Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Death by Chocolate Lab (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery)

Author:  Bethany Blake
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781496707383
Kensington Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $5.99 Amazon
February 28, 2016

✮✮✮



Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek.  But even Daphne doesn't like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy.  When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police.  Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne's sister, Piper - Steve's lastest wronged girlfriend.

Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister's name - and find Axis, Steve's prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve's death.  Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne's unorthodox sleuthing.

Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?

********

Daphne Templeton is a pet-sitter currently caring for an eager Chihuahua who has too much energy, which led him to a dead body.  Now she's the one who's eager to find a killer before her sister winds up in a permanent cage...

Daphne Templeton  is a pet sitter in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania.  She has a basset hound named Socrates, and is temporarily caring for Artie, a one-eared Chihuahua with an overbite.  She lives with her veterinarian sister Piper on Piper's Winding Hill Farm, which is going to be the setting for a dog agility trial.  The night before the trial, Steve Beamus arrives to set up the course.  He owns the Blue Ribbon K-9 Training Academy, and is Piper's ex-boyfriend.  Steve may be a very good dog trainer, but he's a terrible person.  He has an abrasive personality, a womanizer, and is condescending to people, which makes him disliked by many.  The next morning, Artie gets loose and runs into one of the tunnels and Daphne goes to retrieve him.  However, it isn't only Artie she finds in the tunnel - it's also the dead body of Steve.

What makes it worse is that Daphne saw Piper arguing with Steve the night before, and the police detective overhears a conversation between Daphne and Piper while they are discussing it.  Unfortunately, it puts Piper front and center as a suspect in Steve's murder.  But Daphne knows Piper couldn't have done it, and since it appears (to her at least) that the police aren't even looking for anyone else, decides to find proof her sister is innocent.  She also wonders where Axis, Steve's champion Labrador, has gone to, since she knows he wouldn't have left Steve willingly, and no one seems to care except her.

When Daphne starts sleuthing on her own, she somehow always winds up in close proximity with a frustrated Detective Jonathan Black, who keeps telling her to stay out of the investigation while she keeps telling him her sister's innocent.  It doesn't help things when Daphne finds another dead body, and that this one might very well have a connection to Steve's death.  Now Daphne needs to find a killer before she winds up as the next victim...

First off, let me say that I really liked Socrates and Artie and the recipes look really good.  I would have liked to enjoyed the character of Daphne more, but she didn't make sense.  She supposedly has a Ph.D. in Philosophy, but doesn't use it. (For those that don't know, a Ph.D. in this subject can take anywhere from 5-7 years beyond undergraduate study - so why would you get one if you're not going to use it?)  I have no idea how she earned it because she seems really flaky and acts more like an 18-year-old instead of 33.  It didn't seem plausible that she would devote that much concentration to study and a dissertation yet can't keep gas in her car or wear a watch to keep track of the time (how does she know when to pick up or return the pets?)

Speaking of which, she's a pet sitter who doesn't have a working cell phone, a reliable vehicle, and doesn't advertise her services...which explains why she's always broke and can't buy a new van.  She also doesn't believe in commitment, which explains the attraction Dylan, a laid-back surfer dude who's her sister's vet assistant, feels for her.  He doesn't believe in commitment either.

Piper seems cold, and her mother Maeve is a super-realtor who obviously favors Piper (because she's just like her, contrary to Detective Black's belief).  She practically ignores anything Daphne says, looks down on her and acts like she's better than anyone else.  A mother like this I can do without.  I do like a cozy where there's a potential love interest later on down the line, but I can't imagine Detective Black being interested in her at all since she's so flaky, and Dylan is just too laid back for me to even care about him.

