Saturday, July 28, 2018

Death Over Easy

Author:  Maddie Day 
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Series:  A Country Store Mystery #5
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  July 31, 2013

Description:  Restaurateur Robbie Jordan is ready for the boost in business a local music festival brings to South Lick, Indiana, but the beloved event strikes a sour note when one of the musicians is murdered . . .
June’s annual Brown County Bluegrass Festival at the Bill Monroe Music Park in neighboring Beanblossom is always a hit for Robbie’s country store and café, Pans ‘N Pancakes. This year, Robbie is even more excited, because she’s launching a new bed and breakfast above her shop. A few festival musicians will be among Robbie’s first guests, along with her father, Roberto, and his wife, Maria. But the celebration is cut short when a performer is found choked to death by a banjo string. Now all the banjo players are featured in a different kind of lineup. To clear their names, Robbie must pair up with an unexpected partner to pick at the clues and find the plucky killer before he can conduct an encore performance.

My Review

This is the 5th book in the Country Store Mystery series by author Maddie Day.  This series is always on my to be read list and I look forward to each new visit to South Lick Indiana.  Each book builds upon the excellent story telling and character growth of the previous books.

This time around, Robbie is enjoying a visit with her father and step-mother during the Bluegrass Festival.  Ms. Day gives such great descriptions of the music and dancing at the festival that you almost feel like you can picture the event.  I love the dialogue and how she peppers local dialect and sayings throughout the story.  For me, that adds to the feel of authenticity and location.  I really enjoy Robbie's character.  She is just one of those protagonists that I instantly liked and she just keeps getting better as the stories progress.  The secondary cast of characters make a return appearance with some new ones related to the festival.  These characters are all well rounded and give an added depth to the series.  The romance between Abe and Robbie is still going strong.  

The mystery was really good.  It was woven throughout the entire story with a very climatic reveal.  There are two murders that take place and the reader is left to wonder if there is one killer or two.  The same question being asked by the local and county police.  Robbie tries to resist sleuthing, but when someone she knows might be in trouble she can't help but see what she can find on her own.  There are not many suspects to choose from, but as the story unfolds and clues are dropped, Ms. Days does an excellent job of making a case as to why each of the suspects could be the culprit or culprits.  The mysteries have a satisfying conclusion and a dramatic reveal that makes me think it's time for Robbie to take a vacation.

This series has become one that I look forward to with each new release.  The Midwest setting is quaint, the characters are rich and well developed, and the mysteries always leave me satisfied.  

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

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Midnight Snacks are Murder

Author:  Libby Klein
Series:  A Poppy McAllister Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Expected Publication Date:  July 31, 2018

Description:  Between trying to get her gluten-free baking business off the ground and helping her aunt remodel her old Victorian into the Butterfly House Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey, Poppy is ready to call, “Mayday!” And now Aunt Ginny—who's a handful wide-awake—is sleepwalking on her new sleeping pill prescription and helping herself to neighbors’ snacks and knickknacks.
Even more alarming, a local humanitarian who worked with troubled teens is found murdered, and the police suspect the “Snack Bandit.” Other than a bad case of midnight munchies and some mild knickknack kleptomania, Aunt Ginny is harmless. Someone’s trying to frame her. Poppy will need to work tirelessly to uncover the killer and put the case to rest—before Aunt Ginny has to trade in her B & B for a bunk bed behind bars.

My Review

This is the second book in this series and so far I find it to be a fun, humorous cozy mystery series.  It has great characters that are relatable and some (like Aunt Ginny) who I just can't resist.  This time around, Poppy must find out who killed the man who ran the local teen center and clear Aunt Ginny from murder charges.

For a second book in a series, I find these characters to be delightful and well rounded.  Poppy is one of those characters that I think appeals to a broad range of readers.  We all have our own insecurities and sometime people who know how to push our buttons to bring it to the surface.  What I liked about this book is that Poppy is starting to gain some self esteem and even stand up for herself on occasion.  Aunt Ginny was just hilarious in this book.  Her antic's will make you laugh out loud.  I love how she is bold and brash which makes a nice complement to Poppy.  We even get to learn a bit more about Georgina, Poppy's mother-in-law.  She is a bit annoying but like an onion she has layers to be peeled back.  The dialogue is witty and the story line has plenty of humor.  There are two possible new love interests for Poppy.  While I don't mind that per se, I hope the author doesn't develop a love triangle.  Those typically don't sit well with me.

The mystery was really well done.  I liked that the victim was neither all good nor all bad.  He was human with flaws and a past.  This allowed the author to provide the reader with a good number of suspects, all who had good believable motives.  There were plenty of twists and turns woven throughout the plot to keep the reader guessing.  This allowed the author to obscure the identity of the killer.  I did not guess the real killer until it was revealed.

I find this series to be humorous and entertaining with great characters, witty dialogue and good mysteries that keep me guessing.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

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

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Souffle of Suspicion

Author:  Daryl Wood Gerber
Series:  A French Bistro Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  July 10, 2018

Description:  The buoyant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sister, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of menacing characters.

