Mysteries in the Time of Post COVID-19

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Now that the COVID crisis has been declared “over,” I’ve started a new page of mystery reviews. Here we go!

Allyson's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Pumpkin Killer

“An Irish Village Mystery Book”
Murder at an Irish Bakery: An Enchanting Irish Mystery (#9) [04/10/2023]

The ninth book in the series has Garda Siobhan O’Sullivan working as security for a baking contest at the O’Farrell’s old flour mill. Owner Fia O’Farrell hopes that the baking contest will generate money to help keep the bakery/mill from closing. Of course, things don’t go smoothly and the famous baker who is part of the contest, falls head first in her first contest effort.

It’s now up the Gardas to discover who the killer is and hope that the killer doesn’t strike again.

Another fantastic entry in the series though I did miss not reading as much about her family as previous books.

5 baking paws

“Lord Edgington Investigates”
Murder at the Spring Ball: A 1920s Mystery (#1) [03/10/2023]

Since the death of his wife, former Scotland Yard superintendent, Lord Edgington of Cranley Hall became a recluse but not totally as he read the newspaper each and every day.

He pulled himself out of his funk and with the help of his teenaged grandson, Christopher, he decided it was time for Cranley Hall to host another one its spectacular spring balls. Unfortunately, one of his family members ends up drinking poisoned champagne (a fate which could have befallen the entire family). The former Scotland Yard superintendent puts on his investigative hat and with the assistance of his grandson, Christopher, sets out to find out whodunit.

I really enjoyed the book especially since it was from the viewpoint of grandson Christopher. I adore British mysteries set in between the major wars and if this is your cup of tea, by all means, go for it.

5 British paws

“A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery”
Death on Deck (#13) [04/04/2023]

Lady Eleanor Swift accompanied by her whole staff, including her bulldog Gladstone take the maiden voyage of the luxury cruiser, The Celestina, making its way to New York City (no doubt, the next book will be set in NYC).

She didn’t initially want to take the cruise, preferring to spend her birthday with her Beau Detective Hugh Seldon but as fate had it, Hugh was called off on a case leaving Eleanor to not want to spend her birthday alone, accepted the invitation to be on the Celestina.

Of course, murder isn’t far behind and she ends up working with a surprising investigator to ferret out exactly who committed the murder.

Another excellent entry in the series and I can’t wait to read the next book!

5 cruising paws

“The Inspector de Silva Mysteries”
Trouble in Nuala (#1) (4/5) [04/30/2023]
Dark Clouds Over Nuala (#2) (5/5) [05/06/2023]
Offstage in Nuala (#3) (5/5) [05/12/2023]

I love mysteries that take place outside the United States and if they are set between the world wars, so much the better.

I stumbled upon this series because the first book was offered for a reasonable price (like $2) and honestly, I’ll take a chance on any series if the price is right. I was so glad I did.

The book takes place during the wars, during the 1930s, set on the exotic island of Ceylon (later to be called Sri Lanka) when Britain was still running the island nation. The protagonist is Inspector de Silva a middle aged Ceylonian (not even sure if that’s the correct term) police inspect of the town of Nuala. He is married to Jane who was working as a British family’s nanny when they met and wed. Of course, Jane being Christian and British and Inspector de Silver being from Ceylon and Buddhist could prove to be dicey, but both have easily fallen into a compatible marriage and their marriage nicely melds the two different worlds.

The mysteries are straight forward but I find the culture to be of more interest both that of Ceylon and the British occupiers.

I highly recommend these mysteries to anyone who enjoys mysteries from that time period or mysteries where cultures could potentially clash.

5 colonial paws

“A Myrtle Clover Cozy Mystery”
Murder at a Yard Sale (#22) [05/24/2023]

Myrtle is at it again. Trying to solve a mystery while her anal-retentive son wants her to relax and enjoy her 80+ years. Besides, it’s hard not to be involved in a murder mystery when one discovers the body.

Myrtle’s friend Georgia is having a yard sale because she’s running out of room to buy more of the angels that she collects (of course, she’s selling angels to buy more angels — makes sense to me!) During the beginning of the sale, Myrtle stumbles over the body of a fellow collector (actually, he’s one of those folks who goes around to various yard sales to find those items he can resale on places like eBay) and we’re off to the races.

