Mysteries in the Time of COVID-19

With apologies to Gabriel García Márquez, here are the mystery book reviews that I wrote while I was working from home during the COVID-19 crisis (and subsequently while looking for a new job in 2021). Reading has been slow and it didn’t help that some of these books were longer than the average cozy mystery. Still, they ranged from cat shows to filming movies to universities to ancient Athens; all, for the most part, enjoyable and a few I would most definitely recommend

Allyson's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Pumpkin Killer

Note: New reviews are at the bottom of the page as the reviews presented are in the order that I read the books.

“Murder at the Cat Show”
A Perkins & Tate Mystery (#2) [03/17/2020]

I’d read a previous mystery by Marian Babson and enjoyed it very much. I found this ebook on sale and since I was familiar with her work, I glommed on to it.

I wasn’t disappointed especially since I love cats.

The mystery takes place at a cat show were the protagonists are the PR firm hired to publicize the event. As anyone who has a cat or two knows, cats are their own people and I can’t imagine having that many cats under one roof. Granted, most of them are used to this kind of life, but still, cat wrangling (especially at the end of the book) wasn’t my idea of fun. But the book was fun and well worth reading. I’d definitely be interested in picking up more books in the series as long as I can get them on sale.

I give this book a solid Four Paws! — well worth reading and you’ll have a great time at it!

“Careless Whiskers”
Cat in the Stacks (#12) [03/21/2020]

As always, I look forward to more adventures of Charlie and Diesel and I almost didn’t read the book. I had requested the loan from my local library but somehow, the email letting me know that the book was available was missed or never arrived, so when I received the email saying I had three days to read it before it was automatically returned, I was in a state of panic. Luckily this was over the weekend, so I spent good chunk of my free time furiously reading the book. Thankfully, “Miranda” is such a great author that I had no trouble finishing the book with time to spare.

This time, Charlie’s daughter is caught up in the death of a seriously obnoxious actor who was the guest actor for the play the college was putting on. I’d worked in amateur theatre so I really enjoyed the behind the scenes especially having to deal with the various personalities it takes to put a play on.

This is a great book if you enjoy the theatre or any kind of performing arts (similiar to “Dead Pan” which I reviewed) or if you enjoy a good mystery that has cats. The cats don’t solve the mystery as they have done in other mysteries, but you’ll enjoy them hanging around acting like cats.

As always, this was definitely a Five Paws Up! book — great for theatre buffs and mystery buffs.

“The Religious Body”
Inspector Sloan (#1) [03/28/2020]

Despite not being overly religious, I do enjoy religious mysteries. After all, the core of a good mystery is explaining the circumstances about which the murder has occurred, which means, you learn a lot about a lot of different subjects. In this case, the mystery surrounds the death of a nun, so consequently, there is a ton of background on being in a convent as well as what England was like post World War II.

I purchased this book because of the subject matter (and of course, the price) and wasn’t disappointed in the least. I’m not really fond of police procedurals (it’s not that I don’t enjoy them, they aren’t the kind of book I seek out to read). Despite that, it is a really good book and the mystery and subsequent resolution were totally satisfactory (as well as surprising).

This is definitely a book for the post World War II British mystery fan, police procedural or religious mystery. It ticks off a number of different boxes and does them all proud.

I give this book a solid 4.5 Paws! — definitely worth the read.

“Murder at Kensington Gardens”
Ginger Gold Mysteries #6 [04/03/2020]

Another British mystery, this time, it is a very modern aristocrat, post World War I, a widow, who lives in a very nice large house with various people including her mother-in-law, a unmarried pregnant medical student (I told you she was progressive), a woman who works in the pathologist office, and a ton of other characters.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but it centers around Ginger’s boyfriend’s ex-wife who was living a double life as a burlesque dancer (which, apparently, was pretty racy and scandalous). I was rather interested in the fact that women actually attended these burlesque shows, but then, this was the twenties and as the song says, “Anything Goes.”

Other than the titillation of burlesque show and Ginger’s lovely clothing, there really wasn’t much going for the story. It was better than some I’d read, but I wasn’t motivated to check out to see if there were other books in the series worth my time. I’d definitely buy another book if it was on sale, but I’m not going to go out of my way to read the series.

I give this book 3.5 paws — good enough to read on a rainy afternoon.

“Dead Pan”
Jocelyn O’Roarke (#4) [04/16/2020]

Joss is a stage actress who came out west to act in a made for TV movie for an old friend who had written the script.

She has no delusions that her primary mission to keep the erstwhile child star now all grown up, divorced, with a child and having beat a drug addiction on the straight and narrow. (For what it’s worth, the movie they are starring in doesn’t sound all that interesting, more like a Hallmark movie.)

I will warn you now, this is a long book that took me quite a while to finish, but it was a great book; one that prompted me to look at purchasing other books in the series. I learned a lot about movie making; the behind the scenes look at the process was great.

This is definitely a series I will be reading more of in the future (already have another book since it was on sale) and I recommend at least this book, hopefully, I’ll be able to recommend the series.

I give this book a solid 4.5 paws — well worth reading, especially if you enjoy the behind the scenes of the creative process.

“Death By Suspenders”
Spencer University (#1) [04/25/2020]

This is the first book in a series that I assume takes place at Spencer University.

Young professor can’t keep her snoot out of mysterious goings on at her university and goes full-tilt when the hated professor is killed.


There are very few books that I won’t finish reading. It wasn’t that this book was a slog to read it was one that wasn’t all that great.

It was OK and I don’t plan to read any further books in the series even if they are on sale.

A dismal 3 paws — not my cup of tea but it might be yours. Reader beware.

“Death Ex Machina”
The Athenian Mysteries (#5) [05/19/2020]

As I’ve mentioned previously, I really like mysteries set in the theater, so when I came across this book on sale, I was intrigued.

While I enjoy period pieces, this is the first mystery series I’ve read in ancient Athens, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect.

I loved it. The dialogue was witty, the descriptions really fantastic, and it was a good mystery to boot.

As a medical historian (more medical nerd since I’ve never gotten paid for any of my medical history musings), I appreciated the fact that the author did his homework, so I am inclined to think that the rest of the book has some roots in actual history as well.

The plot is a simple one: our hero, a private detective in Athens and his wife, a high priestess of Athena are hired by a playwright during the great festival to get rid of a ghost who is thwarting the rehearsals. While Nico is able to get rid of the “ghost,” unfortunately, he has a murder to contend with and we are off to the races.

I did manage to pick up another book in the series at a very good price. Unfortunately, the publisher prices the books above what I consider reasonable for an electronic book, so unless I win the lottery, I don’t think I’ll be reading many of the books (unless they are on sale).

Well worth your time and eyes. While this is a long book, it’s totally worth it and I give it 5 paws up! for a delightful story that had me laughing out loud at several points.

“A Stitch in Time”
John Putnam Thatcher (#7) [05/25/2020]

I am a big fan of author Emma Lathan and her John Putnam Thatcher series. I’m pretty sure I’d previously read this book but even in re-reading the tome, I couldn’t remember if I had read it before or not.

It’s an OK book by Emma’s standards and certainly not the best in the series (I thought it lacked some of the humor in other books), but it’s still a solid read centering around a hospital and the murder of one of its doctors.

