Monday, October 16, 2017

The Art of Hiding

Author:  Amanda Prowse
Genre:  Domestic Fiction

Paperback; MP3 CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781611099553; 9781536690415
Lake Union Publishing
288 Pages
$8.56; $14.97 Amazon
August 22, 2017

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Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married.  Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate - and her sister - she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can't let herself be overwhelmed - her boys need her.  To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long:  pursue a career of her own.  Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

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I really hate giving books bad reviews, but I wouldn't be a decent reviewer if I didn't give an honest review.  So, here it is:  The title of the book, The Art of Hiding, is appropriate - I'm sure there was a cohesive plot hidden somewhere, but I couldn't find it.  Don't get me wrong - I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't.

In the first chapter Nina's husband Finn is killed in a car accident.  Without preamble of any sort, we're supposed to feel sorry for her and her over-the-top wonderful life.  We're told the boys go to a prestigious school, they have a fantastic home and everything money can buy; but we're not shown anything of their life together.  Without that, it's really hard to feel compassion for Nina and her family.

Especially since she's apparently a complete idiot.  There - I've said it.  She reminds me of those long ago films where the man marries a featherhead and tells her: "don't you worry your pretty little head about it, I'll take care of everything."  Apparently, this is how Finn treated Nina, and she believed it.  And where did it get her?  £8 million in debt.  How?  How can anyone be that far in debt and be so stupid as to not know it?  Finn must have been a master of controlling his emotions, because Nina.  Had.  No.  Clue.  None whatsoever.  No idea they owed anything.

So now she's out on her ear, no home, no prestigious school, and begging his family for a place to stay.  Of course, they have no room for her.  What kind of people are they?  They basically tell her to go live on the street with their nephews; their brother's children - one has to wonder about the kind of relationship they had with him in the first place.  They didn't care that their sister-in-law and her sons were thrown into the street.  Didn't try and find a place for them anywhere.  It was just, 'sorry, you're on your own!'  I'm surprised they even showed up for the funeral.

I also thought that it didn’t ring true that balliffs would enter a house with only a minor present.  I’m pretty sure there are laws against that.  But even this scene was, again, over the top.  A blender?  Really?  How much could they get for that?  £10?  What's next, shampoo?  I get that the author was trying to show us how truly destitute Nina was, but I have a hard time believing that a man who supposedly loved his family wouldn't have hidden money somewhere, or that Nina, having grown up in poverty, wouldn't have done so herself.  Also, I don't know how it works in the UK, but in the USA creditors cannot take life insurance policies (they can try, but the funds cannot be diverted unless they're specifically written for the purpose of debt payments - so Nina should have at least had something from the life insurance.  (Now, if she were on the lien, maybe - but since everything was in Finn's name, probably not).

This had to be one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read.  I slogged (literally) through it and just couldn’t like Finn or Nina.  Finn because he seemed like a royal ass - keeping things from her and not even trying to provide for her in the event something happened (as it did) - and Nina because she seemed a total idiot.  The boys seemed to bounce back unreasonably quick from the loss of their father and the only life they’ve ever known.  They went from being rich to poor and it was like, ‘Whatever.  What’s for supper?’  Most kids having gone through this would be rebellious or in therapy.  These kids went from being rich to poor with barely a problem between them.  It just didn't seem realistic.

I never felt a connection with Nina, Finn or the boys, and unfortunately, the book never seemed to touch me in any way, and that's the sad thing.  All it really did was ensure that I will never read another book by this author.  Two stars for the writing.



More on Amanda Prowse's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/p/amanda-prowse/

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cold as Ice (The Country Club Murders Book 6)

Author:  Julie Mulhern
Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635112672; 97816355112115
Henery Press Publishing
268 Pages
$29.86; $15.95; $6.99 Amazon
October 17, 2016

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Ellison Russell's life resembles a rollercoaster ride.  And rollercoasters make her ill.  Her daughter Grace has a crush on a boy Ellison doesn't trust and she's taken to hosting wild parties when Ellison goes out for the evening.  Worse, the bank which represents Grace's inheritance from her father may be in trouble.  When a meeting with the chef at the country club leads to the discovery of a body, Ellison can't afford cold feet.  She must save the bank, find the killer, and convince Grace (and herself) that powerful women don't need men to rescue them.

