Tuesday 28 November 2023

Death in a Nutshell: An Anthropology Whodunnit Roxanne Varzi

Alex is on the verge of dismissal from her anthropology doctoral program when her luck turns and she lands a fellowship with a dioramist at the Museum of the Rockies. Only problem is, Alex hasn’t a clue about dioramas or dinosaurs, and, as she will soon find out, she’s not the only one faking it in this frozen landscape.

From New York City to Yellowstone National Park, we follow Alex, a whip-smart dyslexic-ADHD Margaret Meade cum Ms. Marple, and her friends—a Nature photographer, a Ranger, a Polish guest worker, paleontologists, poets and Iranian-elite dot-commers—as they explore friendship, identity, climate change, globalization, and a murder against the stunning backdrop of the Rockies in winter. An engaging read for adventurous mystery lovers.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Death in a Nutshell by Roxanne Varzi is an Anthropology Whodunnit and a very unique story.  This is a first for me .... while you are reading a story about a murder, the author is also educating the reader in between chapters with her Field Notes.  In the Disclaimer in the beginning of the story she tells readers that you can skip over the Field Notes as they have nothing to do with the story but offer the reader more insight in the field of Anthropology.  I, however, read all of them as I wanted to make sure I was getting everything I could out of the story and understanding as much as I could .... I will admit some things were over my head but I was still able to enjoy the story.

In Death in a Nutshell main character Alex is about the be kicked out of her doctural program.  Luckily she is accepted into a grant in the Rockies for a project studying new residents in Bozeman where she will make a diorama of the people she interviews.  She will make a little house in details after getting to know her subjects.

Alex's first diorama is going to be on Marta who is from Poland working at the Museum of the Rockies as an all around helper.  This will be an easy starting point for Alex seeing as her and Marta are the only ones living on the property, each in their own cabin.  Unfortunately before Alex can really get to know Marta, she finds her in another building on the property with a head injury.

Alex has also become friends with Will who is a Park Ranger and she tries to get his help in finding out who would want to hurt Marta.  But when they are at an event at the Museum and a photographer, Pete, is found dead in the center of the exhibit, they have more questions that answers.  Alex doesn't know who she can trust oer what to do but she knows she wants to stay and find out what is going on.

Readers will enjoy reading Death in a Nutshell and you may even come away having learned something also.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Beneath the Surface (Sam Lawson Book # 2) by David K. Wilson

Sam Lawson returns in a gripping mystery you won’t be able to put down.

When Detective Sam Lawson arrives in a sleepy East Texas town to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young woman, he soon discovers everyone has something to hide. And the more he digs, the more questions he uncovers.

Are the scratch marks on the face of the woman’s arrogant husband really from a construction accident? Why is the rich investor suddenly so interested in the investigation? Who had been hiding in the woods behind the woman’s house? Why did one of the woman’s friends leave town the same day she went missing, and what was their real relationship?

With the help of a tough-as-nails sheriff’s sergeant, Liz Garcia, and his estranged girlfriend, medical examiner Carla Davenport, Sam must navigate the tangled relationships of this small community to find the truth before it’s too late.

Beneath the Surface is an exciting new addition to the Sam Lawson Mystery series. If you like colorful dialogue, surprising plot twists and page-turning suspense, then you’ll love this fast-paced whodunnit from David K. Wilson.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I did not want Beneath the Surface to end !!  Beneath the Surface is the second book in the Sam Lawson Mystery series by David K. Wilson and it is so good that as much as you love reading it, you will hate when you finish it and there is no more to read ... if that makes sense.

In Beneath the Surface Detective Sam Lawson is sent to Big Creek in Hawkins County to assist on a missing person's case.  Unfortunately the missing woman is the daughter of his old police chief who was forced into early retirement when he was involved in a case that Lawson uncovered and solved.  Neither Lawson or Ed Kaster are happy about this but they put personal feelings aside in order to work together to look for Jamie.

Nothing is adding up on the case and everyone is very frustrated.  Jamie's husband, Gary, being the spouse, is on the top of the suspect list but his alibi's for the day that Jamie went missing are tight.  However the list of suspects starts to grow as Lawson and his partner on the case, Deputy Garcia, start talking to friends and business associates of Gary.

Once there is a BIG chance in the case, Sheriff Monroe tells Lawson he is no longer needed on the case and that he can return home.  But when Jamie's father asks Lawson to stay on the case, there no way that he can say no.  Unfortunately he is only allowed to work on it for a very short time period and the clock is ticking.....

Readers will fall in love with Lawson and this series.  You are instantly pulled into the story as soon as you open the book and will not want to stop until you get to the end.  It feels like Wilson puts a magicla spell on you and you are powerless ..... all in a very good way !!!! 

