Friday, 16 April 2021

The Sign of Death (A Victorian Book Club Mystery #2) by Callie Hutton

USA Today bestselling author Callie Hutton returns with her second Victorian Book Club mystery, in which Lady Amy and Lord William sleuth the death of a teetotaler who took a fatal dunk in the drink. 

Bath, England, 1891. Mr. James Harding was a lot of things--businessman, well-to-do, probable scoundrel--but a drinker he most assuredly was not. So when Harding is believed to have drunkenly fallen to his death into the icy River Avon, Lord William Wethington is immediately suspicious. Finding Lord William's name on a letter in the victim's pocket, the local constabulary summons William to identify the victim. Police detectives learn that William had been one of Harding's business clients--and undoubtedly not the only client the dead man had cheated. 
William entreats Lady Amy Lovell, a fellow member of the Mystery Book Club of Bath, to help him deduce what really happened to the late Mr. Harding. Lady Amy, a celebrated mystery author herself, once called on William to help her solve a real-life mystery, and now she fully intends to return the favor. But it won't be easy. 
Practically every one of Harding's many clients had ample reason to want to do him in. And there's precious little time to narrow down the list: William and Amy soon become prime suspects themselves when the police discover them ruffling through files in Harding's house. Lady Amy will have to be as clever as her characters if she's to save William from the gallows...and herself from Harding's real killer.   (Summary via Goodreads)

I love reading mystery books set back in time....a time when they didn't have computers or DNA or anything that makes solving crimes technical.  I enjoy reading how the police, detectives and the innocent parties being charged go about solving the murder.  And Callie Hutton knows how to keep the readers attention from the first page until the very last word in her Victorian Book Club Mystery series.

The Sign of Death is the second book in this series and main character Lord William finds out that his man of business, James Harding, is found dead in the river with his business card on him.  William tries to explain to the two detectives that he had nothing to do with the death but they do not believe him.  And after looking into things it is discovered that the deceased had forged William's name on investment documents and it appears that he was stealing from William.  William also soon learns that there is a list of people who Harding was either stealing from or blackmailing....

Knowing that there are more likely candidates for committing the crime William with the help of a close friend, Lady Amy, decide to look into his death when the detectives determine that William is their main suspect.  

The Sign of Death is more than just a cozy mystery..... While William and Amy are going around town trying to decreetly learn more about James and his life, they find that he wasn't a very nice guy and was blackmailing some people in town and a few of them belong to the book club that William and Amy attend every week.  Readers will also follow along with the story of Amy being a published mystery author under a different name, a name that people assume is a male.  And Amy has been keeping this secret because her father does not want people to know what she is doing.  Also in The Sign of Death William's mother decides to move in with him and Amy has to deal with her father and brother coming to stay with her for a whie due to business they have in town.  And Amy and her father are having some trouble with the publishing company that handles her books because they want her to attend a book fair at the same bookstore she attends her weekely book club meetings.

With everything going on readers cannot help but be drawn to the story to see how everything unfolds.  And boy oh boy when you get to the end, you will be flappergasted at the turn of events !!!  The way that Hutton orchestrates things is magical and I'm sure this series will be one that you will want to keep your eyes open for the next book so that you can return to see what trouble William and Amy can get into ......

Review by Missi M.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Dying in Style (Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper #1) by Elaine Viets

Suburban single mom, Josie Marcus, loves being a secret shopper. But when she’s framed for the murder of a famous handbag designer, Josie discovers that secret sleuth might be a better fit…

Josie’s excited about her latest assignment: mystery shopping the stores of St. Louis’s premier handbag designer, Danessa Celedine. A stunning socialite who frequently makes headlines with her hot Russian lover, Serge, Danessa sells exquisite purses to the rich and famous for a small fortune. Unfortunately, the Celedine shops aren’t nearly as dazzling as their clientele and Josie’s negative report could kill a lucrative deal to sell the handbag empire. Danessa swears it will also cost Josie her career.

Businesses often live and die by Josie’s reviews, but when Danessa and Serge are found murdered, she’s suddenly linked to an actual homicide…as the chief suspect! Now, Josie will need all her secret shopper subterfuge to investigate the crimes, clear her name, and stop the killer from claiming another fashion victim.
   (Summary via Goodreads)

Dying in Style is the first book in the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper Mystery series by Elaine Viets and it sets the stage nicely for the series.  Main character Josie Marcus is a single mom to her 9 year-old daughter Amelia but she has a lot of help from her mother, Jane.  The three live is a duplex with Jane living above Josie and Amelia.  Josie's job as a mystery shopper allows her to work around her schedule mostly so that she can be there for her daughter.  Josie feels that she does a great job being fair to the places and the people that she is looking into until one job threatens everything !!

