Mysteries For Your Summer Reading

Jun 27, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have another catch up group of mysteries perfect for your summer reading-Death by Auction: An Abby McCree Mystery by Alexis Morgan, Marshmallow Malice: Amish Candy Shop Mystery by Amanda Flower, Murder She Wrote The Murder of Twelve by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land, And the Killer Is… A Savannah Reid Mystery by G. A. McKevett, Antiques Fire Sale: A Trash ‘n’ Treasures Mystery by Barbara Allan, and Murder in Galway: Home to Ireland Mystery by Carlene O’Connor. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 6 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.

Death by Auction: An Abby McCree Mystery by Alexis Morgan
Review by Sandra Murphy

Any inheritance is a blessing, but when you inherit a hunky tenant, too, that can be both good and bad, depending on how much baggage comes with him. Abby McCree lives in the house and her tenant, handyman, and friend Tripp Blackston, lives in a small house at the rear of the property.

Tripp’s a veteran and asked for Abby’s help to raise money for a veteran’s group. Of course, he had no idea the fundraiser would be a bachelor auction, and he’d be one of the bachelors. Some of the older women in the neighborhood threaten to bid on him themselves if Abby doesn’t. But a sniper bid of $5,000 ends all their expectations. The beautiful stranger, Valerie, turns out to be Tripp’s ex-wife. A wife Abby didn’t know he had.

To distract herself until she has a moment to think, Abby goes in search of the auction’s emcee, radio personality Bryce Cadigan. Before she can get through the crowd to pay him, he leaves the building with Valerie who looks none too happy with him. After a few minutes, Valerie returns but without Bryce. Abby goes in search of him and finds him sitting in his car. Dead.

With Valerie the last known person to see Bryce, she’s captured the top spot on the suspect list. What’s a poor girl supposed to do but turn to her ex-husband in her time of need? She asks for Tripp’s help—and a place to stay since she’s afraid to be alone. His cottage only has one bed and a couch too small for either of them. How awkward is it that she ends up staying with Abby instead?

Bryce is not the nice man he appears to be while on the air. He’s got a long list of enemies who’d like to see him eliminated. On the other hand, Valerie won’t tell why she talked to him alone. She has a good motive of her own.

Abby thinks Valerie is reconsidering her decision to divorce Tripp and is jealous of any time Abby spends with him. At least there are muffins in the freezer and Zeke, her big goofy dog to comfort her.

This is the third book in the series. Abby and Tripp work together well as friends and as a potential couple. Zeke, of course, adds a lot of humor to the story. There should always be a dog. The mystery is a good one, lots of suspects to choose from, and a gradual elimination that leads to a satisfying ending. The auction was a nice change of pace for the setting and allowed a number of suspects to have the means and opportunity to carry out a punishment fitting their particular motive. I look forward to the next in the series.

Marshmallow Malice: Amish Candy Shop Mystery by Amanda Flower
By Sandra Murphy

The big day has finally arrived. Juliet Brody and Reverend Brook are getting married. Of course, Jethro is Best Pig. He’s a cute polka dotted mini and goes everywhere with Juliet. Her favorite color is pink and the wedding is a festival of pinkness.

Juliet also loves marshmallow. Her wedding cake is four-layer polka dotted marshmallow crème covered extravaganza. Sadly, Bailey’s dress makes her look like a cupcake or a purple lily pad, depending on who you ask. So many people are willing to help, the ceremony is bound to go smoothly. Except when the wedding is crashed by a woman who causes a scene and calls the Reverend a traitor. After that, it should be smooth sailing. Except for no one was watching Jethro, and he wanted a piece of cake and…

The woman who caused the scene forces secrets the Reverend has kept for years to come to light. When a dead body turns up on the church steps, the Reverend is under suspicion. Bailey and Judith’s son Aiden (also Bailey’s boyfriend) have to work to clear his name—mainly because Aiden is also a cop. All the problems delay the honeymoon, but Juliet remains steadfast in her belief that her new husband is innocent and has an explanation for everything.

Things are changing for Bailey’s personal life, too. It’s time for the debut of her cable show Bailey’s Amish Sweets. She and Aiden are closer, even without Juliet’s prodding. And Jethro? He’s always the star of the book.

This is the sixth book in the series, all reviewed here. Information about Amish life is throughout the book, adding to the setting and characters, not detracting from them. At the back of the book there is a recipe for Charlotte’s Easy Marshmallow Sticks and an excerpt from the spinoff series, the Amish Matchmaker mysteries.

