Of Books and Bagpipes

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Of Books and Bagpipes by Paige Shelton

I enjoyed this mix of intrigue, mystery, long ago secrets and murder. Lots of threads for Delaney to untangle, from an unfortunate incident 50 years ago involving Edwin and his university friends to a murder of a William Wallace reenactor. I loved the sights and sounds of Edinburgh and old castles, it was just like being there. The plot kept a decent pace, and there was a lot for Delaney to figure out and the exciting ending left me with raised eyebrows. With all of the red herrings and plot twists, I think I had a new guess whodunit with each chapter!  There were a few dropped/unexplained plot threads that I found myself thinking about after I finished the book. Who was the dead guy on the boat and how come nothing could be found about him other than the passport? Weird. And whatever happened to the letter? And what was the whole thing with the shot glasses? And was Gordon’s explanation of Leith’s death true? Or was it the work of the killer? I guess I’ll never know. But seriously, if Edwin had come clean about the whole thing from the beginning, we never would’ve had a whole book to enjoy.

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Death by Dumpling

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Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chen

What a charming book! This will definitely appeal to any cozy mystery reader, but I can see it being a hit with younger readers (and by younger, I mean younger than my creaky middle aged bones! Young people in their 20s or perhaps even teenagers (there’s no bad language or sexual situations) would really like this.) With a sprinkle of romance, a bit of intrigue, adorable characters, a cute setting and a captivating mystery, what more can you ask for in a cozy? The Asian venue was a fresh and unique setting for the mystery. This isn’t your average everyday cozy!

I loved Lana and her roommate Megan, they made a great team and their enthusiasm caught me up and rolled me right along with them. The cute Asia Village plaza with its Chinese shops sounds like such a great place to visit and browse for a day. Is this a real thing? Is there an Asia Village I can visit somewhere? Hmmm. And the plot! All the twists and turns and red herrings kept me guessing and I was completely turned around upside down by the time I got to the exciting ending. Can’t wait to read more from Lana and the gang!

 

Muffin to Fear

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Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton

I always love catching up with Merry and her friends and I’ve been eagerly awaiting cracking this one open. I liked that it took the time to set up and introduce the new characters (the tv crew.) In many cozy mysteries, someone is murdered right at the beginning of the book and there’s so little context that I find I don’t connect as well to the story. While the dysfunctional TV crew squabbles were tedious at times, it really helped to develop the characters and by the time the murder happened, I was already firmly hooked. Lots of twists and turns kept me guessing and lots of small details that I had to keep track of kept me engaged. Add in Merry’s grace and humor, her delightful friends Hannah and Lizzie, a madcap crew of ghost hunters (I love ghost hunters shows!) and a surprise twist at the end and you have one satisfying read. It was every bit as good as I expected from this author, and a great addition to the series.

Murder on the Sugarland Express

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Murder on the Sugarland Express by Angie Fox

I love this series, it’s like a bag of potato chips – can’t put it down! The exciting plot is the real star of this book. A well crafted homage to the iconic Murder on the Orient Express, the rip-roaring dual plot combined a long ago ghostly unsolved murder with a current day murder under similar circumstances. Fast-paced with an ending that left my heart racing, it was thoroughly enjoyable and memorable and I admit, I was surprised by whodunit and why. It was an exceptionally well done mystery that even Agatha would appreciate!

The ghostly victims of the first derailment returning to the scene of te crime (complete with a Poirot-esque police inspector!) and the thrilling solve of the first case was entertaining (I loved how The Green Lady redeemed herself at the end!) but it was the modern day murder that tugged at my heart, thanks to the great characters, I love how they’ve progressed as the series goes on; all of them have grown to become vivid and realistic and darn it, so likable (even Virginia!) They’re all the reason I eagerly come back with each new book.

Review: Survival of the Fritters

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Survival of the Fritters (Deputy Donut #1) by Ginger Bolton

Still reeling from the unexpected death of her husband, Alec, 3 years ago, Emily is trying to move on with her life at the donut shop she owns with her father in law. Among the donut shop’s favorite regulars is a group of older ladies, who have a knitting club called Knitpickers. So when one of the Knitpickers doesn’t show up one morning, everyone is concerned. Later, they go to her house to check on her and find her dead, surrounded by donuts. Who killed Georgia and why? Is it related to the unsolved murder of Georgia’s son, Mattias?

