by Sandra Murphy
This week we have even more mysteries for your summer reading-A Fatal Footnote: A Open Book Mystery by Margaret Loudon, Beauty Expos Are Murder: A Poppy McAllister Mystery by Libby Klein, Death of an Irish Mummy: The Dublin Driver Mystery by Catie Murphy, and Draw and Order: A Paint & Shine Mystery by Cheryl Hollon. 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.
A Fatal Footnote: A Open Book Mystery by Margaret Loudon
Review by Sandra Murphy
Penelope Parish is the writer-in-residence in Upper Chumley-on-Stoke, England. She is host for book club meetings, writes her next novel from her office in the Open Book bookstore, and is friends with the only other American at hand, Charlotte Davenport, romance writer and soon-to-be bride of Arthur Worthington, Duke of Upper Chumley-on-Stoke. The townspeople are of two minds about the wedding. They’re thrilled at the pomp and circumstance, but a lot of mothers had their hearts set on Arthur choosing their daughter rather than a common American woman.
The wedding goes off without a hitch, but the same can’t be said for the reception. Arthur’s ex-girlfriend, now married, is found dead in the garden. The honeymoon has to be postponed, houseguests are asked not to leave, and Charlotte depends on Penelope to solve the murder. A second death is even more shocking.
Suspects include anyone at the wedding, protesters who think Charlotte should return to America, and, of course, Arthur.
To add to Penelope’s stress, her sister, Beryl, shows up unexpectedly with the news she’s left her husband and, can she stay with Penelope for a to-be-determined length of time?
I enjoy this series. Penelope doesn’t take dangerous risks although they do seem to find her. Her relationship with Maguire, the local police detective, is progressing. Figgy, her friend who owns the tea and pastry shop connected to the bookstore, is engaged to be married, too. Her wedding will have a lot less pomp and circumstance involved—probably. For an enjoyable trip to England to hobnob with royalty, Penelope can get you there without ever leaving your house.
Margaret Loudon is the author of the Farmer’s Daughter Mysteries, the Cranberry Cove Mysteries, and the Gourmet De-Lite Mysteries, written under the name Peg Cochran, many reviewed here. She also wrote the Sweet Nothings Lingerie Mysteries under the name Meg London.
Beauty Expos Are Murder: A Poppy McAllister Mystery by Libby Klein
Review by Sandra Murphy
Poppy McAllister is a gluten-free baker and the proprietor of a bed and breakfast. Her Aunt Ginny and cat, Figaro, live with her. The B&B is full up, between the Pretty Kitty Cat Show and the Health and Beauty Expo. Poppy has a booth at the Beauty Expo, alongside her sweetie, Gia. Unfortunately, a sticky situation has turned up in Gia’s life. Poppy’s life is its usual turmoil times ten, what with a rival trying to ruin her business, vandalism at the booth, a dead body, a loony maid, a secretive BFF, Aunt Ginny downing CBD gummy bears like they’re Tic Tacs, and Figaro in love with a champion Persian show cat.
Just when she’s sure things can’t get any worse, the baking help Ginny hired turns out to be Poppy’s old enemy, Joanne Junk. If it weren’t for her perfect petits fours, Poppy would tell her to take a hike. As the topping on the cake, Amber, who’s arrested Poppy a few times, is now in trouble (dead body number two) and in a turn for the weird, asking for Poppy’s help.
Aunt Ginny and the biddies are enough to drive anybody to drink. With all the pressures Poppy has, it’s a wonder she can walk and form sentences. This time the FBI is involved taking her stress to the next level.
I love this series. No matter what outrageous behavior Ginny and her friends come up with, Poppy takes it in stride—pretty much. This time, with her best friend, Sawyer, acting weird and telling lies, Poppy’s on her own. Who can you count on and who can you trust?
The story isn’t just about a murder but has several subplots as well. There are plenty of suspects, twists you won’t see coming, and a satisfying ending to beat all satisfying endings.
At the back of the book, find the tea party menu and recipes for some of the goodies. Butterfly Wings Bed and Breakfast Afternoon Tea Menu features four kinds of sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream, jam, or lemon curd, and for the sweet course, fresh fruit, custard tarts, and petits fours in four flavors.
Recipes included are: chicken salad with dried cherries, vanilla and raspberry rose petits fours, and gluten-free baked goods—hot cross buns, chocolate loaf with cherry mascarpone filling, and cream tea scones.
