The Body from the Past (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery Book 5) by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview – #cozymystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Happy Publication Day!

 Book Blurb:

The Body from the Past by Judi LynnA closed room in her newest fixer-upper leads Indiana house-flipper Jazzi Zanders to reopen a chilling cold case involving a high school girl . . .

Jazzi, her cousin Jerod, and her husband Ansel are preparing to renovate a charming house that reminds her of an English manor. Before purchasing it, they had inspected the house for structural issues, but now when they do a more thorough walk-through, they discover a teenage girl’s bedroom that clearly hasn’t been touched in years. Dust covers the pink canopy bed, clothes still hang in the closet, and a hope chest remains full of journals and memorabilia. They’ve stumbled on a shrine to a dead girl.

They learn Jessica was killed in the middle of her high school graduation party. The murderer was never identified, but the brother-in-law of Jazzi’s friend, who went to school with Jessica, was suspected and never lived it down. He implores Jazzi to review the cold case and finally prove him innocent. Now it’s up to the house-flipper to nail a killer who will do anything to close the door on the past . ..

My Review:

Can’t believe we are already at Book 5 of this series from this prolific writer. This entry to the series veers off just a tad from previous plot lines in that they don’t discover a body in their newest fixer—they discover a locked room that had been the bedroom of the deceased. It’s still the open case of a murder.

The Body from the Past by Judi LynnJazzi, her hubby Ansel, and cousin Jerod are working on another flipper, this time in the little town of Merlot. The room they discover locked was actually that way when the last owner bought and not needing the room simply left it as is. The house has been sold with furnishings and the room in particular left just as the teenager had prior to her untimely death.

They don’t get too deeply into the project before Jazzi is asked to dig into the cold case as the girl’s boyfriend was the prime suspect but never arrested or charged. Still, he is left with the stigma and would like to be cleared, once and for all.

Ah, youthful energy!! Jazzi balances her full on rehab work with the boys as she also prepares their lunches and snacks, meets the girls for their weekly gab fest, and provides a big family dinner every Sunday, as has been her routine now for some time. They have a pug, George, and two kitties that they tend. In between, she begins to read the journal left by the young graduating high schooler. It’s enlightening, but not wholly revealing.

Then a body is found obviously connected to the case which involves Gaff, their local police connection who manages to show up for a lot of lunches (just to exchange information, of course). Now she’ll ramp up her efforts and begin systematic interviews with all involved.

The narrative is well-plotted, the mystery just under the surface, as the three work through their plan for renovation, choosing colors, textures, materials, appliances, and equipment. Having also worked on rehabbing old houses for years, I’m always fascinated with the description of what and how they go about it. Of course, styles and colors have changed a LOT since we worked nights and weekends on our projects while working full-time.

I enjoy the characters and having read several of the books now (including The Body in the Attic and The Body in the Apartment), see a subtle change in dynamics of the main characters. The pacing is just right, working on the mystery, working on the house, working on the family relationships, and working on some pretty interesting food dishes (several included at the back). An easy-in conclusion and the promise of Book 6 and I’m a happy reader.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ASIN : B082WRCXS3

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: September 22, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Judi Lynn - authorThe Author: [Judi Lynn] USA Today Best-selling author for The Body in the Attic.
When I started self-publishing, I wrote urban fantasy as Judith Post. Then my wonderful agent, Lauren Abramo, suggested I try to find a publisher by writing romance, and she was right. I sold my Mill Pond romances to Kensington’s Lyrical Press. After six romances, my equally wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, asked if I’d like to try to write a mystery. Ironic, because I started writing–forever ago–by writing mystery short stories and selling them. I decided to write about a fixer-upper because my husband and I bought a 1920s small bungalow when we got married, and it needed lots of work. We’re still working on it. And cooking crept into the stories because I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat supper with us. A lot of my passions have ended up in my books:)

Connect with Judi on Facebook and her blog at Judi Lynn Writes

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Night Shift (A Helping Hands Mystery Book 2) by Annelise Ryan – a #BookReview

“The awesome and mighty power of dog love at work.”