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It's nearing Thanksgiving in Kansas City, and life is -sort of - getting back to normal for Ellison Russell.  But while everything seems to be going along smoothly, it just...isn't.  Her daughter Grace has been caught throwing a wild party in her absence, and while that may seem to be enough of a headache, it only gets worse when her bank president tells her the bank - her late husband's legacy to Grace - may be going under due to an unpaid loan.

The loan, owed by Tom Michaels, is the father of a boy Ellison does not want Grace seeing.  But each time she tries to call Tom, he's unavailable.  And when she does get a chance to speak with his wife Laurie, she leaves before anything is resolved.

But it's while she's at the country club planning a party for a friend when the sous chef opens the walk-in freezer to find Laurie's frozen body that it turns into a nightmare.  Another body.  The wife of the husband with a million dollar loan.  And the mother of a boy with lax morals who seems to be interested in her daughter.  Life is definitely not normal for Ellison Russell.

While warned to stay out of this investigation by the ever-present homicide Detective Anarchy Jones, Ellison's maybe-boyfriend she doesn't want to say anything about the bank.  Ellison needs to know if Laurie left life insurance, and for how much; hopefully enough to cover the loan; and she she needs the help of Hunter Tafft, her attorney who's also highly interested in her personally, to find out what can be done to place a lien, if possible; and, horror of horrors, she also needs to enlist the help of her intimidating mother, Frances.

But it isn't going to be easy.  She needs to stay under the radar of the police to conduct her own investigation - because if Tom is convicted of the crime they'll be no life insurance.  To top it off, her late husband's sister Gwen is spending the holiday with them, and Gwen doesn't (and never has) approved of Ellison.  This holiday may be more memorable than Ellison would like it to be.

But then things get worse:  Ellison discovers another body, one which may very well have ties to the first.  With the suspect list dwindling, the body count growing, and Tom as the police's likely culprit, Ellison needs to work fast before the bank closes its doors forever...

Once again, Ms. Mulhern has taken us back to 1974, a time with no cellphones or computers, and all information must be gathered the old-fashioned way: through the grapevine.  It's a simpler time when people didn't depend on daily updates online, but through telephone calls, people needed to actually talk to one another, and Google was a thing of the future.  She does this, and more, admirably.

I found the book quite entertaining, with just enough components to make it realistic - a mother raising a sixteen-year-old daughter alone and trying to do her best; and adding that to the other storyline, weaving them together seamlessly and effortlessly; both essential to the book's plot. 

The narrative carries us along easily, rolling our eyes much as Grace did, at some of the wordplay between characters (who are all delightful, by the way), giving us an engaging tale of life in another place and time - albeit one littered with dead bodies along the way (but then again, isn't that why we're reading this series in the first place?)

When we learn the identity of the killer and come to the end of the book, we see that actions have consequences, and consequences affect our lives, for good or bad.  Whether right or wrong, the choices we make color our lives forever, and learning from them is the hardest -and maybe the most bittersweet - lesson of all.

Although you might be tempted to peek at the ending, I urge you not to do so.  Unfolding the story as it is written will add to a wonderful journey through words and images in your mind.  Highly recommended and I look forward to the next in the series.



More on Julie Mulhern's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/julie-mulhern/

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Seeds of Revenge (The Greenhouse Mysteries #3)

Author:  Wendy Tyson
Genre:  Mystery, Suspense

Trade Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781635112757; 9781520080529
Henery Press Publishing
$15.95; $29.99; $4.99 Amazon
288 Pages
November 14, 2017

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It's the holiday season, and the mood in Winsome is anything but jolly...Megan Sawyer is determined to farm year-round.  She's braving a December snowstorm after pitching her greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs when she sees a stranger stranded on the side of the road.  It's Merry Chance's niece Becca, who's headed to Winsome to sell her "love potions" at holiday events - or so she thinks.

Merry has an ulterior motive in inviting her niece to Winsome, but Merry's plan to reunite Becca with her estranged father goes awry when Becca's father turns up dead.  Megan soon realizes that Becca was not the only person in Winsome who despised her father.  When Megan's aunt, the famous mystery author, is implicated through her novels, things become personal.  Megan must follow the literary clues while sifting through the victim's sordid past, but can she uncover the truth before someone else in Winsome is murdered?

