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Review: Dead, Bath, and Beyond

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Dead, Bath, and Beyond by Lorraine Bartlett & Laurie Cass

I think this is my favorite of the author’s many series, and I was happy to see it return. They’re always a light cozy read. I love the quaint upstate NY location and I really like Katie, she’s endlessly patient (I am not, so I envy this quality in others) and I love the down to earth realism attitude that retired detective Ray Davenport brings to balance out all the wild theories Katie comes up with. The pace on this is relaxed, and that’s what I love about this series, it’s sets just the right pace for the story, allowing the reader to really get to know the different characters while still keeping the mystery suspenseful. I loved the plot, who killed Katie’s ex-boss Josh the Jerk and why? Lots of suspects and lots of motives, Katie has her hands full investigating, leading up to the exciting conclusion.

All in all, a great addition to the Victoria Square series and an enjoyable read.

Review: Club Room Corpse

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Club Room Corpse by Sherry Lodge

Giveaway!  Win one of two Kindle copies of the Club Room Corpse!
(Contest runs until January 10th, 2018. 2 winners will be picked at random, no purchase required, open to US residents only.  Click link for more info!)

Cassie, Cassie, Cassie. As if you don’t have enough on your plate to keep you busy, what with wedding plans and your concierge job catering to the upscale residents of the Parkstone luxury apartment building and finding who is the lucky recipient of a lovely pair of Lovebirds, but you had to go and find yourself in the middle of another murder. And poor Stella! Readying her 75th birthday party, she is ruthlessly killed. Who could have it in for this innocent little old lady? There’s a whole RSVP list of suspects and motives and as if finding the killer wasn’t hard enough, untangling the half-truths and mysteries of Stella’s life prove to be just as difficult. What’s a fashionista to do other than to put on her Jimmy Choo’s and solve another mystery?

I enjoy this cute little cozy series, from Cassie’s running narrative of what the residents of the Parkstone are wearing to her ability to ferret out the smallest details and help her homicide detective boyfriend close the case, it always puts a smile on my face. The Clubroom Corpse had an especially juicy plot, with a victim who hid many secrets, a whole building full of suspects and lots of clues and misdirections to keep me guessing. I loved the madcap ending, it was a fun and exciting way to cap off an enjoyable mystery. And I’ve got my eye on you Mr. Beasley narrows eyes

 

Review: A Tale of Two Kitties

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A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly

I’ve read this series from the beginning, I always enjoy a visit to Mayville Heights and Owen and Hercules never fail to put me under their spell. A Tale of Two Kitties is the perfect addition to this wonderful series, I enjoyed the the exciting plot; a pair of estranged brothers, a love triangle, and a decades old death combine lead to a present day murder, tearing a family apart. I love the extra layer that Kathleen and Simon’s friendship adds, that what-if feeling it gives me. I mean, Kathleen and Marcus spend almost no time together. They’ve been together how long and they haven’t moved in together yet? Clearly this relationship is going nowhere. Yes, I’m shipping Simon and Kathleen, make this happen, for Mia’s sake. The trove of lost mail discovered behind a wall at the post office was a fun way to tie the story together and add some Mayville Heights history to the story. Combine all of it together and you get a suspenseful and enjoyable cozy mystery with Owen and Hercules saving the day. Irresistible!

Review: A Fatal Collection

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A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

An adorable and enjoyable cozy mystery, from the charming location to the cute characters and the excellent plot, it was a fun read. I loved the world that the author created with Keepsake Cove, a beautiful little tourist town in Maryland with quaint little shops and I would love to wander around the music box shop, looking at all the different models. The characters were just as charming as the location, I really liked Callie, a realistic main character that is easy to relate to. But the plot really shined, from the ghostly music box to the twisty plot full of misdirections, I couldn’t read it fast enough.

A Fatal Collection will delight any cozy mystery fan, and this stands out as one of the finest mysteries I’ve read in 2017. I look forward to seeing the series continue, can’t wait for the next book!

Review: Death Distilled

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Death Distilled by Melinda Mullet 

The second book in the Whisky Business Mystery series, Death Distilled is a solid tale of old secrets, revenge and murder, both in the current day and hundreds of years ago. And that’s what I liked best about this book, the blending of mysteries from two separate time periods and then tied together at the end. Add in secret passages and you’ve got an intoxicating cozy mystery.

My only gripe is there was too much packed into the book and I felt like it rambled a bit too long. At around 2/3 of the way through the book, I started to get a little bored. If a few scenes in the middle were trimmed or removed, it would’ve heightened the tension and suspense.

The colorful cast of characters and the side plot historical mystery really made the book engaging. I was far more interested in the historical mystery (and the hope of more secret rooms and passages) than I was in the minutae of the rock star soap opera. The conclusion was both thrilling and tragic and a great ending to the story.

Overall, an entertaining and enjoyable read and I am eagerly watching for the next book in the series.

