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Mystery Catch Up: Bookstores, Teddy Bears, & Art

IN THE February 13 ISSUE

FROM THE 2021 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andMysteryrat's Maze
SECTIONS

by Cynthia Chow

This week we continue to catch up on our reviews with some more fun mysteries featuring bookstores, teddy bears and art-A Tourist’s Guide to Murder: A Mystery Bookshop Mystery by V.M. Burns, Wedding Bear Blues: A Teddy Bear Mystery by Meg Macy, and Murder Can Haunt Your Handiwork: A Haunted Craft Fair Mystery by Rose Pressey. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder: A Mystery Bookshop Mystery by V.M. Burns
Review by Cynthia Chow

It took the death of her beloved husband Leo to ignite the spark the led to Samantha Washington fulfilling her dream of owning her own mystery bookstore in North Harbor, Michigan. Quitting her former job as a librarian also allowed her to begin writing historical mysteries, and even being offered a contract for her first three books. It’s on this high moment that Sam, her grandmother, and Nana Jo’s friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Village depart for a one-week research/vacation trip to England. After an admittedly shaky start that involves a forgotten passport, flirtation-gone-wrong-full-body-searches, and misidentified luggage, Sam and the senior ladies are thrilled to arrive in Merry Old England. Their first tour is even led by a British Crimes for Peabody Mystery Lovers Tours, but unfortunately there seems to be as much strife behind the scenes of the business as on the site destinations. The tour guide openly argues with owner Horace Peabody, Major Peabody’s equally combative ex has signed on despite his protestations, the Major’s niece and her aspiring model boyfriend are along to protect her inheritance. It becomes clear that the question won’t be IF Major Peabody will be murdered, but simply when and by who.

What is a bit more surprising is that the tour guide adamantly asserts that Major Horace Peabody passed away in his sleep, and that the mystery loving tourists shouldn’t worry themselves and instead enjoy the rest of their vacations. For once, Sam and Nana Jo are content allow the police to investigate while they wallow in the delights of Harrods and museums dedicated to the fictional Sherlock Holmes and real-life Agatha Christie. At least that’s until arrogant Detective Inspector Nelson insists on arresting Hannah Schneider, a fellow guest and whom Sam has bonded with through their shared widowhood. When the Shady Acres agents and their arsenal of black belt martial arts skills, nosiness, and flirtation powers are combined with Sam’s librarian and mystery reading knowledge, there’s little doubt that they will beat the British coppers in unraveling the classic mystery of red herrings and inheritances.

While this sixth in the series takes Sam and her friends away from her beloved Market Street Mysteries Bookstore, it continues to weave in Sam’s work-in-progress set in 1939 England. Sam tackles the puzzles and complications she’s facing through her fictional novel, where the abrasive, lecherous, and anti-Semitic Captain Jessup has descended upon Wickfield Lodge to stay with his cousin Victor Carlston. With his wife Lady Penelope in a delicate state, the last thing the family wants is more strife, especially as Hitler seems to be rampaging through Germany and the country is at the brink of war. The secret heirs, poisonings, and family battles Sam encounters through her tours of the Cotswolds, the Greenway House in Devon, and Chipping Campden all become incorporated into the world of Lord William Marsh’s family through Sam’s subconscious. Indeed, these chapters of Sam’s books are just as entertaining as the her “real” adventures, which are hilarious due to the escapades of Nana Jo and her friends. This extremely well-written and cleverly plotted novel is sure to please Classical British mystery fans as well as those who love contemporary, humor-filled adventures. Exquisitely topping off this combination is the vicarious experience of traveling through towns made famous by the novels of Agatha Christie, MC Beaton, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Dick Francis. A tantalizing meal of East Indian delicacies further depicts how cosmopolitan and multi-cultural England has become, ensuring that envious readers will be wanting to book the first available plane ticket along with their next copy of VM Burns’ bookstore mystery.

Wedding Bear Blues: A Teddy Bear Mystery by Meg Macy
Review by Cynthia Chow

At her family’s Silver Bear Shop – the only specialized teddy bear store in southeastern Michigan – Sasha Silverman loves nothing more than planning special events promoting their customized bears. The upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday is an ideal time for a teddy bear extravaganza, but in addition to hosting one of her beloved and preferred Teddy Bear Care Clinics, Sasha has been enlisted into a wedding as a substitute bridesmaid. Sasha’s sister Maddie is the best friend of the bride’s sister, and it doesn’t take long for Sasha to figure out why Cissy Davison ran out of her own friends for the bridal party. The bridezilla booted out the original bridesmaid for not being willing to change her own vacation plans, and Cissy isn’t too happy with her groom’s choice of a best man either. Not only is Dylan Campbell her sister Debbie’s ex-fiancé, but he drunkenly crashes the bachelorette party to randomly apologize. Unfortunately, no one is able to accept his remorse after Sasha and Maddie discover Dylan’s body in the restroom. While Sasha’s ex uses this as proof that she is a body magnet, Cissy sees this as fate to ensure that her wedding goes on. Worried as much – if not more – that her wedding will be cancelled if Cissy’s sister is arrested for the murder, Cissy begs Sasha to once again delve into a murder investigation and prove Debbie’s innocence.

It’s not as though Sasha has a lot of time on her hands though, as her father’s nemesis Teddy Hartman is in town intent on buying a nearby building for his planned Bed and Breakfast. Specifically designed to be a rival of the Silver Bear, Sasha needs to stop his plans and protect her family’s legacy. Learning of a scheme to use her teddy bears for horrific and nefarious means has Sasha on alert, which will keep her attention as much as figuring out who seems intent on winnowing down Cissy’s wedding party. At least Sasha will have the much more pleasant distraction of planning a charity benefit teddy bear event, one that will not only break a World Record but will raise money for a very worthy cause.