Book Blurb:

Night Shift by Annelise RyanWhen social worker Hildy Schneider commits to an after-hours side job, she finds herself drawn into the darker side of small-town Sorenson, Wisconsin—and the twisted mind of an unnamed killer . . .   Strange things have been happening since Hildy started moonlighting with local police, but a desperate late-night call involving a former patient from Sorenson General Hospital tops the list. Although Danny Hildebrand has been tormented by hallucinations for years, he swears he’s being haunted for real by the victim of a grisly murder . . .   The rambling ghost story seems like another delusion. But after a body turns up in a neglected farmhouse crawling with secrets, Hildy and the magnetic Detective Bob Richmond rush to explain Danny’s knowledge of the incident. As the crime-solving partners unwittingly grow closer while examining a series of eerie leads, they realize that surviving past sunrise means shedding light on a criminal willing to do whatever it takes to stay in the shadows . . . 

My Review:

I do appreciate humor included in a novel, especially a cozy, where no one should take too seriously the serious stuff. It’s not meant to be dark and this narrative stays rather on the light side due in part to MC Hildy Schneider. She’s a social worker newly committing to a second job (maybe I missed why, but the usual is m o n e y) with the Sorenson Police Department. At any rate, there were several details missed in her job description when she signed on, one of which is that as a trial program with the police called Helping Hands, she’ll ride along with the night shift cop.

This could be a good thing using golden retriever Roscoe, a trained therapy dog, and her general experience with the hospital where she’s based as the social worker.

Night Shift by Annelise RyanHer first night sees a homicide victim that manages to tie into one of her patients with schizophrenia who is obviously off his meds. Something is really wrong here–she knows he wouldn’t have done the deed–meds or no.

The author has peppered in a variety of damaged and unusual support characters along with the usual–one of my favs is PJ, the (autistic) teen who walks Roscoe. I’m still trying to make heads or tails of Detective Bob Richmond, but that’s a thread that will be further explored in the next series entry. The sense of humor manifests with some weirdly funny analogies producing a soft chuckle or two.

“…his room has all the ambience of a medieval dungeon and one neon yellow pillow isn’t going to fix that. That pillow is like a random piece of corn in the middle of a giant turd.”

WHOA!

“He might be a cam bolt shy of being fully assembled.”

The mystery is not that difficult and the perp is rather obvious early on with the motive by mid-book. Some twists meant to throw the reader off-track, don’t. The storyline is easy to follow and the characters add depth and a little fun to the narrative.

However, another damaged protagonist, while quite engaging is getting tiresome. There are repeats of conversations (wait…didn’t I just read that?) and commonly repeated descriptions.

The very real problem of a possible conflict of interest pops up that might lead to an in-depth discussion of which job comes first, takes precedent, and where should her allegiance lie? A situation that will surely force a resolution.

I’ve read this author before in one of her other series (Dead Ringer review here), thought I’d try this one. I tripped over a few quibbles, but basically enjoyed a well-plotted and easy-paced cozy read with characters I grew to invest in. Recommended.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Medical Thrillers
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B07ZPLB14V
Print Length: 266 pages
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Annelise Ryan - authorThe Author: Annelise Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Mattie Winston mystery series and a pseudonym for Beth Amos, who also writes the Mack’s Bar Mystery series under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott. Beth is a real life emergency room RN living in Wisconsin. She believes laughter is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series she is hoping to “medicate” the masses.

For more Mattie Winston fun and to keep up with the latest news, visit http://www.mattiewinston.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Snowed Under (A Maggie McDonald Mystery Book 6) by Mary Feliz – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Happy Release Day!

