Posts Tagged ‘Cozy Mystery’

Best ‘New to Us” Books in 2014: Farida B’s Picks

December 24, 2014

I love a variety of books in adult and children’s collection. I love reading Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Humor, Romance and gentle clean reads. Here are “New to Me” books that inspired me most this year. I hope you can include some of these books in your 2015 reading list.

Death of a Travelling ManDeath of a Travelling Man by M. C. Beaton
This is Beaton‘s eighth mystery featuring Scottish police constable Hamish MacBeth. Hamish has been promoted against his will and as Sergeant, he makes more money, but must suffer more work as well, as well as the enthusiasm of his new helper, Police Constable Willie Lamont. Willie Lamont has less talent for police work and more talent for cleaning, polishing, and scrubbing. His insistence on keeping the police station spotless and super clean is driving MacBeth crazy. It all starts when a suspicious drifter Sean and his girlfriend Cheryl park their van behind the minister’s manse. This “devastatingly handsome” drifter Sean charms four women out of their money and harasses Hamish’s ladylove, Priscilla. If you like to read light mysteries filled with humor and action then this is definitely going to be your choice!  See my full review.

Murphy's LawMurphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen
Murphy’s Law is the first book in the Molly Murphy mystery series. Molly Murphy, the main character in this story, is a spunky, 19th-century Irish heroine. Molly always ends up in trouble no matter where she goes. She is outspoken, strong independent lady. She commits a murder in self-defense, so she has to leave her cherished Ireland and her identity for the unknown shores of America. In London she meets Kathleen O’Connor. Kathleen has two small children and tickets for a ship to America, where she plans to join her husband. But she has tuberculosis, so she knows that she will not be allowed on the ship to America, so she persuades the desperate Molly to take her children to America instead of herself and use her identity on the ship. Molly agrees to this plan since she wants to be in a new place and start a new life. After the landing at Ellis Island, O’Malley is found stabbed to death. Police detective Daniel Sullivan questions Molly about it since lots of people had seen Molly slap O’Malley on the ship. Molly becomes the prime suspect along with a young man whom she had befriended. See my full review.

Running Out of TimeRunning out of Time by Margaret P. Haddix
Jessie lives in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana in 1840. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie discovers that Clifton is actually a 1996 tourist site under secret observation by heartless scientists. Jessie’s mother sends her on a dangerous mission to bring back help. But outside the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and scary, and soon she finds her own life in danger. Can she get help before the children of Clifton and Jessie herself run out of time? This is a young adult book which is appealing to adults as well. It is one of my favorite books, written by a good author.  It has won multiple awards, including the YALSA Best Book for Young Adults.

Miss Julia Speaks Her MindMiss Julia Speaks her Mind by Ann Ross
This book is the first in the series. Miss Julia is a strong willed, independent, proper church-going lady. Recently widowed, she is trying to settle down with her new life, including the substantial estate left by her late husband, Wesley Lloyd Springer. Everything is peaceful until Hazel Marie Puckett arrives at her doorstep with her 9 year old son Little Lloyd. Guess what? Little Lloyd is Wesley’s son. Miss Julia receives a shock of her life! After 44 years of marriage to pillar of the church and community Wesley Lloyd Springer, she discovers that he was having an affair with Hazel Marie Puckett. She had assumed he was working late at the family bank, but instead he was engaged in more carnal pursuits. The worst thing was that the whole town knew about this affair. Read my full review.

UnwindUnwind By Neal Shusterman
In America after the Second Civil War the “Bill of Life” permits the parents to get rid of a child between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t really end by transplanting all the organs from the child’s body to different important recipients who quote the highest bid. This is a story about three teens – Connor, Risa and Lev – who become runaway Unwinds. Their escape and survival stories interweave as they struggle to avoid harvest camps. All the characters live and breathe in the story. Neal Shusterman’s Unwind has won many awards and honors, including being included on ALA’s Top Ten Picks for Reluctant Readers and Best Books for Young Adults lists. It is a book written for young adults, but I really enjoyed it and I am sure lots of adults will like reading it too! It has breathtaking suspense and is a sure page turner to find out if the three teens avoid their untimely ends.


Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle by Dorothy Gilman

November 20, 2014

The author Dorothy Gilman is the author of several popular Mrs. Pollifax novels. The first in the series is The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax. Mrs Pollifax is a grandmother and a free-lance CIA agent too!

Mrs. Pollifax (Emily) was recovering from a torture situation which occurred in Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha. Emily and her husband had planned a vacation in Thailand. But, at the last minute Bishop from the CIA came to their home with a small request. Would they detour a little and go to Chiang Mai? All they have to do was very simple, they had to find Ruamsak and exchange a solid gold Buddha votive tablet for his important info on an Asian coup. Emily agreed to do this small job for CIA while on her vacation.

