Monday, October 21, 2019

Book Review - Carpet Diem

Carpet Diem
Author:  Misty Simon
Publisher:  Kensington Books
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
4 Stars

Tallie Graver’s cleaning business has grown to the point that she now has a cleaning crew working for her.  This has allowed her to take on more and bigger jobs.  When a large job becomes available, Tallie knows that her and her crew are up to the task.  This job involves cleaning a mansion for Mrs. Petrovski, a very rich but condescending member of the elite community.  Tallie will not just be given this job though.  She has to compete for it against the new girl in town, Audra.  Tallie has her work cut out for her because it turns out that the mansion job is even bigger than she imagined, and she is butting heads with Mrs. Petrovski’s nephew, who doesn’t seem to want her to win the contract.  Thanks in part to his sabotaging, Tallie loses the contract.  She returns later that night to get some of her cleaning supplies she has left behind.  What she finds when she gets there though is Audra’s body in the dumpster.  Tallie decides she must find out who killed Audra because she was just starting to call Audra a friend.  Tallie’s determination is clear when she says, “I’m in full amateur-sleuth mode at the moment.  Perpetrators, watch out!”

Each book in this series gets better and better.  I believe that one of the reasons for this is the excellent character development.  Throughout the series, Tallie grows personally and professionally.  Personally, I feel like she comes into her own in this installment.  She no longer feels like just Waldo’s ex-wife, and a fallen from the upper echelon victim.  She is comfortable with who she and where she is at.  She even begins to realize she has gained some respect in the community.  Her relationship with Burton really changes in this story.  Tallie becomes aware that she was stepping on Burton’s toes, and while she really wants to help, she doesn’t want to do that anymore.  Burton in turn comes to realize that Tallie is able to bring helpful information to the table.  Tallie’s relationship with Max also changes, but I’ll let you read the novel to see what’s in store with these two.

The mystery itself is well crafted.  The author is very skillful in that nothing seems to be exactly how it first appears. With the pieces seeming to constantly change shape, Tallie is kept on her toes while trying to piece this puzzle together.  While clues are sprinkled throughout the novel, they are cleverly murky and leave the reader just as puzzled as Tallie.  The mystery keeps you guessing all the way until the end.  The ending is very gratifying.

This is a fun, page-turning mystery that cozy mystery readers will love.  While the book could be read as a stand alone novel, I think reading the previous books will give you a better take on the characters.  I’m hoping there will be another book in this series.

Thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Book for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #CarpetDiem

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Book Review - Murder in the Corn Maze

Murder in the Corn Maze (A Granny Reid Mystery #2)
Author:  G. A. McKevett
Publisher:   Kensington Books
Publication Date:  September 24, 2019
4 Stars

Stella Reid has been granted custody of her seven grandchildren, and she is now raising them by herself.  The family doesn’t have a lot of money, but they find a way to not only make things work, but enjoy life at the same time.  It’s Halloween time in McGill, Georgia, and the kids decide they want to participate in the local parade.  The kids make all of their own costumes and have a great time.  

After the parade, there is a corn maze that the local judge has created at his sprawling mansion property.  Stella would love to take her grandkids, but the cost is prohibitive.  Luckily, Stella’s good friend, Elsie Dingle, comes to the rescue.  She works out a deal with the judge so the kids can get in free.  Most of the kids back out, however, because they are too scared to go.  It ends up just being Stella and Savannah and Waycross.  Somewhere along the maze, they seem to have taken a wrong turn, and end up in a part of the corn maze all by themselves.  Savannah decides to scope things out to try and get them back out.  Instead of finding a way out, Savannah discovers a dead body.

Stella immediately recognizes the barrette in the victim’s hair and the dress the woman is wearing.  Stella is in shock, and she is not sure how she will break the news to the victim’s daughter.  What haunts Stella even more though is the discovery of other clues that are identical to her own mother’s death when she was just a child.  Stella and Savannah are determined to help the sheriff get to the bottom of these crimes.  They are so old though, will the threesome be able to solve the case?  Will Stella finally get some closure regarding her own mother’s death?

