Tuesday 27 July 2021

Accessory to Murder (Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper #3) by Elaine Viets

 A secret shopper turns amateur sleuth when her best friend’s husband is accused of murder in this mystery by the Anthony and Agatha Award–winning author.

Josie Marcus has an eye for the finer things in life. Unfortunately, her wallet can’t keep up—as a single mom and mystery shopper, she won’t be moving out of St. Louis’s suburbs anytime soon. Good thing her best friend, Alyce Bohannon, doesn’t mind sharing a taste of the high life in her posh gated community, Wood Winds. But the refined neighborhood turns ugly with gossip when Alyce’s neighbor, the well-heeled scarf designer Halley Hardwicke, is murdered.

Talk is cheap . . . until the detectives begin questioning Alyce’s husband, Jake, about the crime. So Josie decides to do a little sleuthing of her own, going undercover to unravel the secrets of the cliquey Wood Winds wives. Hopefully she can clear Jake’s name and uncover the truth before the killer snags another victim.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I am a HUGE fan of Elaine Viets and her books and I am obsessed with her Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series.  As soon as I open one of these books up I feel like I am right there in Josie's world !!

Accessory to Murder is the third book in this series and I think this is my favorite ....so far.  In this book the murder hits close to home....not Josie's home but her best friend Alyce's home.  A neighbor of Alyce's in her fancy, gated, rich neighborhood is carjacked at a mall and Alyce's husband Jake is arrested for the murder !

Alyce begs Josie to help clear her husband and find the real murderer.  Even though Josie has a lot on her plate being a single mom to her daughter Amelia, dealing with her overpowering mother who lives upstairs, working as a mystery shopper and getting bad places to shop after pissing her boss off, she cannot say no to her best friend.  So she agrees to talk to some of the neighbors and look into Halley's death.  Unfortunately she quickly learns that not everyone is Alyce's friend and everyone thinks that Jake was having an affair with Halley and killed her.  Alyce insists that Jake is innocent and stands by her man.....now Josie has to do everything in her power to help.....

Viets is amazing at telling the reader a captivating story.  You cannot help but feel like you are right there along side Josie wherever she goes.  You will feel the homey bland feel to Josie's house and love the feeling you get when you are sitting in Alyce's kitchen.  And when Josie is out working you will feel her anguish when she's eating the crappy fast food that Harry makes her rate.  And readers will also enjoy reading about Josie and her disasterous dating experiences....however, in Accessory to Murder she may have finally found a keeper, she just has to convince her mom he's a catch and not to throw him back.

There is so much to love with this series you won't be sorry.  The only thing you will be sorry for is when you get to the end of the book and you have to go grab the next one in the series......

Review by Missi M.

Friday 23 July 2021

Draw and Order (Paint & Shine Mystery #2) by Cheryl Hollon

Appalachian artist and local guide Miranda Trent opens a new murder investigation after her Paint & Shine tour group discovers the remains of a missing hiker along an ancient trail... 

For her latest excursion, Miranda is thrilled to take a close-knit group of rock climbers, the Risky Business Adventurers, up the challenging Battleship Rock Trail to paint and sample moonshine. But the outing is cut short when they discover a skeleton near the trailhead. Even more startling, the bones belong to Howard Cable, Miranda's cousin...and a former classmate of the Risky Business group.

The sheriff chalks it up to a hiking accident, but Miranda isn't convinced that Howard, an experienced woodsman, died within sight of a well-marked trail. So, with the help of Ranger Austin Morgan, Miranda sets out on her own investigation and discovers that the Risky Business Group is keeping plenty of secrets. But is one of them hiding the truth about Howard's death?  (Summary via Goodreads)

One thing that readers will love when they open up Draw and Order by Cheryl Hollon is that she provides readers with a Cast of Characters list in the beginning of the story.  This way readers can just go back to the list if they get confused or need to know who someone is.

Draw and Order is the second book in Hollon's Paint & Shine Mystery series and even though I didn't read the first book, Still Knife Painting, I fell completely in love immediately.  There is no way that you won't love main character Miranda Trent and her life.