Friday 17 November 2023

Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock (Girl Friday Book # 3) by Emily J. Edwards

New York City, 1950. Viviana Valentine and Tommy Fortuna have a lot of resolutions for the new year—whether it’s continuing to build up their detective agency or planning their wedding, the two are looking forward to the future. On their way to Times Square to celebrate, the two witness a brutal stabbing. When Tommy tries to chase down the culprit, Viviana tries her best to save the man. She’s unsuccessful, but Viviana hears his final words: a whispered apology to an unknown friend.

Clues are hard to come by, with the only leads being the fraught last words and a few nondescript matchbooks in the victim’s overcoat. Their investigation is halted when Detective Jack Lawson of the New York Police Department arrives, immediately ruffling Viviana’s feathers and bumping chests with Tommy, who he nearly arrested for murder just months earlier. The two know there’s more to the story, but there are other pressing matters at hand.

Clients are clamoring to get the detectives to work on their cases: a man is being blackmailed by a criminal who only writes in code, Tommy’s old friend needs his fiancĂ©e tailed, and an investment banker has mysteriously vanished. To add to their work load, Viviana knows something strange is happening at her boarding house. Will of all this—plus planning for a wedding—be too much for one Girl Friday?  (Summary via Goodreads)

Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock is the third book in the Girl Friday Mystery series by Emily J. Edwards and Edwards knows how to whisk readers away to New York City in the 1950's with ease...

Viviana Valentine works with her fiance, Tommy, in his private investigation office.  She started off as his secretary and worked her way up to private investigator then fiance.  Betty, Viviana's one roommate at the woman's boarding house where they live is currently taking time off from being a nurse and is working for 
Tommy and Viviana as their secretary.

In Viviana Valentine and the Ticking Clock Viviana and Tommy are on their way to Time's Square on New's Year Eve to partake in the festivities but do not make it there when they witness a stabbing in an alley.  Viviana stays to try to save the stabbed victim and Tommy takes off after the man who did the stabbing.  Unfortunately Tommy loses the guy in the crowds and Viviana cannot save the victim.  The victim has no identification and mumbles an apology to Frankie.

Even though this isn't their case, they know that they are going to look into the murder as it is a bit personal to them as they witnessed it.  But they do have bills to pay so they take on other cases.  Mr. Floristan has hired them because he received a message in code and he cannot figure it out....this will lead them down a crazy path that will require assistance from Dottie, another roommate at the boarding house.  Then Mr. Bowen who works at a bank hires them to find an employee who hasn't shown up for work for a while and the outcome of that will be nothing that they could have imagined.  And then the last case is a friend of Tommy's, Mort, who wants them to trail his fiance when she goes out to see who she is meeting as he thinks she is cheating on him ... this one will make readers laugh.

Viviana and Tommy have their hands full trampsing around New York City in the cold winter weather trying to solve the cases they are hired for as well as the stabbed victim they witnessed.  And things at Mrs. K's boarding house are unsettling as well as they are working on the third floor apartment to turn it into something that Viviana and Tommy can live in once they are married and Mrs. K's brother is trying to get her and her son Olek to move somewhere safer.  And Viviana is trying to figure out the wedding and meeting Tommy's family......

Readers will love this latest book in this series as well as the previous two books.  Readers will totally want Viviana's energy and spunk !!  And you cannot help but LOVE all of the relationships and even the cases are entertaining in their own way.

Monday 6 November 2023

In the Shadow of the Bull (An Ancient Crete Mystery Book # 1) by Eleanor Kuhns

In a world of Goddess worship, sacred snakes and sacrifice, human jealousy, resentment and betrayal still run wild . . .

Ancient Crete, 1450 BC .   When her sister Arge drops to the floor in convulsions and then dies at her wedding, fifteen-year-old Martis, a young poet and bull leaper in training, is certain she was murdered. The prime suspect is the groom, Saurus, a barbarian from the Greek mainland, but when Arge’s Shade visits Martis, swearing Saurus is not her murderer, Martis vows to uncover the truth.
As Martis begins asking questions, she discovers that while her sweet sister Arge may have had no secrets, many of the people around Martis certainly do… but if the murderer is not Saurus, then who is it? The Egyptian lady who frequents the docks, one of Martis’s other sisters, her father, or someone entirely different?
Martis is in a battle against time to save her sister’s Shade from eternal unrest and uncover the killer before they strike again . . .  (Summary via Goodreads)

In the Shadow of the Bull is the first book in the Ancient Crete Mystery series by Eleanor Kuhns and it is centered around Ancient Crete in 1450 BC .... I have not read a book from that time period before and I was thoroughly surprised at how captivating it was !!

