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What She Found–cold case with coverups

What She Found

by Robert Dugoni

Tracy Crosswhite, with three awards for valor, has moved from working with a team in the Violent Crimes Section to being the only detective in the Cold Case Unit in Seattle. The perks are a private office and more regular hours so she can spend more time with her husband and baby girl. She has just completed a successful investigation into a serial killer bringing closure for a lot of families and good press to the Seattle Police Department at a time when some groups are calling for defunding the force.

Twenty-five years earlier Lisa Childress, an investigative reporter for a Seattle newspaper, had a 2:00 A.M. meeting with an informer in a warehouse district. She also had a husband and young daughter, but she never returned to them. The daughter appeals to Crosswhite for help.

Author Robert Dugoni has created a plot that will set your head spinning with its complications. Themes include police and community politics, ethics, family relationships, the role of the press, drugs, amnesia, and statutes of limitations. Crimes range from blackmail to murder. Crosswhite finds it difficult to get people to talk about old crimes whether from aging memories or shame. Many of the witnesses are dead. Crosswhite, for personal and professional reasons, will not be deterred in her efforts to bring the truth to light. Honor, justice, and truth are important virtues in the way she lives her life. By the conclusion, everyone has a renewed sense of the importance of family. Crosswhite is a skilled investigator—intelligent and clever in her ability to uncover secrets, follow up on clues, and connect disparate threads.

What She Found is suspenseful without indulging in graphic violence or stepping over the line into the psychological thriller category. This mystery has more action than an Agatha Christie novel; but, as found in a Christie mystery, it requires a protagonist up to the mental challenge. This is not a “happily ever after” book, but the reader will find satisfaction in the conclusion.

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: General Fiction, Mystery

Notes: 1. #9 in the Tracy Crosswhite Series. I read 2 books in Dugoni’s Charles Jenkins Series and liked them enough to try a book relatively late in this series. To my surprise, It worked quite well as a standalone. Although he does characters well, Dugoni’s books are more about the plot than the characters.
2. Another puzzlement for me is that I finished the book and noted that there had been “some mild swearing.” Normally that would mean about 4 or 5 instances. In doing a search, however, I found there were many more examples of inappropriate language (about 30) than had registered with me. So, am I becoming used to that in my reading, was it appropriate to the characters, or was the story so well told that I kept reading without noticing them? I truly don’t know.

Publication: August 23, 2022—Thomas & Mercer

Memorable Lines:

Tracy knew regret was much harder to live with than failure. Regret caused you to second-guess what you hadn’t done.

Honoring her word was more important than pleasing her chief, though it certainly would not be without consequences. It might not be the smartest decision Tracy ever made, but it was the honorable one.

“What I’ve learned is that life isn’t about memories. It isn’t about the past. It’s about living in the present and looking to the future, and what that future holds for each of us.”

Tender is the Bite–K-9 narrator

Tender is the Bite

by Spencer Quinn

The dynamic duo of the Little Detective Agency are on the case again. In fact, it seems like several cases. Bernie is the human, and Chet is his canine side-kick. The story is told from Chet’s point of view. Bernie sees Chet as an equal partner and refers to the team as “we” in talking to clients, police officers, and friends. There is a lot of humor in the tale as Chet describes his communications with Bernie and references past mishaps where he has perhaps been a little too exuberant. Most people, even some “perps,” like and respect both members of the team. One thing you can be sure of is that Chet and Bernie will always have each other’s back.

In Tender is the Bite there is lots going on. Some Ukrainians with a secretive boss try to send them on a highly paid security detail in Hawaii. Two young ladies, a standup comedian, and a ferret keep cropping up. A politician and his wife are somehow involved with the others, and a thread emerges that introduces a woman on the police force to Bernie, but is complicated by an officer who seems to have some shady connections. I had a lot of fun with Chet’s view of events and his efforts to understand figures of speech. I also enjoyed watching the pair unravel the many secrets. There is plenty of action to keep you turning the pages.

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, Humor

Notes: 1. Occasional foul language.
2. This is #11 in the Chet and Bernie series. I have read two others in the series. I didn’t enjoy #10 as much as I did the first or this one. This one checked the boxes for both humor and mystery, and can easily be read as a standalone.