Miranda moved from New York City where she was a struggling artist to Pine Ridge Kentucky when she inherited her uncle's farmhouse.  She started her Paint and Shine tour company where she takes groups on hikes in the local national forest and provides them with a custom meal and her uncle's signature moonshine.  She is also in the process of getting her distillery up and running so that she can start making her uncle's famous moonshine.  Helping her with the tours is her close friend, Forest Ranger Austin Morgan.

Unfortunately when Miranda takes out a group of rock climbers called the Risky Business Adventurers, they uncover skeletal remains which they later learn are human and that of Miranda's cousin, Howard Cable, who went out for a hike 5 years ago and never returned.  Miranda's Aunt Ora begs Miranda and Austin to find out who killed Howard and they cannot say no.

Miranda and Austin work together to look into Howard's past and soon learn that the Risky Business Adventurers are all keeping secrets.  The two begin to dig into the groups history and anyone else they think may have had something to do with Howard's death......

Miranda's mother, Dorothy, comes to town to help at the farmhouse and be there for her sister Ora, local handyman Ron comes to do repairs at the barn and lives in the barn while he works, Miranda is trying her hardest to get the distillery up and running, take her scheduled tours out, and in her spare time work with Austin on solving Howard's death.  To say there is a lot going on within the covers of this book is an understatement but readers will be drawn in immediately and will not want to leave !!

Review by Missi M.

Monday 19 July 2021

DOORWAY TO MURDER (Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries Book 1) by Carol Pouliot

 In a small New York town, secrets lurk and betrayal is just around the corner. The morning after the worst blizzard of 1934, Detective Steven Blackwell takes on a highly charged murder case. The investigation starts badly: one clue, lots of lies and alibis. To make things worse, Steven is seeing visions of a woman in his house. One night, she speaks. Her name is Olivia Watson and she lives in 2014. She believes time has folded over in the house they share. As their relationship deepens, Steven’s investigation intensifies. Soon he can no longer trust anyone in his own time. Can Olivia help crack the case—and catch a killer? 

The past collides with the present in DOORWAY TO MURDER, an exciting new mystery by debut author Carol Pouliot. 

With its fresh premise covering two eras that crackle off the page, Carol Pouliot introduces compelling characters to lead her series forward. Add a sharply written mystery with clever plot twists, and you have all the elements that make DOORWAY TO MURDER an accomplished debut. 
Marni Graff, award-winning mystery author of Death Unscripted 

Mystery. Romance. Time-travel adventure. DOORWAY TO MURDER is the total package. Carol Pouliot interweaves the past and present as easily as I turned the pages. I highly recommend this fun read. 
Betsy Bitner, award-winning humor columnist, Times Union (Albany, NY) 

There's nothing I like more than a time-travel tale, but how much better to get a crisp, fair-play police procedural, too. The atmosphere grabbed me. The ending surprised me. I'm already looking forward to Steven and Olivia's next adventure. 
Catriona McPherson, multi-award-winning author of the Edgar-shortlisted The Day She Died 

Steven and Olivia make a great couple of crime busters in this era-jumping romance and hard-boiled police procedural. Join them. You’ll be glad you did! 
Steve Axelrod, author of the Henry Kennis Nantucket mysteries .  (Summary via Goodreads)

WOW !!!  That is the first word you are going to say after reading Doorway to Murder by Carol Pouliot.  There will be plenty more that will follow it but WOW is the best first word you will say !!

Doorway to Murder is a very captivating story that you will have a hard time putting down.  Once you start reading it you are not going to want to stop.  You will fall instantly in love with the storyline and characters and you will enjoy following the main characters as they travel from 1934 to the present time.....

In Doorway to Murder readers will meet Olivia Watson as she goes about her life in the present time which is 2014.  We hang out with her and her two close friends, Liz and Sophie, and her neighbor Isabel who use to be one of her school teachers.  Olivia has her own business, The Watson Agency, where she does research for people.  She has a cat, Mr. Moto, and she lives alone......until one night she wakes up and sees a strange man standing in the hallway looking into her bedroom.  Little does she know that the stranger is actually Detective Sergeant Steven Blackwell and he also lives in the house but the year for him is 1934 !!  After a few nights of seeing each other across the doorway, they decide to try talking to each other and when that works, they find out that they can cross over into each others time periods.  When Steven crosses over to Olivia's time, he is in her house with everything as it would be in that time period and when Olivia crosses over into Steven's timeline, she is in the year 1934 and around everything as it is in his time period.

