Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Buried Secrets: The Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series Book 11 by Mike Martin

RCMP Sergeant Winston Windflower is at a crossroads as career opportunities intrude on his near-perfect life in the blustery paradise of Grand Bank, Newfoundland.

Just as the pandemic ends, the little oceanside communities are rocked by the murders of prominent figures, an RCMP Staff Sergeant in St. John’s and a minister in Grand Bank, and it’s implied that there are national security implications to at least one crime. There’s also a sinister new character hanging around doing the parish’s dirty work.

Windflower finds himself a primary investigator, balancing work, potential major changes, and life with a young family while seeking guidance from his ancestral teachings and dreams.

Are the crimes connected, and can Windflower and his team find the killer before they strike again? As the police work becomes more complicated and even dangerous, Sgt. Windflower finds time to enjoy his family, his friends and always some great food.

Come back to Grand Bank for another great adventure in Sgt. Windflower Mysteries.  (Summary via Amazon)

Reading the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series is like hanging out with family and friends.  Author Mike Martin has a way with his writing that your eyes breeze over the words and you instantly connect with Windflower and whatever he is dealing with in his life....and that is usually a lot !!!

In Buried Secrets, the eleventh book in this series Windflower has a lot on his plate with a few cases that he is working on hitting close to home and things in his personal life are causing him some turmoil as well.  Luckily for Windflower his work with the communications section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in St. John's is coming to an end sooner than expected as he is needed for more important things back home in Grand Bank.  Unfortunately a previous boss, Staff Sergeant Alison Morecombe, who is on leave from her job at the time, is found dead in her home in St. John's and it is shortly ruled murder.  However before Windflower can do anything with that case, he is called back to Grand Bank to look into the death of beloved Reverend Bob Prowse who is found dead in his bath tub.  Upon a closer look and autopsy, it is discovered that Reverend Bob's death was from insulin poisoning but he was not diabetic.

While Windflower gets back into the groove of things in Grand Bank with the job, employees and cases, he is also getting reaquainted with his wife, Sheila, their 2 daughters and his Uncle Frank....not to mention all the friends in town.  

No matter what Windflower has on his plate, he has no problem handling it, whether it is food or life.  And in Buried Secrets he has a lot of things to address.  One thing he is having trouble with has to deal with the job so he turns to Creator and the dream world side with his Auntie Marie guiding him through it.  

Readers by now know that when Windflower is on the case, you can be assured of it being solved and in Buried Secrets there are a few cases that he is deep into....readers will love reading about his take control manner and how he handles whatever comes his way and the things that come his way will make your jaw drop !!  And when things in his personal life begin to get cloudy for him, you know that even though its foggy, he will be able to see clearly soon enough.

I love the relationships in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series.  I love the customs that he follows with the smudging, prayer and the dream world he connects with.  Readers cannot help but long for the life that Windflower and Sheila have with each other and the friends they have in Grand Bank.  And even though it was foggy throughout my time in Grand Bank, I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait to get back to see where Martin is going to take the story......

Review by Missi M.

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Empress Isabella and the Halloween Caper by Margaret Evans

Something is amiss in the Halloween Haunted Woods in Raging Ford, Minnesota, this year. Laura Keene and her friends handed the reins over to several eighth-graders to run, but, oh my! What is going on?? Bags of Halloween treats are vanishing in the darkness, some floating up into the air! Hisses and soft whiskers are tickling the noses of some of the kids, but there’s no one there! Bullies are being tripped up! Children are running out of the woods, and Laura and her fiancĂ© Sgt. Connor Fitzpatrick dig into what’s happening. They shoo away some bats, suspecting dark forces may be responsible, but who...or what...is behind it all?  (Summary via Goodreads)

Whether you are a fan of the Second Treasures Mystery series by Margaret Evans, Halloween, cats, ghosts, small towns, friendships, haunted houses, costumes, and/or getting lost in a good story, Empress Isabella and the Halloween Caper is your cup of tea !!

Empress Isabella and the Halloween Caper is also a novella and less than 80 pages long so you can grab a snack and a drink and settle in for a few hours and read it in one sitting or you can space it out and enjoy it at your leisure.

Empress Isabella is a cat that lives with Laura Keene and hangs out in her second hand store, Second Treasures, and only Laura and her fiance, Sgt. Connor Fitzpatrick, can see her.  For the longest time only Laura could see her until her and Connor got engaged and now lucky for him he can also see her.

In Empress Isabella and the Halloween Caper the town of Raging Ford is gearing up for the Halloween holiday and it's Halloween Haunted Woods event....and this event is huge !!  A selected few are on the decorating committee to decorate a wooded area across from Connor's parents house and the kids walk through it on Halloween and get spooked and come out with a bag full of candy and other goodies.....except this year there is a surprise or two and Empress Isabella is going to be part of it but no one knows that and when it happens, Laura and Connor are left asking if she was doing good or evil......

Seeing as it is days away from Halloween this is the perfect time to get lost in a Halloween themed story and the fact that Empress Isabella and the Halloween Caper is short, you will be able to add it to your schedule easily........

Review by Missi M.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Castles, Catnip & Murder (A Dickens & Christie Mystery #5) by Kathy Manos Penn

It was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. Now this legendary location could be hiding a killer in its battlements.
Leta Parker’s retirement in the Cotswolds’ rolling hills has been a balm for her soul. And heading off with her friends and talking four-legged companions to a cat yoga retreat on the cliffs of Cornwall’s Arthurian coastline seems like the perfect mix of relaxation and exploration. But when a fellow yogi’s corpse pose nearly becomes permanent, Leta believes it’s no stretch to suspect foul play.