Normally, Myrtle’s friend Miles assists her in her investigations but he’s busy entertaining his daughter and grandchild, yet Miles still finds the time to be Myrtle’s Dr Watson.

It’s another great book in the series and I really liked the revelation of whodunit (it was a bit tense). As always, highly recommended!

5 angelic paws

“Miss Underhay”
Murder at the Beauty Pageant (#12) [05/30/2023]

The Dolphin Hotel is the host of the Miss Dartmouth Jubilee beauty pageant to raise funds for a party for the town’s children in celebration of the King’s Silver Jubilee.

Of course, one can’t have a murder mystery without a murder and unfortunately, one of the contestants is brutally knifed during the pageant intermission. The newly married Kitty working with her husband Matt are on the case despite having to work around the newly appointed Inspector Lewis who doesn’t think much of “amateurs” interfering with police business.

But Kitty and Matt prevail, if nothing else, because her grandmother’s Dolphin Hotel’s reputation is at stake but also, she and Matt want to find the killer.

Oh, and Kitty and Matt add a new member to the household. I approve.

Another great entry in the series. Despite Kitty being married, she’s still the same Kitty, inquisitive and wanting to get to the bottom of any mystery.

5 beautiful paws

“The Inspector de Silva Mysteries”
Fatal Finds in Nuala (5/5) [06/13/2023]
Christmas in Nuala (4/5) [06/26/2023]
Passage from Nuala (5/5) [07/02/2023]

In Fatal Finds in Nuala, Inspector De Silver along with Archie Clutterbuck (not too surprising since his wife Florence is on a cruise and he can do what he wants) try to discover why a body in the jungle was buried along with mysterious coins. I thought the book was going to be a typical cozy mystery but the ending surprised me and I was glad it did! Totally recommended.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find Christmas in Nuala to be as compelling as the previous book or the next book. It’s Christmas time in Nuala and I found the book a bit tired and tedious to read. But definitely read it because it is part of the series.

Passage from Nuala was amazing. Not because of the mystery (which was interesting) but because it really high-lighted the class differences between a someone like Inspector de Silva who worked for a living and his boss’ boss, William Petrie (who is married to Lady Caroline, daughter of an earl).

Inspector de Silver surprises his British wife Jane with cruise to Egypt to see the Pyramids. They are delighted to find out that his boss’s boss, William Petrie and his wife, Lady Caroline are also on board, except they are in cabin class while the de Silva’s are in tourist class. During the voyage, there is a murder and Petrie is asked to head up the investigation by the captain of the cruise ship whom he had worked with in the military. Of course, Petrie taps de Silva who assists (and figures it out in the end).

What I appreciated about the book was de Silva’s discomfort with being on the cruise with his wife. While they were accepted in their small town of Nuala on Ceylon, he wasn’t sure how someone like him would be accepted by the cruise denizens. Even Petrie realized that they couldn’t just be seen together all the time and in fact, had to be careful about that as it wouldn’t be right for someone of the status of Petrie to be seen with someone in tourist class like de Silva, never mind he was Ceylonese.

Given how much I didn’t really like the previous book, I really liked this one and I hope the author continues to point out the subtle class differences in subsequent books.

“Lord Edgington Investigates”
A Body at a Boarding School: A 1920s Mystery (#2) [06/24/2023]

I really enjoyed the first book in this series but I found myself having to slog through this book. It could have been an interesting story and a chance for readers to see Christopher (Lord Edginton’s grandson) at his boarding school, the Oakton Academy for Distinguished Young Gentlemen.

During the final day of school, a teacher is found murdered by Christopher. Of course, even though he’s totally retired, Lord Edgington can’t resist trying to discover the culprit ably assisted by his daughter and Christopher.

As I mentioned, I liked the first book but I didn’t find the second book as interesting. Unless the remaining books in the series are on sale (or free), I don’t see myself continuing the series.

4 boarding school paws

“A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery”
Murder in Manhattan (#14) [07/07/2023]

As I had expected with the previous book being the murder on a cruise ship, I figured that the next book (this book) would be adventures and murder in Manhattan.

