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.

Review: Your Killin’ Heart

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Your Killin’ Heart by Peggy O’Neal Peden

Campbell Hall, a travel agent in Nashville, TN, grew up surrounded by the history of country music. When her boyfriend, Doug Elliot, has to pick up a few paintings at the estate of Jake Miller, a long dead country music legend who died young, Campbell begs to tag along, hoping to catch a glimpse inside the opulent mansion still occupied by Jake’s widow, Hazel. When she’s left alone for a moment, Campbell can’t help but take a look around and peeks into what turns out to be Hazel’s bedroom, with Hazel seemingly asleep in the bed. When it is reported that night that Hazel was found dead and is later determined to have been murdered, Campbell is compelled to investigate. Uncovering long held secrets and pursued by a killer, Campbell risks it all to find justice.

I loved this! The first in a new series, I already know I’ll keep coming back for more. Besides the great plot, the characters were likable and realistic, especially Campbell, she’s my kinda gal. Self-described as “a little too honest” she’s impulsive, inquisitive, and a little bit socially awkward – in other words, me in a nutshell. Even the setting was a character in itself, with tidbits about the music, the history and the culture of Nashville, TN. It was so vivid, it felt like I was really there.

I really enjoyed the plot, lots of good suspects and lots of suspects you don’t realize are suspects and suspects you suspect but aren’t actually suspects. Lots of plot twists and red herrings kept me guessing and the thrilling ending left me satisfied. The story left a few plot points open to be explored in later books and I’m eagerly awaiting the next in the series.

A light, entertaining cozy mystery that will keep you guessing, Your Killin’ Heart is a fantastic start to a new series and a must read for any cozy mystery fan.

Series: A Nashville Mystery #1
Rating: ★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: May 02, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePub
ISBN: 9781250122681
ASIN: B01M22DDWQ
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Raven Rock

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Raven Rock by Garrett M. Graff

The unthinkable has happened; time has run out, the missiles have been launched and the United States as we know it is doomed. But never fear! The government has planned extensively to assure their safety and that their reign will continue without interruption – even if there’s nothing left to govern after it’s all over!

Raven Rock explores the history of the people and events that brought about these plans, spanning the span of time since the end of World War II, from Truman to Obama (who signed a bill in 2009 giving the US Postal Service the sole responsibility of delivering “biological counter-measures” in the event of a biological weapons attack. Which is better than FedEx (who always seems to deliver my packages late, but that’s another story.)

After I watched a Travel Channel show that talked about The Greenbriar, I picked up Raven Rock to read more about the history behind that Cold War bunker mentality and found much, much more. The easy flow of the book drew me in quickly, the anecdotes and trivia kept things light and interesting and the very linear layout stayed on topic without extraneous detail to confuse the reader.

Raven Rock is an engrossing history illuminating a shadowy aspect of the government not well known or understood and I definitely recommend it to history buffs and trivia fans alike.

Rating: ★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date:  May 2, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Hardcover
ISBN: 9781476735405
ASIN: B010MHAG72
Genre: History
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Cloakroom Corpse

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Cloakroom Corpse by Sherry Lodge

Cassie Hall and her peep-toe shoes have stepped into another mystery at The Parkstone, the luxury apartment building where she works as the night shift concierge. While checking her mail, she overhears Mason, the day shift concierge, having a heated argument with someone in the lobby. Moments later, Cassie finds Mason in the cloakroom, stabbed with a letter opener. As a prime suspect, and with Mason’s grieving girlfriend to look after, Cassie finds herself on yet another case, despite her police detective boyfriend Eric’s disapproval.

First of all, stick hidden/secret rooms in a book and you’ve captured my attention. Add in a mysterious curse and I’m hooked. I could happily spend an afternoon in a secret room, exploring all the nooks and crannies but since I don’t have any secret rooms, the next best thing is to spend an afternoon reading about someone exploring secret rooms. This looks like it will continue in later books, and I’m looking forward to reading more about The Parkstone and its secrets.

I really enjoyed the great plot, who murdered Mason and why? One by one, all the secrets Mason has been hiding are dragged out, bringing a new suspect. It seems like all of The Parkstone resident have something to hide! Now I’m wondering what Mr. Gilrot’s dirty little secrets are….hopefully in the next book? And Mrs. Canterbury! You know she’s got more than one skeleton in her closet.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a little romance, and the sweet ending capped off a great mystery.

