End of March Mystery Catch Up

Mar 27, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow

This week we have another fun group of mysteries-A Wicked Yarn: A Craft Fair Knitters Mystery by Emmie Caldwell, Egg Shooters: A Cackleberry Club Mystery by Laura Childs, Shucked Apart: A Maine Clambake Mystery by Barbara Ross, and A Deadly Chapter: A Castle Bookshop Mystery by Essie Lang. 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 Wicked Yarn: A Craft Fair Knitters Mystery by Emmie Caldwell

Review by Sandra Murphy

With help from her friend Belinda, Lia Geiger is starting over after the death of her husband. Lia’s an avid knitter and Belinda runs a weekly craft fair in an historic barn. Thanks to Lia’s weekly knitting group, she has plenty of options for shoppers to choose from in their booth.

Belinda’s ex-husband is the vindictive sort. As part of his payback for her daring to divorce him, he plans to buy the barn and tear it down, putting Belinda out of business. A local historian is opposed, the vendors, too. When Lia arrives at the barn early, she finds Belinda standing over her ex’s body. The list of those who wanted him dead and gone is long, but a spouse is always the number one suspect. To help Belinda, Lia asks a few questions here and there. It seems natural since she’s new in town and doesn’t know all the players.

In the midst of a downturn of business at the barn, low key snooping, and adjusting to her new lifestyle, Lia’s daughter, Haley, is giving serious thought to a different job, if not a career change. Lia worries this is just a whim. There’s also a possible romance brewing for Haley that might have something to do with her change of plans. And then there’s the cat. Lia’s knitter friend, Jen, asks Lia to keep Daphne, a Ragdoll cat, for a few days. Will she be able to give the cat back?

When a second body turns up, Belinda’s alibi is shaky, but she’s not arrested—yet. Trying to find a common interest between the two victims is proving to be difficult. Will Lia be able to stitch the clues together in time to prevent more deaths?

This is the first in a new series. Lia and Haley are people you’d definitely want to know and their relationship is a good one, with Lia respecting Haley’s decisions. Daphne steals the show and, thankfully, is in many scenes. With the knitting group, the crafters at the barn, and new people Lia meets, readers will have to pay attention to remember who is who, but Caldwell drops reminders, making it easy. I had an inkling of the murderer’s identity but not the motive, making for a satisfying read. I hope the next book will be coming soon.

Egg Shooters: A Cackleberry Club Mystery by Laura Childs
Review by Sandra Murphy

Suzanne and Sam are now engaged to be married. Her busy life as part-owner of the Cackleberry Club Café and his as a doctor don’t often leave a lot of time for them to be together. She’s surprising him at work with a chili dinner when an armed robber rushes through the reception area, carrying a large duffle bag.

The receptionist tries to sound the alarm but is stopped. The security guard, a retired police officer, doesn’t even have time to draw his weapon before the thief shoots and kills him and then wounds the receptionist. Suzanne had dropped to the floor behind the desk but now seeing-red-angry, she stands and hurls the thermos of chili, beaning the culprit who still manages to escape.

Crime seems to be running rampant with long haul truckers being highjacked, the hospital robbery, death of the guard, followed soon after by another robbery where more drugs are stolen. Suzanne has been known to help Sheriff Doogie, whether he likes it or not. This time it’s personal.

I expect Toni to be impetuous and rash, Petra to be conservative and behind the scenes, and Suzanne to be the sane and sensible one, but in this episode, book nine, she lets her curiosity and anger overcome good sense and takes dangerous risks. I hope her need to know is somewhat curbed before she puts her relationship with Sam in real jeopardy.

The Cackleberry Club is not only a diner but offers English teas in the afternoons, meeting rooms for organizations like the florist’s club, has a knitting nook, and a reading room where books are available for purchase. Toni is still married to but not living with Junior, a good-hearted sort who never quite gets things right. Petra is the chef extraordinaire, whipping up delicious meals. She’s shared her recipes for egg shooters (a version of deviled eggs), hangover hash, French toast sticks, ham and apricot country biscuit sandwiches, breakfast tacos, peaches and cream pancakes, blueberry banana bread, beer and pork goulash, orange bars, and her special basting sauce for grilled steaks.

Childs also writes the Scrapbooking series and the Tea Shop mysteries. Many have been reviewed here. What better way to spend time at home than reading, testing new craft ideas, and recipes?

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She’s editor for Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Stories Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s, with twenty-two cozy stories. She also edited A Murder of Crows, twenty-one stories featuring animals and crime (no animals were harmed). She also writes for magazines, newsletters, and the occasional guest blog. Both anthologies are available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

Shucked Apart: A Maine Clambake Mystery by Barbara Ross
Review by Cynthia Chow

After numerous confrontations with criminals and having kept more than one family member out of jail, Julia Snowden shouldn’t be surprised when her boyfriend comes to her for help. What definitely does catch her off guard is that Chris Durand’s poker buddy “Andy” is actually Andie Greatorex, very much a woman and one who is convinced that she’s being sabotaged. A recent mugging attack on her resulted in over $35,000 of oyster seed – “spat” – being stolen, but while the police see it as a robbery for profit, Andie believes that the crime was intended to intimidate her. In just a few days there will be a hearing to approve Andie’s application to expand her business, one that would make her the largest oyster farmer on the Damariscotta River. Other farmers are concerned that could lead to future controlled legislation, local homeowners don’t approve of the unsightly boats and traps, and lobsterers resent the intrusion on their traps. Andie was right to be concerned, as the day before her hearing, Julia finds Andie facedown in the water at her Great River Oyster Farm, stabbed in the back with an oyster shucking knife.

