Monday 30 October 2017

Murder on the Toy Town Express (Vintage Toyshop Mystery #2) by Barbara Early

Murder on the Toy Town Express (Vintage Toyshop Mystery #2)
Liz McCall has come to love running her father's vintage toyshop back home in East Aurora, NY, so when the Train and Toy Show comes to town, she's all aboard for a fun toy-filled weekend. The only hitch is that her childhood bully Craig McFadden, now local business rival, has set up a booth next to hers. But the fun and games are over when Craig falls from the ceiling in a publicity stunt gone wrong. 
What was initially thought to be a fatal accident proves much more sinister. Pulled into the case by her feelings for both Ken, the police chief, and Jack, her high school sweetheart whose brother is one the prime suspects, Liz dives headfirst into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she's shocked to learn her father may have been the intended target. 
The trouble train is barreling down and Liz may have just bought herself a first class ticket in Murder on the Toy Town Express, Barbara Early's delightful second installment in her Vintage Toyshop mysteries.  (Summary via Goodreads)

What would you do if your childhood bully was in an accident right in front of you and later died ?  And it is ruled murder ?  And if he was a business rival whose business was right across from your business ?  What if you met his employee, liked her and felt sorry for her ?  And what if your father was the retired chief of police ?  Oh and you are sort of dating the new chief of police as well as the brother of one of the suspects ?

These are all questions that are asked of Liz McCall who is the main character in Murder on the Toy Town Express by Barbara Early.  Liz does what any normal main character in a cozy mystery does...she dives head first into the investigation.....okay maybe head first isn't a great way to say it seeing as Craig McFadden falls to his death from a catwalk during a stunt at the Train and Toy Show.

There is a lot going on in Murder on the Toy Town Express but the way that Early writes and brings it all together seems effortlessly.  Not only is she telling an attention getting story but she takes the reader down memory lane with her mention of nostalgic toys and comics.  It is also amazing how Liz and her dad work together with each other and the lead investigator on the case.  Especially with her dad retired there is a lot of respect among the group....which is a nice change when looking at other cozy mysteries.  It's nice to see everyone getting along.  

Early has a colorful cast of suspects in this story but when the dust clears and you find out who the guilty party is you will be blown away !!!  I can almost guarantee that you will be as shocked as I was and you will want to go back and re-read it again......

One thing I ALWAYS do when I read a book is read the Author's Notes and Acknowledgments at the end of the book.  This gives me a little more insight into the author and what they are about.  This was the last paragraph in the Acknowledgment's section at the end of Murder on the Toy Town Express and I felt it needed sharing.  

"And thanks to you, the reader.  There are many books on the shelves, and you picked this one.  I hope you've enjoyed the time we've spent together!"

There are a lot of books on the shelves and I HOPE that this is one that you, the reader, will choose.  You will enjoy the time you spend with author Barbara Early.  I know I did.

Review by Missi S.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery #1) by Allison Brook

Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery, #1)
Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she's offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites members of the audience to share stories about Laura, he suddenly keels over and dies. 

The medical examiner reveals that poison is what did him in and Carrie feels responsible for having surged forward with the program despite pushback from her director. Driven by guilt, Carrie's determined to discover who murdered the detective, convinced it's the same man who killed Laura all those years ago. Luckily for Carrie, she has a friendly, knowledgeable ghost by her side. But as she questions the shadows surrounding Laura's case, disturbing secrets come to light and with each step Carrie takes, she gets closer to ending up like Al. 

Now it's due or die for Carrie in Death Overdue, the delightful first in a new cozy series by Allison Brook.  (Summary via Goodreads)

There is so much to LOVE in this new series by Allison Brook.  Death Overdue is the first book in the Haunted Library Mystery series and not only will you love the story and the people but Brook's will have you actually laughing !!  She will also keep you on your toes trying to solve the murders.  I can almost bet that you will end up just as shocked as me when you find out who did it !!

Any book that can pull at your emotions.....wether it is laughing, crying, sitting on the edge of your seat frightened, or turn the pages faster a winner in my eyes.  And Death Overdue is loaded with all of that.

Not only is this a cozy mystery but it can also be described as a fairy tale.  The main character Carrie is definitely living a dream life.....she lives with her aunt and uncle in the beginning who love and spoil her, she receives a new position at the library that she falls in love doing, she moves into a well furnished cottage right on a river, has a dreamy yet mysterious landlord, and has made some good friends.  So what if the first program she is in charge of in her new position ends up with the guest speaker dropping dead and there is one co-worker trying to make her fail at her new job and there is a ghost in the library that only her and one other person can see and communicate with.  

Wait ..... what.... back up.... slow down right ?  

Yes a retired detective is speaking about a 15 year old murder case that he now knows who commited the crime but before he can reveal who it is he drops dead.  This is the first program that Carrie is in charge of since she recieved the job of Head of Programs and Events at the library.  Carrie decides to look into the detective's death as well as the murder that he was there talking about.  Who better to team with than the son of the woman murdered 15 years ago.  