Cloakroom Corpse is a great addition to the charming Cassie Hall Mystery series, and definitely a must read for any cozy mystery lover.

Series: Cassie Hall Mystery
Rating: ★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press
Publication Date: March 19, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN: 9781946063144
ASIN: B06XR6Z8CV
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Single Malt Murder

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Single Malt Murder (Whisky Business #1) by Melinda Mullet

Single Malt Murder weaves a twisty tale of greed, murder and whisky into a captivating cozy mystery. Set in the idyllic Scottish Highlands, Abi inherits a whisky distillery from her uncle and suddenly finds herself the target of threats and sabotage. When a young man from the village is found dead in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to find out who is sabotaging her uncle’s distillery and just what’s important enough to kill for.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one, the history and methods of the whisky making process are neatly woven into the story, although I’m not a drinker, I do like to know how things work and it really enhanced the story for me and set the book apart. The twisty, suspenseful plot kept a steady pace and I liked that the author left a few plot lines open to be developed in future books. How will Abi juggle her photojournalist career with a distillery? Will her romance with the hunky Grant lure her to live in Scotland, or will she hang on to her photojournalism career in London? Lots of places to grow, and I definitely want to come come back for more. Add in likable, engaging and quirky characters (I really liked Abi and her three adjectives!) and an exciting ending and you’ve got an excellent debut cozy and a promising start to a new series.

Series: Whisky Business #1
Rating: 4 stars
Publisher: Alibi
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePub
ISBN: 9780399179051
ASIN: B01HL180QG
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them

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Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Get Well Soon isn’t so much a historical book about plagues, it’s also about the human side of plagues; the healers, the sufferers and the people left behind. The book details not only catastrophic plagues like The Black Death, but also some of the lesser known plagues like the Roman Empire-ending Antonine Plague and The Dancing Plague in 16th century Europe (which sounds all very funny until you read that people pretty much danced their feet off. Literally.)

All the major maladies are touched on, from the horrific syphilis and tuberculosis plagues to the ravages of typhoid, smallpox and cholera throughout history. The sad fate of many plague victims, abandoned by their families and in some cases, abandoned by society, was all very heartrending. I also thought it was very interesting how the Victorians glamorized the pale, gaunt appearance of tuberculosis sufferers. Looking at any of today’s popular fashion models or actresses, it’s obvious that’s an ideal that persists even today.

For the most part, this was very entertaining but felt a bit preachy in spots. Although I don’t fault the author for having strong feelings about her subject, it felt a bit like I was being lectured to.

Overall, Get Well Soon is an informative and entertaining trip through the perils of the past, and anyone who loves history (and plagues. I’m sure there are people out there who enjoy a good plague.) will definitely enjoy it.

Thank you to Henry Holt and Co. and Netgalley for an advance copy.  This review is my honest and unsolicited opinion. 

Rating:★★★✰✰ 3 stars
Publisher:Henry Holt & Co
Publication Date:Feb 07, 2017
Language: English
ISBN:9781627797467
ASIN: B01IA6FNUW
Genre:History, Non-Fiction
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Aunt Bessie Likes

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Aunt Bessie Likes (Isle of Man #12)  by Diana Xarissa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aunt Bessie returns in the 12th Isle of Man mystery to help her police friends solve the cold case disappearance of three teenage cousins in 1970.  The case flounders when no new evidence is uncovered until an anonymous tip leads police to several bodies buried in a garden. Is 40 years too long for Bessie to unravel the mystery behind the girls in the garden?

In Aunt Bessie Likes, young PC Hugh Watterson is following up on cold cases and decides to pursue the disappearance of three teenage cousins in 1970. Out of all the Aunt Bessie books, I think this will rank up there as one of my favorites. I love cold case mysteries, probably because there’s nothing more satisfying than to find an answer to an unknown. I also love hearing more about the history of Bessie’s Isle of Man (where everyone seems to think murder has only recently come to visit, but Hugh’s stack of cold cases prove this untrue.) The twisty plot, sprinkled with a few red herrings, kept me second guessing myself through the whole book and the ending was both satisfying and exciting.

All in all, another exciting Bessie adventure, and I highly recommend this adorable and well-written series to cozy mystery fans looking for a clean, light read.

