by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow
This week we continue to catch up on our reviews with some more fun mysteries featuring book clubs, wine tastings, house flipping, and a historical-A Catered Book Club Murder: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Crawford, A Lady Compromised: A Rosalind Thorne Mystery by Darcie Wilde, Wine Tastings Are Murder: A Poppy McAllister Mystery by Libby Klein, and Murder With a View: A House-Flipper Mystery by Diane Kelly. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 4 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 Catered Book Club Murder: A Mystery with Recipes by Isis Crawford
Review by Sandra Murphy
Margo Hemsley is a woman you can set your clock by. For book club meetings, she pre-orders the refreshments, always the same items, arrives ten minutes early to pick them up, and never lingers. Except this week. When she’s a few minutes late, Bernie and Libby, the sisters whose shop provides those refreshments, start to worry. They’re not the only ones as the book club members start searching for Margo, too.
It’s like Margo vanished, so the club members hire Bernie and Libby to find Margo. Although not licensed detectives, the pair have been successful in finding the truth before. This instance looks to be more difficult than anything previous. When a lead takes them into a swamp, there’s more to worry about than they expected—there’s a dead body in the murky water. Sadly, it’s Margo, and her death is ruled an accident.
No one believes Margo would ever venture into that area, especially on a book club evening. As the sisters continue to search for clues, they find more than they ever expected—everyone has a secret and under the right circumstances, each one would be worth killing for.
This is book sixteen in the long running series. Bernie and Libby are the perfect pair to investigate. Libby is much more cautious than Bernie who is willing to take a risk. With the help of their dad, a retired cop, and his friend at the station, they’re able to find out bits and pieces of information in exchange for information of their own plus their homemade desserts. A pie can go a long way as a bribe.
What better way to spend a cold winter’s day than reading a cozy mystery with added recipes? Recipes include gluten-free cranberry bread, pumpkin bread, and orange-cardamom morning muffins.
A Lady Compromised: A Rosalind Thorne Mystery by Darcie Wilde
Review by Sandra Murphy
Rosalind has been a useful woman, of the proper lineage but not the properly funded. In years past, she thought she would be Devon Winterbourne’s Lady, but the Thorne family scandal waylaid those plans. Now, she helps women who find themselves in a difficult position with no way out, at least not if they live up to society’s expectations.
As it turns out, there’s a lot more to worry about. Louisa’s friend Helen has asked for Rosalind’s help. Helen’s brother, William, was found shot to death. The coroner ruled it accidental. Rumors say it was suicide, but Helen is convinced William was murdered.
Restrained by the rules of etiquette, Rosalind must watch every word she says, every glance she takes, and every gesture she makes. Although businessmen are said to be ruthless, their behavior is nothing compared to that of the society wives who never forgive a slight and who guard family and position above all else. No matter how carefully Rosalind considers each word, a misstep is only a misspoken word away and could cause the collapse of everything she holds dear.
This is book four in the series (all reviewed here). Rosalind finds country society rules to be more strict than in London. With a large number of characters, sometimes referred to by first name, sometimes by last, and with several families involved, readers can easy to lose track now and again, especially as the story moves quickly and well.
Rosalind is a woman well ahead of her time. It’s made both friends and enemies for her. Now as she decides what she wants her life to be, she’s apt to face her greatest challenge. Readers will be impatient for the next book to see how well she meets it.
Wine Tastings Are Murder: A Poppy McAllister Mystery by Libby Klein
Review by Sandra Murphy
After someone posted malicious reviews on social media, business hasn’t been exactly brisk at Butterfly House, the Jersey Shore B&B Poppy runs with her eccentric Aunt Ginny, Although the snarky reviews are being removed, tours aren’t booking rooms. Poppy and Ginny are thrilled when Lily contacts them about hosting several people from her group who are on a wine tasting jaunt.
Thrilled until they meet the guests. Cowboy Bob and his wife Rosie would rather stay in their Winnebago. Sunny and Vince are an odd couple, he much older, she assumed to be a gold digger. Vince’s daughter and son-in-law show up unexpectedly and insist on a room, too. A young pregnant couple and a woman who fancies herself as an influencer round out the group.