While I am giving this book five solid paws, as I said, it’s not one of her best though I will say here that my favorite book of hers is “Death Shall Overcome.” I might just glom onto a copy and re-read it for a fourth or fifth time (it’s that good).

“A Body in the Attic”
Myrtle Clover Mysteries (#16) [06/07/2020]

It’s Miles this time who finds the dead body in the attic of one of his chess-playing friends and of course, Myrtle is on the case to figure out whodunit.

This is another solid entry in the series and even Elaine’s newest hobby is more amusing than usual.

Well-worth reading if you’re a fan. Even if you’re not a fan, this is a good book to start reading the series.

As always, Myrtle gets a solid 5 paws.

“The Murder at the Vicarage”
Miss Marple (#1) [07/03/2020]

I am a great fan of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series though some might find them a bit on the slow side. I enjoy Miss Marple’s musings and the quaintness of the English village life.

I think I’ve read all the Miss Marple books and I think this is the only book that is from a first person point of view that isn’t Miss Marple’s, but that of the village vicar who finds the dead body in his library.

Of course, the village has all kinds of secrets and those come out as the murderer is tracked down.

If a slow, rich, character study of an English village of yore, this is a good you’ll enjoy. All other should stay away.

A solid 5 paws.

“Something in the Water”
Peter Shandy (#9) [07/08/2020]

This is the penultimate Peter Shandy Mystery and it’s a total goodie.

Peter finds himself away from home to get samples of lupines when he witnesses an elderly gentleman wolf down a chicken pot pie only to fall head-first into said chow dead.

As with other books by Charlotte MacLeod, this one is full of colorful characters (some of which we’ve met previously) and a great plot.

If you are a fan of contemporary Maine cozy mysteries, this definitely should be on your list to read.

A solid 5 paws.

“The Agatha Christie Book Club” #1 [07/15/2020]

I admit I wanted to read this book because I had just recently finished reading “The Murder at the Vicarage” and I was intrigued by the title (and the purchase price was right!)

It was an OK book. I wasn’t exactly bowled over and in fact, as I was reading the book, I kept thinking I would be better off doing something else. But it wasn’t a bad read, so I decided to plod on to the inevitable conclusion and revelation.

I admit that the revelation was quite clever but I just don’t see myself reading anymore in the series. Having said that, if you are interested in a relatively decent read set in Australia, then you might enjoy this book a lot more than I did.

A 2.5 paws — barely a decent read.

“The Wickenham Murders”
Peter and Georgia Marsh — Marsh and Daughter (#1) [07/31/2020]

This was a splendid book.

Well written with fantastically interesting characters. Granted, there were times that I thought Georgia was a bit too whiney but given what she’d gone through, I guess I’d whine a bit too.

This is one of these “solve the murder in the past and present” type of cozy mystery. Peter and Georgia research and write books (and I think articles) on past mysteries, with Peter doing most of the writing and Georgia doing the legwork as former police officer Peter was injured on duty and is in a wheel chair.

The more than Georgia delves into Wickenham’s past, the more resentful the townsfolks become. This mixture of resentment and present feuds makes for a dandy mystery.

This is the first book in the series and I’d like to read more, assuming I can get them for a decent price. They are a long read, but totally worthwhile.

A solid 5 paws.

“Secrets at St Bride’s”
Staffroom at St Bride’s (#1) [08/05/2020]

This book started off being very confusing for me because I was expecting to read a mystery.

I was intrigued by the idea of story centering around a private girls school because I had really enjoyed reading the Chalet series which took place pre- and post-World War II.

So I kept reading this book expecting a murder but when it was obvious that a murder wasn’t going to happen (there was an attempted murder but that was late in the book), I sat back and really enjoyed the book for what it was: a book about a boarding school in England where most of the teachers and staff had secrets.

I really don’t know how to categorize the book except that it is well-written and fun to read. Given these days of COVID, quarantine and politics not-as-usual, it was a pleasant diversion. I would greatly look forward to reading more books in the series.

A solid 4 paws.

“Purr-suasive Witches”
A Wonder Cats Mystery Book (#11) [08/09/2020]

Aunt Astrid gets involved with some “witches” and it takes Cath and a very pregnant Bea (plus the kitties and other critters) to save the day.

If you enjoy this series, this is a very good book. If you are new to the series, do yourself a favor and start from the beginning.

This book is a solid 5 paws

The Miss Silver Mysteries Volume One
Grey Mask, The Case Is Closed, and Lonesome Road

Miss Silver is a former governess turned sleuth, who, while listening to her clients and knitting in her office, manages to not only solve the mysteries but appear in the nick of time to avert a tragedy.

These stories take place after World War II where Europe isn’t quite back on its feet and the former military are finding their place back in society.

The author’s style reminded me somewhat of Agatha Christie in that the author spends a lot of time on characterizations and setting the mood. So if you prefer more fast-paced mysteries, this isn’t for you.

However, if you, like me, enjoy Agatha Christie and post-war mysteries, then by all means, check out Miss Silver and be prepared to be entertained.

The books are a solid 4 paws

“Irish Village Mystery”
Murder in an Irish Village (#1) [09/15/2020]

Siobhán O’Sullivan has had her own 2020: her parents were killed in an accident leaving the young woman to not only keep the family’s bistro open and running, but raising her multitude of siblings.

If that wasn’t enough, a dead body was found in the cafe. Needing to keep both her family together and the bistro open, Siobhán goes about investigating the murder despite the local police admonishing her.

This was a great read. The author really puts the reader in Ireland where the story takes place, using plenty of Gaelic terms (thankfully, there is a list of common words and phrases to consult as well as pronunciations).

I enjoyed the book so much that when another book popped up at a great price, I didn’t hesitate to grab it and will review it probably sometime next year.

The book is a solid 4 paws — especially for those of us who enjoy reading mysteries with settings other than the United States.

“Kurland St. Mary Mystery”
Death Comes to the Village (#1) [09/22/2020]

This is the first book in a series that I wish I could read more of. Alas, while I was able to purchase this book for a very reasonable $1.99, the rest of the series are priced unreasonably. So my only hope is that the rest of the series will come down to a more reasonable price so I can enjoy the rest of the book.

The book takes place post World War I in the quiet village of Kurland St. Mary where Major Kurland returns after he is badly wounded in the war. Our heroine is the rector’s oldest daughter who dutifully took over keeping the household after her mother died in childbirth.

As the rector’s daughter, she calls on the injured Major as she would call upon any other member of the village where they manage to get on each other’s last nerves and solve a murder mystery. The interaction of the Major and Lucy is perfect as well as Lucy’s interaction with the Major’s manservants (who feel she’s a meddling woman).

This is a great book and I highly recommend it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to read the rest of the series.

A solid 4 paws.

“The Princess Louise Mysteries”
King and Joker
Skeleton-in-Waiting [10/01/2020]

It’s really too bad that author Peter Dickinson passed away a few years ago, so we won’t get anymore books in the series.

I really enjoyed the first book very much; didn’t enjoy the second book as much, though it was still a good yarn.

The series takes place in an alternative history where Britain’s Royal Family’s Prince Albert Victor never died and ended up marrying his fiancé Mary of Teck and ruling himself so that the thrown is never passed on to his brother George V. This means that the setting is familiar but not quite that familiar. There were times where I got lost as to who was who (apparently, the physical copies of the book had a pedigree chart, something that the electronic version did not) but I was eventually able to muddle through.

