More Mysteries for Your Summer Reading

Jun 25, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

This week we have another fun group of mysteries for your summer reading tbr-A Midsummer’s Night Fudge: A Candy-Coated Mystery by Nancy Coco, Fatal Flowers: A Flower House Mystery by Jess Dylan, and Bear Witness: Alaska Untamed Mystery by Lark O. Jensen. 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.

A Midsummer’s Night Fudge: A Candy-Coated Mystery by Nancy Coco
Review by Cynthia Chow

Michigan’s tourist-driven Mackinac Island is celebrating the summer with their July Midsummer Night’s Festival of parades, masquerade balls, and pageant queen competition. Events start off a little rocky when the reigning pageant winner Natasha Alpine is disqualified, infuriating the Alpine family who focus their anger against organizer Winona Higer. No one really expects that the well-respected family will take retribution though, which is why the discovery of Winona’s body on the beach is so shocking. What isn’t surprising is that Allie McMurphy and her bichon-poo Mal are the ones to discover Winona with a bullet hole in her forehead, considering how they have become the de facto body-finders of the tiny island. Although Allie’s policeman boyfriend Rex Manning (again) warns her away from his investigation, she ignores his advice and immediately begins looking into the life of the festival organizer.

Allie still manages to fit in her daily fudge-making demonstrations at her family’s Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop, but she’s far more invested in tracking down those with reasons to have wanted Winona dead. Not only did she have a near-obsession with her rose garden that led to combative confrontations with her gardener, Winona also built herself a reputation for stealing ideas and taking all of the credit. Having something of a reputation herself for solving a murder or ten, Allie is sought out by a witness too afraid to go directly to the police. When that instead leads to yet another death, Allie knows that she and Mal must act quickly to stop their summer from becoming a Shakespearean tragedy.

The casualty rate gets alarmingly high in this tenth of the candy-themed mystery series. Allie never hesitates when venturing into a new direction of the investigation, not to mention becoming an unofficial P.I. for a friend suspicious that her husband is having an affair. Always countering the death and deceptions is the unique beauty of Mackinac Island, where motor vehicles are banned and everyone commutes by bicycle or horse. It’s one of the few places where it would be entirely believable for a help wanted ad to be most effective when placed in the local newspaper and not online. A number of Allie’s delicious-sounding recipes are included throughout, including ones for a potent Fudgy Bottom Boozy Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake and decadent Turtle Fudge and Chocolate Swirl Coffee Cake. A light-hearted tone is kept throughout despite the rise in murder victims, with the humor stemming from Allie’s interactions with her closest friends and an extremely tolerant Rex. Beauty pageants, sewing circles, and competitive gardeners all make a charming hunting ground as Allie and Mal track down a vengeful killer. A monologuing villain determined that Allie know the brilliancy of the plan ensures that this cozy mystery very knowingly delivers a classic dénouement and emotionally satisfying conclusion.

Fatal Flowers: A Flower House Mystery by Jess Dylan
Review by Cynthia Chow

Aerieville floral shop owner Sierra Ravenswood really hopes that she was hearing it wrong. As much as she’d love the opportunity to be the florist for the wedding between the mayor’s daughter and a Washington political aide, the two-week deadline seems impossible. Marissa Lakely is determined to walk down the aisle, and despite the previous florist’s last-minute cancellation Sierra can’t turn down the publicity or connections the high society event would provide. Marissa proves to be a surprisingly undemanding bride, but her wedding planner Taz Banyan more than makes up for her. Sierra’s first consultation with the intimidatingly famous perfectionist goes about as disastrous as it could, with Sierra not only failing to have a functional pen but also forgetting to bring along their latest portfolio. At least it doesn’t look as though she’s going to have to impress Taz for very long, as while on a hunt for a workable printer Sierra stumbles across him at the bottom of the Lakely mansion staircase, muttering the word “snake” with his last breath.