Murder She Wrote, The Murder of Twelve by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
Review by Sandra Murphy

Jessica is still staying at Hill House while her house is being renovated after a fire. While room service, housekeeping staff, and amenities are great, she does miss having her own space. Right now, there are factors that make the hotel less desirable. There’s a snowstorm coming, one of the big ones, with over two feet of snow predicted by the newspaper, three by the Weather Channel, and between four and five feet by Seth Hazlitt, town doctor and self-proclaimed snow expert. The other reason is the entire second floor has been reserved by a wedding party of fourteen.

That means Jessica will be stuck indoors until things clear up. While she’s having breakfast with Seth and Mort, the sheriff, a call comes in about a dead body. As coroner, Seth has to go. Jessica joins them. At first glance, it could be a suicide, but a closer look verifies murder. The victim. Loomis Winslow was a private detective. Who was he working for?

Returning to town, there’s a car abandoned on the side of the road, doors open, no one around. Mort arranges for a tow, but the coming snow and darkness make it impossible to conduct a search.

Jessica meets a fan as she enters the hotel lobby. During the conversation, she finds out the woman is Constance, mother of the groom. She’d like her book signed but mostly wants to talk because the bride and groom are late. She insists Jessica join the wedding party for dinner.

During a toast, Constance collapses and it doesn’t look good for her. Jessica is sure something is wrong beyond ill health. There’s another death, clearly a murder. The snow is piling up and bodies are dropping. Will Jessica be a victim too? With Mort literally snowed in and Seth stuck at home, Jessica relies on the assistance of Seamus McGilray, former police officer in Ireland and manager/owner of the hotel and Eugene, a recently hired temp kitchen worker.

This is book fifty-one in the long-running series. Jon Land brings Jessica up to date and lets her get into more dangerous situations than before, adding suspense but maintaining her recognizable personality. Although this is basically a locked-room mystery, there are a dozen suspects to choose from while motive is unclear. The clues are subtle and sneaky, perfect for a mystery tale. This series has always been one of my favorites, now more so with Land’s deft touch.

And the Killer Is… A Savannah Reid Mystery by G. A. McKevett
Review by Sandra Murphy

Savannah doesn’t have a client for her private investigating business at the moment,so she’s on stakeout with her hubby, Dirk, watching a drug house. Boring, unless you’re into watching drunks and addicts wander in and out. Dirk is taking a noisy nap and Savannah’s about out of snacks when a van drives up—up onto the lawn. A skinny woman gets out, leaving a small boy to wait for her.

That speeds up the bust on the house since they can’t let her leave with a child in the car, considering how high or drunk she is. It’s not as easy as it looks, though, as Dirk comes out of the ensuing fracas with a black eye. Savannah comes out with a new friend, Brody. It’s up to Savannah to care for the kid and backup to close down the drug house after Dirk gets a call about a dead body.

Lucinda Faraday was a silver screen queen in her day. Now she’s ninety and dead inside her derelict mansion, full of junk and trash. Not a natural death or even a death caused by the junk but a murder, based on how she’s dressed and posed. Not a dignified death either.

It’s assumed her nephew will inherit everything but first a will has to be found amidst all the papers littering the home. The housekeeper isn’t much help in that regard which looks suspicious to Dirk. One of Savannah’s former clients is an actor and a friend of Lucinda’s. He hires Savannah and the Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency to find the killer, giving her the opportunity to work with Dirk. With so much stuff to sift through, he needs all the help he can get.

Meanwhile, Brody is staying with Savannah’s Granny, her bloodhound, and the two resident cats. Brody is definitely a victim of child abuse, based on his scars. Granny is in her element, taking care of a young ’un.

Lucinda rarely went out or had company, but there are several suspects in her murder. In the lead is her nephew, anxious for his inheritance and smarmy to boot. Scandalous secrets about Lucinda’s past are discovered, showing the good old days of Hollywood weren’t so good if you were a young, beautiful starlet, and underaged.

This is book twenty-five in the popular series. Savannah and Dirk are married at long last, living in California, and loving it. Expect a lot of changes from their beginnings and more to come. To say more would give away surprises. If you haven’t read the series before, start here and then go back to the start.

McKevett also writes the Granny Reid books, two books so far, a spinoff of Savannah’s stories, and equally good mysteries.

Antiques Fire Sale: A Trash ‘n’ Treasures Mystery by Barbara Allan
Review by Sandra Murphy

Brandy always worries what her mother, Vivian, will be up to next. Now that Vivian has been elected sheriff, it’s anybody’s guess. At least when she’s working as the theater director, she’s confined to one space—mostly.

Vivian’s been generous in offering roles in exchange for a favor. Of course, she promptly forgets her promise. This time, the wanna be actress quits a good job and moves to town to be the “next big star on Broadway.” Considering the woman clearly has no talent, Brandy isn’t sure how Vivian will pull this off. That, and Vivian turned a known play into a musical—without permission from the playwright.

