October Mystery Catchup: Ellen Byron/Donna Andrews/Betty Hechtman/JC Eaton/Margaret Mizushima

Oct 9, 2021 | Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

This week we have more wonderful mysteries for your October reading list-Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron, Murder Most Fowl: A Meg Lanslow series by Donna Andrews, One for the Hooks: A Crochet Mystery by Betty Hechtman, Railroaded 4 Murder: A Sophia Kimball Mystery by J. C. Eaton, and Striking Range: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima. 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.

Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron
Review by Sandra Murphy

It’s Valentine’s season in Pelican, Louisiana. Maggie Crozat is in the mood for love as she well should be. She and heartthrob Bo Durand are set to walk down the aisle behind Xander and Gopher (the basset hound) and Esme and Jolie (a Chihuahua). And if one wedding is not enough, the priest pronounces three couples husband and wife.

After a Mexican honeymoon, Maggie and Bo settle into married life on the plantation, helping to run the B&B, Maggie working at the Doucet Plantation, and Bo as police detective. JJ, their friend who owns Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall, has new competition when restauranteur Phillippe Chanson, celebrity chef and head of the Chanson Restaurant group (multiple locations), moves to Pelican. Phillippe has an ego the size of a hoop skirt and a one track mind that focuses only on himself. He and his crew are staying at the Crozat B&B. Maggie’s mom, Ninette, is thrilled when he asks her to cook real Cajun country food for him. She’s also furious to find he analyzed the ingredients in order to put the item on his menu like it was his own. She’s not the only one he steals from.

To make life more complicated, his brand manager is his ex-wife and his sous chef is his current girlfriend who lords that over the ex at every opportunity. Phillippe is a man who makes enemies wherever he goes.

It’s not surprising one of them takes matters to an extreme. During a fireworks display set in the river, Phillippe’s boat makes a speeding appearance and a dramatic exit as a mid-river crash puts a fast and fiery end to Phillippe. With so many suspects to choose from, where will the police start? The answer is with Ninette, followed closely and with more attention, JJ.

Maggie’s receiving anonymous gifts, a countdown to Valentine’s Day, creepy any time but these gifts bring an implied threat with them. Will Maggie and Bo see their first holiday together or will tragedy strike?

This is book seven in the series. It’s wonderful to see Maggie and Bo together at last. They aren’t the only ones who look forward to a happy-ever-after. In this case, I recommend reading the books in order so you can follow the romances from the beginning. The mysteries are clever, the characters someone you’d surely love to know, and Crozat a welcoming place to stay whether visiting in the summer humidity or winter’s chill—not to mention the fabulous food!

At the back of the book, find recipes from the wonderful Cajun cooks—beer bread, a mystery cocktail (drink this one at home, it’s a powerful mix of several liqueurs), baked catfish po’ boy with quick remoulade sauce, gooey pineapple pecan cake, calas (rice balls or fritters), and butter beans and river shrimp.

As Maria DiRico, she has written two Catering Hall mysteries (so far) set in New York. Look for her newest series, the Vintage Cookbook mysteries, coming soon!

Murder Most Fowl: A Meg Lanslow series by Donna Andrews
Review by Sandra Murphy

Meg Langslow does more before breakfast than six people do in a week. She’s got twin sons, a father who’s a doctor and loves to investigate crimes, a mother who is organized enough to run a country, a grandfather who runs a zoo, and relatives galore who visit often. Her husband, Michael, is directing Macbeth, and there are medieval re-enactors camped out in the woods. There’s also a movie maker annoying everyone.

The lead actress is ill but wants to perform. Any spare sleeping surface is occupied by one of the actors or crew. Practical jokes, vandalism, and property theft (sheep and a cow) just add another layer to the chaos.

That’s nothing compared to Meg’s sons reporting they may have found a body. Well, actually a hand sticking out of the dirt, but still…

The filmmaker tells everyone he’s making them into stars, but when he shows disjointed scenes, the actors are shown in the most embarrassing situations, including the lead actress who reacts badly, smashing his computer and aiming for him, too.

It’s not a shock to find his trailer door standing open the next morning, the place trashed, his body not far away. Could it have been one of the cast or crew, the medieval re-enactors, the prankster, or one of the three witches who meet around the cauldron to cast spells?

Of course, the show must go on and that can only happen if the killer is found. Meg and the chief of police are in agreement about that.

