Book Review: Cozy Mysteries

Book Review: Vengeance on Tyneside by Eileen Thornton

Posted on Updated on

Vengeance On Tyneside (Agnes Lockwood Mysteries Book 3)Vengeance On Tyneside by Eileen Thornton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vengeance on Tyneside is the third book in the ‘Agnes Lockwood Mysteries’ written by Eileen Thornton. I’ve previously read the first two installments in this cozy series and was excited to devour this third one during the last few days. The books revolve around Agnes, a ~50ish widow with two grown sons, who has moved back to a place she once lived in years ago. In the past two books she had a flirtatious relationship with a detective on the police force, but in this one, they’ve officially become a couple. The only problem… Agnes feels an obligation to meddle, and she’s often the one to stumble upon a body in the oddest of places. It makes for a good read!

In Vengeance, she’s walking near the river when a faint voice calls out for help. By the time Agnes calls for an ambulance, the woman is too injured to further help. Agnes tries to let the situation go, and she takes a room in a hotel that she has been frequently living in while looking for a new flat to buy. It’s then she realizes some of the employees at the hotel might be involved in the murders. Two more people are killed, and a third is seriously injured. Who is behind these awful killings? And what are they trying to accomplish? Agnes works with her taxi cab driver to travel all around town collecting clues and following the police, including her detective boyfriend, Alan.

Alan tries to be understanding, but he just wants her to stop interfering in his case, especially when the Superintendent wants a quick arrest. Agnes believes they’ve arrested the wrong guy and sets out to prove it. Unfortunately, it kills much of the romance between her and Alan and almost drives them apart. By interviewing hotel employees, some passersby and a few friends of the victim, Agnes begins to piece together the gravity of the situation but puts herself in danger. Luckily, someone comes to her rescue before she ends up the final victim. I would never stay in that hotel if I valued my life. Phew, she is one lucky dame when it comes to visiting that storage room. Ouch!

Thornton has created quite an elaborate protagonist. She could match Poirot and Marple with her eccentricities, and there are moments I’m dumbfounded at how she gets away with getting so involved in a murder investigation. At the same time, it creates such clever tension, I enjoy all the impacts she creates with her insinuations and prying ways. I’m not confident this police force would solve the crimes without her help. Thornton’s simple but direct dialog and personalities find fun ways to clash, leaving readers shaking their head at all the antics. While it’s not outwardly funny / sarcastic, sometimes it comes across that way purely by body language or what isn’t being said between Agnes and whomever she’s chatting to. It’s a great technique from this savvy writer.

The books are easy to read… easily devoured in 3 hours. I split it in two sessions, but I could’ve quickly and happily read through it all at once. Agnes is clearly pictured–Thornton ensures we know who she is and what she is capable of. While she has minimal cohorts, the few who do help always make for good entertainment and action. We haven’t met her family yet, and I’m hoping in the future, Thornton throws us a visit or two to see if anyone can possibly put Agnes in her place. So far, she gets away with everything… but every hero needs an antagonist. I’m dying to meet Agnes’s future friendly foe!

Kudos to Thornton for delivering another fine installment in the series. It’s light reading, more about the process a nosy woman goes through to solve a crime with minimal access to technology and evidence. She relies on her intuition and old-fashioned techniques to break a case. I like those kinds of mysteries, and I recommend this one to anyone else who does too.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Advertisements

Book Review: Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie

Posted on Updated on

Sad Cypress (Hercule Poirot, #21)Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Sad Cypress is the 21st book in the Hercule Poirot series written by Agatha Christie. The book was published in 1940, but this series can be read out of order. I chose this book with my friend Medhat as a buddy read this month. I’ve seen several film and tv adaptations of Christie’s books, but I’ve never caught this one. I’m on a kick to read them all in the next year.

Sad Cypress is your classic tale. An elderly woman dies of seemingly natural causes. She was about to change her will, possibly naming a local girl who visited her from time to time as her beneficiary. She might have still included her niece and nephew by marriage, but we’re uncertain. Then, the local girl ends up dead even if she didn’t get to inherit any money because the original will was never finished. What’s going on? Who wanted the money? And how does everyone fit together? Throw in two nurses, a housekeeper, a gardener, a doctor, and the niece and nephew… and those are all your suspects. Christie isn’t usually someone to bring in a random at the end, so we are fairly certain it’s one of these folks.

What a clever tale! I was immediately drawn into the plot from the beginning. We divided it into thirds so we could read over three days. I actually had to read it early in the morning because I wanted to get back to it quickly each day. While there was a bit of repetition during the deduction phase, Poirot always makes you laugh, so it’s easily ignored. Christie makes you believe her characters are telling the truth only to shock you later with a lie and a twist. It always makes sense, and you wonder how the truth could hide in plain sight. Of course, it’s a little over-the-top, but that’s this style in general. I love it, so I’m not complaining — just pointing it out for others, so they know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s over 75 years old!