View all my reviews

Review: Fatality by Firelight

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Fatality by Firelight (Cat Latimer #2) by Lynn Cahoon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis

Cat is hosting her second writers’ retreat at her B&B located in a small academic town of Aspen Hills, Colorado and hoping this retreat will be more tranquil than the first.  Her hopes are dashed when one of her guests comes under suspicion for the murder of local bad boy romeo Tommy. To complicate things, a mystery man shows up who seems to know too much about her, and a series of book thefts has everyone scratching their heads. There’s snow way Cat can’t just sit around, she’s out to solve the mystery!

Review

Gliding down the slopes…blazing fires in the fireplace…the crunch of snow underfoot…steaming mugs of hot cocoa…the dead body in the hot tub – only Lynn Cahoon could make snowy Colorado a hot destination, even in the depths of winter! With several mysteries woven into one fast-paced plot, I was glued to the book until the very last page. I loved the action-packed plot – Stalkers! Murders! Kidnapping! Booknapping! *gasp* – all with so many twists and turns, it was like a cozy mystery slalom! The on-going mystery surrounding the death of Cat’s ex-husband added a layer of intrigue and the mysterious stranger added a bit of spice to shake up Cat’s comfortable life.

All in all, Fatality by Firelight is a thoroughly enjoyable and well-crafted mystery guaranteed to keep you guessing (and entertained!) While this book can be read as a standalone, I recommend reading the first in the series to get the full backstory about Cat’s ex-husband (and because it’s a good book.)

Thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book. This review is my honest, unsolicited opinion

Series: Cat Latimer #2
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date:  Feb 28, 2017
Language: English
Formats:  Kindle/Paperback
ISBN: 9781496704375
ASIN: B01GBAG6VO
Genre:Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: When the Grits Hit the Fan

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When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day (Country Store #3)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Buried in the depths of winter in southern Indiana,  it’s been months since diner owner Robbie Jordan has found herself in the middle of a murder.  All of that changes when she finds a local professor dead, frozen beneath the ice in the middle of Crooked Lake.  When Robbie’s friend Lou falls under suspicion, Robbie can’t help but investigate.  With a town full of people who hated the victim, several suspects who have seemingly airtight alibis, puzzling objects found in the walls during remodeling and an intruder who keeps breaking into the  hidden tunnel under Robbie’s diner, Robbie’s sleuthing skills are put to the test. Can she find a killer with a perfect recipe for murder?

Out of the three books in this series, this one is my favorite. The series has finally hit its stride, showcasing the flavor of southern Indiana with a picturesque setting, colorful characters and an absorbing plot that pulls you right into the wonderful world of South Lick. Picture it: the snow gently falling on the rolling hills, the small town diner serving delicious food with a heaping side of gossip, and the warmth of friends and family – it’s all so inviting that it’s easy to get comfortable. And that’s what I like most about cozy mysteries, how comfortable you are sinking into them, and the Country Store series is an excellent example; it’s a great place to spend a few hours, even if there is a murderer on the loose. Throw in a victim that you love to hate (let’s face it, it’s always satisfying when a thoroughly disagreeable character is the victim, isn’t it?) and no shortage of suspects, each with their own good motive for murder, plus hidden tunnels, puzzling objects found in the walls during remodeling and an action packed ending and you have the perfect recipe for a great cozy mystery.

When the Grits Hit the Fan will be released on March 28, 2017.

Thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book. I was not compensated, and this is my honest and unsolicited review.
Series:Country Store #3
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher:Kensington Books
Publication Date: 28 Mar 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781617739293
ASIN: B01GBAIXGK
Genre:Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Third Time’s a Crime

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Third Time’s a Crime by Diana Orgain

Third Time’s a Crime is reality TV in book form, except in Cold Case at the Castle, the drama wasn’t scripted! Set at an old mansion that had operated as a boys home many years in the past, ex-cop Georgia and the nine other contestants are tasked with solving the murder of a girl who disappeared decades ago, to solve the mystery first. But when an employee at the castle is found dead, and another contestant is murdered after he was voted off the show, Georgia knows all the murders are tied together and the killer is still very close to the scene. Can she find a cold blooded killer at the castle before she’s the next victim?

This was recommended to me by a friend, who sent me a copy of the book. (Thanks, Joann!) This was the first book I’ve read in the Love or Money series, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t care for reality shows, so I skipped over a lot of the backstabbing/partnering/cheating sort of reality tv shtick. But at the heart of it, this was an excellent plot, lots of action and suspense with plenty of misdirections and a hint of is-it-or-isn’t-it-paranormal to keep you guessing. The satisfying ending tied everything up nicely, and although the book can be read as a standalone, it will definitely suck you right into the series.