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It's the Christmas holidays in Winsome, Pennsylvania, and Megan Sawyer is on her way home after a business trip to Philadelphia.  She picks up a stranded motorist on the side of the road during a snowy evening.  The young woman, Becca Fox,  turns out to be the niece of Merry Chance, and she's been invited to town to sell her products during the season. 

But when Megan drops the young woman off at Merry's home, there's another visitor - Becca's father Paul, and while he apparently wants to speak with her the reaction from Becca is completely malevolent.  It's obvious she hates her father, but never more so than when she accuses him of murdering her mother years before.

Little does Megan know that this family's appearance in town will bring attacks on its townspeople instead of the reunion that Merry envisioned.  When Paul is found dead and it's later determined to be homicide, the natural suspect is Becca.  When the young woman shows signs of being mentally unstable, even the police chief is convinced she's guilty.  But Megan isn't so sure, and when the attacks are somehow connected to her great aunt Sarah, Megan stumbles upon secrets from Sarah's past that could be a clue.

While Police Chief Bobby King - young but gaining experience quickly - is convinced he's got the right person for the murder, Megan isn't so sure.  She continues exploring possible suspects to Bobby's chagrin, and the more she digs, the more she learns that Paul Fox was a master manipulator with a horde of enemies left behind.  As her peaceful life starts to become unraveled by the devastation around her, she realizes she's in a race against time to find the person who really killed Paul, but little does she know she's also in a race against time to save herself...

This book is the third in the series and in my opinion is the best yet.  Like a fine wine, Ms. Tyson's Greenhouse Mysteries only gets better with age.  She is not only a talented writer, she is a talented storyteller as well.  Her plots are well written, suspenseful and with enough twists and turns to keep us absorbed in the narrative.

This was a delightful tale of suspense and revenge, with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure.  The characters are given the full depth treatment:  these are people who are animated and lively, fully dimensional and believable.  Megan and her family and friends make the town of Winsome come alive, and I consider myself lucky to be able to share in their adventures.

When we come to the end and the murderer is revealed, it was put together in a deft manner that made all the pieces fall in place easily.  While not completely unexpected, it didn't matter as the journey itself was an enjoyable read.  Highly recommended and I look forward to the next in the series. 

https://www.amazon.com/Seeds-Revenge-Wendy-Tyson/dp/1635112753/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2150454285

More on Wendy Tyson's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/t/wendy-tyson/

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Body on Baker Street (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery)

Author:  Vicki Delaney
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9781683312994; 9781683314615; 9781520080246
Crooked Lane Books
320 Pages
$17.70; $15.99; #26.42; $9.99 Amazon
September 12, 2017; January 9, 2018 (Paperback)

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Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room in anticipation of the store's upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series.  But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock's legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand.  That is until Renalta collapses on the table - dead.

Donald insists he didn't do it and pleads to his friends to clear his name.  Fortunately, Gemma and Jayne have no shortage of suspects between the author's bullied personal assistant, her frustrated publicist, the hapless publisher, a handsome rare book dealer, an obsessively rabid fan, and world of other Sherlock enthusiasts with strong objections to Renalta's depiction of the Great Detective.  It's up to the shrewd sleuthing duo to eliminate the impossible and deduce the truth before the West London police arrest an innocent man.

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Gemma Doyle, along with her Uncle Arthur (I know, right?  Arthur Doyle?) are co-owners of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium, and Gemma is co-owner along with Jayne Wilson of the adjoining Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room.  When Gemma receives a telephone call telling her that a famous author wants to do a short speech and signing of her books - in two days - Gemma is floored, but since the books are quite popular, she agrees, and scrambles to get everything prepared.

What she doesn't count on is the sheer number of fans who show up.  While not fond of the series herself, it appears many others are, and the over-the-top flamboyant author arrives as planned.  But during the Q&A session, after drinking from bottled water, she collapses and dies soon after.  When Gemma's friend Donald - who was heckling the woman - is practically accused of the crime, he begs her to find the person responsible before he's jailed.  Gemma reluctantly agrees, because even though she doesn't know who killed Renalta, she knows Donald didn't.   Gemma will need all of her sleuthing skills if she is to find a killer who is both clever and cold before Donald is unfairly convicted...

