Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Book Review - Murder at the British Museum

Murder at the British Museum
Author:  Jim Eldridge
Publisher:  Allison and Busby
Publication Date:  July 18, 2019
4 Stars

An exhibit on King Arthur is being showcased at the British Museum when Lance Pickering, a professor whose work is prominently featured in the exhibit, is found murdered in a bathroom in the museum.  Daniel Wilson, a former Scotland Yard detective and private enquiry agent, has been asked by the museum’s director, Sir Jasper Stone, to investigate the matter.  Daniel Wilson is accompanied by his new partner, Abagail Fenton, to help him look into the matter.  Scotland Yard is also on the case, but the museum’s director wants to protect the museum’s reputation, and he trusts Daniel’s expertise and discretion in solving the killing.  Daniel and Abagail have their work cut out for them though, especially since Pickering’s murder won’t be the last.

Murder at the British Museum is the second book in the Museum Mysteries series.  Both books are very good, and I think that readers that are fond of historical mysteries will enjoy both of them.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, I thought the second book was even better.

The author has done a superb job of developing both the primary and secondary characters.  They are all unique and fascinating, and they work well together.  I especially appreciated the growth that Abagail has undergone between the two novels.  She is still as fiercely independent and strong, but she is not nearly as brusque.  She is a much more likable character.

The mystery in this story takes center stage, and it is very captivating.  The further I got into the book, the harder and harder it was to put down.  Daniel’s detective skills are top notch, but that doesn’t mean he knew from the outset how the case would go.  He follows leads and hunches that sometimes pay out and sometimes don’t.  He works hard to get from point A to point B, and it was enjoyable to watch him build and unravel the mystery.  It was a heck of a ride all the way until the end.

Thanks to Net Galley and Allison and Busby for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #MurderAtTheBritishMuseum

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Book Review - Peach Clobbered

Peach Clobbered (Georgia B&B #1)
Author:  Anna Gerard
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  July 09, 2019
3 Stars

After a divorce and a desire for a change, Nina Fleet decided to buy a beautiful, historic Queen Anne house in Cymbeline, Georgia.  Nina’s grand plans for the house included turning it into a bed and breakfast. She hit her first roadblock, however, when she was informed that the city’s current zoning ordinances would prevent that from happening.  An even more troublesome problem landed on her front door steps.  The problem…a piping, hot mad penguin.  The penguin turned out to be Harry Westcott, the great nephew of the previous owner, in a mascot costume.  Harry was livid and threatened to sue Nina and had come to her house with proof that the house should have been left to him. Nina begrudgingly invites Harry in to cool off.  After allowing Harry the opportunity to recover, Nina politely sends him on his way and vows to learn more about him.

Harry wouldn’t be Nina’s last unexpected guest that day.  The town’s mayor showed up later and told Nina that she had found a way to make the B&B happen.  The only catch was that she had to open immediately to house six nuns who have been displaced by their closing convent.  It seems that the convent’s landowner, Mr. Bainbridge, had refused to renew their lease and they had no where else to go until they have been reassigned.  After their arrival, the nuns informed Nina that they planned to picket Mr. Bainbridge’s office to protest his decision.  Although not planning on protesting herself, Nina headed into town with the nuns.  After a long, hot morning, the nuns agreed to take a lunch break.  It was during this break that Nina saw a woman running and screaming for help.  She tracked the woman down who then told her that somebody had stabbed a penguin and that its body was behind the antique store.  Nina rushed behind the store and found Harry with a stab wound to his chest.  She immediately went for help.  The help wasn’t enough, however, and the victim died on the way to the hospital.  Nina was strangely relieved though to learn that the victim was not Harry as she had believed, but was in fact Mr. Bainbridge. Nina was left wondering why Mr. Bainbridge was killed, and what he was doing in the penguin costume.

I think that Peach Clobbered is a charming introduction to the new Georgia B&B mystery series. It’s a fun and quick cozy mystery read.  The author has cooked up quite a unique, diverse, and likable cast of characters for this story.  I think it can be hard with a first in a series book to do a knockout job with the characters.  I think it is easy to get lost in the plot in the first book with the thought that your readers can learn more about the characters as they read further on in the series. And while a good series will develop the characters over time, you need to have a solid base to build on.  This book does a great job at the start of developing both primary and secondary characters.