Crush Week in Nouvelle Vie is a madhouse—in a good way. Tourists pour into town for the pressing of the Napa Valley’s world-renowned grapes and all the town’s businesses get a nice lift, including Bistro and Maison Rousseau. Mimi is raising the ante this year with a Sweet Treats Festival, a wonderland of croissants, cakes, tarts, and soufflés crafted with expert care by the area’s top talents. 

Chef Camille’s sister Renee is managing the festival with a cast-iron fist, upsetting everyone, including her sister. Which is bad for Camille when Renee turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen. Mimi is still building her business, so her first course of action is to whip up answers and catch the unsavory perpetrator before Camille takes a dusting and gets burned. 

My Review

It's time to take another trip back to Napa Valley and check in with Mimi Rousseau and the rest of the employees at Bistro and Maison Rousseau.  I have been a fan of this authors series written under both Daryl Wood Gerber and Avery Aames.  Her culinary cozy mysteries are always filled with enjoyable characters, great food descriptions and mysteries that leave you guessing.  The French Bistro Mystery series continues to follow in this tradition and I enjoyed this second book.

Once again, this author brings both the Masion Rousseau and the Bistro alive with her wonderful descriptions of the location and the characters.  Mimi is really coming into her own gaining more confidence as business owner.  She is an easy character to like.  She is well written with depth and personality.  The cast of secondary characters are equally as strong and deep, with each one complementing the other.  I also think the author is doing a wonderful job progressing the romance between Mimi and Nash. 

Once again, Mimi is drawn into investigating a murder when Chef C's sister Renee is murdered and Chef C herself is under suspicion.  The author does a terrific job setting up the murder and carrying the mystery throughout the entire story.  There are plenty of suspects with differing motives so it gives the reader a lot to consider.  Ms. Wood Gerber also peppers plenty of twists and turns throughout.  Because not much is known about Renee as a character, it was easy for this reader to fall for twists/turns and I waffled on who I thought was the real culprit.  The story and mystery had a great pace and I kept turning pages until the big reveal at the end.  I only really considered this person as a suspect as Mimi honed in the character.  However, the motive was a surprise and one I did not guess.

This is a wonderfully written culinary cozy set in the world of Napa Valley.  It is filled with great descriptions of food (I think I gained 5 pounds reading this book), locations and characters.  If you haven't had a chance to read a book by this author I suggest you give her a try.  Both books in this series can be read as stand alone's and I don't think a reader would be lost.  I will definitely be back for the next books in the series.

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

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Killer Green Tomatoes

Author:  Lynn Cahoon
Series:  A Farm-to-Fork Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  July 3, 2018

Description:  The time seems ripe for success as Angie Turner opens her farm-to-table restaurant in her Idaho hometown—until her new tomato supplier is accused of murder and Angie has to pick the real killer . . .

To Angie, nothing tastes more like summer than her Nona's fried green tomatoes. Eager to add the recipe to the menu at the County Seat, she's found the perfect produce supplier—her sous chef Estebe’s cousin, Javier. Just one problem: ladies’ man Javier’s current hot tomato Heather has turned up dead, and he’s the prime suspect. Somehow, between managing her restaurant and navigating a romantic triangle between Estebe and Ian, the owner/manager of the farmer's market, Angie needs to produce evidence to clear Javier—before this green tomato farmer gets fried.

My Review

If you enjoyed the first book in this series, then you will want to add this one to your to be read list.  Lynn Cahoon is a wonderful storyteller and has the ability to create diverse  characters that appeal to a wide variety of readers.  Angie Turner is one of those characters.

I like Angie.  She is a bit of a type A personality so I can relate to her on a personal level.  She is very likable but also can be set in her ways.  I like that she has made her own family out of friends and colleagues.  I like the message that family isn't always the one that you were born into.  Sometimes you can "make" a family with people who love, respect and care for you but don't necessary have the same biology.  I also like the way that Ms. Cahoon is developing Angie's characters and giving us growth.  The secondary cast of characters are very enjoyable and we are getting to know them a bit better in this second book.  Her best friend is a good complement to her personality.

The mystery was solid in this second entry in the series.  This time, Angie is asked by one of her colleagues to help prove his cousin was not responsible for the death of his former girlfriend.  While she tries to stay out of it, Angie just can't help but be drawn in, much to the dismay of the Sheriff.  I like that Angie is careful (probably her type A personalty)  and shares her discoveries with the Sheriff.  There aren't a lot of suspects but the clues are woven throughout the book.  It turns out there are two culprits each committing a different but related crime.  I got one of them correct (finally!) but didn't guess the identity of the second culprit.  Once revealed in a dramatic fashion it made sense.

I enjoy Lynn Cahoon's books, characters, stories and writing style.  I always finish one of her cozy mysteries having been entertained and looking forward to the next.

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