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Friday, March 1, 2024

Kilned at the Ceramic Shop by Donna Clancy

 Donna Clancy has a new series with the first book coming out March 12, 2024! 

Donna has written several cozy mystery series: The Jelly Shop Mysteries, Shipwreck Cafe Mysteries, Thelma and June's Mystery Adventures and also contributed to some anthologies. 

Kilned at the Ceramic Shop: A Braddock Mystery (#1)


About: "Tammy Wright, a bestselling mystery author returns to her hometown to give her Aunt Clara a hand with running her ceramic shop during tourist season. She discovers that two vindictive realtors have been bullying her aunt and others into selling their properties to make room for new housing developments. Those who don’t comply pay the consequences.

Tammy stumbles upon a body, and when her aunt refuses to give in to either realtor she disappears without a trace.
With the help of an old schoolmate turned policeman, the writer must step out from behind her computer screen and her fictional mysteries to confront real life crime. If she doesn’t, she may never see her aunt again."

I like to mix up the genres of mysteries I read. I will read pretty much any type of mystery. I just do not read not ultra violent or gory books. I especially like to throw in a cozy mystery after reading too many "bad people acting badly" stories.

This book is an excellent start to this new cozy mystery series. The story grabbed me right away. Tammy's Aunt Clara is being bullied into selling her ceramic shop. When Clara is kidnapped, Tammy uses her knowledge and observation skills from writing mysteries, to help the Sheriff try to find Clara before it's too late. But more and more things happen in attempts to scare Tammy. Two realtors in Braddock, Toby Brown and Wilmot Sawyer, seemed to be likely suspects. They are trying to buy up as much real estate in the quiet little tourist town as they can to build housing developments and mini malls. Brown is even seen verbally harassing another elderly lady in an attempt to have her sell him her property. When Clara's delivery man is found dead at the ceramic shop, things look even more sinister.

I love the setting of Braddock - small tourist town, woods, cabins, shops and homestyle food restaurants. Tammy, Clara, the Sheriff and Zeke the deputy (an old classmate) are characters you can root for. It is a good mystery and I was surprised at the ending.

I have read some of the Jelly Shop series and enjoyed it.

If you are looking for a book or series for a good mystery with likeable characters, check out Donna Walo Clancy.

"About the author:
Donna Walo Clancy (Donna Clancy) lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the U.S.A. She is a single mom of three grown children and happily divorced.

Her first passion is writing. She also loves to read and all kinds of crafting. Flea markets and yard sales can hold her attention for hours.

In her down time, she loves to walk the beach with her dog, Zumiez, and her metal detector searching for lost treasures.

Not holding herself to a single genre, she writes whatever story she feels needs to be worked on at the time. Her favorite genre is cozy mysteries and she has several series on Amazon at the present time; The Jelly Shop Mysteries, The Shipwreck Café Mysteries, and Thelma and June's Great Adventures.

Several standalone books will also be released in the coming year.

You can visit her social pages on Facebook or Amazon. She can be reached at dwaloclancy@yahoo.com."





Thursday, February 22, 2024

Here the Road Ends - Jack Benton and The Fallen - David Baldacci

 Happy sun and warmer temperatures! The sun is out and it has been quite nice here in Central Texas. I grew up in the Midwest and further north and just cannot tolerate that cold anymore. Now I am not asking for 90's either. Don't get me wrong.

I finished two books in two of my favorite series this week.

I listened to The Fallen by David Baldacci. This is Amos Decker #4 in the Memory Man series.


About: "Amos Decker and his journalist friend Alex Jamison are visiting the home of Alex's sister in Barronville, a small town in western Pennsylvania that has been hit hard economically. When Decker is out on the rear deck of the house talking with Alex's niece, a precocious eight-year-old, he notices flickering lights and then a spark of flame in the window of the house across the way. When he goes to investigate he finds two dead bodies inside and it's not clear how either man died. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. There's something going on in Barronville that might be the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the country.

Faced with a stonewalling local police force, and roadblocks put up by unseen forces, Decker and Jamison must pull out all the stops to solve the case. And even Decker's infallible memory may not be enough to save them."

