Book Review of Overkilt by Kaitlyn Dunnett – A Liss MacKrimmon Scottish Mystery

The New Age Pilgrims dominate the tale, Overkilt, by Kaitlyn Dunnett. Apparently the cultlike group has lived outside the borders of the town of Moosetookalook Maine throughout the story series but I don’t believe they’ve been mentioned previously.

These Maine based mysteries have been among my favorite cozies for many years. This one didn’t intrigue me when it began, but the plot intensified consistently and continued to twist until nearly the last page.

Dan, Liss’ most often even tempered husband, loses his composure and nearly throttles a surprising person. The town’s female sheriff must reign him in, but she understands and shares his concern about the growing threat to peace and harmony in the village and business at the shops that line the street.

When one of the New Age Pilgrims becomes a murder victim, Liss is forced to do her best to solve the puzzle in order to exonerate friend and family suspects. All amid adjusting to her parents’ return to Moosetookalook from years of living in Arizona, the early online Christmas rush at her Scottish Emporium, and plans for Thanksgiving with Dan, her parents, Aunt Margaret, and Lumpkin and Glenora, her feline family.

Book Review of A Crime of a Different Stripe by Sally Goldenbaum

It took me a while to finish this tale. Intricate details of a network of friends living on the enchanting peninsula of Cape Ann, Massachusetts are featured in A Crime of a Different Stripe.

I’ve read a mystery in this cozy series previously, featuring the friends and pets residing in the neighborhood of “The Seaside Knitters Society”. The stories are charming. They feature pets, quaint shops and cafes, coastal settings, the perfect combination for a pleasant adventure.

Sally Goldenbaum even included a custom designed baby hat pattern for knitting lovers, inside the back cover of the book.

I’m not much of a knitter, but I did pretty much unravel the plot to this story on my own, about three-fourths of the way through. Nevertheless it gave me a great excuse to mingle in my mind with those in the fictional town of Sea Harbor – what a lovely name. An award-winning photographer and a professional yoga teacher play prominently but that’s all I’m saying about the plot. You’ll want to spend a few gray winter days reading it yourself.

I’ve been to Cape Ann, and also set a story there myself – it was published! A unique place. The real setting and the ones crafted with artistic lincense.

Book Review of Back Bay Blues by Peter Colt

Definitely not a cozy, Back Bay Blues by Peter Colt is nevertheless well-written and fulfilling. A good read for fans of Boston like me, with empathy for the difficulties of Viet Nam (or any combat) vets, seeking a rewarding path in the less intense environment of everyday society.

The last few chapters had me on my toes, unable to rise from my recliner to attend to comparatively mundane household details. The twists and turns of the plot, the imminent danger, the implications of unresolved tensions left over from the conflict that officially ended decades ago but apparently continues today through the efforts of underground organizations, offered much food for thought.

Star character Any Roarke, former Viet Nam war strategist, seeks solace for his post war issues by offering his services as an – in Roarke’s own words – “less strong, charming and well-dressed” Spenser style private investigator. I found Andy Roarke’s demeanor comforting, the violent scenes realistic for the theme, yet not too overwhelming.

The mystery involves a friend of Roarke’s, a Viet Namese refugee who struggled and saved in order to eventually become a successful restauranteur, well able to support his family, in the Boston suburb of Quincy.

Roarke hears a story of a stash of gold from ‘Nam which may still exist in a ship anchored off the coast of San Francisco. The PI has to know if it still exists, so risks his life, with the help of another veteran Viet Nam brother, to find the answer. A dramatic conclusion, back in Boston brings the loose ends together.

We are left with a greater understanding of the main character’s strengths and vulnerabilities as we follow him thorough relationships with an attractive female Boston Police Detective and a sexy foreign agent, observe his ever present need to play an essential role involving careful planning and risk, resulting in the equally acceptable, from his perspective, result of either triumph or death. An unshakable desire left over from days of playing a key part, thanks to talented planning and much luck, in the conflict against communism that was the stated purpose of the US campaign in Viet Nam.

A lesson in history and human psychology wrapped up in an exciting adventure story whose lighter moments include tales of a meal at Boston’s Historic Union Oyster House and at the home of Roarke’s eccentric friend on the California Coast, an unexpectedly talented culinary artist.

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 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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