by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a perfect group of Penguin mysteries to end the Halloween month-Faux Paw: A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly, Murder She Wrote: The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Renee Paley-Bain, Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran, and Just Killing Time by Julianne Holmes. Details at the end of this post on how to win copies of all 4 books, and a link to purchase them.
Faux Paw: A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly
Review by Sandra Murphy
The Mayville Heights library, with head librarian Kathleen Paulson, is to host an art exhibition. Margo is in charge of hanging the art, finding just the right lighting and making sure security is tight. The drawing most people want to see is called the Weston sketch, a detailed look into the life of the Dakota tribe.
Let’s face it: Margo is a pain in the patoot. She’s repositioned the lights a half-dozen times, bought, returned, and bought again just the right light bulbs, and harps nonstop about security. She feels the Weston drawing should be in a museum. All in all, it’s one thing after another as books are moved, groups shifted to other meeting places, and changed again. Kathleen has the patience of Job to get through it all.
At home, things are not going smoothly either. Hercules and Owen, her magical cats, are feuding. Kathleen’s not sure what’s going on with them, but she’s not going to be in the middle of a Cat War. First, there’s a beheaded Fred the Funky Chicken, Owen’s favorite catnip toy. The main (and only) suspect is Hercules. Owen’s spending a lot of time in the basement so Kathleen knows he’s up to something, something that might have caused Hercules to retaliate. That mystery will have to wait until after the art show.
The night before the show, Kathleen is headed home when she sees the light on in her office at the library. Everything is supposed to be done, so who’s in her office, and why was the alarm turned off? Kathleen finds Margo and for once, she’s not working. Someone bashed her over the head and she’s dead.
Kathleen’s boyfriend is Marcus, also a detective, so he’s soon on the scene with his partner, Hope. Since the alarm system had two tiers of security, the only way the alarm could be off was if Margo disarmed it. The Weston drawing is gone and the art show is cancelled. The library, being a crime scene, is off limits to all.
The crime just gets more and more complicated after it’s discovered someone entered the library through the skylight—no one even knew it opened. Suspects could include Gavin, who set up the security, an art thief, identity unknown and… hmmm, really, that’s about it.
Hercules and Owen help as much as they can. Kathleen feels a little silly talking to them, but justifies it by knowing that talking to herself would be worse. Hercules and Owen steal every scene they’re in as they talk back to Kathleen in meows and mrrs. There’s a lot going on with the other characters too—Eddie the hockey player has a surprise for Roma, the veterinarian; Harry Senior has a secret girlfriend; Maggie and her boyfriend are getting closer; Rebecca and Everett are a delight as senior newlyweds. As good as the mystery is—and it’s good, with lots of plot twists and turns—the story is still character-driven, with Kathleen at the wheel. Reading a new episode is like dropping by to visit an old friend.
This is book seven in the series. They can be read out of order but you’ll want to follow the friendships as they grow, so start from the beginning.
Kelly has also written The Whole Cat and Caboodle, a Second Chance Cat mystery.
Murder She Wrote: The Ghost and Mrs. Fletcher by Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain and Renee Paley-Bain
Review by Sandra Murphy
Jessica is getting back into her routine in Cabot Cove, Maine, after a harrowing trip to a castle in England. Seth, her doctor and longtime friend, asks her to visit Cliff Cooper, owner of the Spencer Percy House, one of the oldest homes in town. Cliff’s in rehab but unfortunately, he doesn’t believe he’ll get well.
Cliff asks Jessica for a favor—write his will for him. He stipulates that the house be sold and the proceeds given to his grandson, who no one has seen in years. Jessica writes down his wishes and he signs the paper, but she insists she’ll have a lawyer drop by to make a proper will.