I loved the crumbling old mansion setting, very well described and so vivid I felt like it was real. I eagerly followed along as the contestants combed the mansion and gardens, and I loved the dumbwaiter scene (I’ve always wanted to do that!) Combined with the animated characters (especially Bert!) the entire story was dimensional, exciting and totally engrossing.

Overall, Third Time’s a Crime is an excellent mystery, and can be read as a standalone or even an entry into the series. I definitely recommend it for cozy mystery and reality tv fans.

Third Time’s A Crime is available at book retailers or online at  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Series: Love Or Money Mystery
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: Jan 03, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePUB
ISBN: 9780425271704
ASIN: B01E4WAFHW
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Juggling Kittens

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Juggling Kittens by Matt Coleman

Spencer wasn’t the type of kid who would have teachers lined up asking about im. He was a weird, effeminate kid who made bad grades and rarely paid attention. He had blonde highlights and wore vests with fur. But he also wore a typically blank expression and once got a pen cap stuck between his front two teeth. This particular cocktail of traits made him a target for bullies but invisible to anyone who might defend him. And that anyone was me. He was invisible until he disappeared and then suddenly he was all I could see. Plastered across my mind like a million missing flyers no one would ever hang.

Set in small town Ruddy Creek, Arkansas just after 9/11 Ellis Mazer is newly hired to teach English to bored 7th graders at a small public school in Arkansas. After one of his students, a poor and friendless boy named Spencer, stops coming to school, Ellis tries to contact him at his home and discovers that no one knows where he is. Coming on the heels of the disappearance of a young girl, a disappearance Spencer’s father is implicated in, Ellis becomes concerned and worried and begins to search for Spencer, determined not to let him slip through the cracks.

When I saw the title Juggling Kittens, I was intrigued. When I read the first chapter, I was hooked! I loved the easy writing style, the suspenseful plot and the quick pace, all blended together to create an starkly realistic tale from a great new voice in the crime fiction genre.

This was one of those plots that will stick with me for awhile,  revolving around the disappearance of two children in rural Arkansas and one teacher’s quest for the truth.  It touches on that primal fear that everyone has, the horror of children in danger.  Fueled by that primal fear and that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when faced with all the possibilities, you can’t help but race through the book to find out what happens next.   The colorful characters really brought the story alive, creating a true to life world that could be anywhere in America. Along with the excellent plot, the story blends social commentary about America right after 9/11, from the atmosphere of worry and fear to the educational system to the often bleak existence of life in rural Arkansas. As the story unwinds, you see Ellis change from idealistic to disillusioned as he confronts several new realities.

I have to say, at first, I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the point. Just like in the real world, life ain’t fair in Ruddy Creek. You have to take it as it comes.

Intense, darkly funny and unforgettable, Juggling Kittens is an exceptional debut mystery and Matt Coleman is an author to watch. Recommended!

Thank you to the author for a copy of the book, in  exchange for my honest review.

Juggling Kittens is available at book retailers or online at Amazon

Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publisher: Pandamoon Publishing
Publication Date: Oct 4, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781945502064
ASIN: B01LWCQ1FD
Genre:Mystery/Suspense
Reviewer:Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Dead Wrong

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Dead Wrong by Helen H. Durrant

At Hobfield, a troubled housing estate in northern England, a bag of severed fingers are found in a bag on the playground. Soon after, the butchered remains of two bodies are found in a field next to Hobfield. DI Calladine and partner DS Ruth Bayless are put in charge of the investigation. With few clues, reticent residents and a brutal killer on the loose, Calladine and Bayless rush to track down the killer before more bodies are found.

I’ve read the later books in this series, and grabbed this one to see how it all began and right from the grisly first chapter you’re thrust into the action. A killer appears to be “taking out the trash” one thug at a time at the run-down housing estate notorious for drugs and desperate people. Calladine’s gut instinct tells him there’s more to this than just someone trying to get rid of the bad apples, and slowly reveals the back story to the killer’s motives. It made for a riveting plot and I loved the plot twist at the end and the action-packed conclusion was definitely one of those can’t-read-fast-enough endings.