When the ending comes and we find out the identity of the killer it came as a surprise, and I do think a warped mind is capable of anything.  But I will add that the opening paragraph was flat out funny, and it convinced me to read the rest of the book.  The interactions with the dogs is priceless, and I believe that Ms. Blake could, as the series progresses, give us a fun cozy experience.  As a matter of fact, I have already pre-ordered the next in the series, Dial Meow for Murder, which is due out in September, and I suggest you do the same.  All in all, a decent quick read.

https://www.amazon.com/Death-Chocolate-Lucky-Petsitting-Mystery/dp/1496707389/


More on Bethany Blake's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/b/bethany-blake/

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Murder on Location (A Charlotte Brody Mystery #3)

Author:  Cathy Pegau
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #: 9781496700582
Kensington Publishing
288 Pages
$15.00; $9.99 Amazon
February 28, 2017

✮✮✮✮


In the Alaska Territory, suffragette Charlotte Brody is a newspaper reporter in the frontier town of Cordova.  She's a woman ahead of her time living on the rugged edge of civilization - but right now the most dangerous element she faces may come from sunny California...

An expedition has arrived in the frigid wilderness to shoot North to Fortune - an epic motion picture featuring authentic footage of majestic peaks, vast glaciers, homesteaders, and Alaska Natives.  but the film's fortunes begin to go south as a local Native group grows angry at how they're portrayed in the movie, fights break out, and cast and crew are beset by accidents and assaults.  Finally, production is halted when the inebriated director falls into a crevasse - and dies of exposure.

Soon Michael Brody - the town coroner and Charlotte's brother - starts to suspect that Mother Nature was not responsible for Stanley Welsh's death.  Charlotte, who's been writing about all the Hollywood glamour, is suddenly covering a cold-blooded crime story - and as springtime storms keep the suspects snowed in, she has to make sure the truth doesn't get buried...

********

Charlotte Brody is a newswoman in 1920's Alaskan Territory.  It seems a movie crew is there to film, but they've caused the ire of the Alaskan (territory at that time) natives, who feel they're being portrayed in an unflattering light.  When she arrives at the train station to greet them, there is a group of Native protesters also, who demand that certain scenes in the film be changed to show them positively, not as the villains of the piece.

When Charlotte is invited to attend the filming, she brings along her ward Becca who is to be an extra in the movie.  But Becca's enthusiasm doesn't last long when the next morning the film's director Stanley Welsh is found dead in a crevasse - and Charlotte informs everyone they have to stay put while both the coroner, her brother Michael and law enforcement - in the form of Deputy James Eddington - arrive to examine the scene.

Once it is discovered that Stanley was indeed murdered, then the task of finding the killer becomes paramount.  They know it had to be someone in the remote camp, but since Stanley rubbed many people the wrong way - including his daughter, Cicely - finding the person responsible won't be easy.  Especially since the producer wants the movie stopped, but  Cicely, the new director, wants to proceed along with the rest of the crew.  And Charlotte finds out that the movie has had its share of bad luck already, long before a death was added into the equation.
 
Charlotte, in her role as a reporter, is just the person to help with the investigation, since she can ask questions and the film might be more willing to talk to her, being a journalist and not an officer of the law.  She's promised to share anything she learns with James, who is also her beau.  But when Charlotte starts digging just a little too deep, and the accidents that have been plaguing the cast of the movie grow, the next one might just be one accident too many...

While I felt the book started out a little slow, things began to pick up once the murder was committed.  I felt at that point the book began to get more interesting; and while I thought there were a couple of scenes that felt odd (like people actually encouraging her to have sex) it didn't distract from my enjoyment of the book.

When we come to the end and the killer is revealed, it makes one realize that self-preservation is indeed a strong motive for some; and those that are the most heroic don't always appear to be so in the beginning.  An enjoyable read that is recommended to all.



More on Cathy Pegau's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/p/cathy-pegau/


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Dead Spider (Loon Lake Fishing Mysteries)

Author:  Victoria Houston
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781440598807
Tyrus Books
208 Pages
$16.48; $12.99 Amazon
June 6, 2017

✮✮✮✮✮


A lovely Sunday afternoon in late June and the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament is coming to a close.  People are happy, kids full of ice cream and teenagers setting off firecrackers so loud no one hears the gunshot.  But when the crowd thins out an attractive young wife makes a grisly discovery: A single bullet to the brain has killed her much-older husband-the richest man in Wisconsin.

Just as Loon Lake Police Chief Lewellyn Ferris gets the murder investigation underway, her good friend and deputy coroner, "Doc" Osborne, is alarmed to hear his oldest grandchild, fifteen-year-old Beth, has been caught in a drug sting.