Before the lawyer can get there, Cliff is found dead. Seth is more than puzzled, but he was out of town that day and another doctor pronounced Cliff dead from complications due to pneumonia. Cliff had hired Eve, the town’s best (only) real estate agent to sell the house and she’s eager (maybe overly so) to get the show on the road. Elliot, the grandson, is enroute to Maine from Alaska, via motorcycle, so there’s time to make a lot of progress before he arrives.
Eve’s ready to chuck the contents of the house into the nearest dumpster but Jessica convinces her to slow down and see what’s valuable and what’s not. There are thousands of books on hand, most worth a few dollars at best but others a few hundred. It’s decided to have a book sale and donate the proceeds to the library. Jessica invites a bookseller she knows to come sift through the books for first editions or rare copies.
The Spencer Percy House is said to be haunted by a female ghost. It’s up for debate as to who the ghost was in life—it could have been an ancestor, or maybe Elliot’s mother who was reported killed in the jungles of South America along with his father. The ghost has been wreaking havoc, however: the handyman quit, the painters refused to stay, and library volunteers won’t even volunteer.
When a belated autopsy proves Cliff was murdered, Mort (the sheriff) has to figure out who had access in the hospital, why they’d want Cliff dead, and how to prove it. Suspects include the new handyman, the long lost grandson, the nurse who kept visitors away from Cliff and wanted him for herself, and the mysterious ghost.
Once again, Jessica’s able to pull all the clues together to solve an old mystery as well as Cliff’s death. The ghost? Well, that might be a bit harder to solve.
This is book forty-three in the long-running series. With all the real-life murders Jessica runs into, she’ll never lack for material for her books. The bookseller is a new character, at least to me. Arthur Bannister is funny and I hope he decides to move to Cabot Cove so readers can see more of him. After all, any town can use a bookstore, and rare books can be sold from anywhere, thanks to the Internet.
Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran
Review by Sandra Murphy
Carmela and Ava are at it again. It’s November in New Orleans and, as usual, there are parties to go to, and sales to make at their shops. Ava’s shop is JuJu Voodoo and Carmela’s scrapbooking store is Memory Mine.
After a romantic dinner at Commander’s Palace, Carmela and Babcock (her police detective boyfriend) hear a scream coming from the old cemetery. Isabelle Black, the bride-to-be they’d just seen at the restaurant, is dead, draped over an above-ground tomb. A groomsman is found lurking nearby but he swears he had nothing to do with the death. Her fiancé and other members of the wedding party left early, so could it be one of them?
Isabelle may have sounded flighty, but she was a lawyer. It’s impossible to say whether or not her death had anything to do with her cases. Her sister, Ellie, works as a tarot card reader for Ava and asks Carmela to look into the matter, based on her past successful performance.
Babcock seems a bit more mellow about Carmela’s involvement this time around. Isabelle was strangled with antique lace, so he admits that Carmela would have a better chance finding out about things like that than he would. Being Carmela, she takes that as permission and runs with it.
Naomi, a member of the wedding party, seems a good suspect because she is an ex of the groom-to-be and seems anxious to resume her previous role. He’d be a good one, too, except he’s so wishy-washy. His mother seems a better bet; she’s just mean.
Carmela does continue to put herself in dangerous situations, like going into a deserted office area of the hotel to leave a package. She’s followed but she doesn’t tell Babcock in order not to worry him. At the end, once again, she figures out who’s the killer while at an evening-gown affair, and chases after the killer, high heels, long dress and all, without waiting for Babcock and the police. The rest of her life is so perfect in every way—if she’s going to have only one flaw, I’d rather see one that showed more sense and self-preservation.
The mystery is a good one although I did figure out the killer —not the motive. Reading about the party city of New Orleans and all the good food is always fun, as well as catching up on the latest news from the characters.
Carmela shares scrapbooking tips and recipes for pecan pie mini muffins, pasta primavera, caramel shortbread bars, easy butter chicken, sweet potato casserole, apple fritters, rice pudding, Bourbon Street cocktail sausages, Old English crumb cake, and Jalapeno popper spread.