How does Poirot figure it out! He has a few off-screen conversations and relays them to us later, which is helpful. The imagery is powerful, and the concept of the cypress is simple but strong. The dialog is strong even for being formatted differently than modern readers are used to. It’s full of fantastic suspense and drama moments, urging you to keep reading until you stop. While not in her top 5 for me, it’s certainly a compelling story with a lot of meandering paths that lead back to a conclusion. 4.5 stars. I think I want to read Mouse Trap next, as I’ve not seen the play or read the story.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Silence of the Library by Miranda James

Posted on Updated on

The Silence of the Library (Cat in the Stacks, #5)The Silence of the Library by Miranda James
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Silence of the Library is the 5th book in the ‘Cat in the Stacks’ cozy mystery series written by Miranda James. The books take place in Athena, Mississippi and focus on Charlie, a ~50ish male librarian, who solves crimes while attending to his Maine Coon cat, Diesel. In this book, a 100-year-old author is going to do a book signing and interview at Charlie’s library, but all is not what it seems. The crazies come out to see their favorite girl sleuth author, and her family is very protective of the woman’s reputation and health. As Charlie gets drawn into the web of confusion, one of the fans is murdered, forcing our indomitable librarian to assist the Deputy Chief of Police, Kanesha, find the criminal.

Miranda James has an eloquent writing style where lively and memorable characters guide the story to completion. Each story feels like a separate universe but it also have strong connections to the others and the folks around Athena. It’s not as heavily populated with secondary characters as other book series, which can be a good thing. We have 4 or 5 central supporting folks in Charley’s life, and we enjoy getting to know them more deeply. In this book, the fans were crazy! I like to think the author took a few of his (yes, in case you didn’t know, this is a pseudonym) favorite fan-encounters and created wonderful characters in his books… and while I doubt any murders have ever happened in reality, it’s a great way to involve and connect with readers… especially in the world of girl detectives and the origins of the mystery series.

Overall, I give this a 4.5 star rating… it was a clever and intricate story, and I loved so much of it. Even my faves, the Ducote sisters, were mentioned. Readers are treated to a bonus story embedded in this book. James weaves a secondary tale written by the author appearing in the book, then publishes the full story on his website. How cool! I plan to read it this summer. I also realized that I never read enough Nancy Drew, so I have been inspired to read more again. With 5 down, I have 5 more in this ‘Cat in the Stacks’ series to finish before I get to the current one the author is about to publish… I can’t wait!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Harvest of Secrets by Ellen Crosby

Posted on Updated on

Harvest of Secrets (Wine Country Mysteries, #9)Harvest of Secrets by Ellen Crosby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harvest of Secrets is the 9th book in the ‘Wine Country Mysteries’ written by Ellen Crosby. This series focuses on the Montgomery Vineyard in Virginia, not too far from Washington DC, where historical and current mysteries intermix and revolve around politics, family history, and wine. In this caper, Lucie, a ~30ish engaged and disabled vineyard owner, runs into a guy she had a crush on in France many years ago. He’s been exiled by his father to learn how to grow up, but the man can’t stop finding trouble. This time, trouble leads to his death.

Who killed him? His current girlfriend, a past girlfriend, friends who finally had enough, or something more sinister? Meanwhile, Lucie’s farm team accidentally digs up another dead body from many years ago when a hurricane approaches. She quickly realizes she must be related to the victim, who was definitely murdered. How does it all fit together? Between Civil War beliefs and tension, modern day interracial relationships, and turning grapes into wine, this book is full of subplots and wonderful side stories.

Crosby is definitely inching her way into my top ten favorite authors. Although potentially considered a cozy mystery, it’s not the typical type. While there are limited graphical images and profanity, there’s an edge to these tales; they are also not overly fun and lighthearted. The Wine Country Mysteries are full of history, analytics, descriptions, and relationships. Lucie may be an amateur sleuth, but she’s not your typical heroine.

I am fully caught up on the series and looking forward to the tenth one which will be published in the fall of 2019. I hope to get an ARC or be part of the publisher’s launch team, but it’s months away. Until then, I will wait patiently for the next release. I might even take a gander at any of the author’s other books to see if there is something of interest.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

Posted on Updated on

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country MysteryFatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fatal Cajun Festival is the fifth book in the ‘Cajun Country Mystery’ cozy series written by Ellen Byron. I was lucky enough to get an early copy through NetGalley and happened to be current in the series so I could begin reading it this week. It will be published in early fall but you can pre-order it now via Amazon. Byron has another success on her hands, and I truly enjoyed the latest edition in this adorable and engaging series about crimes occurring on a Louisiana plantation.