If you haven't read this series, here is the background on Amos Decker. From book #1, The Memory Man.

"A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect--he can never forget anything.

The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare--his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered."

Decker goes on to join the FBI in book #2. 

In The Fallen, Decker has gone on "vacation" with Alex Jamieson as above. While siting on the back deck the very first night, Decker sees lights and flame across from Alex's sisters house. He can't help himself from going on over to see what it was all about. Finds two bodies. Calls local law enforcement. He quickly senses that he knows more about what may have happened then they do. They seem incompetent.

As the story goes on, Decker finds more and more signs of something illegal going on in the town, involving many of the citizens of Barronville. The citizens seem to want to blame John Barron (of the founding family) for the demise of the economy in town. He is threatened. Decker gets beat up and it seems like he has lost some of his unique memory abilities. Some vacation.

I really like this series. I like how Decker methodically solves the mysteries. The stories are complex and interesting. They are unique. When I read one, I don't feel like I just read a similar story last month. 

There are seven books in this series.

I also read Here the Road Ends by Jack Benton. It is book #9 in the Slim Hardy series. (Chris Ward is the authors real name but writes a few different genres and for the Slim Hardy books, writes under Jack Benton) I have posted about this series before.




About: "When her mentally disabled son develops a strange obsession, Audrey Johnson contacts private investigator John “Slim” Hardy for help. Andy Johnson has been making teddy bears and leaving them on the memorial of a nine-year-old girl who drowned on Dartmoor more than forty years ago. When nothing will put him off his bizarre tribute to a child who died before he was even born, Slim moves to the peaceful rural community of Brentor to investigate. However, as he digs deeper into the past, overturning stones that do not wish to be overturned, he uncovers a bombshell that will rock the quiet, private community to its very core. And soon he will be looking over his shoulder, because there are people out there on the moor that want their secrets to remain buried."

Background: Slim Hardy is a loner and a private detective. He was in the army and has PTSD. He struggles with remaining sober because of his demons. But he is a really good detective and is called upon by individuals to solve cases that no one else can, often cold cases. He moves around to wherever  these unsolvable cases take him. He likes black coffee, preferably a day old. 

In this story, Slim follows Andy and finds he is taking a teddy bear to the memorial of a young girl who died on a school trip 40 years ago. Andy is autistic and in his 30's. He wasn't even born when the school girl was drowned. Why is Andy obsessed with her.  He makes the bears himself and changes out the bears that are weather damaged. Slim notes the the expressions have been altered on the bears when Andy brings them back. The story of the girl is that she became separated from her class, on a visit to the moors. One of the male teachers went to find her and came back screaming that he saw a girl with a yellow smile and the vision has driven him to insanity.

As in all small villages, no one wants to talk about it. He has doors shut in his face, and is threatened. Slim has two people that he calls in most of the books, to do research for him, looking up police records, information on the internet or looking at old pictures. They are always "favors." Slim really doesn't have any money to pay them. His cell phone is an old Nokia that doesn't do anything other than make calls, when he is lucky.

I really like this series too. It is kind of a noir series. Always a "dark" feel to it. Slim is a very likeable character and you feel kind of sorry for him, with all that happened to him. But he gets up everyday, puts one foot in front of the other and keeps on going. And he is very good at what he does.

Here the Road Ends just came out February 15, 2024. 

I recommend you start at the beginning of both of these series because the background information is important and for the character development.

https://www.davidbaldacci.com/landing-page/david-baldacci-amos-decker-series/

http://www.amillionmilesfromanywhere.net/tokyolost.html



Thursday, February 8, 2024

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

 For our February Mystery Book Club (MBC) we read:


About: "From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest List comes a new locked room mystery, set in a Paris apartment building in which every resident has something to hide…

Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge

Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling."

Lucy Foley is a very popular author currently. I chose this book for our book club and I will tell you I was a little nervous about it once I got to reading it. 