Seeking the cause of the death-like pose, the Little Old Ladies’ Detective Agency springs into action to hunt down the culprit. But with the poor woman’s recent tragic history, the resort’s grieving owners, and a doubtful local DI all conspiring to muddy the picture, this case could end up in ruins.

Will the crack team of senior sleuths unearth the evidence to throw a would-be murderer in the dungeon?

Castles, Catnip & Murder is the intriguing fifth book in the Dickens & Christie cozy mystery series. If you like tenacious retirees, witty banter, and fascinating myths and legends, then you’ll love Kathy Manos Penn’s trip to the Round Table.  (Summary via Goodreads)

The Dickens & Christie Mystery series by Kathy Manos Penn is so fun to read !!  If you read one book in this series, you will be an immediate fan and want to read the additional books.  In this series the main thing that readers will love is that the main character can talk to and understand animals.  Leta Parker is the main character and she has moved from the States across the pond as they say and lives in Astonbury in the Cotswolds with her cat, Christie and her dog, Dickens, and they communicate all the time !!  And those aren't the only animals Leta can understand.

Leta has made life in Astonbury quite enjoyable...she has a close knit group of friends, has some hobbies to get her through getting use to early retirement as well as getting over her late husband Henry.....and one of her hobbies is attending yoga classes as often as she can.

In Castles, Catnip & Murder Leta and some of her closest friends are going on a yoga retreat to Knights' Rest and Christie along with the cat living at Knights' Rest will be participating in the yoga classes and Christie cannot wait !!

Unfortunately while at the retreat they meet Caryn Darby who recently lost her fiance Arthur.  His death was ruled accidental but she believes otherwise and when she gets very ill, Leta and her friends, who are also known as the LOL's, the Little Old Ladies' Detective Agency, decide to do some investigating.  But before they can figure out the who and why of Caryn's illness, they discover that they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg !!

Another great thing about the Dickens & Christie Mystery series is that Penn provides a list of characters at the beginning of all her books so that readers can look back at any point while reading the story to make sure they know who is who.  However, even though she provides this list, you will have a hard time trying to crack the case.  I highly recommend that you sit back with a snack and a drink and settle in and let Leta and her friends tell the story and uncover the details and the killer......

Review by Missi M.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Murder with All the Trimmings (Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper #4) by Elaine Viets

‘Tis the season for sleuthing when secret shopper Josie Marcus’s ex falls victim to a festive fiend…

Josie’s latest mystery shopper report won’t help business at Naughty or Nice, Maplewood’s raunchy year-round Christmas store. But she can’t worry about work when her ex-dealer, ex-convict, ex-boyfriend, Nate Weekler, just came home for the holidays, prepared to fight Josie for custody of their daughter. Josie wishes he’d catch the next sleigh out of town, but instead, Nate is poisoned…and suddenly Josie is a person of interest.

With Nate’s criminal past, he’d never make Santa’s “Nice” column, but his own list of enemies also includes plenty of “Naughties” who might want him dead. Josie will need her team of little helpers to wrap up this case, before the killer commits another holiday homicide.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I am a huge fan of author Elaine Viets and her Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper Mystery series.  Every time I read one of the books in this series it becomes my favorite one so far and Murder with All the Trimmings, the fourth book in the series, is now my favorite....that is until I read the fifth book.

In Murder with All the Trimmings Josie is thrown into her worst nightmare.....the father of her 9 year-old daughter Amelia comes to town ! Josie and Nate never married and when he was arrested for being a drug dealer, she did not let him know that she was pregnant.  She didn't think that he would ever get out of the Canadian jail he was in and even told Amelia that her father was dead.  But when he shows up and wants to get back together with Josie and be a family with her and Amelia, Josie is not happy.  Josie has finally found the man of her dreams in Mike the plumber and wants nothing to do with Nate.  Unfortunately Josie's world comes crumbling down on her when Nate dies.....but let's back up just a bit.

Mike's ex-girlfriend who is the mother of his teenage daughter opens up a Christmas store right next to two other Christmas themed stores except her store, Naughty or Nice, is not your normal Christmas store.  Doreen is a thorn in Josie's side and her daughter Heather is a thorn in Amelia's side.  Heather is not a nice person at all and unfortunately she takes after her mother and sadly Mike does not see it at all.  When it comes to his daughter, she can do no wrong.  

When two people die, Nate being one of them, and they are ruled murder and their deaths are from poisoning and the only thing they have in common is that they both ate chocolate cake from the store next door to Doreen's, Elsie's Elf House, Josie is thrown into a murder investigation....again.  And this time not only is she a suspect but Mike is also.  Josie has to figure out how to prove that neither her or Mike poisoned Nate and some woman that they didn't even know and do it fast !!

Readers cannot help but fall in love with this series and no matter what book you pick up, you will be instantly drawn into Josie's life and not want to leave.  Viets has a great cast of characters for readers to love and the stories and the murders that she comes up with will grab your interest immediately.  And as you get to know everyone, even the nosy neighbor Mrs. Mueller, you will be ready to move into the neighborhood and help Josie navigate through life.....

Review by Missi M.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Strawberries and Crime (A Finn Family Farm Mystery #2) by Elle Brooke White

In Elle B. White's delightful second Finn Family Farm mystery, farmer Charlotte Finn and her sleuthing baby pig are neck-deep in strawberries and crime.