In addition to the fast paced plot, the characters are realistic and interesting. Calladine, a fine detective grapples with his inability to commit to his relationships and the care of his mother, in a nursing home due to advanced dementia. He is, of course, overwhelmed by everything on his plate, and DS Bayliss does a great job as a sidekick to keep him on an even keel.

Overall, Dead Wrong is a grisly, gripping and unflinching crime thriller and a great start to the Calladine & Bayliss series. I definitely recommend it to Brit Crime fans, or anyone who enjoys a good police procedural.

Dead Wrong is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble

Series:Calladine & Bayliss #1
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Joffee Books
Publication Date: July 3, 2015
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePUB
ISBN: 9781523358601
ASIN: B010Y7641M
Genre:Police Procedural
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Death at the Dog

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Death at the Dog by Joanna Cannan

How can a man be murdered in a room full of people, with no one witnessing the act?

It’s evening at the lounge of the local pub and squire Matthew Scaife is ensconced in his usual seat, nodding off after a few pints. One by one, the regulars show up, a few local couples, including Scaife’s sons, Edward and Mark and author Crescy Hardwick, who is bitter over being thrown out of her cottage by Scaife. At the end of the evening, Edward goes to wake Scaife and realizes he’s dead and a local doctor called in to attend insists on an autopsy. When evidence of murder is found, Scotland Yard is called in and Inspector Guy Northeast arrives to investigate. All the circumstantial evidence points to Crescy, who was heard to threaten Scaife’s life but despite motive and means, no opportunity can be found. Did Crescy kill Scaife? If not, who did?

Death at the Dog is the second British Library Classic I’ve read in the last few weeks, and a classic mystery, a man killed in a room full of people and no one witnessed the murder. This was one of those plots where you know how it’s done, even before the detective realizes it, but you’re completely in the dark about whodunit and why and the surprise ending was very entertaining.

I enjoyed the portrayal of life in wartime Britain as it happened; not just the war effort and its toll on the citizens but also the mundanity of life in wartime, from blackout shutters to petrol shortages to the village’s upheaval from refugees fleeing the London bombings. It’s an authentic snapshot of life in rural war-torn England. The colorful cast of characters really helped bring the story to life.

Death at the Dog is a superb vintage mystery from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Fans of Agatha Christie or Josephine Tey will appreciate and enjoy this well written mystery, and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys a well crafted mystery.

Thank you to Endeavour Press and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in return for my honest review

Series: Inspector Guy Northeast #2
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher:Endeavour Press
Publication Date: Dec 28, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781542346184
ASIN: B01MZ4J3EX
Genre:Classic Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Catnip

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Catnip by Valerie Tate

What can go wrong when an elderly matriarch leaves the family fortune to her cat? Just about everything, including ‘catnapping’ and murder!

CATNIP is a mystery set in the picturesque town of Dunbarton, Ontario, and tells the story of what befalls the dysfunctional Dunbar family, and the chaos that ensues, when the matriarch of the clan leaves the family fortune to her cat.

That formidable feline proves to be more than a match for the humans in his life, until one fateful night when, caught unawares, he is stuffed in a sack and carried away.

A nosy neighbor with a nasty, suspicious mind points the finger of suspicion at the Dunbars and Christopher Mallory, the young attorney who is the trustee of the estate, and under the terms of the will, they face losing everything.

When a murder occurs, Christopher finds himself confronting a ruthless killer who would do anything to conceal his or her identity, including to kill again.-Via Goodreads

I’ve read the third book in this series, so I picked up Catnip to see how the series started, and I wasn’t disappointed. I liked that there was two separate mysteries combined in one plot, the catnapping of Marmalade and a murder. The first part of the book was concerned with setting the scene, introducing the characters, and laying the foundation of the plot, and then the lead-up to the catnapping had me on pins and needles, sure the dastardly event would happen on the next page. I thought it was a pretty effective way to really grab hold of a reader! Although the ending was a tiny bit implausible, it was exciting and satisfying and tied everything up nicely.

Note: No animals are harmed in this story

I have to say; at the beginning of the book the Dunbars were a petulant and shallow bunch, but the author did a great job redeeming them. I liked that they gained a lot of dimension by the end of the story, evolving into realistic and likable group that you want to visit again and again. Marmalade is the true star of the show, of course. He’s definitely star material!

Overall, this is a delightful and well written cozy mystery debut, and I definitely recommend it for fans looking to get wrapped up in a new world.

