Tie Died by Tim Hall is the second book in the “Bert Shambles” mystery series. Publisher: Cozy Cat Press, March 2015
Bert Shambles is still recovering from the injuries he sustained in his first adventure when he is recognized at the local library by a lovely hippie named Scarlet. She hires Bert to help dispose of her deceased father’s memorabilia and takes him to a music festival at a local park, where they witness the tragic electrocution of the lead singer, who is an old friend of Scarlet’s. Bert soon finds himself entangled in a plot to steal a rare guitar, accidentally drugged with a powerful psychedelic, and dumped by his girlfriend and soul mate, Aria–until a second rock musician is found dead, and the clues all point to him as the prime suspect.
This was a very good read that had me rooting for Bert Shambles in this entertaining whodunit. The tone and the pacing of this light drama were nicely done, making it easy to follow the plot. The author has a way with the words as he describes the actions of Bert and his fellow characters. I like how the mystery was set-up with clues that the author planted to keep me glued to the pages. There were some amusing moments that caused a few chuckles with the interaction between Bert, Scarlett, China and Aria. Poor Bert, he tries so hard. I like the author’s approach in the telling of this story and I can’t wait to see what befalls Bert in the next book in this terrific series.
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Gathering Prey by John Sandford is the 25th book in the “Prey” thriller series. Publisher: Putnam Adult, April 2015
They call them Travelers. They move from city to city, panhandling, committing no crimes—they just like to stay on the move. And now somebody is killing them.
Lucas Davenport’s adopted daughter, Letty, is home from college when she gets a phone call from a woman Traveler she’d befriended in San Francisco. The woman thinks somebody’s killing her friends, she’s afraid she knows who it is, and now her male companion has gone missing. She’s hiding out in North Dakota, and she doesn’t know what to do.
Letty tells Lucas she’s going to get her, and, though he suspects Letty’s getting played, he volunteers to go with her. When he hears the woman’s story, though, he begins to think there’s something in it. Little does he know. In the days to come, he will embark upon an odyssey through a subculture unlike any he has ever seen, a trip that will not only put the two of them in danger—but just may change the course of his life.
I always know when I read a John Sandford book that I will be taken on a fast-paced, adrenaline-rushed roller coaster ride filled with deep dives and twisty turns that continues until the drama pulls to a complete stop and then it’s like, let’s do it all over again. John has a way with the narrative that grabbed me instantly in the telling of this story with a well-written plot and some very intriguing characters that make you believe that you are standing there in the shadow next to Lucas. The action never stops and the dialogue keeps me entertained and I really enjoyed how it all ended with new directions for the gang. The author does a great job carving out a strong plot that kept me satisfied from beginning to end and I can’t wait to read what happens next with Lucas, Letty, Del and the rest of the gang.
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Bittersweet by Susan Wittig Albert is the 23rd book in the “China Bayles” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, April 2015
It’s Thanksgiving in Pecan Springs, and China is planning to visit her mother, Leatha, and her mother’s husband, Sam, who are enthusiastically embarking on a new enterprise—turning their former game ranch into a vacation retreat for birders. She’s also looking forward to catching up with her friend, game warden Mackenzie “Mack” Chambers, who was recently transferred to the area. But Leatha calls with bad news: Sam has had a heart attack.
How will Leatha manage if Sam can’t carry his share? She does have a helper, Sue Ellen Krause. But China discovers that Sue Ellen, who is in the process of leaving her marriage to the assistant foreman at a large trophy game ranch, is in some serious trouble. Before Sue Ellen can tell China the full story, her car veers off a deserted road and she is killed.
Meanwhile, when a local veterinarian is shot in what appears to be a burglary at his clinic, Mack Chambers believes his murder could be related to fawns stolen from a nearby ranch. As Mack follows the trail, China begins to wonder if Sue Ellen’s death may not have been an accident, and if there’s a connection to the stolen animals. But their search for the truth may put their own lives in danger.
I like it. China is not in Pecan Springs in this adventure but is still pulled into a murder when it hits a bit too close to home. I love the pacing and the comfortable tone of this book which makes the story easy to follow. This was a well-written mystery filled with suspense and intrigue that kept my interest. The author did a great job in keeping me on my toes as I pondered the clues and every time I thought I had a fix on the perpetrators, the author changed direction that kept me glued to the pages as I had to know what the outcome will be. I did enjoy the scenes with China and her mother. This was an enjoyable read and I look forward to China’s next adventure being back in Pecan Springs with the rest of the gang that includes Ruby, Sheila, Blackie and even McQuaid.
Dying Brand by Wendy Tyson is the third book in the “Allison Campbell” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, May 2015
When image consultant Allison Campbell attends an award ceremony to honor a designer friend, she’s thrust into a murder investigation. Only this time, it’s personal.
A former boyfriend is dead, slain on the streets of Philadelphia. His widow claims he was meeting with Allison, yet Allison hadn’t spoken to him in years. Nothing about his death—or life—makes sense. When compromising photos from their past arrive at Allison’s office, they raise more questions than they answer.
Driven to find justice, Allison deconstructs the image her ex had created for himself, looking for clues about the man he’d become. As her hunt for the truth unveils secrets, Allison’s past and present collide—with deadly results.