I’m not going to lie, the adorable cat on the cover made me want to pick up this book and it didn’t disappoint! The excellent plot reeled me in like a fish and kept me turning pages and guessing almost up to the very last page! I liked that Emily didn’t really go out and investigate, she just put the clues together (not that it didn’t stop her from getting into trouble at the end.) I loved the characters, from spunky Lois and the Knitpickers to pragmatic Brent and the spark between him and Emily (mmph) they were all charming and realistic characters but let’s face it, we all know it’s the adorable feline Deputy Donut who steals the show. An excellent introduction to picturesque Fallingbrook, Wisconsin and definitely a place I’m eager to visit again.

Review: Flowers and Foul Play

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Flowers and Foul Play by Amanda Flower

Fiona’s going through a rough patch; her flower shop’s gone out of business, her fiancé cheated on her and then she gets word that her godfather has died and left her his cottage in Scotland. Arriving to reclaim her inheritance, she discovers the body of Alastair Croft, the lawyer handling her inheritance. Worried that the police suspect her godfather’s most trusted friend and employee may be implicated, Fiona asks a few questions around town and discovers that nearly everyone had a motive to kill Alastair.

What a lovely book! The beautiful Scottish countryside drew me in, the magical garden hooked me. With engaging characters, the beautiful setting and the excellent plot, it was a thoroughly charming and light cozy. I loved the writing style, the book came alive with each page, from “seeing” the garden come alive, to the mischievous Duncan the squirrel (and the rivalry between Duncan and Ivanhoe that cat!) to the dramatic landscape of the coast, it was almost like being a part of the action. So well done! The action packed ending had me biting my nails with each page and in the end, there were a few plot threads in the book that I look forward to seeing resolved in later books in the series. This was an excellent first in a new series and I look forward to seeing more of Fiona and friends!

Review: Murder on the Toy Town Express

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Murder on the Toy Town Express by Barbara Early

Book 2 of the Vintage Toy Shop series was every bit as good as the first! This is shaping up to be a go-to series, and not just because I love the setting so much (and I’m with Liz about Sahlen’s Hot Dogs, mmmm.) The twisty plot kept me guessing right up to the exciting ending, and there were a few “oh no way!” moments along the way. I love Liz’s relationship with her dad, they make a great team and the running puns are always funny.

“You have a mind like an elephant’s.”
“Yeah, wrinkled, gray and way too much junk in the trunk. But that’s totally irrelephant.”

I felt bad for Liz in this one. I mean, what’s wrong with a woman casually dating 2 guys? Apparently a lot, since Liz’s family felt like they needed to nag her about it every 2 minutes. Can’t a single girl have a little fun?

It was the plot that really stands out in this book, who killed Comic Book Craig and why? Craig wasn’t a likable guy by any means, and there were plenty of motives and suspects to keep me guessing, and the side plots added both a bit of fun and introduced new characters I hope to see more of in later books. The big plot twist at the end made for an exciting and satisfying conclusion and by the very last page, I was already dying (pun intended) to read the next book (October can’t come soon enough!)

Review: Jeopardy in July

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Jeopardy in July by Barbara Venkataraman

Ahhh Jamie, how can you be such an adept investigator but be so oblivious to what’s around you? *sigh*

This series is always a fun, laugh-out-loud, absorbing read. You can’t help but like Jamie, a sassy, independent, and strong woman, yet vulnerable and a little unsure (especially when it comes to Kip!) Her banter with Duke is always hilarious, and the gents at the old folks’ home (named ‘La Vida Boca’, a take off on the Ricky Martin song,  translated, it means ‘The Mouth Life’ which made me laugh a bit too, considering the sassy level of many of its residents!) In Jeopardy in July, Jamie is uncovers a case of art forgery that turns into murder and I enjoyed how the story weaved together several threads into one intricate plot. Jamie is also reconsidering the focus of her law practice and I can’t wait to see how that develops in coming books. The book capped off with an exciting conclusion that opened up so many possible future storylines (which I’m looking forward to!) My only criticism was that I thought the showdown at the end ended a little abruptly, but it was still satisfying. A few new characters were introduced that I hope to see return, especially Herb, Uncle Teddy and his friends. The heartwarming twist at the end was adorable and left me with a serious case of the feels, if you’ve been following the series from the beginning, it was a satisfying and endearing end to the book and left me eagerly awaiting the next book.