Josie is given the assignment to shop at three of the Danessa shops in three different malls.  This is a high end accessory store featuring very expensive purses made by a high profile member of society, Danessa Celedine.  Danessa is known for her purses as well as her donations to charities all over the St. Louis area.  She is also in the spotlight a lot because of her relationship with a Russian God by the name of Serge.  After Josie visits the three stores, she finds that none of them hold up to the high standard that they should and Danessa is in the middle of a deal to sell them for $50 million.  She warns her boss Harry before she sends in the reports that they are not good but he encourages her to send them as is.  The next day Josie is called into the office and confronted by Danessa herself.  Danessa claims that the reports are incorrect and wants them changed but Josie won't do it which leads to a heated argument with threats made.  

Before Josie can get another assignment Danessa and Serge are found dead....Serge at the house they shared and Danessa at one of the stores that Josie visited.  When her fingerprints are found at the store, the detectives in charge of the case do not believe her story.  Josie, with the help of her best friend, Alyce, decides she needs to find out who killed the power couple before her daughter loses her mom to jail.

I am a huge fan of Elaine Viets and I LOVED her Dead-End Job Mystery series and after reading this first book in this series, I am sure that I will be thoroughly engrossed in it.  Viets know how to put words to paper attracting readers and you cannot help but fall for the characters and want to see them get out of the messes they get into.

Review by Missi M.


Thursday, 1 April 2021

Fresh Brewed Murder (A Ground Rules Mystery #1) by Emmeline Duncan, Kelly Garrett

Portland is famous for its rain, hipsters, craft beers . . . and coffee. Sage Caplin has high hopes for her coffee cart, Ground Rules, which she runs with her business partner, Harley—a genius at roasting beans and devising new blends. That’s essential in a city where locals have intensely strong opinions about cappuccino versus macchiato—especially in the case of one of Sage’s very first customers. . . .

Sage finds the man’s body in front of her cart, a fatal slash across his neck. There’s been plenty of anger in the air, from longtime vendors annoyed at Ground Rules taking a coveted spot in the food truck lot, to protesters demonstrating against a new high-rise. But who was mad enough to commit murder? Sage is already fending off trouble in the form of her estranged, con-artist mother, who’s trying to trickle back into her life. But when Sage’s very own box cutter is discovered to be the murder weapon, she needs to focus on finding the killer fast—before her business, and her life, come to a bitter end. . . .  (Summary via Goodreads)

Before you start reading Fresh Brewed Murder by Emmeline Duncan, jump to the recipes in the back and make yourself a are going to want to have a nice tasty coffee while you read this book !!  Fresh Brewed Murder is the first book in this caffeine packed series and Duncan knows how to put the words to paper to keep the reader plugging along.....

In Fresh Brewed Murder main character Sage Caplin and her business partner and friend, Harley, are opening up Ground Rules, a food truck specializing in tasty coffee related drinks that Harley roasts the beans herself.  They are opening up their food cart in the Rail Yard, a lot owned by Sage's great-uncle Jimmy.  There are a handful of other food carts there and the people seem to welcome Sage and Harley into their little group.  Unfortunately a few days after they moved into the Rail Yard Sage shows up to work and finds a dead body in front of her cart.....and it is a guy that has been getting coffee from her.  It turns out that the man killed is the developer of the construction sight across the street from the Rail Yard and he had a bad experience with Sage's mother who Sage hasn't seen in over 10 years.   Sage also learns that Gabby, a homeless teenager that has been coming around the Rail Yard was the daughter of the deceased.

Sage has her hands full trying to make Ground Rules a success and now she has to prove to the detectives that she had nothing to do with the murder even if something from her food truck was the murder weapon.  She also wants to find the real killer to help Gabby have some closure.

Readers cannot help but love Fresh Brewed Murder !!  As soon as I started reading it I had no problem picturing everything in my head.  I could see the Rail Yard, Sage's house, Uncle Jimmy's bar, The Tav, and everything else as clear as a cloudless sunny day.  And the friendships and relationships will keep the reader turning the page....especially the love triangle Sage gets herself into.  And Duncan has set the stage quite nicely for future books in the series....there are so many directions Duncan can take the story and I, for one, cannot wait to see where the road leads Sage and her group......

Review by Missi M.