Things are finally growing smoothly on the Finn Family Farm. With the help of caretakers Joe and Alice Wong and farmer Samuel Brown, Charlotte Finn is starting to feel at home at the Santa Barbara County produce farm she inherited. But all is not strawberries and cream: A blight is destroying young berry plants. Worse, another mysterious death is shaking Little Acorn.

The victim is grizzled, cantankerous Linc Pierce, the only farmer in Little Acorn whose strawberry crop was fruitful. Charlotte and her old friend Beau Mason find him hanging from the rafter, an apparent suicide. But a cursory search turns up a half-eaten sandwich. Who eats before he kills himself?

Chief Goodacre suspects foul play. Her prime suspect is Beau, who exchanged words--and worse--with Linc earlier in the day. Meanwhile, Little Acorn's farmers point accusing fingers at one another, recalling Linc's suggestion that someone sabotaged their strawberries. As Charlotte searches for clues to exonerate Beau, she finds something on Linc's workbench not buried in dust. Could this be why Linc's strawberry plants are alive? And, perhaps, why Linc is dead?

Now, if Charlotte and Horse--the farm's baby pig with a bottomless stomach and an insatiable hunger for sleuthing--can't root out the murderer, they, too, may end up dead and berried.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I fell in love with the first book, Dead on the Vine, in the Finn Family Farm Mystery series by Elle Brooke White and couldn't wait for the next book and it is finally here !!  Strawberries and Crime is full of entertaining stories and lovable people and a farm and community that you will want to be a part of !!

Charlotte Finn is the main character in this series and she has inherited her great-uncle's farm in Little Acorn.  Not only did she inherit the farm but the people and the animals associated with it are her responsiblility as well....and one animal in particular she couldn't get rid of no matter what....and that is Horse, her trusty companion and all around know-it-all protector the pig.

In Strawberries and Crime the farm is alive with activity as Charlotte's childhood best friend Diane is building and working on opening a farm to table restaurant on property on the farm and everyone is doing whatever they can to help.  Unfortunately Charlotte is pulled in a different direction when some of the strawberry crop starts dying and she finds out that hers isn't the only farm having this trouble.  Then when her and Beau, Diane's brother as well as Charlotte's dear friend, meet up with some other farmers and there's an argument between Beau and another farmer, Linc, things go downhill quickly.  And when Beau and Charlotte go to Linc's farm to apologize, they find him dead hanging in his barn.  It doesn't take Chief Goodacre long to realize that it was murder and the murderer staged it to look like suicide and Beau was the last person to have a confrontation with him.

Even though Charlotte should be tending to her strawberry plants and helping Diane get the restaurant ready to open, she is pulled into looking into Linc's death....she has to for Beau's sake.  With the help of Horse and friend and farmhand Samuel, they decide to find out who would benefit from damaging other farmers crops and getting rid of Linc.   Luckily Beau is taken off the suspect list early in the investigation, however, Diane's contractor Danny is taken in for Linc's murder.  Diane and Danny have been getting to know each other on the personal level and she knows that even though he has a temper, he wouldn't have harmed Linc.  

Charlotte, Samuel and Horse work as a team looking into Linc's murder but it seems the suspect list gets longer rather than shorter and they seem to be fighting an uphill battle......

Readers will LOVE this series with the unique characters.....especially Horse the pig and the relationship that he has with Charlotte.  Readers will love the setting and want to move to the farm to partake in all the fun....but I'm sure you will want to steer clear of the murder...if you can help it !!!

Review by Missi M.


Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Death Rang the Bell (Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries #3) by Carol Pouliot

21st-century journalist Olivia Watson thinks travelling back in time to 1934 to attend a Halloween party with her friend Detective Steven Blackwell will be a lot of fun. And it is...until she witnesses the head of the Shipley Five-and-Dime empire murdered, and fears the killer saw her face.

The smart move is to return to the safety of the present, but Olivia possesses a secret and is about to defy the unwritten rules of time travel. She convinces Steven to let her stay in his time and help unravel the motives behind the murder, even if it means risking her own life to save another.

When Steven delves into the investigation, he discovers how a bitter relationship, a chance encounter, and a fateful decision converged to set the stage for murder. In a maze full of unreliable clues and misdirection, dark secrets refuse to stay buried and forgotten ghosts won’t fade away. Steven is reminded that old sins cast long shadows.

Can Steven catch the killer before time runs out for Olivia?  (Summary via Goodreads)

The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series by Carol Pouliot is a fun and different series with one character living in the 1930's and the other living in the present time.....however in this third book, Death Rang the Bell, Pouliot adds another twist and goes back to the early 1900's to bring the story together.  

In the Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series Olivia Watson is a journalist and has her own research business in the present time and Steven Blackwell is a detective in the 1930's.  They found out that they can travel back and forth between times by holding hands and crossing over the threshold of Olivia's bedroom which in Steven's time was his mother's bedroom.

In Death Rang the Bell Olivia is spending more and more time in Steven's time.  Unfortunately neither of them thought that Steven's neighbor, Benjamin Shipley, would get murdered and Olivia would be an eye witness.   As Steven and his department investigate Shipley's murder, the suspect list seems to grow as they get deeper into Shipley's family's past.  And when they find out some things from 20 years ago that could have a major impact on the case, this will make things more interesting as well as more complicated for Steven and his crew to figure out. 

