Monday, July 22, 2019

A Lively Form of Death (A Chief Inspector Morrissey Mystery #1)

Author:  Kay Mitchell
Genre:   Mystery

Hardcover; Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780373261062
Worldwide Mystery
251
Various Prices
September 1, 1992

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Marion Walsh, the town's local femme fatale, loses her housekeeper to a bottle of poisoned milk - a bottle most likely intended for her.  Helen Goddard, whose husband, Robert, had been shamelessly seduced by Marion's charms, is the logical suspect, especially after Marion is brutally murdered.

But Chief Inspector Morrissey begins to sense something twisted and evil, something beyond the obvious love triangle everyone seems willing to accept - particularly after a convenient suicide and confessional note.

A killer has gotten away with three near-perfect murders - perhaps more as the trail leads back to an unsolved case of missing boys...and to a hideous mesh of perversion, blackmail and deadly secrets.

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

Helen Goddard knows her husband is sleeping with Marion Walsh.  She hasn't done anything about it because she's not sure what she wants to do.  But there's gossip - mainly between the charwoman for Marion and the milkman's wife.  And everyone in town knows about it.  Marion's char, Betty Hartley, isn't above making a snide remark or two to Marion, and also not above stealing a pint or two of milk, figuring she won't notice.

But Little Henge is about to change:  Betty steals a pint of milk from Marion - milk that's tainted with cyanide, and was more than likely meant for Marion.  Now the police are called, and Chief Inspector John Morrissey travels to Little Henge to question, search, and discover what he can.  What he discovers is that Betty's cohort, Ida - the milkman's wife - has a lot to say about the murder and who might be suspect - namely, Helen Goddard, whose husband was having an affair with Marion.

But Morrissey doesn't expect to find that he's attracted to Helen; mostly because she reminds him of his wife, and he doesn't want to believe she's capable of murder.  After all, Marion is an unlikable woman, and he decides right away there's more to the murder than she's saying.  But it's not until Marion is also murdered - brutally - that he begins his investigation in earnest, and what he finds isn't at all what he expected...

This is the first in a short series of books by Kay Mitchell.  I can only say after reading it I wish she would have gone on with the series.  It is that good.  Really.  The mystery starts almost immediately with the death of Betty, and we learn that Marion doesn't want anyone involved in her life - so much so, she destroys evidence.  But it is what comes after that which is so fascinating to read.

Morrissey is very thorough, and keeps his emotions in check while he investigates.  He uses his logic at every step of the way, and even when it leads him down one road, if he's not positive it's the right one, he begins again until it leads him down another.  In this he differs from his sergeant, Barrett, who is not only ruled by emotion, he's convinced the murderer is Helen's husband Robert.  He rankles at being dismissed by Morrissey, because he thinks he's smarter than him.  But Morrissey is no fool.  He knows what Barrett is about - and he also knows Barrett has more on his mind than a murder case.

But then Morrissey's wife Margaret tells him of something that's bothering her - it seems on one of her committees they were discussing the disappearance of several boys from their son's school - more than would be expected, and asks him to look into it, which he promises to do when the case is settled.  However, when everything seems to be wrapped up nice and tight, Morrissey has questions...and those questions lead him down another path again...one he discovers quite by accident and ties both cases together.

The book is written very well, with characters who are believable and animated; you are drawn into the story almost immediately and waiting for the next piece of information to fall in your lap.  Morrissey is quite interesting and I enjoyed watching him put the pieces together as he gleaned information from various sources.  Small things discovered had him chasing clues that lead to something else to add to the puzzle.  Red herrings abound, and it is up to the reader to decipher them along with the Inspector.

It is by chance that I discovered this book and I liked it so well that I have been searching out the rest in the series.  This book is a British police procedural of the finest and should be read by anyone who enjoys the same.  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Lively-Form-Death-Kay-Mitchell/dp/0373261063/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2906766186

More on Kay Mitchell's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/kay-mitchell/

Friday, July 19, 2019

Read and Buried (A Lighthouse Library Mystery #6)

Author:  Eva Gates
Genre:   Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781643852331
Crooked Lane Books
$18.99; $12.99 Amazon
October 15, 2019

⭐⭐⭐


The Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Classic Novel Book Club is reading Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne while workers dig into the earth to repair the Lighthouse Library's foundations.  The digging halts when Lucy pulls a battered tin box containing a Civil War-era diary from the pit.  Tucked inside is a hand-drawn map of the Outer Banks accompanied by a page written in an indecipherable code.

