Posted in Book Review

One Potato, Two Potato, Dead – Lynn Cahoon

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In this 3rd book in the A Farm-to-Fork Mystery, a visiting culinary professor winds up dead in his home.

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Angie runs a restaurant with her best friend and partner, Felicity, in their hometown in Idaho. Angie and her staff have volunteered to cook meals at a homeless shelter. They are helping Felicity’s boyfriend, Taylor, who runs the shelter. There, Angie meets Daniel Monet, Hope’s college professor who is visiting from Canada. Hope is one of Angie’s employees; she also takes classes at a culinary school.

Angie’s boyfriend, Ian, seems to recognize Daniel as someone from his past, but under a different name. After their meet, Daniel winds up dead in his home and now Hope’s the prime suspect.

When Daniel turns up dead in his home, Hope becomes a suspect in his murder. Soon after, Ian suddenly leaves for England without so much as an explanation. Angie decides to look into the case to find out who the real killer is and reveal Daniel’s true identity.

I enjoyed this book. The mystery was well written and interspersed with mouthwatering food descriptions. The plot had me guessing. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed reading about Angie’s new recipes for her restaurant, County Seat. Overall, I found One Potato, Two Potato, Dead engaging and I look forward to reading more of this series. Recommend to anyone looking for a cozy mystery read.

  • Publisher: Lyrical Underground (19 March 2019)

Available on Amazon

 

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Posted in Book Review

Chocolate Cream Pie Murder – Joanne Fluke

chocolate.pngChocolate Cream Pie Murder is the 24th book in the Hannah Swensen series.

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Hannah is still trying to get over what Ross has put her through, when Ross suddenly shows up on Hannah’s doorstep, demanding the money he left in Hannah’s care. When he threatens her, Hannah’s friends and family all gather to support her. There are twists and turns in this book, not to mention the mouthwatering recipes that are sure to sate the appetite of any reader.

Overall, a fun read and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.

  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (26 February 2019)

Available on Amazon

 

Posted in Book Review

I Invited Her In – Adele Parks

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I found this the first half of this book to be engaging. However, I couldn’t say the same about the second half. The plot was too confusing to follow and I found myself mad and frustrated with the characters. I read on to see what other devious schemes Abi would come up with besides cradle snatching. I couldn’t warm up to the characters—I found them shallow and self-absorbed. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Liam. I was glad, however, that Mel’s husband, Ben, was wise enough not to get sucked into to stay out of the Mel-Abi drama.

Mel was so desperate to relive her carefree days at university that she was willing to ignore all the red flags and remain deaf to her husband’s complaints about Abi’s overdue stay. She compromised her family values, jeopardized her relationship with Ben just to impress Abi. To make matters worse, she even tried to justify her actions. Was it really worth it?

The book left me feeling underwhelmed and I couldn’t sympathize with Mel; she should never have invited Abi back into her life in the first place. The dialogue felt drawn out in some parts.

Overall, a good read. Adele Parks was very good at keeping my attention and interest.

  • Pages: 384
  • Publisher: Mira Books (5 February 2019)
Posted in Book Review

The Stranger Inside – Laura Benedict

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You come home to find your key no longer works in your front door and a stranger claims that your house is now theirs. What would you do?

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Kimber has just returned from a long weekend at Lake of the Ozarks to find out that she can’t get into her house because the locks have been changed. There’s a man living in her house!

Frantic, she calls the police. According to Lance, the new occupant, he’s been living there for 6 months after Kimber gave a lease because she was moving in with her boyfriend. She also said to take care of the yard until she decided whether to sell the house or keep it. He presents documents with Kimber’s signature.

How did he get Kimber’s signature on the papers if she was away the whole time?

To which Lance replies that he found the property on a rental website the previous week and rented the house unseen. Her nosey neighbor, Jenny even claims to have seen Kimber hand the stranger a set of keys and documents.

But Kimber insists that there must be a huge mistake; the whole thing is some kind of weird misunderstanding. Besides she has no boyfriend.

While trying to force the intruder out of her home he whispers in her ear, and out of earshot of the police.

“I was there. I know what you did.”

Kimber is shocked. She has no idea what this stranger is on about. Or does she?

