Book Review of Dyeing Season by Karen MacInerney

What do you get when you cross a Texas tornado with a murder, add a relatively young woman and her menagerie of farm animals, an Easter craft sale, and an interesting array of friends and neighbors?

Another great cozy mystery from Karen MacInerney, of course.

The tornado tears things up as Dyeing Season begins, but that’s just the start of the chaos. A home health aide who is missing following the storm is soon discovered, dead. Her passing was not caused by the natural disaster, however.

Threats are scrawled on area barns and the chicken house that belongs to main character Lucy Resnick. Lucy is forced to deal with the problems of her friend and next door neighbor, who was formerly served by the now deceased home health aide, as she searches for a baby goat she hasn’t seen since the twister, replaces seedlings lost to the wind, prepares items for the Easter Market, and searches for Eva, the home health aide’s killer. Phew! Are you as tired as I am already?!

Obviously a page turner, this book had me hooked from the beginning and the momentum kept going straight through to the suspenseful and satisfying conclusion. Oh, and Lucy manages to cook some superior meals amid the myriad of responsibilities. Something I could certainly never accomplish. She shares recipes for some of the dishes at the end of the book, along with some creative ways to color eggs.

It may not be spring, but it’s a great time to read this story and dream that the approaching winter is over. Think what a fun Christmas gift it would make for a friend who enjoys cozies.

Book Review of A Fatal Fiction by Kaitlyn Dunnett

Mikki Lincoln, seventy year old retired junior high school teacher turned freelance editor is making her life exciting by investigating a murder again. The scariest part of A Fatal Fiction for me was when she jumps from a seven foot high roof in order to “escape” her nephew’s detection.

(You have to read the story to find out why.)

Lenape Hollow, in the Catskill area of New York state is the setting. It’s Mikki’s hometown, where she’s spending her later years, after moving back from Maine. A dispute over a long-closed resort is the focus of much of the story, the setting for some of the scenes relating to the murder mystery.

Mikki is editing the memoirs of the elderly daughter of the proprietor of the resort back in its heydey, when an array of famous people stayed there. I’m not sure the previous sentence is grammatically correct, but I’m sure Mikki – or Kaitlyn Dunnett . . . could tell me.

The trivia regarding grammar at the end of the book was a treat. This is the third mystery in the “Deadly Edits” series.

I enjoyed reading the detaiils of Mikki’s mundane but satisfying lifestyle, as well as the complex plot structure and the dramatic conclusion.

The cover of this copy is lovely too – books in prettily bound covers on a shelf, with an inset featuring Calpurnia, Mikki’s calico cat eying birds outside, against a background of purple Catskill Mountains and the lovely hues of the sky above them. In the foreground, manuscript pages flutter onto a table.

Looks like a perfect setting to me. I must get back to my “in process” cozy mystery manuscript. So many writing projects, so little time. . .

Book Review of Furmidable Foes by Rita Mae Brown

Furmidable Foes is yet another well-crafted story in this long running mystery series by Rita Mae and feline friend, Sneaky Pie.

Complex due to the inclusion of a side story that takes place in the eighteenth century, based in the same territory as the modern times tale—this one featuring springtime peonies, matching lipsticks, church events that include pets, seasonal farming and horse breeding facts, the more intelligent than humans discussions and antics of main character Mary Minor (Harry) Haristeen’s pets, Pewter, Tucker, Pirate, Mrs. Murphy.

As the fourth of July approaches, expect fireworks of all kinds in this wonderful classic installment of the tales I never tire of, the Mrs. Murphy Mysteries.

Our mature indoor tabby reminds me of Mrs. Murphy. Our younger tabby who forced her way into our home between one and two years ago behaves oddly, and not always politely, in a similar manner to Pewter. Have I been reading too many of these tales? Examining the behavior of animals too closely? Impossible.

A highly recommended read for lovers of dogs, cats, horses, wildlife, whimsy, and history

Book Review of A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Colette

This cozy mystery is from an author new to me. Abby Colette is a Cleveland, Ohio native and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of other mystery series’ but it was the title A Deadly Inside Scoop which intrigued me as it features a Chagrin Falls, Ohio ice cream shop.

A fictional shop, that is, but the town is a real place in the Northeastern Ohio snow-belt. Hailing from Ohio, that’s an area where I’ve always thought I’d like to live, for six months of the year, or if I was retired and didn’t have to go anywhere during the remainder.

But I digress. The book follows the classic process of a typical cozy. It begins with a day featuring details of the heroine, Bronwyn Crewse’s takeover of the historic family ice cream shop; her attempt to modernize the enterprise, which means taking in back to its roots of specializing in the title product, featuring flavors never imagined by its original proprietors.

Bronwyn is an unmarried, childless business major who left a successful career to be near her grandfather, parents and brothers and to save the heritage business.

The first day morphs into a stressful night as Bronwyn stays at the shop brainstorming ways to successfully launch a frozen treat business during a premature October blizzard. The discovery of a murder victim makes the night even more ominous.

A complex mix of suspects keeps readers on their toes through the body of the story featuring dramas involved in running a food business and solving the murder mystery in order to exonerate one of Bronwyn’s family members.   

The story closes with a nail-biting close call for Bronwyn and a friend who assists her in the final act of the murder investigation.

Grandma Kay’s Snow Ice Cream and several other recipes for frozen treats are included as a bonus at the book’s closing.

Oh, and I can’t forget – who could turn down a cozy featuring a cute white cat who is the ice cream shop mascot? Don’t tell the health department.

Book Review of How to Knit a Murder

I did have a difficult time keeping up with character identities in this fast flowing story, but a helpful guide was provided inside the front cover.