Publication: July 6, 2021—Macmillan—Tor/Forge

Memorable Lines:

“I reckon he knows we’re talkin’ about him—tail’s a dead giveaway.” Something about my tail? Yes, I could feel it. I myself was perfectly still and calm, correct behavior in an interview. My tail is not always a team player. I got it back in line, and in no uncertain terms.

Soon I was in the shower too! Had I forgotten once again about the problem of the shower curtain and how the whole thing with all the poles and screws and rings can come crashing down? Show me the dude who can remember everything.

“On the other hand,” Bernie said, “sometimes it’s a good idea to stir up the hornet’s nest, see where they go.” I gazed at Bernie. He looked good—well rested, not hung over, certainly not sick or feverish. A joke, perhaps? Could there be anything good about hornets? Wasn’t stirring up the nest the last thing you wanted to do? As for seeing where the hornets go, they always go the same place, right at you. Take it from me.

Murder on the Menu–21st century Nosey Parker

Murder on the Menu

by Fiona Leitch

A delightful British cozy mystery, Murder on the Menu takes us to the fictional town of Penstowan in Cornwall where Jodie Parker and her daughter Daisy have returned to Jodie’s hometown after years on the police force in London. Wanting to remain safe for her daughter’s sake, Jodie retrained in culinary school and plans on starting a catering business. She gets her first job (from an old friend getting married) with little notice, but is anxious to prove herself.

The case of a murdered ex-wife and a bride who may have done a runner returns Jodie to her investigative roots. As she tries to discover the who and why, Nosey (as her childhood nickname used to be) Parker meets the handsome DCI Withers who really wishes she would stay out of his investigations and crime scenes.

I enjoyed all the Britishisms. I know biscuits in England are cookies in the U.S., but terms like “Jammie Dodgers,” butty with brown sauce,” and “ponce” sent me scurrying to the Internet. I love sleuthing words!

The characters are interesting and humor in dialogue and plot is sprinkled throughout. I enjoyed the Cornish accent and word choice like “guv” and “copper;” They are stronger in some of the characters than others depending on their backgrounds. Her mum and Daisy are appropriately supportive of Jodie’s passion for police work that she has trouble leaving behind. Jodie, to the delight of Daisy, adopts a Pomeranian when its human mom is murdered. An expert at “escapology,” the white fluff ball becomes a constant companion and essential to the plot.

The plot is complicated and Jodie is good at both finding clues and deducting their meanings. Our perception of DCI Withers develops from that of an “annoying git,” to a fair and honest investigator.

The setting includes the many varied locales from the town of Penstowan to tourist campsites and from the hotel for the wedding reception to the church hall for the weekly women’s coffee group.

The next three books in the series have already been published as there was lots of time for writing in New Zealand during the lockdown of 2020. This poses a task that I look forward to handling.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Harper 360 (One More Chapter) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Notes: 1. #1 in the Nosey Parker Cozy Mystery Series
2. Some questionable language

Publication: February 15, 2022—Harper 360 (One More Chapter)

Memorable Lines:

“This is your first major case here—definitely your first murder case; we don’t get a lot of those down this way—and you want to make a good impression by solving it quickly. But this is Cornwall. We don’t do things quickly here, and we don’t expect you to, either. We just want you to do it properly.”

“Are you all right, love?” she said, offering me a wine gum before adding with typical Cornish understatement, “That were a bit intense, weren’t it?”

I was excited about my new catering business,…but this got my adrenaline pumping in a way that making a velouté never could. I’d never been a detective, as such, but I’d always been nosey.

Put Out to Pasture–a victim’s startling past

Put Out to Pasture

by Amanda Flower

Since I enjoy Amanda Flower’s cozy mysteries, I left the first one in her new series Farm to Table Mysteries scratching my head in wonderment that this book, although satisfactory, was just not up to the standards I expect from this author. Fortunately, the first book was just a rough patch as she got started on the series. The second book, Put Out to Pasture, is everything I want in a cozy.

Flower turned around the pervasive and ugly negativity that permeated Shiloh’s return to her home town of Cherry Glen in Michigan from L.A. In this story there continue to be antagonists, but not everyone is pitted against Shi. When a dead body is found on her farm and her best friend Kristy is accused of the murder, Shi is doggedly determined to clear her name. There are a lot of clues that lead Shi and the reader to suspect various people. Having spent years with the Hollywood crowd, Shi knows that many seemingly good people may just be good actors.

