Friday, June 28, 2019

Semester of our Discontent, Witches of Mystic Springs

How's your summer going? I just got back, earlier this week, from a trip to Destin Florida. Met family there. We had a great time eating, laying on the beach, eating, shopping and eating. lol Quite relaxing. Ate lots of seafood. I had a lobster roll for the first time. After reading a Lobster Shack Mystery, that was top on my list. I enjoyed all of the seafood.

I did read a couple of books; one on the trip there and one on the way back. They are both cozies. 

First I read Summer of our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn for the House of Clues FB book club. I had actually acquired the book awhile ago so when it came up as the book of the month, I was happy for the prompt to read it. 

Summer of our Discontent is the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery #1.

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"English professor Lila Maclean is thrilled about her new job at prestigious Stonedale University until she finds one of her colleagues dead. She soon learns that everyone, from the chancellor to the detective working the case, believes Lila—or someone she is protecting—may be responsible for the horrific event, so she assigns herself the task of identifying the killer.

More attacks on professors follow, the only connection a curious symbol found at each of the crime scenes. Putting her scholarly skills to the test, Lila gathers evidence, but her search is complicated by an unexpected nemesis, a suspicious investigator, and an ominous secret society. Rather than earning an “A” for effort, she receives a threat featuring the mysterious emblem and must act quickly to avoid failing her assignment…and becoming the next victim."

Talk about a bad first day on the job. I liked it. Since Lila found her boss murdered, all eyes are on her. But nobody liked Roland, so there are lots of viable suspects. The suspense builds and escalates toward the end when Lila uncovers a possible secret society. That does not go over too big.

There are three more books in the series. I have the second one also and plan on reading it.

Witches of Mystic Springs by Mona Marple is book five in the Mystic Springs Paranormal Cozy Mystery series. 

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"Welcome to St Winifred's, a magic school with an unpopular headmaster who won't survive the night. 
With a storm raging over the choppy waters, and the Magick Squad too worried about Health & Safety to come out and investigate, it's down to the guest of honour to investigate the murder.
Violet Warren has no idea that the evening is a celebration of her achievements. Not that it matters, since a dead body takes centre stage before she's given her award.
She and Ellie Bean form an unlikely amateur sleuth duo, with three clues to help them solve the case... or not.
One of their fellow guests is a murderer, and it's down to them to find out who in this closed room cozy mystery.
The Witches of Mystic Springs is book five in the Mystic Springs paranormal cozy mystery series. These titles can be read in any order and this book especially is an ideal place to start the series. Mystic Springs books are clean, fun and safe from swearing, sexual scenes, and violence. Play detective alongside the characters and see if you can work out whodunnit."
As the description says, this is a closed room mystery, but with a magical twist. There are rumors that the school is being turned into an Academy under other ownership. The characters all have their own "gifts". Someone is murdered and Ellie and Violet decide they will cover the investigation. The school is on an island. There is a storm. No one can leave. We go through their questioning of everyone in attendance. Everyone is a suspect. There are several people that have appear to have a motive. The ladies use their magic sometimes to assist with their solving of the mystery. While there is the paranormal twist, it is not the focus of the story. The main characters have successful businesses, are self sufficient, independent women. The attendees at the reunion are quirky and there are some funny moments. 
You might think you have heard some of this before, but it is different. This is a short book, perfect for a trip.
Mona also writes The Waterfall Tweed series. 

I received an advanced reader copy and voluntarily provided this review.
Our Mystery Book Club meets next week and I should have that list of Award Winning Books that the members read. We are also reading Need to Know by Karen Cleveland. I will tell you about that also.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Slow Train by Jack Benton (Chris Ward writing as)

If you follow my posts, you will know that the Slim Hardy series is one of my favorites. I just finished Slow Train, Slim Hardy Mystery Series #4.


About: "On the evening of Saturday, January 15th, 1977, a local commuter train is delayed at a small village station by a freak blizzard. Young nurse Jennifer Evans, keen to get back to her family, plans to walk the last couple of miles to her home in a neighbouring village. She phones her daughter to confirm that she’s on her way, but she never arrives home.

In the ensuing police investigation, no trace of Jennifer Evans is ever found. The only evidence is a photograph taken by a fellow passenger of footprints in the snow in front of Holdergate station.

It appears someone was fleeing for their life….

Contacted by Jennifer’s daughter, at first it seems private investigator John “Slim” Hardy has no chance of solving a forty-two-year-old mystery. But as the case begins to unravel, Slim finds himself caught in the centre of a whirlwind which will send him spinning to a dramatic conclusion."

This story finds Slim personally doing better than he was. He has an office now and a secretary/assistant and some money coming in. But he is still haunted by his past and is always fighting those demons; his time as a soldier, his disgrace and the alcohol.

Slim spends a couple of weeks in the village of Holdergate, interviewing people that worked at the train station, and the police chief at the time of Jennifer's disappearance. Slim also meets a young woman who works at a pub name Lia. Her friend's great uncle was the station master at the time. Slim and Lia start spending time with each other. She seems to like him for who he is.

