Charlie Harris

Review: Bless Her Dead Little Heart

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Bless Her Dead Little Heart
4 of 5 stars to Miranda James‘s Bless Her Dead Little Heart, the first in a new “Southern Ladies” mystery series. I chose this book because I enjoy the author’s (Dean James) other series, “Cat in the Stacks,” which also takes place in Athena, Mississippi and includes Diesel, the Maine Coon cat. It was a little shaky at first, but then the characters took off and I ultimately enjoyed this book. On to the review…


Story

Charlie Harris of the “Cat in the Stack” series drops his Maine Coon cat off with his friends/neighbors, Dickce and An’gel Ducote, while he takes off on a trip. Dickce and An’gel are 79 and 84 years old, from old money, and have a strong connection to the antebellum south. When a former sorority sister, Rosebelle Sultan, shows up claiming her family is trying to kill her, the Ducote sisters know they will have a problem to deal with, especially given all the troubles Rosebelle has caused over the 60 years they’ve known her. And this time, it’s the truth. Her two daughters, son and a boatload of in-laws and grandchildren show up after Rosebelle and the Ducote sisters feel their southern hospitality calling on them. Soon after, Sultan family members start dying under mysterious circumstances and the Ducote sisters need to call Deputy Kanesha Berry (also of the Cat in the Stacks series) for help. Both sisters survive the ordeal, but their life is about to change given the impacts of who is killed and the mess that is left behind.


Strengths

1. You’ve got this fantastically crazy Sultan family full of characters you want to love and hate all at the same time. There is a reason for it to be any of them, and each stand to inherit money depending on who kicks the bucket first. A great mystery for the mind.

2. A true southern appeal… without overdoing it. Lots of antebellum charm, language and setting without getting caught up in accents and unknown cultural themes. A perfect balance of fun.

3. The author knows how to drag you into the mystery, laughing and smiling the whole time. It’s not a typical suspense page-turner, but you often find yourself wanting to read it all in one sitting just to figure out whodunit.


Suggestions

1. It may be too early to say this, but I’m not sure you need both sisters. I sort of grouped them together and assumed they were the same person, except when they were separated and in different scenes. It’s hard to keep them separate when both are unmarried and have no children and we know little about their former lives. I think we need stronger personalities to be able to see enough of a difference.

2. They are spry for 80, but how long will they be able to keep this up! And who really lets nearly 10 uninvited guests just stay at the house to help a friend. LOL I laughed it off but I hope the rest of the series has a little less “on the nose” humor and more “accidental” humor! Still was fun, just mentioning some potential concerns with a longer series.


Final Thoughts

A good read, worth taking a chance on if you like cozy mysteries, older protagonists, less crime detection and more subtle relationship building and conversational stories.

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Review: Murder Past Due

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Murder Past Due
Murder Past Due by Miranda James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I chose this one because it takes place in the south and in a library setting. I was curious where the author would go with it given I read another series with a main character who is a cat (Lilian Jackson Braun’s “The Cat Who Books”) and another one with a library setting (Jenn MCKinlay’s “Library Lovers cozy series”)… fits right in.

I like the main character but I’m not overly fond of him where I feel the need to continue reading the next book in the series immediately. I would read more of them, but when it happens, it happens.

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Review: Classified as Murder

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Classified as Murder
Classified as Murder by Miranda James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars to Miranda James‘s Classified as Murder. I very much enjoyed this classic cozy tale. It is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie story with all the key elements from a family of potential killers, a mysterious theft, and more going on that anyone realizes!


Story

James Delacorte, a single and eccentric octogenarian, hires Charlie Harris, eccentric librarian extraordinaire, to uncover a potential book thief in his own family. James suspects his ruthless family may be stealing from him, but he doesn’t suspect they’d go as far as killing him. But it happens! And right before he dies, James amends his will adding in a codicil to have Charlie inventory the library and become the collection’s custodian for Athena College in their small Missisippi town. When a second death occurs, Charlie realizes there’s more going on that everyone realizes… Is is the secretive grand-niece, the manipulative grand-nephew, the loony in-law, the mean sister or the loyal butler?

There’s also a good sidestory introducing Charlie’s estranged son back into the fold forcing Charlie to determine how to heal old wounds from when his wife passed away and his kids felt a bit neglected.


Strengths

1. It’s a classic whodunit with all the remnants of an Agatha Christie tale.
2. Seeing more of Charlie’s relationships with his family, you learn to like him even more. I want to see what happens to him in the future.


Weaknesses

A bit of an abrupt end. I would like to hear more about what happens next with the book collection, the family who has to move on and the new houseguest. Perhaps that’s in book 3 of the series.


Final Thoughts

Charlie Harris grows on you. His herd of helpers is building. His relationships are expanding and gaining depth. I’d like to learn more about the town and how it all comes together. Book 3 will move up on my “To Read” list.

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