As the two get to know each other Steven tells Olivia about the case that he is currently working on involving the murder of Leo Castleman, the bank manager of the First National Bank of Trust Company.  Even though Olivia can just go on the computer and search for the murder and find out who the killer is, Steven will not allow it.  He is a by the books police officer and knows that by doing his job, he will find the murderer and solve the case.  

There is a lot to enjoy with Doorway to Murder !!  Just reading about Olivia's life or Steven's life is exciting enough but when the two cross over and talk about the differences between things in their times, it adds to the story and when there is a murder to solve, even one back in 1934, it is interesting to see how it gets solved.....and the ending of the story will shock readers and you will want to go and grab the second book, Threshold of Deceit, to see what happens next !!

I highly encourage readers to read this series.  There is so much to get lost in and enjoy, you will thoroughly enjoy the escape and luck for you, you do not have to cross over into different time periods. You can just sit in your comfy chair and read.......

Review by Missi M.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Murder at the Lakeside Library (A Lakeside Library Mystery #1) by Holly Danvers

In this series debut perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Miranda James, Rain Wilmont must discover the killer, before the book closes on her life.

Rain Wilmont has just returned to her family's waterfront log cabin in Lofty Pines, Wisconsin after the untimely death of her husband. The cabin is peaceful compared to Rain's corporate job and comes with an informal library that Rain's mother, Willow, used to run. But as Rain prepares for the re-opening of the library, all hopes for a peaceful life are shattered when she discovers the body of Thornton Hughes, a real estate buyer, on the premise.
The community of Lofty Pines starts pointing fingers at Willow, since she has been unusually absent from the library this summer. A fishy rumor surfaces when Rain learns that Willow had been spending a lot of time with Thorton. The town even thought they were having an affair.
While theories swirl about the Thorton's death, Rain takes it upon herself to solve the case to exonerate her mother. As more clues surface, Rain will have to piece together the mystery. But if she isn't careful, she may be the next to end up dead in the water in Murder at Lakeside Library the first in Holly Danvers' new Lakeside Library mysteries.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Murder at the Lakeside Library by Holly Danvers is her debut novel in the Lakeside Library Mystery series and it sets the stage nicely.....

Rain Wilmont hasn't been to the family cabin on the lake in Lofty Pines in a long time.  Her husband Max didn't like lakes, he preferred ocean but after Max dies Rain is left with a big void in her life so she packs up her old life in Milwaukee and heads to the family cabin in Wisconsin.  Rain is going to have the place to herself because her mother is in the African rainforest accessing water sources for undeveloped villages and her father is on a business trip in Japan.

Unfortunately once Rain is at the cabin she finds out that her mother ran the little library that was attached to the cabin during the summer months so that the lake people had reading material.  Along with this responsibility she learns that her old friend and lake neighbor, Julia, and another resident Marjorie worked in the library and are looking to do so again.  But before they can dust off the books and open the doors, they find a dead body behind the old outhouse on the property.....and to further shock them, it looks like it is the body of someone close to Rain's mother.  And when there are "sightings" of Rain's father in town, Rain doesn't know what to think.  Unfortunately neither of her parents are reachable so Rain and Julia decide to look into things on their own....even though Julia's brother, Jace, is on the police force.

Readers will instantly fall in love with this book !!!  The way that Danvers draws the reader into the story, there is no way that the imagination will not guide you through the story.  Readers will feel like they are right there at the cabin looking out at the lake...you will feel the breeze coming off the lake and want to reach for your glass of iced tea.  And the way that the story twists and turns will keep readers on their toes.

I look forward to the next installment of this series to see where Danvers takes the story and what trouble Rain and Julia will get into next......

Review by Missi M.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Stilettos Can Be Murder (A Lily List Mystery Exclusive) by C L Bauer

"Holy Moly indeed," Gretchen repeated. "Who would want to frame me for murder? I can't think of anyone who doesn't like me."

Abby drank the remainder of the liquid in her glass. She crossed her eyes. "Don't you? You can be a bit too much."

