The Deep End by Julie Mulhern is the first book in the “Country Club Murders” mystery series. Publisher: Henery Press, February 2015
Swimming into the lifeless body of her husband’s mistress tends to ruin a woman’s day, but becoming a murder suspect can ruin her whole life.
It’s 1974 and Ellison Russell’s life revolves around her daughter and her art. She’s long since stopped caring about her cheating husband, Henry, and the women with whom he entertains himself. That is, until she becomes a suspect in Madeline Harper’s death. The murder forces Ellison to confront her husband’s proclivities and his crimes—kinky sex, petty cruelties and blackmail.
As the body count approaches par on the seventh hole, Ellison knows she has to catch a killer. But with an interfering mother, an adoring father, a teenage daughter, and a cadre of well-meaning friends demanding her attention, can Ellison find the killer before he finds her?
I like it. This was a good story that I read rather quickly as I had to know what happens next and boy did this mystery opened up a can of worms for the heroine of this intriguing drama that takes place in the 70s. The author did a great job in presenting the telling of this story with an easy flow and suspects aplenty that was fun to dwindle down the clues to the killer’s identity. A good premise, likable characters and a nice backdrop created an enjoyable debut and a welcome addition to the mystery genre.
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Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan is the sixth book in the “Mattie Winston” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, February 2015
Deputy coroner Mattie Winston knows a thing or two about dead bodies. That’s why she’s on the case of Derrick Ames, a high school math teacher stabbed to death with a barbecue fork straight to the heart. Sure, she’s turned up some motives and a few suspects, but nothing adds up. Especially when the evidence points to Ames’s teenage son. Newly pregnant Mattie can’t believe it, even as her own long-estranged father may be following her. But one thing’s certain, she’d better start figuring things out fast, or a deadly perpetrator could be subtracting two more victims from the population of Sorenson, Wisconsin. . .
This is one of my favorite series and this fast-paced drama infused all types of emotions from sadness, to hilarity and to joy as once again Mattie is on the case with amusing antics that gets in her way but delights me as she shows her strength and determination. I love the approach the author took by having Mattie tell the story as she is talking to her therapist, giving us insights into her relationship with those around her. I’ve always liked Mattie and I like her even more. The mystery was great and I love that surprising twist of the killer’s identity; never saw that one coming. With a great cast of characters from Mattie to Richmond and to Hurley and sharply written dialogue, this is one of the best book in this enjoyable amusing series and I look forward to more adventures with Mattie and friends.
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Tattered Legacy by Shannon Baker is the third book in the “Nora Abbott” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, March 2015
Nora Abbott risks her career at Loving Earth Trust on a film project to convince Congress to expand the Canyonlands National Park. But someone is desperate to keep the secrets of the land hidden. When her best friend and director of the film is found dead, Nora is convinced it wasn’t an accident. Nora’s Hopi kachina messenger has vanished and now it looks as though Cole Huntsman, the man she’s finally allowed herself to love, has left her, too.
As Nora uncovers an unlikely intersection of ancient Hopi legends, a secret polygamist sect, and one of the world’s richest men, she is drawn deeper into danger. Her mother’s surprising past holds the key to the clash of cultures, but will Nora put all the pieces together in time to prevent disaster? Set in the iconic red rocks of Moab, Utah, Nora races to discover what really lies beyond the stars.
What a great read in this fast-paced riveting drama that had me glued to the pages in a book that was hard to put down, quickly becoming a page turner. The action was non-stop as Nora set about finding proof that her friend was murdered, which of course puts Nora in the crosshairs of a devious killer who will stop at nothing to get want they want. The author did a great job in keeping me on pins and needles as each scene took me closer to a frenetic ending that had my adrenaline rising to the top as it all came down to, who had the stronger will to live. I also enjoyed watching Nora’s relationship with her mother and boyfriend blossom. With a great cast of characters, engaging dialogue and nature’s backdrop, this is the best book in this smashingly terrific series.
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Suspendered Sentence by Laura Bradford is the fourth book in the “Amish” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, March 2015
The national bestselling author of Shunned and Dangerous returns to the Amish community of Heavenly, Pennsylvania, where shop owner Claire Weatherly has come to appreciate a simpler, more peaceful way of life. But dark secrets are about to complicate things—and lead to murder.
After the Stoltzfus barn catches fire, Claire is awed by the response of the community. Hundreds of Amish men gather together to raise a new barn for the family in a matter of days. But in the midst of the work, a human skeleton is unearthed. Found with the remains is half of a friendship bracelet last seen on Sadie Lehman, an Amish teen long believed to have left her strict upbringing for the allure of English ways.
