September Penguins For Your Fall Reading

Sep 24, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Murphy

A fun group of new mysteries for your fall reading from Penguin authors-No Farm, No Foul: A Farmer’s Daughter Mystery by Peg Cochran, Cancelled by Murder: A Postmistress Mystery by Jean Flowers, Digging Up the Dirt: Southern Ladies Mystery by Miranda James, and Paint the Town Dead: Silver Six Crafting Mystery by Nancy Haddock. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win copies of all 4 books, and links to purchase them.

No Farm, No Foul: A Farmer’s Daughter Mystery by Peg Cochran
Review by Cynthia Chow

Shelby McDonald does indeed own a farm, and she has for the ten years since her parents’ retirement. Shelby also authors the Farmer’s Daughter blog, where she gives advice and recipes, and details her daily experiences as a single mother on a farm. Unfortunately, that now also includes being involved in a murder investigation and questioning the motives and alibis of her closest neighbors.

bookShelby was hosting a church potluck fundraiser on Love Blossom Farm to hopefully earn enough money to replace St. Andrews’ very leaky roof. As successful as it was exhausting, the last task Shelby expected to complete was finding the new rector’s wife murdered in her farm’s mudroom. Prudence Mather seems to have had a history of making quick accusations and borderline blackmail demands, with one of the most recent being against Shelby’s good friend Kelly Thacker. As the young veterinarian says, she may be a dog whisperer, but Shelby is a people whisperer, making her the perfect investigator to help clear Kelly and track down who finally had enough of Prudence’s intimidation and threats.

Blog excerpts at the beginning of every chapter detail the joys and struggles of life on a working farm in Lovett, Michigan. The hijinks of Shelby’s West Highland Terrier Jenkins and Mastiff Bitsy add no small amount of hilarity, as do the acerbic remarks of Shelby’s seen-it-all-before assistant. In addition to gardening and raising egg-laying hens, Shelby makes yogurt, conducts cheese-making classes, and sells her gourmet cheeses at the Lovett General Store (recipes included at the end).

A widow for four years since the motorcycle-riding death of her husband, Shelby struggles to raise an eight year-old son and pre-teen daughter. Twelve year-old Amelia is testing her mother’s patience as only a hormonal teenager can, and Shelby is at her wit’s end on how to cope. That may explain why Shelby has yet to admit to the possibilities of a new relationship with any of her possible suitors, especially considering that one of them may be the detective brother-in-law who resembles her late husband all too much.

The use of the blog allows Shelby to have an inner monologue, although some updated accounts of her investigation would seem to cross over into dangerous social media oversharing. This debut series succeeds in presenting the fascinating depiction of life on a modern-day farm, all seen through the eyes of a clever and very relatable heroine. Readers will be as invested in seeing Shelby unravel the murder as they will her attempts to decipher the unfathomable mind of a teenager.

Cancelled by Murder: A Postmistress Mystery by Jean Flowers
Review by Cynthia Chow

Although a native New Englander, it’s only been one year since Cassie Miller left Boston and returned to her hometown of North Ashcott, Massachusetts. Living in her late aunt’s house and working as the sole postmistress of the North Ashcott Post Office, Cassie is in a position to know more than one would think about her sparsely populated town. Wedding announcements, overdue bills, stopped-mail for vacations, change of addresses, and specialized periodicals all provide Cassie with insight into her neighbors’ lives. That has helped her once to help solve several murders, and now it looks like it may once again.

bookAn August storm has North Ashcott preparing for the worst and expecting the least, so locals are shocked to hear the news that the rain and wind did result in one death. Cassie is devastated to learn that her friend Daisy Harmon of Daisy Fabrics was brought down by a fallen branch, and more so that it wasn’t an accident. Everyone, especially Cassie’s best friend and Police Chief Sunni Smargon, warns Cassie against investigating, and normally she would be happy to comply. It’s not until Daisy’s husband Cliff begs Cassie into assisting that she finds herself questioning those who had recently come into combat with the surprisingly aggressive Daisy.

Not only was Daisy strongly opposing the introduction of a new farmer’s market that could infringe on local businesses, she had also riled up a fellow quilter and specialty card shop owner when Daisy’s Fabrics began selling her own selection of greeting cards. Even Cliff is not off of the suspect list, although a bigger concern arises when Cassie begins to receive menacing postcards herself. With boyfriend Quinn Martindale off traveling on a search for antiques, Cassie is reluctant to bring up the threats and risk jeopardizing her friendship with the Police Chief.

This second in the Postmistress Mystery series delivers a thoroughly enjoyable and twisty mystery inundated with genuinely likable characters. The prolific author of numerous mystery series under her name Camille Minichino, she continues to deftly craft compelling novels that continue to surprise. Cassie’s investigations keep pace with the readers’, and the final reveal is as exciting as it is surprising. Cassie may not be an actual Postal Inspector, but as a Federal Postal Worker she is experienced at being observant, detecting mislabeled items, and following evidence toward logical conclusions. Readers searching for a mystery with original plotting, smart writing, and loads of dry humor will find it all in this unique and entertaining series.

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).

Digging Up the Dirt: Southern Ladies Mystery by Miranda James
Review by Sandra Murphy

Hadley Partridge has returned to his family home after the death of his brother, Hamish. It’s been forty years since he left so folks are eager to find out what he’s been up to all this time. Of course, they thought they knew. A few days after Hadley left town Hamish’s wife, Callie, disappeared too. Gossip said Hamish ran Hadley off, and Callie left to be with him.

That’s a surprise to Hadley. Forty years ago, he paid attention to a lot of women in town, some of them married. Now he says he did love Callie, but as a friend, not romantically. So where is Callie? book

The Ducote sisters, An’gel and Dickce, see the effect Hadley still has on women at a meeting of the garden club. Each wants to think she’s the special one, although he goes out of his way to be nice to them all. Sarinda jumps up to give him a hug and trips, falling into his arms which raises the eyebrows of the others—was that on purpose?

During a storm, an old oak tree is uprooted and human bones are found near the base of the tree. Although they all hope the bones are Native American and therefore not anyone they knew, in their hearts, they’re sure it’s Callie.

When a member is found dead in her home and another is in a car wreck, the sisters have to wonder if they’re victims of accidents or does someone have murder in mind? If it’s murder, is it to silence anyone who knows what really happened forty years ago? Or is there a more current reason?

It’s apparent that Hadley is the catalyst for all the happenings and it becomes clear to the sisters what happened forty years ago is still fresh in someone’s mind.

This is the third of the Southern Ladies mystery series, a spinoff of the Cat in the Stacks series (seven books). Readers will be glad to see a bit of a crossover in this book when the sisters consult with Charlie Harris at the college and have a visit with his Maine coon cat, Diesel. The sisters are a delight as always, especially when thinking back to their younger years and a few secrets they don’t want to tell the other about. Benji and his pets, Peanut the Labradoodle and Endora the Abyssinian cat, are fitting well into the household. Clementine still rules the kitchen, whipping up delicious meals for the sisters.

The past and the present meet in this Southern Ladies Mystery, and just when readers think they’ve figured it out, there’s a surprising twist. The books can be read out of order, but Southern life will hook you in—plan on reading all the books in both series.

Paint the Town Dead: Silver Six Crafting Mystery by Nancy Haddock
Review by Sandra Murphy

The Silver Six are in rare form. They are six seniors, living together, and enjoying their retirement years. Leslee Nix, aka Nixy, moved to Lilyvale, Arkansas, to live with her Aunt Sherry who is losing her eyesight. She thought it would be a boring little town ,but now is caught up in the senior’s activities and is busier than ever.

The Handcraft Emporium is their latest endeavor. Each of them have a different hobby so the store will feature those plus other entrepreneurs from the area. In addition to selling items, they’ll host crafters who will teach how-to classes. The first is Doralee who paints gourds for seasonal décor. Her demonstration is almost derailed when her ex-husband, Ernie, shows up, claiming he taught her everything she knows. You’d think it was jealousy, but he has his much younger fiancée, Kim, in tow, along with his sister, Georgine, who never liked Doralee all that

During the presentation, one of Doralee’s tools goes missing. It seems a student walked off with it but to what purpose? Nixy can guess when the Kim’s body turns up in Doralee’s room at the B&B. The room is a mess, so it’s apparent the woman was searching for something.

Doralee’s a suspect of course. Nixy says she’s not getting involved, but the Silver Six rally around Doralee to find the truth. What can Nixy do but help? If she doesn’t who knows what the Six will get themselves into.

Ernie has a weak alibi. Kim’s brother, Caleb, is from out of town, but Nixy thinks he arrived earlier than he said—like before Kim was murdered. Georgine didn’t like Kim any better than she’d liked Doralee, but she was knocked out with migraine meds at the time. Kim had been married before, also to much older men who died. She inherited a lot of money and the adult children of those families weren’t happy about that.

Besides opening the Emporium, setting up daily classes for the grand opening, finding an inseparable dog and cat who adopt her, and trying to find a few minutes alone with Eric, boyfriend wanna-be and police detective, Nixy’s got a lot of clues to uncover.

Lilyvale is more exciting than you’d expect, with people you’d love to meet and classes you’d want to take. Drop by for a visit—you won’t be disappointed.

This is Silver Six Crafting Mystery’s second book in what promises to be a long running series if the Six have anything to say about it. At the back of the book, find tips on painting gourds or wine glasses and a recipe for pear bread.

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 “september penguins,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 1, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Click on this link to purchase any of these books. If you have ad blocker on you may not see this link:


Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble and a Kindle. You can find several of Sandra’s short stories at Untreed Reads including her newest, “Arthur,” included in the anthology titled, Flash and Bang, available now. Look for Denali, in the anthology Dogs and Dragons.


  1. These all sound good.

  2. What a great giveaway! These are four great authors and I would really enjoy reading all of these books. Thanks for the chance.

  3. Sounds great…the covers look wonderful and I haven’t read any of these Authors…yay…Please enter me.

  4. Penguin publishes just the darn greatest cozies!! I seem to love every one!!

  5. 3 of my favorite series & a new series by a favorite author. Thanks for the chance to win.

  6. So many great cozy mysteries.


  7. Thanks for the chance to win. These all sound like great reafs

  8. All 4 are books I want to read! What a terrific giveaway – thanks.

  9. Sounds like going through these would be a wonderful few hours.

  10. great bunch of books!! thank for chance to own them! Im back to reading. (had problems with eyes and slacked off, but baby Im back)

  11. Happy to have found this site!

  12. They all look fabulous!!!!!!

  13. Looks like some wonderful reads!

  14. We have a winner!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.