This is book thirteen of this series. Childs also writes the Cackleberry Club mysteries (six) and the Tea Shop series (16). Coming soon, Crepe Factor (scrapbooking), Egg Drop Dead (Cackleberry Club) and writing as Gerry Schmitt, in a new thriller series, Finders Creepers, a darker mystery.
Just Killing Time by Julianne Holmes
Review by Sandra Murphy
Ruth Clagan had a falling-out with her grandfather. She thought she’d found the love of her life, and he disagreed. Turns out he was right, which is a hard thing to admit. After her grandmother’s death, her grandfather remarried in what looked like an unseemly rush. Before they can reconcile their differences, he’s murdered.
GT (Grandpa Thom) owned a clock shop. He repaired clocks, built them, maintained clock tower clocks, and more. Now Ruth’s inherited the shop and its contents. Of course, she has a life of her own, but a small town and being her own boss holds appeal. There’d been a break-in at the shop a few weeks before and it’s thought the thief came back, met up with GT, and killed him. Ruth isn’t so sure.
Although Ruth never wanted a stepmother, she’s got one, and luckily she turns out to be much nicer than expected (and not a gold digger). Ruth’s also able to reconnect with her old friend Moira, now owner of the diner, which is an unexpected turn of events. It’s unsettling to find out the new town administrator wants to turn the whole place into a vacation destination. That means chain stores and franchises, an idea that doesn’t go over well. GT and his friend were against it, but his friend died and GT carried on the fight alone.
Things have changed in town. The barber shop/beauty shop is now more of a salon, but the owner is pretty cute. The grocery store has new owners too and promotes buy-local, buy-healthy foods. There’s talk of tearing down the clock tower instead of renovating it as GT wanted to do. Some change is good, some not so much.
Although Ruth believes GT didn’t have any enemies, there are those who didn’t agree with his vision of the town. She’s able to ask a few questions, but the shop is overloaded with clocks since GT bought an estate’s worth. Some are valuable, some not, and one is supposed to be a clue—but to what? Just making room to walk around and see what’s there is an overwhelming proposition.
This is the first in a new series and one I look forward to reading again. Ruth doesn’t take crazy risks or bulldoze her way into finding out what happened. There’s the possibility of romance, but the mystery comes first. Clues and hints lead to a satisfying conclusion. Bezel, the cat, rules the shop and knows it. Moira and Ruth are people you’d like to hang out with, especially if Moira’s mother is cooking because you’d want to sample her pumpkin soup.
There’s plenty of information about clocks thrown in without it turning into the dreaded information dump. This is a small town that feels like home.
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 “cats & ghosts,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 7, 2015. 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.
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Wow! What a deal! They all sound like GREAT reads – thanks for offering them to us! And, if I don’t win, I’ll add them TBR list!
I would love to have this great bunch of bks.
I’ve been reading about all four books, and became very interesting in Faux Paws. Now, one can win the cake and frosting, too.
Thanks so much for highlighting these awesome authors and their books and for the awesome giveaway! Thank you!
Four great books to win! Amazing contest. Thanks for the chance. I love them all.
These book sound amazing! Thank you for the chance to win.
Oh wow this is a fabulous bunch of books to read and every one of them something I have been wanting…please enter me and thank you so much.
Books sound like good reads! Thanks for the chance!
These are an amazing giveaway. All are by great authors. Thank you for the chance.
I want to read them all!!! Thanks for the giveaway!
Would love to have a chance to win. Jessica and Laura are two of my favorite writers.
Great reviews. Can’t wait to read the new series. Thanks for introducing me to two series I haven’t read. Thanks for the chance to win.
What great books would love to win
Awesome giveaway! Some really wonderful authors. Fingers crossed!
Scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com
We have a winner
Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher
Oh gosh this has to be one of my favorite contests you have done…love all of these but haven’t read them. Please enter me.