Meanwhile, on the personal front, Shi’s best and favorite sidekick, her pug Huckleberry, continues to bring humor through Shi’s descriptions of what he appears to be thinking. She continues to clean out her grandmother’s cabin and finds a note to her with a mysterious riddle. She has a new neighbor who at first appears to be a bright light, but later seems to have greedy intentions. Shi’s deceased boyfriend’s best friend is working through the deaths of his friend and his own wife. Hazel, his daughter continues to be a breath of fresh air as the tween struggles to find a new normal with her firefighter dad’s erratic schedule and her grandmother’s protective strictness. Shi’s father, who was immersed in his Michigan history collection for most of Shi’s life might be coming out of his shell.

In this book, Shi is a likable character and we can see potential for her goals of revitalizing the family farm. The story is fast-paced with a web of threads and interesting characters. The author ends by dangling several hooks, any one of which is sufficient to reel the reader into the next book in the series.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Poisoned Pen Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Farm to Table Mystery Series, but can certainly be read as a standalone.

Publication: February 22, 2022—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

The one anomaly in the gravel lot was my car, an expensive sports car that would be as practical in a Michigan winter as a snow blower was in LA.

“She seems calm to me.” “That doesn’t mean she’s not mad. Trust me, I know. When she is really, really mad she gets cold. She’s like the iceberg that took out the Titanic.”

“I think the thing I got most out of my parents’ death is cutting people a break. You don’t know what they have been through or are going through. Everyone could use a little kindness.”

Farm to Trouble–saving the family farm

Farm to Trouble

by Amanda Flower

Amanda Flower has written several series that I enjoy very much. Her new series, the Farm to Table Mysteries, has some room for growth. Farm to Trouble is only the first book in the series. So far, there are very few characters that I like. The memories of Shiloh’s (Shi’s) deceased grandmother depict her as a woman of strength and character and a great role model for Shi. The protagonist, Shi, is well-meaning, but as she returns to her childhood town she struggles to find her place as most of the residents view her as an outsider. Her father and her cousin are not nice to her, and her deceased fiancé’s best friend Quinn is still struggling with emotions he should have dealt with fifteen years ago. There are a few old friends who truly welcome her back, and some new residents who are quite hateful. Quinn’s daughter Hazel finds a kindred spirit in Shi because they both lost their mothers as children, and they both love animals. My favorite character is an empathetic pug, Huckleberry. The author has great descriptions of him and of Shi’s interpretation of what he is thinking. This is a cute approach to having Huck as an active participant throughout the story.

Shi’s father has let the family farm go to ruins and resists her plans to transform it into an organic farm. She has naively signed a contract with a businessman who is buying up property in Cherry Grove so that he can inundate the area with wind turbines. The terms of the contract are not favorable to Shi, but she is desperate. When she signs the agreement, she has not yet seen the extent of deterioration on the farm. Her pushing forward with this bad deal, after throwing lots of money into the farm over the years to cover her father’s debts, does not seem to be in line with the persona of Shi, a successful Hollywood television producer.

The book deals with murder and identifying the killer, the survival of the Bellemy Farm and of the town of Cherry Grove, lots of liars, the restoration of the local theater, and unresolved feelings of guilt and resentment. There are plenty of plot threads in this book. I’m hoping for more positive character development in the next book in the series, Put Out to Pasture, which is scheduled to be published on February 22, 2022.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the Farm to Table Mystery Series

Publication: February 23, 2021—Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines:

Now I realized the effort I’d have to put in to care for my ailing father, save the farm, and face the memories that I had buried in my tinsel town life for the last fifteen years. It would be no small feat.

“I haven’t read a book since college. It’s a complete waste of time when everything you need to know is on the internet.” That’s when I knew Laurel and I could never be friends.

I set the pug on the grass. He looked up at me and cocked his head one way and then the other. Even when I was in the worst spots, Huckleberry had the power to cheer me up.