In this installment in this series, the majority of the time is spent with Steven and his case and I think readers will enjoy their time there.  Readers cannot help but enjoy the relationship that Steven and Olivia are developing as well as reading how each of them is amazed when they cross over into the other's time period.  Reading about how the police do their jobs back in the 1930's as opposed to now and all the differences is eye opening to say the least.....and the amount of control that Olivia has with not going online to look into the events to help Steven solve the case will amaze readers....I don't know about you but I would be totally tempted to peek. 

I highly recommend taking a trip into the past with this series.  You will fall instantly in love with everything this series has to offer......

Review by Missi M.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Author Interview : Mike Martin - Author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series

Mike Martin was born in St. John’s, NL on the east coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand.

He is the author of the award-winning Sgt. Windflower Mystery series set in beautiful Grand Bank. There are now 11 books in this light mystery series with the publication of Buried Secrets. A Tangled Web was shortlisted in 2017 for the best light mystery of the year, and Darkest Before the Dawn won the 2019 Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award. Mike has also published Christmas in Newfoundland: Memories and Mysteries, a Sgt. Windflower Book of Christmas past and present.

Mike is Past Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers and a member of the Newfoundland Writing Guild and Ottawa Independent Writers.

Here is a list of the books in the Sgt, Windflower Mystery series...

The Walker on the Cape

The Body on the T

Beneath the Surface

A Twist of Fortune

A Long Ways From Home

A Tangled Web

Darkest Before the Dawn

Fire, Fog, and Water

A Perfect Storm

Safe Harbour

Christmas in Newfoundland : Memories and Mysteries

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike, via email sadly and not in person, and got to know him a little more.  Here is what we talked about.....

1.  Have you always wanted to be a writer?  If not, what did you want to do ?

I have always been a reader and that led me to want to write. I just had no idea how to do it. Especially fiction. So, I spent many years writing stories and poems that I never shared and found work in all kinds of jobs that required writing skills. Over time I became a little braver and started submitting my articles to magazines and newspapers. That gave me confidence and led me to eventually writing my first fiction book. Of course, it was a Sgt. Windflower Mystery. The Walker on the Cape.

2.  What authors, if any, influence you ?  And why ?

I love and admire great writing. It almost doesn’t matter the subject matter, although my tastes have changed over the years. But I still love Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens and JRR Tolkien. They all created stories and worlds that were completely make believe, but absolutely believable.

3.  How did you come up with Sgt. Windflower's character ?

Sgt. Windflower came to me out of the fog one night in Grand Bank and started telling me his story. I started writing it down and the stories grew from there. People ask me why I made him a certain way. The truth is that he came exactly as he is. A Cree from Northern Alberta who’s a Mountie, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

4.  Do you have law enforcement in your family ?

No. That meant I had to do a lot of research on police procedures and how the life of a police officer actually worked. I did have a lot of help from current and former law enforcement officers who gave me advice and suggestions along the way.

5.  Sgt. Windflower is unique in his "rituals" like smudging, is that a part of your life as well ?

Sgt. Windflower’s rituals are common to his Indigenous roots and community. To smudge is a fairly common activity amongst many people in that world. I do not smudge but I learned how to do it from an Indigenous healer who helped me deal with an issue in my life.

6.  Is the weather in Canada really as bad as you portray it is in the series ?

The weather in Newfoundland is pretty much as pictured in the series. It’s on the coast so there’s always some form of moisture and an ever-present wind. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some absolutely gorgeous days from time to time, particularly in the summer months. There’s just not that many of them. 

7.  When you are working on a new book do you write everyday ?  What is your schedule like ?

When I’m writing a book I write every day. I have a word count. Usually 1200-1500 words a day. I start early in the morning and get a chunk done. Then I take a break and do some more. If I have to, I go back later to meet my quota. When I’m writing I live in that world. That makes living in the real world a bit of a challenge. But I have a supporting partner who basically leaves me alone to finish my writing.

8.  Does your family or friends read your books ?

My family has always been great supporters of my writing. I would drag all of them out to any event or book signing and get them to recommend my books to their friends. My friends are all supportive as well and if they’re not, they’re not my friends. Just kidding. One of the best things about the Sgt Windflower series has been the friends I’ve met along the way. Fellow writers, beta readers and many people who love the books have also become my friends.

9.  If you could tell your younger self anything, what would you say ?

Trust yourself and follow your dreams. Anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.

10.  What advice do you have for younger writers who are just starting out ?

Keep writing. Every day if you can to hone your craft. And read. Writers who you admire and want to emulate. We cannot be good, solid writers without reading a lot.

11.  How far do you see the Sgt Windflower series going ?

It’s already gone quite far. Buried Secrets is Book 11 in the series. That’s 10 more books than I ever imagined. They are now available in print and ebook formats and 4 are available as audiobooks with a fifth A Long Ways from Home coming this winter. And the series is being translated into Spanish and German. So I guess I see it going all over the world.

12.  Do you outline the book before starting to write ?  Do you know the entire story before starting to write or do you create it as you go ?

I am not a plotter. I do not outline and I have no idea how the story will end once I start writing. I think that’s more fun. I follow the story as it is told to me by Windflower and the other characters and I have to wait until the end to see who dun it. I think that is a much more exciting way to write and it keep me motivated right up until the end.