Review: The Fast and the Furriest

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The Fast and the Furriest by Sofie Ryan

Another fun mystery in the Second Chance Cat series, The Fast and the Furriest dug into the shadowy past of Mac, the enigmatic handyman at Second Chances. And what a story it was! It would’ve made for a great soap opera plot even Elvis the cat could get in to (as long as it wasn’t on during Jeopardy, of course.) When Erin Fellows shows up in town looking for Mac and is later found dead, Mac comes under suspicion after an eyewitness places him at the scene. Sarah’s sassy senior friends, an informal PI agency calling themselves “Charlotte’s Angels”, kick into gear to solve the murder to save their friend.

I always enjoy this series, it’s a relaxing, light read and the charming characters make it feel like I’m catching up with old friends. I have to say, Sarah is stubbornly clueless about Nick’s interest, maybe he needs to step up his game? I enjoyed their “field trips” they took in the course of their investigation (Stevie’s alibi made me laugh) and it all came together for an exciting ending, Mr. P. certainly is a man of many talents.

Overall, The Fast and the Furriest is a delightful addition to an already great series. This book can easily be be read as a standalone or an entry into the series, as any references to prior books are summed up nicely and it would be easy for readers new to the series to understand.

Review: Death of a Toy Soldier

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Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early

Ok, first of all, I have an ulterior motive for picking up this book. You see, I know the setting very, very well. East Aurora, a small town outside of Buffalo, NY, is home to landmarks like Vidlers, The Roycroft, and of course, Fisher-Price and all of its toys. So when I saw that Death of a Toy Soldier was set in that tiny speck on the map that few people outside of Western NY know about, I had to read it. The book was full of recognizable places and captured the flavor of the town so well that it made me feel like I was transported back to the bricked lined Main Street with its wide sidewalks and cute little shops.

The plot surrounds a man who brings a box of old toys to be appraised at the vintage toy shop owned by Liz McCall and her retired police chief father Hank. When the man and is later found dead in the middle of the night, murdered with a lawn dart and Hank falls under suspicion, there’s no choice for Liz and her father to investigate, turning up family squabbles, a possible haunting and some mischievous fun.  Lots of red herrings and false clues made this an enjoyable and puzzling plot and I loved the charming characters that truly embodied the warm community atmosphere of the town. The surprise twist and exciting ending capped it all off and left me eager to read more.

An excellent debut mystery set in a place close to my heart and I definitely recommend it for cozy mystery fans looking for a fun and enjoyable read.

Review: March of Crime

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March of Crime by Jess Lourey

“Gary,” she said on her way out, “I got my nails done. What do you think?” He looked. She held up both her middle fingers. His nostrils flared. I tugged Mrs. Berns outside before he did anything more

If I could give this book a standing ovation, I would. I had a serious book hangover after I finished this one; actually, I finished the last page and went “Auuugghhhaaahhhhh!!!!” Thrilling, hilarious and entertaining, it was a great comeback for Mira and the Battle Lake gang. I love Mira, she’s smart and tough on the outside but so vulnerable and insecure on the inside (and dang it, girl you make some rotten decisions!) Mrs. Berns is always laugh out loud funny and like Mira, I want to be her when I grow up. The plot was fantastically creepy (dolls are creepy enough, but when you stuff corpses in them? *shudder*) and I never saw the end coming. Add in Kennie’s hairbrained money making schemes (which had me rolling with laughter!) and Chief Wohnt (gaaahhhh!!) and you’ve got a blockbuster book.

An excellent read and  I definitely recommend this series for cozy mystery fans. I can’t wait for the next book (please Lord, let it be soon!)

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!

