Saturday, September 16, 2017

Body on Baker Street

Author:  Vicki Delany
Series:  A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Expected Publication Date:  September 12, 2017

Description:  Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room in anticipation of the store’s upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series. But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock’s legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand. That is until Renalta collapses on the table―dead.

My Review

I loved the first book in the series so was happy to dive into the advanced reader copy I received of Body of Baker Street. This was a quick fun read that I just didn't want to put down. I was so engaged I just kept turning pages to see how the story would end.

What I enjoyed so much about the first book was the character of Gemma. She is, at least in my opinion, unique among cozy mystery protagonists. She is highly observant and has great logical deductive reasoning skills which makes her a good amateur sleuth. What endeared her to me was her social awkwardness. In this second installment the reader can see she is trying to work on this to help her relate better to people. She is asked by her friend and fellow shop owner to help clear him of murder charges, and in typical Gemma style she goes about observing the suspects and trying to put the clues together without thought to her own safety.  The secondary characters from the first book are all back, but I was a bit disappointed that Jayne's role in helping Gemma uncover the killer was not larger.

The mystery was once again well crafted, woven throughout the story with plenty of clues, twists and turns. The story was fast paced, with plenty of viable suspects.  It was fun watching Gemma peel back the layers of these clues to determine who really killed the author. The is still a tension between Gemma and Ryan regarding Gemma's "interference" in police investigations.  Ryan does respect her observations but still have difficulty with how that comes across. And of course, Detective Estrada still has it out for Gemma.  

I think this author has done an excellent job of crafting a smart, sophisticated series with great characters and engaging mysteries.  I am looking forward to more great stories in this series and will definitely be back to Baker Street for the next installment.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, through Netgalley.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Death Distilled

Author:  Melinda Mullet
Series:  A Whiskey Business Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Alibi
Publication Date:  September 5, 2017

Description:  It’s been three months since Abi Logan last checked in on Abbey Glen, the celebrated whisky distillery she inherited. With her oversize wheaten terrier, Liam, by her side, Abi returns to the quaint Scottish village of Balfour. But her relaxing Highland homecoming takes a stressful turn when she unearths an unseemly bit of village history, welcomes a group of Japanese whisky enthusiasts, and becomes shepherdess to an unexpected flock of sheep—all within the first twenty-four hours. Still, nothing’s more stressful than murder. . . .

Local celebrity Rory Hendricks is the hotheaded, hard-rocking former frontman of the Rebels—and Abi’s girlhood crush. After meeting him in person, Abi can’t say no to anything he asks, like photographing his upcoming show . . . or figuring out who’s trying to kill him. Turns out someone’s been bumping off his old bandmates, with the drummer dead under mysterious circumstances and the keyboardist in a coma following a hit-and-run. Now a series of threatening messages leads Rory to think he’s next on the chopping block. And the band has a devil’s share of broken hearts and bitter disputes in their past, leaving Abi a huge batch of suspects to sift through—all before the killer takes another shot.

My Review

This is the second book in the Whiskey Business Mystery series and I found it to be just as enjoyable as the first book. It is quickly becoming a series I look forward to reading. 

Set in Scotland, this series has a unique theme for a cozy mystery.  It is one of the things that drew me to the series and keeps me coming back.  The characters are smart, sophisticated and well developed.  In this installment we once again find Abi called upon to investigate murder and mayhem.  Because of her background and what she has witnessed as a photojournalist, Abi has a keen sense of observation but she is not trying to out-do or show up the police.  And, in this installment, there are occasions where the police actually seek her out for her observations and insight. I felt like Abi was at a crossroads in this story, trying to reconcile her old life and the career she has built with her new home in Balfour and the Abbey Glen distillery.

There are two mysteries in this story - one modern and one historical.  The two are woven together nicely throughout the entire story and actually compliment each other.  The modern day mystery is a smartly crafted with subtle clues, twists and turns. The historical mystery allows the reader a glimpse into the history of the Scottish Village of Balfour, where the story is set, as well as the history of Scotland itself.  As I said, I think the author tied the two nicely together in the end.