You can follow the Sgt. Windflower Mysteries on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore/

Monday, 4 October 2021

Cold Snap: A Viking Cat Mystery by Codi Schneider

Tucked in the cold Colorado mountains lies the remote village of Gray Birch, a place where outsiders are frowned upon. In this village lives a cat named Bijou. But she’s no ordinary house cat; her ancestors were mousers on Viking longships, and their blood runs through her veins. Since her battle skills are hardly needed in this modern age, however, she spends her energies running the Fox Burrow Pet Inn with her human, Spencer, and her assistant, Skunk, a mentally negligible Pomeranian. Together, the happy trio has created a safe haven for their four-legged guests.

But when Eddy Line, a handsome baker from California, comes to the inn―along with his piglet and pit bull puppy―everything changes. Spencer falls for Eddy, Bijou is unhappy with the sudden changes to her clan, and the townspeople are anything but welcoming; in fact, threats are made against Eddy when he buys the town’s historic firehouse in order to open a bakery.

Then a shocking murder/dognapping occurs on the night of the bakery’s grand opening, and Bijou finds herself thrust into a tangled mystery. To solve it, she will have to summon her inner Viking―and fight tooth and claw for her new clan.
   (Summary via Goodreads)


If you want to get lost in a very unique book, Cold Snap by Codi Schneider is just want you are looking for.  Cold Snap is a story told from the viewpoint and experience of a CAT.

In Cold Snap readers are introduced to Bijou, a Viking cat, that takes her heritage very seriously.  She lives with her human owner Spencer and a dog named Skunk.  Spencer has turned her family Inn into the Fox Burrow Pet Inn.  Usually the Inn houses pets whose owners will be gone for a fair amount of time so Spencer, Bijou, and Skunk work together taking care of them and making them feel at home.  However, Spencer has taken on a new client in the human form.  Eddy Line is moving to town having recently purchased the old firehouse.  He is working at turning it into a bakery downstairs and his living quarters upstairs and while he is going that, he is staying at the Inn with his two animals, Fennec a recently rescued pit bull that is a deaf mute and Hamlet, a piglet. 

Unfortunately someone doesn't want Eddy to open up the bakery as he receives a threatening note and other things happen before he can finish the renovations.  And when he does have his grand opening, the evening doesn't end well when someone is murdered and Fennec is dognapped.  

Bijou digs into her Viking background and with the help of Skunk and Hamlet, they set out to rescue Fennec.....but will they get there in time ??

Readers will enjoy reading Cold Snap and seeing the story through the eyes of the cat.  And when Bijou and Spencer communicate, you will wonder if Spencer can actually understand what Bijou is saying.  And if you are a cat owner you know that it is very likely that they are talking to each other.  You will also enjoy the other conversations that the animals throughout the story have.  

Cold Snap is a definite read and I look forward to more books in this series to see what trouble awaits this crazy group of humans and animals.

Review by Missi M.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Dessert is the Bomb (Cookies & Chance Mystery #11) by Catherine Bruns

From USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bruns comes a hauntingly hilarious Halloween Cookies & Chance mystery!

Baker turned sometimes-sleuth Sally Muccio has always loved Halloween, but this year she has more on her mind than ghosts and goblins. In addition to catering a party at her wacky father’s funeral home, a competing bakery has just moved in across the street from Sally’s Samples. The new owner, Celeste Delgado, seems intent on burying Sal’s novelty cookie shop into the ground with her sensational smash cake bombs. Suddenly, the homemade fortune cookies that Sal and her best friend Josie create with loving care are predicting an ominous future for their business.

Before Sal can discover what’s behind Celeste’s grudge, the woman is killed by an explosion. To take the cake, Josie was heard threatening Celeste shortly before her death. A night in the slammer, another deadly explosion, and dangerous family secrets all add to Sal’s growing list of concerns. Like an oven timer, precious minutes of her life are ticking away. Can she find Celeste’s killer before everything blows up in her face?

*Recipes Included!*
   (Summary via Goodreads)

I am a HUGE fan of the Cookies & Chance Mystery series by Catherine Bruns and I know I say this every time but when I start reading one of the books in this series I feel like I am hanging around with family...albiet it's a crazy and scary family at times...but family just the same and I love all of them....even Sal's father !!

The Cookies & Chance Mystery series centers on Sally Muccio Donovan, her best friend and partner in the bakery, Sally's Samples, Josie and their families.  Sally and Josie are both busy with the bakery and their families but when there is a murder, you can bet they will be involved in that as well.....

In Dessert is the Bomb, the eleventh book in this series, they are as close as they can be to a murder when a bakery opens up across the street from Sally's Samples and the owner ends up dead a few days after opening up It's the Bomb and Sal and Josie are arrested for the murder when the owner gets into Sal's fathers hearst and it explodes.  Usually Sal and Josie have an in at the police department with their friend Detective Brian Jenkins but he is out of town and they have to deal with Detective Dorsey and he instantly arrests the two for the murder !!

They soon learn that the deceased, Celeste Delgado, has a past with someone in Sal's family that provides a lot of questions and once they start asking questions, they find out that even though Celeste wasn't in town very long, there is a long list of suspects to look into.  

Readers will love, love, love, love, love this series !!! Sal and her family are a HOOT and you cannot help but love them and their crazy ways !!  The way that they all stand up for each other and protect each other will inspire you to look into your family.  However no matter how hard you look, I doubt you will have as much craziness as Sal has in hers and there is nothing wrong with that.  I only wish that I had a Grandma Rosa in my family....she is the glue that holds that family together and she does it so well !!!