Granny Reid (Stella) is back in the second book of this cozy series.  It is a prequel to the Savannah Reid mystery series.  I’ve not read the Savannah Reid series yet (though they are definitely in my TBR pile), and I’ve found that they are not a prerequisite for enjoying this series.  I loved the second book in this series.  This book is filled with many great and lovable characters.  This of course includes the seven Reid grandchildren.  All of them have very unique and defining personalities.  Marietta in particular is a very colorful character.  Savannah, who is featured prominently, comes into her own in this book.  She takes a chance and dives right into something she is interested in, detective work.  I enjoyed the fact that the adults didn’t dismiss her simply because she is a youngin.  Elsie Dingle, Stella’s best friend and Sheriff Manny are back as well.  Both provide love and support to Stella, and she in return to them.  They are beautiful relationships that are wonderfully written.

This story is not quite as humorous as the first book (though there are still many funny moments), but that is because of the very deep, personal relationships to the victims the main characters have.  There are also some very serious themes intwined in the story.  The plot is riveting, deep, and takes twists and turns that you don’t see coming.  It was a very enjoyable book that I can highly recommend.

I hope there is a third book in this series as I’d like to see what happens to the main characters next.

Thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #MurderInTheCornMaze

Friday, October 4, 2019

Book Review - The Body in the Gravel

The Body in the Gravel
Author:  Judi Lynn
Publisher:  Kensington Books
Publication Date:  September 24, 2019
4 Stars

Jazzi Zanders, along with her fiancĂ© Ansel and her cousin Jared have taken on their biggest house flipping project to date.  It’s a huge project for them that encompasses an incredible amount of work both inside and outside the house.  One of the outside projects involves some cement work.  They hire a man called Darby, whom they have worked with since they first started their business, to do the work.  While waiting for Darby to show up to pour some concrete for a corner of the foundation of the house, a friend of theirs, Thane, shows up to take a look at the furnace in the house.  Darby shows up shortly after to pour the concrete.  After his job is done, Darby walks into the house, and the next thing the trio hears are loud voices coming from the basement.  Darcy and Thane are going at each other.  It seems that Thane believes that Darby had killed his wife, Rose, and his son, Walker, who happens to have been Thane’s best friend.  Darby storms off and says not to call him back if Thane is going to be there.

One of their next projects is the driveway.  It needs to be ripped up, a new layer of gravel laid, and then new concrete.  The flippers call on Darby again who agrees to help.  Darby never shows up with the gravel though.  Jazzi calls him, but instead reaches one of his employees, Earl, who says that Darby hasn’t been in all day.  Earl said their gravel was already loaded, and he would come out to deliver it.  Once Earl stars dumping the gravel though, a body falls out.  The four onlookers see that the body is Darby’s.  Jazzi calls her detective friend, Gaff, to check things out.  Thane becomes Gaff’s first suspect because of the argument the two had. Jazzi knows that Thane is not guilty and decides to help clear his name.  As the investigation continues, it becomes apparent that Darby was a very mean spirited old man, who upset a lot of people, and the suspect list grows and grows.  Jazzi doesn’t want to believe that most of the people on the list could be capable of murder so she continues to help Gaff.  

I love, love, love this series!  The mysteries in all three books have been spectacular!  They are each fun, unique, and great whodunnits.  The characters are all so well written, that like Jazzi you become fond of so many of them that you don’t want to believe they are capable of murder.  

Like I said in my review of the previous book, The Body in the Wetlands, Jazzi is a great character who is the total package.  In addition to cooking large family meals, spending time with her fiancĂ©, and helping to solve a murder, Jazzi is taking on her largest flipping project to date.  On top of that, she and Ansel are taking on their own biggest personal project, their wedding.  They are doing all their own planning and most of the prepping for the wedding. It is a huge undertaking!  To make the process even more stressful, Ansel’s family has shown interest in coming to the wedding.  Will Jazzi be able to pull the wedding off while being pulled in so many other directions? 

I also really enjoy the working relationship between Gaff and Jazzi in this cozy mystery.  I think it is a very unique law enforcement/civilian relationship.  Gaff has a lot of respect for Jazzi, and has really grown to depend on her.  She is sort of become his people liaison.  In turn, Jazzi has a lot of respect for Gaff both as a detective and as a family man.

This book could easily be read as a stand alone story because the author does a great job of catching the reader up.  However, why would you want to do that to yourself, when there are two other great books out there?  Grab the first book, your favorite beverage, cuddle up, and dig in.  Then work your way through all three books.  You won’t be disappointed!

I’m super excited that there is already a fourth book, The Body in the Apartment, in the works.  It has a projected release date of March 17, 2020.

Thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #TheBodyInTheGravel #KensingtonBooks