The stories center around Princess Louise, Lulu to her family, who is the youngest daughter of sovereign King Victor II. In the first book, Lulu is in her mid teens and the second book, she’s in her twenties, married with a young son.

The first book is also more of a straight mystery whereas I thought the second book was more of a thriller.

What I most appreciated was the way that the Royal Family had their public persona and their private ones as well as the interpersonal interactions.

These two books would be fun for those who enjoy alternate histories with a touch of mystery.

A solid 4 paws.

“The Nero Wolfe Mysteries”
Murder in E Minor (#1) [10/07/2020]

This is the first book written by Robert Goldsborough continuing the saga of Nero and Archie originally written by Rex Stout.

I’m pretty sure I’ve read one of the Goldsborough Nero Wolfe’s but I honestly don’t recall which one it was. What I do know is that I’ve read just about everyone one of the Nero Wolfe books that Rex wrote and enjoyed each of them very much.

I’m always skeptical when a new author takes over writing for such an esteemed mystery writer of Rex’s caliber but Robert manages to capture the essence of what makes a Nero and Archie adventure so much fun to read.

The story centers around the death of a demanding maestro who just happened to be an acquaintance of Nero’s back in his Montenegro days.

If you are a Nero Wolfe fan, this is definitely worth your while: a great story written as close to something that Rex would have written himself.

A solid 5 paws — I cannot recommend it more highly.

“Bookstore Cafe Mystery”
Death by Pumpkin Spice (#3) [10/25/2020]

Our heroine Krissy has been invited to attend a Halloween Party at the mansion of the recently departed Howard Yarborough’s mansion. Howard’s interest lay with the macabre and decorated his mansion accordingly — the perfect place to hold a Halloween party… and a murder.

I enjoyed the book but found Krissy to be annoying at times, taking unnecessary chances (that turned out to be in the nick of time during more than one occasion). Be that as it may, it was a fast, decent read, but honestly, no great shakes.

Definitely pick it up as part of your Halloween reading (I love reading Halloween books during the Halloween holiday), but it’s probably not worth it any other time of year.

A so-so 3.5 paws

“Pumpkin Hollow Mystery”
Candy Coated Murder (#1) [10/29/2020]

Pumpkin Hollow is an unusual town in that it celebrates Halloween all year round. While some residents think this is a great idea and a wonderful tourist attraction, others in the town, especially some of the merchants think this is a terrible idea.

Our heroine has returned to her childhood home of Pumpkin Hollow to help with the family’s candy and coffee shop. Mia has spent the last few years accumulating a number of degrees, none of which brought her any happiness like her home does.

She certainly doesn’t appreciate some of the town wanting to rescind the year round Halloween tradition and works to get those who approve to support keeping things the way they are. However, one of the proponents of ditching the tradition is killed and left on her porch positioned like a scarecrow and we’re off to the races to find the miscreant.

Of course, this being a cozy mystery, we find out whodunit, however the question about keeping or ditching year round Halloween isn’t resolved. That’s not fair to the reader as the author has spent a great deal of time on the subject to leave the readers hanging on such a major issue.

Sorry. I paid for a complete book, hence my rating of 2 paws. Perhaps other readers will rate this book higher but I seriously dislike being jerked around like this.

“Cat in the Stacks”
Cat Me If You Can (#13) [10/29/2020]

It’s no secret that I love cats and this series is up there as one of my favorites.

Once again, Charlie is in the midst of a murder. This time, he’s on vacation with Helen-Louise and kitty Diesel at a hotel with the rest of his fellow mystery club. Unfortunately, a friend of one of the members unexpected shows up and just as unexpectedly is killed.

I’ve read the entire series and I think this is one of the best in the series (and this is a good book to start the series with). The characters are great, the setting equally fun, and the mystery (and solution) was satisfying.

If you haven’t checked out this series, you should (especially if you like the south, kitties, books and of course, mysteries). It’s nice to have a series that has a cat in it who acts like a cat.

A solid 5 paws — I cannot recommend it more highly!

“A Likable Daisy Mystery Book”
Prove it: Murder in the Mix (#1) [11/16/2020]

[note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review]

Steph Wu is a new mom who lives with her newborn Madelyn and her accountant husband in an apartment above a neighborhood bakery/coffee house. She is very friendly with the owner of the bakery and the lead baker but eventually becomes skeptical when the owner is found dead.

Because she is on maternity leave, it gives her plenty of time to consider who would have killed the owner. Besides, the bakery is closed and she really misses her favorite caffeine drink.

Most of the book is from Steph’s point of view but a few times, the author shifts to other character’s point of view, which can be disconcerting at times but it didn’t distract me from the story at hand.

Steph’s nature curiosity makes her a natural to bring the murderer to justice and the author lays out the clues well (and even tosses in a few clever red herrings).

What I appreciated was that most of the necessary loose ends were cleared up.

I give this book a solid 4 paws — a good, cozy read!

“Hilary Quayle Mysteries”
The Laurel and Hardy Murders (#4) [11/20/2020]

Many decades ago, I had read a book in the series concerning the death of an actor during a production of The Scottish Play.

This time, Hiliary becomes involved with a murder during a Sons of the Desert, a Laurel and Hardy appreciation association, meeting. Despite not being allowed to join (it was men-only), she works with her secretary/lover to uncover the killer’s identity.

I’m not a big fan of Laurel and Hardy’s work, but having worked on many Star Trek conventions in the 1970s, I could really appreciate the behind the scenes of running the local organization as the Sons of the Desert is a real organization.

The story is chock full of seriously eccentric characters and it’s a trip down memory lane for those of us who remember some of the actors who starred with Laurel and Hardy.

And the mystery is pretty good as well.

This story may not be for everyone but I really enjoyed it.

A solid 5 paws — looking forward to reading more books in the series as soon as the price becomes more reasonable.

“Irish Village Mystery”
Murder at an Irish Wedding (#2) [11/25/2020]

Siobhán O’Sullivan is back, this time, helping cater a wedding where her beau Macdara is friends with the groom. When the best man is found bludgeoned and Macdara’s Garda cap found under the corpse, it is up to Siobhán to solve the murder as Macdara is considered a suspect.

There’s a lot going on in this book with the wedding party literally at war with each other as the father of the bride doesn’t feel that the groom is good enough for his daughter.

And the ending of the book — wowza! I honestly didn’t see that coming.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the first book, by all means, read this book despite the range of reviewer comments you’ll encounter.

I gave this book a 4 paws and that’s because I thought the ending and solution was really well done.

Sherlock Holmes and the Molly-Boy Murders [11/30/2020]

[note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review]

The Game is Afoot!

Author Margaret Walsh has continued what Arthur Conan Doyle started. Normally, I’m not particularly fond of authors picking up where the author has left off (usually because said author has died), but I was totally captivated by Margaret’s vision of Holmes and Watson as well as her take on Inspector Lestrade.

The case itself took the more modern aspect of one’s true gender identity and placed it squarely within Victorian morals and attitudes.

While I had wondered if this story would have taken place during the era, Margaret has an addendum to the story where she demonstrates by listing her sources. So I have no doubt the story was true to the era.