Death of an Irish Mummy: The Dublin Driver Mystery by Catie Murphy
Review by Sandra Murphy
Megan Malone is a limo driver for Leprechaun Limos in Dublin. As such, she’s seen her share of kooky passengers. She’s also become a murder magnet. This time she’s driving Cherise Williams, an American, who wants to prove her Irish heritage that puts her family in line for a title and the property that goes with it. She’s vocal about her hunt for ancestors and while meaning well, is not the best representation of an American tourist.
Megan drops her off at the vital statistics bureau, but Cherise insists she’ll take a cab to the hotel so Megan can meet Cherise’s daughter, Raquel, at the airport. That part of the plan goes well. It’s when they arrive at the hotel and find Cherise dead on the floor that everything implodes.
Cherise’s other daughters, Sondra and Jess, arrive the next day, jet lagged and devastated, to arrange to bring their mother home. Olga, Megan’s boss and landlady, is fed up with hearing Megan called the murder magnet. She fires Megan and evicts her from her apartment with little notice.
Of course, Olga has overcharged Cherise and then made fun of her at every pub around. The police wonder, did Olga point would-be thieves at Charise? Olga hates to admit it, but she needs Megan’s help. Megan is rehired with a raise and perks.
The sisters don’t get along. Sondra is overbearing and always right, at least in her own mind. Raquel is everyone’s friend. Jess is the hippie whose boyfriend shows up, not at all pleased to find she has an Irish friend as well.
Treasure hunters have been searching the grounds of the supposed ancestral home for many years and swear it exists. Megan wonders, since Charise was murdered, was it because of the treasure? If so, does that put the three sisters in danger too?
This is book three in the series, all reviewed here. Megan is someone you’d like as a friend, want as your driver, and who you could be sure always had your back. Paul, the detective, is both annoyed and impressed with her skill at finding killers. No romance there, just good friends. Readers will enjoy the bits of history Megan shares with her passengers as well. For a vacation to Ireland without the need to pack a suitcase, let Megan be your guide.
Draw and Order: A Paint & Shine Mystery by Cheryl Hollon
Review by Sandra Murphy
Miranda Trent inherited a house and potential business from her uncle. The gift came with a condition—she had to open a moonshine distillery and use her uncle’s recipes to make the ‘shine. There’s a lot of red tape to go through to make that dream happen. While researching equipment, testing recipes, and sourcing ingredients, she also runs cultural tours. Groups can choose between a meal or event or the full-fledged outing of a hike, painting session of the scenery, complete with a local history lesson by a park ranger, and a picnic lunch. Word is starting to spread.
As the equipment is delivered, supplies sourced, and red tape untangled, one group of experienced hikers proves to be more than just tourists. During their visit to Battleship Rock, one of the hikers cuts her hand. When Miranda investigates, she realizes a human bone was the cause. What makes it worse, Miranda thinks she might know who the bones used to be—her cousin Howard, missing for the last five years.
As more becomes known, Miranda finds out the climbers that day were all friends of Howard’s and the climb was in his memory. She didn’t know her cousin all that well, but on behalf of her aunt, Howard’s mother, she agrees to help out on the case. The Sheriff seems more worried about his budget than a cold case.
In the meantime, there’s a hole in the barn roof after a storm, Miranda’s ingredients are ruined, the repairman isn’t all that reliable, and Miranda’s mom has come to stay—for how long?! Add in vandalism, accidents, delays, and uncovered secrets, and Miranda has to figure out what happened and fast!
This is book two in the series. There were a lot of names to keep track of but Hollon helpfully added a cast of characters in the front of the book for handy reference. Miranda’s life was settling down until Mom showed up. And then there’s Ron the handyman whose work is excellent, but his work ethic is not. Who knows how long either of them are planning to stay. Miranda’s friendship with Austin, the park ranger isn‘t quite a relationship yet. It, like the distillery, is promising. If you think moonshine is a still out in the woods and illegally made booze, think again. Moonshine has gone mainstream. Just look at the recipes included at the back of the book—moonshine cherry mimosas, lemonade ‘shine, cola moon, and for snacks, cheesy bits (so easy I could make them), old-fashioned cornbread, bean salad (yellow wax, green, red kidney) with a tart dressing, and pickled beets.
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 “august catchup” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 14, 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.
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