And Loon Lake's idyllic summer is further shattered when numerous elderly patients in Loon Lake's nursing home discover they have been robbed.

********

On a sunny summer afternoon the town of Loon Lake, Wisconsin is having fun at the annual Loon Lake Youth Fishing Tournament.  The tournament is sponsored by Chuck Pfeiffer, owner of a chain of sporting stores across several states.  Chuck, possessor of a young wife and an unsavory past isn't well-liked; and this is never more apparent than when, shortly after the tournament ends, he is found slumped in his chair - under a bright yellow awning - dead; shot in the head at close range.

Not the end to the fishing tournament that Police Chief Lew Ferris expected - especially since the dead man was the richest man in Wisconsin, and a friend of the mayor.  So Lew is given extra funds to find the killer of Pfeiffer, and fast.  Along with Dr. Paul 'Doc' Osborne, retired dentist, part-time deputy coroner and longtime close friend, she also has the help of Bruce Peters, a forensic specialist with the Wausau Crime Lab.

But finding Chuck's killer isn't going to be easy.  There are plenty of people who wouldn't mind seeing an end to him; he'd done nothing in his life but take what he wanted, even if it meant destroying others to do so.  No, he wasn't liked by many, but still he was dead and it was Lew's job to find out who pulled the trigger.

But Doc has more on his plate when his fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Beth, is caught with her friends who were trying to buy drugs.  Even though she's cleared of any wrongdoing herself, she makes an ill-advised statement that could lead to trouble later on down the line.  Unfortunately, Beth thinks she has to handle it on her own since she knows she made a mistake and doesn't want to admit it to her family.

Then it's discovered that a local nursing home was burglarized, with guns, money, and jewelry being stolen, and with the murder front and central, Lew is beginning to stretch herself pretty thin, not to mention it isn't helping Doc since he's also trying to give Lew a very special birthday present and hopes he'll have it in time - but with an unsolved murder in view, Lew and Doc are going to have to do some fishing of their own to expose a killer...

As the 17th book in the Loon Lake Fishing Mysteries, Dead Spider proves that long-running series do not always wind up lifeless.  Ms. Jackson's characters are human and with each new book we see a different side to the characters making them believable and real.  Doc's feelings for Lew run deep and while we know she feels the same for him, Lew keeps a tighter hold on her emotions.  But it is quite a bit of fun to watch Ray Pradt, Doc's neighbor and local fishing guide, while he tries to convince a woman he's fallen for that fishing is actually a good thing.

When the ending comes and the murderer is finally revealed, it is at the same time rather sad yet understood.  I would like to say more, but in doing so I am afraid it would give away the answers, and this I will not do.  Suffice it to say that the ending is very good indeed, and makes us realize why we keep reading the books in this series - they are written well and Ms. Houston never disappoints.  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Spider-Loon-Fishing-Mysteries/dp/1440598800/


More on Victoria Houston's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/victoria-houston/

Monday, February 27, 2017

Death & the Gravedigger's Angel (An Auction Block Mystery #3)

Author:  Loretta Ross
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover (LP); Trade Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #: 9781410497659; 9780738750415
Midnight Ink Publishing
264 Pages
$30.99; $14.99; $7.99
February 8, 2017

✮✮✮✮✮


When former army medic Tony Dozier is accused of killing a member of the hate group that disrupted his wife's funeral, the prosecution charges premeditated murder and the defense claims temporary insanity.  Former marine Death Bogart and auctioneer Wren Morgan think there's more to the story.

They're both led to the long-abandoned Hadleigh House, where Wren begins preparing the contents for auction but ends up appraising the story behind an antique sketchbook.  As Wren uncovers the century-old tale of a World War I soldier and his angel, Death finds a set of truths that will change...or end...their lives.

********


Wren Morgan, her boyfriend Death (pronounced Deeth) Bogart and his brother Randy are making their way to Hadleigh House, an old abandoned mansion that's just been handed to the Keystone and Sons auction house.  Wren works for them and is going to catalogue and pack up everything for auction.  But while they are wending their way to the house, Death tells Wren about a recent event:  it seems an old man wearing a Civil War uniform was killed on their path, also known as the Vengeance Trail.  He was drunk, riding a stolen horse, and the horse ran him into a low-hanging branch and he had been killed.  Then Death tells Wren the 'creepy' part, which is the fact the uniform was saturated with formaldehyde and traces of human decomposition - which means the dead guy removed the uniform from a recently-deceased corpse.  Not a pretty picture to Wren (or to anyone, I would imagine).