The library is overrun by people clamoring to see the artifact.  Later that night, Lucy and Connor McNeil find the body of historical society member Jeremy Hughes inside the library.  Clearly Jeremy was not the only one who broke into the library -- the map and the coded page are missing.

Lucy's nemesis, Louise Jane McKaughnan, confesses to entering the library after closing to sneak a peek but denies seeing Jeremy -- or his killer.  When Lucy discovers that fellow-librarian Charlene had a past with Jeremy, she's forced to do what she vowed not to do -- get involved in the case.  Meanwhile, the entire library staff and community become obsessed with trying to decode the page.  But when the library has a second break-in, it becomes clear that someone is determined to solve that code.

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

Lucy is in the middle of her performance review with library director Bertie.  When the owner of the construction company (who were hired to do repairs on the lighthouse) tells them they need to come outside now, it's Lucy who has to enter the pit to see what they've found.  It's an old tin box, and Zack, the owner's son, brings it to the surface.  What's discovered inside is an old Civil War diary which contains nothing more than weather patterns; but what's odd is it also contains a map with numbers and a piece of paper with coded writing.

When the historical society members arrive at the library, they want to see the diary.  But since there's been too much havoc, Bertie tells them they have to wait until tomorrow.  Lucy has a date with Connor McNeil, during which they look at the copy Lucy's made of the page with the code.  Try as they might, they can't decipher it.

When they call it a night and Connor brings Lucy back to the library (where she lives on the fourth floor) they see the door is completely demolished.  Calling to police, they are instructed to wait outside; but Lucy, hearing her cat Charles' wails, rushes in.  There they find the body of one of the society's members, Jeremy Hughes, and the two pages are missing from the diary.  Now the police are trying to find a killer - someone who wanted those pages badly, and it seems that all anyone else is interested in is figuring out the code.

Trying to fend off questions and figure out what the code means, Lucy must call on all her wits to figure out who wanted it enough to kill...

This is the sixth book in the series, and while, for the most part, I have enjoyed them, I began to wonder about this one.  It seems that no one really cares - except the police, of course - who killed Jeremy.  All anyone is interested in is the code and what it means.  Half the town thinks it's buried treasure.  So in essence, the murder takes second place to figuring out the code.  Then, with Bertie's blessing, copies of the code are passed around like candy, even though she really doesn't want anyone to have anything to do with it.  The townspeople are given copies if they ask, even if Lucy protests. 

But the kicker was the scene in which Louise Jane shows up at Lucy's apartment late one evening.  Now I'm going to be blunt and say that I absolutely detest  Louise Jane.  There's no reason for an 'evil nemesis' in a book.  Louise Jane completely ruins the books for me.  She's nasty, snide, controlling, pushy, snarky, etc., and I have to wonder what the heck is wrong with Lucy?

Why did she just allow Louise Jane into the lighthouse when she was in bed in her pajamas?  Since she knew she was downstairs via an intercom, why didn't she tell her no, she wasn't going to allow her in.  Why did she go along with it when Louise Jane pushed her way into her apartment and said she was going to conduct a seance?  Why, when Teddy and Grace found out Lucy didn't know about it, do the right thing, apologize and go home?

Lucy has no backbone.  She allows Louise Jane to steamroll over her every chance she gets.  Lucy needs to grow a pair and tell her she’s not going to allow her to push her around any more.  Honestly, Louise Jane adds nothing to the story line, and detracts from it constantly.  She's like having an insect fly around your head.  It's annoying, you want it gone, but it won't leave.  She's annoying right to the end of the book.  Even when Louise Jane makes herself finally useful to Lucy toward the end, she doesn't do it without self-aggrandizement.   I also thought it would have been better without the slapstick It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World scenario, but that's neither here nor there. 

