Monday, 4 July 2022

A Sinister Service (A Lady & Lady's Maid Mystery #6) by Alyssa Maxwell

A trip to Staffordshire for Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her lady’s maid, Eva Huntford, leads to murder in a famed pottery works...

Following the devastation of the Great War, England's noble class takes comfort in honoring tradition. To celebrate their grandparents' wedding anniversary, Lady Phoebe Renshaw and her siblings travel to Staffordshire to commission a china service bearing the Wroxly coat of arms from the venerated Crown Lily Potteries, a favorite of Queen Mary.

The two leading designers at the illustrious china manufacturer offer competing patterns. But when one of them is found dead—his body crushed in a grinding pan and his design pattern book missing—his rival is immediately suspected. The police are also suspicious of the dead designer's resentful young son, a schoolmate of Phoebe's fifteen-year-old brother Fox. When Fox gets involved to help his friend, Phoebe begins to investigate the rival artist.

At the same time, Eva is enlisted to go undercover at the works so she can gain the confidence of the female employees, who are only allowed to paint, not design, which may have led to a grudge against the victim. Pursuing a killer who has no compunction about using a kiln as a coffin, Phoebe and Eva take their lives into their hands to discover the shattering truth . . .   (Summary via Goodreads)

I LOVE traveling back in time with Alyssa Maxwell as my tour guide, interpreter, and voice for the characters.  The books in her series always grab your attention immediately and you are taken back in time to a simpler time that always has some murder and mayhem involved.

In A Sinister Service, the sixth book in Maxwell's A Lady & Lady's Maid Mystery series, main characters Phoebe and Eva, Phoebe's lady's maid are leaving Foxwood Hall and traveling to Staffordshire.  They are traveling with Phoebe's older sister Julia with her lady's maid, Hetta, as well are younger siblings, Amelia and Fox.  They are going to be staying at Lyndale Park, the estate of Lady Julia's late husband.  Unfortunately they do not know if Julia owns the property yet as her late husband's will has not been read yet and will not be read until Julia gives birth to the child she conceived on their wedding night shortly before he was murdered....but that is another book and story that hopefully you have read already.  

Okay back to A Sinister Service.... the siblings are in Staffordshire to visit one of the many china making factories, Crown Lily Potteries, to discuss designing a china pattern and order china for their grandparents upcoming anniversary.

While at Crown Lily Potteries receiving a tour of the factory, the group comes across an old school mate of Fox's.  Trent Mercer had been taken out of the school that he attended with Fox to go work with his father at Crown Lily.  His father is head of the design department and designs a lot of the patterns for the company and wants Trent to follow in his footsteps so he was working at the factory and learning the business.  

Unfortunately when the siblings return to the factory for a second meeting to finalize their custom order, Mr. Mercer does not show up for their meeting.  Soon after they find out the reason for his absence....he was murdered in another part of the factory.  And the bad news doesn't end there....Trent is arrested for his dad's murder.

Fox insists that his friend is innocent and Phoebe and Eva are inclined to agree, however, they need proof in order to make the police look elsewhere.  So Eva kind of goes undercover in the painting department pretending that she may be looking to leave her job as a lady's maid and work in a factory.  Phoebe also does her part by questioning anyone that will give her time.....but as they get closer to the truth, they put themselves right in the line of danger and they may not be able to save themselves in time !!!

Maxwell grabs your attention immediately and you will feel like you are standing along side the duo as they investigate this new murder and try to prove Trent's innocence.  You cannot help but turn the pages as fast as you can so that you can see what happens at every turn.  Once you read one of the books in the A Lady & Lady's Maid Mystery series, you will be a fan for life .... I guarantee it !!

Review by Missi M.

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever. Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Anna Lee Huber, Kate Khavari’s debut historical mystery is a fast-paced, fearless adventure.

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university's large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition's departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor's name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?
   (Summary via Goodreads)

A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari is a great debut to her Saffron Everleigh Mystery series.  This book has a very unique storyline that draws the reader in immediately.