I highly recommend this book — I give it 4.5 paws — if you are a Holmes fan, but all means, give it a go. As long as you have an open mind about the subject, you’ll have a grand read!

I gave this book a 4 paws

“Irish Village Mystery”
Murder in an Irish Churchyard (#3) [12/06/2020]

Siobhán is now Garda O’Sullivan and she’s on her first case.

Woken up in the middle of the night by Father Kearney, she finds a stranger who was killed in the cemetery pointing to a headstone. The deceased turns out to be the head of an American family, filming a documentary about their illustrious Irish past.

However, one of her first cases concerns the missing socks of a curmudgeon; little did she know that these socks were important to discovery of the recently deceased murder.

Of course, as all this plays out, Siobhán and Macdara, who was assigned to Dublin, figure out what to do about their personal relationship.

As with the first two books in the series, I greatly enjoyed this one and I think you will too, especially if you enjoy cozy mysteries that are set in Ireland.

I give this book a 5 paws — fun stuff and so is the next book (which I duly reviewed as well).

“Irish Village Mystery”
Murder in an Irish Pub (#4) [12/10/2020]

I couldn’t get enough of Siobhán and Macdara, so I quickly dove into the next book, where the big high profile Poker Tournament is being played in Kilbane.

But when the odds-on favorite is found swinging from the rafters in a locked room, putting Siobhán and Macdara at odds with each other with Macdara willing to write it off as a suicide but Siobhán thinks it’s murder.

Another fine book in the series, highly enjoyable with Siobhán and Macdara (more or less) figuring out what to do about their relationship.

I give this book a 5 paws — but this is the last book I’ll be reading for a while unless the publishers lower the prices to something under $5 per book (hope springs eternal!)

“A Myrtle Clover Cozy Mystery”
Murder on the Ballot (#17) [12/16/2020]

My favorite octogenarian is at it again. This time, Myrtle feels it’s high time there was an adult on the town council and decides to run (her plan is to run to get the conversation going and then drop out). Unfortunately for Myrtle, her nosy-neighbor Edna drops in during an early morning insomniacs meeting with Miles and decides that she too will run!

Despite a high-spirited first debate (where Myrtle finds herself having to defend Edna against their opponent), the race is short lived when the main opponent is found dead the next morning, leaving Myrtle as an ex-candidate and someone who when faced with a murder is going to figure it out!

As with all the other books in the series, this one doesn’t disappoint. Great characters and situations and well worth your time if you like cozy mysteries set in a small southern town — 5 paws!

“Kurland St. Mary Mystery”
Death Comes to London (#2) [12/19/2020]

I read the first book in the series back in September and the second book was finally on sale for a reasonable price, so I was able to snap it up.

I’m totally in love with this series, which I think of as Jane Austin meets detective couple. This time, it’s husband season in London and our heroine Lucy accompanies her gorgeous younger sister Anna and Lucy’s friend Sophia to be presented to London society. There is lots of visiting, tea drinking (sometimes something a bit stronger), eating, and of course, formal dances.

It’s at this formal dance that the dowager countess is killed (and won’t be missed according to the wags) with the Major’s former fiancé being accused of her murder.

Lucy and the Major eventually figure it out except Lucy is put in peril and the Major isn’t happy about it. Because Lucy and the Major are working on this mystery, Lucy’s uncle, the Earl asks the Major about his intentions — and it doesn’t go over very well.

If Regency romance is your cup of tea with a heavy dose of mystery, by all means, this book (and series as I am reading next book in the series and plan to keep reading!) is for you.

5 paws

“Irish Village Mystery”
Murder in an Irish Cottage (#5) [12/23/2020]

After finishing the fourth book in the series, I was sadden to see that Amazon was selling book #5 at a price I wasn’t willing to pay. However, my local library came through and I was able to borrow the Kindle version of the book. Yea me!

I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy the book. The beginning of the book really didn’t “capture” me and if it wasn’t for the fact that I really love this series, I may not have finished it.

But the more I read the book, the more my interest was piqued and the ending. Yowza! It was fantastic.

Mac’s aunt is found dead. He and Siobhán drive over to the village to see if his cousin Jane needed his help. Siobhán finds out that Jane is blind, but very independent and full of anger and snark at the world.

The neighbors aren’t all that friendly because Jane and her mother lived in a house that was considered a fairy crossing therefore, the house should be razed to allow the fairies free range.

As a said, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the beginning of the book but the middle and end of the book makes up for it.

If you’ve read the first four books, you definitely don’t want to miss this one (and the next one which I’ll be reviewed above).

5 paws

“Irish Village Mystery”
Murder at an Irish Christmas (#6) [12/27/2020]

It’s Christmas and Mac and Siobhán along with her siblings find themselves spending the holidays with James’ fiance, Elise’s family.

As there is with any family, there are a ton of secrets especially with Elise’s grandfather being a famous conductor who was planning a special announcement along with conducting the orchestra for Christmas eve.

Unfortunately, Enda isn’t able to conduct the orchestra because he is found dead, pinned to the floor by a harp in the venue where he would be conducting.

It’s up to a reluctant Mac and an eager Siobhán to figure out who done it before the miscreant manages to force her off the road a second time.

This series hasn’t lost any momentum and while you don’t have to read the series in order, you’ll appreciate the growth of the characters if you read them in order.

5 solid paws

“Kurland St. Mary Mystery”
Death Comes To Kurland Hall (#3) [12/31/2020]

I had started reading a Nero Wolfe mystery, Death on Deadline when my local library’s app informed me that my request for the next book in the series Death Comes to the Fair was ready for me to borrow — so expect that this will be the next book I will review.

On to Death Comes To Kurland Hall. Sophia and Andrew successfully tie the knot with Kurland Hall serving for the post-nuptial meal. Unfortunately, before, during, and after the wedding, Mrs Chingford, the mother of Major Kurland’s former fiance makes an absolute pest out of herself by causing all kinds consternation with the wedding guests. It was no surprise that Mrs C finds herself the victim of a murder.

Never mind one of the Major’s blacksheep of his family turns up, causing all kinds of grief as well.

This is a very successful book with a really solid solution to the murders (can’t just have one murder, can you?) and other surprises that I won’t spoil for you.

5 solid paws

“Kurland St. Mary Mystery”
Death Comes to the Fair (#4) [01/03/2021]

Once again, I had started reading the Death on Deadline when my local library’s app informed me that my request for the next book in the series Death Comes to the School was ready for me to borrow. At least I was able to read a few chapters of Death on Deadline before I put it down and read the next book.

Death Comes to the Fair is another entry in this fantastic series. This time, we’re at the harvest fair as the lord of the manor (so to speak), the Major is tapped to judge and award the vegetable entries. Instead of spreading the wealth (as Lucy tried to nudge him towards), the Major gives the awards to the best veggies which were grown by the rectory’s verger. As you can imagine, this causes quite a stir in the community.

Unfortunately, the verger is later found killed by a gargoyle, not before his brother has come to town, sniffing around for a possible treasure as well as proving that a land deed to the Kurland’s may not have been completed.

Another fantastic entry in the series and I greatly look forward to reading the next books in the series.

