by Sandra Murphy
There are so many wonderful mystery novels out there we constantly find ourselves playing catch-up with our reviews, so here we are again with a great group of mysteries-Treacherous Is the Night: A Verity Kent series by Anna Lee Huber, In Want of a Knife: A Little Library Mystery by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, Read and Gone: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook, Murder Flies the Coop: Beryl and Edwina Mystery by Jessica Ellicott, and Silver Anniversary Murder: Lucy Stone series by Leslie Meier. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 5 books, along with links you can use to purchase them.
Treacherous Is the Night: A Verity Kent series by Anna Lee Huber
Review by Sandra Murphy
In 1919 in England, the Great War has ended. With so many dead, families find comfort in séances and mediums, to speak to their loved ones. Of course, many of the mediums are scam artists.
Verity Kent thought she was a war widow herself, but then her husband, Sidney, showed up, alive and mostly well. He has what would be now called PTSD, nightmares and depression. While he was deployed, Verity worked for the Secret Service as an agent or courier. A friend convinces Verity to attend a séance in spite of a bad experience after her husband was presumed dead.
In the midst of what should have been standard patter telling parents or widows the dead were in a better place, the madam suddenly calls out to Verity, saying she’s needed by a friend. The problem is, the friend was another courier, Emilie, whose name should never be revealed.
Verity is determined to investigate even after she’s discouraged by the Secret Service office. She and Sidney arrive to question the medium, only to find the building in flames and the medium trapped inside. To burn so fast and so completely, it had to have been arson. Now Verity is sure there’s more to what’s happened than a stranger mentioning a name she knows.
This is murder.
She heads back to war torn Belgium, Sidney by her side. She’s sure it will bring back horrible memories for him as they pass through battlefields. It doesn’t help that now the killing fields are practically a tourist attraction as families take day trips to see where it all happened.
Complicating matters is how much secrecy lies between Sidney and Verity. He can’t speak about the war and the deaths he saw. She can’t speak about the espionage work she did. He knows she worked closely with a couple of men and wonders, just how closely was that. And when undercover, posing as a couple, how far did they go to be convincing?
Following a series of clues, enemies hot on their trail, Verity and Sidney make their way through the countryside in search of Verity’s friend, Emilie. It may be harder to imagine the blend of a thriller and a slower paced historical mystery than one set in modern times with fast communication, encrypted emails and other technology, but Huber pulls it off flawlessly. It’s a hold-your-breath page turner to find Emilie and stop a terrorist attack.
This Side of Murder was the first in the series. Verity is a likable, believable character. Her life with Sidney is complicated, far more than the usual husband/wife problems. She also has a strained relationship with her overbearing, overly critical mother. She is a good friend, a loyal subject, and a loving, if sometimes awkward, wife.
A bit of time travel will take you back to 1919 to prowl beside Verity in an effort to find the truth. Wear your galoshes and be prepared for some excitement.
In Want of a Knife: A Little Library Mystery by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Review by Sandra Murphy
Jenny Wilson spends part of her time maintaining little libraries. Those are the ones that hold a dozen books or so and a sign that says “take one, leave one.” Jenny lives with her mom, temporarily she says, and next door is Zoe Zola. Zoe writes novels and lives in a fairy garden. She has tiny houses scattered through her garden, complete with fairies. She swears they move things around at night.
As fanciful as Zoe can be, she’s sensible enough when trying to solve a murder. Jenny helps, of course. When a young woman is found dead, no sign of foul play, drugs, or wounds, it’s a puzzle. Add to that, she’s dressed in an old-fashioned white gown of some sort. Very weird. A second girl goes missing, and it’s time for Zoe and Jenny to be involved since the girl’s mother asked for help. It’s going to take a lot of cooperation to find the missing girl alive and prevent another girl from disappearing.
The disappearance might have something to do with new people in town. One is a really wealthy guy who is also a little person like Zoe. You’d think they’d have enough in common to be friends but take an instant dislike to each other. The other new neighbors are three sisters who claim to be witches. They’re opening a school where children will be taught to appreciate nature. That idea is not welcome to most townspeople. Kids taught by witches? It’s a wonder burning at the stake isn’t on the agenda.
When the rich guy decides to throw a party and invite the whole town, everyone wants to see his house. The surprise is, he’s offering to spend two million dollars for one project in town and all are welcome to submit ideas. While seemingly a good gesture, it causes a lot of problems.
This is the third book in the series. Zoe is not a very social person but is good friends with Jenny and her mom. Things are mellowing between them. Whether or not it will be the same result with the rich man remains to be seen. The mystery is a good one where it’s a tossup whether the reason lies in he past or the present. I’ve read all three books, and although Zoe took a little getting used to, by the end of book one, I grew to like her and want to read more.
Buzzelli also writes the Nut House mysteries (3), and the Emily Kincaid series (4), plus a stand alone book. Written with humor and suspense, readers will want to sample them all.
Read and Gone: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook
Review by Sandra Murphy
On the night of her thirtieth birthday, Carrie Singleton’s father showed up. It wouldn’t be unusual for most people but Carrie’s dad chose to break into her house at three in the morning. He’s been absent for most of her life due to his job—jewel thief. His main purpose for being back is to recover his share of a multi-million-dollar jewel heist—and oh yeah, to catch up with his only daughter.
Carrie’s the program and special events coordinator for the public library. As such, she gets to schedule guest speakers like jeweler Benton Parr to talk about gemstones and choral groups to sing Christmas carols. Benton’s talk was a huge success. After all, who doesn’t like to hear about diamonds, sapphires, and rubies? He also showed uncut stones and finished jewelry pieces from his store. A popular man in town, Carrie is stunned to find out Benton is her dad’s partner in the jewel heist.
