September Mystery Catchup: Sherry Harris/GA McKevett/Cate Conte

Sep 11, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow

This week we have more mysteries for your September reading fun-A Time to Swill: Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Mystery by Sherry Harris, A Few Drops of Bitter: A Savannah Reid Mystery by GA McKevett, and Claws for Alarm: A Cat Café Mystery by Cate Conte. 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 Time to Swill: Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Mystery by Sherry Harris
Review by Sandra Murphy

Chloe Jackson thought her life was in Chicago. A trip to Florida to check on her best friend’s grandma proved her wrong. Now she’s living in a beachfront property, working at a bar, and most surprising of all, involved in murders.

It starts out innocently enough. Like this time, it was a baby’s cry that led her to board a stranded boat which the outgoing tide pulled into the gulf before she could get back to shore. To make things worse, there was a huge storm and then…well, everything was a lot more complicated after that.

Chloe’s friend, Boone, left her part ownership in the bar which didn’t please his grandmother, Vivi. She’s by no means the ‘grandma’ type but a feisty woman with a number of loyal friends. When a murder happens, good and loyal friends stand together.

If that weren’t enough, Boone’s disreputable father makes an appearance. He’s the kind of guy who enjoys making trouble, for everyone else. He’s met his match in Vivi and Chloe.

This is the second book in the series. Chloe has adapted to life in the sunshine vs. snow, feels at home in the beach house, and comfortable at work now that she and Vivi are getting along better. Life as she knew it is gone, but she’s found her place in Florida. She doesn’t take unnecessary risks although sometimes danger finds her. Her friendship with Rhett aka ‘Rip’, shows promise, if they can both stay in one place long enough to find out if romance is in the air or if it’s just sea spray.

For summer fun without the hassle, grab a lawn chair, slather on sun block, stick your feet in the kiddie pool, and join Chloe at the Sea Glass Saloon in the Florida panhandle town of Emerald Cove. Be sure to have an adult beverage of your choice at hand.

Harris also writes the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries (nine). With both series, start anywhere but be prepared to want them all. You’ll often find these on my Best of List at the end of the year. This year will be no exception.

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.

A Few Drops of Bitter: A Savannah Reid Mystery by GA McKevett
Review by Cynthia Chow

At this point in her mature-ish life, Savannah Reid finds herself happily settled in with her marriage, career as a private investigator, and taking on an eight-year-old foster son. It didn’t take long for Buddy Greyson to enmesh himself into the hearts of Savannah and her family, even if the boy’s prankster nature has him mischievously swapping out cereal and cat food to provoke his loving and tolerating father. Their love for Buddy explains why San Carmelita Detective Sergeant Dirk Coulter and his wife find themselves attending an exclusive birthday party, one which Buddy adamantly declares they’ve been invited as guests. As it turns out, veterinarian Dr. Carolyn Erling was too polite to shatter her most enthusiastic volunteer’s expectations, meaning that they are rather out-of-place among the Lamborghinis and luxury cars parked in the exclusive Joya del Mar enclave. It quickly becomes apparent that the birthday boy in question has few friends and many enemies among the neighbors and guests, with the neurosurgeon’s arrogance having caused an abundance of confrontations. So when the guest of honor is found unconscious and not even the surplus of doctors in attendance can save him, there should be a bounty of suspects to choose from.

As it turns out, Stephen Erling’s long list of girlfriends and their furious partners take second seating to Carolyn as being the prime suspect. Unable to reject Buddy’s pleas to help, though, Savannah not only takes Carolyn into her home but accepts the vet as a client. Professional private investigator Savannah and her very capable staff are soon utilizing their skills to hack into and uncover the lurid secrets hidden by the victim with a God Complex. Of course Savannah already had her hands full planning her little sister’s wedding to a hunky movie star, although their beloved Granny Reid will ensure that they are all well-fed and Buddy never misbehaves too much.