This is book twenty-nine of the series. Meg has more patience than you can imagine, a mind for detail, and the ability to remain calm no matter what. Rose Noire is the keeper of animals and in charge of the herb gardens. Professors from the college give lectures on mostly dull subjects. In order to have the seats filled, Meg has ringers who listen as attentively as possible and who are really there for the refreshments served after. Even with a murder, following Meg’s life is one laugh after another, provided you remain at a safe distance—like on this side of the page.

Look for The Twelve Jays of Christmas in October and Round Up the Usual Peacocks in August 2022. With so many books in the series, full of mirth and mayhem, readers will be satisfied for months to come.

One for the Hooks: A Crochet Mystery by Betty Hechtman
Review by Sandra Murphy

Molly Pink is the events coordinator, in charge of the yarn department, and assistant manager at Shedd and Royal Books and More. Adele, in charge of the children’s section and story hour, often butts in and tries to take over.

The Tarzana Hookers, the crochet group that meets at the store, is made up of loyal friends who are willing to crochet for charitable causes.

Molly’s personal life has settled down, too. At one point, she was dating two men—Barry, a police detective, and Marshall, a high-powered celebrity attorney. She’s finally decided on Marshall although Barry turns up with surprising frequency. For one thing, they share a dog. The other thing is, Molly keeps getting involved in murders, strictly as an amateur investigator, of course.

As usual, she really can’t be blamed. A customer mentioned she was clearing a house for renovation and the seller had a lot of yarn to rehome. Molly, and of course, Adele, plus a couple more of the Hookers, make the trek to view the yarn. Adele, now an ‘influencer,’ has to vlog to her many followers every step of the way. Molly can scarcely be blamed when someone is attacked and killed in the backyard. It could have been an accident, a case of mistaken identity, or deliberate.

On the home front, Molly was in for a surprise. It looked like every light in the house was on. If it was a burglar, it was a particularly stupid one. To her shock and surprise, it’s her oldest son and his very pregnant girlfriend. Peter’s lost his job and wants to stay with her for a while. A girlfriend she didn’t know about, a baby-to-be she sure didn’t know about, a job loss, too? By the way, their suitcases are in the car, can they have her bedroom, and can she make herself scarce when he has business dinners or meetings at the house? Investigating a murder to avoid family makes perfect sense.

This is book fourteen in the series. Molly is a wonderful character, someone who could teach you to crochet, will help if you’re framed for murder, and care for your dog if you’re arrested. Her best friend insists Molly is still interested in the police detective and Marshall is pushing her to make a life change, as if becoming a grandma isn’t change enough. It’s all a bit overwhelming.

The mysteries are full of twists that keep readers guessing, laughs to balance the investigation, romance to add spice. At the back of the book, find a pattern for a Serendipity Scarf to crochet and for dinner, the recipe for Molly’s spaghetti sauce.

Railroaded 4 Murder: A Sophia Kimball Mystery by J. C. Eaton
Review by Sandra Murphy

Poor Phee. The one day she can sleep in, she has an emergency call from her mom. Well, all calls from Harriet are emergencies, but this one involves what she and her friend are pretty sure is a dead body. Her friend has reported bodies a few times before. They turned out to be false alarms, so if Phee could just verify it, they’ll call the police.

For once, they’re right. The victim is the president of the miniature railroad club, and he’s appropriately found on the outdoor display. He loved model trains to the point of obsession. His other loves included hoarding, nitpicking, and philandering, not necessarily in that order. One or the other, perhaps a combination, got him killed.

Phee works for a private detective agency with Nate, her boss, Marshall, her fiancé, and Augusta, who runs the office. Although Phee spends her days with spreadsheets and payroll, Harriet often drags her into the dramatic imaginings of the book club ladies.

The only good thing about the murder investigation is it takes Harriet’s mind off Phee’s upcoming wedding. She’s determined to convince Phee that Streetman, Harriet’s untrained, antisocial Chiweenie, will make the perfect ring bearer.

The investigation spotlight is on Roxanne, the new widow. Evidence points in her direction, she drove her hubby to what turned out to be the site of his death, and she’s not shedding any tears over losing him. When the police department is overwhelmed with interviews and following unlikely leads, they hire Nate to take up the slack, giving Phee insider knowledge she doesn’t share with Harriet and the book club.

This is book eight in the series. Poor Phee, a warmer climate and the ability to keep tabs on Harriet sounded so good. Now she’s involved in murder cases. Her relationship with Marshall is a good one, realistic, romantic in their own way, and readers will look forward to the wedding which is expected (as much as can be expected with Harriet helping) in book nine. For a good laugh, better mystery, and lovable characters, readers can’t go wrong with this popular series. After all, there’s a Chiweenie!