In A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons readers are introduced to Saffron Everleigh who is a research assistant in the botany department of the University College London in the year 1923.  She is the only woman in a position of this magtitude and she loves her job.  Unfortunately while attending a dinner party someone falls very ill, ending in a coma, and her boss, Dr. Maxwell, is arrested when it is determined that the woman was poisoned.

Saffron knows that Dr. Maxwell would never do such a thing and determines to find out who did it......unfortunately she has no idea where to begin looking.  While there are a number of people within the college getting ready to head on a six-month long expedition to the Amazon, she has also added some of them to her suspects list.  However she is unclear if the person poisoned, Mrs. Henry, was the actual intended target or if her husband or someone else going on the trip was the target.  Luckily for Saffron, another researcher in the department, Alexander Ashton, decides to help her with her investigating....or maybe he is spending time with her for another reason.....

As readers get into the story, they will soon learn how far Saffron will go to prove Dr. Maxwell is innocent....and you will be shocked at the length she goes.....but you will also love the determination and fire this main character has !!  Readers will love Saffron and Alexander together working on solving the case as well as getting to know each other and the feelings they are developing.  Readers will also enjoy the pace of the storyline being set back in time when there were no computers and crimes were solved completely differently that modern times.  

Readers will be hooked and when you get to the last page there will be no way for you not to want to read the next book in this series when it comes out.  I know I am looking forward to see how the expedition went and how Saffron is enjoying work and if her and Alexander can resume their relationship where they left off.....

Review by Missi M.


Saturday, 25 June 2022

Something's Guava Give (Trouble in Paradise! #2) by Carrie Doyle

Nothing ruins an ocean view like a body on the beach!
Plum Lockhart went out on a limb when she ditched her corporate job in New York City and moved to the Caribbean island of Paraiso. Now the head of her own villa broker agency, Plum spends her days chasing down clients and lounging on white sand beaches.
But the sweet life turns sour when a publishing heiress is found dead at the mansion of an eccentric tycoon, Dieter Friedrich. Even worse, Plum's old colleague cashes in a favor and asks her to investigate. It looks like she'll need to fit a murder case into her already jam-packed schedule!
Friedrich is known for his shady dealings, but he's not the only bad apple on the island—Plum will have to contend with a scheming millionaire, a sleazy rockstar, and devious B-list celebrities. And joining Plum once again is Juan Kevin Munoz, the distractingly gorgeous Director of Security. Despite the sparks between them, they'll need to stay focused on the case—there's a murderer hot on their heels!   (Summary via Goodreads)

Something's Guava Give is the second book in the Trouble in Paradise Mystery series by Carrie Doyle and I want to live in this paradise !

In Something's Guava Give main character Plum Lockhart has moved to Paraiso, an island in the Caribbean to reinvent herself and boy is she doing it in style !!  After moving to Paraiso from New York City for a job in the first book in this series, It Takes Two to Mango, and getting involved in a murder investigation she takes things to the next level in Something's Guava Give.  She left her job and opened up a competing business, Plum Lockhart Luxury Retreats, a villa broker agency.  She was fortunate enough to take another employee, Lucia, with her.

In Something's Guava Give Plum is asked to go to the office of the head of security by her New York friend Gerald when his assistant which is also the boss's daughter causes trouble at the resort.  Luckily Plum and the head of security Juan Kevin has history and she has no problem going there to help out Gerald's assistant, Arielle.......unfortunately Arielle is asked to vacant the resort which she does.  However she goes to the residence of a friend of her parents and ends up dead the next morning.  Gerald rushes to Paraiso to try to find out what happened and when it is ruled murder, he convinces Plum to look into the case and find out who killed her.  

Readers will love reading this series and even though there are only two books in the series, so far, they are packed full of great material and people and you will want to jump on a plane as fast as Gerald did and find your own piece of paradise.....while hopefully staying out of trouble and staying alive.