Gretchen pursed her lips as though she was ready to unload on her young friend. Instead, she laughed as she looked down at Abby. "Well, what's the point of living if you are just okay? There is never too much...too much excitement, adventure, money, or of me!"

You're never too old to fall in love or to be framed for murder! Gretchen Malloy, the fifty-something (she's not telling) elite Kansas City event planner stumbles over a dead groom on his wedding day. The police suspect the fashionable Ms. Malloy may be a murderer. She suspects the police don't appreciate her flair for the dramatic or her good taste for the better things in life. One detective knows she's not guilty, but desperately wishes he could charge the woman who gives him a headache anytime she's near.

In a race to save her business and her life, Gretchen becomes an investigator determined to discover who is framing her. Surely it isn't her former love who just happens to arrive in town at the same time? Her friend launching a political career wouldn't want her in prison, would he? Would his new wife take some sort of weird revenge on her? And would the detective throw her in the clink just because of her big hair and amazing high heels?

Gretchen Malloy, supreme snoop and who usually knows everything about everyone, is in the search of her life. She's left wondering...she may not be the only one in town with killer heels.

This Exclusive features characters from The Lily List Mysteries. Gretchen Malloy first appeared in The Poppy Drop as the ever-irritating wedding planner. High heels were her signature as she joined forces with Lily Schmidt as amateur sleuths. Cozy mysteries may never be the same with Gretchen around!  (Summary via Amazon)

Stilettos Can Be Murder by C.L. Bauer is a Lily List Mystery series Exclusive...it is an extension of the series in that it centered around a character from the Lily List series, Gretchen Malloy.  Gretchen is THE event planner for the Kansas City area.  She has worked on numerous events with Lily and Lily's assistant Abby.  They started off with Lily and Abby not liking Gretchen at all but with time they became to like her and they became close friends.  However in Stilettos Can Be Murder Gretchen is on her own......

Right before a very important wedding is about the begin, Gretchen goes in to check on the groom only to find him dead...with puncture marks on his neck from a stiletto.....and when the grooms parents walk in and find Gretchen next to the body, everyone assumes she did it ....even the police !!

To save her reputation and her business Gretchen vows to find the real killer and clear her name.  But everytime she gets one step ahead, the police detective sets her back two.  

While Gretchen works on proving her innocence she is also helping her dear old friend Marty as he is going to announce that he is running for Senate.  Gretchen is working on the announcement party but doesn't realize how close she is to the real killer.....until it is almost too late !!!

If you are a fan of the Lily List Mystery series, you will love this exclusive story as well.  Readers will love getting to know Gretchen better and even though she is larger than life, you will fall in love with her.  You will love how Bauer brings Gretchen's past into her present life and the explosive relationships will have readers breathless.  I look forward to more stories involving Gretchen.....you know she will get into more trouble down the road but this time she will have one, or two, men on her side !!

Review by Missi M.

Monday 5 July 2021

The Hibiscus Heist: A Lily List Mystery (Lily List Mysteries Book 2) by C L Bauer

Florist Lily Schmidt just may be in love with the handsome DEA agent who walked into her shop one normal day. But since he entered her life, nothing has ever been the same. She's not even using as many post-it notes to keep her life organized. Chaos and danger are becoming a normal part of her day. Now her car has been stolen. Someone is stalking her. What next? 

Devlin Pierce is always following the evidence to take down the bad guys. But since he met Lily, he's actually making lists and thinking about his future. The Kansas City florist may just be the one. His heart keeps telling him his life as he knows it may have to change. 

The Hibiscus Heist is the second adventure in The Lily List Mystery Series. It's not easy for Lily and Devlin to ever get together, but this time, one wrong step could separate them forever. 
Will Lily's world ever be normal again? She will soon discover that normal is highly overrated.  (Summary via Goodreads)

The Lily List Mystery series by C.L. Bauer is a unique cozy mystery series.  If you read the first book, The Poppy Drop, you know what I am talking about.  However if you haven't that is okay, if you read The Hibiscus Heist you will not be lost at all.

In the second book, The Hibiscus Heist, the focus isn't on dead bodies or murder, it is about drugs and finishing something that was started in the first book.....

