Friday, August 18

Raiders of the Lost Corset by Ellen Byerrum

Review by Dawn Dowdle 

Lacey Smithsonian, fashion reporter in D.C., is heading to France with her friend Magda, corset creator for the rich and famous (as well as some kinky people).  The paper is paying for the trip as Lacey will supposedly be reporting on haute couture.  But the real reason for going is to find a lost corset lined with jewels that was supposedly stolen from the Czar Nicholas' family after they were assassinated.  This has been a mystery in Magda's family for years.  She believes she has the needed clues to lead Lacey to it. 

Unfortunately, Magda is poisoned before they leave, and she hadn't given Lacey the clues.  Lacey does some digging to try to figure out the clues on her own.  She ends up heading to France with her friend Brooke to look for the corset.   

Can Lacey discover the truth about the corset without putting herself or her friends in danger?  Will she find love along the way? 

I love this series.  Lacey is such a wonderful character.  The setting is so rich in fashion issues, and Lacey always gets caught up in some murder related to fashion.  The plot has many twists and turns to keep you turning the pages to discover the truth. 

I highly recommend this book and series.

Murder Over Easy by Jimmie Ruth Evans

Review by Dawn Dowdle 

Melvin, Wanda Nell's boss at the Kountry Kitchen restaurant, has been arrested for murdering Fayetta, another waitress.  They had been dating.  He asks Wanda Nell to help clear him because she helped clear her son recently when he was charged with murdering his dad.  As if Wanda Nell didn't have enough to do. 

Fayetta wasn't a nice person.  She and Wanda didn't get along, but no one deserved to die the way she did.  So, Wanda Nell decides to try to help Melvin in any way she can.  She runs the Kountry Kitchen in his absence, hires Tuck as his lawyer, and does some snooping on her own. 

She discovers that Melvin wasn't the only man Fayetta was dating.  Plus Wanda Nell finds a bankbook with a large sum in the savings account.  There was no way she made that money as a waitress.  Wanda Nell works to uncover more about Fayetta's life and those she "worked" with, including a club where it didn't appear she was delivering food.  But can Wanda Nell discover the truth without putting herself or her family in jeopardy? 

I love this series.  Wanda Nell is such a terrific character.  I love how she interacts with her kids and grandson, as well as her best friend Mayrene.  Tuck is a wonderful character as well.  Wanda Nell's mother-in-law is as cantankerous as they come, but that makes it work so well. 

The fact that Wanda Nell lives in her double wide mobile home with her 2 daughters and her 16 month old grandson lends a lot of credibility to the story.  So does the fact that she has to work two jobs to make ends meet, and then it's still tough. 

The setting is great and the plot has plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing who did it until the end.  I highly recommend this book and the series.

Thursday, August 10

Reviews by Lou Allin

Lou Allin is the author of the Belle Palmer mystery series, set in the Nickel Capital. Her novels Northern Winters are Murder, Blackflies are Murder, Bush Poodles are Murder, and Murder, Eh? are all published by RendezVous Press in Toronto.

Scare the Light Away by Vicki Delany

Reviews by M. Wayne Cunningham

M. Wayne Cunningham writes his reviews in Kamloops BC. Formerly an English instructor and a senior manager in post-secondary education in three provinces he also served as the Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Arts Board. A member of the Crime Writers of Canada and the Canadian Authors Association, his reviews have appeared in various publications including a weekly column he wrote for two years for the Kamloops Daily News. He can be reached at mw_cunningham@telus.net.

A Switch In Time: A Dr. Erica Merrill Mystery by Anne Barton

Framed by Tonino Benacquista

Mountaintop Drive by James R. Coggins

The Joining of Dingo Radish by Rob Harasymchuck

The Last Good Day by Gail Bowen

The Next Ex: A Madeline Carter Novel by Linda L. Richards

Murder by the Glass by Michele Scott

Review by Dawn Dowdle

Nikki Sands is beginning to settle in to her new job at the Malveaux Estate in Napa Valley.  Plus she has two men who appear to be interested in her, but she isn't sure. 

Her friend Isabel is catering a big wedding at a Sonoma mansion before she realized it was the wedding of her lover (she didn't know he was engaged).  The bride treats Isabel terribly.  Nikki tries to help out to run interference. 

After the ceremony, Nikki is asked to take a glass of wine up to the bride.  Unfortunately she finds her sprawled on the floor, murdered.  Even though the bride had many enemies, the police find evidence that Isabel is the killer.  Nikki knows this is impossible.  So she and Isabel's brother, one of the two men interested in her, to try to prove Isabel innocent. 

Nikki is such a fun character.  The interaction between her and the two men in her life adds a lot of mystery to the book.  There are so many wonderful characters, and the California wine country is such a fabulous backdrop for this series.  I loved this book and highly recommend it!

For Better or Hearse by Laura Durham

Review by Dawn Dowdle 

Annabelle Archer, one of D.C.'s top wedding planners, and Chef Henri have a falling out right before a wedding reception.  Then Annabelle discovers him impaled on an ice sculpture.  Since everyone wanted revenge with the chef, Annabelle isn't the only suspect. 