You’d think stolen jewels would be something best kept secret but a surprising number of people know the jewels are hidden and are determined to find them. When Benton is found stabbed to death, the suspect list includes everyone who wanted the jewels or the reward, his family, his girlfriend, girlfriend’s husband, a threatening stranger and Carrie’s dad.
To complicate matters further, Carrie’s landlord and boyfriend, Dylan, is an insurance investigator. Guess who’s on his radar about the stolen jewels. Carrie has to decide, which came first, Dylan’s interest in her or his interest in her father. Is Dylan just using her to get close to her dad?
At her job, Carrie has a secret of her own. Evelyn, a former library employee, is now a ghost in the library. She can only be seen by Carrie and a four-year-old who visits. Evelyn is a good source of information about the library and the townspeople. Also at the library is Smokey Joe, a rescued kitten who decided he’s the library cat. He comes to work with Carrie each day to visit patrons.
Dad’s reappearance has created a lot of conflict for Carrie. He’s her dad and she has a few good memories and loves him. He’s a jewel thief who expects her to help him find the jewels. She knows once he does, he’s gone again. Then there’s Dylan. Show loyalty to her dad or admit she loves Dylan even though he might get her father arrested? As the bodies add up, the suspect pool dwindles. Will Carrie find the jewels first? What will it do to her relationship with her dad when she turns them over to Dylan?
This is the second book in the series. Carrie’s found a true home at the library, doing work she loves. She’s got friends and an aunt and uncle are nearby. She’s not sure of a long-term future with Dylan but is hopeful. Smokey Joe is a scene-stealer, as he should be. The mystery is a good one that kept me guessing until the end. Readers will be anxious for book three to arrive.
Murder Flies the Coop: Beryl and Edwina Mystery by Jessica Ellicott
Review by Sandra Murphy
Daredevil adventurer Beryl Helliwell and the much more conservative Edwina Davenport are old school chums. When odd circumstances lead to their reunion, it seems to be a lucky turn of events for both. Edwina desperately needs money and Beryl has some. It makes sense for the women to share Edwina’s house, rather than her to take in a stranger. Besides, Beryl is tired of jumping out of planes and being captured by bandits or some such.
Beryl isn’t above making a good story better. To cover Edwina’s embarrassment about being late paying her accounts with local merchants, Beryl spreads the tale they are undercover agents for the Queen. At first no one believed them, but then, out of the blue, they got a case to solve. Now they’ve established themselves as legitimate rather than snoops.
Now the vicar has asked for their help. He’s also president of the local pigeon racing club. Like the rest of England, the club is very class conscious. This organization is for gentlemen. Workmen have their own club and rules. The problem is, the treasurer is missing along with the funds and several prize birds that belong to other members.
Theirs must be a discreet inquiry.
Edwina amazes herself by asking for a shockingly high fee which the vicar agrees to without debate. Knowing nothing about pigeon racing, Beryl and Edwina are off to the races, literally and figuratively. After visits to the treasurer’s boarding house and job, they go to his loft to check for clues. It’s there they find his body, the only witnesses, his own birds. One mystery solved.
The next step? To have a gin fizz and puzzle out what might have happened to the missing money and ways to find the prize birds before members realize they’re gone and scandal hits the fan. And find the killer, of course.
Beryl and Edwina are a delightful pair. Edwina calms Beryl’s frantic lifestyle and Beryl boosts Edwina’s confidence. They manage to get into predicaments they couldn’t foresee but also manage to get out of them. The history of post-war England, its economy and the beauty of the countryside are seamlessly woven into the story.
This is the second in the series, an enjoyable romp through the English countryside with old friends who’d welcome you to hop into the car to ride along. Be warned—Beryl drives like a maniac.
Silver Anniversary Murder: Lucy Stone series by Leslie Meier
Review by Sandra Murphy
Lucy Stone is happy in Maine, but now and again, she’d like to be in New York City again. After all, a town with one stop light doesn’t compare with the city that never sleeps. A small town is not without its entertainment, though. Sylvia and Warren have been married twenty-five years now. Sylvia runs the local bridal shop and Warren has the limo service. It sounds like a much happier marriage than it is.
Sylvia never stops promoting and drives a hard bargain while doing it so that others pay for her ideas. This time it’s a town-wide silver anniversary bash. Of course, she badgers the newspaper into free publicity, other shopkeepers into advertising (and then calls the celebration by her bridal shop’s name), and generally makes herself a pain in the patoot.
Wedding thoughts cause Lucy to think about Beth, her maid of honor and friend since kindergarten. When she calls Beth, she gets the bad news that Beth has died—suicide. It seems unlikely that Beth would jump from the penthouse balcony. At the funeral, Lucy finds Beth was in the midst of divorcing her billionaire husband (#4). Lucy takes a week off from work to spend in New York but seemingly innocent questions end up getting Lucy in more trouble than she imagined possible.
This is book twenty-eight in the long running popular series. Two of Lucy’s kids are “grown and flown,” two are in college and living at home, and she has a grandson. Her relationship with husband Bill is strong. She enjoys her job as a reporter for the local weekly newspaper.
It was a nice change of pace to get Lucy out of her comfort zone, away from friends and family and able to rely on herself. There are changes in store as Lucy gets more confident, spends time on herself and by herself instead of always putting her family first.
Catching up with Lucy’s family and friends is just as much reason to read the books as is the mystery. There are plenty of false clues scattered among the real ones to keep the story interesting. Lucy as an empty nester will be a challenge to be reckoned with.
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 catch-up,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 3, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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 check our our new mystery podcast! The October episodes are perfect for Halloween!
You can click on these links to purchase any of these books. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link:
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.