A Three Book Problem–deductive reasoning in the style of Holmes

A Three Book Problem

by Vicki Delany

Jayne and Gemma, recurring characters in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series, are invited to a retreat at a local mansion. Jayne, who runs a tearoom, is required to cook for the group, and Gemma, who has a Sherlock Holmes shop, is requested to provide atmospheric props. The focus of the event is to be Arthur Conan Doyle’s works about the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Oddly, it seems the participants do not like the host, know each other, or necessarily have an interest in Sherlock Holmes lore.

There is a murder right in front of the two ladies by an unusual method. Gemma, an expert in deductive reasoning, applies her skills in a Sherlock fashion as she tries to ascertain which one of the invited guests benefited from the death of their host.

As I jumped into the series with the seventh book, I think the character development must have occurred earlier. I could not find much appeal to the recurring characters or to the ones who are clearly only a part of this one book. None are likable. The pace of the book is slow and any exciting action is limited to two scenes. I did not guess the identity of the murderer until the end; the climax was handled well. On the whole, this book is missing a zing that a good mystery should have. Sadly there is nothing that makes me want to go back to read other books in the series.

I have read two cozy mysteries by Vicki Delany in her Tea by the Sea series that I enjoyed very much. Delany has experienced success with her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series, so A Three Book Problem may not work as a standalone or just may not have been the right book for me.

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

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 7th in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series. I don’t recommend it as a standalone.

Publication: January 11, 2022—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

It was a beautiful fall day, the rising sun shining through trees ablaze in shades of rusty orange, yellow, and red, leaves crushing underfoot, the air crisp and cool, full of the whisper of winter soon to come.

Humiliation, I’ve found, is one of the most powerful motives for murder there is. More powerful than money.

“Are you going to climb the fence again?” Jayne said. “Absolutely not. I have a rule to seek illegal ingress to a property only once.” “What does that even mean?” “It means that in case I had to return, I learned the code.”

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder–Sam and “the girls” invade Britain

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder

by V.M. Burns

Samantha Washington (Sam) is the owner of a mystery bookshop in North Harbor and has just landed a three book deal with a publishing house. She will spend the next week in England doing research for the British historic cozy mystery she is writing. She is slated for a mystery tour accompanied by her Nana Jo and Nana’s three best friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Village. Of the four senior citizens, not a one meets the stereotype of frail, little old ladies. They have a reputation for helping Sam solve mysteries that come her way through interviews, eavesdropping, feminine wiles, deduction, and the occasional use of martial arts as two of them have blackbelts. They keep the plot moving and the reader laughing.

There are complications just in reaching London with jet lag and no luggage, but that’s only the beginning of their troubles. The owner of the tour company is murdered, but the police, oddly, are not investigating. Unfortunately, there is another murder, and one of the assigned detectives is “as bright as a burned-out light bulb” and “a few sandwiches short of a picnic.” It’s time for Sam, Nana Jo, and “the girls” to join forces to discover the truth.

In order to free up her conscious mind when stymied in her investigations, Sam spends time when she can’t sleep or between tour stops writing her own mystery. Although the book she is writing takes place in 1939, Sam is able to use elements in the murders she is currently investigating and apply the principles to her own mystery with great success. When the flow of the contemporary mystery was first interrupted with this secondary story, I was a little miffed because I wanted the action to continue in the primary story. By the time I reached the next transition to 1939, however, I was anxious to read about the progress made in Sam’s own whodunit. The character Sam’s writing seems a little stilted at first, compared to the rest of the book, but that is perhaps due to the titles of “Lord” and “Lady” still being used along with formalities involved with a household of servants and adherence to etiquette rules. It is quite a contrast to our contemporary society.

I enjoyed Sam’s eagerness in visiting The Grand Hotel in Torquay where Agatha Christie honeymooned in 1914 and the Torquay Museum that displays the famous author’s memorabilia and items from movies based on her books. Next they went to Greenway, Christie’s home in Devon where she wrote many of her books. Sam “fangirled” on the tour of the house taking many pictures and drooling over first editions. Because of the two murders, the itinerary for the trip had to be revised several times, but most of the highlights are still included, and the group is able to visit several places that were alleged to be the settings or inspiration of mysteries by authors like Dorothy L. Sayers and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

If you like cozy mysteries, you can’t get any more “bookish” than V.M. Burns’ A Tourist’s Guide to Murder. It has two plots within the same book, a tour of significant literary locations, a writer-sleuth, and a mystery bookstore. It’s not heaven, but it’s pretty close. The tour intentionally lays on some misdirection, and there are red herrings in both plots to keep you guessing. The retirement home group is anything but retiring: they bring to minds phrases like “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and “herding cats.” I want to read more from this series.

