by Cynthia Chow
This week we have reviews of two fun mysteries from Lyrical Press, one involving history and sewing, and another involving gourmet cat food-Historically Dead: A Stitch in Time Mystery by Greta McKennan & The Trouble with Murder: A Gourmet Cat Mystery by Kathy Krevat. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win EBOOK copies of both books, and links to purchase them from Amazon and an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Historically Dead: A Stitch in Time Mystery by Greta McKennan
Review by Cynthia Chow
Becoming the seamstress-in-residence for a reality show entry seemed like the ideal opportunity for Daria Dembrowski, who hoping to focus less on wedding gowns and more on historical garments. My House in History had chosen Priscilla Compton’s eighteenth century estate to be featured as she restored it back to how it was when it was first built, giving Daria the opportunity to sew embroidered curtains as well as Priscilla’s gown. A local historian was also enlisted to provide historically accurate details, but unfortunately Professor Burbridge’s involvement ends prematurely with his death in the library.
The show must go on though, and Daria and the contractors continue to dismantle the modernizations as they are recorded and under the scrutiny of Priscilla’s extremely acerbic and unenthusiastic sister, Ruth Ellis. Elderly Pricilla’s caregiver Louise Pritchard is an even less willing participant, and a series of thefts and vandalism against Daria’s home seem to indicate that they’re not alone in wanting the project to end. The promotional opportunity and need to give Priscilla some peace of mind has Daria not only painstakingly hand-stitching fabrics, but embarking on an investigation into the darker edges of Professor Burnbridge’s conspiracy theories and apparent joy in getting others in trouble.
An unwelcome blast from Daria’s past returns to Laurel Springs, Pennsylvania, just in time to be an intrusion in both aspects of Daria’s sewing business. Her relationship with Daily Chronicle photographer Sean McCarthy is uncertain as well, especially when his journalistic ethics conflict with Daria’s personal expectations. This dilemma has her questioning her own loyalties and trust issues, a topic that proves fascinating as is it forces Daria to look into her own character.
Enlivening this series and adding unexpected moments of humor and delight are the interactions between Daria and her roommates, who include her burned-by-Hollywood brother and the Goth-chick guitarist for Heavy Metal band Twisted Armpits. The author highlights the intricate details and beauty of pre-Revolutionary couture, and it’s easy to see why Daria has become so devoted to her arts. The plot takes an unexpected turn and slides into a completely unexpected conclusion, one which even experienced readers would not have seen coming. This second in the series showcases a field that will delight cozy readers, and the progression and growth of its likably flawed heroine is sure to please all.
The Trouble with Murder: A Gourmet Cat Mystery by Kathy Krevat
Review by Cynthia Chow
If her father had not suffered a second debilitating bout of pneumonia, apartment manager Colbie Summers would probably never have returned to Sunnyside, California. Dropping out of college when she became pregnant at nineteen led to an argument that fractured their relationship, and the past thirteen years hasn’t made their interactions any easier. At least Colbie is able to continue building her organic gourmet cat food business, both commercially and for her original clients. As a way of networking and developing a support group of fellow businesswomen, Colbie joined the local Sunnyside Power Moms, acquiring the task of helping to organize the SPM trade show. It also leads to Colbie discovering the body of one of the SPM members, stabbed to death in a banquet room with one of Colbie’s special paw-engraved knives.
Evidence quickly appears with the intent of framing Colbie for the murder, and one of the investigating detectives is all-too-eager to make an arrest. Needing to clear herself in both the eyes of the police and the community, Colbie starts to investigate those with motives and access to the crime scene, namely her fellow Sunnyside Power Moms. As she awkwardly questions a sexy home lingerie-party owner, visits a doggy-spa despite having no dogs of her own, and even takes advantage of a life coach web designer, Colbie methodically uncovers alibis while learning to appreciate her hometown.
The tone is set at the start with a doorbell-ringing chicken, but the novel soon delves into far more complex themes as Colbie repairs and rebuilds her relationship with her father. A theater-loving grandson auditioning for a Seussical the Musical production only increases Colbie’s sports-obsessed father’s disapproval, but they are all discovering new connections and loves. Readers will relate and love the exploration of the relationships of Colbie’s family, who may clash but never stop loving one another.
Colbie’s cat Trouble serves as the ultimate picky taste-tester, essential as a new business opportunity opens and could lead to a prosperous future. Experienced mystery readers may believe that they spot the motive early on, but an unexpected veer delivers a satisfying twist. Colbie’s humor and wry observations as she becomes enmeshed with the Southern Californian Power Moms is the highlight of this novel, and when combined with the sharp writing it ensures for a strong debut series and promising future.
To enter to win EBOOK copies of both books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “history & cats,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 3, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.
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