by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy
For your winter reading fun we have reviews of four fun cozy mystery novels–Book, Line and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay, Beeline to Trouble by Hannah Reed, Thread on Arrival by Amanda Lee and Recipe for Treason: A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery by Andrea Penrose. You can order these books from Amazon using the included links & a portion will go to help support KRL. There’s also info at the end of this post on how to enter to win copies of all four books!
Book, Line and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay
Review by Sandra Murphy
Trudi Hargrave is the woman you love to hate. She’s pushy, totally out for herself only, and, unfortunately, the tourism director for Briar Creek. She’s got the idea that Captain Kidd’s treasure is buried on one of the hundred islands -most uninhabited- and thinks a treasure hunt would bring fame and fortune to town. Residents complicate things—plus treasure hunters, tourists and logjams of traffic compound her problems.
It’s no surprise when Trudi’s body is found at the treasure dig site. The problem is, was it an accident or murder? There are plenty of suspects—I mean, who really liked her? Her death doesn’t make the problem of the treasure hunters go away though, in spite of the missing treasure map. Lindsey Norris, town librarian, gets involved because Trudi had at least two shouting matches with the local yogi while in the library. And Lindsey’s downstairs neighbor was on the island when the accident/murder occurred.
The underlying story is the romance of Lindsey and Sully. Enter the ex-fiancé; the one who broke Lindsey’s heart before she moved to Briar Creek. Are there feelings left or has she completely moved on? Sully’s not so sure.
The crafternoon group (crafts in the afternoon at the library) is great fun. There are snacks! At the rear of the book find the pattern for Lindsey’s cross stitch, “Books Are My Homeboys”, and recipes for Charlene’s Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Feta Cheese and Beth’s Lemon Almond Cookie Truffles. I look forward to more tales of Briar Creek and can’t wait for the next installment, Read It and Weep, so I can find out how the Lindsey/Sully romance works out. It’s gotta work out, right?
Other books in this series include: Books Can Be Deceiving, and Due or Die.
In the cupcake bakery series: Sprinkle with Murder, Buttercream Bump Off, Death by the Dozen, Red Velvet Revenge .
Beeline to Trouble by Hannah Reed
Review by Sandra Murphy
Story Fischer is back with her semi-dysfunctional family, her beehives and her hot boyfriend. She’s decided her hot boyfriend moving in is a good idea—but telling her mom about it, isn’t. The problem is, it’s a small town—you can’t keep a secret like this one.
In the meantime, Mom has a secret of her own and Holly, Story’s younger sister, is in a panic. Corporate executives from Holly’s husband Max’s company are showing up for a long weekend. Story is coerced into supplying the food and finding someone to cook it. Holly is culinary-impaired.
None of the execs seem to get along—although it’s discovered that two of them are getting along too well—ewww. When one of them turns up dead, it first looks like an accident or natural causes. When poison is discovered, Story has to get involved. She supplied the food; the poison was in the food. The question is, who put it there and when? Holly is a suspect. It’s her house and the victim was known to openly sneer at Holly while making a play for Max.
The usual characters are believable and fun to know. There are a lot of facts about bees and maintaining the hives without being intrusive to the storyline. The side characters are just as funny/aggravating/like someone you know. I hope in future books, they each get a chance to shine.
In the back of the book, bee trivia, instructions for making rose honey or a moisturizing facial mask, recipes for Popovers with Pumpkin Pie Honey Butter, Millie’s Potato Salad, and Arugula and Garden Tomato Salad.
Previous books by Hannah Reed include:
Mind Your Own Beeswax
Thread on Arrival by Amanda Lee
Review by Sandra Murphy
You’d think owning a stitchery store would be a calming kind of job but not for Marcy Singer. Somehow, she manages to find herself in all kinds of messes—all with the best intentions, of course. When Marcy’s friend Reggie asks if they can teach an embroidery class for abused women, Marcy says yes and immediately is drawn into the lives of Mary and her daughter. Mary’s husband is abusive but Mary won’t leave until she convinces her father-in-law, Chester to go too. Chester’s got a plan for a better life for all of them and is reluctant to leave and live in a men’s shelter. First, he wants to authenticate a tapestry passed down through his family. He swears it’s a real treasure map. Before Marcy can find out much, a murder occurs and the chase is on—was the murder premeditated, was it related to the treasure map? Or did domestic violence go too far?
In the meantime, Marcy’s love life is complicated. It’s time to make a decision. Before she can make her choice known, she’s caught red-lipped, kissing the chosen guy and the losing boyfriend is quick to get the message.
Angus the Wolfhound is still around to help in the store or to supervise meals. When Marcy is attacked behind the shop, Angus acts as nursemaid.
Marcy’s Mom is a costume designer in Hollywood. When Marcy tells her about the treasure hunt, they decide to pitch the idea to a documentary film company. After researching the Oregon coast, the documentary quickly becomes a reality show.
Through it all, Marcy manages to design and stitch a Faberge egg pattern for her mother, sell lots of stitchery kits and still solve the murder. The cast of characters is likeable and Tallulah Falls is a place you’d like to visit so you could meet them.
Other books by Amanda Lee include: The Long Stitch Good Night, Thread Reckoning, Stitch Me Deadly and The Quick and the Thread.
Recipe for Treason: A Lady Arianna Regency Mystery by Andrea Penrose
Review by Cynthia Chow
England 1814 is a time of treason, espionage, and chocolate in Andrea Penrose’s third mystery featuring Lady Arianna and her husband Alessandro De Quincy, Earl of Saybrook.
Utilizing a carrot and stick approach, the Minister of State Security, Lord Percival Grentham, extorts, threatens, and blackmails Lady Arianna and her husband, the Earl of Saybrook, into ferreting out the traitor to England who may be delivering secrets of a dangerous chemical weapon to an enemy agent. While they do not know the details of the new weapon, the trail of dead scientists and chemists leads them to believe that it could change the way wars are fought and cause incomprehensible devastation.
When Alessandro’s best friend, a Scottish doctor whose knowledge has been instrumental in their previous adventures, is wounded in an ambush after they’ve barely begun their investigation, he is replaced in their team by the reclusive, eccentric, and brilliant Sophie Kirtland, a woman of many secrets whose past tragedies has links to the current cast of players in this very deadly game. Lady Arianna’s gift for disguise and deception makes her the perfect candidate to go undercover within the Royal Institution, a scientific social organization of aristocrats where it is believed that one of its members is Renard, the “fox” who is betraying England. Disguised as Americans, Arianna and Sophie must maneuver through the upper echelons of the scientific society while Saybrook works his own investigation to stop the murders of a growing string of chemists.
While Arianna and Saybrook married out of convenience to protect Arianna, there is a growing affection between the two where the word “love” is rarely mentioned but increasingly felt. Her unconventional upbringing as a con artist blends with Alessandro’s own alienation as a half-Spanish English aristocrat who feels the racism from his own class despite his money and power. Just as fascinating as the complex relationship of the couple is the emergence of aeronautical weaponry that is so completely foreign to the times yet a harbinger of an entirely new method of warfare. Added treats are Arianna’s chef skills that has her writing a cookbook of Saybrook’s grandmother’s recipes while he creates a scholarly treatise on the history and use of chocolate. Each chapter begins with a delectable chocolate recipe that seems very modern and very enticing. This is the ultimate mystery that skillfully blends historical facts and intrigue with unique and forward-minded characters.
To enter to win a copy of all 4 of these mystery novels, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Winter”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 2, 2013. U.S. residents only.