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: 1. #6 in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. This was my first book in this series and I had no problem reading it as a standalone.
2. There are many reasons to read this book, but one of them should not be the two cute toy poodles on the cover. They belong to Sam, but she doesn’t take them with her to England, so they are only briefly mentioned in the book.

Publication: January 26, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

Lady Clara’s cheeks flamed and her eyes flashed. After a split second, she gave the captain a smile and then stomped down hard on his foot. “Oooph.” Captain Jessup bent over in pain. “Dear me, was that your foot?” Lady Clara said in a voice that oozed sweetness.

Nana Jo glanced at Hannah. “I don’t know about your national health care system, but in the United States, the pharmaceutical companies are running the whole country, and they’ve got a pill for everything.”

“Let’s face it, Stinky Pitt couldn’t find a killer who was standing naked in the middle of the street with a neon sign over his head.” Nana Jo and the girls nodded. Hannah looked confused. “Stinky Pitt?” Ruby Mae looks up from her knitting. “He’s the local detective in North Harbor, Michigan.” “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer?” “I’ve got sharper spoons.”

The Nine Tailors–complicated plot

The Nine Tailors

by Dorothy Sayers

The reader of The Nine Tailors is thrown headlong into the world of change-ringing in English churches, the ancient art of ringing huge bells by ropes, not according to melody, but mathematical patterns. Dorothy Sayers’ book also immerses the reader into Anglican church architecture and local sluices, fens, and waterways. I didn’t have the necessary background knowledge to understand or appreciate the extensive backdrop Sayers paints for her mystery, and that deficit on my part hindered my appreciation of the novel.

At the same time, I must applaud the author for one of the most convoluted plot structures I have ever encountered. Dorothy Sayers is considered one of the top writers in the mystery genre, and having read The Nine Tailors, I understand the reason for her reputation even though her style is not quite to my taste. Her main character, Lord Peter Wimsey, is a likable protagonist. The conclusion of the tale is both satisfying and surprising. I must admit on a personal level that I have allowed myself to be spoiled by the easy reading afforded by currently produced cozy mysteries which I very much enjoy. The Nine Tailors has a much more intellectual bent and certainly stretches the reader’s mental reaches. I recommend this book within the constraints of a mystery that requires the reader to put forth at least equal effort to that of the author.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes:  #11 in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Series. As it is not very character dependent, it could be appreciated as a standalone.

Publication:  1934—Harcourt Brace & Co. (Harvest Books)

Memorable Lines:

A powerful ecclesiastical odor, compounded of ancient wood, varnish, dry rot, hassocks, hymn-books, paraffin lamps, flowers and candles, all gently baking in the warmth of slow-combustion stoves, billowed out from the interior.

It came upon him with a shock that Uncle Edward could not be many years older than himself. He felt for him the apprehensive reverence which one feels for a quaint and brittle piece of antiquity.

I think I have been the most unmitigated and unconscionable ass that ever brayed in a sleuth-hound’s skin.

Tea & Treachery–new cozy mystery series

Tea & Treachery

by Vicki Delany

People who enjoy the experience of indulging in a specially prepared tea at a tearoom will also enjoy reading about it in Tea & Treachery, the first book in Vicki Delany’s new cozy mystery series Tea by the Sea. Lily has left behind the fast paced life of a Manhattan pastry chef to fulfill her dream of owning her own teahouse. It is located in a restored house next to Lily’s grandmother’s B & B. As part of their agreement, Grandmother Rose lets Lily live in a cottage on the property. Lily prepares breakfast at the B & B in addition to doing all the cooking for her own tearoom.

The property overlooks the Cape Cod Bay, but its appeal is marred when Jack, a local developer, is found dead at the bottom of a bluff. Unfortunately, Rose previously had a very public disagreement with Jack. The lead detective is focused on pinning the murder on Rose so Lily, of course, has to find the real killer.