The murderer was found of course, and everything came together nicely; and while I did like the resolution of the murder and the reason for the diary, it was the presence of Louise Jane who ruined the book for me - without her antics, this would definitely have been a four- or five-star book.  Sorry.

https://www.amazon.com/Read-Buried-Lighthouse-Library-Mystery/dp/1643852337/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2902771885

More on Eva Gates's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/g/eva-gates/

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Murder on Cape Cod (A Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #1)

Author:  Maddie Day
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781496715067
Kensington Mystery
302 Pages
$7.99; $7.59 Amazon
January 31, 2019



Summer is busy season for Mackenzie "Mac" Almeida's bicycle shop, nestled in the quaint, seaside hamlet of Westham, Massachusetts.  She's expecting an influx of tourists at Mac's Bikes; instead she discovers the body of Jake Lacey.  Mac can't imagine anyone stabbing the down-on-his-luck handyman.  However, the authorities seem to think Mac is a strong suspect after she was spotted arguing with Jake just hours before his death.  Mac knows she didn't do it, but she does recognize the weapon - her brother Derrick's fishing knife.

Mac's only experience with murder investigations is limited to the cozy mysteries she reads with her local book group, the Cozy Capers.  So to clear her name - and maybe her brother's too - Mac will have to summon help from her Cozy Capers co-investigators and a library's worth of detectives' tips and tricks.  For a small town, Westham is teeming with possible killers, and this is one mystery where Mac is hoping for anything but a surprise ending...

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

Mackenzie "Mac" Almeida owns a bicycle shop in the small hamlet of Westham, Massachusetts.  She also belongs to a unique book club that only reads cozy mysteries.  After leaving the club's meeting, she goes to the local soup kitchen to help, and sees a local handyman, Jake Lacey, who's recently done work for her.

When he asked to get paid for his work, she tells him that she'll pay him when he does the job right since her roof is still leaking, and he tells her that soon he won't need her money after all.  When she leaves for the evening, the night is foggy.  She trips over something on her way home and it turns out to be Jake's body.  She calls the police immediately.  But when she's suspected of the murder, and she sees what appears to be her brother's fishing knife sticking out of his chest, she knows she has to do something to get herself and her brother off the suspect list.  With the help of her book club members, Mac's on the trail of a killer.  But unfortunately, the killer is on her trail, too...

I loved the premise of this book, but that's all I loved.  First, the blurb is really, really misleading.  When she spoke with Jake it was hardly an argument.  He asked to get paid for the work he did on her roof, but she told him she'd pay him when he did the work properly.  Then he said he wouldn't need her money soon, and she told him that was 'great' and he went on his way.  Does that sound like an argument?  The police are complete morons if they think that she murdered Jake because of a two-minute conversation about a roof.  Otherwise, people all over the country are murder suspects if they tell someone they'll pay them when the job they hired them for is complete.

I also didn't like the fact that it seemed she was listing advertisements for other authors.  I would much rather she made up titles and authors than tell us about books from her friends.  If you bought a sofa, would you expect the sales person to tell you to go down the street and check out furniture at another store because their friend was a salesperson there?  It really smacked of trying to sell books.

But then the book started to go downhill fast.  Cops don't normally string police tape up before they've removed the body and bagged evidence (although I'm sure they can, but I've never known it to be done) - and they only do that if they need to return to the scene for more evidence and need access to the area.  What they do do is stage cops around the area to keep onlookers out.  (Although I don't know how many onlookers they'd have on a foggy night).  And since I never read that they were at the murder scene again, why was the tape up at all?

Sorry, but I didn't much care for the description of Mac's boyfriend: "...luscious lips, dark blond hair to his shoulders..."  I know, I know...but I can't stand men with long hair.  It's unattractive to me.  And what is 'luscious lips' supposed to mean?  Then I discover that he's a baker.  With long hair.  I'll bet it's cute when he puts it in the little paper elastic hat so it doesn't get in the food.  Yeah, that's an attractive picture.  (Hey -we're all entitled to our personal opinions, and this is mine.  Good for you if you like long hair on men, but I don't; and yes, it colors the book for me.)  Also, her mother's a Looney Tune.  She can tell what food Mac is craving but doesn't know her son is in trouble?  Well that makes perfect sense.