As the story progresses, the reader learns that Kimber witnessed a crime twenty-five years ago, which she may be partly responsible for. Someone has discovered the truth and is threatening to expose her. Who is the stranger in her house? Is he someone from her past? And what does he want from her?

The Stranger Inside is a gripping, psychological thriller with enough suspense to keep any reader turning the pages. I would definitely recommend this one.

  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books ( 5 February 2019)

Available on Amazon

Posted in Book Review

The Social Affair – Britney King

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The story follows Izzie Lewis who works at a coffee shop. She is dissatisfied with her mundane life and is forever following people on social media, in an attempt to emulate their lifestyle. She’s even considered quitting her job.

And then one day, a seemingly perfect couple walks into the coffee shop where Izzie works and she is instantly drawn to them. Watching them together and observing how the man fawns over his female companion gives Izzie a glimmer of hope. She wonders what it’d be like being married to the man and she longs for what they have. Following their brief encounter, she decides to seek them out on the internet.

From Izzie’s viewpoint, Josie is happy, abundant, and living her best life. She’s married to a perfect man. Izzie starts stalking the couple in an effort to live vicariously through Josie. What starts as an innocuous past time escalates to something far worse than stalking. Suddenly, Josie becomes the object of her obsession.

“No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.”

Josie appears to live a charmed life. She’s married to Grant, a renowned plastic surgeon, who also happens to be good looking. They have a beautiful teenage daughter, Avery, and a gorgeous home in the best part of town.

But all is not as perfect as it seems. Beneath this facade, she feels suffocated in her marriage and is desperately seeking a way out. But her husband, who is quite controlling and manipulative, is always thwarting her plans.

Who is Izzie and how did she wheedle her way into their lives?

The Social Affair is an utterly gripping page-turner about the dark secrets that lie behind closed doors. This is my second book by the author and I look forward to reading more from her. 

Favorite quotes:

“She doesn’t walk back out into the great big world, she glides, taking all of the air in the room with her when she goes.”

“No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.”

  • Pages: 289
  • Published: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (18 January 2018)
Posted in Book Review

Steamed Open – Barbara Ross

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In this 7th book in the A Maine Clambake Mystery series, a man is found murdered in his newly inherited mansion. This book can be read as a standalone.

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It’s summertime in Busman’s Harbor, Maine and the tourist season is in full swing. Julia Snowden is running their family business, Snowden Family Clambake alongside her sister, her mother and her boyfriend. They provide great dining experiences and organize tours of Busman’s Harbor for tourists who are looking forward to spending their time sightseeing and enjoying the Snowden Family clam dishes.

Bartholomew Frick has inherited a mansion from his great-aunt, Lou, who recently passed. He has also inherited a lighthouse and the lighthouse keeper’s cottage. The mansion overlooks Sea Glass Beach where clammers go to clam for steamers and where beach lovers go to sunbathe. Shortly after his great aunt’s funeral, Frick puts up a chain link gate over his newly acquired property cutting off public access to the beach and the lighthouse. Clammers and lighthouse lovers are incensed by Frick’s actions.

Julia’s Snowden Family Clambake business has been affected since the clammers are unable to supply clams for their clambake meals. Moreover, Frick’s decision will affect clammers who rely solely on supplying clams to provide for their families. The locals have even gone so far as to file an injunction against Frick.

Julia pays Frick a visit and tries, unsuccessfully, to persuade him to change his mind about allowing clammers on the beach.

Following her encounter with Frick, Julia gets a surprise visit from the police. According to them, Frick was found dead that morning in his mansion, stabbed in the neck with a clam rake. They also learned from a witness that Julia was at his house around the same time he was murdered.

Who would have been angry enough to kill Frick? Could it be one of the locals or Ida Fischer, Lou’s housekeeper who was suddenly dismissed from service by the new owner of the mansion? As the cops interview suspects, Julia does a little bit digging of her own to find the killer and restore calm to Busman Harbor once again. Moreover, she is more concerned as to who stands to inherit the mansion with Frick dead.

I absolutely enjoyed this book and I was immediately hooked from the first page. The storyline was easy to follow and kept me guessing until the very end. The characters are likeable and relatable. Overall I found this book engaging and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Highly recommend to anyone looking for a cozy mystery read.
This book includes mouthwatering clam recipes to sate the appetite of any reader.