The brothers leave Wren to her task and decide to explore the surrounding area, which (without going into great detail) puts them in contact with Kurt Robinson, who runs Warriors' Rest, a camp for wounded vets.  When Kurt finds out that Death is a private investigator he asks for his help in proving his friend insane.  It seems the friend, Anthony Dozier, is on trial for murder because he was found with a dying man in the back of his car.  The man had been stabbed several times, because Tony was seen arguing with the man's father earlier - and here it gets a bit involved - at the funeral of Tony's wife.  Tony married a Muslim woman who died in a car crash, and the CAC (Church of the Army of Christ) is a hate group that want to convert or eradicate anyone who isn't Christian, so they showed up to protest.  Tyler Jones is the head of the church and the man Tony confronted.  Tony was found the next morning, thinking he was back in Afghanistan with a wounded soldier in his car and was trying to find the base hospital.  So the defense wants temporary insanity, and the prosecutor wants murder since he believes it was premeditated. 

Meanwhile Wren, while going through the house finds an old sketchbook with a drawing of a woman and soldiers.  The woman is holding her hair away from her face with one hand while holding a ladle in the other.  Many of the drawings are similar, all with the woman, and it intrigues Wren to want to know more about the artist and occupier of the home.

Then Orly Jackson, the deputy sheriff of East Bledsoe Ferry, shows up asking Wren if she knew the man because he had a note in his pocket with her name on it and her handwriting.  The note is a reference authenticating the uniform and would have been sold with it but neither Wren nor any of the Keystones remember him, which leaves Orly back where he started - trying to identify the dead man, and also the dead man the uniform was removed from.  As I said, it gets pretty involved...

When Death visits Tony Dozier, Tony tells him he saw his dead wife, and when we went toward her, he found August bleeding and tried to help him.  Death, hearing the story, is sure of one thing: he's convinced the man didn't kill August Jones, and sets out to find out who did.  

When Wren shows Death the pictures she took of the sketchbook on her phone, they both agree that they've seen the woman somewhere before but can't remember; she eventually shows the sketchbook to Doris Keystone who also thinks she's seen the woman before.  What she does tell Wren, however, is that Hadleigh House was also known as 'the gravedigger's house' since it belonged to an old man who lived there by himself and rarely spoke to anyone.

And this, my friends, leaves several mysteries to be uncovered:  Who is the gravedigger?  Who is the woman in the sketchbook?  Who was the dead old man, and where did he get the uniform?  And finally, if Tony didn't kill August, who did?  

This was quite a book.  The plot is complicated, detailed, and utterly fascinating.  We have several subplots that are quite engaging also, and Ms. Ross weaves them together in a tapestry that threads suspense, mystery, and humor effortlessly to create a final product that is gratifying to read.  The best of these (while they are all good) is "watching" Death come to some conclusions of his own (and I will let you find these out on your own).

I think of all the books in this series I enjoyed this one the most, because we are gaining more insight into our characters, and as I have a fondness for them (as one should in each book one reads) I was quite delighted with it.  There are some very funny scenes which had me outright laughing; and I do love the fact that Wren is no shrinking violet - she's a woman who can think on her feet and stand on her own.  There is genuine feeling between all the characters in the book, and you can feel the warmth come through the pages.

When the end comes, and everything ties together nicely, we are given a satisfying conclusion to a very good mystery indeed that keeps us intrigued throughout and leaves us waiting for the next in the series (which I hope is soon!)  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Death-Gravediggers-Angel-Auction-Mystery/dp/0738750417/


More on Loretta Ross's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/r/loretta-ross/

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book

Author:  Robin Donovan
Genre:  Cookbooks

Softcover; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781623158545
Rockridge Press
216 Pages
$15.99 Amazon
January 24, 2017

✮✮✮✮✮



Ice cream holds a special place in everyone's heart.  Whether you're cooling off with a summer treat or dipping into its buttery comfort, you always have a good reason to enjoy a generous scoop of classic Strawberry or decadent Chocolate Malt!