But the worst was the police officers.  The police gave out the name of the person who found the body to news crews before they had a chance to thoroughly question her.  This police chief needs to be fired.  It was about a half hour after finding the body and was already on the news!  And they had details of how she found the body while walking home.  WTF?  Also telling them what the deceased did for a living?  In a "small hamlet?"  How many handymen can there be?  Sure, no one will figure out who the dead guy is, right?  Plus, Jake was stabbed and she's a suspect, but no one looked to see if she had blood on her hands?  Or her clothes?  Supposedly she went home to wash, change clothes, then come back and call police?  Oh, puh-leeze!  (Especially since the people at the soup kitchen could tell them what she was wearing when she left - which was what she had on when the police arrived.  So I guess she had time to do laundry and put it back on, right?)  I'm doing better police work than these cops.

Then, she's not supposed to talk about the murder but the cops told the news crew.  Well, I'd say that instruction just flew out the window.  She should stand outside with a bullhorn and tell everyone in the vicinity, since the cops don't think much of keeping a murder investigation under covers.  Plus, the news crew is standing right in front of her business - telling people the name, just like she's the murderer.  Trust me, news crews do not stand in front of the homes or business of people who've found a murder victim and announce both the name and business of that person.  The ensuing chaos would be insane.  So why would the police ask her not to talk about the murder scene but then they tell the news crew all about it?  Seriously?  I could get whiplash from all the head shaking (not to mention a headache from the eye rolling).

Then the investigating detective finally gets around to questioning her, and she tells him about the man who came into the shop looking for Jake and acting suspicious.  The man gave her his name, too.  But the detective doesn't ask her if she knows his name and she doesn't volunteer it.  You'd think this would be important.  But again - these cops are inept.

I normally love Maddie Day, but not this time.  This book had so many holes in it that it could be a sieve.  So many, in fact, I couldn't finish it because I value my time.  I really hate to waste money on books but I couldn't bring myself to continue reading this one.  I have to wonder how this book got any five star reviews.  The book (at least as far as I read) was completely unbelievable because nothing made any sense.  I'm sorry I bought it and wish I could get my money back.  Lessons learned, I guess.

https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Cape-Capers-Group-Mystery/dp/1496722884/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2900169615

More on Maddie Day's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/d/maddie-day/

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Deadly Greetings (A Card-Making Mystery #2)

Author:  Elizabeth Bright
Genre:   Mystery

Mass Market Paperback
ISBN #:  9780451218773
Signet Mystery
233 Pages
Various Prices Amazon
June 6, 2006

⭐⭐


Jennifer is struggling to keep Custom Card Creations open for business, so her aunt Lillian snags her a delightful (and cheaper) apartment by the lake.  Then Jennifer hears that the apartment is haunted by the ghost of its last occupant - who doesn't like to share.  Meanwhile, she also has to put up with the unwanted advances of her downstairs neighbor, her ex-fiancé, and a drunken deputy.

Things only get worse when a tragic accident kills Maggie Blake, one of Jennifer's most beloved card club members.  Then Jennifer receives a handcrafted card from Maggie.  Written before she died, it warns that someone is trying to murder her.  No one is above suspicion, not even the card club.  Jennifer must investigate before she loses another good customer to more grim tidings.

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

It's rare that I won't finish a book, no matter how bad it is.  But this one is truly awful.  I began reading it because of the first paragraph which reads that a ghost was trying to kill the protagonist.  I should have stopped there.  Unfortunately, this book is truly awful.

Jennifer Shane is annoying, self-centered, and obnoxious.  She treats men like dirt but for some strange reason she's so attractive to them they're falling over their feet to get to her anyway.  (She has a guy in love with her but finds him annoying because (gasp) he wants to spend time with her).  Are there no other single - nice - women in this town?

Her aunt Lillian steamrolls over her every chance she gets - which explains why Jennifer's brother doesn't like her much; and I'm also surprised she doesn't weigh a ton considering she eats nothing but take-out and fast food and never works out - she doesn't even take walks and complains when her aunt wants to take one!  This woman needs to learn to cook. 

So a friend of hers dies and her brother - the police chief - tells her about it right after the accident.  Shouldn't he be trying to find family to notify first?  Nothing like not following protocol.  But when she shows her brother a card that Maggie sent her - one that states someone was trying to kill her, he blows her off.  He says it was obvious it was an accident.  Really?  He's not even going to look closer at the 'accident' to see if something was off?  He's not a very good cop.