I highly recommend giving this series some serious attention !!  I know that once you start reading you will be a fan for sure !!!

Review by Missi M.

Other editions

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

The Glitter End (Stationery Shop Mystery #3) by Vivian Conroy

The third book in the Stationery Shop Mystery Series from Vivian Conroy! Murder is on display in this small-town cozy mystery!

Perfect for: For fans of Lauren Elliot and Essie Lang. For readers of cozy mysteries and small-town fiction. Stationery shop owner Delta Douglas is finally settling into small-town life in Tundish, Montana. But with the tourist season drying up, she must find a way to draw in her stationery shop clientele. Well-known artist Tilly Tay is just the ticket--and her new miniature gold mining display is sure to be a hit attraction in town.

But on the day of the grand reveal, Delta discovers a tiny prospector dead in the exhibit. That's when a body is found at the nearby motel, perfectly mirroring the miniature murder. Soon enough, Delta's artist guest is suspected of the crime and her shop is suddenly cast under a cloud of bad press. With her faithful Paper Posse at her side, Delta must pull no paper punches to crack the case and save Wanted's reputation before more trouble comes into the fold.  (Summary via Goodreads)

The Stationery Shop Mystery series by Vivian Conroy is such a hoot to read !!  This series is set in a little town in Montana called Tundish and the town is focused on gold mining and the Wild West.  Main character Delta Douglas moved there to be closer to her college roommate Hazel and help her run her stationary shop, Wanted.  While Delta is still getting use to small town living and getting to know the people and the businesses in town, she somehow gets entangled in a murder investigation.  And The Glitter End, the third book in the series, is no different.

In The Glitter End Delta invites Tilly Tay an artist that specializes in creating towns and people in the minature form to built a minature version of Tundish and display it in the shop for a few weeks to bring some business to the town as it heads into the slow winter months.  Unfortunately shortly after Tilly arrives Delta witnesses her arguing with a gentleman whose identity she lies about.   When the gentleman is found stabbed to death in town, Tilly is arrested for his murder.  Delta and her friend Jonas feel that they need to look into the murder seeing as Delta is the one to bring this all into their small town.

Not only does Delta have the murder to look into but her grandmother starts hanging around a man new to town and there are rumors that he isn't who he says he is.  Delta is very close to her grandmother and will never forgive herself is her grandmother gets hurt or taken advantage of.

Conroy keeps the reader thoroughly invested in The Glitter End till, well, the end actually and readers will wonder if family is always who they say they are as Delta and crew uncover a lot of secrets and shady characters in Tilly's life.  And even though there was a murder readers will still want to pack a bag and hit the road to Tundish to check out the shops and the scenery.......

Review by Missi M.  

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Killer Among the Vines (Wine & Dine Mysteries Book 7) by Gemma Halliday

From #1 Amazon & New York Times bestselling author Gemma Halliday comes a killer new culinary mystery novel in the USA Today bestselling Wine & Dine Mysteries!

Emmy Oak's family run winery has been in the headlines one too many times and for all the wrong reasons. Which is why she's decided to hire a night security guard, Bill Buckley, to keep an eye on the place. Only when Buckley calls her in a panic about a tripped alarm, Emmy again fears trouble at Oak Valley Vineyards. A fear that is realized in the worst way when Emmy rushes home to find her security guard dead among the blooming grape vines.

Was it poachers? Trespassers? An interrupted would-be burglar? Or was the attack less random and much more personal...

Emmy's sorta-maybe boyfriend Detective Christopher Grant worries the killer might have been after her. But as Emmy learns more about her late employee, she realizes Buckley had far more enemies than she. Before becoming a security guard, Buckley was a police officer...who was caught taking bribes to look the other way. A scandal that illuminates a whole host of suspects, including an angry ex-wife, a former partner with a grudge, and a convicted madame turned cookie purveyor with revenge on the mind. Not to mention the surly teenage son of Buckley's live-in girlfriend, who would do anything to get rid of his almost-stepdad. But when Emmy finds out Detective Grant also has his own connection to the dead man, she suddenly wonders what else Grant may be hiding about his past. Can Emmy ferret out the killer among the vines... before they come looking for another victim?

**Simple and delicious recipes and affordable wine pairings included!**

"Ms. Halliday is the undisputed queen of the genre."
Fresh Fiction

"I rank A Sip Before Dying as one of my favorite fun reads. I say to Gemma Halliday, well done!"
The Book Breeze

"The Wine & Dine Mystery series is a definite to read and keep an eye out for more to follow."
Cozy Mystery Book Review

Wine & Dine Mysteries:
A Sip Before Dying – book #1
Chocolate Covered Death – book #2
Victim in the Vineyard – book #3
Marriage, Merlot & Murder – book #4
Death in Wine Country – book #5
Fashion, RosĂ© & Foul Play – book #6
Killer Among the Vines – book #7

Rating: This story does not contain any graphic violence, language, or sexual encounters. Its rating would be similar to PG-13 or what you would find on a Hallmark Channel movie or TV series.  (Summary via Amazon)

I am a huge fan of the Wine & Dine Mystery series by Gemma Halliday and who wouldn't be .... there is so much to love about this series....from the people, to the storyline, to the relationships and friendships, to the setting, and, of course, the murders !!