Today ice cream is becoming more innovative by the minute.  And although exotic flavors, non-dairy options, and Italian-style gelatos are certainly interesting, sometimes you just want rich, creamy, custard-style ice cream.  With The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book, making your favorite ice cream flavors at home has never been easier or more fun.

With classic recipes like Rocky Road, Butter Pecan, and Key Lime Pie, you'll be able to make a special flavor for every ice cream lover in your life.  Real homemade ice cream is perfectly simple, velvety smooth, and even sweeter than you remember.

********

As a lover of ice cream, I wish I would have had this book at Christmas.  It would have saved me a lot of time searching the stores for Eggnog and Candy Cane ice cream, since both recipes are in here, along with a delicious-sounding Gingerbread, which I will definitely be making.

There are plenty of others that sound yummy, too - Mocha Fudge, Strawberry Shortcake, Pineapple and Strawberry-Banana.  Then there are classic flavors like Butter Brickle, Mint Chip, Chocolate Chip and Vanilla.  To top it off there are flavors for sherbet and frozen yogurt.

But this book doesn't stop there:  it has recipes for cones, toppings and even "Magic Shell".  

It's a delightful book with enough recipes to please everyone and well worth the price of purchasing an ice cream maker if you don't have one already.  


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Palette for Murder (An Aurora Anderson Mystery #3)

Author:  Sybil Johnson
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781635111446; 97891635111415
Henery Press
268 Pages
$31.95; $15.95; $4.99
January 31, 2017

✮✮✮✮✮


A killer heat wave settles over Seagull Lane...Summer's sizzling in Vista Beach, the home of computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson.  The abnormally high temperatures are hard on everyone in the quiet Los Angeles county beach community, especially the city's homeless population.  Residents are doing everything they can to stay cool, including leaving windows open to catch the faintest breeze.  Not the best idea when a string of burglaries is plaguing nearby towns.  Still, Rory doesn't expect to find her neighbor's body just a few doors down.  When suspicion falls on a friend and fellow painter, Rory must discover the truth before the police paint the wrong picture and send her friend away permanently.

********

Rory Anderson is a computer programmer and artist who works from home and lives in Vista Beach, California.  Before heading out for the day with her friend Liz Dawson, she's gathered a trash bag of recycling for a homeless friend, Kit, so she and Liz head to the pier to find him.  They don't immediately find him but do find his dog Buddy who leads them to an injured Kit under a pier.  Discovering someone hit him over the head, he is sent to the hospital while Liz finds a temporary home for Buddy and Rory decides to try and find out who injured him.

Luckily, her mother agrees to keep Kit's bicycle and belongings at her store, but when Rory arrives she finds another store owner arguing with her mother Arika.  Willow Bingen is overbearing, opinionated, and makes some pointed remarks about the homeless before she finally leaves.  Rory tells Arika the only information she has as to who injured Kit is the word "Zoe" and a picture she found in his backpack.  

Later that evening, Rory is at the home of Dawn, another friend who also works part time at Arika's store when she's not teaching painting.  Rory and Dawn are testing a new software program for Dawn's online classes.  While they're testing, someone arrives at Dawn's home and Rory can hear them arguing.  It isn't long before she discovers the intruder is Willow; but after she leaves an upset Dawn refuses to speak of it.  Also after leaving Dawn's home she finds out that Kit left the hospital but isn't able to locate him.

The next day she finds Willow's cat Sekhmet's collar on her lawn - it turns out the cat has a regular habit of escaping the device - and goes to return it.  When she arrives at Willow's home, the door is ajar and even though she senses something is off, she enters the home.  What she finds is the body of Willow with a knife in her chest.

So Rory has her hands full: trying to find Kit, wondering who killed Willow, and gearing up for a blind date that Liz has set up.  If anything is going well for her, it's the date - she's met a doctor named Tripp Keating, and he wants to see her again.  Of course, there is also the fact that Dawn is the main suspect in the murder of Willow and has asked for Rory's help in clearing her and finding the real killer.