But when she went in the hut to meet Ruamsak, she found him dead with a big knife in his belly! On top of that she could not find her husband Cyrus with her. She runs out of the hut to see Cyrus being kidnapped by some strange men. Now she has to trust a self-appointed guide named Bonchoo and travel with him in the Thailand countryside to rescue her husband. Two strange men on motorcycle were following them and they tried to kill Bonchoo twice. They had to abandon Bonchoo’s truck and travel on foot in the forest. In the forest they meet Mr. Monarjay, a Buddhist holy man who helps them to find her husband. She meets teak smugglers, generals with warlord attitudes and secret shun encampments. She almost gets killed trying to get out of a dangerous forest. This is a cozy mystery to enjoy.

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Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen

August 28, 2014

Murphy's LawMurphy’s Law is the first book in the Molly Murphy mystery series. Molly Murphy, the main character in this story, is a spunky 19th-century Irish heroine. Molly always ends up in trouble no matter where she goes. She is an outspoken, strong, independent lady. She commits a murder in self-defense, so she has to leave her cherished Ireland and her identity for the unknown shores of America.

In London she meets Kathleen O’Connor. Kathleen has two small children, and tickets for a ship to America where she plans to join her husband. But because she has tuberculosis and knows that she will not be allowed on the ship, she persuades the desperate Molly to take her children to America, using her ticket and her identity on the ship. Molly agrees to this plan since she wants to be in a new place and start a new life.

The ocean trip is not comfortable, and on top of that, she has to fend off unwelcome attentions of the mean troublemaker O’Malley, who seems to have known the real Kathleen. He threatens to expose Molly’s true identity in America.

After the landing at Ellis Island, O’Malley is found stabbed to death. Police detective Daniel Sullivan questions Molly about the stabbing since several people saw Molly slap O’Malley on the ship. Molly becomes the prime suspect along with a young man whom she has befriended. She decides to investigate the murder case of O’Malley to clear herself and her friend.

Finding her way through a vivid, Tammany Hall-era New York, Molly struggles to prove her innocence, facing one dangerous situation after another. She becomes a house help for a big politician to solve the mystery. She almost gets killed after finally discovering the true identity of the murderer.

This is a historical mystery, fast paced and richly detailed. Rhys Bowen has also written some other cozy mysteries series including Constable Evan Mysteries and Royal Spyness mysteries. Constable Evan Mysteries are very similar to Hamish Macbeth mysteries written by M. C. Beaton.

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Murder, She Barked by Krista Davis

March 13, 2014

I have enjoyed Krista Davis’ Domestic Diva series for years . They are classic cozy mysteries and several have been nominated for Agatha awards. The constant but humorous rivalry between characters, Sophie and Natasha is delightful. Old Town Alexandria, Virginia provides the ideal small village feel of the traditional mystery. It is the proper venue for her character’s many adventures and murders. I was thrilled to recently discover Krista’s latest book, Murder, She Barked, the first in her new Paws and Claws series published by Berkley Prime Crime.

Holly Miller rushes out into a dark and stormy night without even a change of clothes, to answer a call to help her beloved grandmother, Oma. Holly leaves her boyfriend Ben in the clutches of his former girlfriend, nearly runs out of gas while driving through the foggy mountain roads of Virginia, and is adopted by a very dirty, mangy Jack Russell terrier. Can things get worse? You bet they can! Holly soon discovers that murder abounds in the picturesque mountain resort of Wagtail, Virginia.

Oma’s modest Sugar Maple Inn has changed dramatically since Holly visited as a child. Wagtail has been revitalized and become an upscale pet vacation destination. The town and its amenities are geared toward the comfort of pets and their owners. Despite its charming appearance, Wagtail is beset by murder, burglary and mayhem. Holly must get to the bottom of the trouble to help her Oma.

The elements of setting, characters, both human and animal, and of course the mystery, result in a very entertaining book that will appeal to all readers, even those who are not animal fanciers. I believe Krista is on her way to another Agatha nomination with Murder, She Barked. Her fans will not be disappointed and I hope new readers will enjoy discovering this delightful author.

If you like authors Carolyn Hart, Ellery Adams, Avery Aames, Lilian Jackson Braun and Donna Andrews you will undoubtedly enjoy any of Krista Davis’ books. Be sure to check out Murder, She Barked for a mini vacation of your own and no pet required.