I loved the premise of the book, and I love Sherlock Holmes.  I own Doyle's complete book collection, and all of the DVDs by the many actors who have portrayed him.  To wit, I am a huge Sherlock fan, although not as rabid about it as Donald.

That being said, I knew it could only add to my enjoyment of this book, and enjoy it I did.  The book was written well and the plot moved along nicely.  There were plenty of suspects, plenty of red herrings, and plenty of action. 

The main problem is that Gemma, while good at  observation (she picks up on nuances, body language and things not said to come to a logical conclusion) also does things a normal person wouldn't do: breaking into a police station?  Really?  She also comes off as somewhat obnoxious and a know-it-all; she seems to actually enjoy one-upping the local police force.  She's a little hard to like as a person, and one should know if you want to be friends, you don't mock the police officers.

I'm also not convinced Ryan is the man for her.  Yes, she ruined his proposal; but he should know how her mind works and accept that, which he didn't.  A man who truly loved her would have just shaken his head and laughed, expecting it.  He wouldn't run away and leave her heartbroken.  If he can't accept her for who she is, he doesn't love her and perhaps she should move on with her life.

But the big thing was Moriarty the cat.  He apparently likes everyone except Gemma.  As a cat owner, I've found that cats don't like bad people, or people who have hurt them in the past.  The only other explanation is her scent.  (Gemma might want to change her shampoo or body wash).  A cat that likes everyone except you is telling you something important - and everyone around you.  (Perhaps he just doesn't like her superior attitude).

At any rate, luckily the mystery was done beautifully; it took me awhile to figure out who the murderer was (and I'm usually very good at that).  The motive was believable, and Gemma's putting everything together was done nicely.  This is what makes the book a good way to spend a quiet evening.  I look forward to the next in the series.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Body-Baker-Street-Sherlock-Mysteries/dp/1683312996/

Goodreads:

More on Vicki Delaney's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/d/vicki-delany/

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Lowcountry Bonfire (A Liz Talbot Mystery Book 6)

Author:  Susan M. Boyer
Genre:  Mystery, Suspense

Hardcover; Trade Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9781635112306; 9781635112276; 9781515951940
Henery Press
244 Pages
$31.95; $15.79; $18.69; $6.99 Amazon
June 27, 2016

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Private investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have worked their share of domestic cases.  So when Tammy Sue Lyerly hires them to find out what her husband is hiding, they expect to find something looney but harmless.  After all, this is the guy who claims to have been a DEA agent, a champion bull rider, and a NASCAR driver.  But when he turns up dead the morning after Liz and Nate deliver incriminating photos, Tammy Sue becomes the prime suspect.  Questioning the truth of Zeke Lyerly's tall-tales, Liz and Nate race to uncover small town scandals, long buried secrets, and the victim's tumultuous past to keep Tammy Sue out of jail and the case from going up in flames.

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PIs extraordinaire Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews have been hired by Tammy Sue Lyerly to find out if her husband Zeke is having an affair, even they're surprised when they tell Tammy Sue that Zeke has indeed been doing the horizontal mambo with a local bimbo.  Not so much surprised by that, but the fact that Tammy Sue is standing outside in her yard - across the street from Liz' parents home - setting fire to Zeke's prized Mustang and screaming wildly.  Also in attendance is Liz' brother Blake, the island of Stella Maris police chief, the volunteer fire department, and what seems like half the town itself.

But what no one expects is when Blake orders Pete Carter to open the trunk in order to prevent an explosion - and finds the body of Tammy Sue's wayward husband.  How he got there and why is a mystery, and with Tammy Sue seeing him and fainting dead away, the mystery only deepens.  Liz and Nate are now employed by the town to investigate, and with Tammy Sue as the only suspect, Liz knows better.  While the woman may have torched her husband's car, she knows there's no way she would have murdered the man she loved.