I’m a native New Yorker, having grown up in Manhattan in the 60s before my folks moved my sister and I to the burbs. With that in mind, I was rather looking forward to reading about New York back in the day.

Perhaps it was my anticipation, but I didn’t find this book as engaging as previous books had been. This isn’t to say that this was a bad book but I’d rank it towards the bottom of all the books I’ve read. Perhaps I don’t enjoy Lady Eleanor and Clifford outside of England and their small village.

Still, I would recommend this book if you’ve read any books in the series. It was still enjoyable, but not as much as previous books.

4 New York paws

“A Dora and Rex Mystery”
Murder at the Front [07/14/2023]

This free novella serves as an introduction to the “Dora and Rex” series of books in which Dora and Rex meet up. The novella takes place during World War I where Dora is married and widowed on the same day. Her suspicions as to why Rex was spared while her new husband was killed culminates with Dora suspecting Rex.

Rex wants to know who killed his friend and wounded him. Eventually, Dora and Rex cross paths and work together to bring the miscreant to justice. Dora and Rex make a cute couple and there’s even a kitten that Rex ends up adopting.

You can obtain a copy of the book using this URL:

If you enjoy mysteries that are set between the wars, then you’ll definitely enjoy this one. It’s not a difficult read and the story moves along at a good pace.

I’m not sure if I’ll read the rest of the series as I’m really not into espionage books but I’ll certainly consider it if the books are being sold at a reasonable price.

4 WWI paws

“Cat in the Stacks”
Hiss Me Deadly (#15) [08/01/2023]

I want to return this book to the library, so I’m doing this review out of order (I usually write the reviews in the order that I finish the book).

“Hiss Me Deadly” is the 15th book in the series chronically the adventures of Charlie Harris and his faithful companion Maine Coon, Diesel.

Unlike other mysteries that feature cats, Diesel is a cat and doesn’t usually assist in the mystery — he just looks cute.

This time, Charlie gets mixed up with a former classmate who has struck gold in California as a musician. Wil comes back to Athena to receive an honorary degree from the college and to re-unite with his old bandmates. Unfortunately, some of his bandmates start dying off making his visit some what uncomfortable.

Another great book from “Miranda.” I’ve read the series from book #1 and look forward to #16 when it comes out. One warning: you’ll get more of out of the series if you start with book #1.

5 Musical Paws

“The Catherine Tregowyn Mysteries”
An Oxford Murder (#1) [07/20/2023]

Published poet Catherine Tregowyn goes back to Somerville College for the retirement of one of her tutors. Unfortunately, she and her nemesis, Dr Harry Bascombe (who gave her a bad book review) find a body in the chapel and the police assume they were there for a “lover’s tryst.”

Wanting to clear her name, she works with Dr Bascombe to uncover who killed Agatha Chenowith.

Other than the book being on the long side, I enjoyed it. However, in reading some of the reviews in Goodreads, there were a number of reviewers who felt that the dialogue wasn’t true to 1930s England along with other nitpicks.

I enjoyed it and didn’t find some of the reviewers objections to be an issue.

4 Scholarly Paws

“Noodle Shop Mystery”
Misfortune Cookie (#9) [08/12/2023]

Lana and Anna May travel to California to stay with their mother’s sister and for Lana to attend a restaurant convention.

At the convention, Lana witnesses a fight between a fortune cookie vendor and a lifestyle journalist. As it happens, Lana and Anna May are taken to a very swank cocktail party where the journalist just happens to fall from a tall building dead. The journalist, it turns out, is a co-worker (and good friend) of their aunt who refuses to accept the fact that her friend may have jumped to her death. She begs Lana to investigate and Lana reluctantly agrees to undertake the mission.

I really enjoyed this book and was glad to see Lana and Anna May (who was named for the actress Anna May Wong!) work out some of their differences. It’ll be interesting to see how their relationship plays out in subsequent books. I have to admit that I missed the Mahjong Matrons and Lana’s mother admonishing Lana over something or the other, but I especially missed her friend Kimmy and Lana’s roommate Megan.

Another great entry in the series but just a touch different than the other books.