Although I really enjoyed this cozy, I found it a little light in the amateur sleuth department.  Nina is really pretty busy throughout the story taking care of guests that she doesn’t have a lot of time for sleuthing.  I felt like the solution almost just fell into her lap, rather than her uncovering the truth.  Having said that though, I really did enjoy the story, and I foresee the second in this series being even better than the first.

Thanks to Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books for an an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #Peach Clobbered

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Book Review - A Murder on Jane Street

A Murder on Jane Street
Author:  Cathy Cash Spellman
Publisher:  The Wild Harp & Company, Inc.
Publication Date:  July 16, 2019
5 Stars

First, I just have to say, WOW!  What a fantastic book!  It was a wild ride from start to finish!

FitzHugh Donovan, a retired Irish NYPD cop, is urgently summoned by his next door neighbor, Mrs. Wallenberg, to her home.  She tells him that she fears she is about to be murdered, and she has a secret that she needs to share with him.  She is so worked up, though, that she can’t seem to get her story out.  She asks him to come back later that night to pick up some books that will explain her story and provide evidence to back it up.  When he goes back to see Mrs. Wallenberg, he finds she has been brutally murdered and her place ransacked.  He calls in the NYPD to investigate.  While surveying the property, one of the CSI techs finds an envelope addressed to Fitz in some bushes between his and Mrs. Wallenberg’s properties.  Inside, Fitz finds three books and a letter that said, “You will know what to do!”

This becomes the basis of a very intriguing murder.  Fitz along with his friends and family form a cabal called the Bleecker Street Irregulars.  This group delves into the books and diary to not only learn about Mrs. Wallenberg’s secrets, but also to decipher them.  Mrs. Wallenberg was not who she appeared. Her secrets date all the way back to World War II and Hitler but seem to have ramifications that reach to present day.

This books is filled with many great and unique characters.  Each character is uniquely drawn and fleshed out.  You truly care about what happens to these people, and you care about the cause they are fighting for.  For the most part, all of the players have a very serious tone, but the character Georgia provides some great LOL moments.

The plot is intricate and was like a rolling boulder that builds in intensity as it progresses.  It was very easy to get wrapped up in the story, and I found it was hard to put down!  I also appreciated how well written the novel was.  The ending of the story is interesting, and the author does a great job of wrapping up all the storylines.

This book is much more than a mystery novel.  It is also a conspiracy thriller, a work of historical fiction, a tale about ultimate sacrifices, a romance story, and a political thriller that is a treatise on not only Hitler’s time, but also today’s political entanglements.  If these descriptions sound interesting to you, I think you will enjoy this book.  This novel is grittier than most of the cozy mystery books that I read, but I truly enjoyed it.

Thanks to Net Galley and The Wild Harp & Company, Inc. for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #AMurderOnJaneStreet

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Book Review - A Most Curious Murder

A Most Curious Murder (A Little Library Mystery #1)
Author:  Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  July 12, 2016
2 Stars

Jenny Weston returns to her hometown of Bear Falls, Michigan after her distressing divorce.  Upon arriving home, she is devastated to find the Little Library that her father had built her mother before his death, has been smashed into pieces and the books destroyed.  Zoe Zola, her mother’s neighbor, joins her as she is surveying the damage.  Jenny takes an immediate dislike to Zoe and finds her very peculiar.  While Jenny thinks a car must have hit the library, Zoe believes that is has been very deliberately hacked up.  She also believes that cranky, old Adam Cane is the perpetrator.  Zoe herself has had problems with Adam Cane as he had threatened to kill her dog.  When he is found murdered in her backyard, she becomes the main suspect as she is the only one with an obvious motive for killing him.  Although Jenny finds Zoe, and her constant references to Alice in Wonderland, irritating, she doesn’t believe that Zoe is capable of murder and sets out to prove it.

I think that Little Libraries are fantastic additions to communities, and I was excited to read a book centered around one.  However, I found this story hard to get into.  I think the main reason was the characters.  I didn’t find them likable or realistic.  Jenny was very judgmental, and it seemed like she was having a pity party for most of the book.  I found it honorable that she wanted to help clear Zoe of a murder she didn’t believe she committed, but her actions did not seem believable.  For instance, she was willing to break the law, such as breaching an area that had been sealed off by the police, for someone she didn’t even like.  Zoe is a unique character, but I found her dialogue very confusing.  Even after rereading passages, I found I still didn’t really understand what she was getting at.  Then there was Jenny’s mom, Dora.  I think she was meant to be a commendable and wise character, but she often seemed oblivious to what was going on.

