Spring Mystery Catchup!

Apr 13, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Cynthia Chow & Sandra Murphy

This week we are reviewing 4 more fun cozy mysteries perfect for your spring reading tbr-Gone with the Witch by Angela M. Sanders, A Midnight Puzzle by Gigi Pandian, A Catered Quilting Bee by Isis Crawford, and Murder in the Tea Leaves by Laura Childs. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 4 books and links to purchase them from Amazon at the end of each review.

Gone with the Witch by Angela M. Sanders
Review by Cynthia Chow

Once a librarian at the Library of Congress, Josie Way has found her true home working at the library in her hometown of Wilfred, Oregon. It’s also where she discovered her heritage as a witch, able to communicate with characters in books and engage with them as if they were real. That’s going to come in handy when bones are discovered buried underneath a recently excavated outhouse. Despite Helen Garlington’s husband having gone missing years ago, DNA proves that they are not the remains of her spouse Martin. No one else really believes that Martin is alive though, which is why they also doubt her very vocal proclamations that the man appearing on a TV gameshow just happens to be her MIA husband. This is when the volume of The Complete Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes comes into play, as Josie’s magical abilities allow Sherlock Holmes to walk off of the page and use his deductions to help her solve the puzzles of the lost and found bodies.

Josie’s FBI boyfriend Sam is unaware of her magical heritage, which is helped by grimoires and spellbook diaries left to her by her grandmother. So Josie is keeping most of her abilities a secret, even from her tarot-reading card friend Lelena, whose acting and intuitive skills are stronger than any actual psychic gifts. When the supposed Martin comes into town and is immediately found dead, Josie and Sherlock begin to delve into the town’s secrets and history that involved bank robberies, an assortment of missing husbands, and a mysterious bookseller.

Much of the fun in this fifth of the series comes from Josie’s interactions with the literally-off-page character of Sherlock Holmes. The more energy Josie gives him the more “real” he becomes, with the tiny version even tapping away on the Internet doing google searches to help with his investigations. Josie coming late in life to her witchy status means that she relies more on her librarian skills to solve murders, making this as much of a bibliophile mystery as a paranormal one. The relationships and friends she has made in town feel real and layered, and readers will also feel welcomed into this small, rather gossipy neighborhood. The intrigue builds up to a conclusion that would challenge even the Great Detective, and ultimately it’s Josie’s very real friends and police who help to save the day. This is a refreshingly unique series that takes readers on a fun journey and grants them the wish of having their favorite fictional characters popping into the “real” world.

You can click here to purchase the book from Amazon.

A Midnight Puzzle by Gigi Pandian
Review by Cynthia Chow

For years Tempest Raj has been both denying and attempting to avoid the legendary family curse that declares that the eldest child of every generation will die on the magic stage. Tempest comes from a long line of stage magicians, but after being blamed for a sabotaged trick she stopped performing and instead joined her father’s innovative Secret Staircase Construction business in Whispering Creek, California. Their company is in jeopardy as well now that their client Julian Rhodes is suing them for causing his wife’s fall, a near-fatal stumble that Tempest knows was caused by Julian himself. In what she knows is another setup, both she and Julian are sent a message to meet at the latest construction project, where Tempest finds him stabbed through a door with a sword.

While she is not the immediate suspect for the death, the involvement of their construction company specializing in hidden staircases and rooms casts a shadow over their business. The mysterious protector/stalker Tempest and her best friend Ivy Youngblood have nicknamed “Moriarty” continues to both help and warn them from the case, but a possible tie to the deaths of Emma and Elspeth Raj make that impossible. Tempest has always known that the disappearance of her mother and horrific onstage death of her aunt were not accidents, and she has dedicated herself to finding the truth. When Tempest’s mentor Nicodemus the Necromancer (named so because of his tricks that involve killing and resurrecting his assistant) is himself injured in a career-ending act of sabotage, she and her friends will defy the police to continue their investigations by proving Julian’s guilt, their company’s innocence, and resolving the truth behind her family’s curse.

While this is only the third in the series, the ongoing plot and character developments feel as though they have been established dozens of books ago. That may be due in part to appearances by characters from the author’s delightful Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series. Tempest’s struggle to resolve her family’s troubled legacy is resolved in a very satisfying conclusion, with a new adventure ready for her in the next installment. Tempest’s mixed heritage and Indian-Scottish family members charm with their love and good humor, and readers will fall in love with them as they share meals and creative business planning. The added element of magic tricks and construction make this a truly ingenious series, sure to draw in new readers who will be fascinated by these secretive professions. The writing is deft with clever dialogue and innovative plots, and Tempest continues to be an outstanding, admirable character.

You can click here to purchase the book from Amazon.

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).

A Catered Quilting Bee by Isis Crawford
By Sandra Murphy

Bernie and Libby are sisters who co-own A Little Taste of Heaven. They couldn’t be more different, from how they dress, to their boyfriends, to how they behave. Bernie is the daring one, Libby worries. And then there’s their dad who was injured on the job years ago (he was a cop) but still keeps his hand in when a murder occurs.

Bernie and Libby have been hired to cater a quilt show at the local library. It’s the Longely Sip and Sew Quilting Circle’s exhibition of their works, the first show they’ve done. As you might expect, the quilters are a genteel group.

When one of the quilters is found dead, everyone is quick to cry suicide. Everyone except Cecilia the kindergarten teacher. Usually mild-mannered, she stands her ground and insists her friend would never do that—especially when she was almost finished with her quilt.

Libby and Bernie have been involved in murder cases before, from the solving side, not the committing side, of course. With the help of their dad and his friend Clyde, who is still on the force, Libby and Bernie agree to investigate. The victim’s rather sketchy past may hold a clue but this case isn’t going to be easy.

I enjoy reading about Bernie and Libby. Bernie can get herself into a fix but can also talk her way out of it. Libby is unsure about most everything except baking. If you’re going to be sure of one thing, baking is a good choice. Their dad comes across as grouchy but it’s pretty much an act. He just wants his girls to stay safe and is frustrated he can’t do more to help after being shot years ago. Clyde always seems to drop by just as something good is coming out of the oven. It’s a good thing, as he’s willing to trade news of the case for desserts. The sisters take some risks but thankfully, nothing too daring. If you like a good mystery, good food, and a good group of characters, this is for you.

This is book 18 in the series. Many have been reviewed for KRL.

Libby shares recipes for Nic’s easy weekday pasta sauce, Betsy’s orange olive oil cake, and Olivia’s Alfajores: Dulce de Leche sandwich cookies. They not only sound easy to make, they sound delicious.

You can click here to purchase the book from Amazon.

Murder in the Tea Leaves by Laura Childs
Review by Sandra Murphy

The Indigo Tea Shop, located in Charleston, has been hired by Peregrine Pictures to provide food for a movie crew filming Dark Fortunes. Since there is no official lunch hour and free time is at a premium, food has to be fresh and available all day. Theodosia and her tea sommelier, Drayton, keep the tables filled with tea sandwiches, lemon scones, brownie bites, banana muffins, cranberry tea bread, handmade chocolate fudge, and a variety of tea choices.

During a scene with a fortune teller, the director decides she should read the tea leaves before delivering the fateful line but she makes a mess of it. Theodosia is, as they say, ‘discovered.’ Makeup, hair, and costume aren’t as bad as she feared and she soon finds herself on set, ready to hear ‘Action!.’

Sadly, there was more action than anyone anticipated. There’s a crackle in the air and then the film’s director is dead. Detective Tidwell is on the scene. EMTs say electrocution. Theodosia thinks murder.

Theo’s been involved in murder investigations before but plans to steer clear of this one. After all, she has a business to run. That was, until Delaine Dish, a rather overbearing, dramatic friend, is implicated. It seems she and the director had been an item until they had a very loud, very public argument. Now Delaine demands Theo investigate and find the real killer before they suspect her. Sometimes, all the time, it’s easier to give in to Delaine than it is to argue.

This is book 27 in the popular series, many reviewed for KRL. If you like a fast-paced read, fun characters, good food, a dog, and a whodunit mystery, this series will keep you busy.

At the back of the book, find Haley’s recipes for cinnamon coffee cake, pineapple crisp, lemon chicken, strawberry tea sandwiches, double chocolate scones, Waldorf tea sandwiches, Drayton’s egg clouds, ham and sweet potato casserole, Haley’s super easy fudge (six ingredients if you add nuts), no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, seafood bake, and peach puffs.

Want to hostess your own tea party? There are suggestions for themes: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Craft Party, Yorkshire Tea, Poetry Tea, or a Vintage Tea. Serving scones? How about these scone toppers? Strawberry jam and Devonshire cream, ricotta cheese and honey, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked salmon with cream cheese, Brie cheese and chutney, herbed butter, guacamole and diced tomatoes, melted gruyere, bacon and egg, blueberry and maple syrup, Black Forest scone, or fig and blue cheese. There are suggestions for presentation or mixing.

If you’d like to learn more about tea, there’s a list of tea resources—which magazines to read, the website address, and a brief description. An added treat is a list of tea websites and interesting blogs, a list of tea sellers, plus if you’re visiting Charleston, a list of sights to see.

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 “spring catchup” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 20, 2024. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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 Play, and Spotify.

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.

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. Great batch of books, like always! Count me in!

  2. Would love to win these books. Some are
    continuing favorites and some are new series.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. Great selection. What treasures!

  4. Sounds like four fun and interesting reads! Thanks for the chance!

  5. Would love to read all four. Thanks for the chance.

  6. All sound good. Oddly enough I haven’t read any of these series yet.

  7. These sound like four terrific books worth reading. I like that there is so much variety represented. Thank you for the chance to win!

  8. So many great books! A Midnight Puzzle by Gigi Pandian is already on my tbr. ? Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!

  9. We have a winner!


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