But what got me was the fact that she moves into an apartment with a ghost (no spoiler, it's in the blurb) and the day she moves in she leaves her two cats alone in the place while she goes to clean her old apartment.  For hours.  And is surprised when she returns late at night and her cats are in their carriers and won't come out.  Honestly?  Would it be that much trouble to have taken them with?  Sorry, but this irritated me.

At this point, I was too frustrated to finish the rest of the book.  I have better books to read than waste my time with this series.  No wonder it was canceled after the requisite three books.

https://www.amazon.com/Deadly-Greetings-Elizabeth-6-Jun-2006-Paperback/dp/B013J96WJG/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2898693639

More on Elizabeth Bright's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/b/elizabeth-bright-2/

Monday, July 15, 2019

Peach Clobbered (A Georgia B&B Mystery #1)

Author:  Anna Gerard
Genre:   Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781643850061
Crooked Lane Books
$17.70; $12.99 Amazon
July 9, 2019

⭐⭐


Nina Fleet's life ought to be sweet as a Georgia peach.  Awarded a tidy sum in her divorce, Nina retired at 41 to a historic Queen Anne house in quaint Cymbeline, GA.  But Nina's barely settled into her new B&B-to-be when a penguin shows up on her porch.  Or, at least, a man wearing a penguin suit.

Harry Westcott is making ends meet as an ice cream shop's mascot and has a letter from his great-aunt, pledging to leave him the house.  Too bad that's not what her will says.  Meanwhile, the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty have lost their lease.  Real estate developer Gregory Bainbridge intends to turn the convent into a golfing community, so Cymbeline's mayor persuades Nina to take in the elderly nuns.  And then Nina finds the "penguin" again, this time lying in an alley with a kitchen knife in his chest.

A peek under the beak tells Nina it's not Harry inside the costume, but Bainbridge.  What was he doing in Harry's penguin suit?  Was the developer really the intended victim, or did the culprit mean to kill Harry?  Whoever is out to stop Harry from contesting the sale of his great-aunt's house may also be after Nina, so she teams up with him to cage the killer before someone clips her wings.

✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

Nina Fleet is a 41-year-old divorceé who bought an old Victorian home just outside Atlanta, Georgia in small-town Cymbeline.  She'd like to turn it into a B&B, but the mayor won't let her.  One day she receives a knock on her door and answers it, seeing a six-foot-tall penguin standing there.  Well, actually it's a man in a penguin suit, and he eventually tells her she's living in his house and demands she give it back.  He has a letter from his great-aunt, the former owner, that states an intent to leave the house to him in her will, but she died before she could change it.

Nina refuses to give the home back, and Harry Westcott, an out-of-work actor, threatens to take her to court.  Not a good start.  Later the mayor shows up with a bus full of nuns and tells her she'll fast-track her request to open the B&B if she takes in a group of nuns who have been evicted from their convent.  Faced with not much of a choice, she agrees.

She finds out that Gregory Bainbridge, a developer, has evicted the nuns so that he can build homes on their land.  When she starts talking to people, it's apparent that everyone hates Bainbridge.  But it's even more apparent when she's called to help someone who's been stabbed in the chest - and seeing the penguin suit, she thinks it's Harry.  But it's Bainbridge, and now she has an entire stable of suspects - namely almost everyone in town.

But then Harry tells her that he was the intended victim, and he has a stalker that's trying to kill him.  But the situation gets out of control when Nina realizes that there's more at stake than a stalker, and she needs his help to find a killer...

I guess I was expecting more from this book than I received.  Firstly, the title is disappointing.  You'd think Peach Clobbered would mean something like someone dying by having a truckload of peaches fall on them.  In fact, the only peaches mentioned in the book is peach cobbler, and trust me, no one dies from eating it.  (A better title would have been Death of a Penguin).  Anyway...