Now Detective Jakob Fisher—once a member of the Amish community himself—is determined to solve the young woman’s murder. With Claire’s help, he must dig into the past and bring to light long-buried secrets—secrets that someone is willing to kill to protect.
This was a very enjoyable read that quickly consumed my waking hour from beginning to end. The mystery stirred up so much emotion that it was hard to put down as this character-driven drama placed me in the shoes of our heroine, Claire. The author did a great job in the telling of this tale, having me gasped at just the right moments with my query as to how this will all play out with some surprising twists as to the culpability of those involved. The angst of the main character was well played as I had those same thoughts myself and I liked how the author let us see two sides to the dilemma. Laura Bradford is a gifted author whose words transfixed me with a sweet and tender reading experience that left me with a yearning to move to Heavenly, Pennsylvania. This was the best one yet in this delightfully heart-warming and charming series and I look forward to more adventures with Claire, Jakob and her friends.
Kittens Can Kill by Clea Simon is the 5th book in the “Pru Marlowe Pet Noir” mystery series. Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press, March 2015
The dead don’t keep pets. So when animal behaviorist expert Pru Marlowe gets a call about a kitten, she doesn’t expect to find the cuddly creature playing beside the cooling body of prominent Beauville lawyer David Canaday. Heart attack? His three adult daughters angrily blame drug interactions, feline allergies—and each other. And begin to feud over their father, his considerable estate, and that cute ball of fluff. While the cause of death is pending, each sister has an axe to grind—with arguments that escalate when David’s partner reads out the will. Pru’s special sensitivity to animals, which caused her to flee the cacophony of Manhattan for the quiet Berkshires, adds further problems. The local vet is overwhelmed as the animal hospital’s money runs out. There’s a needy Sheltie and some invasive squirrels, too. But the dead man’s kitten, his former partner, and his troublesome family keep drawing “wild-girl” animal psychic Pru back in. Despite the wry observations of her trusty tabby Wallis, now the wrongfully accused kitten’s guardian, and the grudging compliance of her cop lover, this may be one time when Pru can’t solve the mystery or save the kitten she wants to believe is innocent. A single witness knows the truth about that bright spring morning. How far can Pru investigate without risking her own hidden tale?
This mystery had lots of twists and turns to keep me entertained from beginning to end. Pru uses her secret talent with great aplomb that helps in solving the pieces of the puzzle, which is murder. A good read, a great cast of characters and a wicked whodunit brings it all together in this pleasantly appealing series.
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Flamenco, Flan, and Fatalities by Mary McHugh is the second book in the “Happy Hoofers” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, February 2015
Murder is nothing to tap at. . .
The high-kicking Happy Hoofers–Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise, and Gini–have been booked to flaunt their fabulous flamenco footwork on a luxury train ride through northern Spain. But when a blowhard talk show host is found deader than four-day-old flan–with Gini as suspect numero uno–the feisty friends waste no time stepping into their sleuthing shoes to protect one of their own.
The dynamite dancers will have to step up their game before a clever killer brings the curtain down on one of them . . . for good!
This was quite an enjoyable read once again with the ladies who danced their way into another murder, this time in Spain aboard a train. These ladies are so different it is so appealing as the combine their efforts as amateur sleuths to clear their friends name and what a fun ride it was. The author did a very good job in setting up the action, keeping me on my toes and it was fun to watch all the pieces fit into the puzzle for a clear picture of the killer. The characters are quirky, yet lovable and I look forward to their next adventures on the road.
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License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes is the second book in the “Pickled and Preserved” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, February 2015
Piper Lamb knows how to make fruits and vegetables keep for months. Unfortunately, it’s the people around her who are expiring too soon.
After her fiancé left her, Piper came to Cloverdale to rebuild her life and open up her shop, Piper’s Picklings, to sell pickles and preserves. When her ex decides to drop in for a visit—just as things are heating up between her and a local Christmas tree farmer—Piper finds herself in a jam.
But there are other visitors to worry about.
An Italian soccer team is set to play the Cloverdale All-Stars in an exhibition game. Their manager, Raffaele Conti, was a bitter rival of Piper’s dill supplier, local farmer Gerald Standley. After Conti is found dead in Standley’s field, Piper must work to clear Gerald’s name and find out who relished killing Raffaele before the town is soured by another death.
I enjoyed this story that was a delight to read with Piper taking on the role, once again, of an amateur sleuth to help a friend and she does this will help from an unexpected source. The action-filled drama kept my interest from beginning to end with a well-stocked storyline that was light and fresh and continue to build to that final moment with the killer’s identity was revealed. This was a good read with a lovable cast of characters and engaging dialogue. The way the book ended, I’m looking forward to the next book in this charming series.