Soon Annabelle's friend Georgia Rhodes and catering exec at the hotel Henri worked at is arrested for the murder.  Annabelle is certain Georgia didn't do it, so she sets out to find the real killer. 

As deaths begin to stack up in this case, the list of suspects is shrinking and Annabelle finds herself more and more in danger. 

I love this series.  Annabelle is such a fun character.  Having the setting of weddings and the frenzy associated with them really adds to the ambiance.  I love Annabelle's friend Richard and her assistant Kate. 

This series is such a fun read.  Wonderful cozies.  I highly recommend it.

Getting Old is Murder by Rita Lakin

Review by Dawn Dowdle

Gladdy Gold and girls, other retirees in her Fort Lauderdale complex, are a hoot!  I really enjoyed them. 

It appears someone is killing off residents the night before their birthday, but the police believe they were all heart attacks.  Who wouldn't.  The residents were old and it looked like a heart attack.  Gladdy believes it was murder and sets out, with the help of her friends, to prove it. 

There are some truly crazy characters in their complex, and getting at the truth is not always an easy feat.  The detective isn't investigating until they can bring him some concrete evidence.  Can they, at their ages, get to the bottom of these murders?  Can they do that without putting themselves at risk?   

This is the first book in this series.  You can bet I'll be reading this series for years to come.  Gladdy is such a terrific character.  The author has created such a wealth of interesting characters, that I bet she can write many books!  I sure hope so! 

The plot is well written.  I found it difficult to figure out who the killer was and why before it was revealed.  I like that.  The sunny Florida location is great!  The author has done her research.  In my opinion, she nailed this one on the head!  I highly recommend this book!

Don of the Dead by Casey Daniels

Review by Dawn Dowdle 

I LOVED this book!  Paranormal isn't normally my thing, but this cozy is great! 

Pepper Martin is the tour guide at a local cemetery.  There are some notorious people buried there, including Augustino "Gus" Scarpetti, a Mob don that was killed thirty years ago. 

One day Gus appears to Pepper.  At first she doesn't want to believe it, but he convinces her it is really him.  He needs her to solve his murder as he's stuck in limbo. 

Pepper soon finds herself in many sticky situations, one of the biggest being she's talking to someone no one else can see, and often finds herself in danger.  Can she solve his murder without putting herself in the cemetery?  Can she find the truth even though Gus seems to be hiding some facts from her? 

Even though I don't believe in ghosts, this was so well written, I couldn't wait to read the ending to find out who did it and why. There were lots of great twists and turns in the plot.  Pepper is such a likeable character, too. 

I can't wait to read another book in this series.  Hope the author writes fast!  I highly recommend this book!

The Cradle Robbers by Ayelet Waldman

Review by Dawn Dowdle

Juliet Applebaum's youngest of three is now four months old.  Previously she graduated Harvard and was a crushing public defender.  Now she's exhausted and trying to make a go of it as a part-time investigator.  Plus she never has time or energy for her husband, Peter. 

Juliet's office assistant talks her into looking into some female prisoners who had their infants taken from them under false pretenses.  She finds herself unable to turn this case down.  She keeps thinking how she'd feel if her own infant had been taken. 

She talks to some of the inmates and family members.  Finally she goes to Lambs of the Lord, a church-based foster organization, to try to find out the location of these children.  Having a four-month-old child, she often has to bring her with her.  This helps in some situations and is difficult in others. 

This was the first book I've read in this series.  I've heard a lot of people talk about it.  I liked it, but it wasn't quite what I expected from the comments I had heard from other readers. 

The story was well written, and I wanted to finish it to find out what had happened to the children.  The plot was constructed well.  I didn't figure it out ahead.   

I do look forward to reading another book in this series.  I like Juliet and the author's style.  I recommend this book.

Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney

Review by Dawn Dowdle

Natalie Barnes is the new owner of the Gray Whale Inn on Cranberry Island, Maine.  She has turned it into a bed and breakfast and loves cooking breakfast for her guests. 

Bernard Katz comes to stay at the Inn.  He has plans to build a resort for the rich next to her Inn.  Natalie and her friends try to defeat him at the selectman meeting but are defeated.  She is worried about the future of her Inn. 

While out walking, she trips and falls partway down a cliff.  She finds Bernard Katz dead below her.  It is determined he was murdered, and the police detective thinks Natalie killed him.  It doesn't help that it is discovered Bernard Katz had planned to demolish the Inn and put in a parking lot for his resort. 

Natalie decides she'd better find the real killer before she ends up in jail.  Can she do that without putting herself in serious peril? 

I have only vacationed in Maine once.  After reading this book, I felt as if I had gone again.  I loved this book.  The descriptions are wonderful, especially of the food.  I wish the Gray Whale Inn existed so I could vacation there!  I can't wait for the next book to be transported there, if only in my mind. 

Natalie is such a fun character.  She is accepted by some on the island, but others treat her as an outsider.  Her friends are great  as well.  The setting is spectacular.  And the food will make your mouth water! 

I highly recommend this book and can't wait to read the next!