I got tired of her telling everyone her name was Nine-ah, not Neen-ah.  So why didn't her parents name her Nyna?  Then she wouldn't have to keep correcting anyone.  It got annoying after awhile.  I also thought it was pretty stupid to open a B&B if you can't cook.  Wouldn't catering in breakfast eat into your profits?  Plus, eating quiche every day of the week?  Half the fun is the different choices for breakfast each day.  Cereal?  Seriously?  When no children were staying there?  Who goes to a B&B and eats cereal?  Coffee and tea but not milk nor juice?  My suggestion is that she learns to cook so she can actually make money, not spend it.  Details, people.

BELOW IS A SPOILER SO PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FARTHER UNLESS YOU WANT TO KNOW:

But here's the biggie:  While Harry may not like the fact Nina has his great-aunt's house, she bought it legally and holds the deed.  He can't sue her for that.  He can't demand she give the house to him.  He has a letter, not a writ of execution that states the house belongs to him.  He has a letter that states she's going to it, but no will stating the fact; and, the opposing attorney could claim that perhaps she changed her mind and decided not to give him the house after all.  Poor Harry doesn't have much of a claim after all.

Now, if he were to sue anyone, he could sue his father - the legal executor of the will.  If his father knew about the letter and sold the house out from under him, then he might have a case.  But a letter saying, "yes, you can have it" probably wouldn't hold up in the long run.  It would, of course, depend upon who the judge was; but I can't see basing an entire series around an improbability - and the story line will get old fast with Nina and Harry 'helping' each other solve cases and then him threatening to take her house every chance he got.  Why doesn't he get a real job and buy a house instead of expecting someone to just give it to him for free? 

No, thanks.  Harry is a taker - he's not a likable person; he wants things given to him but isn't willing to do anything just because it's the right thing to do.  He's not willing to see that she bought the house fair and square; he wants her to give it to him merely because he thinks he deserves it.  I saw nowhere where he told her he spoke with either his father or the attorney who wrote the will before confronting Nina.  He derides her and even blackmails her if she doesn't do what he wants.  Harry's the worst society has to offer and I'd be happy never to see or hear from him again.

Sorry, but as long as there's a chance Harry might be in this series again, I think I'll skip this one.

https://www.amazon.com/Peach-Clobbered-Georgia-Anna-Gerard/dp/1643850067/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2897262055

More on Anna Gerard's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/g/anna-gerard/

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The House on Hallowed Ground (A Misty Dawn Mystery #1)

Author:  Nancy Cole Silverman
Genre:   Mystery/Paranormal

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635------; 9781635115512
Henery Press Publishing
[Pages tba]
$31.95; $15.95; $---- Amazon
September 10, 2019

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


When Misty Dawn, a former Hollywood Psychic to the Stars, moves into an old craftsman house, she encounters the former owner, the recently deceased Hollywood set designer, Wilson Thorne.

Wilson is unaware of his circumstances, and when Misty explains the particulars of his limbo state, and how he might help himself if he helps her, he's not at all happy.  That is until young actress Zoey Chamberlain comes to Misty's door for help.

Zoey has recently purchased The Pink Mansion, a historic Hollywood Hills home, and believes it's haunted.  But when Misty arrives to search the house, it's not a ghost she finds, but a dead body.

The police are quick to suspect Zoey of murdering her best friend.  Zoey maintains her innocence and fears her friend's death may have been a result of the ghost...and a long-time family curse.

Together Misty and Wilson must untangle the secrets of The Pink Mansion or submit to the powers of the family curse.
✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

Misty Dawn is a psychic who's helped both the police and the FBI solve crimes.  But since she never saved any money, she's currently living in her VW van with her cat, Bossypants.  On this day, however, she's given a chance at a real home.  One of her clients, realtor Denise Thorne, has offered to let her live in her late brother's home in exchange for regular readings.  With some misgivings, Misty decides there are more pros than cons and agrees to the arrangement.

What she doesn't expect though, is the fact that Wilson Thorne, who was a movie set designer, would still be living in the home.  Sort of.  Since he's a ghost and all.  And he doesn't want to share his space with Misty or especially her cat, since he's allergic.  However, Misty isn't afraid of ghosts, having dealt with them in the past, and she's not going anywhere.  So eventually they come to an uneasy truce, although Wilson isn't happy about it.