5 Fortune Cookie Paws

“Miss Underhay”
Murder at the Village Fair (#13)

Newlyweds Kitty and Matt take a belated honeymoon motoring in the Yorkshire countryside and staying with Matt’s aunt, Effie.

They are just in time to attend the village fair. Of course, there is a dead body who isn’t exactly the most liked person in the village. Kitty and Matt put on their detective hats and work with a police inspector who doesn’t seem to mind their investigations.

If you’ve enjoyed the other 12 books in the series, then you will just love this newest addition.

5 Fortunate Paws

“The Inspector de Silva Mysteries”
Rough Time in Nuala (#7) [07/24/2023]
Inspector de Silva is involved in a touch situation where a member of the exclusive golf club is murdered on the links. Obviously, the British don’t want their perfect world rocked, so the Inspector has to approach the situation delicately. What I liked most was how the author pointed out class differences, especially between the native to Ceylon.

Taken in Nuala (#8) [07/28/2023]
Another excellent mystery. Not much really to say about it except it was another worthy entry in the series.

High Wire in Nuala (#9) [08/21/2023]
I found this book puzzling because it felt a bit rushed. I didn’t really enjoy all the fuss (and murder) occurring during the Russian circus performance and then the situation concerning Inspector da Silva’s big case becomes important. I may have enjoyed the book a bit more had the story have been a bit longer. It’s the only one of the series I’m giving 4 paws to.

“Gethsemane Brown Mysteries”
Murder in G Major (#1) [09/03/2023]

I can’t remember where I read about this book but the fact that the protagonist is a black woman and so was the author, I was immediately interested. Besides, the subject of the cozy mystery sounded interested.

I was less than thrilled to find out that this was partially a paranomal story because generally, that’s not my cup of tea. But all in all, I enjoyed the book despite some of the plot lines not being entirely believable (a minority woman in a small Irish town and no one says anything? Please.)

Gesthsemane’s job opportunity falls through and she takes a job in Ireland to lead a boy’s orchestra to win the coveted prize. Along the way, she is determined to discover who killed Eamon McCarthy, dragging everyone she can into her dogged determination to ferret out the truth.

As I said, this book was ok and I’m giving it four stars because it was well-written. However, after reading the synopsis of subsequent books, I won’t be adding them to my pile of To Be Read anytime soon.

4 Orchestral Paws

“Cornish Castle Mystery”
Death Plays a Part (#1) [09/08/2023]

Theatrical costume designer Guinevere ends up on the Cornish coast as she takes a temporary job working on costumes for a reenactment of a medieval trial in a castle. Unfortunately, the reenactment takes a sinister turn with the murder of a lead character leaving Guinevere and her faithful pooch Dolly to discover who the miscreant is.

Sigh… it was an ok murder mystery but I don’t see myself reading too many more books in the series unless they are being sold for a seriously cheap price.

3 Gothic Paws

“The Father Brown Stories”
The Innocence of Father Brown (Book 1) [09/183/2023]

I was curious about how Father Brown was presented in the books as I had seen a few of the dramatizations.

And boy, are the books a lot different!

The book is a series of short stories where Father Brown is able to observe and deduce what had occurred. Just as Sherlock Holmes had Dr Watson, Father Brown as “retired” jewel thief Flambeau as someone to discuss the case with.

While I appreciated the stories and solutions, the prose was a bit rough to read as it was written in a style that was likely popular back in the early 1900s but not one that would cause me to want to read any further books in the series. Though honestly, I did enjoy them and would probably read more if the price is right.

3 Saintly Paws

“Hercule Poirot”
The ABC Murders (#13) [10/11/2023]

Through the magic of Libby, my local library’s online application, I am borrowing books that I’ve read previously in digital form. Up first is The ABC Murders featuring Belgium detective Hercule Poirot. Poirot isn’t my favorite of the continuing characters that Dame Agatha Christie wrote about but this book popped up first on the list and I thought it would be a good one to read.

And it was.

The plot was interesting. An apparent serial killer is using the alphabet to plan his murders and he, of course, starts with “A” — this sends a letter to M. Poirot, who is quite retired at this point in his career, announcing his (or her) intention of committing a murder. M. Poirot takes the bait and sets off to figure out who is doing this foul deed.