Once Rory starts investigating she finds out that Willow was keeping secrets - and some of them may be tied to more than one friend of hers.  With Kit back under observation but not doing well, a possible new relationship on the horizon, a police detective watching out for her, and still trying to figure out who hit Kit and murdered Willow, Rory might just not only be trying to find a murderer - she just might be the next victim...

I found this book to be quite a pleasurable read.  Ms. Johnson's characters have depth and warmth; the book is peopled throughout with characters that are three-dimensional and believable.  You can sense the bond between Rory and her friends, and the fact that you know they truly care for each other just by their interaction together.

There are moments of sadness (where I may or may not have shed a tear) that show us that when you have great loss you also have great pain, and it manifests itself in different ways.  With plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested, and more than enough secrets to go around, we are taken on a journey that connects one event to another in an impressive fashion.  When the murderer is finally discovered (as we know they must be) and the motives known, the ending gives us a feeling of satisfaction and a book well read.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.



More on Sybil Johnson's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/j/sybil-johnson/

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Masked to Death (A Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery #5)

Author:  Christina Freeburn
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781635111408; 9781635111378
Henery Press
238 Pages
$31.95; $15.95; $4.99 Amazon
January 24, 2017

✮✮✮✮✮


A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted's family.  She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn't take long for that dream to capsize.  Ted's daughter hates her.  The ex-wife is adored.  Odessa Roget is surly.  And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith's assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.  Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won't let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help.  Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals - which might be a groom's best friend.  The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted's daughter schemes to reunite her parents.  Instead of diamonds being a girl's best friend, Faith finds they're cruising toward Davy Jones' Locker.

********

Faith Hunter is going on her very first cruise - a wedding cruise for her friend Bob Roget and his fiance′ Garrison as a member of their wedding party.  She's also looking forward to spending time with her boyfriend Ted (Bob's brother) and meeting his daughter Claire.  What she doesn't expect is what ensues:  being practically pushed into her stateroom and a dress being forced on her by Quinn, a crew member who tells her she needs to try it on now; and when she retreats to the bathroom to do so, is startled by Ted and Bob's father John Roget, a retired FBI agent who says he needs her help.

With an impatient Quinn outside yelling at her to hurry, and John trying to explain that there's jewel thieves on board and he needs her aid - because one of the suspects is Odessa - Faith barely has time to breathe.  But thinking fast, she agrees, if only to prove Odessa isn't guilty.

When Faith meets a shipboard performer named Ronnie who is Garrison's friend and also in the wedding party, she thinks she's found a fast friend, since it's apparent early on that Odessa dislikes her, Claire hates her, and Ted is being manipulated by them both leaving him little time for her.  But a series of mishaps befall Faith in which one results in the strap of her dress being torn and a visit to Quinn is needed.  When Ronnie takes her to the crew's quarters - which is taboo for shipboard guests - it isn't long before she realizes Quinn is drunk...and drops dead right in front of her.

Suddenly the dream cruise becomes more of a nightmare, and Faith will have to keep her wits about her if she wants to survive being stuck in rough waters with a killer, jewel thieves, and Roget family members that wish she'd fall overboard...

Masked to Death is the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mysteries, and in my opinion is the best of the lot.  While the first four books were good, in this one Ms. Freeburn has honed her craft to the point where we truly care about Faith and want the best for her.  It's quite a bit of fun watching Faith try to juggle her obligations to Bob and Garrison and still help John, albeit unwillingly, find a team of jewel thieves before he can pin the crime on Odessa - or at least that's what she thinks he wants to do.  When the crew member dies, Faith isn't convinced it was an accident.  When she discovers more than one person has an interest in a tiara she's supposed to wear for the wedding, and a diamond bracelet goes missing, the hunt for the thieves becomes personal.

This book has mystery and intrigue aplenty, with poor Faith being stuck in the middle of it all.  Odessa is having a major meltdown because plans are going awry, Claire is doing her best to keep Faith away from her dad, John is clandestinely watching her every move, and Faith is stuck on an ocean liner with a killer...

The plot is well done and interesting, proving things aren't always as they appear.  When we finally come to the end of the book (too soon), it all knits together seamlessly and comes as quite a surprise, which is always a good thing.  A true pleasure to read and I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.



More on Christina Freeburn's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/f/christina-freeburn/