Killer Among the Vines is the seventh book in the Wine & Dine Mystery series and main character Emmy Oak has a lot on her plate.  She is always struggling to keep her family vineyard up and running but it looks like her hard efforts may be losing the battle.  She needs a miracle to happen to save the vineyard and her small group of employees that she sees as family.  The last thing she needs is a murder on the property....but that is exactly what she gets when her newly hired security guard Bill Buckley goes out on the grounds to check out what triggered the alarm system.  Unfortunately by the time Emmy gets there, she finds Buckley shot to death.

And if you are a fan of this series like me, you already know that Emmy will see this as personal and go looking for the killer even though her boyfriend, Detective Christopher Grant, is beyond capable of finding the bad guys and continually tells her that fact.  However when her and her best friend Ava start looking into the murder, they find a long list of possible suspects and a lot of secrets and lies to work through.....but when Grant's name in thrown into the mix, Emmy will have some hard questions to ask ....

Readers will fall in love with everything about this series.  The characters are easy to relate to people, people you would love to hang out with, the series is set mainly in the family vineyard and who wouldn't want to hang out there ?  The friendships and the relationships are ones readers will wish they had ..... who wouldn't want David Allen as a friend ??  And one a last note.... readers get to know Emmy's mother more in this book and it looks like we are going to see more of her and her life in the next book.....if the ending of this book is an indication.

I highly recommend grabbing your copies and getting lost in the story.....grab a snack and glass of wine and let Halliday take you away......just like Calgon......

Review by Missi M.


Monday, 20 September 2021

Threshold of Deceit (Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries #2) by Carol Pouliot

On a sunny spring day in 1934, local lothario Frankie Russo is murdered in broad daylight. Detective Steven Blackwell discovers Frankie’s little black book, a coded list of dozens of flings, affairs, and one-night stands−and a solid motive for the widow. Soon, what appeared to be a straight-forward case gets complicated. A witness goes missing, a second body turns up, the victim’s cousin disappears, and an old flame surfaces. Faced with conflicting pieces of evidence, Steven creates a psychological portrait of the killer and realizes he’s looking for someone wearing a mask. But the killer is not the only one in disguise.

Since Steven came face to face with 21st-century journalist Olivia Watson two months ago, they’ve experimented within the safety of their house. Now, they test the boundaries of time travel, risking the exposure of their secret. Olivia travels to 1934, where she is embraced by the community, unaware of who she really is. She unwittingly falls in with Steven’s main suspect, an act that threatens her life.

Can Olivia outsmart a killer before becoming the next victim? Can Steven and Olivia solve the case of the poisoned philanderer in time to protect her true identity and their time-travel secret?

Every moment’s a masquerade in THRESHOLD OF DECEIT, the second book in The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Carol Pouliot puts a unique spin on the cozy mystery by adding time travel into the story in the Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series and readers will be hooked !!!

In the Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series readers will hang around with two main characters 80 years apart and then bring them together !!  Olivia Watson is a journalist living in the 21st century and Detective Sergeant Steven Blackwell lives in the year 1934 and they have discovered that they can pass into each others time by holding hands and walking over the threshold of Olivia's bedroom which was Steven's mothers bedroom in his time.

In Threshold of Deceit, the second book in this series, Olivia and Steven are having a ball getting to know each other and learning about time traveling within the house.....but, of course, they want to take it further so they decide to see if they can leave the house and venture out into town.  And Olivia is the one who gets to do it first.  They start off with going to the local pub for dinner where she meets some of Steven's friends, then she stays alone in the house in his time to see if the house is the pull or Steven is.  When everything goes well, Olivia is going to spend a day walking around town in 1934.....

Unfortunately in Steven's time there is a murder.  Frankie Russo is found dead down a gully behind the high school while the whole town was focusing on the parade in town.  Frankie Russo was married but he had a history of cheating and flirting so Steven and his department have their hands full trying to find the killer.  And to make it harder Frankie was working one week in Knightsbridge and the next week in Syracuse which means they may have to look beyond their town for more suspects......

While Olivia and Steven are getting to know each other as well as the times they both live in, Steven cannot help but tell Olivia about the cases he gets involved in but with Olivia spending more time in his time period getting to know people, she may be getting too involved and not even know the danger she is heading towards.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy this series and not want the book to end.  You will enjoy traveling back to 1934 and seeing how Olivia adapts so quickly to the ways and behaviors and when Steven walks over the threshold and sees the future, you cannot help but laugh because you can totally picture his excitement about seeing the television and cars.  And the way that Pouliot is hinting about the two and their relationship, you cannot help but want to see them get together and take it to the next level.......  So go grab your copy and get ready for a story that will pin you to your seat !!!

Review by Missi M.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Striking Range (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #7) by Margaret Mizushima

A deadly secret is buried in the Colorado high country--and murder is only the beginning in the seventh gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

He was suspect number one--the man who tried to kill Deputy Mattie Cobb and may have killed her father thirty years earlier. But when Mattie and cold case detective Jim Hauck reach the Colorado state prison where they will finally get to interview him, he's found dead in his cell. There's only one clue: a map leading to Timber Creek and rugged Redstone Ridge.

Though she usually works with veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie's K-9 partner Robo has just sired a litter of pups, who require special, time-consuming care at Cole's clinic. Left to explore the map's clue without him, Mattie and Robo journey into the burned forest surrounding Redstone Ridge. But before they can finish their search they're called to help investigate the death of a young woman found in a campground filled with elk hunters. Identification of the deceased points to her having recently given birth, but the infant is nowhere to be found.