It is a very good mystery, lots of twists. Each chapter is from the viewpoint of a specific character and it goes back and forth and around from each character as they tell their part in the story. It is a "locked room" mystery. It is a fast read and a surprise ending.

Well I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the MBC loved it. They loved the mystery, the story and how the author led them in other directions. We all liked Jess, the main character. But she is really the only likeable character. It seems like so many books right now are about bad people doing bad things. 

There is a fair amount of "bad language" and some edgy and weird scenes. If you that doesn't bother you, and you don't mind chapters that go back and forth between characters and time, you will probably love it too. 

Many in the group had also read The Hunting Party and The Guest List by this author and highly recommend those books also. 

"Sony Pictures' 3000 Pictures has acquired film adaptation rights to Lucy Foley's new book, The Paris Apartment, which became an instant No. 1 New York Times bestseller,"

You can learn more about Lucy Foley here:
https://www.harpercollins.com/blogs/authors/lucy-foley-44526

Friday, February 2, 2024

The Darkwater Lake Mysteries by Tannis Laidlaw

 A few years ago I had the opportunity to read several of  the Madeline Brooks mystery series by Tannis Laidlaw. It is about a Senior Probation Officer starting over in the English countryside as a real estate agent. But as in all good stories in the English countryside, Madeline finds some bodies and gets mixed up in a disappearance or two. 

So when Tannis asked me if I would like to read her new series I quickly raised my hand.

There are two books in The Darkwater Lake Mystery series.

#1: A Writer is Dead

About: "A media host with secrets to hide...
A pop singer who is not who she pretends to be...
A slimy politician who will do anything for power....
Jodie and Iris were writing a series of wildly popular exposés for a London publisher under a fake pen name. The media host, the singer and the politician are the subjects of a book each. Then Iris is murdered. Could one of the subjects of the books have killed her? Each has the strongest of revenge. But the police think Jodie has powerful motives, with Iris gone, she would earn much more money and she hated Iris’s maddening ways.
That’s one worry for Jodie – the police’s mistaken focus on her. But there’s has the killer finished the job? Does she have a target on her back, too? Jodie escapes England back to Darkwater Lake to hide in the Canadian wilderness.
But, is anywhere safe?"

As above, Jodie is writing under a a pen name on a "tell all" with Iris in England. She has gone to her family cabin on Darkwater Lake in Canada. You have to take a boat from the mainland to reach these cabins. Everyone has their own small boat. Most people are only there for the summer because the cabins are not winterized. Jodie is a non practicing psychologist.
 
Jodie is enjoying her summer, living at the cabin on Darkwater Lake and is working on the book. When Iris, is found dead and foul play is suspected, Jodie is called back to busy London as the publishing company needs to regroup. As discussions go on, the team speculates that Iris may have been murdered by one of the persons a biography was written about. Now Jodie is worried she may be next. She flees back to Darkwater Lake to hide but will the person who killed Iris, come looking for her? I loved the description of life in the summer living on the lake. We get to know the people in the village across the lake and her neighbors including Charlotte. Charlotte becomes Jodie's good friend and sounding board. There are lots of twists and tension in the story.

#2: A Swimmer is Dead


About: "The lake’s tranquillity shattered by the murder of a swimmer

A boy’s false confession...

An amateur sleuth must prevent an injustice.

Jodie Hill lives at her lakeside cottage, revelling in the seclusion that Darkwater Lake offers Late one afternoon, two teenaged boys, larking about on jet-skis, head towards her. To her horror, they dump the lifeless body of a swimmer on her dock. The younger boy confesses to killing him accidentally with his jet-ski. As the boys roar off, a rush of disbelief and distress engulfs Jodie.

 After she’d reported the death and calmed down enough, she questions whether a jet-ski could cause the sort of awful damage that killed the swimmer? In short, no.

So why did the boy confess? Was this some sort of staged scene contrived to hide the truth?  Was the swimmer’s death no accident? The possibility it was a cold-blooded murder weighs heavily on Jodie's heart. Someone needs to look out for the boy whose confession is patently false and that means discovering the truth.