When Liz and Nate start digging deeper, they come up with not only more suspects, but start finding out that Zeke, a notorious teller of tall tales, may actually have been telling the truth.  But is that what got him killed?  Or was it something closer to home and someone he trusted who decided to end his life?  Since it appears the killer is now aiming for them, it will take all their sleuthing skills to find a killer before one of them find their own life extinguished...

This is the sixth book in the Liz Talbot series, and as such, the author does not disappoint.  She dives right into the action from the beginning with Zeke's body discovered almost immediately.  Now this could be a detriment, since we don't get to know the man; and oftentimes when this happens we don't care one way or another about the dead person.  Do we like or hate him?  Is he a jerk who regularly cheats?  Is he a nice guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time?  But have no fear - as the story progresses, so does the life of Zeke.  We learn all about him, his history, his relationship with his wife; and this is the meat of the story.

Yes, we're out to find a killer, the same as Liz; but we also discover things about Zeke that bring him to life after death.  And this, my friends, makes all the difference.  We learn who he was, what he felt and thought; and because of this, there is a sorrow to his death that makes us as determined as Liz to find a murderer.

The mystery is raw, driven, and well thought out; secrets are discovered and even the nicest seeming people become suspects.  In between all of this, we are treated to southern hospitality on Stella Maris; with people who are concerned about manners and the fact that you must eat - a lot - to maintain your strength and sanity; and any breach of etiquette is considered a sin.  It is a delightful addition and with just enough levity to keep the story from being too dark.

And, of course, we have Colleen, the ghost of Liz' best friend whose mission is to protect Stella Maris from interlopers and also to help Liz - when she can.  Though not as prominent in this book as in others, the few scenes she does appear in are memorable. 

When all is said and done, the killer finally caught and truths discovered, we learn that all actions have an equal reaction.  And what might seem like harmless fun may cause more than pain.  Cruelty comes in many forms, and mindless cruelty is the worst of all.  Highly recommended, and I eagerly await the next in the series.

https://www.amazon.com/Lowcountry-Bonfire-Liz-Talbot-Mystery/dp/1635112273/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2135668204

More on Susan M. Boyer's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/b/susan-m-boyer/

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Tell-Tale Tarte (A Five-Ingredient Mystery #4)

Author:  Maya Corrigan
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #: 9781432840457; 9781496709172
Kensington Publishing
304 Pages
$26.20; $7.99; $5.99 Amazon
June 27, 2017

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The last thing Val needs in her life is an unsolved murder, especially when the victim, an actor famed for impersonating Edgar Allan Poe, happens to be dressed exactly like her Granddad.  To keep an eye on Granddad, whose latest job takes him to the home of Rick Usher, a local author inspired by Poe, Val gets herself hired as a cook in Rick's House of Usher.  When she discovers the actor wasn't the only one doing an impersonation, separating the innocent from the murderous becomes a real-life horror story.  But Val must decipher a killer's M.O. sooner rather than later...or she can forget about finding poetic justice.

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Val Deniston lives with her grandfather in Bayport, Maryland and runs a cafe in the local fitness club, and does catering on the side.  While helping her friend Bethany search for a wedding dress, they see a man who resembles her grandfather's new look - black coat, beard, tinted glasses - and thinks it might be him.  When the man falls in front of a car, she dashes toward him, relieved her fears were unfounded, but still helping give him CPR.  Unfortunately, no amount of CPR could save the man, still unknown to her and the people nearby.  Later that night she she finds out from her boyfriend Gunnar the man's name - Emmett Flint, an actor in the same troupe as Gunnar.

When Val goes to her latest job, a book club, it's when she's serving dessert that she sees the "noted author" invited is not only not the author, it's her grandfather Don who, for some unknown reason, is impersonating Rick Usher, the author in question.  Rick has made a career of writing in the style of Edgar Allan Poe and has quite a group of followers himself.  But when she questions his assistant Clancy, also attending the dinner, she discovers only that 'Rick' is supposedly hoarse from an ailment and Clancy is answering all questions.

As time progresses it is discovered that Emmett may not have died from natural causes, and Val is worried for her boyfriend Gunnar, who is the main suspect, and also her grandfather, who is now spending time with Rick himself.  So when Val is offered a job catering dinners at Usher's home, she agrees in order to try and find out who killed Emmett and why.  Will there be another murder or will poetic justice prevail?  Val will have to move fast to find the answer...

