Saturday, April 28, 2018

Murder in the Locked Library

Author:  Ellery Adams
Series:  A Book Retreat Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  April 24, 2018

Description:  Welcome to Storyton Hall, Virginia, where book lovers travel from near and far to enjoy the singular comforts of the Agatha Christie Tea Room, where they can discuss the merits of their favorite authors no matter how deadly the topic . . . 
With her twins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, back in school, Jane Steward can finally focus on her work again—managing Storyton Hall, and breaking ground on the resort’s latest attraction: a luxurious, relaxing spa named in honor of Walt Whitman. But when the earth is dug up to start laying the spa’s foundation, something else comes to the surface—a collection of unusual bones and the ragged remnants of a very old book. The attendees of the Rare Book Conference are eager to assist Jane with this unexpected historical mystery—until a visitor meets an untimely end in the Henry James Library. As the questions—and suspects—start stacking up, Jane will have to uncover a killer before more unhappy endings ensue . . .

My Review

I am a fan of Ellery Adams and haven't read a series written by her that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed.  When Berkley cancelled this series I was disappointed.  I thought there was so much potential for these characters and this setting.  So, when Kensington picked it up and I was offered the chance to read an advanced reader copy, well I couldn't turn down the opportunity.

I have missed Jane, her family and the staff of Storyton Hall.  I think the premise of this series has a unique twist on a bibliophile theme and with each new story Ms. Adams continues to draw me back to this series.  I find her to be a terrific storyteller. No matter what book or series I am reading, Ms. Adams has a way of writing a plot, crafting characters and creating a setting that just draws me into the story. This book was no exception. 

Jane Steward is an engaging character.  She is already well written, but I can still see the growth and potential in her character.  She is a single mother of twin boys but she also harbors her family secret and the role she plays.  I think Ms. Adams has crafted a set of secondary characters that are rich, unique, quirky, interesting and complement Jane's characters to give the reader a well balanced and rounded set of characters.  Jane's two boys are adorable and precocious.  I really like how the author is working them into the story and the family's history instead of having them as just the children of the protagonist.

The mystery was well plotted and woven throughout the entire story.   I thought there was a nice twist on the mystery in this book.  What starts out as a historical mystery soon turns to murder, allowing the author to combine the past and present into a mystery that kept me guessing.  The murder takes place at another Storyton event.  Although there were many guests attending the event, there were really only a few suspects that were viable candidates to be the culprit. Ms. Adams weaves plenty of clues and some really well done twists and turns that I didn't not expect. The reveal was climatic and leaves the reader with a lingering question that I hope will be solved in the next installment.

I find this to be an interesting premise on the bibliophile theme coupled with engaging characters and a charming setting crafted by an author who has a great talent for storytelling.  I will definitely be returning to Storyton for as long as the series continues.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Read Herring Hunt

Author:  V. M. Burns
Series:  A Mystery Bookshop Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  April 24, 2018

Description:  To the town of North Harbor, Michigan, MISU quarterback Dawson Alexander is a local hero. To Samantha Washington, owner of the Market Street Mysteries Bookstore, Dawson is more than a tenant—he’s like an adopted son. But to the police, he is their prime suspect after his ex-girlfriend is found murdered. It’s more than enough real-life drama for Sam to tackle, but her role as a mystery writer also calls. Returning to the English countryside between the wars, she finds Lady Daphne Marsh in quite the quandary. Someone has tried to murder the scandalous American divorcĂ©e Wallis Simpson, for whom Edward VIII so recently abdicated his throne. It seems finding a suspect is no small challenge when most of England has a motive . . .
While Sam’s lawyer sister Jenna rushes in to build Dawson's defense, Sam and her lively grandmother, Nana Jo, huddle up to solve the mystery and blow the whistle on the real killer. With the tenacious members of the Sleuthing Senior Book Club eager to come off the sidelines, Sam and her team just might stop a killer from completing another deadly play.

My Review

When I finished the first book in this series, I was excited to see what Ms. Burns had in store for these characters and this series.  She  delivered a second book, that for me, continues to build on the excellent series she has started.

I love the setting for this series - Michigan.  It is my home state and I am instantly drawn into the fictional town of North Harbor and can picture the western side of the state as I read this book.  As soon as I opened the book, I was drawn into the story and started to get reacquainted with Sam, Nana Jo and the rest of the characters.   I like all of the characters and it was nice to see Sam's character grow and start to emerge from her grief. Nana Jo and the rest of the ladies from the retirement community make a return appearance and provide a lot of fun and humor to the story. The secondary cast of characters is solid and rounds out the story nicely. I know some people struggle with this, but I am a fan of the story in a story. In fact, I find myself equally engaged in both mysteries.  In fact, if Ms. Burns ever decides to write about Lady Elizabeth and her family, it is definitely a historical cozy series that I would be interested in reading.