A book perfect for enthusiasts of intriguing amateur sleuths, a picturesque lakeside setting and a plot thick with red herrings and enthralling twists. If you adore atmospheric edgy cozy mysteries with an Agatha Christie vibe, A Swimmer is Dead promises an enthralling journey into the heart of a gripping, suspense-laden mystery."

Jodie is once again spending her summer at the secluded cottage at Darkwater Lake. She will be working on her latest unauthorized biography about her former boss, a man who had less than scrupulous business practices. Her good friend Charlotte returns. They pick up where they left off, last summer, having daily late afternoon Tea, usually with a good wine and nibbles. Swimming in the lake. Taking boats to town rather than driving. So relaxing.

Then two teenagers from across the lake, the jet ski over to Charlotte's dock, frantic and calling for help. Their friend has been hurt and is laying on a jet ski. It quickly becomes clear that he is dead. The two boys said the friend had been swimming and must have been hit by a jet ski. The authorities are called, everyone goes into to town to make statements. As Jodie spends more time with the two boys at the police station, it becomes evident to her that there is much more to this than they are saying. The boys are acting suspicious and and the older brother of one was in charge has taken off with the his sister - who was the girlfriend of the dead boy.

The authorities write the incident off as an accident. As more and more things are said around this small town, Jodie is sure it was not an accident. She is determined to find out the truth, especially for the sake of young Gavin who has taken the blame.

I enjoyed reading how Jodie, uses her experience and knowledge of  psychology, to tweeze out the truth. Lots of twists and turn which will keep you guessing.

I really enjoyed this new series. It reminds me of northern Wisconsin where I lived as a young child then spent every summer there for a week or two. There too people own cabins only used in the summer on various lakes. It is very calm and peaceful. People fish, swim, boat and just relax. So the setting spoke to me and I look forward to more in the series.

I also really liked the Madeline Brooks mysteries. She also has written some psychological thrillers that I have not read...yet. 

About Tannis Laidlaw: 
"Born in Winnipeg in Canada, Tannis Laidlaw visits the family cottage at the lake every summer, but lives in Auckland in New Zealand - that's right - two summer's every year. She has a history of writing academic papers mostly psychology in medicine, plus a few poems but mostly, now, novels. She's married with grown-up kids and 2 grandchildren. Tannis loves to travel, read and, of course, write."

https://tannislaidlaw.com/






Friday, January 19, 2024

A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong

 Do you know Kelley Armstrong's books? I went to Audible to look for the another series by this author and listen to the next book in the Rockton series or maybe start the Haven's Rock series. 

This book came up first when I put in the name of the author and it really intrigued me. It has lots of elements that I like in a mystery.

A Stitch in Time


About: "Thorne Manor has always been haunted… and it has always haunted Bronwyn Dale. As a young girl, Bronwyn could pass through a time slip in her great-aunt's house, where she visited William Thorne, a boy her own age, born two centuries earlier. After a family tragedy, the house was shuttered and Bronwyn was convinced that William existed only in her imagination.

Now, twenty years later Bronwyn inherits Thorne Manor. And when she returns, William is waiting.

William Thorne is no longer the boy she remembers. He’s a difficult and tempestuous man, his own life marred by tragedy and a scandal that had him retreating to self-imposed exile in his beloved moors. He’s also none too pleased with Bronwyn for abandoning him all those years ago.

As their friendship rekindles and sparks into something more, Bronwyn must also deal with ghosts in the present version of the house. Soon she realizes they are linked to William and the secret scandal that drove him back to Thorne Manor. To build a future, Bronwyn must confront the past."

I like stories about time travel. Loved the movie Somewhere it Time. Outlander although I have not finished the series - so long. I like books about the Victorian time period. I like a few ghosts. I wanted to go back in time when I was a kid reading books about stories set in the 1800's.  (I now realize I would probably only make it about two hours in that time. ha)

The story has a lot going on but it is easy to follow. Bronwyn inherits the house in current time. She is a widow at the age of 38. She goes to sleep and wakes up in the past. She realizes she is with William and basically is freaked out and jumps back to her time. She then remembers how to go back, and when William sees her he runs from her. There is a ghost that is threatening her. Well downright scaring her. In her own time, she talks to a woman named Freya whom her family knew when Bronwyn was girl. Bronwyn's uncle died suddenly back then, Bronwyn seemed to have a nervous breakdown with talk about ghosts and her mother had her committed. Freya says she isn't mentally ill and helps her to confront the ghost etc. 