Maggie’s grandmother helped organize a music festival in Pelican. A rising country singer who used to live in Pelican returns to sing for her hometown. In the days before her performance, we meet all the people in her band or running her team, then learn one of them is a former rival of Maggie’s good friend, Gay. Unfortunately, someone in the band causes trouble for a few people and winds up dead. Another person is attacked, and everything points to Gay. Maggie knows it’s not true, and even fakes a break-up with her fiance police detective, Bo, so she can unearth the scoop. Will she be successful, or will someone feed her to the alligators and snakes first?

Music and a southern Louisiana plantation go hand-in-hand. The drama that unfolds is clever and messy (in a good way) — there are a variety of strong suspects with believable alibis and motives. One of them is clearly being faked, but it’s not obvious at first. There are complex layers afoot in this mystery, and we only learn how everyone is connected, by accident, near the end. What an interesting way to assemble a band! Byron has created a compelling story with memorable characters, all the while dazzling us with subplots and side-stories about Maggie’s friends and families who aren’t involved directly in the murder mystery. For instance, Gran learns something about her late husband, and it changes her future. Maggie makes a decision about her own relationship’s future. And a few other characters get some unexpected surprises. Great way to keep viewers entertained while solving an investigation.

Byron’s books are easy to read. She wraps up her subplots. We see lots of characters who move the story along. And we never feel overwhelmed or confused. It’s a strong balance of all the things that belong in a cozy. It’s one of the series I’ve stayed super-current on so I can read the books when they first become available, rather than wait months or years to catch up. I look forward to the next one! Hurry up, please. 🙂

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Sifting Through Clues by Daryl Wood Gerber

Posted on Updated on

Sifting Through Clues (A Cookbook Nook Mystery 8)Sifting Through Clues by Daryl Wood Gerber
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Sifting Through Clues was a selection I made through NetGalley because I’d already read and enjoyed another series by Daryl Wood Gerber. Normally, I’d begin with the first in a series but since this was number 8, I didn’t have time to catch up. I decided to start here, and if I liked it, I planned to go back to read the rest. So… I will be going back to read the rest!

Gerber has writing chops in the cozy mystery world. She knows how to create vivid characters, puzzling plots, and gorgeous settings. In this caper, a book club group holds a progressive dinner, where attendees go from house to house in their neighborhood to sample different foods from other members and discuss the book. Unfortunately, when they arrive at one house, the woman is dead! She’d caused an uproar earlier that week with several members, and she might’ve been stealing boyfriends and secrets. Which book club member wanted her dead? Or was it someone else who had payback in mind?

I really enjoyed the setting in this one. From smiling about all the different shops to learning about the various women in the protagonist’s life, I found ample connections and fun dialog. Gerber plugs a lot of her own books and other people’s books, which is fun but also a bit much at times. Nothing at all to worry about, it’s kinda cute. I do want to visit the maison in her French series, so it was a welcome tie-in this time. I’m glad we had a list of characters in the beginning because there are a lot to keep track of, and that’s coming from an author who has 120 in his first four books. I totally get it! Gerber is careful to repeat necessary info / relationships without it seeming odd, leading readers to quickly remember who is who and what might be going on. Kudos to that success!

Our amateur sleuth has an interesting relationship with the detective, Cinnamon. I like the banter, and I’m curious what happened in earlier books. The murder is strong, and there are tons of suspects. I really enjoyed this one and will be reading others in the series.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Jam, Jellies & Just Desserts by Carolyn Dean

Posted on Updated on

JAM, JELLIES, and JUST DESSERTS: A Ravenwood Cove Cozy MysteryJAM, JELLIES, and JUST DESSERTS: A Ravenwood Cove Cozy Mystery by Carolyn L. Dean
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can’t believe I’m almost current on another series. This time it’s the ‘Ravenwood Cove Cozy Mysteries” written by Carolyn Dean. Number 10, Jam, Jellies and Just Desserts, has us taking a big step forward, and worried me that we might be ending soon, but I’ve just learned #11 has been released. The stories take place in Oregon, and they’re meant as light tales (under 100 pages) but full of great characters.

In this caper, a man who left town years ago returns. Citizens are angry at this guy for what he’s done to them in the past. He would buy land and homes out from under people to make a profit, then run them out of town. A perfect setup for murder, right? Guess what happens… he’s murdered! Poor Amanda finds the body again. She was the one person to give him a chance since she’s relatively new to Ravenwood Cove. Except, he tries to put her out of business too, right before he’s killed by a mysterious mineral. Could it be from the house repairs he’s having done on the place he bought to restore to former grandeur? Who has it in for him most of all and took it way too far?

We get to know more about Amanda’s husband’s family in this book. Gable has also come home, and everyone thinks he did something bad. We learn the truth and why he looks guilty. Is he? Perhaps… you’ll have to read to find out. We also get a lovely surprise in the end with Amanda’s future, as well as a bad one when someone decided to leave town. Her best friend? Employee? Pseudo-grandmother? New parent she just found in the last book? What’s gonna happen!!! 3.5 stars for this one.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.