Botox bridal parties, chocolate teddy bear workshops, and of course, teddy bear store sales ensure that this cozy mystery will appeal to readers on so many levels. Cissy’s rampaging poodle Mr. Clooney, and Sasha’s adorable (and much more obedient) toy poodle Sugar Bear and Lhasa Apso/Bichon mix Rosie make delightful appearances, but it’s the stuffed bears that make this series so unique. Sasha’s relationship with woodworker Jay Kirby is pleasantly cruising along despite all of the wedding chaos around them, and he and her family are reliable bastions of sanity amidst the Davison-Antonini nuptial calamities. Past crimes, old secrets, and missing rings ensure that the walk down the aisle will be a bumpy one. Clues are sprinkled throughout, but the final unexpected reveal should catch readers off-guard while still providing a satisfying resolution. The Valentine’s Day dream wedding may not be the one that was expected, but the one that is delivered is as whimsical, romantic, and laugh-inducing as the Silver Bear creations.

Murder Can Haunt Your Handiwork: A Haunted Craft Fair Mystery by Rose Pressey
Review by Cynthia Chow

After giving up her job as a waitress in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, artist Celeste Cabot is embracing a career as a full-time artist selling her paintings out of her charming pink-and-white Shasta trailer. It allows her to attend and sell her work at craft fairs throughout the South, which has led her to the Fifth Annual Fall Biltmore Estate Craft Fair being held in the Blue Ridge Mountain mansion in Asheville, North Carolina. She didn’t expect to also be accompanied by her very enthusiastic and chaos-attracting family, who have dropped in on her to be both supportive and have their own getaway vacation. In between pulling various brothers off of the exhibits and back behind the ropes, Celeste happens to stumble across the body of a woman murdered inside of the mansion. Her once again being on the scene of a crime is almost as awkward as having the two responding detectives be Caleb Ward and Pierce Meyer, potential suitors and rivals for Celeste’s romantic attentions.

Their telling Celeste to stay out of the investigation is a trigger for her to immediately do the opposite, as she definitely doesn’t like being told what to do; especially since she has had so much success recently with solving murders. What’s given her a leg up has been her ability to paint clues into her artwork, which eventually lead her to the culprit. They also seem to back the ghosts of those involved, which this time is a man whom she believes is possibly William Vanderbilt of the Vanderbilt family. In what is as much a time travel situation as a haunting, as William seems to have missed out on decades of technology and culture changes. Along with her Chihuahua Van Gogh, Celeste will bulldoze her way into the investigation of the historical mansion, its employees, and the confrontations that may have led to murder.

This third in the series includes a funnel cake recipe, adorable pooches, and many romantic entanglements complicating Celeste’s life. Pierce’s agreement to cooperate in the investigation with Celeste may be motivated by more than just dedication to solving a crime, which has Celeste wondering if he values her mind or something else. The tone is kept light as Celeste attempts to decipher her painting, not to mention use the ghost as a spy and secret observer. The banter between Celeste, Caleb, and Pierce makes this something of a romantic comedy, especially since she has yet to reveal her talent for paranormal communication. The Southern setting, mischievous family members, and relationship drama deliver a delightfully fun and frolicking mystery to start off the New Year.

To enter to win a copy of all 3 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “teddy bear” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 20, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase any of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:
mysteriousgalaxylogo

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Glen Davis February 13, 2021 at 10:02am

Another great collection of books! Count me in!

Reply

2 Nancy February 13, 2021 at 10:07am

These all look like fun and enjoyable reads for a cold winter night!

Reply

3 Sherry Brown February 13, 2021 at 6:32pm

Thank you for the chance to win all these books!! So awesome!!!
They all look so good!!!

Reply

4 Sue February 14, 2021 at 11:56am

Thank you for contest. These books look like great reads.

Reply

5 Teresa Warner February 14, 2021 at 12:30pm

Thanks for the opportunity! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

Reply

6 Debra J Pruss
Twitter: @Debra
February 14, 2021 at 1:34pm

What wonderful books. Thank you so much for the opportunity. God bless you. You are all so wonderful for sharing your time and your talent.

Reply

7 Alicia February 14, 2021 at 3:27pm

I’m glad these series are continuing and hoping for many more wonderful installments.

Reply

8 Dianne Casey February 14, 2021 at 4:19pm

I would really like to read all three books. Thanks for the chance.

Reply

9 Sheryl Sens
Twitter: @naninani
February 14, 2021 at 6:52pm

Oh gosh! I am so excited for this wonderful giveaway!!!! Thanks so much for the chance! Happy Valentine’s Day & stay warm!!

Reply

10 Sheryl Sens
Twitter: @naninani
February 14, 2021 at 6:53pm

Oh gosh! I am so excited for this wonderful giveaway!!!! Thanks so much for the chance! Happy Valentine’s Day & stay warm!!

Reply

11 Sheryl Sens
Twitter: @naninani
February 14, 2021 at 6:54pm

I don’t know why it did my twitter??

Reply

12 Angie Hager February 15, 2021 at 1:04pm

Thank you for the chance to win. They look like great reads!

Reply

13 Mary Holshouser February 17, 2021 at 8:59am

Two of the titles are favorites
that I follow – don’t have the
current ones yet. The last
would be a new read – sounds
good. thanks
txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

Reply

14 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
February 22, 2021 at 12:43pm

We have a winner!

Reply

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