by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow
This week we have more mysteries for your fall reading tbr-Knot Ready for Murder: A Quilting Mystery by Mary Marks, Murder, She Edited: A Deadly Edits Mystery by Kaitlyn Dunnett, Death in Daylesford: A Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood, Death of a Red-Hot Rancher: A Love is Murder Mystery by Mimi Granger, and The Cider Shop Rules: A Cider Shop Mystery by Julie Anne Lindsey. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 5 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.
Knot Ready for Murder: A Quilting Mystery by Mary Marks
Review by Sandra Murphy
Martha Rose’s boyfriend Yossi, aka Crusher, has proposed many times. She’s hesitated because she loves her life the way it is. Why rock the boat? It’s been on her mind, and she’s finally decided to say yes. When she blurts out her acceptance during a family dinner, she expects Yossi to be ecstatic. Instead, he has a sick look on his face, like he’s eaten a bad piece of pickled herring.
After their company leaves, he confesses—he’s already married. Thirty years ago, he married a young pregnant woman to save her reputation. It was in name only, and he signed the annulment papers as soon as possible. Recently, he found out the papers had never been filed. Before he can tie the knot with Martha Rose, he has to disentangle from Hadas.
Hadas swears she didn’t file the papers in order to keep arranged suitors away, but Martha suspects she had other reasons. Most of what Hadas says is a lie—yes, she flew out from New York to see Yoshie in person, accompanied by Yossi’s sister, Fanya—and both of them are staying at Martha and Yossi’s.
Not for long, though, as Hadas disappears under suspicious circumstances soon after. Was she kidnapped? No ransom has been requested. Martha and her sister Giselle no sooner get close to finding Hadas before she disappears faster than a magician’s assistant. Martha is fed up with the whole situation but is determined to get the annulment papers signed, one way or another—and she’s not too picky about how that will happen.
This is book nine in the series. The romance between Yossi and Martha is realistic and sweet. Readers will enjoy Martha’s relatives from Uncle Isaac to her grandchildren. Martha’s sewing group add even more flavor, especially Jazz who always brings his Maltese along, dressed in a matching outfit. The twists, turns, and red herrings (not pickled) will leave readers guessing as to the killer’s identity. The ending is satisfying on all counts. There are handy tips for quilters at the back of the book.
Murder, She Edited: A Deadly Edits Mystery by Kaitlyn Dunnett
Review by Sandra Murphy
Mikki Lincoln is a freelance editor. When a kooky fan accuses Mikki of overlooking errors in her favorite author’s latest book, no explanation will calm her outrage.
Meanwhile, Mikki inherits a nearby farm from a woman she knew from childhood. It comes as a complete surprise. The attorney seems nice enough, but he also blocks her questions instead of answering. There is a condition to the inheritance—she must find, transcribe, and publish any and all diaries found on the property, no clue as to how many there are or where they can be found.
After a few trips to the farm for fruitless searches, Mikki’s getting discouraged. There’s a deadline and she has no idea where to look. The crazed fan is getting on Mikki’s last nerve, popping up at her house, only to yell again. Mikki decides to stay at the farm so she can look without interruption and in peace and quiet.
She does manage to get away from the book fan, but peace and quiet are hard to come by. The barn looks like it was reinforced inside and storage units were hastily removed. Creepier yet, there was a murder in the house many years ago and it remains unsolved. The daughters of the house moved out, not taking a single possession with them.
With only her cat for company, Mikki searches for clues, hoping to solve the old mystery as well as find the diaries. Will she be able to find them before the deadline and before someone thinks everything would be better if Mikki’s life reached its deadline?
This is book four in the series. It’s refreshing to read about an older woman, self-employed, working from home, who still manages to get involved in mysterious circumstances, through no fault of her own. It’s a series I always look forward to reading. In addition, Dunnett writes the Liss MacCrimmon series, thirteen books so far. Liss was a professional Scottish dancer until sidelined with an injury. Now she helps her aunt run the Scottish emporium. Another great series with authentic touches of Scotland. Plus there are Scottish terriers!
Death in Daylesford: A Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood
Review by Sandra Murphy
Captain Spencer runs a rehab facility for shell shocked veterans. He’s kindly invited Phryne Fisher to visit the facility, although he’s vague as to the purpose of the invitation. With Dot, her companion, Phryne motors off on what is supposed to be a holiday. Shortly after their arrival, they hear rumors of women gone missing, all married, never heard from again. And then there are the murders.
The first murder looked to be an accident although Phryne is surprised anyone fell for that explanation since it was so easily disproved. The second took place at a large gathering where everyone could see. More murders followed, each using a different method, but always in plain sight with no warning of who the victim will be, and no seeming link to connect them. Another missing woman, who does not fit the profile of the others, adds to the confusion for a severely inadequate police chief.
Phryne’s detecting has had an impact on her three young wards. Back home, they are presented with a problem of their own—a schoolgirl has gone missing. Has she run off with a boyfriend or has something more sinister happened? When reports of a young girl’s body floating in the river reach them, they do their best to assist Hugh Collins, Dot’s copper fiancé. With Hugh’s boss, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson off on special assignment, Hugh is partnered with a detective who tends to opt for the obvious suspect, whether there’s proof or not. Deputizing the children is a step up in intelligence work compared to his new boss.
All in all, there are layers of mysteries to solve and it’s up to Phryne to decide if they are linked or are separate cases. As anyone who knows her will attest, she’ll do that and more, all while fascinating men, dressing impeccably, and driving at great speeds. She wouldn’t be Phryne otherwise.