Then a young actress shows up at Misty's door; a young woman named Zoey - and Wilson already knows who she is.  Zoey is convinced her new home - nicknamed the Pink Mansion - is haunted, and she wants Misty to find out why the ghost is there.  When Misty is waffling about helping Zoey, Wilson convinces her to do so, and agrees to help, too.  Once Misty knows she's won in her battle with Wilson, she agrees.

But then she gets another visitor - Denise.  Wilson couldn't stand his sister in life, and he still can't, and wants Misty to get rid of her.  But Denise has just come from another psychic (she's a psychic junkie it seems), who told her she was going to meet an important man.  She takes this to mean that she's finally going to meet Hugh Jackman.  This is significant because poor deluded Denise believes that Mr. Jackman will meet her, realize they're soulmates and leave his wife.  When Misty refuses to be part of it, and actually tells her she's stalking him, Denise refuses to accept it.

The next day Misty goes to Zoey's and is surprised to see the place surrounded by police.  She discovers that Zoey's best friend Lacey accidentally drowned in the spa the night before.  After the police leave, she also meets her fiancé Chad, who has a band, and his bandmates Zac and Kelsey.  Then Zoey tells Misty that she thinks the ghost killed Lacey - who was not only her best friend, but her stunt double - because it thought she was Zoey, and now the ghost is out to kill her.

When Misty starts looking into the history of the house, she discovers that a four-year-old girl drowned there in 1943.  She knows a small child didn't kill Lacey and isn't out to kill Zoey, so now her curiosity gets the better of her and she's curious as to what's going on.  But Misty finds more than she's looking for, and none of it is good.  Now she needs to help Zoey, help the police find a killer, and help Wilson find out why he's still stuck in the human world...

This is the first book in a new series, and a very good start.  If anyone has read the Carol Childs series by the author, they will have remembered Misty Dawn as having shown up on Carol's doorstep one day, much as Zoey showed up on hers.  But then, Misty wasn't asking for help, she was there to help Carol (mostly against Carol's will), and help her get into a good place in her life.

Now Misty has her own beginning, and quite a delightful one.  I do love stories about ghosts (as long as they're not poltergeists), and I love it especially when they interact with the living.  In this, Ms. Silverman does not disappoint.  Wilson begins as quite an arrogant, curmudgeonly spirit who morphs not only through his association and friendship with Misty, but as he drops his earthly ties, he becomes more ethereal and caring about the earthbound people around him.  It is quite a transformation, and quite enthralling.

The story line is written very well, and with plenty of things happening around Misty, and it's wonderful to watch her 'read' the people around her to get to the core of it all.  Her ability to see and hear things others aren't aware of is the main charm of the story.  It draws you into the action, and the developing friendship between Misty and Wilson is indeed worth reading.

Watching Misty try to help those around her and help the police solve the murder of Lacey also brings her in contact with police detective Romero, who doesn't believe in ghosts or pretty much psychics, yet we see things change between them through the course of the book.

When we finally discover who killed Lacey and why, it's disturbing; but the way Misty puts it all together with the almost-blessing of Romero is fun to read, and even Wilson does his part, understanding at last what he needs to do to help someone else instead of thinking only of himself.

We watch as the characters of Misty and Wilson first circle each other in a battle of wills, then come to an uneasy truce, and finally to friendship and caring about each other.  Their characterizations are done beautifully, and I loved the fact that we watched them develop throughout the book.

Misty is quite a character on her own, having lived life on her own terms (as did Wilson), and she's comfortable in her own skin.  I felt that this was an outstanding introduction to the collaboration of Misty and Wilson, and I enjoyed it immensely. In this, Ms. Silverman has created an entertaining cast of characters that bring the story to life, and I find myself eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.  Highly recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/House-Hallowed-Ground-Misty-Mystery/dp/163511554X/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2865570054

More on Nancy Cole Silverman's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/s/nancy-cole-silverman/

Murder in the Balcony (A Movie Palace Mystery #2)

Author:  Margaret Dumas
Genre:   Mystery

Hardcover' Trade Paperback
ISBN #:  9781635115352; 9781635115353
Henery Press Publishing
[Pages TBA]
$31.95; $15.95 Amazon
September 24, 2019

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐



Description to come


✽✽✽✽✽✽✽✽

Nora Paige is an ex-Hollywood wife who was dumped by her movie-star husband and moved to San Francisco to manage the Palace Theater, which shows classic Hollywood films.  She's decided to move out of her friend's cottage and buy her own home when she discovers that her almost-ex-husband is supposedly broke (not that she believes it for a minute).  But there are even worse things afoot:  her employee Callie's boyfriend Warren has been killed, and even though the police aren't saying, she thinks he might have been murdered.