5 solid paws

“Kurland St. Mary Mystery”
Death Comes to the School (#5) [01/08/2021]

The Kurlands have founded and endowed a school for the village’s children and they are responsible for choosing the teacher. Unfortunately, they hadn’t chosen wisely, having leaned on the expertise of Lucy’s father. The teacher hired is a mean and miserable woman who is not suited to instruct the young people of the village. When the teacher is found murdered, not everyone is surprised, though the perpetrator was a surprise to me.

Another excellent book in the series and, as always, highly recommended.

5 solid paws

“Kurland St. Mary Mystery”
Death Comes to Bath (#6) [01/12/2021]

Robert is finally convinced that taking in the baths at Bath is a good thing as his leg hasn’t felt this good since his unfortunate accident at Waterloo.

During their stay at Bath (with Robert’s physician Patrick and his very pregnant wife Penelope), Robert finds that his temporary next door neighbor, Sir William, is quite the character and while older than Robert, they find that they have much in common.

Unfortunately, Sir William’s family is more concerned squabbling amongst themselves while Sir William’s trophy wife spends her time swooning and being revived by smelling salts. When Sir William’s body is found dead at the bath with the Will missing, family tensions come to the forefront in another delightful entry in the series.

As with the previous book, I was taken aback by who the murderer was and I’m sure you will too.

5 solid paws

“Kurland St. Mary Mystery”
Death Comes to the Nursery (#7) [01/17/2021]

Lucy, Lady Kurland, hires a new maid to the Kurland household. The new maid attracts all kind of unwanted male attention, so it’s possible it wasn’t all that surprising when she turns up dead.

Because the late maid was a member of her household, she is determined to find out who killed her, only to discover that the situation is a lot more complicated than she and Sir Robert anticipated.

5 solid paws

“Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe Mysteries”
Death on Deadline (#2) [01/22/2021]

I am finally getting around to reading this book after two false starts (books that were available from the library). I am a big fan of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series and having read all the books (I think), I decided to move on to Robert Goldsborough’s continuation of the series.

This time, a Rupert Murdock-type character wants to take over Lon’s Gazette and Nero is determined to stop him (it helps that the Murdock-character’s ex wife actually hires Nero for the job).

You don’t really find out a lot about the newspaper business but it’s still a good read with great characters. And the ending was, as Nero would say, “satisfactory.”

4 paws

“Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe Mysteries”
Death on Deadline (#2) [01/26/2021]

I’m always wary when a writer takes over an establish series as Robert Goldsborough has done with Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe.

Unfortunately, I found this book to be a weak story with a so-so ending.

Nero is hired by a colleague of a deceased college professor because the colleague believes that the professor was killed. The best part of the story was to see Nero out of the confines of his brownstone sitting in a small town police station because Archie has been arrested.

As I said, it wasn’t that great a story and the ending was OK.

3 paws

“Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries”
The Secret Adversary (#1) [01/31/2021]

According to some of the book reviews I read on GoodReads, this was Agatha Christie’s second novel.

And it shows.

I tried reading the first chapters and couldn’t continue. The characters weren’t that interesting, the banter between them tedious, and I just didn’t want to continue.

So this book earns a formal “No Review” from me because it wasn’t fair for me to review a book that I hadn’t finished reading.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

“Roderick Alleyn”
The Nursing Home Murder (#3) [01/31/2021]

I remember reading Ngaio Marsh’s books back in the 1970s and not being overly impressed, but then, the detective genre, for the most part, isn’t my bag, but The Nursing Home Murder showed up for sale and I liked the general storyline.

I have to admit that while her dialogue can get a bit turgid at times, it was a really interesting and satisfying mystery.

The story takes place between the wars where Bolshevik sentiments were riding high as well as eugenics where a member of the cabinet about to introduce a controversial bill is suddenly taken ill and subsequently dies after the successful operation.

Throw in the surgeon that had operated on his had threatened him, his spurned mistress was one of the nurses and another nurse has communist leanings makes for a fun time to be had by all (not).

This is a very British book and I was happy to have read it on the Kindle where I was able to look up the definitions of some of the more obscure terminology.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Agatha Christie or between the war novels set in England, but be prepared for a long read.

b>4 paws

“March Street Cozy Mysteries”
March Street Murder (#1) [02/05/2021]

Young artist goes back home to live with her grandmother and bulldog to help her grandmother.

To make money, she works as a waitress for a boss she doesn’t think much of when she stumbles over a body while putting out the garbage.

She solves the mystery and life goes on.

Now granted, I could have solved the mystery as well given that all the suspects she casually interrogates just happen to answer her probing questions and not tell her to sod off.

The book felt like more of a novella than a fleshed-out novel and in fact, the solving of the mystery comes rather abruptly.

This isn’t a series of mysteries that I’ll be pursuing even if the book is free.

Your mileage may vary.

2 paws

“Miss Underhay Mysteries”
Murder at Enderley Hall (#2) [02/09/2021]

The second book in the series is obviously a follow on to the first book since it references several situations where our heroine, Kitty and her partner-in-solving-crimes Matt encountered.

Thankfully, the author deftly managed to reference those incidents so that I could follow what had happened without feeling that I had to read the first book.

Kitty Underhay discovers that her wayward father has a sister and Kitty has a cousin. Kitty is invited to stay with them at Enderley Hall so that both parties can check each other out and Kitty may be able to find out what happened to her missing mother.

While she was able to get more information about her mother (who had apparently visited Enderley Hall when Kitty was very young) she finds herself in the middle of a mystery of missing papers and several murders. When the secret papers were stolen, she calls to Matt to come and assist the household look for the missing papers.

Of course, you can’t have a murder mystery (especially one that takes place between the World Wars) without several murders, and this book has plenty.

This is another book for those of us mystery fans who enjoy Agatha Christie and stories taking place in the thirties.

Highly recommended.

5 enthusiastic paws

“Miss Underhay Mysteries”
Murder at the Playhouse (#3) [02/16/2021]

At the end of the second book, Kitty Underhay has a fight with her Captain Bryant because she feels that Captain Bryant is being overprotective and she being a modern women (for the thirties, that is) doesn’t appreciate it.

However, when Matt Bryant is accused of murdering the woman found by Mrs Craven (who believes that young ladies should be, well, young ladies and not take any chances) on the golf course, Kitty decides she needs to prove Matt innocent. Mrs Craven likes Matt and also likes the idea of proving Matt innocent (it goes along with her busy-body nature), so she maneuvers Kitty into helping the Davenport’s unmarried daughter to put on the revue. Which works out great for Kitty as she is able to keep tabs on the Davenport family who are knee-deep in the mystery.

Another fantastic entry in the series. But as before, you really want to read the series in order as Kitty is continuing with the over-arcing story of discovering what happened to her mother.

Highly recommended.

5 enthusiastic paws

“Miss Underhay Mysteries”
Murder on the Dance Floor (#4) [02/19/2021]

Kitty and Matt attend the annual Hoteliers’ Association dinner dance. Of course, one of the attendees dies at their table, leaving Kitty and Matt to discover who killed local councillor Harold Everton, who wasn’t exactly well-liked.

There are a number of attendees who had a reason to kill him but few had the ability to tamper with his medication.

This is another splendid entry in the series and as I’ve said before, it’s best to read the whole series from the beginning (and I’m thankful that the books are reasonably priced) as Kitty continues her search for what became of her mother.

Highly recommended.

