Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Last Wool and Testament

Author:  Molly MacRae
Genre:  Mystery

5 Stars
Kath McClellan has just arrived in Blue Plum, Tennessee for the funeral of her beloved grandmother, Ivy.  Ivy owned a fiber and fabric shop named The Weaver's Cat.  The shop, along with Ivy's house, were bequeathed to Kath upon her grandmother's death.  Only Kath soon finds out that there is a problem: the house isn't hers.  Ivy deeded it to Emmett, a shady character in Blue Plum that nobody liked.  But Emmett is dead, murdered; and Cole Dunbar, Deputy, has suggested to Kath that her grandmother poisoned him.  What's worse, the house has passed on to Emmett's son Max, and he has changed the locks so that Kath can't retrieve any of her grandmother's belongings; which she needs to do soon, because Max is renting the house out in a few days.
None of this, of course, makes any sense to Kath, and when she goes to her grandmother's attorney, Homer, to find out about it, he knows nothing about the house being transferred.  His advice is sound: let him handle it.  After all, he was her grandmother's attorney, and he can find out information better than she can.
She agrees, yet still wants to know what happened, and why.  So, she sets out to do some sleuthing on her own.  With no place to go, she is offered temporary housing by Homer's wife Ruth, and finds that she has unexpected help:  the ghost-in-residence that she (nor anyone else) knew lived in the cottage.  The only downside to this is that she is the only one who can see and hear the ghost.
The members of TGIF - Thank Goodness It's Fiber - are a group of fiber and needlework artists who meet regularly at her grandmother's (now hers) shop, and they are a colorful group of women.  They stand friend to Kath as they did to her grandmother, and are willing to help her any way they can.  There is Cole Dunbar, the deputy, who rubs Kath the wrong way and sees her as just an extension of "Crazy Ivy," her grandmother; and Cole's brother Joe, whom Kath at first mistakes for a burglar and only later finds out isn't, yet still has a hard time trusting.
I truly enjoyed this book, and liked the morose ghost, Geneva.  She had a personality all her own that was different, to say the least.  This was a ghost who loved television, which was a different twist on things.  Quite humorous at times.
When the actual murderer was discovered, I had no clue.  Indeed, there were no clues as to the identity.  That, in itself, made it worth reading.  I hate it when you read a book and you can figure out who the killer is within the first fifty pages or so.  Not with this one, and that's a good thing.
There were times when I was angry, as was Kath; and I feel that if a book can actually make me care, then it is a good book.  Too often you read a book and even though you like it, you don't find yourself feeling a lot of emotion with it.  Because of this, I'm looking forward to the next one involving Kath and her friends, and it can't be too soon for me.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Good Man Gone

Author:  A.W. Hartoin
Genre:  Mystery

4 Stars
Mercy Watts is a part-time nurse who also occasionally helps her father, Tommy Watts, on cases.  Tommy is a police detective-turned-private detective.  His former partner, Gavin Flouder, is found dead of a heart attack, but Tommy doesn't believe it.  Unfortunately, Mercy's father and mother are on a cruise, so he asks Mercy to check out what really happened, because he believes that Gavin was murdered.
Finding out her father's instincts are correct, she now has a new task:  Solve Gavin's murder for him.  Mercy is none too happy with her assignment, but agrees to do it.  However, she won't be doing it alone:  she'll have help from her "Uncle Morty," and Aaron, a restaurant owner with a voracious appetite who has been assigned the task of being her bodyguard.  She also has to make sure that her cousin, a police detective named Chuck Watts, doesn't get wind of what she's doing, since he's assigned to another murder case that may or may not be connected to Gavin's murder.
I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review; and I always give honest reviews, whether they be good or bad.  Which isn't to say this was bad.  In fact, it was a very good mystery, which wove the details of both murder cases in and out like a tapestry.  It was an interesting read, and Aaron was a hoot.
But, oh, Mercy, Mercy me...I had to take away one star because of her.  I found Mercy herself over the top.  Supposedly, she looks so much like Marilyn Monroe that she has stalkers.  Why she has stalkers is kind of odd - some pictures showed up on YouTube, and now men are following her around and it just Didn't Make Any Sense To Me.  Why?  Well, an example:  she's jogging through an airport and one man drops his briefcase because he's staring at her boobs (as the author repeatedly refers to them), and another's wife hits him in the back of the head.  Really?  I live in Las Vegas, and there are beautiful women going in and out of our airports daily.  Never once have I seen a man do either of these things.  And a lot of these women are not what I would call 'dressed.'  They're wearing tiny tanks and shorts, yet I've never any man act that way around them.  Most men I know are educated enough NOT to stare at my or any other woman's boobs, no matter how much she resembles an actress, deceased or not (and we have our share of impersonators, too).  I was beginning to wonder if Mercy was walking around with see-through clothing and no underwear, because I just couldn't understand the idea of men acting this way.  It kind of makes one never want to go to Missouri, just in case, if you get my drift.   One man even makes an obscene gesture - which seems odd if they weren't porn photos, because if they were just of a beautiful woman, I don't believe a man would just do something like that.  They were also leaving messages and heavy breathing on her phone.  What exactly WAS on YouTube?  Then, they start harassing her mother, because she looks even MORE like Marilyn. I can find no rational reason that these men should be harassing Mercy or her mother for photos, not to mention how disrespectful it is to all women (no, I'm not a feminist, but I expect to be treated with respect), and I'm sure a good attorney could find a way around it (where is Perry Mason when you need him?)  And, in my opinion, it only detracted from the mystery.  I didn't see how she could conduct her own murder investigation if she was continually being followed by men. 
Anyway, my own suggestion is, if this series is continued, tone down Mercy with the stalkers just a tad and let the book stand on its own merits.  Believe me, it just might be interesting enough to see if it could.

Dance of the Scarecrows (A Jonathan Wilder Mystery #1)

Author:  Ray Sipherd Genre:   Mystery Hardcover; Paperback; ISBN #:  9780312143060; 9780373262878 Worldwide Mystery 252 Pages Various...