Review: Quackery

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Quackery by Lydia King and Nate Pedersen

Equal parts mortifying, morbid and fascinating, Quackery is a guided tour through the horrifying world of medicine and health care in days gone by. I eat these kinds of books up like candy, who doesn’t like lurid trivia of the not-so-good ol’ days? I know I do!

I really liked the layout, it’s akin to my favorite magazine, Mental Floss with little factoids on every page to highlight the subject. Very well organized, full of stomach turning stories of medical mistakes and maladies, it kept me turning pages and very thankful I live in the modern day.

 

Review: Killer Party

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Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon

I liked this, but I didn’t love it. While the mystery was interesting and intriguing, I didn’t care for any of Greg’s friends, and that made me feel a little apathetic towards solving the murder and seriously Jill, get over the whole relationship angst. The surprising and exciting ending was a great way to end the book, and overall it was entertaining and enjoyable. Mostly, I just enjoy another visit to South Cove and catching up with Jill, Greg and the Coffee, Books & More gang (And I really concerned about Aunt Jackie!)

Review: Murder in Mayfair

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Murder in Mayfair by D.M. Quincy

Murder in Mayfair is an excellent debut historical cozy, with a labyrinthine plot that pulls you deep into their Georgian era world from the very first page. It was so easy to lose myself in the world the author created, from the picturesque English countryside to London’s dirty streets, the attention to period detail was adept without weighing down the story. This was the kind of book where the characters become almost like familiar friends, from the enigmatic Lilliana to the brilliant Thea to the dashing and witty Atlas Catesby (that name, right? I feel like I need a jaunty cat named Atlas Catesby.) and the suspenseful plot kept me turning pages well into the night.

Overall, Murder in Mayfair is a lovely introduction to the world of Atlas Catesby, with a taut, suspenseful plot with many twists and turns, a charming early 1800s setting and riveting characters it will definitely be a series to watch for.

Review: Doom With a View

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Doom with a View by Kate Kingsbury

I thoroughly enjoyed this one, the second in the Merry Ghost Inn series. From the enchanting and picturesque Oregon setting to the charming characters to the suspenseful plot that kept me guessing right up until the end, it was an engaging and absorbing read. I loved the reveal at the end, both heart-wrenching and tragic, it was a great way to end the book. I really love Orville the Laughing Ghost, it’s a fun element to the story and adds just a touch of spooky that gives the series a little flavor.

Although a great book, it rambled a little bit in some places and while this wasn’t a huge issue, there were a couple of scenes I found myself flipping through because they were a bit repetitive. Overall though, it wasn’t a big issue, it was still an enjoyable read and this series is quickly moving up on my must-read series list.

Overall, a solid second book in a what’s shaping up to be a can’t-miss cozy series and very enjoyable.

Review: The Cryptic Crossword Caper

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The Cryptic Crossword Caper by Russell Atkinson

Mags has settled in Buck’s Gap, CA to enjoy a quiet retirement from her civil service job, spending her time solving crossword puzzles and discussing the latest thriller with her mystery book club. While her well-meaning friends try to set her up with wealthy crossword puzzle author Morris Butcher as the perfect match, Mags is content to enjoy the single life. But when she discovers Morris stabbed to death in his kitchen, the investigation uncovers a possible link to a jewel heist that occurred years ago and many of the missing diamonds have never been found. A series of cryptic puzzles could hold the key to the mystery, and Mags is determined to help Chief Rick Moran crack the case.

I’m already a big fan of this author, having read most of his Cliff Knowles FBI series, and when I saw that The Cryptic Crossword Caper had combined a realistic police procedural with a cozy mystery, I was intrigued; how well could these two very different genres work together, especially since the author hasn’t written any cozy mysteries? Extremely well, as it turns out. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked and I read most of it in one evening! The cozy mystery blended with the hard-nosed procedural perfectly, with all the cozy elements you’d expect; a light read, a little bit of action, amateur sleuths, a sprinkle of light romance, and a lovable cast of characters. Combining it with Chief Rick Moran’s methodical and realistic investigation makes for a riveting, suspenseful story that even Jessica Fletcher would envy.

Besides being probably the only book to combine cozy mystery with police procedural, what sets this book apart was that it was so interactive, with several puzzles that the reader can work on their own that, when completed, held several clues to the murder. (Don’t worry, if you’re not a puzzle fan, the puzzles are “worked out” in the book, so you can still follow along. I really enjoyed trying my hand at the puzzles and while the cryptic crossword was a bit above my skill set, I had a great time working it and the cryptograms and Sudoku. For me, it added an extra layer to keep me involved and reading (not that the book needed anything more to keep me reading!)

The Cryptic Crossword Caper is an excellent read that will appeal to any mystery fan, there’s something for everyone.  I look forward to reading more adventures with Rick, Mags, and the rest of the charming citizens of Buck’s Gap.