This is book twenty-one in the series. For a visit to the 1920s, readers couldn’t ask for a better escort than Phryne Fisher who is full of daring, says what she thinks, manipulates men with the best (or worst) intentions, and doesn’t hide her feelings unless it’s to her advantage. Her companion, Dot, is the opposite. Dot dresses in shades of brown, is shy and proper, but she’s learning from Phryne’s example, she doesn’t have to accept what has always been to be what always will be. In other words, rules are made to be ignored. Do it with panache!
Death of a Red-Hot Rancher: A Love is Murder Mystery by Mimi Granger
Review by Cynthia Chow
There is irony in the fact that Love Under the Covers romance bookstore owner Lizzie Hale is so completely unlucky at love. Despite her Aunt Charmaine’s best, and repeated, attempts to set up her niece with blind dates, the moment Lizzie blurts out her love of romance books the connections fizzle. Perhaps it’s not too surprising that prospects are scared off on first dates with the mentions of love and marriage, but Lizzie adores romance books, and they are all that she feels comfortable talking about. Well, that and baseball. Which makes the arrival of national park ranger and former St. Louis Cardinals star catcher Max Alvarez enough to have her completely off-balance and hormonally on point.
Unfortunately, Max is in town helping Lizzie’s police officer cousin Josh Randall investigate the murder of Brody Pierce, the hottest Bison rancher in Tinker’s Creek, Ohio. While Brody has a well-earned reputation for having dated every available and not-so-available woman in town, Lizzie definitely didn’t expect to have last seen him standing over the shoulder of Aunt Charmaine while in her bedroom. While the two women share property and have adjoining houses, spying through the window is not something Lizzie is ready to admit to anyone. So instead she intends to prove that Charmaine Randall wasn’t the last to see Brody or couldn’t have had a jealous motive for wanting the hottie dead by beginning her own discreet investigation into the lives of the many, many women who moved in and out of Brody’s life.
This first in the series charmingly blends together a mystery plot with tons of romance literature references. Love Under the Covers is the site of numerous bookclub meetings and embraces the diverse categories that include historical, gothic, suspense, LQBTQ+, paranormal, and so many more. While a librarian nemesis who detests the entire romance genre seems a little cliché, less expected is the library manager’s donning of widow’s weeds and veil as she immediately claims the role as Brody’s primary mourner. For a woman able to appreciate and adore all aspects of romance novels, Lizzie has developed a rather cynical and jaded attitude towards her own chances of finding true love.
Miscommunications, misinterpretations, and of course, missed meetings that are the expected tropes of romance novels are given a fun twist here, with the spark between Max and Lizzie igniting into a full-on sizzle. The small-town nature of Tinker Creek’s gossip channel and long-lasting memories fill out the setting of this funny, witty, and good-natured mystery. A large and adorable canine tops off this very cozy and clever mystery, with white hairs being the unique clues that lead our heroes to the desperate culprit. Readers will be looking forward to the next in the series that celebrates the entertainment and comfort that can be found within romance and mystery genres.
The Cider Shop Rules: A Cider Shop Mystery by Julie Anne Lindsey
Review by Cynthia Chow
Winona Mae Montgomery is thrilled to be celebrating her first year after opening Granny Smythe’s Cider Shop on her family’s Smythe Orchard twenty-five-acre farm. The fall season is a highlight for Blossom Valley, West Virginia, which begins the holiday season with the Fall Harvest Festival full of hayrides, piglet races, pumpkin picking, and a corn maze. Visiting Potter’s Pumpkin Patch is an annual tradition, but when Winnie goes to pick up a batch she ends up with an unexpected load. She would much rather have been caught with an out-of-hunting-season deer in her trunk than the bleeding body of Mr. Potter buried under a pile of pumpkins.
Jefferson County Sheriff Colton Wise arrives to quickly take over and warn Winnie away from once again endangering herself in one of his cases, so the arrival of another “Tall, Dark, and Yummy” law enforcement officer in town for a Civil War Reenactment (it’s ok, Blossom Valley celebrates their famous abolitionist who fought against slavery) is a pleasant distraction. That Marion County Sheriff Blake Wise also happens to be Colton’s baby brother is something of a fascinating complication, especially since it seems that Blake delights in poking at all of his Big Brother’s weak points. Which includes being inflexible on allowing Winnie to investigate accusations of Potter infidelities and financial irregularities. An escaped ex-con waging a war of revenge on Colton and everything he holds dear escalates the tension within Blossom Valley, especially when Winnie is considered to be a means of hurting the stoic sheriff’s heart.
This third in the series is a welcome return to Blossom Valley, which is abundant with holiday celebrations and good cheer. It easily serves as an entry point for new readers, but fans will definitely appreciate Winnie’s growth as a strong and very engaging woman. Basically abandoned by her mom to be raised by her grandmother and late grandfather, they are the reason she so loves the farm and wants to continue its success. Winnie is both proud and a little embarrassed to be the only twenty-nine-year-old in her senior college classes, but it’s a testament to her dedication to building her family business that she still works while pursuing her education.
The romantic sparring and banter between Winnie and the Colton brothers is fun and never strays into uncomfortable or forced plot lines. Blake definitely knows what he’s doing, and it makes Winnie’s attendance at a Wise family meal all the more enjoyable. There is a genuine sense of threat when Winnie’s beloved Classic Mustang Sally is pumpkin-ed, culminating in a conclusion that proves that Colton’s protectiveness was justified. The humor level is as high as it is sharp, making this cider-centric novel a joy for all mystery readers. Winnie’s national park ranger and animal activist best friend Dot ensures that there will always be an abundance of rescued fainting goats, tabby cats, and geese (all named Kenny Rogers) on hand, spicing up this hilarious and heart-warming series.
To enter to win a copy of all 5 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “fall catchup” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 4, 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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