by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow
This week we have 3 mysteries perfect for your Halloween reading including sweets, cats, and haunted mansions-Murder Most Sweet: A Bookish Baker Mystery by Laura Jensen Walker, A Case of Cat and Mouse: A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly, and Haunted Homicide: A Haunted Mansion Mystery By Lucy Ness. 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.
Murder Most Sweet: A Bookish Baker Mystery By Laura Jensen Walker
Review by Cynthia Chow
A life-threatening illness can definitely make one reassess priorities. After her diagnosis and eventual double mastectomy, Teddie St. John’s life is much different than the one she had five years ago…life B.C. (Before Cancer). Not only has she successfully published her first mystery Death by Danish, she is well on her way to finishing her second in the series featuring B& B owner Kate and her crime-solving canine Kallie. Teddie is looking forward to the book signing at Lake Potawatomi’s local bookstore not only because it is owned by one of her “Three Musketeers” best friends, but because the event is featuring NYT bestselling author Tavis Bentley. When an untimely chemo-driven hot flash sends Teddie into the bathroom for some welcome relief, she discovers that the favorite scarf she just removed has been stolen. Too embarrassed to return to the signing without anything to cover up her now soaking-wet t-shirt, Teddie has the worse luck of finding the scarf, only now it’s wrapped around the strangled body of Tavis’s fiancée.
With accusations flying — in person and online — that Teddie had a hand in the death, she can’t help but start to use her mystery-author skills to investigate who wanted the bimbo-ish woman dead. While Teddie rejects her mother’s advice to ramp up efforts to snatch a man now that Teddie is now essentially damaged goods, she can’t help but find herself intrigued by the handsome British author. It would be nice if he wasn’t a murderer, though, or that he didn’t come with the complications of a lovelorn assistant, stalking fans, and a recently deceased ex. It’s no wonder that Teddie relies on the comfort of cooking hearty Wisconsin desserts to ease her anxiety, a coping mechanism sure to please her friends as well as fans of hearty pastries.
This debut series introduces readers to a unique heroine who rarely feels sorry for herself or regrets the choices she made to ensure her health. The matter-of-factness about her mastectomy not only makes her admirable for those facing similar challenges, it humanizes her by acknowledging that her path has not been easy. Mystery fans will enjoy Teddie and Travis’s discussions as writers who plot versus those who write by the seat-of-their-pants, following the paths characters take them. While this new author may seem to be the latter with her engaging and very funny characters, a distinct plot takes readers steadily to a well-devised solution. This first of the Bookish Baker Mysteries introduces so much romance, humor, and delicious Norwegian desserts that readers will be hungering for more of Teddie’s fictional and “real” adventures.
A Case of Cat and Mouse: A Magical Cats Mystery By Sofie Kelly
Review by Sandra Murphy
Kathleen’s regular job is head librarian. However, she also acts as researcher for the newly refurbished The Great Northern Baking Showdown as the show films in Mayville Heights. The program follows a familiar pattern. Each week the contestants compete in three categories, one for basic baking, the next where they can show off their signature baked goods, and the third is the tricky one as they are given surprise ingredients, a tool to use or one is taken from them, anything to show they can be calm under pressure and adapt to any challenge.
Although they seem to get along on set, comments from Kassie, one of the judges, are often barbed. She’s not at all qualified for the job but doesn’t let that detail stop her. Rebecca, Kathleen’s friend and neighbor, is one of the contestants.
When Kassie is found face down and dead in a bowl of whipped cream, it’s first thought it could have been an accident, but that theory doesn’t hold for long. She had a drug in her system, could have been overcome and unable to save herself. Unfortunately, she had no friends on the set. When questioned, everyone has a solid alibi.
The main suspect is Elias, who is in charge of the show. He’s the closest thing Ruby’s ever had to a father so she asks Kathleen to see what she can find out since Kathleen’s helped the police before—even before the detective, Marcus, became her boyfriend.
As alibis fall apart and the truth comes out, it seems to be an even harder case to solve.
This is the twelfth book in the popular series. Owen and Hercules, the magical cats, are in fine form. Hercules is set to be a calendar cat once again. Owen, lover of Fred the Funky Chicken catnip toys, has branched out to include a catnip frog. As always, they are key in finding out who the killer is. The main thing to understand is everyone lies and everyone has a secret.
There are a number of suspects to choose from so readers will have a hard time solving the crime before Kathleen and Marcus. Good luck!
Haunted Homicide: A Haunted Mansion Mystery By Lucy Ness
Review by Sandra Murphy
The Portage Path Woman’s Club is housed in an old mansion. While an imposing building, it’s in dire need of repair as is the membership list of the club. Members used to visit regularly for lunch, afternoon tea, to work jigsaw puzzles or other ladylike pursuits. Now, diners and visitors are a rare sight. Muriel Sadler is the newly elected president of the club, and she’s determined to bring the club back to all its glory.
Avery Morgan is the latest in a long string of club managers. The choice to hire Avery had one nay vote—Muriel’s. She’s determined to make Avery quit. It just so happens, Muriel’s granddaughter is out of work—again. She feels club manager would be just the job for her and Muriel agrees. None of the other board members do.
A recent fire in the records room adds to the repairs needed. The cause is carelessness on the part of a member, and Muriel isn’t about to let that go without frequent and loud comments, always hurtful. Another of the problems is fuses blowing at the most inconvenient times. Avery has to make a trip to the musty, moldy basement to replace the latest blowout. Although flashlights are stashed in every room for just this reason, no one seems to replace the batteries. With a weak beam as her only light, Avery heads to the basement in search of the fuse box. Instead she receives two shocks—Muriel’s body is on the stairs, tossed down like so much trash—and there’s someone else in the basement. A young woman, dressed in period clothes, offers her help but can’t be found when the police arrive.
With no other working explanation, Avery is forced to admit the young woman, Clemmie, is a ghost. With the ghost’s help plus that of the hunky restoration specialist, Avery just might be able to find out the truth of who was not only behind Muriel’s death but Clemmie’s, a hundred years ago.
Good looking guys are in plentiful supply as Sergeant Alterman is the responding detective. Adding to the difficulties of the cases, keys to the mansion were given out freely to board members, never collected when terms ended. There’s new kitchen help, the fired gardener, and old grudges and secrets to consider, if anyone will talk.
This looks to be a new favorite series. Clemmie is delighted to find someone who can see and hear her after years of her own company. Alterman may be promising as a romantic interest for Avery. I look forward to the next book, Phantoms and Felonies, coming in March 2021.
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 “halloween reading,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 31, 2020. 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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