I thought the mystery was woven nicely throughout the entire story. The author offers the readers a few different suspects who may have committed the crimes. It was a bit surprising to me that I figured out the identity of the killer before it was revealed and was close to the motive. That said, it didn't detract from my enjoyment because it is always interesting to me to see how the protagonist discovers the identity of the culprit and how it is revealed.

I will be back for more in this series.  I find the characters very likable and relatable, the setting charming and the mysteries solid.

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Murder at the Mushroom Festival

Author:  Janet Finsilver
Series:  A Kelly Jackson Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  April 17, 2018

Description:  Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast manager Kelly Jackson is hosting a cooking class during the Week of the Mushroom festival to attract guests, not drama. But soon after she finishes foraging for an edible mushroom species on sacred Native American land, a local newspaper reporter gets shot dead at the same site. With suspicions spreading like fungi in the quaint Northern Californian community over the culprit’s identity, Kelly and a savvy gang of sleuthing seniors known as the “Silver Sentinels” must uncover the truth about the secluded property before a tricky killer prepares another lethal surprise.

My Review

The fourth book in the Kelly Jackson Mystery series by Janet Finsilver is a delightful, entertaining addition to this series.  For me, this series has been enjoyable right from the start and this author has done a terrific job of keeping these characters engaging.  Each book just builds upon the last in terms of character development, steady plots, charming setting and entertaining mysteries.

Kelly Jackson is a very enjoyable main character.  She is settling in to her new life nicely and has made a terrific set of friend that comprise the secondary cast of characters.  What I enjoy is that the secondary characters are very diverse in age, background, personalities and circumstances.  Kelly has a good sense of self, comes across as level headed and doesn't purposely put herself in jeopardy when she and the Silver Sentinels are solving a case.  

The mystery is well done in this fourth book.  What I enjoy about the mysteries in this series is that there is always more than one and they are layered throughout the entire story.  Sometime it's hard to see it, but when the mysteries are resolved they tend to connect to one another on some level.  This is true for the mystery in this story.  There are plenty of suspects with differing motives along with a number of twist and turns thrown in for good measure.  

Whenever I pick up a Kelly Jackson mystery I know I am going to dig into a good mystery with wonderful characters that will keep me entertained throughout the entire story.

I voluntarily read an advance reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Lyrical Underground, through Netgalley.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Death by the Sea

Author:  Kathleen Bridge
Series:  A By the Sea Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  April 3, 2018

Description:  The Indialantic by the Sea hotel has a hundred-year-old history on beautiful Melbourne Beach, Florida, and more than a few guests seem to have been there from the start. When Liz Holt returns home after an intense decade in New York, she’s happy to be surrounded by the eccentric clientele and loving relatives that populate her family-run inn, and doubly pleased to see the business is staying afloat thanks to its vibrant shopping emporium and a few very wealthy patrons.
But that patronage decreases by one when a filthy rich guest is discovered dead in her oceanfront suite. Maybe this is simply a jewel theft gone wrong, but maybe someone—or many people—wanted the hotel’s prosperous guest dead. Only one thing is sure: there’s a killer at the Indialantic, and if Liz lets herself be distracted—by her troubled past or the tempting man who seems eager to dredge it back up—the next reservation she’ll book could be at the cemetery.

My Review

This is the first book in a new series by author Kathleen Bridge and the first book that I have read by this author.  I have heard good things about her Home and Garden Mystery series, so when I was offered the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy I was happy to give it a try.  I also was pleased to learn that she has roots in my home state of Michigan as well.

I found Death by the Sea to be a delightful start to a new series for Liz and the rest of the residents of the Indialantic Hotel in Florida.  I was entertained from start to finish.  The books is well written and the story just flows taking the reader along for the ride.  I really liked the character of Liz Holt.  While she has returned home after some tragic events in New York, she has spunk and doesn't let what happened define who she is.  Ms. Bridges surrounds Liz, with a great cast of secondary characters that are diverse in age, background and personalities.   Aunt Amelia was my favorite.  She is quirky in a good way that will endear her to the reader.  

The mystery was solid and built to the murder which occurred about 1/2 way through the book.  There were a good number of suspects to choose from and with the help of some residents of the Indialantic, Liz and the crew are able to solve the murder.  There is even a touch of romance for Liz.  

I enjoyed this book and will be continuing with the series.  I am looking forward to see how Liz grows in her new life and what path her writing career takes.  I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Lyrical Underground, through Netgalley.