The story moves quickly as Slim gets more and more small pieces of information about the night of Jennifer's disappearance. There are pictures a boy with a new camera took. Sightings. Urban legends. Secrets.

Slim slowly but surely unravels what happened to Jennifer.

I like how Slim doesn't reveal to the reader what he is thinking anymore than he tells anyone else. The suspense builds as he works it out to reveal a really good ending.

I really recommend this series. If you like cold case mysteries you will like the Slim Hardy series.
I am anxious to read the next book in the series, anxious to see how Slim continues to take two steps forward and one step back,  book by book and to see if anything more develops with Lia. Despite Slim's flaws, you will find yourself rooting for him. While you wouldn't have to start with the first book, I would recommend it. They are all really good.

If you are a person that likes Audible, books one and two are available with book three coming out on audible soon.
The Man by the Sea #1
The Clockmakers Secret - #2
The Gameskeeper - #3

I received an advanced reader copy and voluntarily provided a review.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Cry Wolf - Annette Dashofy, Curses Boiled Again - Shari Randall

Well....we had to cancel our Mystery Book Club for this month. Such a drag. We were going to talk about Award Winning Books given this year. And we were going to have snacks. Always so much fun to hear what everyone read and munch.

But we will pick up where we left off in July and talk about the Award Winning Books we read in addition to our July selection. I will give you that list, in July.

Meanwhile, I did read two books for the meeting; one that won an award and one nominated for an award.

Cry Wolf by Annette Dashofy was nominated this year for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. 

Cry Wolf is the seventh book in the Zoe Chambers Mysteries series.


About: "Rural Pennsylvania’s Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams is down an officer and has been dealing with extra shifts as well as a pair of bickering neighbors, one of whom owns a machete and isn’t afraid to use it.

Golden Oaks Assisted Living is outside Pete’s jurisdiction, but a murder in the facility his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father calls home makes the case personal.

Paramedic and Deputy Coroner Zoe Chambers has been itching for an opportunity to take the lead in a death investigation. She gets her chance when her boss is hospitalized and not only assigns her to the Golden Oaks homicide but puts her in charge of the county coroner’s office.

As if she doesn’t have enough to handle, a long-lost, over-protective, older half-brother walks into her life threatening to drive a wedge between her and the man she loves.

A second dead body leads them to realize the case may have dark ties to a distant past…and if Zoe doesn’t untangle the web of lies, Pete will be the one to pay the ultimate price."

A really good book, I was able to pick up the story of Zoe without having read the other books. I liked the setting; rural small town, Zoe has horses, the characters are interesting and you can empathize with them. Zoe and Pete are an item. The mystery of the murders in engrossing. While Zoe investigates the murder, she also has to take care of her horses. She is trying to fix up the farm she now has, but is lacking funds and time. She wants she and Pete can move out there permanently. But Pete is a city boy. He isn't too sure about that. Luckily her newly found half brother is helping fix things up and footing the bill. Hmmm. 

As all good amateur sleuths, getting too involved, Zoe really gets in the middle of things. A very exciting ending and a really good cliff hanger. I kept flipping the page or rather swiping the screen not believing that was the end. On to the next book in the series...Fair Game.

Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall won an Agatha for New Best Novel. 


About: "Welcome to the seaside hamlet of Mystic Bay, where the fish is always fresh, the folks are ever-friendly, and murder is on a roll. . .

Allie Larkin was living her dream as a ballet dancer when a bad fall put her out of business. Now she’s back home in Mystic Bay to heal a broken ankle while also helping her dear Aunt Gully get her Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack off the ground. Nothing would help Gully more than winning the local food festival’s Best Lobster Roll contest. The competition is sure to be killer―especially after one of the contest judges dies after eating a roll from one of Gully’s biggest rivals.

Soon, all eyes fall on Gully as the prime suspect. Allie may only have one good leg to stand on, but she’s not going to let her aunt go down for a crime she never could have cooked up. Can Allie, along with her devoted crew of friends, family, and customers, find a way to trap the killer and claw herself out of this hard-boiled murder case?" 

I really enjoyed this book. It is engaging from the beginning. The setting is new and different. As a person who likes to watch food contests on t.v., I thought this was a great scenario - a lobster roll contest where several contestants are poisoned. In addition to the who did the poisoning, there are some side mysteries; what is going on with Megan (a contestant along with her husband) and another man, Chick. What is the story behind Juliet and Contessa, the aging sisters who live in the big house in town. Contessa was movie star in her youth, and Juliet is "crazy". Part Murder She Wrote with a twist of Baby Jane, there is a really good twist at the end. And you will really start craving Lobster Rolls or Chowder. Neither of which I have ever had. But they sound delicious.

I did win my copy of Curses Boiled Again and voluntarily provided this review. I want to read the next two in the series too.