  • Pages: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (18 December 2018)
Posted in Book Review

Oslo Spies – SJ Slagle

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Oslo spies is an engaging historical thriller set in Norway just after WWII. I enjoyed the plot and the story was fast paced. The characters are well developed and likeable. Highly recommend.

  • Pages: 350
  • Publisher: Sinda Slagle (1 September 2018)
Posted in Book Review

A Vintage Death – Mary Ellen Hughes

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A Vintage Death is the 2nd book in the Keepsake Cove Mystery series.

Callie Reed owns a music box store which she has recently inherited from her aunt Melody in Keepsake Cove. Keepsake Cove is a quaint town on the East coast of Maryland and is well known for its beautiful holiday decorations which attract tourists and collectors who come to browse these quaint shops looking for curios or just do some sightseeing. This year, Callie has volunteered to do the fall street decorations and also host a book signing event for a visiting author.

Few days before the book event, a man is found dead in the park, stabbed with a pair of antique scissors. The scissors come from a vintage sewing shop which the victim’s estranged wife, Dorothy owns. She’s now become a suspect. Callie does not think her friend and neighbour is capable of committing such a crime and decides to investigate. With the help of Lyssa, the visiting author who has secrets of her own, Callie embarks on a mission to prove Dorothy’s innocence and bring the killer to justice. 

I enjoyed this book very much and thought the mystery was well crafted. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed watching Callie and Lyssa solve the mystery. I liked Tabitha, Callie’s assistant and admired her quirky dress sense. Hank, on the other hand, was just a funny character and reading about him made me chuckle. I couldn’t guess who the killers were until they were revealed, and this made it an enjoyable read.
This is my first book by the author and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Highly recommend to lovers of a cozy mystery.

  • Pages: 266
  • Publisher: Midnight Ink (8 November 2018)

 

Posted in Book Review

The Murder at Redmire Hall – J.R. Ellis

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In this 3rd book in the Yorkshire Murder Mysteries series, a man dies while performing a trick on live TV. This book can be read as a standalone.

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Lord Redmire, the most recent successor to the Redmire Hall has a gambling addiction that has placed him in serious debt. Recently, he discovered the secret to the locked-room illusion that his father once used to perform to a private audience. He sees this as an opportunity to make money and is determined to raise funds to get his estate out of debt. Lord Redmire has invited family and friends to witness his performance on live TV.

He has also invited DCI Jim Oldroyd and his sidekick DCS Steph. As the cameras roll, something goes wrong and Lord Redmire reappears in the locked room dead with a knife in his back.

Following Frederick’s death, two long-term employees are found dead on the estate, and DCI Jim realizes he has a tough case on his hands.

As he questions Lord Redmire’s family and staff, DCI Jim Oldroyd learns that Lord Redmire was a womaniser and was running his estate to the ground with his compulsive gambling habits. DCI Oldroyd now believes this to be an inside job as someone close to Lord Redmire has a grudge against him and wants to stop him from gambling away his fortune.

This is a beautifully written book that draws you in from the start. The story is easy to follow and full of well-drawn characters that were interesting. The pace is steady as the story builds and the identity of the killer is revealed. This is a traditional police procedural set in Yorkshire, a county steeped in rich history. The descriptions of the Yorkshire countryside easily transport you to the setting in this book.

  • Pages: 300
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (13 September 2018)
Posted in Book Review

The Lady in the Cellar – Sinclair McKay

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Set in the 18th century, The Lady in the Cellar is a gripping story based on real-life events following the discovery of a woman’s body in the basement of a reputable boarding house in London.

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When the novel opens, in May 1879, a woman’s body is found in a coal cellar of a basement of a boarding house on number 4 Euston Square. The boarding house belongs to Severin Bastendoff, a bamboo cabinet maker who runs the lodge with his wife Mary and several employees. This disturbing discovery raises questions and there are speculations surrounding her death.
Who is she? How did she get there? How did she die? Was she strangled? Did she commit suicide?

Inspector Charles Hagen of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate this gruesome death. The police attempt to identify the victim by tracing her dental history. Their leads are promising when an orthodontist near Euston Square tells them that a female client had come in to get new dentures and he had taken a cast of her mouth and remaining teeth. He says the woman never returned for the dentures but he kept the cast. Surprisingly, the cast matches the victim’s teeth.