5 enthusiastic paws

“Miss Underhay Mysteries”
Murder on the Dance Floor (#5) [02/22/2021]

I am very sad because I have to wait until June for the next book in the series.

Yes, this book series is that good!

Kitty and Matt are invited to spend time with Kitty’s aunt and uncle (first introduced in the second book Murder at Enderley Hall) for Christmas holiday. Kitty’s uncle likes to invite all kinds of different folks to enjoy a proper British Christmas, so the house is chock full of various and sundry people.

The mystery kept me guessing as I zeroed in on one character only to be persuaded to anoint another character as the possible killer and I wasn’t disappointed when the real killer was revealed (though I was annoyed that I had eliminated that character early on).

Another great story in the series and well-worth reading though, as I have stated previously, it’s best to read the books in order as there is an over-arcing story about Kitty’s search for her missing mother.

Highly recommended.

5 enthusiastic paws

The Dream Factory [02/25/2021]

[note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review]

Author John Simes has written an ethereal and magical fantasy book centering on two young people, Peter and Navinda and the Dream Factory — a house in the middle of the forest and the secret they must protect. It’s not easy given the ruthless people pursuing him for the secret he is hiding. Helping them in their endeavour are several of the villagers as well as a very wise ginger tabby, Monty.

For me, this isn’t the kind of book that I would normally read, preferring cozy mysteries and medical history books. But I would recommend this book for those readers (young and old) who enjoy poetic prose along with their fantasy.

I rated the book with 3.5/5 stars

“Kurtz and Barent Mysteries”
The Anatomy Lesson: A Kurtz and Barent Mystery (#2) [02/27/2021]

I had high hopes for this book as it combined my two favorite book genres: mysteries and medicine.

And I wasn’t disappointed (more or less).

Dr Kurtz is a Manhattan surgeon while Barent is the policeman assigned to uncover the miscreant who neatly sliced and diced anatomist Mahoney.

The medical details seemed much better than the usual mysteries concerning doctors and the mystery was decent.

If you like your medical mystery with a dose of hard-hitting (and slightly disturbing) walk on the wild side of New York City, then this is definitely a book for you.

4 paws

“Hilda Adams”
Miss Pinkerton (#3) [03/03/2021]

Hilda works undercover for the police when they need a nurse to snoop around. Inspector Patton calls Hilda “Miss Pinkerton” when things are going well and other names (mostly Miss Adams) when things aren’t.

This time, Hilda is requested to serve as a nurse for elderly Juliet Mitchell whose nephew had just (apparently) committed suicide.

While my favorite nurse-sleuth is Sarah Keate but I could see Hilda becoming a favorite.

Recommended if you enjoy slow moving, Agatha Christie-type murders.

4 paws

“Brimstone Witch Mystery”
Murder of a Werewolf (#1) [03/04/2021]

I read a book in the series back 2018, The Witch Is Dead. Murder of a Werewolf was offered for free and I pounced on it.

I really enjoyed reading the origins of Cassia as a witch and Stanley as her familiar cat. This mystery this time is the death of a human turned werewolf, someone we never met, but Cassia and the reader can’t help but feel he is a tragic figure.

The setting of the mystery is the lovely town of Brimstone and I simply adore the butterfly messengers.

Having read three books in the series, I recommend the series.

4 paws

“Brimstone Witch Mystery”
The Sleeping Goblin (#4) [03/06/2021]

A goblin is murdered in a hotel where the proprietor is a zombie. The goblin was employed as a bed warmer as other goblins like their beds nice and toasty.

Witch Cassia and Stanley, her cat familiar investigate the case and discover the miscreant while learning all about goblins and their work.

Again, I enjoyed reading about Cassia and Stanley and I’m sure you will too.

4 paws

“An Eli Marks Mystery”
The Ambitious Card (#1) [03/08/2021]

Magician Eli Marks is hired as, what he wants to call himself, a skeptic while the TV show wants to call him a debunker of the mystic arts.

If he doesn’t have enough problems, the mystic whom he “debunks” on TV comes up dead with the playing card the King of Diamonds. Other mystics and King of Diamonds playing cards show up, making Eli a prime suspect especially as his ex-wife is the Assistant District Attorney.

I always like to try and figure out who the culprit is and usually I don’t. But this time, I was totally blind-sided by the identity as this character wasn’t even on my radar.

This is a highly witty and well-written mystery. I’ve already read the second book and plan to make my way through the series.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“An Eli Marks Mystery”
The Bullet Catch (#2) [03/11/2021]

High School reunions are to be dreaded but despite that, Magician Eli decides to attend. There he has to confront his paralyzing fear of heights as well as running into schoolmates he barely remembers. But he does remember Jake who is now a B-list actor who is working on a low-budget movie about the Famous Bullet catch, which killed magician Terry Alexander. Because Jake really could use some help in playing the deceased magician, he gets Eli on the set to help.

Along the way, one of the classmates gets killed causing nosy Eli to wonder why.

A really solid story with wonderful characters and situations. I totally plan on reading the series.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“Tommy & Evelyn Christie”
Murder at the Village Fete (#2) [03/13/2021]

This is a nice and easy cozy read set in post World War I England where we find Tommy (and Evelyn) getting used to being the Lord and Lady Northmoor.

As part of being Lord and Lady of the manor, they host the annual village fete, where of course, there is a murder. It’s up to former policeman Lord Northmoor (Tommy with Evelyn’s assistance) to solve the murder.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys period-piece British mysteries.

4 paws

“An Eli Marks Mystery”
The Miser’s Dream (#3) [03/15/2021]

Magician Eli Marks glanced out the window of his bedroom only to see a dead body in the projection booth of the movie theatre next door.

Of course he repots the situation to the police but what he didn’t expect was the mysterious Mister Lime to give the police four suspects only if Eli interviews the suspects after the police does.

This is another solid entry in the series. I’ve enjoyed the first three books so much that I’ve purchased the rest of the series and look forward to reading them all.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“Lila Maclean Academic Mystery”
The Semester of Our Discontent (#1)

Readers follow Lila as she takes up the mantle of her new position of English Professor at the snobby and prestigious Stonedale University.

Unfortunately for her, she stumbles upon the dead body of a not-so-liked head of the department and as more faculty members are murdered, Lila works to discover who is killing off the English department faculty.

The problem I had with the book is the fact that there was a subplot of mysterious things going on at the college besides the deaths of in the English department. Given that this mystery was some-what tied into the reason why the killings were being done, I felt rather cheated as a reader because I feel the best mystery stories are those where all the clues are there and it’s up to the protagonist (and reader) to put it together.

This was a light and easy read. I’m giving the book 3.5 paws because I felt the author cheated the reader.

“An Eli Marks Mystery”
The Linking Rings (#4) [03/21/2021]

Magician Eli Marks accompanies his uncle Harry to London where Harry is meeting up with magician friends for a reunion of the Magic Circle.

Unfortunately during a rehearsal, one-handed card magician Oskar is killed and Harry ends up being chief suspect. Of course, there are other murders of Magic Circle members, culminating with both Eli and Harry being in a tight spot.

This was another solid entry in the series and I look forward to the next book.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“A Mrs. Kaplan Mystery”
Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death (#1) [03/24/2021]

Mrs K’s Matzoh Ball soup was chosen (as was expected even with a blind taste-test) to be served at the Passover Seder at her Jewish Senior home. Unfortunately, one of the residents took one sip and dropped dead, straight into the soup leaving Mrs K as the primary suspect.