After twenty-six entries into this series and three starring Granny Reid, these characters will be well known and familiar to loyal readers. New readers can still jump into this latest, though, which focuses on Savannah’s closest and newest family members. Super-smart assistant Tammy has her own new family with Savannah’s brother Waycross, while neighbors John and Ryan continue to run their in-demand high-end restaurant. With fewer of her assorted siblings in town to disrupt and cause chaos as they seek help from the big sister who raised them, Savannah is able to concentrate on completing her very loving and satisfying own new family. This series always brings a Southern flavor to the California setting, with the Reids serving up tasty comfort food along with delightful Southern wisdom. Animals, family, and, of course, a compelling mystery are the reliable traits of this rewarding and very entertaining series.

Claws for Alarm: A Cat Café Mystery by Cate Conte
Review by Cynthia Chow

Maddie James is living her dream, running a cat café and shelter out of her grandfather’s home on Massachusetts’s Daybreak Island. Co-owning JJ House of Purrs with her Grandpa Leo and chef Ethan Birdsong allows Maddie to offer customers tasty treats while also helping foster cats looking for their forever home. Her animal control officer friend has nudged Maddie into accepting a new litter that bumps up the feline residency to fifteen, pushing the limit of their ability to serve treats out of the adjacent café while also selling famous furry companion JJ’s line of JJ-branded merchandise. That helps to explain why Maddie is quickly swayed by celebrity philanthropist Jillian Allen, whose Shoreline Animal Rescue League attracts an enviable list of celebrity endorsers. Jillian proves to be an unstoppable force as she lures Maddie into throwing a mega fundraiser on Daybreak Island, one that will attract high-paying donors willing to pay the $1000 ticket prices. The two-week deadline has Maddie more than a little concerned, but by enlisting her event-planning sister as well as an assortment of other family members, Maddie and Jillian are certain they will have a feline-beneficial party of the year.

Less enthusiastic is Maddie’s childhood friend and volunteer Mish Warner, who is seen loudly arguing with Jillian and then ducking out of future meetings. That means that when they discover Jillian’s body strangled to death at the event’s pricey hotel, Mish becomes a top suspect due to circumstantial evidence and a lack of an alibi. Unable to leave the investigation alone, Maddie follows up on the unsettling interactions she witnessed between year-round residents and the wealthy seasonal visitors. Now that her retired Chief of Police grandfather has started his own private investigation business to fill up his free time, Maddie has an occasional ally although he also proves to be frustratingly discreet with his client list. A movie star who most recently – and appropriately for the theme – has taken on the role of the latest cinematic Catwoman, her equally attractive actor boyfriend, and the accompanying entourage set up conflicts and motives as clashes increase between the year-rounders and summerers.

This fifth in the series excels at building up a fully realized island community that is filled with Maddie’s expansive but very supportive family. Her being the oldest has her in full Big Sister mode, feeling responsible for all parties and trying to please everyone. A love of cats is, of course, the revealing trait that determines these characters’ moralities, which makes the fundraiser all the more complicated. The question of whether the money used to throw lavish fundraising parties could better be spent simply donating to the cause is handled realistically and thoughtfully, especially considering human nature and egos. While some people simply do good for good, others prefer to be rewarded and recognized for their goodwill. A heartwarming finale delivers not just a satisfying conclusion to the murder, but promises an optimistic future for these very likable characters. Hopefully, there will be another installment in the adventures of Maddie, Grandpa Leo, Leopard Man, and the rest of her furry and human family.

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 “september” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 18, 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.

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 goes up next 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:

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. Read all three of these books already
    and highly recommend them to anyone
    who hasn’t. All are great series.

  2. Thanks for the reviews. These sound great!

  3. Love these writers! Great way to get copies of their terrific books. 🙂

  4. Awesome month for books so far! Really enjoyed the Sea Glass series so far.

  5. Some great sounding books! Count me in!

  6. Thank you for the information on all three books you shared. It would be like Christmas in September to win all three. Thanks for your blog and for this chance.

  7. Thank you for the chance to win all these wonderful books!!!
    They are all wonderful authors!!!

  8. These 3 authors are on my want to read list. Thanks for the chance.

  9. Sounds like three great books for Fall reading. Thanks for the chance.

    • Forgot my email: diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. What a great colletion!

  11. Yes please. I love all three authors and have yet to read these books. I’d love to add them to my home library and share them with my daughters. They are all readers.

  12. These all sound like fun reads. Yes, please!

  13. We have a winner!


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