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Lethal Treasure by Jane Cleland

November 15, 2013

I have been reading Jane Cleland’s Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series since the first book, Consigned to Death, was published in 2006. I love how Cleland’s expertise in the field of antiques is revealed in all her books. Lethal Treasures focuses on the world of collectible vintage movie posters and classic jewelry. The business aspect of her books is always informative and interesting and her mysteries have never let me down. Where else can you learn about running an heirloom musical instrument auction while your protagonist searches for justice?
Prescott Antiques and Auction continues to grow. Keeping the tag sales and warehouse stocked with fresh inventory is an ongoing challenge. Josie has embraced bidding on abandoned storage lockers as a source of merchandise. In addition to fresh stock, there is always the added bonus that she just might find a real prize. This occurs when her latest unit contains a treasure trove of vintage jewelry and Depression era glassware.
Josie has struck up a new friendship with co-bidder Henri Dubois, a charming recent immigrant from France and his vivacious southern wife Leigh Anne. The newlyweds seem to have it all, a warm and loving relationship and a very successful high end interior design business. Their world is shattered when Josie discovers Henri’s body in her storage locker. Thus begins Josie’s investigation into Henri’s death.
Lethal Treasures can be read as a stand alone mystery even if you haven’t read the other books in the series. I have enjoyed the cast of characters and seeing Josie and her business grow. These changes have been integral to the series. Cleland has written a classic who-done-it and this book also falls into the same category as Gone Girl as a “why-done-it”. Cleland continues her track record as a first rate traditional mystery author whose books are filled with unexpected twists and engaging characters.
Jane Cleland is at the top of my list of favorite mystery authors.  If you like Blaize Clement, Barbara Allen or Emyl Jenkins mysteries you will be glad you found Jane Cleland.

Meet the Mystery Writers! Authors Jane Cleland, Donna Andrews, and Frankie Y. Bailey, are on tour visiting North Regional Library, Cameron Village Regional Library and West Regional Library. Mystery maven and local blogger Molly Weston will facilitate the panel discussion and audience Q&A.  Registration requested.

Cameron Village Regional Library Friday, November 15 at 2:30 p.m.
West Regional Library  Saturday, November 16 at10:30 a.m.
North Regional Library Monday, November 18 at 2:30 p.m.

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Paging the Dead by Brynn Bonner

June 19, 2013

Paging the DeadMysteries are my favorite genre and local authors have a special place in my heart. Brynn Bonner is an Agatha Award winning North Carolina mystery author whose newest book Paging the Dead is a treat for traditional mystery readers and amateur genealogists. Brynn deftly combines her own passion for both subjects in this first book of the Family History Mystery series.

Sophreena Angelica McClure, in the proper Southern tradition, is named for her two grandmothers.  With business partner Esme Sabatier, Sophie is the owner of a successful genealogy service which specializes in creating archival family scrapbooks.

Esme brings a very special talent to their business. She has the gift or curse, depending on the day, of hearing the dead speak.  As a medium, Esme contributes just the right touch of paranormal influence and a feisty attitude to this story. Pillar of the community, Dorothy Pritchett Porter, hires Esme and Sophie to research her family history. To Dorothy’s delight, the research uncovers a long lost heirloom ruby and diamond ring that will be a highlight of her family scrapbook. These scrapbooks will be the focal point of Morningside’s Founders Day celebration. As Sophie and Esme rush to complete the job, death intervenes.

Paging the Dead is more than just a crafty cozy mystery.  It is about relationships that span generations, transcend familial bonds and draw you into the world of genealogical research.

I hope you will enjoy Paging the Dead as much I did. I am eagerly awaiting the next adventure of Sophie and Esme.  If you enjoy Carolyn Hart’s Bailey Ruth series or Patricia Sprinkle’s Family Tree Mysteries Paging the Dead is for you.

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Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D.James

April 10, 2013

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is 200 years old! To celebrate its bicentennial, try Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, the well-written and long awaited sequel to Pride and Prejudice, published in 2011.

We find Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth living happily ever after and six years into their marriage, living on the beautiful estate at Pemberley. The couple has two sons to carry on the Darcy name, and Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane lives nearby. The Bennett family has visited just a few times, which seems the perfect amount to the Darcys. Elizabeth’s beloved father comes more frequently though, to make use of Darcy’s extensive and peaceful library.

As the story opens, Elizabeth and her husband are preparing for their annual ball. Family is gathering at Pemberley, including Jane and her husband, Charles Bingley. The unexpected arrival of Elizabeth’s youngest sister, Lydia, sends the household into an uproar. Recall that Lydia is the wild child who famously eloped with the dastardly Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. And Lydia’s dramatic entry into the story has her screaming that Wickham has been murdered!

This was a false alarm. Wickham was not the murder victim, but because the death happened on Permberley’s grounds, Darcy becomes entangled in the investigation. The death, and Wickham’s possible involvement in the crime, threaten to disrupt the Darcy’s peaceful country life forever. While the story-line follows Darcy more than Elizabeth, all your favorite characters from Pride and Prejudice will make an appearance in this delightful and suspenseful novel.