Sierra has already become uncomfortably familiar with Aerieville, Tennessee’s law enforcement, as not only is their police chief friends with her father, she has been involved in multiple murder investigations. The one not trusting the local police is Marissa’s wealthy mother Annaliese Bellman Lakely, who, along with her husband, fear that politics may hamper the investigation. Despite her earlier condescending attitude towards Sierra and her family’s quirky health club Dumbbells, Annaliese asks for Sierra’s help in tracking down who may have wanted to sabotage the wedding. It doesn’t take Sierra too long to discover that Taz had a habit of practicing loose ethics and burning reputations, guaranteeing a long list of those resenting his success and maybe wanting a little payback.

This third in the series is a welcoming reintroduction to the cozy, Appalachian town and its genial inhabitants. Having given up on her dreams as a singer-songwriter, Sierra has embraced her hometown and accepted her role as the Flower House’s new owner. She’s even grown to love her tiny home Dollhouse and its adorable compact comforts. Sierra’s less certain about her relationship with Calvin Foxheart, a former professor of botany, who abruptly left town a month ago with promises to return. At least his, hopefully temporary, absence allows her to focus on creating new ideas for the Flower House, care for adorable Gus the Corgi, and help the reluctant Marissa achieve her dream wedding. Numerous descriptions of their delicious meals and her friend’s flower-themed café ensure the novel’s cozy status and leaves readers’ hungering for more. The heart-warming relationships between a number of couples also make this a strong romance novel for those seeking happy endings and true love. The theme of seeking out joy wherever one can find it shines, making this a rewarding and very satisfying summer read.

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).

Bear Witness: Alaska Untamed Mystery by Lark O. Jensen
Review by Sandra Murphy

Stacie Calder is a wildlife lover and a guide on a tourist boat in Alaska. Most of the passengers are vacationers who want to see a whale breach, a mama seal with her baby, bears, birds, and wolves. It’s Stacie’s job to point out the animals and tell about them. Since the boat moves slowly so the noise and movement won’t disturb the animals, each tour can take six or seven hours.

There are regulars, too, Alaskans who like to meet new people, see the sights, and have a day’s outing. Stacie has an assistant, Lettie, who takes over when Stacie mingles, takes a coffee break, or just needs a breather. Stacie also brings her dog, Sasha, to work with her.

When a passenger turns out to be Truit, a former employee in disguise, Stacie keeps an eye on him between talks. He announced he’s going to start his own tour company and is only along to steal what tips, and possible employees, he can.

During a break, she can’t find Truit. As a former employee, he’d know possible hiding places. When he’s still missing on their return and the crew finds no clues, a search and rescue team is sent to look for him with no results. Until the next day’s tour when his body is found.

Liam, an Alaskan trooper assigned to the Initial Response Section, is along for the trip and takes charge. Feeling Stacie might overhear things he wouldn’t, he asks her to share any information that comes her way, a task she takes more seriously than he intended.

Suspicion is on Stacie’s boss, his motive thought to be eliminating the potential competition, weak at best. Truit had offered a number of people partnerships in the business with vague promises. Although no one admits to hating him, he wasn’t well-liked either.

Jensen also writes as Linda O. Johnston and has penned fifty-three books to date with no sign of slowing down. This is her first Alaska Untamed mystery. Other series include the Alpha Forces books, the Kendra Ballantyne series, the Pet Rescue Mysteries, the Superstition mysteries, the Barkery & Biscuits mysteries, and Harlequin Romance Suspense books. Most include dogs!

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 tbr” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 2, 2022. 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 went up this 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:
mysteriousgalaxylogo

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.

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.

10 Comments

  1. A Midsummer’s Night Fudge: A Candy-Coated Mystery by Nancy Coco, Fatal Flowers: A Flower House Mystery by Jess Dylan, and Bear Witness: Alaska Untamed Mystery by Lark O. Jensen all sounds like charming mysteries that need to be on my TBR book piles!

    Reply
    • Three awesome summer Reads. Thanks for the chance.
      diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

      Reply
    • Awesome! More great books to be watching for!

      Reply
  2. A thrilling three! Count me in!

    Reply
  3. All of these sound amazing!!! Thank you so much for the chance to win these beauties???

    Reply
  4. What awesome ideas! I especially love the title “Bear Witness” count me in!

    Reply
  5. Wonderful choices, all on my TBR list.

    Reply
  6. These sound wonderful! Thanks so much for the reviews and the chance to win them.

    Reply
  7. We have a winner!

    Reply

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