Catnip is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Series: The Dunbarton Mysteries #1
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher:Red Cottage Books
Publication Date:July 11, 2014
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781500413170
ASIN: B00LR10HH2
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Dead to Begin With

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Dead to Begin With by Vivian Conroy

See this and all of my reviews at Mystereity Reviews

Coming home can be murder.
Vicky Simmons is looking for the simple life. She’s ready to trade in London for a slower pace by opening a British Country Gift Shop in her old hometown on the coast of Maine. Little does she know a few old faces are back in Glen Cove, including unrequited teenage crush Michael Danning—having taken over the local Gazette and looking better than ever.

All is looking rosy until Vicky finds herself face-to-face with a dead body and Michael is the prime suspect. When the sheriff links the motive for murder to the unsolved disappearance of a teenage girl twenty years ago, Vicky must turn amateur sleuth. She’ll stop at nothing to save Michael…and unmask the real killer!-Via Goodreads

A good start to a new series, and while it started off slow, I’m glad I stuck with it. Once the story got going, it was hard to put down and by the time I wound my way up to the exciting ending, I was hooked. The plot blended an old disappearance with a new murder, and the many plot twists kept me on my toes, there were so many suspects that were more suspicious than the actual culprit. I admit, I didn’t know who the killer was until a few pages before Vicky figured it all out, but the clues were all there. Well done!

The cute setting of Glen Cove sounds like the sort of quaint New England small town familiar to anyone who has ever watched Murder, She Wrote. In fact, I kept waiting for Jessica Fletcher to ride down the street on her bike! The colorful cast of characters added a lot of charm to the story, especially Cash. I thought his character evolved the most during the story, and that gave him more dimension than the other characters.

I have say, the one thing that brought down my enjoyment of the book was Vicky’s mom, Claire. The plot and the characters added enough drama to keep the book interesting without the unnecessary distraction of a harping mother. She just didn’t add any value to the story for me.

Overall, Dead to Begin With is a charming, entertaining and absorbing cozy mystery and a great start to a new series. I’ll definitely keep this on my list of series to watch, and I recommend it for cozy mystery fans, who will find a lot to like.

Thank you to Harper Collins/HQ Digital for an advance copy in return for my honest review

Dead to Begin With is available for Kindle at Amazon or at Barnes & Noble

Series:Country Gift Shop Cozy #1
Rating:★★★½ 3.5 stars
Publisher: Harper Collins/HQ Digital
Publication Date:Jan 13, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/ePUB
ISBN:9780008239183
ASIN: B01N0TBEZO
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: The Courtyard Corpse: A Cassie Hall Concierge Mystery

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The Courtyard Corpse: A Cassie Hall Concierge Mystery by Sherry Lodge

Cassie Hall, a concierge at the exclusive Parkstone luxury apartment building in Bethesda, MD, is thrilled when golf superstar Kip Ace and his wife, Bunny move into the building. Not long after, Cassie finds Kip in the Parkstone’s Crabapple Courtyard – dead! With The Parkstone in a 24 hour lockdown while police investigate, restless residents and her job on the line, Cassie sets out to find a killer

I really enjoyed this charming cozy, it was a great weekend read. With a fast-paced plot full of misdirections that had me glued to the book, it was one of those great stories where you change your idea of whodunit with each chapter. With likable characters and a comfortable atmosphere, it was easy to get locked into The Parkstone with all the other residents. I got a real kick out of Mrs. Canterbury, and Cassie is an engaging main character, determined, stubborn and resourceful. I liked that the characters had enough of an introduction to give you a good idea of who they are, but leaving a few questions to be (hopefully) answered in later books.

The Courtyard Corpse is a great start to a new series, and definitely one I’ll keep on my watch list. Cozy mystery fans will find a great new world to enjoy at The Parkstone, and a perfect weekend read.

The Courtyard Corpse is available at book retailers or online at Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Series:Cassie Hall Concierge #1
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publication Date: March 12, 2017
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN: 9781946063137
ASIN: B06XJQW23W
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: The Dead Key

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The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley

It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.-via Goodreads

Although a great premise and an interesting story, I just didn’t connect with it. I really liked Beatrice’s story, set in the late 70s, but the present day storyline bogged things down. As it was, I waded through the first 1/3 of the book and felt it had already gone on too long, but by 2/3 of the way in, I was pretty much over it and flipped through to the end of the book to read the ending, which didn’t tie up a whole lot and was unsatisfying.