Book Blurb:

Snowed Under by Mary FelizWhen professional organizer Maggie McDonald finds a body in a snowdrift outside her friend’s ski cabin, she must plow through the clues to find a cold-blooded killer . . .

Lake Tahoe in February is beautiful, but Maggie can’t see a thing as she drives through a blinding blizzard with her friend Tess Olmos and their dogs, golden retriever Belle and German shepherd Mozart.Maggie has offered her professional decluttering skills to help Tess tidy up her late husband’s cabin in preparation to sell. She also plans to get in some skiing when her husband Max and their boys join them later in the week.

What she doesn’t plan on is finding a boot in a snowdrift attached to a corpse. The frozen stiff turns out to be Tess’s neighbor, Dev Bailey, who disappeared two months ago. His widow Leslie expresses grief, but Maggie can’t help but wonder if it’s a snow job. As more suspects start to pile up, things go downhill fast, and Maggie must keep her cool to solve the murder before the killer takes a powder . .

My Review:

My first experience with the author and the series included dogs (and if you follow my blog, you know I can’t resist a book with doggy characters) and gorgeous Lake Tahoe–such a soft spot in my heart for Lake Tahoe–so many happy memories there. But winter in Tahoe? Oh yes, can be extremely treacherous.

Snowed Under by Mary FelizThis entry to the series has protagonist Maggie making a trip to Tahoe with her good friend Tess Olmos in February as Maggie will take on years of accumulation in Tess’s family cabin in preparation for a future sale to finance Tess’s son’s college expenses and her change of profession. Maggie is a professional organizer and this will be a getaway trip for her with her family following later for a ski vacation. Should be perfect! But, oops! The weather can turn on a dime in the High Sierras. The blizzard from hell hits them on their way over Donner Summit (no doubt you’ve heard that well-know story before–the Donner Party?) and it’s all they can do to make it to the cabin safely.

Leaving the car where it doesn’t belong in the turnaround, the first trip out of the cabin in the morning to trek back to the car has Maggie discovering a DB (that’s dead body in cop-speak). Unfortunately, the husband of one of Tess’s neighbors took his dog out just after Christmas and never returned. It sends Tess reeling as she lost her husband just 18 months previous and is part of the reason she’s selling. Between the weather and the unnerving discovery, organizing, cleaning, and clearing gets put on the back burner.

Maggie begins to meet the neighbors from the cul-de-sac snoop to the family of the deceased, all just struggling to survive the latest spate of storms crippling the mountains and their lives. The conditions are extreme, between the loss of power and heat, high winds, and plummeting temperatures, everyone hunkers down. Descriptions of the mountains and hillside homes create an appropriate frigid scene. Maggie’s dog, Belle, and Tess’s dog, Mozart, along with neighbors dogs lend added dimension to the cozy, if not freezing atmosphere.

Perhaps this is one of those series in which you should have started with Book 1. I found myself lost, especially in the first third of the book understanding the characters. There seemed contradictions in description, causing a stumble, awkward scenes, and dialogue. Maggie begins her surreptitious interviews of the neighbors and discovers there may have been more than one possible suspect. Chief Quinn Petit seems to welcome the help even as the plot takes some twists which will have you suspending disbelief. Visit from friends back home (under extreme conditions?) and a sudden introduction to the perp in the conclusion was rather contrived and somewhat a disappointment for me.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read for a review. If you’ve followed the series, you may very well appreciate this entry, enjoy the cozy mystery.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ISBN-10:1516105311
  • ISBN-13:978-1516105311
  • ASIN: B07WBY669T

Print Length: 227 pages
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): Snowed Under

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: Three-point Five of Five Stars 3.5-stars

Mary Feliz - authorThe Author: Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Her first book, ADDRESS TO DIE FOR, received a Kirkus Star and was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. Suspense Magazine selected CLIFF HANGER as a Best Book of 2019. A Certified California Naturalist, Mary enjoys sharing the beauty of her state’s natural world with readers.

©2020 V Williams V Williams