This book is told in first person, not by Mrs K but by her sidekick Ida as Mrs K is determined to figure out not only whodunit but how it was done.

I read this book with the familiarity that comes with having grown up near New York City (New Rochelle to be exact) and each description of the foods made me miss the east coast even more (I live in Oregon).

This is a light and breezy mystery though I will warn you, it is chock full of Yiddish phrases, some I’d hard before, some I wasn’t familiar with. But don’t worry, context is everything.

4 paws!

“An Eli Marks Mystery”
The Floating Light Bulb (#5) [03/26/2021]

In a surprising twist of fate, Eli’s ex-wife who is also the Assistant DA asks him to take a job at the Mall of America as the resident magician because the previous magician had gotten himself killed.

While Eli wasn’t all that interested in taking the job, his ego got the best of him and he reluctantly applied and was hired for the first job he’d ever had with a boss.

Not only is Eli required to use the Floating Light Bulb trick (because the posters around the Mall feature a magician and the floating light bulb) but he had to work with the crabby “box girl.”

Eli’s fellow wage slaves are a very eclectic group whom he begins to appreciate after working with them. What he doesn’t enjoy, however, is the eight shows a day.

This was another solid entry in the series and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“Brimstone Witch Mystery”
Death Of A Rainbow Nymph (#8) [03/29/2021]

I believe this is the third book in the series that I’ve read. This isn’t my favorite paranormal series but they are interesting enough for me to keep reading (and to read the last book I’ve purchase in the series). I’ve missed a few books in this series but I don’t really have any plans to go back and read them.

This time, we find Cassia investigating the death of a rainbow nymph. Previously, Cassia’s grandmother had seen a grey rainbow and Cassia went off to the Enchanted Forest to see what was going on. While she meets the nymph who created this grey rainbow, she’s also the nymph that is found murdered.

I consider these books a very light read but I will admit that what’s really keeping me reading is Cassia’s familiar Stanley because I love cats.

3.5 paws

“An Eli Marks Mystery”
The Zombie Ball (#6) [03/31/2021]

This series just keeps getting better and better and I think this is (so far, I have one book remaining… sigh…) the best one yet.

New publican Eli is with his Uncle who is getting interviewed for an article. Uncle Harry suggests that Eli tell the reporter about the Zombie Ball incident. The story is told in a flashback, right after a newly divorced Eli has moved back to live in the apartment above his recently widowed Uncle Harry. Eli is invited to be a warm-up act for the main entertainer at the swanky and exclusive fundraiser, the Zombie Ball. Rather than having one main sponsor, the ball has two pharmaceutical sponsors who just happened to be rivals.

Eli is happy to perform since he could use the money and the feature performer is someone who Harry had worked with in the past, Joey Dee. Since this is Eli and murders seem to follow him, there is more than one dead body with clues leading to the enviable arrest of the perpetrator (which I didn’t see coming at all!)

This is another fine entry in the series and, as I have mentioned previously, please read in order.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“Kate O’Donnell”
Dressed to Kill (#3) [04/01/2021]


I really don’t like giving negative reviews to books because I really want to give authors the benefit of the doubt. But honestly, I seriously didn’t enjoy reading this book one iota.

I saw this book listed on one of the myriad emails offering Kindle books at a sale price. I read the description of a mystery set in the Swinging Sixties and even had a picture of the Rolling Stones on the cover. The fact that the protagonist was a fashion photographer made it sound even more enticing.

Instead, this ended up being a run of the mill police procedural with a lead detective who has an on-and-off relationship with the fashion photographer. There were barely any hints of the Swinging Sixties with even fewer hints of the British Invasion (as we yanks called it) music.

The story itself was reasonably interesting but I really didn’t like any of the characters.

Having said all that, I really can’t recommend this book except for those readers who might enjoy a 1960s British police procedural. For all others, beware.

Barely 2 paws.

“An Eli Marks Mystery”
The Magic Square: (A Puzzling Magic Convention Murder) (#7) [04/04/2021]

All good things must come to an end — until the author writes another Eli Marks mystery.

This mystery finds Eli attending a Magician Convention where his Uncle Harry is to receive the convention’s prestigious award.

Of course, neither Eli or Harry can’t attend any function without there being a murder, only this time, their good friend Abe is framed for murder.

As with the previous other six books, this is a series that you really want to read in order because the characters become like good friends. The author hasn’t disappointed and I have to think he’s attended more than a few conventions.

Another fantastic read and highly recommended. 5 enthusiastic paws!

“Ellery Queen Detective”
The Roman Hat Mystery (#1) [04/09/2021]

This is the first novel featuring amateur detective and novelist Ellery Queen. This book finds him solving a murder that takes place at a Broadway theatre during the time when everyone was dressed to the nines.

The writing is much different than what you would expect from a more modern murder as it moves at a glacial (to me) pace. This isn’t to say it’s not worth your time; just be prepared to spend time reading the book.

While the murder itself was rather pedestrian, the reason for the murder isn’t something that comes up these days or may not be that big a deal (however, having said that, it’s possible that this is still a big deal in some circles).

I’d recommend this book for those who enjoy mysteries that take place in America (specifically NYC) between the wars.

4 paws

Ghost: A Murder Mystery [04/14/2021]

[note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review]

This story frustrated me. Since I had promised to read this book, I was determined to slog my way through it despite my wanting to abandon ship early on.

I’m glad I stuck with it because it ended up being a decent story combining a mystery story with fantasy elements. The protagonist is Lana who wants to be a Guardian (a position that normally go to men) and her father happens to be head of the Guardians in their town. The women in this world have their own special Gifts (that provides an interesting subplot).

Lana (despite her father telling her to butt out) investigates the murder of several girls (including her friend Rebecca) mixes it up with a Guardian on the hunt for a serial killer.

The basic premise is a solid one but having the points of view jump around without adequate clues as to whose point of view we are witnessing made it hard at times to read.

This is a book I can’t recommend without reservations but if you enjoy a fantasy mystery with romance, then you can’t go wrong with trying it out.

2.5 paws

“Stephens & Mephisto”
The Vanishing Box (#4) [04/19/2021]

I really enjoyed this mystery and honestly, I was totally taken by surprise by the revelation of the murderers.

The protagonists of the book are Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and magician Max Mephisto.

Max, along with his daughter, is the headliner of a show at Brighton’s Hippodrome, sharing the stage with a poodle act, magician, and tableaus of semi-naked women recreating famous scenes from history and fiction.

A young lady who lives in the boarding house along with two of the tableau ladies is killed and posted as if she was part of the Hippodrome’s tableau. Of course, there are more murders during the two-week stint, so the story moves along at a great clip.

I really enjoy British mysteries, especially the historical ones as this takes place after World War II.

The characters are interesting and the mystery itself, as I mentioned, is a good one with a very satisfactory ending especially if you enjoy British or post-WWII mysteries.

4 paws

“Mas Arai”
Sayonara Slam (#6) [04/21/2021]

Taking place at the World World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium, it’s Japan versus Korea — a contest that brings forth more than just a game but historical significance as both countries don’t have a lot good to say about each other.

