by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow
This week we have another fun group of mysteries to review as we once again play catch up! We have quite the assortment of cozies-Mrs. Morris and the Sorceress: A Salem B&B Mystery by Traci Wilton, Knitty Gritty Murder: A Knit & Nibble Mystery by Peggy Ehrhart, Cold Reading Murder: A Bridge to Death Mystery By R. J. Lee, Murder in an Irish Bookshop: An Irish Village Mystery by Carlene O’Connor. 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.
Mrs. Morris and the Sorceress: A Salem B&B Mystery by Traci Wilton
Review by Cynthia Chow
As the owner of a B&B in Salem, Massachusetts, Charlene Morris is always eager to promote celebrations highlighting the town’s tourist-attracting historical moments. For the 4th of July, the theater troupe, Salem Stage Right, is presenting a one-time-only performance of Salem’s Rebels, when revolutionaries stole and hid cannons from the British troops. When one of the actors falls dead from a very real bullet, a shadow is cast over the entire event endangering not just their tourist prospects but the safety of those involved in the play.
Charlene had been recording the play for her houseghost Jack Strathmore, who would have attended in person if he was an actual physical person able to form outside of the B&B. While studying the video helps Charlene narrow down suspects and angles of the shot, police evidence quickly reveals that the gunshot that took down Madison Boswell came not from a musket but from a very modern handgun. Overheard conversations and attending Madison’s funeral lead Charlene to a heartbroken fiancé looking for the missing engagement ring, a contentious cast, and unhappy family members. Madison’s use of hypnotism to torture and prank others adds to the list of motivations for those wanting her gone, and Charlene is determined to discover the truth and serve out justice.
This fourth in the series has Charlene spending more time away from Jack than in the previous novels, although he continues to complicate her romantic prospects with his hauntings. As handsome and charming as he may be, his deceased status tends to make him a less than ideal boyfriend. That doesn’t mean that he won’t sabotage Charlene’s time alone with Detective Sam Holden, who may not want her in his investigations but does appear to enjoy having more of her in his life. The Salem setting is always a fun setting for its wiccan-tourism, although here a twist is added with the results of cruel hypnotherapy. Charlene’s friends and staff at the B&B are worthwhile attractions themselves, with their banter and relationships fun and admirable. Readers will be eager to see whether Jack continues to haunt Charlene’s life, and how this will affect her own prospects for the future. Paranormal romance, quirky setting, and an unpredictable mystery make this an entertaining romp in a unique series by this dynamic writing duo.
Knitty Gritty Murder: A Knit & Nibble Mystery by Peggy Ehrhart
Review by Sandra Murphy
Arborville, New Jersey, is normally a quiet small town, filled with tidy homes and good neighbors. One of the attractions is the community garden, formed when a developer bought a crumbling old mansion and built apartment buildings. As part of the agreement to obtain permits, the land for the gardens was donated to the city.
There are squabbles, of course, as gardeners use different methods to achieve the biggest crops. When a plot becomes available, you’d think it was the hottest piece of real estate in town. The news of a gardener’s death hits the town hard. The woman was young, had a bright future, and was murdered right on her own garden plot.
Pamela and Bettina are two members of the Knit and Nibble group. Bettina writes for The Advocate, Arborville’s weekly newspaper. Pamela is an editor, working remotely, for Fiber Craft magazine. Together, they manage to solve the occasional murder, especially if it has anything to do with yarn or knitting. Oddly, the gardener was killed using a circular knitting needle. When a second murder occurs, by the same method, the pair question obvious suspects and find more than they bargained for.
Will they be able to unravel the mystery before the killer strikes again? Weaving the clues together isn’t unlike knitting a tricky stitch. You just have a plan and the pattern will emerge.
This is book seven in the series. Pamela has been widowed for many years. Both her daughter and Bettina are encouraging (pushing) her to start dating. Pamela missed one opportunity, and although she might be open to the idea, she’d rather it was without interference. She’s a woman of set routines so meeting someone isn’t as easy as it sounds—or is it? Readers will look forward to finding out.
In the back of the book, find a pattern for a knitted tea cozy and a recipe for rhubarb cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. Just be sure to avoid rhubarb leaves! They are poisonous although the stalks are edible.
Cold Reading Murder: A Bridge to Death Mystery By R. J. Lee
Review by Sandra Murphy
Wendy Winchester is an investigative reporter by day but a bridge player when she can fit it into her schedule. Now she’s been asked to teach others the game.
Her students include Milton, who uses his wonderful voice to deliver singing telegrams for the local party supply store and Charlotte, who is a widow who may be on the prowl. Vance, an author in research mode, is interested in anything and everything around him. A college student, Sue Ann, is trying to break away from her mother’s restrictive idea of how a young woman should behave. The most flamboyant member is Aurelia, a psychic.
Although Wendy planned to hold classes at the country club, Aurelia offers her home for the first lesson. She can provide food and drink and offers to do a cold reading for each of them. Vance is stunned when Aurelia predicts the plot of his novel. He’s never discussed it with anyone. Each of the readings provides accurate information but Milton’s reading leaves both Milton and Aurelia shaken.
Before a second class can be held, Aurelia is found dead in her supposedly haunted home. Wendy is sure a ghost isn’t responsible for Aurelia’s demise by an overdose of cocaine, a suicide note beside her body. Wendy’s also sure it wasn’t a suicide, but murder.
As news of Aurelia’s death spreads, Milton disappears. Is he a victim too or guilty of murder? Aurelia was busy on her last day as she had a number of visitors, including the bridge players, making them all suspects.
Daughter of the police chief, wife of a detective, and an investigative reporter, Wendy has good insights and skills she uses to help with the investigation. Will she find the killer or will the killer find her?
This is book three in the series, all reviewed here. Wendy and Ross are married now. Her father is dating her editor, a situation that could be awkward but is working. Hints are being dropped about grandchildren, almost before the last of the wedding cake has been eaten. From hints in the last chapter, look for that grandchild issue to be resolved in the next book.
As Wendy teaches her students, readers will pick up the basics of the game of bridge without the information being overwhelming or slowing the story.
Murder in an Irish Bookshop: An Irish Village Mystery by Carlene O’Connor
Review by Sandra Murphy
Siobhan O’Sullivan is thrilled to see a new bookstore come to town. She loves to read although she does tend to fall asleep when she does. And who could blame her? She’s up early to bake brown bread for her family’s bistro, then off to her duties as a garda (police officer), working with her fiancé, Macdara Flannery. There’s a new garda to train and her brothers and sisters to watch over, enough to keep anyone on their toes.
The owners of the bookstore have an odd marketing plan—they sell only literature, no best sellers. Customers have to figure out a quote to get in the door. It’s frustrating to those who looked forward to browsing at their leisure. One highlight is an open house featuring a panel of three writers to discuss their works. An agent is on hand as well—at the end of two weeks, he’ll announce which of the three will be his new client.
When one of the writers turns up dead under truly unusual circumstances, it’s up to Siobhan, Mac, and the new garda to solve the crime. While a number of people were on hand at the time, the actual suspect list is small, limited to the two surviving writers, the agent, and the booksellers. What could be the motive and how in the world was the deed done?
This is book seven in the series. Siobhan is becoming a fine detective, ready to share responsibilities with the new garda. She and Mac work well together and, off duty, are making plans for their wedding. For an enjoyable visit to Kilbane, this is the perfect read.
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 “may catch up” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 15, 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.
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.