Blog Tour! Death Plays a Part

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Death Plays a Part by Vivian Conroy

With her theater closed for renovations, Guinevere lands a summer job cataloging books at a castle on Cornisea, a small island off the coast of England. Together with her little dachshund Dolly, she sets off, expecting an idyllic summer exploring the tiny island. When she arrives, she’s delighted to learn that the castle is hosting a re-enactment of a historic trial, but when a man is found murdered in the dungeon and her new employer is accused, Guinevere jumps into action to find the real killer, uncovering a greedy plot and family secrets.

Thoroughly enjoyable first in a new series, with a charming location, rich plot and of course, an adorable Doxie.  What more can you ask for in a cozy?  I loved this from the very first page,  I felt like I was right there along with Guinevere as she got off the train heading for Cornisea, I could almost feel Dolly tugging at the leash!  The pace was perfect, introducing the characters with just enough detail to make them jump right off the page and setting up the puzzling plot full of twists and turns that kept me glued to the book.  I enjoyed watching it all unfold, locked room mysteries are my favorite and I really appreciated Guinevere’s thought process in solving it,  no sudden AHA! moment for our girl, she sat down and figured it all out rationally.  Go LOGIC!

Overall, Death Plays a Part charmed the socks off me and I can’t wait for the next book to come out in August.  Will Oliver and Guinevere let their sparks fan into a relationship? Will Lord Bolingbrooke ever catalog all of his books? Will the treasure be found? I’m gonna stay tuned for more!

Be sure to stop in at the next stop on the Cornish Castle Blog Tour tomorrow at Avonna Loves Genres

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Series: Cornish Castle #1
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: July 7, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle
ASIN: B06XGHVCHH
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: The Prawn Identity

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The Prawn Identity by Morgana Best

This is a light and entertaining cozy mystery series, I love heading into the outback to visit Sibyl and her friends and this time around, property developer Greg Summers and his wife Lisa are staying at Cressida’s boarding house on their honeymoon. Greg’s company is currently planning to develop a large area of ecologically sensitive bushland, and this brings protesters out in full force. One morning, Lisa is killed when a balcony collapses. Was it just a tragic accident? Was it related to Greg’s development deal? Who was the real target? Sibyl and her friends set out once again to catch a killer and as if things couldn’t get much worse, the village’s building inspector is trying to close down Cressida’s boarding house for being unsafe and even Sibyl can’t catch a break when Blake’s ex-girlfriend shows up in town.

The Prawn Identity (LOL love the titles in this series!) is a great addition to the series. The entertaining plot kept me guessing with lots of surprises and plot twists and no shortage of suspects. There was lots going on in this one, and I liked that it kept the pace moving quickly, but there wasn’t so much that you couldn’t keep track of what was going on. As always, there’s a lot of laughs (Tiny and the poodle!) and I love the banter between Cressida and Mr. Buttons, and I would love to know more about their back story! Why does Cressida only paint gory death scenes? Was Mr. Buttons really a butler? I need more info!  The surprising ending wrapped up the book nicely, and  the sprinkling of romance between Sibyl and hunky cop Blake adds the awwww factor that makes this series irresistible.

You really can’t go wrong with the Australian Amateur Sleuth series and I definitely recommend this series for any cozy mystery fan looking for suspenseful plots, a unique setting and entertaining characters.

Series: Australian Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Cozy Mysteries Books
Publication Date: April 22, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ASIN: B01EO8ODFQ
ISBN: 9781532898587
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: The Antique House Murders

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The Antique House Murders by Leslie Nagel

When family friend,Calvin, an estate auctioneer, invites Charley to Mulbridge House, the estate of a recently deceased elderly woman that holds decades of historical finds, including some vintage designer clothes, Charley jumps at the chance to snap them up to sell at her shop, Old Hat Vintage Fashions. While she’s there, she witnesses a heated exchange between the dead woman’s daughter and a local woman who claims she was promised the estate for the town’s historical society. A fiery feud erupts, pitting the estate’s heirs, who intend to tear down the estate and build high priced homes, against the townspeople opposed to the new development. Charley somehow finds herself caught in the middle and later discovers Calvin dead and the estate’s records missing. She begins her own investigation and uncovers a huge plot surrounding prime real estate, greed and betrayal and finds herself the target of a ruthless killer.

