June Summer Reading Mystery Catch Up!

Jun 10, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Cynthia Chow & Sandra Murphy

This week we have reviews of 3 more fun mysteries for your summer reading-Murder With Earl Grey Tea: A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery by Karen Rose Smith, Round Up the Usual Peacocks: A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews, and Poppy Harmon and the Shooting Star: A Desert Flowers Mystery by Lee Hollis. 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.

Murder With Earl Grey Tea: A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery by Karen Rose Smith
Review by Sandra Murphy

Daisy Swanson faces more changes in her life than most people, especially since she lives in a small Amish town. You’d think it would be a peaceful, quiet place. You’d be wrong.

She’s engaged to Jonas, wedding date to be determined, her youngest daughter is off to college if she can decide which one, her oldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson are moving to a place of their own, she’s planning a dinner party for her parent’s anniversary, and there’s an Alice in Wonderland tea party for kids in the planning stages.

Getting out into the frosty fresh air to exercise can invigorate so she and her friend Lydia try to hike once a week at seven in the morning. This time when Daisy and her golden retriever, Felix, arrive at Lydia’s restaurant, there’s no one inside and no sign of Lydia. Felix is the one to find Lydia. Daisy is the one to pronounce her dead.

Lydia’s husband is a major suspect which makes things even more stressful for his three-year-old daughter. Without Lydia, the restaurant begins a downhill slide. Daisy realizes there are more suspects than the widower. Lydia had disagreements with a supplier, her twin sister, and her Amish parents who shunned her for not coming back to the Amish faith after rumspringa.

This is book nine in the series. The relationship between Daisy and Jonas is one to envy. Look forward to a wedding in book ten. Another event to look forward to is Aunt Iris’ love life as she has two men vying for her attention. Will she choose? Only time will tell. It’s been a pleasure to follow along as her children grow up, the tea shop becomes more successful, and to see how Daisy reacts to being involved in discovering clues that point out killers.

At the back of the book there are recipes for apple cider pork loin, cider sauce, cabbage walnut salad, and corn cake which unlike cornbread, contains kernels of corn. According to many of the characters, it’s really tasty!

Round Up the Usual Peacocks: A Meg Langslow Mystery by Donna Andrews
Review by Sandra Murphy

Meg’s house is often mistaken for a refuge, hideaway, place to rehearse, place to crash or move in. She has to carry her planner with her just to know where she’s supposed to be and when.

Things are particularly hectic now that her brother is getting married. Mother of the groom has huge plans for the wedding; she’s been given carte blanche as long as the bride and groom don’t have to lift a finger, a rash decision on their part, and those plans just keep on growing. Meg is the recipient of many of the details that need to be done.

The resident peacocks are molting and look like giant, naked chickens. One of Meg’s many errands is to fetch fully feathered peacocks to wander thru the yard, showing their plumage at the reception. Meg is the designated driver for the birds, who, as it turns out, do not like riding in the truck.

Kevin, Meg’s cousin, has been living in the basement, surrounded by computers. He works for Meg’s brother who has a gaming company. In Kevin’s spare time, he and a friend have created a podcast about cold case crimes. Now someone has tried to run over his friend. Twice. Kevin asked for Meg’s help in finding out why and how to prevent it happening again. Meg, given the choice of being the Caretaker of All Details for the wedding or helping Kevin, opts for Kevin. There were three recent cases they’d talked about and Kevin thinks one of them prompted a killer to want the podcast shut down, permanently.

Meg’s life is chaos, but she has plenty of help on hand and would be lost without constant to-do’s but she does dream of lazy time spent in the hammock. In addition to the sheep and peacocks, Spike, the Evil One (a terrier) makes an appearance to do what he does best. Ditto the Pomeranians who are being tutored to become Sheep Dogs in Training by the neighbor’s herding dog. For another great mystery, full of humor as well, this is the series to read.

This is book thirty-one in the series. Look for Birder She Wrote in August, Dashing Through the Snowbirds in September, Let it Crow, Let it Crow, Let if Crow in October.

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.

Poppy Harmon and the Shooting Star: A Desert Flowers Mystery by Lee Hollis
Review by Cynthia Chow

It’s been five years since Poppy Harmon, Violet Hogan, and Iris Becker created the Desert Flowers Detective Agency using actor Matt Flowers as their front man and face of the company. While they have had considerable success with their recent investigations, Poppy never expected to have this particular prospective client waiting in their (garage) office. Throughout the 80s and 90s Serena Saunders and Poppy were vicious rivals competing for the same acting television roles, with Serena often exceeding her Mean Girl reputation. Hoping to let bygones be bygones, Serena has come to Poppy asking her to investigate a prospective sixth husband. Businessman Ned Boyce himself is the son of 1960s acting legends, but rumors concerning his involvement in what was declared to be an accidental death have Serena concerned. When yet another shooting death occurs in his Palm Springs home, Poppy begins to worry that her once-detested nemesis may actually be in danger.

Despite the signs indicating that the marriage may be doomed, Serena is determined to walk down the aisle in the hope that the sixth time’s the charm. Ned’s own adult children are less enthusiastic about the possibility of having their inheritance split, while the sister of Ned’s rumored victim is intent on raising every objection possible. Despite Serena’s horrific behavior on the set of the TV remake of “Valley of the Dolls,” Poppy finds herself lowering her guard as they investigate the cascade of tragedies blocking the future of the happy couple. While Matt goes undercover at a gym designed to lure in predatory Cougars looking for their own boy toys, the rest of the ladies find themselves investigating whether someone is attempting to gaslight Serena or whether the stress, or guilt, has broken her sanity.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this fifth of the series is how frequently it veers into unexpected and fascinating territories. At the midway point, the novel introduces an entirely new plot twist, one that allows all of the Flower’s Agency agents to investigate. Details concerning old and not-so-old Hollywood are endlessly entertaining, even those depicting the cost and struggle for Poppy to refuse Casting Couch expectations. The witty banter and friendships between the Agency’s women-of-a-certain-age continue to be outstanding elements of this series, especially now that Matt has become a vital and welcome part of the team. Poppy’s romance with a police detective brings in a welcome romantic thread, even though gifting shock right out of Love Actually threatens to shatter her happiness. The humor and intrigue always present in the writing of the brother and sister author duo Lee Hollis continues to entertain and delivers yet another satisfying and very fun read.

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 “summer,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 17, 2023. 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, it will be deleted after the contest. 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. A new episode went up this week.

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. They sound good and the covers are so colorful

    • All three books look like great summer reads. Thanks for the chance.

  2. Great list of books! Count me in!

  3. I’ve read Donna’s book and they are always so
    entertaining. The other two are new to me.
    All sound great. thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

    • Karen Rose Smith books are just so fun and I wish I was friends with the characters in real life.

  4. I am a fan of all three of these authors!!

  5. This selection would be sure to keep us busy by the pool. Thanks for the chance to win all three! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  6. All of these books sound like good reads. Thanks for the chance.

  7. Murder With Earl Grey Tea by Karen Rose Smith, Round Up the Usual Peacocks by Donna Andrews, and Poppy Harmon and the Shooting Star by Lee Hollis all sounds like cool books to read this summer!

  8. We have a winner!


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