In the Shadow of the Bulls follows Martis and her family.  Martis is preparing to be a bull leaper and entertain the High Priestess as well as everyone in her town ... unfortunately things shift after her sister Arge dies right before she is to be wed.  Arge is about to marry Saurus, a barbarian sailor, when Martis says a quick prayer to the Goddess trying to prevent the marriage from happening.  Martis believes that her prayer to the Goddess is what caused her sister to die.  Everything changes when Martis is visited by Arge's shade (ghost) insisting that she was poisoned and that Martis must find out who killed her.

Even though Martis did not like Saurus, she doesn't think that he should be executed for Arge's murder if he is innocent.  And after talking with him, she believes that he genuinely loved her sister and wouldn't harm her.  But who would want to kill her and how did they do it ?

When Martis finds out that Arge was poisoned, she has a lot to figure out.  Then when another sister, Nuia, helps Saurus escape and they flee on his boat, Martis is left with more questions than answers.

Martis continues to be visited by Arge's shade insisting that she will haunt the family if her murder is not solved and the murderer dealt with.  And when Nuia and Saurus are brought back and held in the caves until they will be executed, Martis knows her time is running out.

Readers will be on the edge of their seats reading this story.  It is so different from any other stories I have read and it was so fun getting down and dirty with Martis and her life.  Reading about how things were so different and difficult for her was quite a refreshing story.  It was very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in a new series and look forward to more books to follow to see what will happen next for Martis and her family.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Syrup to No Good (Maple Syrup Mysteries Book # 2 ) by Catherine Bruns

Only a sap would try to ruin a bride's special day… Spring has finally come to Sugar Ridge, Vermont, and with it the end of syrup-making season. But Leila Khoury, new owner of Sappy Endings Farm, won't be making like molasses any time soon. Her best friend Heather's wedding is coming up, and Leila will do anything to make sure it lives up to all her sweetest dreams. Even with Leila's own romantic past stirring up trouble, everything is going to plan until the bridal shower ends up with a body count. Heather's rich and backstabbing aunt had a whole orchard of enemies, so Leila will have her work cut out for her. Can she tap the killer before Heather's dream wedding becomes a nightmare? Includes delicious Middle Eastern recipes!  (Summary via Goodreads)

In Syrup to No Good the second book in the Maple Syrup Mysteries series by Catherine Bruns readers are in for a treat !!  Not only are you going to have a nail biting, fast paced, on the edge of your seat story but you are going to be left with some yummy recipes to try yourself.  Throughout the story readers will find themselves hungry reading about the yummy foods that main character Leila's mother makes .... so I recommend having a tasty snack while you get lost in this book.

In Syrup to No Good Leila's best friend Heather is about to get married !!!  Leila is the maid of honor and has planned the best bridal shower .... one fit for the princess that Heather is.  Unfortunately at the end of the shower they discover someone left their purse behind.  When they look inside and find out it belongs to Heather's aunt, they cannot help but groan.  Heather's Aunt Monica, aunt only by marriage to Heather's father's brother Grant, isn't a very nice person.  She also has no filter on what comes out of her mouth and no one at the party really liked her.  Now Leila has to track her down to return her purse to her.  Luckily she notices that Moncia's car is still in the parking lot so she goes over to the car to see if she is in it.  Sadly Monica is in the car dead with a knife in her back !!!

As if things couldn't get any worse Heather finally admits to Leila that Monica and Grant had loaned her parents money so that she could have the elaborate wedding that she's always dreamed about.  Heather feels like she has to find out who killed Monica so that they don't have to call the wedding off.  So Heather asks Leila to help her look into who killed her ..... little did they know that the list would be long and a lot of secrets would be uncovered.

Leila decides that the best place to start is with Monica's family, mainly her husband Grant, her son from a previous marriage Devon, Devon's long-time girlfriend Lexi, Monica's store manager Jason, and Monica's best friend Belinda.  So with Heather's help they try to talk to all of them without causing suspicions.

All Leila wants to do is run the maple syrup farm her father left her, Sappy Endings, spend time with her boyfriend Noah and his daughter Emma and see Heather get married and live happily ever after.  Unfortunately she has to find a killer, deal with her ex-boyfriend Mark who returns and decides that he wants her back after their break up five years ago, and try to convince her mother that she is happy with her life as it is currently.  Gee that shouldn't be hard.

Even though Syrup to No Good is only the second book in this new series by Catherine Bruns, readers will fall instantly in love !!  The Maple Syrup Mystery series will be a series to watch for new releases and you will want to grab them as soon as they are released !!!  I promise !!!