education pathways

Home » Posts tagged 'arson'

Tag Archives: arson

Standoff–my first audiobook


by Patricia Bradley

My first foray into the world of audiobooks was on a recent roadtrip by myself. Because I am a newbie to this medium, I was going to forgo a review. By the time I got to the end of Standoff by Patricia Bradley, however, I realized I do have some insights to share.

  1. Although the format, an audio book, is interesting, I don’t think it will ever replace actually reading the book. Just as I enjoy print copies and e-books, audiobooks are another tool in my toolbox but not my favorite at this point.
  2. You need uninterrupted alone time to be able to enjoy an audiobook.
  3. I listened to this book because I had read # 4 (Deception) in the series and wanted the backstory. That is not what I got. I discovered the series is composed of four different protagonists with some overlap in minor characters. These books can truly be read as standalones.
  4. As a newcomer to audio books, but not to dramatic arts, I hesitate in my judgement of Rachel Dulade, the book’s reader. She had a difficult task as she spoke in a deep South, Louisiana accent for a variety of characters, both men and women. It was difficult to distinguish her male characters from each other. Her narrator voice was without accent and well done.
  5. The plot itself was excellent. The book started out a bit slow, but by the end the pace was heart-thumpingly fast.
  6. My favorite supporting character is Daisy, an elderly neighbor of Brooke, the protagonist. Daisy is a wise and independent woman who hovers on the brink of needing extra help in her daily activities.
  7. There are a lot of moral and ethical issues the characters must face. Suspicion casts its shadow on a number of Rangers and political standouts. It is hard for Brooke to  know whom to trust. The reader is also given an inside peek at the many ways people deal with grief.
  8. I recommend this book and series in whatever format you prefer.

Rating: book—5/5, audio—4/5 

Category: Mystery, Suspense, Christian Fiction

Notes: #1 in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers Series, but is a standalone novel.

Publication:  May 4, 2020—Baker Publishing, Tantor audio

Neighbors To Die For–motivation for murder

Neighbors To Die For

by Linda Lovely

This cozy mystery begins with an intimidating list of characters, but the author notes “No worries. You’ll meet them gradually.” That is in fact what happens. I had no trouble keeping up with the characters who are well-described and interesting. The protagonists are all associated with the Welch HOA Management Company. Most of them are older adults. Ted Welch owns the company, and Kylee Kane is his security consultant. Both are retired government employees. Grant, Ted’s son, is home from the Citadel for Thanksgiving vacation. Kylee’s mom Myrtle is a retired nurse who also works for the company. Many of the issues brought to the HOA’s are minor like the color of landscaping materials, but it doesn’t stay that way!

The story is narrated by these characters and by one other mysterious individual who is represented by the term “The Leader.” He has a nefarious plan, but to distance himself from  criminal activities he hires three not very bright thugs. He calls  himself Q. The plot moves along quickly with fairly short chapters that will keep you turning pages as the protagonists rescue a group abandoned overnight on an island and trace down others who have been kidnapped. Is the Leader really part of Neuter1, an environmental terrorist group, or is that camouflage to deceive his thugs and others? To what lengths will the Leader go to cover up his activities? 

Neighbors To Die For is a fun cozy mystery with a South Carolina Lowcountry setting. If you are interested in yachts, there are descriptions of various types. The book has interesting characters and the perfect amount of adventure right up to the end. When the major threads are tied up, there are still a few surprises for the reader.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #2 in the HOA Mystery Series, but I read it as a standalone with no problems.

    2. It contains some profanity, more than is typical in a cozy mystery.

Publication:  November 8, 2022—Level Best Books

Memorable Lines:

No one makes a sound. We barely dare to breathe. It is so quiet I imagine I could hear dust bunnies doing a dance routine.

“…your dad and I always preached that when you see wrongs, keeping silent, doing nothing is the same as giving your blessing.”

“How come I always have to chop onions?”  “We’ve shed a lot more tears than you,” Mom replies. “Onions let you catch up without any of the heartache.”

Murder, She Edited–problematic inheritance

Murder, She Edited

by Kaitlyn Dunnett

Mikki Lincoln is a character I can immediately identify with. She has retired from teaching but is earning extra money as a freelance editor. She is good at identifying punctuation and grammar errors and feels a compulsion to correct them. When running out on an errand she trades her “lightweight sweatpants and somewhat ratty T-shirt for jeans and a clean T-shirt with no holes.” Sounds good to me!

The cozy mystery opens with Mikki receiving a letter from a law firm informing her that she has inherited land from an almost forgotten friend of her deceased mother. There is an odd stipulation that to receive the inheritance she must locate some diaries in the farmhouse, edit them, post them on the Internet, and produce an e-book with them—all in a short amount of time. Finding the diaries is a difficult and eventually dangerous task.