There are lots of secrets about the Thorne family and stories about William: a fiance that disappeared, a sister that disappeared, a little boy that disappeared, all either ran away or fell into the bog. 

The story is about Bronwyn and William rekindling their childhood romance and Bronwyn trying to solve the mystery of what happened to the fiance, sister and little boy in order to clear William's name. 

I really liked it. Good mystery. 

There are four books in the Stitch in Time series; more time travel, cold cases and ghosts. Each book focuses on different characters from the first book. I plan to put them on my every growing list. 

Kelley Armstrong has written 13 series. Many are paranormal. But the Rockton series and Haven's Rock (spinoff of the Rockton series) are about a female detective Casey Duncan and and Sheriff Eric Dalton. It is listed as a police procedural. I have read the first book in the series, City of the Lost. These two series were recommended by a book friend whose recommendations are always good.

Kelley Armstrong is on my list of authors I want to read more of.

https://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/books/



Friday, January 12, 2024

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

 Well, it's January in Texas. The anything can happen month for weather, and it appears that is about to happen. Another polar vortex. Three in three years I believe. Sigh. I have been here 38 years and I don't remember these cold events being this cold or lasting this long. I guess it is the climate change.

For our January Mystery Book Club, we read The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James. 

You may have read other books by this author. The Sundown Motel. The Broken Girls. There are others. I have read The Broken Girls and it was very good. If you like a little spookiness in your mysteries, give this author a try.


About: "In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect--a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases--a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea's surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth's mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she's not looking, and she could swear she's seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn't right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?"

Shea is a woman who has a fascination with true crime. She is also a woman trying to put her life back together. When Beth comes into the doctors office where Shea works, everyone knows Beth immediately. She is a local celebrity but not for a good thing. As above, she was accused of murdering a man when she was 23. And maybe more than one man. Shea and Beth, meet. Shea wants to tell Beth's story and Beth agrees. Once in the mansion where Beth lives alone, Shea notices some strange things. Everything is as it was in 1977. Even the magazines are from 1977. There are some strange occurrences when Shea is there but Beth doesn't act like there is anything unusual. Is Beth trying to scare her? Does someone else live there after all? The more Shea finds out, the more questions there are.

We also meet the detective that was on the case in 1977 who provides valuable information. Shea has a detective friend in 2017, that helps her with research for her cases she researches for her website. There is a story to tell about Beth and her family, and in the end, Shea is able to do it. 

The author did a good job of distracting me from what may be going on, and what happened, with a ghostly twist. If you like mysteries with maybe a ghost, maybe not, I think you will like this book. Everyone one in the MBC finished the book and seemed to like the story, despite some saying they don't like books with ghostly things. (As a person who in 7th grade read every ghost story in the school library that year, I don't quite understand. It's like people who say chocolate is too rich. Huh?) But several even said they would read another book by this author, which says it really was a good read.

All in all a thumbs up.


Friday, January 5, 2024

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

 Happy New Year! So far so good.

Here is the first book I have finished for 2024. I listened to it as an audio book. 


About: "Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget."

This is definitely a psychological thriller. I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give anything away. To sum it up, people in the story are not what or who I thought they were. The people in the story are not who or what the characters thought they were either. The story is somewhat spooky, very suspenseful and at times I wasn't sure I could continue with it. Nothing terribly gory or too much swearing or that sort of thing. Just gave me a bad feeling. Yet it was like that saying, " like watching a train wreck and you can't look away." There were times I actually gasped and said "what? No..."

I wasn't that happy with the ending. It is similar to many plots right now of couples behaving badly. In this story though, who is the couple and who is the bad person? Or who isn't a bad person. It will keep you guessing.

Let me know what you think.