During one of the obligatory press briefings, one of the reporters drops dead and Mas is there to witness it.

Mas is an elderly retired gardener, who had witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima before immigrating to American, at Dodger Stadium because his son-in-law is the grounds keeper.

Mas agrees to become the driver of a young reporter also attending World World Baseball Classic, which gives Mas a chance to find out just exactly why the Japanese reporter was killed.

This book was everything someone who enjoys mysteries could want: an excellent plot, the ability to learn about a piece of history that should be known to more people, and really great characters.

If I can find more of the series on sale, I will definitely buy them.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“A Noodle Shop Mystery”
Dim Sum of All Fears (#2) [05/10/2021]

How could I not love a book with such an awesome title?

Lana’s mother and father need to take an emergency trip overseas to take care of Lana’s grandmother. Lana is left in charge of the family noodle shop as Lana’s older sister Anna May is busy with law school.

Lana becomes friends with the couple who occupy the empty store next to the noodle shop and greatly enjoys Isabell’s company (they both enjoy mystery books) but Lana is devastated when Isabell is found dead next to her husband in the shop. Despite being warned against sticking her nose into the mystery by her police detective boyfriend, Lana is determined to discover who murdered her friend.

This was a great read with excellent characters and a good plot; this book is highly recommended.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“Henry Walsh Private Investigator”
Dead at Third (#1) [05/12/2021]

I love watching sports, so when I saw this book offered on one of the myriad of books for sale emails that I subscribe to, I just had to jump on it.

Henry Walsh is a former police detective, due to circumstances not outlined in this particular story, now finds himself part of the security staff for one of the Florida professional baseball teams, which just happens to be located in the area where he grew up. The owner’s star prospect has turned up dead and asks his security people Henry and Alex to investigate the situation as the player that Lance was supposed to replace is now accused of Lance’s death.

As Thomas Wolfe is noted to have said something to the effect that one can’t go home, Henry finds this to be true as it was Henry’s father who introduced baseball to Lance and many of the folks whom Henry grew up with seem to be involved, one way or the other.

Despite the title, this isn’t a sports book per se but more of a character study of secrets and lies that Henry’s friends have kept for decades.

I enjoyed the book and I would consider reading more in the series if I come across them for sale.

4 paws

“Irish Village Mystery”
Murder in an Irish Bookshop (#7) [05/17/2021]

A new bookshop is opening up in the village and the grand opening is going to feature several Irish authors to commemorate the occasion. As luck would have it, during a surprise party for Siobhan at the bookstore, one of the authors is killed.

So her surprise birthday party turns in to an investigation for Garda Siobhan and her first murder investigation for the new Garda Aretta.

This is another worthy entry in the series following Garda Siobhan her fiancé Mac (and her nominal superior) and Siobhan’s siblings.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“Mickey Rawlings”
Murder at Wrigley Field (#3) [05/22/2021]

The setting is during the torrid summer of 1918 in Chicago where anti-German sentiment was at a high point due to World War I.

Professional baseball is being threatened with being tagged as non-essential meaning that the players would suddenly be out of a job. However, during the time of the story, baseball was plodding along with some of the players working a second job to support the war effort.

Mickey Rawlings is a ballplayer with the Chicago Cubs when promising player and roommate Willy Kaiser was ironically killed on the Fourth of July. Mickey promises Willy’s family that he’d find out who killed their son and brother and this leads Mickey into the underbelly of anti-German sentiment and various interesting characters.

The author deftly intermixes his fiction with actual ballplayers, making this a fun read.

Definitely recommended for those who enjoy historical mysteries and baseball.

4 paws

“A Noodle Shop Mystery”
Murder Lo Mein (#3) [05/26/2021]

Another solid story by Vivien Chien, this time, the restaurant is entered in the Cleveland’s Best Noodle Contest hoping to win the coveted prize.

Lana is now manager even though her parents are now back from Taiwan with her grandmother in tow. Of course, nothing goes to plan especially when one of the judges drops dead after the first part of the contest is complete.

Another great entry in the series and it was good to see that the characters are really being developed. I look forward to the next installment!

5 enthusiastic paws!

“A Noodle Shop Mystery”
Wonton Terror (#4) [06/04/2021]

Lana Lee is back at it, this time, she’s representing the noodle house at the annual Cleveland Night Market festivities. But this is Lana and of course, it didn’t go off as expected. Actually, the food cart facing them explodes, flinging shrapnel everywhere, injuring a number of patrons.

Lana’s detective boyfriend, Adam, isn’t the one who is investigating the explosion, so while he’s not totally happy with Lana investigating, he kinda-sorta gives her a few clues along the way.

I wasn’t too surprised as to who had done the deed but I felt that that the author did a nice job in “justifying” (if one can justify murder) why it was done.

Another worth-while entry in the series.

4 paws

“Miss Underhay Mysteries”
Murder at Elm House (#6) [06/25/2021]

Kitty’s “nemesis” Mrs Craven is recovering from a recent operation and is recuperating at Elm House. Mrs Craven believes there is deviltry afoot and requests Kitty and her fiancé Matthew to investigate the goings on.

Despite not wanting to believe Mrs Craven, both Kitty and Matthew feel that there is definitely something going on and proceed to investigate.

And Kitty learns how to drive!

5 enthusiastic paws!

“A Noodle Shop Mystery”
Egg Drop Dead (#5) [06/26/2021]

Lana decides that she will expand the noodle house business by offering catering. Here first customer is Donna Feng, whose nanny is found floating in the pool during the soirée.

Because Donna is the number one suspect (as she had a verbal altercation during the party with the nanny), she pleads with Lana to investigate the case.

Lana reluctantly agrees to take on the project.

I enjoyed this entry just a tad more than the fourth book.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“A Noodle Shop Mystery”
Killer Kung Pao (#6) [06/26/2021]

Lana reluctantly takes on the case of proving Shirley’s twin sister June not guilty of the murder of Mildred in the beauty parlor despite all indicates that June did it (and Lana thinks so too).

Just a few complications stand in Lana’s way. Firstly, she doesn’t like Shirley or June. Secondly, Lana’s ex boyfriend repeatedly tries to talk to her to “explain” his side of the breakup.

This is another fine book in the series. As I’ve said before, you really want to read the books in order and the perpetrator took me by surprise.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“A Noodle Shop Mystery”
Fatal Fried Rice (#7) [07/31/2021]

Lana finally decides that it was high time that she learned now to cook Chinese food. Ironic since she manages a noodle restaurant. Not wanting to suffer the teasing of her family, she enrolls in a night class for cooking.

Unfortunately, after the first class, she finds that her instructor has been killed, dragging her once again into investigating the case.

As with all the other books, this is another delightful entry in the series. As I’ve said previously, it’s worth reading the books in order.

5 enthusiastic paws!

“A Myrtle Clover Cozy Mystery”
Death of a Suitor (#18) [08/06/2021]

Miles has a girlfriend.

At least, that’s what Eloise thinks of herself as. However, when Miles finally “breaks up” with Eloise, she is found dead leaving Miles as the main suspect.

Of course, my favorite octogenarian isn’t going to take this lying down and insists on dragging Miles along with her to exonerate him.

Another great and fun read!

5 enthusiastic paws!

Image by Cool Text: Free Graphics Generator

Until We Come Up With Something Witty To Say…