I like Mikki. In spite of beginning her marriage in a time when a woman could not get a mortgage or other credit in her own name, she is a strong, independent woman. She is very intelligent, and she approaches this challenge with the same tenacity as a dog with a bone. The puzzle of where the diaries are and who wrote them leads to a potential cold case of murder and the uncovering of secrets from the past and present. Someone was willing to kill to prevent their discovery. Mikki has several concerned friends who help and protect her, and she achieves the grudging respect of the law authorities.

There is also a subplot about a steamy romance author who was a teaching colleague of Mikki’s. She wrote under an assumed name. A fan of this author wants to meet her and wants Mikki to make it happen. This addition to the story provides a little comic relief and distraction from the intensity of the main plot.

I liked Murder, She Edited from start to finish. A cozy with the main character in her early 70’s appeals to me, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #4 in the Deadly Edits Series, but can easily be read as a standalone. I missed one of the books in the series, but it did not hamper my enjoyment of the others.

Publication: July 27, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

I bestowed what I call my “sweet but dithery little old lady smile” on him, the one I usually save for security officers at the airport and policemen who think I’m meddling where I shouldn’t.

I wondered what would happen if I didn’t correct all those silly errors. Would the Friends of the Library vote to replace me as editor? I doubted it. No one else wanted the job. Besides, I didn’t think I had it in me to spot a grammar, punctuation, or usage error and not fix it.

Ordinarily, I don’t like to badger people, but I was fed up with the runaround I’d been getting. I leveled my best former teacher’s glare at the young woman and waited for her to cave. She burst into tears.

Courting Can Be Killer–partially requited love

Courting Can Be Killer

by Amanda Flower

Millie Fisher, the “sedate Amish woman,” and Lois Henry, the “flamboyant Englisher,” join forces again to solve a murder, one quite personal to Millie. Don’t worry If you missed the first book in the Amish Matchmaker Mystery Series as author Amanda Flower is quite skilled in providing background information. There are also tie-ins to Flower’s Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series, but the two function independently of each other.

In Courting Can Be Killer, Millie and Lois were childhood friends and are now in their sixties. They are as opposite as possible, but they complement each other and prize their friendship. Lois loves being the sidekick of the “Amish Marple” and is a bonus to the relationship because she is not bound in her investigations by the strict Amish code, sometimes stretching the truth until it breaks. Her driving a car and having a cell phone are quite handy as well.

When a fire breaks out in a flea market, Millie’s “adopted nephew” Ben is found dead. Rumors spread fast in the Amish community that Ben, who recently moved to the area and is therefore considered an outsider, is responsible for the fire. The duo set out to defend the young man’s reputation. In the process, Millie comes under attack although the long-suffering Deputy Sheriff Aiden has warned her numerous times that her interviewing various suspects is dangerous. Lois, however, is delighted as she see the assault as a sign that they are getting close to discovering the murderer.

Woven into the main plot are some potential romances as Millie is known as the local matchmaker. Animals provide both chaos and humor as Jethro the potbellied pig makes an appearance, and Millie’s two mischievous Boer goats, Phillip and Peter, cause havoc and provide protection. The Amish are not immune from having dysfunctional families, and we meet several in this cozy mystery. The ending is a surprise and justice is served. The epilogue gives closure for the characters with a little positive philosophy thrown in as well, and the sound advice is from the Englischer!

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Amish Matchmaker Mystery Series

Publication: December 1, 2020—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“…in this life one should always be willing to take a chance and roll the dice.” She grinned. “That sounds like one of the Amish proverbs you recite all the time, doesn’t it?” “It doesn’t.” I shook my head. “Not at all.”

“I knew when my second husband bought a singing bass for our living room wall that there were no more rules when it came to good taste.”

A feeling of peace came over me. I knew the Good Lord had moved Lois to come and check on me. It gave me comfort to know this, and the fear I had been holding onto all evening started to melt away.

Lowcountry Boondoggle–growing hemp for supercapacitors

Lowcountry Boondoggle

by Susan M. Boyer

I am not regularly a reader of paranormal books, but Susan M. Boyer’s cozy mysteries have a different sort of paranormal twist. They focus on Liz Talbot, P.I., who is married to Nate, also a P.I. and her business partner. It’s no spoiler in my review of the ninth book in the series to say one of the characters is the spirit of Colleen who passed away during her junior year in high school. A spunky redhead, she has returned on a mission to guard their little town of Stella Maris. There are rules she has to follow or there will be consequences. Liz and Nate are the only people who can see her. She adds humor to the books but also aids in the investigations—sporadically. I write about her at such length because she has a pivotal role in this book, but to say more would indeed be a spoiler.