In Something's Guava Give Doyle provides readers with a great cast of characters to add to your list of suspects and when something else happens to shake things up, readers will be sent back to the drawing board to start all over again.  Doyle also has the amazing ability to open your imagination so that what you are reading will come alive in your head.  You will be able to picture everything as if it were actually real and it will leave you breathless......

Review by Missi M.

Thursday, 23 June 2022

An Uplifting Murder (Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper #6) by Elaine Viets

St. Louis mystery shopper Josie Marcus discovers the world of luxury lingerie has more than one secret after her high school teacher is accused of suffocating a former classmate...

When Desiree Lingerie hires Josie, she’s delighted to find her high school teacher, Mrs. Hayes, is now a manager at the chain. Less thrilling is the mini-reunion with her mean girl nemesis, Frankie Martin. But after Frankie is killed just steps from the shop—and her beloved ex-teacher is identified as a prime suspect—Josie gets hooked into another murder investigation.

Mrs. Hayes is spilling over with motives—years ago, Frankie destroyed her career. Unfortunately, her alibi is pretty skimpy. So, with only her secret shopper smarts and a bit of amateur sleuthing experience to support her, Josie must strip away the lies in order to bust the real killer before anyone else becomes tangled up in this case.
   (Summary via Goodreads)

If you have read any of the books in the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series by Elaine Viets you know that main character Josie will do anything for her family and friends.  And in An Uplifting Murder that friendship started back when Josie was in school.

In An Uplifting Murder, the sixth book in this series, Josie and her best friend Alyce are mystery shopping at a high end lingerie store, Desiree Lingerie at the Plaza Venetia Mall.  They are there to have a certain clerk wait on them....however Josie gets way more than she bargained for when the manager of the store is her old gym teacher and another shock is that one of her school bullies is there shopping as well.  Unfortunately when Josie and Alyce stop into the ladies room in the mall after shopping they find Frankie, the bully, dead in the handicapped stall !!

No one deserves to be murdered but Josie cannot help but think that Frankie got what was coming for her.  But that feeling is short lived when Laura, her old teacher, is arrested for the murder.  Josie knows that Laura did not kill Frankie but the police feel that they have their killer and the case is closed.   So Josie decides to look into Frankie's murder but her list of suspects is quite long.  Things get worse when there are threats made to Josie's car .....

Readers cannot help but fall in love with the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series....the characters are lovable and could remind you of someone in your real life.  The job that Josie has is never the same and always fun for readers to tag along to.  Her relationships and friendships are ones for readers to strive for.  Once you start reading one of the books in this series, you will be hooked and a fan for life.  Every time you open the next book you will feel like you are visiting family or a dear friend.

I highly recommend reading the Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series and letting Viets take you away.....

Review by Missi M.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Dangerous Waters (Sgt. Windflower Mysteries #12) by Mike Martin

Even as Windflower tries to move away from life as a Mountie, the lure of an investigation is too strong to resist. This time a series of missing men, one of whom turns up dead, gets his attention. Then some interesting foreign visitors show up in a snowstorm and another adventure begins to unfold.
There’s a trip to the special island of Saint Pierre just off the coast of Newfoundland and more than enough food to meet any appetite. Eddie Tizzard and the gang are back to help out where required and Sheila and Windflower’s little girls provide him with the support and love he needs to navigate some very dangerous waters.
Come back to Grand Bank and come close to the fire while we tell you another great story in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series.   (Summary via Goodreads)

I love reading the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series by Mike Martin.  You can get lost in these books and feel like you are right there in Grand Bank hanging around with Windflower, Sheila, Tizzard, Carrie or someone else....maybe Herb Stoodley at the Mug-Up Cafe.

I thought when Windflower retired from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police things would be different and not as interesting but I was totally wrong.  Now he gets to pick how he wants to be involved with the RCMP as a consultant....and he stills gets plenty of quality time with his wife, Sheila, and their daughters, Stella and Amelia Louise, and still gets time to work at the B&B they own.

In the twelvth book, Dangerous Waters, Tizzard, who took over for Windflower at the RCMP detachment has his hands full when three local men are reported missing and one shows up dead in the water.  Luckily for Tizzard Windflower is convinced to help out on the case as a consultant when it is discovered that a group of Germans passing through might be mixed up in the case.  As things progress the case gets more complicated when money and drugs are added to the mix.

There is so much to love within the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series......from the characters and their relationships, to the food and the town, to the quotes Windflower and friends mention trying to outdo each other, to the crimes commited and the way the RCMP goes about solving them (you gotta love Betsy !!) to when Windflower goes out back to do his smudging to the dreams he has and now Tizzard has them also !!  You can even enjoy reading about just hanging out with Windflower when he is walking Lady, reading bedtime stories to the girls or playing with them, to the talks he has with Sheila, or going to the Mug-Up for coffee.  There doesn't have to be much going on for you to be entertained with this series.  Martin has a knack of pulling you in instantly and your attention is maintained until you get to the last word in the book.  This, by far, is one of my favorite series to read because as soon as you read one book, you feel like a part of the family and will grab the next book as soon as you can so you can reconnect with all your favorite characters.

Review by Missi M.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Buried in a Good Book (By the Book Mysteries #1) by Tamara Berry

Don't miss the first book in a brand-new gripping and hilarious bookish cozy mystery series by author Tamara Berry! Put your sleuthing hat on―Buried in a Good Book features:

A thriller writer who knows way more than anyone should about death and dismemberment

Her young daughter who's more intrigued by dead bodies than she probably should be

An isolated cabin in the woods that's probably―definitely―hiding something

The tiny mountain town that seems less than troubled by a sudden abundance of murders

Bestselling thriller writer Tess Harrow is almost at the end of her rope when she arrives with her teenage daughter at her grandfather's rustic cabin in the woods. She hopes this will be a time for them to heal and bond after Tess's recent divorce, but they've barely made it through the door when an explosion shakes the cabin. Suddenly it's raining fish guts that a human arm?

Tess was hardly convincing Gertie that a summer without Wi-Fi and running water would be an adventure. Now she's thrust into a murder investigation, neighbors are saying they've spotted Bigfoot in the woods near her cabin, and the local sheriff is the spitting image of her character Detective Gabriel Gonzales―something he's less than thrilled about. With so much more than her daughter's summer plans at stake, it's up to Tess to solve this case before anyone else gets hurt.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I will give you a bit of advice when you pick up Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry.  This is the first book in her new By the Book Mystery series and the best thing that you can do is just read the book and enjoy it.  Get lost in the story and let the words take you where they will NEVER solve the case, you will NEVER figure out who done don't even try !!

In Buried in a Good Book Tess Harrow who is an author takes her daughter to the log cabin in the woods where her granfdather lived for over half his life.  Unfortunately the cabin didn't have electricity or running water and Tess was hoping to get her daughter, Gertude away from electronics and back to nature.  It has been 6 months since Tess and her husband, Quentin, divorced and about as long as he has made contact with Gertrude.  Tess also had a book to write and a deadline coming up so she was hoping they both could benefit from getting away from city living in Seattle.

However before they can even unpack and look around they hear a big boom and when they go to investigate, they find a man throwing dynamite into the pond on the property as his way of fishing.  Unfortunately by doing so a body part is thrown out of the pond. And when the local sheriff, Victor Boyd, shows up he is the spitting image of Tess's main character in her books, Detective Gonzales.  Add to that a local elderly woman insists that her cat is missing and Sheriff Boyd is haunted by Bigfoot sightings in the forest.  

There is more to Buried in a Good Book that I could talk about but I really don't want to give anything away and want you to finish reading my review so that you can go grab your copy and start reading.  I know that I am being vague in a way and that is only because Berry has crafted an amazing story and her imagination is off that charts and I can't really say more without giving some things away and if I do that it will take away from the excitement of you reading it firsthand !!