As you read Death Overdue you are introduced to Carrie and her family.  You also get to know all about members of the small town that she lives in....past and present members.  Some people you get to know a little too well and some you will want to know more about.  You also get to hang out with Carrie at work in the library and see the relationships with her co workers develop.  This is where you will "see" Evelyn the library ghost.  

Brook's has mastered the act of story telling.  As you begin to read Death Overdue you are swept right into the story and will not want to put the book down.  You cannot help but wish you were Carrie in most ways and like her you will want to solve both murders even if one of her new friends is the guilty party.  

So I encourage you to pick up a copy and sit in your favorite reading nook and spend some time with Carrie in Clover Ridge.....

Review by Missi S.

Monday 23 October 2017

Murder in Little Shendon by A.H. Richardson

Murder in Little Shendon

MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens - not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man's housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead - it's the journey that proves the most enticing.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Murder in Little Shendon by A.H. Richardson is such a clever tale !!

Richardson wastes no time in presenting the murder.  Chapter 1, page 3 and you have antique shop owner Bartholomew Fynche dead on the floor in his office.  Fynche was not a likeable person, actually it seemed he was hated by everyone who lived in the small town.  That means that the suspect list was quite long.

Inspector Burgess enlists the help of Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon.  Although Brandon is an actor he has experience and knowledge in criminology and being an actor may help him to interview people while keeping them at ease.

Richardson has developed a very interesting and unique cast of characters that reside in Little Sheldon.  As you read the story and ride along with Inspector Burgess and his two helpers, you get acquainted with the town as well as the residents.  I'm sure that you will agree with me that you do not envy their tasks in the least.  With everyone having disliked Fynche how will they solve the murder......

And when another person, Lady Armstrong's cook Flora Riley, is found murdered, it is more difficult to tie the two crimes together.

But where there is a will, there is a way and the way that these three men work together and solve both murders will have you applauding Richardson and looking forward to the next book....

Review by Missi S.

Thursday 5 October 2017

Peregrine Island by Diane B. Saxton

Peregrine Island
PEREGRINE ISLAND is the recipient of the following literary awards:

2017 Winner of the National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Fiction: Northeast 
2017 Distinguished Favorite in Literary Fiction by Independent Press Awards 
2017 International Book Awards Finalist for Literary Fiction 
2017 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist for Fiction 
2017 Bronze Award for US Northeast Fiction from the Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards

Literary Mystery Highlights an Heirloom Painting on Long Island Sound and the Relationships between Three Generations of Women 

Part “who-done-it” and part family drama, this award-winning novel reveals that neither people nor paintings are always what they appear to be

Contradictory relationships within troubled families are nothing new, but the award-winning psychological novel written by well-known journalist Diane B. Saxton elevates these relationships and the mysterious heirloom painting that both exposes and unites them to an art form.

Peregrine Island interweaves the stories of three generations of women, one valuable painting, the artist who created it, and those who would do anything to possess it – including kill.

Lush with sensory details, this psychologically complex mystery novel is set on a private island in the middle of Long Island Sound. It begins when the family’s lives are turned upside-down one summer by so-called art experts, who appear on the doorstep of their isolated home to appraise a favorite heirloom painting. When incriminating papers along with two other paintings are discovered behind the painting in question, the appraisal turns into a full-fledged investigation and detectives are called into the case— but not by the family whose members grow increasingly antagonistic toward one another.

During the course of the inquiry and as the summer progresses, the family members discover new secrets about one another and new facts about their past. Above all, they learn that neither people nor paintings can be taken at face value.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Peregrine Island by Diane B. Saxton is the first book that I have read that upon completing it, I am still unsure as to if I liked it or not.....  Peregrine Island gives the reader a LOT to think about.  Even after finishing it, it will stay on your mind for some time.  I guess a good one word discription of it would be "intense".

In Peregrine Island there are a total of 12 characters within the entire story and the way that Saxton strings them all together will completely amaze you.  It is like watching a magician do a magic trick.

I love how Saxton devotes one chapter to a character and their point of view of the story.  I think that helps the reader better understand how each character is thinking.  And believe me there is a lot of thinking going on.

Although the story and chapters are viewed through the minds of Winter, her daughter Elsie and granddaughter Peda, you will get to know the men in their lives as well.

Saxton centers the entire story around a painting, a painting that has been in Winter's life for as long as she can remember.  She stares at the people in the picture for hours every day.  She likes to think that she knows the people and how they feel and think.  It takes her away from her own life that at times is hard for her to understand and deal with.   And the story behind the painter is just as mysterious as the characters in the painting.

For a story that has few characters and is set around one object, a story that has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, a story that is read through the viewpoint of three people, focuses on the present as well as the past, I can say for sure that you will find it very entertaining as well as riveting.  I look forward to what Saxton has in store for us with her next novel.

Review by Missi S.