As a deadly storm descends upon the mountains, covering everything with a layer of ice and snow, Mattie and her team search for the missing newborn. The storm batters the area, taking its toll on the team and forcing the sheriff to call in reinforcements. When new evidence surfaces, they decide that finding the woman's killer will lead them to her baby, making them even more desperate to solve the case.

Then Cole goes missing, stranded alone in the high country with a person that Mattie now suspects is the mastermind behind several murders, including her father's. She and Robo take to the trail to find Cole--but the killer has a cold-blooded plan that threatens them all.   (Summary via Goodreads)

Normally when you read a cozy mystery and there are animals involved, they are cute, cuddly, and if they help solve the case, it is mostly by accident or luck.  However, in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series by Margaret Mizushima, the animal character is one of the main characters and even though Robo is cute and cuddly, he is trained to bring down the bad guys.  Robo is a German shepherd and well trained in the field and works specifically with his partner, Deputy Mattie Cobb in the K-9 department in Timber Creek County in Colorado.  

In Striking Range, the seventh book in this series, the story starts with Mattie visiting another jail where she is meeting another detective, Detective Hauck, who specializes in cold cases and they are going to interview John Cobb who killed Mattie's brother and tried to kill her.  They are hoping to get some answers from him regarding Mattie's fathers death which happened thirty years ago.  Unfortunately before they can interview the inmate, he is found dead in his cell and the case of death looks to be a drug overdose.  This provides more questions than answers and sends Mattie, Robo, Detective Hauck, and her department in Timber Creek up the mountain where she was held hostage but escaped......

While the group is imvestigating the site where Mattie was held looking for answers, they also have a dead body found in a campground in town.  It is identified as a pregnant woman that was just at Mattie's boyfriend's animal clinic but she is no longer pregnant at the campsite.  Mattie, Robo and another detective Stella are racing the clock trying to solve her murder and find the baby......little do they know the web they are about to walk into.  

Mizushima has such a talent in drawing the reader into the story immediately and keeping you focused on everything going on until you reach the end of the book and can breathe again.  I highly recommend this series and know that you will instantly fall in love with everything and everyone involved.

Review by Missi M.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Murder at Wakehurst (Gilded Newport Mysteries #9) by Alyssa Maxwell

In the autumnal chill of Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, journalist Emma Cross discovers an instance of cold-blooded murder on the grounds of a mansion... 

Following the death of her uncle, Cornelius Vanderbilt, in September 1899, a somber Emma is in no mood for one of Newport's extravagant parties. But to keep Vanderbilt's reckless son Neily out of trouble, she agrees to accompany him to an Elizabethan fete on the lavish grounds of Wakehurst, the Ochre Point cottage modeled after an English palace, owned by Anglophile James Van Alen.

Held in Wakehurst's English-style gardens, the festivities will include a swordplay demonstration, an archery competition, scenes from Shakespeare's plays, and even a joust. As Emma wanders the grounds distracted by grief, she overhears a fierce argument between a man and a woman behind a tall hedge. As the joust begins, she's drawn by the barking of Van Alen's dogs and finds a man on the ground, an arrow through his chest.

The victim is one of the 400's most influential members, Judge Clayton Schuyler. Could one of the countless criminals he'd imprisoned over the years have returned to seek revenge--or could one of his own family members have targeted him? With the help of her beau Derrick Andrews and Detective Jesse Whyte, Emma begins to learn the judge was not the straight arrow he appeared to be. As their investigation leads them in ever-widening circles, Emma will have to score a bull's eye to stop the killer from taking another life...
   (Summary via Goodreads)

You would think that reading a book based in the 1800's things would be so much simpler.....except when it comes to murder and trying to solve the case.  However main character Emma Cross in the Gilded Newport Mystery series doesn't make things easy and even though she is a reporter, she cannot help but get herself in the middle of trying to solving a murder ..... especially when she's the one to come across the dead body.

In Murder at Wakehurst, the ninth book in this amazing series by Alyssa Maxwell, Emma and her family have just laid her Uncle Cornelius to rest and are in the mourning period.  But her cousin Neily who has been on the outs with his father and family for years wants to go to a party and when his wife, Grace, asks Emma to go, she finds it hard to decline.  Grace is worried about Neily's behavior and knows that if Emma is there, they can keep an eye on him.  Unfortunately Emma didn't know that she would stumble across a dead body which is the body of Judge Clayton Schuyler a member of the Four Hundred.

But the worse fright for Emma is when Detective Gifford Myers shows up to investigate the murder instead of Emma's friend, Detective Jesse Whyte and she is told that Detective Myers has been assigned homicide because Emma and Jesse "working" together to solve crimes were not good for the department.  Luckily Jesse did not get fired but has been demoted and is assigned a robbery case that may be tied to the murder as well.

No matter what people say Emma cannot help but ask questions, that is what makes her a great reporter and why her boss and "boyfriend" Derrick Andrews allows her the freedom to follow stories wherever they take her....even if it could be dangerous.

Emma doesn't know how close she is to the actual murderer when she is questioning people of interest until it is almost too late.  Emma's list of suspects seems to grow daily and she is unable to confidently remove anyone from the list and instead finds the list growing.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy Murder as Wakehurst as well as the previous books in this series and they will instantly love Emma and  everyone around her.  And her relationships, personal and business, with Derek will tug at your heartstrings.   And Maxwell's ability to sweep the reader back in time and make you feel like you are there experiencing everything and seeing everything through Emma's eyes is out of this world !!  

Review by Missi M.