If you haven’t read any of Dame Agatha’s works, this is a good one to start with (though others may suggest other books as I’ve not read all of M. Poirot’s adventures) as it is a compelling read.

Highly recommended.

5 Alphabetical Paws

“A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery”
Murder by Invitation (#15) [10/18/2023]

The town of Little Buckford is a flutter preparing to celebrate the birthday of sovereign, King George.

The celebrations are suddenly interrupted by the death of the Little Buckford’s chairman of the organizing committee, Mr Prestwick-Peterson, a man who didn’t seemingly get along with many in the hamlet. Despite being a newly engaged woman, of course, Lady Eleanor Swift along with her intrepid butler Clifton and her bulldog Gladstone (and the newly “acquired” kitty Thompkins) set out to find out whodunit. Never mind, keep the committee on track with the celebration when she is named chairman.

Another great entry in the series and I’ve already pre-ordered the next book!

5 Royal Paws

“Country Cottage Mysteries”
Spotted at the Cemetery (#26) [10/24/2023]

The problem I found with this book is that it is the 26th in the series and the author assumed that as a reader, I would know who everyone was, their relationships and everything about the characters.

There were so many characters that I could barely keep up with it.

The protagonist is Bizzy Baker who has the ability to communicate with animals. She is married to Jasper and his brother is getting married. The fiancé wants to get married in a graveyard during the annual multi-day Halloween celebration. Of course, this being a murder mystery, a murder occurs.

I really don’t want to spend too much time writing a review because I found the story merely, “OK,” but I’m sure if I was a long-time follower of the series, I would have found it delightful.

3 Pumpkin Spice Paws

“Hercule Poirot”
The Murder on the Links (#2) [11/12/2023]

I honestly thought this book was going to be about golf. Instead, the body was found on a golf course and there wasn’t anything about golf in the book.

No biggie, but it was still a good book. I much prefer Agatha Christie’s “Miss Marple” mysteries but there are many more “Hercule Poirot” which I am slowly making my way through.

Poirot and his side-kick Captain Hastings are summoned to France to attend to wealthy businessman Paul Renauld. However, rather than meeting his erstwhile employer, instead finding him stabbed in a shallow grave.

I found the book worth reading though it felt slow at times. This was the second book of Hercule Poirot, so I can excuse the rough edges. Well worth reading especially if you enjoy Dame Agatha’s books.

4 French Hens

“Miss Underhay”
Murder at the Highland Castle (#14) [11/23/2023]

Kitty and her husband Matt are hired by Lord Barlas because he feels his life is in danger. They, along with their dog, Bertie, trapse up to Scotland to a castle situated in a remote part of the country for the New Year’s. They were introduced to the other guests as very “distant” cousins on Lord Barlas’s side.

So here they are: remote castle, New Year’s and a threat of a murder. What could go wrong? Plenty as, unfortunately, Lord Barlas’s worse fears came to fruition as he is killed during a very bad snow storm leaving the guests stuck in the castle with a possible killer.

This is a rather long book, but a really good and compelling read. Despite this being the fourteenth book, the characters are still fresh and the stories very well done.

It may not be the best book to start the series with but I don’t believe that if you haven’t read the series, you’ll find it difficult to follow what’s going on as there is adequate explanations for past exploits.

5 Snowy Paws

“Murder, She Reported”
Murder, She Reported (#1) [11/25/2023]

Elizabeth “Biz” Adams, would-be socialite, decides that there has to be more to life than parties and goes to work as a ‘girl Friday’ at a newpaper, the Daily Trumpet. When the regular photographer wasn’t available for an assignment, reporter Ralph Kandinsky drags her along to take pictures of the newest “it girl,” debutante, Gloria DeWitt. However, the assignment turns into a murder when Gloria’s step-mother is found shot.

I usually read books from the pre-World War II era focusing on British “Bright Young Things,” but I really enjoyed the very gritty New York feel of the story as we follow Biz as she photographs other murders and other situations from the seamier side of life. I also liked the contrast to her very privileged life with her mother worrying about getting Biz married off into a suitable family.

I’m definitely going to read more in the series assuming I can get them at a good price. If you are a fan of mysteries set between the war, socialites and the gritty side of life, this is your series.

4 Socialite Paws

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