This fast-paced, adrenaline-fuel and action-packed drama immediately pulled me in never letting go until the last sentence was read. The past comes back to haunt Allison and it’s her determination to solve this puzzle that brings her life full-circle in this suspense-filled and intriguing tale that I could not put down. The intensity of each scene controlled my emotions and I was there running with Allison as this case seemed to open up a can of worms that she was not prepared to witness. I like that the author took the time to draw me into the storyline with the visual display of her words and the dialogue that warned me that there was more to come that heighten the level in the dynamic telling of this mystery. Allison is strong-willed, always seeking the truth and is surrounded by a great cast of characters that includes Vaughn, Jason and Mia. I especially love the addition of Grace who I hope we get to see more of. This was a great read and I can’t wait to read the next book in this terrific series.
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The Bride of Lottawatah by Evelyn David is the 13th book in the “Brianna Sullivan” mystery series. Publisher: Trace Evidence Press, May 2015
Here comes the bride…unless murder, explosions, and incredibly bad hair days stop Brianna Sullivan from walking down the aisle.
In The Bride of Lottawatah, the thirteenth volume of the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries series, all of Lottawatah eagerly anticipates the nuptials of reluctant psychic Brianna Sullivan and her hunky Police Chief fiancé Cooper Jackson. But the week before the couple can say their “I do’s,” the local Senior Center becomes embroiled in an illegal drug scandal and a series of mysterious deaths strike the small Oklahoma town. Despite her best efforts to stay out of the investigation, Brianna finds herself juggling wedding planning, spending quality time with her mother, and following a trail of convoluted clues to find who is behind the deadly scheme. Join the festivities and the intrigue as Brianna and Leon, her adorable bulldog with the wonky digestive tract, try to figure out whodunit in time for the wedding of the year.
Once again, Evelyn David has outdone themselves in the telling of the latest adventures of Brianna Sullivan. This fast-paced and action-packed drama claimed my attention from the first page to an ending I didn’t see coming but put a smile on my face. What I enjoyed most was “will the wedding happen” or “will the actions of the people who were causing havoc” win? The author did a great job in making me feel like I was part of the action, whether watching for clues to the perpetrators’ identity, or just enjoying the interactions from the people of Lottawatah, especially Aunt Ida, who is a hoot. This was the best book thus far and I can’t wait to see what happens next in this fun, engaging and entertaining series.
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Murder with a Twist by Tracy Kiely is the first book in the NEW “Nic & Nigel” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, May 2015
Visiting New York to attend a cousin’s birthday gala, Nic and Nigel Martini are looking forward to cocktails with old friends and a pampered stay at the Ritz. But when the birthday girl’s gold-digging cad of a husband goes missing, the Martini family worries that the social event of the season may turn into a story for the scandal sheets.
Nigel’s condescending aunt begs former detective Nic to find sleazy Leo, despite the fact that it would be better for everyone if he just stayed lost. Trailing a “married bachelor” with a penchant for trouble isn’t pretty; in fact it’s downright deadly. Assisted by Nigel and their newly adopted Bullmastiff, Nic must tangle with her old underworld connections if she hopes to hunt down the dirtiest Martini.
I love this story. We are introduced to Nic and Nigel and their illustrious family when a missing husband leads to murder, deceit, betrayal and a downright enjoyable mystery that left me hungry for more fun times with the Martinis. This past-paced and action-packed drama immediately pulled me in and quickly became a page turner as I couldn’t put it down, especially as this light drama plays homage to the Thin Man series. I loved the way the mystery was set-up where the other players in the well-written drama were suspects and every clue pointed to one or the other, and when I thought I had it narrowed down, the author change direction and I did not even see that one coming when the killer’s identity was revealed. Brilliant touch! Boasting a terrific cast of characters that includes the marvelous Skippy and with engaging and witty repartee, this was a great read and I look forward to the next book in this wonderfully entertaining series.
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One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O’Neil is the first book in the NEW “Cypress Cove” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, May 2015
In California wine country, the town of Cypress Cove may seem peaceful. But someone’s about to pop their cork.
After losing her job as a photojournalist, Penny Lively is trying to get her life back in focus. Inheriting the family winery from her late aunt may be the fresh start she needs. Thankfully she’s got her niece Hayley and her handsome winery manager Connor to help. But the person in need of more urgent assistance is Antonia Martinelli, the owner of the neighboring winery, who has her own barrel full of problems. Someone’s spoiling her wine, and with the upcoming Autumn Festival, she needs Penny’s nose for clues to sniff out the culprit.
But Penny’s search for answers sours after the body of a staff member is found in a grape crusher. Since Hayley was the last to see him alive, she’s the prime suspect in the case. Now Penny must hurry to find the real killer before Hayley withers on the vine.
I like it. The author did a great job in presenting this story with an interesting cast of characters and engaging conversations. The tale had a nice pace that was easy to follow from scene to scene. I love the way the author grabbed onto the essence of this drama where the suspects were plenty and the drive to figure it all out had me quickly turning the pages to find out what happens next. With bits and of clues dispersed throughout the drama, my attention was captured when at first I thought I had an idea of who was the killer, and it was one smidgen of a clue that I knew who it was and I enjoyed watching it all played out as the author’s written words drew the ring around the killer. Penny is very likeable and a good team that includes Hayley, Connor, Anne, Ross, Thomas and Antonia completes her inner circle that provides a well-rounded mystery that is a welcome addition to the cozy genre. This was a good read and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Cypress Cove.
previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog