by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy
This week we have reviews & giveaways of 3 more fun mysteries for your summer reading-Murder She Wrote, A Date with Danger by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Jon Land, Murder Most Fermented: A Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery by Christine E. Blum, and Hide and Sneak: A Savannah Reid Mystery by G.A. McKevett. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books, along with links you can use to purchase them.
Murder She Wrote, A Date with Danger: by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Jon Land
Review by Sandra Murphy
During an anniversary celebration for Babs and Hal, Jessica again stumbles across a dead body. It’s Hal, found on the kitchen floor, after what is assumed to be a heart attack. Babs and Hal were good friends so Jessica wants to help—that plus, she’s not sure his death was due to natural causes.
A chance meeting with a man who claims to be Hal’s lawyer adds to the mystery. When it’s found that Hal, normally a conservative man with money, had loans totaling over ten million dollars but the money’s vanished, Jessica is sure Hal was murdered.
A second body, obviously murdered, is found, which prompts Jessica to put her own life on the line in order to find out who’s behind the money scheme and killings. It’s a case that goes far beyond Cabot Cove and one she’s determined to solve with the help of Bab’s daughter, Alyssa, and Alyssa’s boyfriend, Chad.
This is book forty-seven in the long-running series. Donald Bain enlisted the help of Jon Land, and he will now carry on the series after Bain’s death. Jessica has been fairly predictable in her life but now is asking herself a few questions about what is most important and what might have been if she’d made other choices. It promises to open up new dimensions in her character that readers will enjoy exploring with her.
Although Jessica is willing to take risks, she’s not one to run headlong into danger. There are also nice bits about her process of writing scattered throughout the story. Chad proves to be a valuable asset, hopefully to return. Expect Land to bring fresh perspective to Jessica’s investigations without straying from her character in the process. For an enjoyable visit with familiar friends, a stop in Cabot Cove is just what you’re looking for.
Murder Most Fermented: A Rose Avenue Wine Club Mystery by Christine E. Blum
Review by Sandra Murphy
The Rose Avenue Wine Club is an active group, meeting regularly and by special session, which could mean pertinent news to share or just a desire to try a new wine. As part of getting involved in her new neighborhood, Halsey has the idea to plant some grape producing vines at her little section of the community garden. Digging is easy with the help of her yellow Labrador, Bardot—until the body of an old woman is found.
One of the neighborhood news updates is a newcomer is installing a basement beneath his house. Since California is known for its earthquakes, houses there don’t usually have basements due to safety concerns although there seems to be some debate about that. Rumor has it that the real reason for digging is oil at an accessible depth. Soon a suspicious man is contacting all the residents, offering to help them purchase the mineral rights for their land. It looks like a scam for sure and maybe a motive for murder.
Halsey has a boyfriend, Jack, who trains dogs for search and rescue. Things between them are pretty good until she tries to investigate. There was a box of papers and jewelry in the grave and someone wants them badly. Jack, being a sensible guy, thinks she should butt out and let the police follow the clues. Halsey, backed by the wine club, thinks otherwise. Jack thinks maybe some time apart would be a good idea. Halsey thinks not but not enough to stop what she’s doing. After all, he’ll cool off and be back in a day or two, right? You’d think!
Time spent with the wine club is always informative, interesting, and entertaining. Marisol, Halsey’s neighbor, well, the woman knows everything, snoops without regard to boundaries, and is a good friend in a pinch. Bardot, the Lab, is always a treat. Jack’s a good catch although his patience is stretched to the breaking point by the wine club members, including Halsey.
This is the second book in the series. At the back, find a list of all the wines the club members drank while solving the murder and suggested pairings for munchies like avocado toast, bacon wrapped dates, duck confit enchiladas, smoked salmon, truffle fries, and watermelon and arugula salad. These ladies don’t skimp on treating themselves to good food and good wine. Look for book three, The Name of the Rose, coming soon.
Hide and Sneak: A Savannah Reid Mystery by G.A. McKevett
Review by Cynthia Chow
For once, life for California private investigator Savannah Reid is rather calm and uncharacteristically devoid of violence, intrigue, or family drama. In fact, the only snafu popping up among her many dependent adult siblings is the arrival of her brother’s socialite new in-laws. It only takes a few hours of baby-sitting her two-month-old niece to have Savannah jumping at the chance for a new Midnight Magnolia Detective Agency case. Action movie star Ethan Malloy has misplaced his wife and child, and he is desperate that they be found without attracting the attention of the voracious paparazzi and tabloid media. Unfortunately, that option becomes unavoidable when the nanny is found murdered, their car abandoned, and Ethan made the primary suspect.
As much as Savannah may lust after the movie icon – much to the distain of her husband, Detective Sergeant Dirk Coulter – she doesn’t envy his loss of privacy or the number of those eager to profit off his life. That makes a long list of suspects for Savannah to investigate, with the one benefit of this being that it distracts her assistant/sister-in-law Tammy from the dread of being a disappointment to her parents. Former exes, predatory managers, and enamored assistants all become targets of the Midnight Magnolia Detective Agency, who themselves are at odds with the investigation of Savannah’s husband and the rest of the San Carmelita police.
Many of the previous twenty-two installments of this series featured Savannah struggling to balance detective work with the arrivals of her adored but needy family members. Here the focus falls far more upon Tammy, who has evolved far past her original introduction as a health-food obsessed, Dirk-detesting, Barbie-esque computer whiz. It’s fascinating to see this normally confident and smart woman so vulnerable to her mother’s disapproval, especially in light of Savannah’s strong self-esteem and positive body image.
Savannah may have herself been raised without money and only occasionally by her alcoholic mother, but all of Tammy’s family wealth can’t compete with the unconditional love of Granny Reid. While the investigations by Savannah and her husband do eventually coincide, readers will be happy to have the chance to spend time with the handsome security team of Ryan Stone and John Gibson. This long-running series remains reliably entertaining and emotionally satisfying, balancing heart-warming moments with jokes and wry observations. The trademark snarky banter, Southern cooking, and smart investigating ensure that fans will continue to follow the adventures of their favorite Georgia transplant.
To enter to win copies of all 3 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “more fun,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 30, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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