Offered a tour of the historic Wentworth mansion, Brandy jumps at the chance. Vivian’s seen it a number of times, but it never gets old. Because their business is an antique store, they’re apt to notice more details than most people. The home’s owner explains that he owns the house but the furniture belongs to another heir. The will stipulated the furniture stay in the mansion. It makes for a complicated situation with one person in charge of the expensive upkeep of the building and another responsible for the contents.

Hours after Brandy and Vivian tour the home, fire department sirens blare. The Wentworth mansion is on fire. As sheriff, Vivian feels she has the right to be there (honestly, she feels she has the right to be anywhere she wants). Learning the owner might still be in the house, she rushes in and narrowly escapes being overcome by smoke.

When the flames die down, there is a body inside, burned beyond recognition, assumed to be the owner. Vivian thinks he was murdered. The Chief of Police disagrees. He should know better than to doubt Vivian. She noticed a unique glass antique on the hall table during their tour. However, when she ran into the flames, it wasn’t there. Brandy researches the item and finds it’s a one of a kind—and listed for auction online. As spacey as Vivian can be, she’s right this time.

When they go to see the ruins, Brandy’s Shih Tzu Sushi, runs into the woods and discovers another body in a shallow grave. At least this one is recognizable.

As usual, the clues crisscross and confuse before falling into place to explain just what happened and who did the crimes. And the musical? The shows are sold out after the time Vivian fell off the stage, into the orchestra pit, and got her foot stuck in a tuba. Let’s just say, this performance outdid that.

This is book fourteen in the series. Expect the usual twists and turns plus an ending you won’t want to miss.

Murder in Galway: Home to Ireland Mystery by Carlene O’Connor
Review by Sandra Murphy

Tara’s mother had a final request—take me home, tell Johnny I’m sorry. It sounded simple enough. Fly to Ireland, scatter her mother’s ashes, and find Uncle Johnny, who owns an architectural salvage company. How hard could that be?

Who could have predicted becoming part of a street performer’s act? A juggler, no less. When the box containing her mom’s ashes is grabbed from her and tossed to the juggler, Tara knows it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Sure enough, a tall, handsome, green-eyed man comes to the rescue just in time to get hit with the box—which opens. What a way to introduce yourself, with your mom’s ashes coating his face and clothes.

With a start like that, things are not going to get any better. A dead body at the salvage business leads Tara to believe she’s lost her last relative before getting to meet him. Then there’s the pig that belonged to a Japanese princess. That’s just the beginning. The only good thing is, the pig is made of cast iron. The pig and money are missing, there’s a case of mistaken identity, and Tara’s learning just how charming an Irishman can be.

Tara makes a good friend and someone you’d love to visit. The salvage store would entertain for hours if not days.

O’Connor writes the Irish Village mysteries (reviewed here). This is the first in a new series, first published as a Barnes and Noble Exclusive Edition, now from Kensington.

To enter to win a copy of all 6 mysteries, 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 July 4, 2020. 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:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. A Murder of Crows, edited by Sandra Murphy (a popular title so you need her name to search), has twenty-one cozy stories. Each features the collective name of an animal and a crime. The animals range from tarantulas, koalas, wolves, bears, jellyfish, toads, cats, dogs, alpaca, goats, penguins and more. No animals were harmed. The people weren’t so lucky. 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. A great collection of books every time! Count me in!

  2. These books look great! I would be honored to win. JL_Minter(at)hotmail(dot)com

  3. Thanks for the reviews/synopsis. I haven’t read any of these. Placing them on my TBR.

  4. A great selection here. Want to read them all!

  5. I would love to win these books. Although the Murder She Wrote would be gifted to my local library. I’m not a fan of that particular series.

  6. Thank you for the reviews. These books sound wonderful!

  7. I thought I’d filled this out yesterday, I guess not.

    I love 5 out of 6 of these books and would be thrilled to win them. Please enter me in this amazing giveaway.

  8. These books are wonderful. Thanks for this feature and giveaway.

  9. These would keep me busy for awhile, thanks for the opportunity! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  10. A great selection of books by great authors. Thanks for the chance.

  11. Nice collection for contest. Interested in catching up with Murder She Wrote series ??
    Butlerrich (at) Comcast (dot) net

  12. Great opportunity. Count me in.

  13. Some of these are authors I
    follow and some are new.
    Would like to get up-to-date
    with the newest. thanks

  14. Thank you for offering this smorgasbord, offering variety to savor! betsypz(at)yahoo(dot)com

  15. We have a winner!


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