The plot is inventive, and the author’s descriptive powers shine. We are introduced to a number of interesting characters. Some are employed at one of the two businesses. Others already are or become friends of Rose and Lily. Lily’s best friend Bernie (aka the Princess Warrior) is a spunky, red-headed, aspiring writer. Simon hires on as a gardener; he is not only handsome, but is talented in horticulture, has culinary skills and a British understanding of tea, and rides a motorcycle. The locals include police officers along with town councilmen and a mayor who have interests in rezoning issues that affect Rose and Lily and their businesses.

There are lots of suspects to keep the reader guessing, some romance in the air, and dangers that arise from the ladies’ investigations. You will be exhausted just reading about Lily’s efforts to juggle her two jobs. Rose and Bernie add some humor to the tale. The book ends with hints of future developments for the tearoom, the B & B, and the main characters.

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: 1. #1 in the Tea by the Sea Mystery Series

  2. Recipes included for scones, coconut cupcakes, and tea-scented bath salts

Publication:   July 28, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

It was a day full of promise: the sun was a huge yellow circle in a pale blue sky, and the lightest breath of wind carried the scent of salt off the ocean.

A wave of warm sugar and spicy cinnamon goodness washed over me, and I almost groaned in pleasure. No matter how many pastries I’ve made over my lifetime, I never get tired of these scents. Or of the pleasure in producing beautiful food and having it enjoyed.

More than once, people have complained when they saw the prices. We never apologize. Good food, well prepared with excellent ingredients, much of it sourced locally, costs money. Not to mention fresh flowers on the table and real china and silver and linen at every place. Afternoon tea isn’t an everyday thing, not even in the UK and certainly not in America. It’s a treat, an indulgence, and I believe it needs to be presented accordingly.

Booked for Death–murders, books, and suspicion

Booked for Death

by Victoria Gilbert

Victoria Gilbert, a retired librarian, has started a second series for those who love all things bookish. In Booked for Death, Charlotte, a widow, has inherited a large home from her Great Aunt Isabella whose life was a mystery to her family. Already an established B&B, the inn is called Chapters because of the extensive library it houses which includes many rare books. In keeping with the various themes, Charlotte hosts special events centered on authors and books.

In Booked for Death, the week’s focus is British writer Josephine Tey. As the participants dive into one of her mysteries, there is a murder at the B&B.  There are many suspects with legitimately plausible motivations for killing bookseller Lincoln Delamont as he was not a very nice man. Charlotte tries to find out as much as she can about all the people who were at the B& B at the time of the murder. Information comes out gradually as to backgrounds and alibis. Charlotte, who has a reason to wish Lincoln dead, is one of the suspects but soon finds her own life in danger.

There are many interesting characters. Some of those will clearly appear in future books in the series—her friend Julie, housekeeper and cook Alicia, and neighbor Ellen. Others may or may not make a reappearance. Charlotte’s investigations take her to the dusty, cluttered attic to try to understand her great aunt’s complicated past. 

Most of the book is well-written. There is a small portion that has stilted dialogue between Ellen and Charlotte, but most of the book, which is written in first person, flows smoothly. I did not guess who the murderer is, but the reveal is both surprising and nicely disclosed. The conclusion is very satisfying and so well played that I read the last few pages twice just to enjoy both the implications for future books and the written words themselves. It is easy to see how this book can segue into even bigger mysteries in future books with legitimate, not contrived, investigations.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1.#1 in the Booklovers B&B Mystery Series

2. The second book in the series, Reserved for Murder, is scheduled for release on June 8, 2021.

3. I have one criticism of the book (in its ARC form) which may well have been altered for publication. The author overused the term “narrowed/narrowing his/her eye” (15 times) and “side-eyed” (8 times). I’m sure with a little creativity, the author can find other ways to explain the character’s expressions. This issue was overshadowed for me by the intricacies of the plot, some beautifully written passages, and the excellent ending which left me looking forward to the next book in the series.

Publication:   June 9, 2020—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

Her vivacious beauty, undimmed even in her later years, had seemed far too exotic for our rather unexceptional family. Like a butterfly among the moths, I thought, as I laid down the photo and picked up another.

“I was hungry,” Tara said, fixing me with a glare that would’ve frozen the blood of most adults. But I’d taught high school for far too long to be intimidated by such tactics.

“…she wasn’t believed when she told the truth as a child. And honestly, it’s not always easy to share our deepest pain, even with the ones we love.”

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