At the back of the book, find a clever map showing the routes Streetman can be persuaded to walk plus his reasoning for refusals, and an excerpt from the previous book, Broadcast for Murder. Eaton has also written six Wine Trail mysteries.

Striking Range: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima
Review by Sandra Murphy

Mattie Cobb’s last chance to find out what happened to her biological father lies with John Cobb—who thankfully, turned out to be no relation. She’s meeting Jim Hauck, a cold case cop, at the prison to interview Cobb. They no more than get inside when the prison goes on lockdown due to the death of a prisoner.

It’s John Cobb. The only clue he left behind was a book with maps and the ones in Timber Creek marked with an X.

Mattie, Hauck, and Garrett, a local rancher who works with the police, head for the uppermost trail the next day. Mattie’s K9, Robo, alerts inside a cave, and they find a bag that might contain drugs, too dangerous to check while in a remote area. It’s starting to snow, so the search area is marked for the next day as they head back.

Before Mattie can arrive home, she’s redirected to a nearby campground to investigate the report of a dead body. Mattie met the young woman the day before but one discrepancy is obvious—the young woman had been pregnant then and wasn’t now. Suspicion falls on the hunters who found the body, the young woman’s ex-boyfriend/baby’s father, and the midwife. The Cobb investigation has to be put aside for the more urgent worry about the baby.

With an early snowstorm, frigid temperatures, and treacherous road conditions, everything takes longer than expected. An exhaustive, and exhausting, search finds no trace of the baby.

Cole, the local veterinarian and Mattie’s significant other, finds a sheriff’s deputy out of his cruiser and in the ditch. They can only speculate he’d been hit by a car during a traffic stop but he’s too injured to say. With the help of visiting K9s and their handlers, more evidence is found. Will it lead to the killer? Will it lead to the baby? Mattie and Robo are counting on it.

This is book seven in the series. The relationship between Mattie and Cole is not only one of love but of respect for each other and their jobs. Mattie had a traumatic childhood but is working through the issues and not letting them get in the way of her work or relationship with Cole and his kids. Stella, the police detective, is usually guarded about anything other than the job but is beginning to open up to other possibilities. In addition, Robo has sired a litter of puppies. Will they follow his lead and become K9 officers or someone’s beloved pet? Only time will tell.

For a gripping, hold your breath thriller, plus a basket full of puppies, you couldn’t ask for a better tale to read.

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 “october” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 16, 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 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. 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.

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. These all sound like great reads and I so hope I win! Thank you for the chance.

  2. What an excellent collection for a cozy fall reading spree. Thanks very much for the chance to win ’em. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  3. Thank you for the chance. This is an amazing giveaway ?

  4. Couple are an author I follow
    so I’ll be glad to get their newest.
    Will enjoy finding new authors
    with the other titles. thanks

  5. Five great reads from five great authors. Would really like to read all of them.

  6. These 5 cozy mysteries need to be added to my to be read stack!

  7. I love cozy mysteries. These all seem like a lot of fun. Thank you for the opportunity.

  8. A great bunch of books every time! Count me in!

  9. Looks great! A couple new ones for me, and some favorites already on my wishlist.

  10. All of these books sound like really good page-turners to me! Thanks for an awesome Giveaway! oh_bother88@hotmail.com

  11. I would love to win this!!! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  12. These all sound so good. Thanks for the contest. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  13. As always some real winners here and tohers I need to explore! Thanks for the great read. I love reviews that tell me what I want to know.

  14. Thank you for the chance!

  15. I would love to win this awesome package. Thank you so much for the chance!

  16. What a great batch of books! Thanks for the article and generous giveaway!

  17. All 5 of thee books sound wonderful! I have read Ellen’s Catering Hall Mysteries (written as Maria DiRico) and loved both of them. The other 4 authors are new to me and I would be thrilled to check out their stories. I have just moved so would sure enjoy reading some new books in my new home. Thank you so much for the chance! suemngirl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  18. Great collection of books that I’d love to win! mbunting(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

  19. Would love to get these! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  20. What a wonderful blog post. I enjoy learning about new books and when you include pictures of the covers too, even better. A cover will sell me on a book if I have never read anything by the author. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

  21. I’d love to win, these books sound great. Thanks for the chance.

  22. I read three of these regularly, so the two new ones are now on my radar. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.
    karen94066 at aol.com

  23. Thank you for the chance to win ALL these wonderful books!!!

  24. We have a winner!


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