Numerous writers have attempted to imitate, reinterpret, or continue Jane Austen’s stories. Most have failed, some very badly. P. D. James is the first that I feel has really gotten it right. The tone of Austen’s masterpiece comes through, and it is a pleasure to visit the Darcy family again. Fans of James series featuring Adam Dagliesh might be disappointed with the mystery in this novel, but James was not attempting to write one of her modern novels. This book is a gift for Austen fans.

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Hearse and Buggy by Laura Bradford

March 27, 2013

Welcome to Heavenly, Pennsylvania, a small town surrounded by Amish farms.  In Heavenly the Amish and English (non-Amish) folk have learned to coexist.  For Claire Weatherly, it is the perfect place to reboot her life after the hustle and bustle of New York City and a divorce.  Her Aunt Diane runs the local bed and breakfast and is willing to help Claire rebuild her life.  Claire decides to open up a shop, Heavenly Treasures, featuring furniture and crafts made by her Amish neighbors.  Unfortunately for Claire the previous tenant of her shop, Walter Snow, was a crook notorious for ripping off the Amish.  She realizes she must work to restore relations with the Amish.

Things go from bad to worse when Snow is found murdered in the alley behind Heavenly Treasures.  The prime suspect is a young Amish man, Eli, known in town to be a hot head.  Eli is trying to court Claire’s employee and friend, Ruth, but his reputation makes Ruth’s father leery. Claire is sympathetic to Eli, and she cannot imagine him as a murderer.

To further complicate matters, the detective investigating Snow’s murder, Jakob Fischer, is a man baptized in the Amish Church, who left to pursue a career in law enforcement.  As a result he has been shunned by the Amish.  Claire realizes Jakob is in a difficult situation and tries to help him as he investigates the murder of Snow.  We also get the sense that there may be a romance brewing between them.  Will Claire and Jakob find the killer?

The second book in the series, Assaulted Pretzel has just been released. Author Laura Bradford will be speaking at West Regional Library on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 2 pm.  Please call the library at 919-463-8500 for more details.

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Roast Mortem by Cleo Coyle

June 22, 2012

Roast Mortem is one of my favorite books in Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery Series. This is not the usual frothy cozy which you might expect from the clever title and artsy cover. Coyle’s trademark prologue will have your heart pounding as you follow the arsonist down a dark, cold alley in Queens.

The bomb activated fire that destroys Caffe Lucia coffehouse and nearly kills Clare Cosi, her former mother-in-law and fellow barista, is the first in a streak of random fires. Clare is determined to find the connection between the arsons to prevent further death and damage.

Clare has a steamy romance with NYPD detective Mike Quinn which hits a rough patch with the entrance of his mirror image cousin and firefighter Michael Quinn. The conflict between the two men runs deeper than just professional jealousy.

Coyle is the master of clever patter between coffeehouse manager Clare and her quirky hip New York baristas. You’ll want to run out and open your own coffeehouse so you can pull the perfect espresso and bake up some hazelnut biscotti. By the way, you’ll find those recipes and hints in the back of the book.
This book will appeal to readers of cozy mysteries, romance, suspense and New York City aficionados. On What Grounds is the first in the series.

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Shop till You Drop by Elaine Viets

April 11, 2012

Helen Hawthorne is a woman with a secret!  She is on the run from a court order to pay alimony to her cheating ex-husband, Rob.  Helen, a PR person in a respectable St. Louis company, has been the bread winner for several years while Rob stayed home.  All that changed when she came home early from work and caught Rob kissing the neighbor.  When the divorce judge ordered her to pay alimony, Helen fled St. Louis, refusing to pay money to her cheating ex-husband.  She ends up in Fort Lauderdale, FL trying to stay off the radar of law enforcement.

In order to do so she needs to take jobs that pay “under the table.”  She discovers Juliana’s, an exclusive boutique, where women must be buzzed in beyond the green door.  The women who frequent Juliana’s are trophy wives or mistresses to older rich gentlemen. Their lives are very different from Helen’s. They get the latest cosmetic procedures and spend more money than Helen earns in a week on a purse.

Things change for Helen when her customers began to turn up murdered. Helen fears the women murdered might be a result of something fishy going on inside Juliana’s. These fears escalate when someone is found murdered inside Juliana’s itself. Can Helen manage to keep a low key profile while a murder investigation is going on around her? Will the publicity allow Rob to find her?  Shop Till You Drop is the first in the series with the 11th book in the series being released May 1st. Elaine Viets writes books that are the perfect read for a long beach weekend.

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