I am definitely looking forward to more in this series.  I think there is a lot more of Abi for us and for her to discover.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Alibi, through Netgalley.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Pudding Up With Murder

Author:  Julia Buckley  
Series:  An Undercover Dish Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  September 5, 2017

Description:  Customers trust Lilah Drake to keep her mouthwatering meals under wraps, but when a millionaire meets his untimely end, some sinister secrets become the main course. . . .
Spring is right around the corner, and with the warmer temperatures come plenty of food requests from Lilah Drake's covered-dish clients. Lilah pulls out all the stops with a sweet new casserole for the birthday party of Marcus Cantwell, a wealthy curmudgeon who has some angry ex-wives and more than a few enemies.
When he's found facedown in Lilah's casserole, it's anyone's guess as to who might have wanted the old man dead. A possible new heir to Marcus’s fortune adds some unexpected spice to the investigation, but Lilah fears that the old adage is true, and "the proof is in the pudding." 

My Review

I am a fan of this authors Mystery Writer's Apprentice Mysteries and this series has been on my TBR pile, so when Berkley unexpectedly approved me for an ARC, I jumped at the chance to read it.  I am one of those readers who likes to start are series with the first book. One of the reasons I love cozies so much is they tend to be character driven and with series, starting at the beginning allows me to watch the characters develop and grow.  That said, I didn't feel like I missed out on too much having started with the third book.

I thought this was a well plotted story.  The characters come across as real and authentic.  I liked Lilah Drake immediately. She was warm and genuine.  The secondary cast of characters were all well written and likable.  Lilah's love interest Jay proved to me a pretty good guy.  I liked  how he appreciated Lilah's observations and insights into people and events.  Although he is a police detective he didn't seem to discount her input.  I was a bit annoyed with his jealousy issues, but given that I hadn't read the first two books there may be a bit of back story I am missing.  I totally fell in love with Mick, her dog.  I loved his special skill.

I thought the mystery was well done.  There were plenty of suspects to choose from and it unfolded throughout the entire course of the story, which I like.  The mystery is as important to me as the characters so I love when the author provides an even balance.  I have to say, the mystery didn't quite turn out as I expected and I didn't not have a clue as to the killer's identity until the reveal.

This was an enjoyable read.  The book has a quaint setting, a even pace that kept me turning pages, characters that I liked and a well plotted mystery that kept me guessing.  I will definitely catch up with the first two books and look for more in this series.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Berkley, through Netgalley

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Assaulted Caramel

Author:  Amanda Flower
Series:  Amish Candy Shop Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  August 29, 2017

Description:  Bailey King is living the sweet life as assistant chocolatier at world-famous JP Chocolates in New York City. But just when Bailey’s up for a life-changing promotion, her grandmother calls with news that her grandfather’s heart condition has worsened. Bailey rushes to Harvest, Ohio, where her grandparents still run Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop where she was first introduced to delicious fudge, truffles, and other assorted delights.

She finds her grandfather is doing better than she feared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a local Englisch developer, whom Bailey finds dead in the candy shop kitchen—with Jebediah King’s chocolate knife buried in his chest. Now the police are sweet on her grandfather as the prime suspect. Despite the sincere efforts of a yummy deputy with chocolate-brown eyes, Bailey takes it on herself to clear Jebediah. But as a cunning killer tries to fudge the truth, Bailey may be headed straight into a whole batch of trouble.

My Review

I am a huge fan of this author so anything new either in an existing series or the start of a new one I will automatically read.    This was a one day read for me as I couldn't put the book down.  I was so engaged I just kept turning pages to learn who killed Tyson and why.  Ms. Flower has an incredible writing style that transports her readers to whatever the story take them.  She fills her stories with charming locations and amazing characters.  This was an fantastic start to a new series.

I loved the characters in this book.  It is a great mix of English and Amish that is really reflective of the community in Holmes County.  I think readers are going to enjoy Bailey King.  She has all the elements I look for in a cozy mystery protagonist.  She is smart, caring, loyal, genuine and a bit flawed.  Ms. Flower has written a three dimensional characters who is well rounded and authentic.  The secondary characters are terrific as well.  I loved Bailey's grandparents and her best friend Cass.  There is even a potential love interest that should play out in future books.  I will advise you to keep some tissues close toward the end of the book because if you are like me, you're going to need them.

The mystery was what we have come to expect from this author.  It is a well crafted, layered mystery that unfolds throughout the story.  The victim, was not well like because of his business dealings with the Amish so this provides us with plenty of suspects to choose from.  Throw in the clues, twists and turns that this author weaves through the story and the reader will be engaged and turning pages until a very climatic resolution.  

As I said at the beginning, I am a big fan of this author's work.  I know that when I pick up on of her books I will be entertained by an engaging mystery, quaint locations and characters that are authentic and genuine.  I am eagerly looking forward for more to come in this series.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Kensington, through Netgalley.