I picked up How to Knit a Murder  by Sally Goldenbaum on a day when I was mentally “down” and it delivered what M.C. Beaton mentioned as her reason for writing fiction – “to give someone a good time on a bad day”.

I do my best to make that my motto as I compose my own stories also.

The Cape Ann area is an inspirational place for me, so I immediately loved the setting of this book’s charming fictional village, which holds secrets and conflicts just as do all places of human habitation.

In this entertaining cozy, a group of close friends who share a passion for felines and knitting solve a murder, exonerate and welcome a former resident and schoolmate.

It was a bit unsettling to realize the identity of the murderer, but isn’t it always for those of us who empathize with everyone?

A lovely story which conveys the reminder that the imprint of childhood experiences, especially those involving strong emotions, can stay with us always.

How we deal with these powerful, sometimes terribly upsetting memories is up to us.

Book Review of Whiskers in the Dark – By Rita Mae Brown

I’m ready to head to Roseland, Georgia to hit the garage sales with Emma Madison. Emma debuts as a jewelry designer and amateur sleuth in this first book of what I hope will be a long-running cozy mystery series by Angela McRae.

Emeralds and Envy is a story of a jewelry artist who comes up with unique creations by combining vintage jewelry components with modern craft store beads and baubles and original accents.

Roseland is an interesting town featuring an eclectic mix of shops and eateries.

Other than her friend Jen, who is still employed in the newspaper business (Emma was formerly a reporter), Emma’s friends are other artists and vintage merchants who appreciate modern takes on classic style – a concept I wholeheartedly support in my own life and writing projects. (I actually dabbled in discovering and reselling mid-twentieth-century jewelry for a time, so appreciate many of the authentic details.)

Love the fact that Emma’s cat is named after a famous jewelry designer.

The plot follows the proper form for a cozy mystery. I was hooked from the first page and the writing flowed consistent throughout. The red herrings had me stumped. I was completely unsure of the identity of the murderer until the reveal, during a scene which had me on the edge of my seat.

There’s a hint of a possible budding romance, or at least a fond friendship, for Emma, with an attractive male artist. Perhaps that background plot might continue in a next edition of the “Junkin’ Jewelry Mysteries” along with more details about the feline Miriam Haskell?

Andrea McRae is a skilled writer whose voice is perfect for this lighthearted, entertaining, classic cozy.

Emeralds and Envy is great read for any season. I much enjoyed my stolen moments in the springtime sunshine with this one.

 

 

Book Review of Emeralds and Envy by Angela McRae

I’m ready to head to Roseland, Georgia to hit the garage sales with Emma  Madison. Emma debuts as a jewelry designer and amateur sleuth in this first book of what I hope will be a long-running cozy mystery series by Angela McRae.

Emeralds and Envy is a story of a jewelry artist who comes up with unique creations by combining vintage jewelry components with modern craft store beads and baubles and original accents.

Roseland is an interesting town featuring an eclectic mix of shops and eateries.

Other than her friend Jen, who is still employed in the newspaper business (Emma was formerly a reporter), Emma’s friends are other artists and vintage merchants who appreciate modern takes on classic style – a concept I wholeheartedly support in my own life and writing projects. (I actually dabbled in discovering and reselling mid-twentieth-century jewelry for a time, so appreciate many of the authentic details.)

Love the fact that Emma’s cat is named after a famous jewelry designer.

The plot follows the proper form for a cozy mystery. I was hooked from the first page and the writing flowed consistent throughout. The red herrings had me stumped. I was completely unsure of the identity of the murderer until the reveal, during a scene which had me on the edge of my seat.

There’s a hint of a possible budding romance, or at least a fond friendship, for Emma, with an attractive male artist. Perhaps that background plot might continue in a next edition of the “Junkin’ Jewelry Mysteries” along with more details about the feline Miriam Haskell?

Andrea McRae is a skilled writer whose voice is perfect for this lighthearted, entertaining, classic cozy.

Emeralds and Envy is great read for any season, I much enjoyed my stolen moments in the spring sunshine with this one.

 

Book Review of The Liar in the Library – a Feathering Mystery – by Simon Brett

Jude, who is a healer in the British coastal village of Feathering, is normally the character who supports others needing help. In this book, however, Jude herself is in need of support as she becomes a suspect in the murder of an old friend.

Zosia, assistant to Ted Crisp, proprietor of The Crown and Anchor, the pub patronized by Jude and her co investigator of local murders, Carol, is having some difficulties which become entwined with the murder plot.

A visit to this village is always a pleasure. In the end, Jude and Carol solve the murder as usual. I’m not totally getting the last page of the book, but perhaps I was just tired when I finished it and the connection wasn’t registering.

Let me know what you think if you should read the book.

Book Review of Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves

A fun fast paced read in Sarah Graves’ new series. Always a fan of the Home Repair is Homicide Mysteries by Ms. Graves, the same spirit of adventure and beloved characters play their parts in this series as well.

Picture Maine in early summer, a super storm, almost hurricane on the way as plans for the Fourth of July Holiday are in full swing.

Cheesecakes really do take center stage. Jake and friend Ellie, the main sleuths summon super-human energy to bake a number of them needed for the fundraising auction at the festival.

Baking them and all the other items needed to operate The Chocolate Moose in Eastport Maine, the ladies’ new adventure takes place amid wild rides on boats and in cars, as the girls flee from murder suspects, and work out what really happened in order to save Ellie from being jailed as a suspect herself.

A bit over the top at the end with new threats and developments, but an enjoyable read for lovers of active plot cozies.

I wondered at the beginning where the rest of Ellie’s family went, but by the end they reappeared, and the explanation made sense

A super summer story.

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