As a huge Poe fan, I once made a trip to Baltimore just to visit his grave, and own all his books (and wrote an essay on him while in school) so this book was one I was looking forward to reading.  While the plot had interesting points, and I did like the fact we have the murder almost immediately - which is always a nice thing so you aren't subjected to pages and pages of needless detail - it also moved slowly for the first quarter of the book.

Reading further, I was somewhat torn; partly because her grandfather seemed a bit of a con man to me: he used her recipes to get a job writing a food column for the newspaper, and then expects to continue so he can write a cookbook.  This did not endear me to the man, and grandfather or not, she should have set him straight about who gets the credit and where, especially since he's secretive on other things as well.  He seemed more like a "user" than a loving grandfather.  It also seemed like they were nothing more than business partners (and not very equal-sided, either).  As for the relationship between Val and Gunnar, there doesn't seem to be any "oomph" attached.  They just seemed boring when they were talking to each other.

Eventually the suspect list was narrowed down to a select few, and then you have the meat of the story.  Putting it together at the end was interesting, and it all came together nicely at last.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Tell-Tale-Tarte-Five-Ingredient-Mystery/dp/1496709179/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2124053233

More on Maya Corrigan's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/c/maya-corrigan/

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Brewing Up Murder (Coffee Cup Mysteries Book One)

Author:  Neila Young
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback, Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781940215990
Red Adept Publishing
197 Pages
$11.99; $5.99 Amazon
July 19, 2017

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As the owner of Mystery Cup Café in Wilton, Missouri, a town made famous by a string of long-ago murders, Blake Harper is used to the mysterious.  When her barista is found strangled in a mound of coffee beans, Blake vows to find the killer, even though her sister, the town's lead police detective, tells her to stay out of it.

Blake finds plenty of suspects, like the owners of a rival coffee shop and the handsome new bookstore owner.  But when new threats are made, she soon realizes the danger is centered around Mystery Cup and someone is targeting her personally.

Will Blake be able to solve the murder, find a new barista, and perfect her recipe for espresso brownies before she becomes the next victim?

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Blake Harper owns Mystery Cup in Wilton, Missouri and is seriously deciding to replace one of her baristas, a girl named Nikki.  She hired Nikki as a favor to a friend of her mother's, but Nikki doesn't even show up on time or do her job well.  When Nikki does realize she might be fired, she begs Blake for another chance and promises she'll improve.  She even offers to do inventory that night so Blake can relax at home.

Blake gives her the chance, but it doesn't turn out the way she hoped.  Seeing a light in her shop long after Nikki should be gone, she enters and finds the girl dead in a pile of coffee beans.  Shaken, she calls her sister Kyle - a police detective - and so begins the hunt for a killer; and the reason why Mystery Cup was vandalized and Nikki killed.

Not willing to leave the sleuthing to her sister, she decides to do a little investigating on her own.  But then something else occurs to up the ante and Blake realizes that Nikki might not have been the target after all and wonders if she might have been the one the murderer was after in the first place.  But can her investigating discover a killer or will the killer discover that she's trying to find them and put her permanently out of business...

I felt that the mystery itself was done well.  There were plenty of suspects and enough red herrings to keep mystery lovers interested.  The clues seemed to point in several different directions, and that was nice in that it keeps one guessing as to who the true murderer might be.  However, I do feel that the town and its inhabitants could have been fleshed out more.  I felt that if less attention had been paid to conversations about 'hot guys' and trying to find Blake a love interest, then we would have learned more about the town and its inhabitants.  We weren't really given any reason why it would be a big tourist attraction; surely murders that occurred nearly fifty years ago wouldn't bring them by the carloads into town unless they were ghost hunters.

Aside from this, the book was very good and the mystery enjoyable, and I liked the main characters.  When the murderer was discovered it came as a surprise, and makes us realize that desperation can drive people to do things which we never thought possible.  Recommended, and I look forward to the next in the series.





The Art of Hiding

Author:  Amanda Prowse Genre:  Domestic Fiction Paperback; MP3 CD; Digital Book ISBN #:  9781611099553; 9781536690415 Lake Union Publis...