In a case of Chekov’s knife, Julia had recently seen that restaurant knife in the hands of Mack Owen, Andie’s former partner in romance and business. With the name of Mack’s Oyster Shack branded on the murder weapon and still named as Andie’s heir, Mack becomes the obvious suspect and is the next to ask for Julia’s investigative help. Running her family’s Snowden Family Clambake gives her insight and access to the close-mouthed community that the police do not have, and by keeping them updated on her findings, she maintains a cordial relationship with them. Proving to be less amenable is Chris himself, who only recently opened up to Julia about his family and still hasn’t introduced her to his longtime friends. That they seem to know all about her while she knows nothing about them would seem to negate his being ashamed of her, but Julia can’t help but feel as though he has shut her out of a vital part of his life. She will have to balance coping with this inner turmoil with her investigation as she not only delves into the Maine’s contentious agriculture world, but continues to interview employee applicants during their brief “calm” off-season.

This ninth in the series excels at allowing the characters to evolve and grow, making them truly come alive and real for readers. As a couple Julia and Chris are facing more than one stumbling block, and readers will be rooting for Julia to make the decisions that will be best for her now. Proving just as compelling as their relationship challenges is the exploration of the oyster farming business. Julia may know the inside and outside of hosting clambakes, but farming, preparing, and eating oysters is an entirely foreign world. Seeding spats into the river, individually harvesting them by hand, and even how to deftly shuck and suck down oysters prove to be intricate, very involved procedures. Readers who have grown to love Julia’s clever wit, the Snowden Family Clambake, and the often chilly weather of Busman’s Harbor will be intrigued by the introduction of oyster farming and look forward to what next will be thrown into Julia’s complicated life.

A Deadly Chapter: A Castle Bookshop Mystery by Essie Lang
Review by Cynthia Chow

To help her Aunt Edie while she recovered from knee replacement surgery, Shelby Cox left Boston to temporarily run one of their Bayside Books bookstores in Upstate New York’s Blye Castle. The castle on one of New York’s Thousand Islands has since become a second home to Shelby, her first one now being a rented houseboat in Alexandra Bay. It’s also where Shelby has the misfortune of stumbling across her third body since moving there, this time one floating between her houseboat and the dock. For once cranky Police Chief Tekla Stone is surprisingly sympathetic, especially since neither of them are able to give a name to the corpse. Even without any identification, though, Shelby remembers that the deceased man had been in town once in the fall and then the day before, searching for a woman he believed had moved to town seven years before. And as Shelby will learn, an unexpected number of her friends seem to have arrived on the island during that timeframe.

While Chief Stone once again warns Shelby away from the investigation, that elusive clue and her sense of responsibility for finding the corpse in the first place has her questioning those who may have been linked to the either the missing woman or the deceased. Her sideline investigation will have to be juggled with her duties at Blye Castle’s Bayside Books, as there is not only her usual bookclub meetings but an impending murder mystery event attended by numerous authors and includes a murder mystery dinner. Being surrounded by murder has Shelby missing her boyfriend Zack Griffin, a Coast Guard Investigative Service agent currently working in Buffalo. She could definitely use his support when yet another unexpected visitor arrives in town, this time the mother she only recently learned was still alive. Is it any wonder that helping another mourning daughter would be a welcome distraction and comfort for the emotionally torn Shelby?

This charming third in the Castle Bookshop Mystery series takes readers on an enchanting tour through Blye Island and its equally engaging residents. The past two books in the series revealed the well-intentioned secrets kept about Shelby’s upbringing, and while it’s not necessary to have read those installments it makes the resolutions in this one all the more rewarding. The mystery is gradually and very naturally explored by Shelby, who is never intrusive in her queries and instead learns information through sympathetic conversations and neighborly curiosity. Mystery aficionados may gather wisps of the solution throughout, but a twist should still ultimately surprise at the end. Readers will be as invested in seeing how Shelby resolves the new complications in her life as in learning how she solves the murder, fulfilling the promise of a series that continues to build upon its very likable characters and its unique bookstore-in-a-castle setting.

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 “march catch up” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 3, 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 goes up next 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:

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.


  1. All amazing series! Excited to read what all the characters are up to this time.

  2. Great wrap up, thanks for the chance to win!

  3. What a great bunch of books! Thank you for the chance to win them.

  4. Another great list of books! Count me in!

  5. Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. Would love to win this awesome giveaway!!!! Thank you for the chance!!!

  7. This is a fabulous group of books that someone will surely enjoy. Thanks for the chance to win.

  8. Thanks for the chance to win these books. They all sound wonderful!

  9. These 4 cozy mysteries all look like delightfully fun reads! We all need these books in a big stack to escape via reading!

  10. Such a great collection! I’d love to win these! thanks for the chance. JL_Minter@Hotmail.com

  11. What a great collection of authors and books. Would love to read all four. Thanks for the chance.

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

  13. Excellent lineup this month. Thanks for the chance to win. egoehner(at)roadrunner(dot)com

  14. These books sound wonderful.

  15. Some old favorite authors
    and a couple new ones.
    Would love to read these.

  16. We have a winner!


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