Shortly afterwards, an elderly gentleman, Edward Hacker finally comes forward and relays his concerns to the police after reading about the Euston Square mystery in the papers. He identifies the victim as his sister, Matilda Hacker, whom he has not heard from in two years. It appears some of Matilda’s personal effects are missing, in particular, a gold watch, which Edward claims is a family heirloom. Hagen follows the trail of the gold watch and it leads him to a pawnbroker, who runs a pawnshop in Euston Square. The pawnshop owner identifies a Hannah Dobbs as the person who pawned the gold watch.

We soon come to learn that Hannah Dobbs once worked as a maid in the boarding house but was discharged on account of stealing from the lodgers. She’s currently serving a prison sentence in London for petty theft. The inspector also gathers evidence that puts Hannah Dobbs in the lodge at the same time, where the victim once stayed while in London.
Why did Hannah pawn Matilda’s gold watch? More important, why did she pawn the watch under the name of one of Severin’s daughters?

Inspector Hagen gathers more evidence that proves that Matilda was murdered, and this raises more questions: Who killed Matilda? Was it the maid? Was it the owner of the lodge or one of his brothers? Or maybe an employee? Was it a fellow lodger? How come the occupants of the boarding house have no idea there was a decomposing body in the cellar for two years?

As the story progresses, we get some insight into the history of boarding houses in the 18th century and how they were run, citing a few incidents that occurred between lodge owners and their tenants. The reader also learns about Matilda Hacker’s background: a rambunctious and wealthy lady in her mid-60s and a native of Canterbury who moved to London following her sister’s death, how she finally took up residence at the lodge on number 4 Euston Square, and the events leading to when she was last seen in the boarding house.

Hannah, now a prime suspect in the murder of Matilda Hacker has been arrested and is put on trial. During the court proceedings, witnesses are called to the stand to give an account of any evidence that might shed some light into the death of Matilda Hacker. Severin and his wife, Mary are also called to the stand.

There are gaps and inconsistencies in their testimony: Mary claims she has no idea who the victim is and has no recollection of seeing any woman who matches the victim’s description in her boarding house. Severin goes on to recall one or two incidents where he saw a drunk woman who stumbled on the footsteps of his home but he sent the woman away. The reader gathers more about the case from the courtroom scenes and snippets from the Press.

In the succeeding chapters, the reader gets a glimpse into Severin’s personal life: a native of Luxembourg who moved to London with his sister and his brother-in-law, his foray into furniture making, his thriving business which he runs with his brothers, how he met his wife, Mary Pearce in London, and finally acquiring the lodge from its previous owner, a sculptor named Mr. Milnes.
From his backstory, the reader can surmise everything about Severin Bastendorrf; a decent family man who works hard to provide for his wife and four children. Wonderful isn’t it? Well, no it isn’t, because under this veneer of modesty lies something very dark.

As trial finally comes to an end, Hannah is acquitted and the story takes an unexpected turn. 

Following her release, Hannah returns to her home in Bideford, Devonshire. The reader learns about her background: her birthplace, her family, her dreams and aspirations, and circumstances leading to her working as a maid in the boarding house on 4 Euston Square.

Back in Scotland Yard, the investigating officer, Inspector Hagen is not satisfied with the court ruling and tries to gather more evidence for a retrial. He even offers £100 to anyone who would come forward with any relevant information that could be used to convict Hannah.

But Hannah Dobbs makes a preemptive move that shocks everyone. With the help of a ghostwriter, she shares a chilling account of what really happened to Matilda Hacker in number 4 Euston Square. In her tell-all memoir, she also divulges some bizarre incidents that occurred during her stay in the lodge, revealing some dark secrets about the occupants of the boarding house on number 4 Euston Square, including her clandestine meetings with one of the brothers, and providing fresh new insights into their behavior. But are her stories entirely true?

To say more would be giving away spoilers.

The Lady in the Cellar is a blend of history and historical crime steeped in mystery. I enjoyed reading this book and had a hard time putting it down. There are so many twists and turns and even the aftermath of this case was shocking.

I admire McKay’s work and the amount of research he has undertaken in writing The Lady in the Cellar. This is my first book by the author and I will definitely read more from him. If you like true crime mysteries set in this era—even if this isn’t your genre of choice—give this book a try. You will not be disappointed.

  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: White Lion Publishing (30 October 2018)