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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.”

Low country Boomerang–investigative reporter murdered

Lowcountry Boomerang

by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry BoomerangDue to a sleep deficit causing me to repeatedly nod off and a several day reading gap, I chose to skim the first third of Lowcountry Boomerang by Susan M. Boyer again before I plunged back in where I left off. I absolutely enjoyed the second reading as much as the first, maybe more, since I was not concentrating on staying awake. I highlighted multiple passages that defined the characters, their backgrounds, and their relationships because there were so many and the web was so complex. I had only read two of the books in the series previously, and I found I needed to really focus to keep up.

Liz and her husband, Nate, are private investigators in South Carolina with family ties to law enforcement agents and a helpful guardian spirit giving them an inside edge. In this cozy mystery, they are tasked with proving the innocence of a “down home,” folksy TV star who has just returned to his roots. There is lots of good investigating, albeit much of it illegal, set in tourist friendly Charleston. Southern dialogue will transport “y’all” to the land of sweet tea, Geechie fries (french fried grits sticks), heat with humidity, and ferries. There are a lot of possible suspects, but the ending is a complete surprise to the dynamic duo of investigators as well as the reader.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #8 in the Liz Talbot Mystery Series and probably best read as part of the series, but could be enjoyed as a standalone

Publication:  September 3, 2019—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Regardless of who paid for my time, I always viewed the victim as my ultimate client.

“However, in this particular case, budget is not a concern. If you need to book llamas to Machu Picchu, Mr. Baker’s retainer will cover it.”

“How’s Calista?” “Madder than a feral cat being baptized.”

Lowcountry Bookshop–good intentions

Lowcountry Bookshop

by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry BookshopIn Lowcountry Bookshop, Susan M. Boyer outdoes her last cozy mystery which I thought was  good. In this book Liz Talbot and her husband Nate, both private investigators, are hired anonymously through an attorney to prove the innocence of a very sweet mail carrier who stopped at the scene of a hit and run. The plot is very complex and involves a group of women who try to help victims of domestic violence.

Watching Liz and Nate go about their business of investigating the crime and the people involved is very interesting. They have tools, disguises, and methods that they use to pursue the truth regardless of where it leads them.

In the middle of some pretty intense scenarios, there is a little comic relief as Liz’s family deals with a situation involving a Bassett hound, a pig with a broken leg, three escape artist goats, and a backyard dug in preparation for a swimming pool. As you can imagine, “Mamma ain’t happy” and everyone knows it.

Set in the Charlestown area of South Carolina, Lowcountry Bookshop features heat, humidity, and Southern charm. This mystery will keep you on your toes as you follow its complexities and guess who did it and why—right up until the end.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Henery Press 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.  #7 in the Liz Talbot Mystery Series but works as a standalone

2.  Slight paranormal aspect: One character is a helpful guardian spirit. Frankly, she contributes little to the solving of the mystery and could easily be removed without harming the plot.

Publication:   May 29, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Sunday morning arrived on air as thick as mamma’s gravy.

At five in the morning, it was already eighty-three degrees.

Everyone had baggage. Some of us had heavier bags than others.

Bones to Pick–vegan delight

Bones to Pick

by Linda Lovely

Bones to PickBased on the cover of Bones to Pick, I expected a light-hearted mystery featuring a pig. Instead, I found Linda Lovely’s first book in her new Brie Hooker Mystery Series to be a humorous cozy mystery with a tangled plot. The pig has only a very minor role, and the focus is on Brie Hooker, an MBA carrying former banker turned vegan chef. A lot of the humor in the book is derived either from her food preferences or her relationships to two “hunky” guys who are also best friends, Paint and Andy.

The death of a beloved aunt segues into a story of spousal abuse, murder, corrupt cops, mysterious investments, death threats, and a very old feud. Brie has to sort her way through small town South Carolina politics and relationships with the help of her family and friends to solve this mystery. Helping out with a large goat farm and producing award-winning cheese that only a non-vegan could love may not be part of Brie’s original dream, but she now has lots of reasons to make Ardon County her new home.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: #1 in the Brie Hooker Mystery Series

Publication:   October 24, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines: 

Even minus an introduction, I figured this tall glass of sweet tea had to be Paint, the legendary owner of Magic Moonshine. Sunlight glinted off hair the blue-black of expensive velvet. Deep dimples. Rakish smile.