I cannot stress it enough that you have to read this book !!!  I was left open mouthed and totally shocked and cannot wait to see what the second book in this series to see what crazy roads we end up on .....

Review by Missi M.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Death by Beach Read (Lighthouse Library Mystery #9) by Eva Gates

Librarian Lucy’s new historic house comes with a lot of baggage and family secrets. Can she put them to rest or will a killer bring Lucy’s family to their downfall, in the 9th Lighthouse Library mystery.
It’s spring in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Lucy and Connor have moved into their new home at last, a historic cottage on the Nags Head Beach. The house needs a lot of renovations, but they worked hard over the winter to get it ready. Lucy is now happily immersed in her work at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, planning her wedding, and decorating the house. That is, until a dead body disrupts their peaceful new abode.   
The first night Lucy’s alone in the house, with the company of Charles the library cat, she hears sounds. Investigating they see footsteps in the dust of the unfinished living room, and the door to the outside is open. Lucy's reminded that the house is said to be haunted: forty years ago the teenage daughter of the owners fled in the night, and never again stepped foot inside her family home.
But the sounds have an all-too-human origin and one evening Lucy and Connor find the dead body of a man they don’t even recognize in their kitchen. They soon realize he has a long-time connection to their house. Lucy's forced to find out what happened all those years ago and why it’s threatening her happiness today.
Meanwhile, the Classic Novel Reading Club is reading The House of the Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorne, a book about another old house full of secrets. Can Lucy find parallels to her own situation in Hawthorne’s fiction before the killer strikes again?  (Summary via Goodreads)

Having read all of the books in the Lighthouse Library Mystery series by Eva Gates I can honestly say that I am a devoted fan with well invested attention and care for the characters and the town of Nags Head in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I have seen the characters grow, celebrate life, mourn death, and come together as a town.  I truly love when I can open one of the books in this series and travel to Nags Head and spend time with some of the people that I wish were real and I could visit with in person.

Death by Beach Read is the ninth book in this series and there is a lot going on.  Main character Lucy Richardson who works at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library and lives at the top of the lighthouse in a little apartment has moved out of the apartment and in with her fiance, Connor McNeil in a beach house.  Unfortunately the house that they have moved into has sat vacant for many years and requires a lot of TLC which Connor and his father are doing together.  Not only has the house stood empty for so long but it seems that there are some old secrets surrounding the house and the family that use to live there.  

While Connor is away at a convention and Lucy is alone in the house with Charles the library cat, she hears noises and notices some things that lead her to believe someone was in the house.  Then shortly after Connor returns home and the two of them return home, they find an elderly man dead in their kitchen.  When the man is identified as one of the brothers that grew up in the house it opens up a huge can of worms and not the kind you can use for fishing.  Jimmy Harper, one of the children, from the family that owned the house left Nags Head many years ago and his brother Ralph and sister Jo haven't heard or seen him in years.  It is rumored that Jimmy thought there was a family treasure in the house and maybe he returned to claim it.  No one believes that there is a treasure of any kind in the house and Lucy and Connor have been all through the house and insist that nothing of value was left behind.  Unfortunately someone still believes there is a treasure and will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.

Lucy does one of the things she does brilliantly and looks into the history behind the family and the house as well as why Jimmy returned.  Unfortunately she doesn't realize that what happened all those years ago would have such an impact of things going on now in her house.  And she doesn't realize someone close to her is the one still looking for this treasure.  Luckily she has Charles the cat looking out for her and she figures things out before someone dies or gets seriously hurt.....her !!!

Readers will NEVER see what is coming in Death by Beach Read !!  The way that Gates maneuvers the characters and the plot of the story and makes a character from another book such an important part of this story is an art like no other.  I highly recommend reading any and all books in the Lighthouse Library Mystery series and I bet you will want to move into town and hang out with everyone you read about !!

Review by Missi M.