Warren was a newly-minted real estate agent in the office of her realtor June Howard.  While everyone is stunned at the news, it's even more disturbing when they find out Callie wasn't the only girlfriend Warren had.  Now Nora learns that high-end real estate developer, Stan McMillan is trying to buy up their entire block, and she not only is panicking at the thought, she's wondering if he's the killer.  Since the lead detective won't tell her anything, she does a little investigating on her own.  Everything she finds points in his direction.  When someone else is gravely injured, she's positive she's on the right track.  But is she?  Or are there other clues but she's just not looking in the right direction?

First off, I'm going to say that I am a huge classic movie fan - in the sense that I don't watch any other movies.  I own thousands of them and can name any actor, any film, any plot, any year.  It's one of my superpowers.  So this book was made for me.  I loved all the references that Nora spouts at any given moment, and it actually enhances the plot of the book.

For you see, while Nora is still somewhat feeling sorry for herself - like the movies she references at the beginning of the book when she hasn't decided what to do about Ted, by the end of the book the movies reflect her feelings and the fact that she knows everything will be just fine.  It's a lovely nuance about life.

We also have returning - literally, from Colombia - the enigmatic Hector Acosta who is obviously interested in Nora but is allowing her time to figure out that she's interested in him.  Which she is.  But she's not ready to let him know how much.  It makes for a nice romance, the kind in classic movies, where romance was paramount.  I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

But back to the murder - now we have a cheating dead boyfriend, which makes it less tragic for Callie (although death is always sad), and Nora is convinced he was 'done in' by Stan but can't prove it.  So she assigns her ghost-in-residence, Trixie, to keep an eye on him during a real estate conference that's being held at the theater; and she does her job admirably, sticking with him like Velcro.  However, something happens that startles Trixie so much she temporarily disappears from Nora's life, and so she'll have to fly solo if she's going to get to the truth.

[For those who haven't read the first in the series (a true loss), Trixie is an usherette who was killed in the theater back in the 1930's and can't leave; she's thrilled that Nora can see and hear her.  The unfortunate thing is that Nora is also the only one who can see and hear her, which means she needs to keep it to herself so they don't have her committed.  Still, Trixie is an endearing character, forever trapped in the past as she knew it, trying to understand the present, and with a sparkling personality to boot.]

This is the second book in the series, and just as delightful as the first.  Nora is a hoot, with her witty banter (much of it to herself) that has me laughing throughout.  (It's a good thing that she's not saying aloud much of what she's thinking).  We've come to see a new side to grumpy Marty, and while I liked him in the first book, I'm glad to say he's still like that one sarcastic friend you have but don't spend a lot of time with, for obvious reasons.  He's warming up (reluctantly) to Nora, only because he thinks she almost knows as much as he does about classic movies.

When the ending comes and murderer is revealed, you realize just how far someone will go to achieve their ends - and how far they're willing to go still.  When it's finished, you can close the book and feel satisfied that everything is just the way it should be.  There's even a teaser (just a small one) that makes you realize the next book can't arrive too soon, and I loved reading it.

Ms. Dumas has spun a terrific tale of murder that nabs you from the moment you open the book and keeps you happy until the end.  Her characters are animated and believable, the plot nicely done and well-thought out, with just the right amount of clues to lead you where she wants you to go.

The descriptions of the theater are wonderful, making anyone who's ever been in an old, majestic theater long for the lost opulence and grandeur, when it was magical and exciting as you watched life on the screen.  For anyone who actually loves classic films this series is made to order.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.

Amazon:  Amazon to be added

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2841566282

More on Margaret Dumas's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/d/margaret-dumas/

A Lively Form of Death (A Chief Inspector Morrissey Mystery #1)

Author:  Kay Mitchell Genre:   Mystery Hardcover; Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book ISBN #:  9780373261062 Worldwide Mystery 251 Va...