As usual, Dad had sole custody of the TV remote. Did Mom even know how to use it?

Pools of water camouflaged the potholes that occupied half the graveled roadbed. My bouncing headlamps lit up the rutted drive like a reverse Rorschach ink blot test. The water appeared as blobs of shimmering yellow splattered across a black canvas.

Lowcountry Bonfire–is it a paranormal?

Lowcountry Bonfire

by Susan M. Boyer

Lowcountry BonfireWhen is a paranormal not a paranormal? When it is part of the Liz Talbot Mystery Series. When it deals with ghosts who are not angels of any type, but are guardian spirits. When the guardian spirits have a mission assigned by the Almighty, not the devil. When the town psychic doesn’t tell fortunes, but does share gut feelings about people.

Lowcountry Bonfire takes place in a small South Carolina town where everybody knows everybody else, iced tea and fried foods reign, and houses are built a story above ground level to avoid water damage. Liz Talbot and her husband Nate are private investigators working on contract for the local police department headed by Liz’s brother Blake. When Tammy Sue learns her husband Zeke has been cheating on her, she sets his classic car on fire. With the neighborhood watching, a corpse is found, and in the course of the investigation Liz discovers she does not know her neighbors as well as she thought.

Author Susan M. Boyer has developed a good plot with interesting characters. Many are suspected of murder with a surprise ending ahead. The semi-paranormal aspect was initially puzzling. As this is the sixth book in the series, I assume the guardian spirit’s presence was explained thoroughly in an earlier book. Not normally a paranormal reader, I did not find that aspect bothersome in a demonic sense; it’s a fictional tool whose purpose is to add a comedic touch. I would compare it to Shakespeare’s use of Falstaff.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery

Notes: #6 in the Liz Talbot Mystery Series

Publication: June 27, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“It’s hard to believe anyone in this town is that isolated.”
“Small towns can be the loneliest places on earth if you feel like you’re on the outside looking in at all that closeness.”

“I told him he didn’t pay me enough for how hard I worked. He said if I was more contentious I might get a raise. We went back and forth a while.” I rolled my lips in and out, nodded. Zeke must’ve told him to be more conscientious. Good grief.

“People often do things that make no sense to the rest of us,” she said. “The challenge is to love them anyway.”

Treasure in Paradise–family style resort

Treasure in Paradise

by Kathi Daley

Treasure in ParadiseHaving read the first book in the Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery Series, I was eager to read the newly released seventh book, Treasure in Paradise. It opens with the captivating “There is magic in beginnings.”

I must admit that although Tj Jensen stumbles onto a crime scene in the first chapter, it took me a little while to orient myself. I don’t think the fault of the confusion lies with the author but with my expectations. The series up to this point is set in a family owned resort in the mountains in Serenity, Nevada. In this book we find Tj spending the summer supervising the restoration of Turtle Cove Resort in South Carolina for a family friend who has had a stroke. She brings along four familiar faces, but we are also introduced to a whole new cast of characters.

Treasure in Paradise has interesting characters whom Tj and the reader meet in her efforts to discover the killer of the man she found murdered at the resort and a long lost treasure map of pirate vintage. She also has conflicts with a resort developer and a sheriff who seems to be hiding something. There are some relationship developments as Tj struggles with two half-sisters uprooted for the summer, her friend Kyle, and her father’s impending marriage.

I recommend this cozy mystery and am looking forward to the next one in the series, Fireworks in Paradise, to be released in October of 2017.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: This series is one of five created by Kathi Daley

Publication:   April 11, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

There is magic in beginnings. some beginnings come as a rite of passage, such as a graduation from college, the birth of a child, or a wedding day. Other beginnings start off more subtly, as nothing more than an ordinary moment that evolves into a crucial event that, in the end, helps define who you are and who you will become.

“…even if you find Prince Charming and he’s everything that you ever thought you’d want, sometimes that isn’t enough. My grandmother used to say that love isn’t logical, that sometimes you just have to trust your heart to find the other half of itself.”

I knew in my heart that sometimes seeking justice wasn’t justified at all.

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