At a tasting at the local winery, Vince becomes ill and sadly, dies. EMTs think his symptoms are unnatural and call in the police. Amber, the police detective who was Poppy’s enemy in school and might have achieved frenemy status now, thinks the best way to keep tabs on everyone is if they all stay at the B&B. Free of charge.
Poppy bakes gluten-free treats for a coffee shop owned by Gia, a sexy Italian who is besotted with Poppy. And to complicate matters, there’s also Tim, the boyfriend from high school, now chef at his own restaurant. Poppy let him slip away then and now he wants to rectify that mistake.
If dealing with Amber, cranky guests, a new widow, Tammy Faye, a Pomeranian who terrorizes and is terrorized by Poppy’s cat, Figaro, a narcoleptic chambermaid, a diet and exercise plan, spying on the guests, and getting roped into her BFF’s crazy plans isn’t enough, Poppy has to keep Aunt Ginny and her eighty-year-old friends, affectionately called ‘the biddies’ out of trouble, a job no one should have to do while calorie deprived or sober.
I always look forward to reading the next book in this series because of the humor, the love triangle that hasn’t gone on too long, and the exceptional writing. This is book five in the series, all reviewed here. Look for number six, Beauty Expos Are Murder, in June, available for pre-order now.
Poppy is happy to share recipes for Paleo blueberry scones plus gluten-free recipes for lemon curd muffins, strawberry tiramisu with sweet red wine, Moscato cheesecake shooters with drunken blackberries, sangria cupcakes, dark chocolate cupcakes with red wine poached pears, and sparkling raspberry cake balls,
Murder With a View: A House-Flipper Mystery by Diane Kelly
Review by Cynthia Chow
Having successfully flipped and made a profit on their most recent renovation project, Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are optimistically headed into Tennessee’s Davidson County Courthouse with the intention of buying the 1960s Music City Motor Court motel and transform it into charmingly retro condos. The presence of rival developer Thaddeus Gentry III threatens their plans, but a spur-of-the-moment partnership with Presley Pearson – and a little deceptive rumor mongering – gives Whitney and Buck just the bump they need to succeed in getting their next project. The rundown music-themed motel comes not just with orange carpet but with a squatter, the drifting vet Jimmy Weber. Despite knowing better, Whitney trusts her instincts enough to hire Jimmy to help them demo the motel as they plan for its grand re-opening. Too bad that Jimmy isn’t the only trespasser staying at the Motor Court, as they discover the body of man boots-up on one of the motel beds with a doorstop plunged through his chest.
Unsurprisingly, Whitney’s boyfriend Detective Collin Flynn suspects wandering nomad Jimmy as being the most likely suspect. Whitney disagrees, especially when they learn that the victim was Beckett Morgan, a country singer with one of the hottest songs and whom infamously ducked an onstage kiss with his duet partner. When not dodging the impromptu memorial and fan gatherings that form outside of the motel, Whitney begins tracking down his spurned bandmates, angry exes, and disgruntled managers. It’s an opportunity for Whitney and her roommates Emmalee and Collette to attend the hottest spots in the lowest places of Nashville’s country music scene.
As in Diane Kelly’s other series, the animal companion gets her own chapters to narrate and offer viewpoints of the human actions and investigation. Characteristic to her standoffish feline nature, Sawdust is less involved than the K-9 Brigit but still lends a paw just when her human needs it the most. It is entirely appropriate that in Nashville the clues leading them to a murderer include a distinct belt buckle, cowboy boot toe shape, and cigar butt. Along with immersing readers in Nashville’s country music scene are enough renovation details to delight any addict of HGTV. Romance abounds as well, from Collette and Buck’s do-si-dosing dating dance to Whitney’s growing partnership with Collin. Sawdust’s very clever and extremely catty perspective adds both humor and animal-loving fun, while still keeping the tone grounded in reality. Extremely well-written and filled with characters whom one would love to call friends, this third in the series continues to delight and builds upon what is becoming a standout mystery series.
To enter to win a copy of all 4 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “february” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 6, 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.
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