I thought the mystery itself was pretty good.  The story moved along at a good clip, and it built suspense along the way.  The puzzle became more complex as the book progressed, and I definitely wanted to see how everything came together and to find the answers to: who, what, when, why, where, and how.

I think I will give the second book a try as I like the premise.  Hopefully the character flaws I noticed will improve.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Book Review - Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark

Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark (Lady Anne Addison Mysteries #1)
Author:  Victoria Hamilton
Publisher:  Beyond the Page Publishing
Publication Date:  April 23, 2019 (Originally published 2009)
4 Stars

Lady Anne heads to Yorkshire at the request of her friend Lydia who seems gravely frightened.  When Lady Anne arrives in town, she is dismayed to find that no one is there to pick her up.  She is appalled, but finds she has no choice but to walk to Darkefell Estate.  Upon reaching the estate, she hears a loud howl and then a scream.  Lady Anne traces the scream and discovers a newly deceased girl.  Lady Anne finds out that the girl is Cecilia Wainright, Lydia’s maid.  No one in the household seems concerned about finding her killer, but Lady Anne feels determined to get to the bottom of things.  The mystery deepens when she finds out that two other young girls have died on the estate.  Add to this tales of a wandering werewolf, and Lady Anne has quite the troubling and terrifying puzzle to unravel.

Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark is an engaging and unique mystery.  I truly appreciate the sophisticated dialogue, great characterizations, and well written story.  The story progresses nicely, and the suspense builds as the plot unfolds.  The story ends far different than I guessed, but seems faithful to the characters and clues.

Embroiled in this mystery is a complicated, intriguing, and romantic relationship between two of the main characters, Lady Anne and the Marquess of Darkefell.  Their contrasting personalities cause them to clash constantly, but both find they cannot deny the strong attraction they feel towards each other.  The tension between these two adds a great intensity to the overall story.

I think fans of gothic and historical mysteries will enjoy this book.

Thanks to Net Galley and Beyond the Page Publishing for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #BeyondThePagePublishing #LadyAnneAndTheHowlInTheDark

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Book Review - The Body in the Wetlands

The Body in the Wetlands (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery #2)
Author:  Judi Lynn
Publisher: Kensington Books – Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  April 23, 2019
4 Stars

Jazzi, her boyfriend Ansel, and her cousin Jerrod are back, but before moving on to flip another house, they are helping to remodel Jazzi’s sister, Olivia’s, house.  While working at Olivia’s house, Jazzi gets to know Leo, an elderly neighbor who loves to chat and walk his dog.  One day, Leo’s dog shows up without him, so Jazzi decides to take him home, and once there, finds out that Leo is missing.  She calls her friend, Detective Gaff, to help in the search for Leo.  While there, the dog continues to nudge Jazzi until he gets her to take him for a walk.  He leads Jazzi to a nearby wetland.  There he helps to unearth not one, but two bodies, neither of which turns out to be Leo.  Jazzi wonders how she has managed to find herself entangled in yet more murders, but thanks her lucky stars that her family is not involved this time.  Even so, Jazzi feels pulled to the case, and can’t help but wonder what happened to Leo and who the other two poor souls are.  Detective Gaff enlists Jazzi’s help because he believes that people find it easier to talk to her than a detective.  The two of them set out to find some answers and capture a killer.

The Body in the Wetlands is the second book in the Jazzi Zanders mystery series, and it is every bit as good as the first one.  One of the winning qualities of this series is Jazzi herself.  She is a strong character who flips houses, whips up large family meals, makes quality time with her boyfriend, and still finds time to help Detective Gaff.  She’s the total package!  Her character is unique in the fact that she works with the law, rather than constantly putting herself in precarious situations.

I also like Ansel’s side story.  We get to know his family, and in doing so, get to know him better as well.  The author does a great job contrasting Ansel and Jazzi’s families.  Ansel’s time away from Jazzi also provides the opportunity to put their relationship to the test.  Are Jazzi and Ansel meant for each other?

I also loved the mystery in this story.  It is a well-woven tale and keeps you wanting to read on.  Each of the suspects seem like viable possibilities.  Some you even hope don’t turn out to be the killer.  I also enjoyed the manner in which the author wraps up the mystery.

I think cozy mystery fans will love this book.  I know I’m looking forward to the third book in this series, The Body in the Gravel.

Thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books – Lyrical Underground for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #TheBodyInTheWetlands

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Book Review - Murder at the Fitzwilliam

Murder at the Fitzwilliam (Museum Mysteries #1)
Author:  Jim Eldridge
Publisher:  Allison and Busby
Publication Date:  August 23, 2018
3 ½ Stars

Daniel Wilson, former inspector for Scotland Yard and current private enquiry agent, is summoned to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to help solve a murder.  A fresh body has been found in a sarcophagus in the Egyptian collection.  Wilson has been chosen to look into this matter because of his past police performance and his ability to be discreet.  The Fitzwilliam wants this case solved quickly and quietly in order to protect the museum.

Upon his arrival, Daniel Wilson meets Abigail Fenton, archaeologist and current head of the Egyptian collection at the Fitzwilliam.  It was Ms. Fenton who has found the body so Wilson is very interested in what she has to say.  Daniel immediately finds her “formidable…unafraid, (and) not easily put off.”  On the other hand, she seems to find Daniel Wilson annoying.  Shortly after their introductions, they are interrupted by Inspector Drabble who is in charge of the investigation.  Drabble does not want Wilson involved in the case because he believes he will be a distraction, and he doesn’t want Abigail’s involvement because she is a woman.  Daniel and Abigail decide to join forces to solve this crime.

One of the underlying themes of this book is women’s rights.  We have Abigail’s sister who is participating in a campaign for women’s right to vote.  We also have Abigail herself who, while not politically involved, seems to hold as much disdain for men as some men held towards women.  She wants to be looked at as a smart, independent woman who does not need the assistance of a man.  She tends to be brusque and rude to men, especially Mr. Wilson.  Although Abigail’s background story helps to explain part of her behavior, I still felt her character a bit off putting.  Daniel must really like her as he puts up with her throughout the novel.  Daniel himself also has opinions regarding women’s right to vote.  He would not only like to see women gain the right to vote, but also all men as well, not just a select population of them.

The mystery itself was very interesting.  I particularly like books on Ancient Egypt so this added to my enjoyment of the book.  I also found the references to some of  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works interesting.  There are a great cast of potential suspects.  Daniel methodically works his way through the case, discovering new clues and suspects along the way, and then slowly eliminates suspects.  About halfway through the story, I had a good inkling about who the murderer was.  It’s not just about the who though, it is also about the why.  It wasn’t until the ending, that his motives became clear.  An interesting twist adds to the excitement of the conclusion.

I think those that enjoy historical mysteries, specially those set in Victorian England, will enjoy this book.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

#MurderAtTheFitzwilliam #JimEldridge #AllisonAndBusby

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Book Review - Murder by the Minster

Murder by the Minster
Author:  Helen Cox
Publisher:  Quercus Publishing
Publication Date:  July 1, 2019

Kitt Harrington is a librarian at the Vale of York University.  One day two detectives show up at the library.  They begin questioning her about Owen Hall, the former boyfriend of her best friend, Evie.  Kitt is confused by all of their questions about Owen, but finally ferrets out that Owen has been killed.  She is even more surprised to find out that Evie is their prime suspect.

Once Evie is released, she decides she needs to investigate Owen’s death in order to clear herself.  Kitt believes this is a terrible idea, but agrees to help in order to help protect her friend from getting into more trouble.  Kitt eventually joins forces with the detectives to solve not only Owen’s murder, but the murders of the other victims as well.

I really enjoyed Murder by the Minster from beginning to end.  I thought the author developed a well written and very intriguing mystery.  The story was unique, and every time I was sure the story was going in a certain direction, the author would surprise me by taking a different path.  The only part of the plot that felt shaky was when Detective Halloran asks for Kitt’s help solving the murders.  It seemed improbable that the situation would play out that way.

Speaking of Detective Halloran, he plays Kitt’s love interest.  I didn’t find out the author is a romance author until after I finished the story.  However, I wasn’t surprised as I found the “clean” romance sections superbly written.  She does such a great job of describing and balancing Kitt’s desire to become involved with Halloran, and her reluctance to get involved in a new relationship after a terrible ending to her previous relationship.  Great build up!

I don’t think that mystery book fans will be disappointed with this book.

I hope the author decides to write a follow up story.  I would love to see what these characters do next.

Thanks to Net Galley and Quercus Publishing for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #MurderByTheMinster