Overall, it was worth a read, thrilling with lots of suspense. But I just couldn’t get into it for some reason. I’d say if you’re a reader with more patience than I have, and you enjoy a taut mystery, then you’ll enjoy this book.

The Dead Key is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Rating:★★★✰✰ 3 stars
Publisher:Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN:9781477820872
ASIN:B00LWE0QZM
Genre:Mystery/Suspense
Reviewer:Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Fatal Dose

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Fatal Dose by Russell Atkinson

We think someone’s been tampering with our machines. We just can’t figure out how.”
“Sabotage, then. So these machines don’t work any more?”
“Oh they work all right,” Vogel sighed.
“Then what’s the problem?
“They work too well. They’ve been killing patients. They’ve been beaming 100 times the radiation they’re supposed to.

PI Cliff Knowles, a former FBI special agent, is hired by Xlectrix to investigate several incidents with their latest cancer radiation machine, the Lilac 4. After several patients receive an overdose of radiation, including two who later died, the company is concerned that someone has done the impossible and figured out how to hack the machines – which were engineered to be tamper-proof. When his investigation leads to threats on his life, Cliff finds himself in a race against time to track down a vindictive and sadistic man bent on revenge.

Fatal Dose is a great read, with a chilling plot that touches on a primal fear everyone can relate to; being very sick, very scared, and the vulnerability of being at the mercy of a machine – or, even more frightening, having your child at the mercy of a machine. Eek!

The exciting plot had several cases seemingly unconnected to each other that were woven seamlessly in the story; the shooting of a police officer, a bank robbery, a Jewish center bombing, and the x-ray machine sabotage. I love watching the cases unfold; although there’s a lot going on, it’s very easy to follow and the quick pace keeps the story moving right up to the  exciting and grimly satisfying ending.

Having already read Behead Me, a later book in this series, I liked seeing how Cliff and future wife Ellen first met, and their geocaching adventure with Ellen’s niece, Ashley added a fun and heartwarming moment lightened the book considerably. Very cute!

Overall, Fatal Dose is a chilling and terrifyingly realistic thriller that will stay with you for a very long time. This is a must read series for fans of thrillers and procedurals, and especially geo-cachers.

Fatal Dose is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble

Series:Cliff Knowles #3
Rating:★★★★★ 5 stars
Publication Date: Sept 13, 2013
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback
ISBN: 9781492723080
ASIN:B00F70SZXW
Genre:Thriller/Procedural
Reviewer:Tam (Mystereity Reviews)

Review: Dye Hard

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Dye Hard by Morgana Best

Obnoxious ghost hunters descend on Cressida Upthorpe’s boarding house, convinced it must a source of paranormal activity given that three murders have occurred there in a short space of time.
After one of the ghost hunters is murdered with poisoned hair dye, Sibyl does her best to keep well away from the investigation, that is, until Cressida almost falls victim. With the bumbling detectives back in town and on the scene, Sibyl races to solve the murder before the body count rises.
-Via Goodreads

I really enjoyed this one, it was one of those books where I tried to read it slower to savor it, but it was so good I had to read it all the way through in one sitting. The great plot, involving another poisoning at Cressida’s boarding house kept me guessing, and and I liked the just-a-wee-bit sardonic view of ghost hunter shows (which I love, but can’t help but view sardonically.) There were so many misdirections and red herrings that I changed my opinion on whodunit several times, and the ending was very satisfying. I may have uttered a soft yaaay but I’ll never admit to it publicly.

I love all the characters, but it’s Mr. Buttons and his eccentricities that I love the most. I laughed out loud about the dog agility course, it was hilarious! And Cressida’s paintings! I confess, I’d probably buy one, probably the shipwreck. Who wouldn’t? Sibyl had a great idea there.

Overall, Dye Hard was fun and enjoyable, and a great addition to the series. I definitely recommend it for any cozy mystery fan.

Dye Hard is available at book retailers or online at Amazon  |   Barnes & Noble

Series:Australian Amateur Sleuth #3
Rating:★★★★✰ 4 stars
Publisher: Cozy Mysteries Books
Publication Date: Apr 7, 2016
Language: English
Formats: Kindle/Paperback/ePUB
ISBN:9781530957170
ASIN: B01E0DML22
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Reviewer: Mystereity Reviews