Lily List is the main character in this series.  Lily owns and runs Lily's Flower Shop, a family business that has been in Kansas City, Missouri since the early 1900's.  Lily has a very faithful employee, Abby, and between the two of them, they make and supply floral arrangements for a lot of weddings throughout the area.  Lily also has a kinda boyfriend that she met when she was involved with a drug drop that was delivered to her shop by accident.  Because of that she met DEA Devlin Pierce and they now have a long distant and complicated relationship.

In The Hibiscus Heist Lily and Abby are doing their thing with flowers, Devlin is away doing his thing and then Lily's car is stolen and things go downhill from there.  It seems that the bad guys are back and poking a stick at Lily.  Unfortunately Dev is deep undercover in the drug world in Miami and can't be there for Lily.....but that doesn't stop Lily from wanting to stop looking over her shoulder and regain her life back !!

Readers will enjoy the Lily List Mystery series as it is a lot different from normal cozy mysteries and has a bit more in the romance category...but not overly romantic.  This series actually adds comedy into the mix as well.  Readers will fall instantly for Lily and her life.  You will enjoy getting to know her, Abby, Devlin and in this book you get to see more of Devlin and his life and family.  

I highly recommend grabbing your copies of the books in this series and getting lost with Lily and Devlin for a while....you'll enjoy it for sure !!!

Review by Missi M.

Friday 2 July 2021

It Takes Two to Mango (Trouble in Paradise! #1) by Carrie Doyle

 It's all fun in the sun until someone turns up dead

After Plum Lockhart's job as a travel magazine editor is eliminated in corporate cuts, she decides she's sick of cold winters in NYC and fruitless swiping on dating apps—what she needs is a dramatic change of scenery. On a whim, she accepts a job as a villa broker and moves to a beautiful Caribbean island.

However, paradise isn't as perfect as it seems: the slow pace of island life, the language barrier, and a cutthroat office rival make Plum question leaving her old life behind. But when a client is found dead in the jacuzzi of Casa Mango—a property Plum manages—she knows she's really in a jam. With a killer loose on the island Plum will have to deal with a stonewalling police chief, a string of baffling clues, and a handsome Director of Security to solve this deadly case!
   (Summary via Goodreads)

What do you do when life hands you lemons ?? You make lemonade....or in Plum Lockhart's case, you make mango salsa !!  Plum Lockhart is the main character in the Trouble in Paradise Mystery series by Carrie Doyle and her debut It Takes Two to Mango is a real TREAT for readers !!

It Takes Two to Mango sets the stage beautifully for readers.  It begins with Plum Lockhart living in New York City getting let go from her job working for a travel magazine.  The only job she can get is to be a villa broker on the Caribbean island of Paraiso working at the Jonathan Mayhew Caribbean Escapes.  So she packs up her place in New York City in the dead of winter and moves to Paradise.  Unfortunately she does not get along with her one co-worker, Damian, her boss isn't happy with her work performance and she rents out a villa to a bachelor party that her boss forbid her from doing.  Thinking nothing else could go wrong, she has a night of drinking where she meets the Director of Security Juan Kevin and makes a fool of herself.  But when a member of the bachelor party ends up dead and Plum convinces the police that it was murder, she has to team up with Juan Kevin to solve the murder and keep her job.

Plum is not use to "island time" and how slow everything is handled and the list of suspects keeps growing however, the suspects are either keeping things from her and Juan Kevin or refusing to even answer questions.  Plum is determined to get to the bottom of the murder but when she is threatened, she begins to think moving back to the city is the best choice for her......

Readers will fall in love with It Takes Two to Mango immediately !!  The storyline is captivating as well as the setting.  You will feel like you are riding along with Plum in the slow golf cart enjoying the scenery and smelling the fresh sea air and all the flowers.  The cast of characters are a unique group of people and the way that Doyle includes people from Plum's past and her present lives is orchestrated so well.  Even though there are some characters in the book that cannot wait to get on a plane and leave the island, you will want to stay as long as you can.  And the way that Doyle ends the story, don't rush to the end to see what I'm talking about, will have all readers looking forward to the next book for sure !!!!

Review by Missi M.