This is the second book in the Oakwood Mystery series and I loved it even more than the first! It’s so easy to fall into the world of Oakwood, Ohio, Charley and her friends are an enjoyable bunch, and a new character promises to lead to a really cute story line in future books. I love the author’s writing style, the story is told from different characters at some points, and lends more depth to the story. The supporting characters are so much more than background noise and it adds a lot to the story. The great plot was a real rollercoaster ride, with so many good suspects and red herrings that it was easy to get thrown off the trail (like Charley did, I guess!) and the great pace kept the suspense building to a thrilling conclusion that will get your heart racing.

Although labeled as a cozy mystery, I’d put it on the outer fringe of cozy, with a few cuss words and a little bit more steamier romance than you’d find in a cozy mystery (although not graphic and certainly just a minor part of the overall story.) It’s not a detractor for me, and I think Marc and Charley are just adorable, and watching their relationship evolve adds a fresh aspect to the genre, a little bit of realistic interaction I don’t often see in books.

The Antique House Murders is an excellent second book in the Oakwood Mysteries series, and one I definitely recommend to readers looking for a not-your-average-cozy mystery. Definitely a series to watch!

 

Series: The Oakwood Mysteries
Publisher: Alibi
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle
ASIN: B01ILZPRPI
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Hospitality and Homicide

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Hospitality and Homicide by Lynn Cahoon

I sat down last night to read for an hour or 2 until my favorite show came on and missed my show! (Thank goodness for DVRs!) There were two riveting plots in this one, B&B innkeeper Walter is found dead, murdered in a way that closely mirrored the plot of visiting crime author Nathan Pike’s new novel and a child missing after being swept off the beach by a wave. Esmeralda claims he’s still alive but in peril and won’t survive much longer. I was totally roped in by this story line, Esmeralda was definitely the unsung hero of this book! I loved seeing more of her (she’s always been one of my favorite characters!) The storyline about Walter’s murder was baffling and I loved the surprise twist at the end. Throw in relationship issues, Economics finals, broken hearts, hot coffee and a slice of cheesecake and you’ve got a riveting cozy mystery to wrap yourself up in.

I’ve read this series from the beginning, I’ve always felt is was more than just a cozy mystery series, it’s also a community; one that you stop and visit often to catch up with the characters. I love that the story lines progress naturally and there’s always new people to meet and love. I know Deek will be a great addition to the CBM family and what was the deal with Nathan? Multiple personalities? That’s a plot unto itself!

Overall, another excellent chapter in the Tourist Trap series and ranks up there as the best of the series. Definitely a must read for any cozy mystery fan!

Review: Grand Prize: Murder

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Grand Prize: Murder by Vivian Conroy

Vicky Simmons is back in Grand Prize Murder, the second book in the Country Gift Shop series. Author Bella Brookes has come to Glen Cove on a book tour to kick off a scavenger hunt to publicize her newest novel. When a man is found murdered next to an item linked to Bella, Vicky is certain that Bella is being framed and starts her own investigation. Hampered by a reporter with an agenda and trying to keep her promise to Cash to stay out of his investigations, Vicky sets out to unravel tightly held secrets to find a killer.

Light and entertaining, Grand Prize Murder combines colorful characters with a twisty, puzzling plot that kept me glued to the book. This is the second book in the Country Gift Shop series (can be read as a standalone, but I definitely recommend reading the first one in this series!) and I loved returning to Glen Cove and Vicky’s adorable gift shop. What really sets this apart from other cozies is that the clues are little teasers that pulled me in and kept me reading. I would’ve loved it if the scavenger hunt was a bigger part of the story, it would’ve been a great way to introduce more of Glen Cove, giving me a better sense of the place. I liked that Bella was herself a cozy mystery author, sort of like a truth-meets-fiction moment, and I loved how how the scavenger plot was a cozy mystery within a cozy mystery. Cute! And I loved the little plot twist at the end of the book, it really capped off a great mystery.

Overall, a great mystery and a cute little series and highly recommended for cozy mystery fans.