There are a number of threads in Lowcountry Boondoggle. Darius, a former reality TV star has been located by Brantley, his “long-lost love child” who is the sole survivor of a fire that wiped out his adoptive family’s home. Brantley has teamed up with two other friends, Tyler and Will, to establish an agricultural business to raise hemp. The young men will be concentrating on selling the stems to make supercapacitors, and they need money to start their business.

The plot centers around arson, murder, theft, deception, and jealousy. There is some humorous relief when Liz discovers her father’s plotting to create a Halloween scene on steroids on the front lawn. What will Mama say? Foodies will enjoy descriptions of Liz’s mama’s Southern cooking as well as some of the couple’s extravagant dining at the expense of their clients.

The plot was well-devised, but seemed to drag a little. I also didn’t enjoy the characters as much as I have in some other cozy mysteries in this series. Even the setting didn’t have the pizzaz I expected. Fortunately, I have read several books in this series and know the next one will probably be more to my taste as Boyer has included several intriguing hooks in her conclusion.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #9 in the Liz Talbot Mystery Series

Publication:   June 30, 2020—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“…bad people are often very good at hiding behind masks of fake virtue.”

My husband was up to something, just as sure as azaleas would bloom all over Charleston in the spring.

“I always thought I had plenty of time, no rush. We make that same mistake all the time, don’t we? Thinking we have time?”

Murder by Suggestion–murder is no joking matter

Murder by Suggestion

by Veronica Heley

Murder by SuggestionA group of neglected wives at the country club joke around about ways to kill off their husbands. They find it amusing until deaths start occurring. Who really wants these men dead and why? And why do the men respond to the jokes so passionately? Author Veronica Heley weaves a fascinating story in Murder by Suggestion as Ellie Quicke again finds herself in the middle of a mystery that brings uninvited houseguests and more than a little danger into her quiet and comfortable home. Her daughter Diana is at the center of the chaos, and she is responding to her problems with no grace and even less charm. It is all Ellie can do to not attack her own daughter in response to her insulting and outrageous behavior. Diana, never an easy person, seems outside the realm of reason until she discloses the cause of her extreme behavior.

Heley writes in such a way that as you finish one chapter you really must start the next. I love it when a book is that engaging. Another interesting aspect of this book is that the setting is almost entirely in Ellie’s home. The action comes to her: she talks to people and sorts out the who’s, how’s and why’s. Although there are a lot of major characters, it was easy for me to keep them straight along with their marital partners. All in all, another successful mystery in this excellent series.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #19 in the Ellie Quicke Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   October 1, 2018—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Dear Lord above. What a mess. I know you are here as well as in church. I haven’t time to tell you all that’s been happening. Oh, how stupid I am. You know, anyway, don’t you? Any words of wisdom for me?

“It may be raining outside. You’ve had a bad time today and the future is uncertain, but you are all here, safe and sound. Take the time to rest and recover. Be thankful for the meal. Let tomorrow bring what it will. Tonight you are among friends.”

Somehow or other she had to get to the bottom of this tangled skein of motives, or someone else would die.

False Fire–no milquetoast in sight!

False Fire

by Veronica Heley

False FireThe author of False Fire, Veronica Heley, 83 years old and creator of over 70 books, just made my “go to” mystery writer list. The list is short; it starts and ends with Agatha Christie. At no point in reading False Fire did I want to put it down. There were no artificial hooks to keep me reading—it was the action of the plot. It just kept moving at such a rapid pace, starting with the first chapter, that I was compelled to devour the book.

The writing was well-done, and the characters were interesting. Heley has created a main character in Bea Abbot who is resourceful, observant, and intelligent. She runs the Abbot Agency—for domestics, not detectives. In False Fire, Bea is attending a dinner when a fire breaks out in the home, followed by an explosion and power outages. There is general mayhem and children to be rescued. Later Bea has to sort through the relationships of a very dysfunctional family to try to discover the arsonist. Was the crime, in fact, arson? There are many Britishisms but most are understandable within the context, and all add to the fun of reading a book by a British author.

I am so grateful to have found this prolific author. Although I enjoy the diversity of themes and ideas in cozy mysteries, I appreciate even more a mystery like this one that is hardcore in the sense that the focus is the developing plot. At the same time, there is not a detailed description of violence or sex. The language is always appropriate. While this is in no way a Christian book, the author’s faith is evident as she has her main character pray for help on several occasions. Both the main character and the mystery should be described as “strong”: no evidence of milquetoast in sight!

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #11 in the Abbot Agency series, but easily read like a standalone for me

Publication:   April 1, 2017—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

The other girl was a sweetie, but not exactly the Brain of Britain.

Bernice gave alternate mouthfuls to Teddy, who was assuming a careworn appearance. Much loving can do that to you.

The man plunged down the corridor, disappearing into tendrils of smoke which curled about the figure and obscured him from Bea’s view. She stumbled after him, straining her eyes to see through the mist, which thickened and darkened as they advanced.

%d bloggers like this: