Shucked Apart (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 9) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview – #cozyculinary mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Shucked Apart by Barbara RossThe Snowden Family Clambake Company has a beloved reputation in Busman’s Harbor, Maine. Almost as famous is the sleuthing ability of proprietor Julia Snowden, which is why an oyster farmer seeks her out when she’s in trouble.

When Andie Greatorex is robbed of two buckets of oyster seed worth $35,000, she wonders if somebody’s trying to mussel her out of business. Could it be a rival oyster farmer, a steamed former employee, or a snooty summer resident who objects to her unsightly oyster cages floating on the beautiful Damariscotta River? There’s also a lobsterman who’s worried the farm’s expanding lease will encroach on his territory and Andie’s ex-partner, who may come to regret their split. Before Julia can make much headway in the investigation, Andie turns up dead, stabbed by a shucking knife. Now it’s up to Julia to set a trap for a cold and clammy killer . . .

My Review:

If I can’t be on the left coast for some sumptuous fresh and sweet crab and clams, I’ll tap into the latest novel in the Maine Clambake Mystery series by Barbara Ross and join her on the right coast for some of their world-renown seafood—including oysters and lobsters. YUM! The subject of Book 9. Maybe you aren’t currently an oyster fan, but by the end of this cozy culinary, you’ll be searching for the fastest route to the Damariscotta River and Busman’s Harbor, Maine.

Shucked Apart by Barbara RossThe Snowden Family Clambake Company is gearing up for opening season, and Julie is responsible for finding appropriate seasonal staff when her boyfriend Chris asks her help for a poker buddy who was recently assaulted and her pails of oyster spat (baby oysters) stolen. Yes, it was reported to the police, but they are taking it as an assault and robbery and Andie knows it’s much more than that. First, Julia is a little put off that Chris has not been forthcoming regarding his “poker buddies” but on speaking with Andie, however, she sees a serious oyster farmer who has made for herself a respectable name and reputation as producing quality product.

Whether or not you’re interested in the farming of oysters, this is fascinating stuff and amazing how Ms. Ross weaves in information in Julia’s investigation to pique your interest not only in aquaculture but the history of the area and it’s evolution. And then there is the death of Andie (no accident there). Andie’s expansion plans may have spurred some backlash and there is some competition between the oyster and lobster farmers.

The author describes the area so beautifully, the fishermen so completely, the sights, sounds, and fragrant air plunks you into the middle of her scene. The well-developed characters make you wish you could sit at their table, reliving those fish stories or the best way to care for the upwellers.

In the meantime, the mystery is progressing through red herrings (chuckle) and twists, some too obvious not to be dismissed. Easy to have your own suspicions and the well-plotted and paced narrative progresses without repeated rehashing of salient suspicions.

I’ve had the opportunity of receiving two others in this series, Sealed Off and Stowed Away, both of which I enjoyed, and really these can be read as a standalone, but now I’m off to see if I can find an audiobook. These are atmospheric, engaging, and entertaining and I never come away without learning something.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest opinions. Releasing in February, this one is on pre-order now at your favorite retailer.

Rosepoint Recommended

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B089N3KK89

Print Length: 189 pages
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Barbara Ross - authorThe Author:  Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at http://www.barbararossauthor.com

©2021 V Williams

Without a Brew: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 4) by Ellie Alexander – a #BookReview #cozymystery

“Life is what happens between coffee and beer.”

Book Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into a murderous winter wonderland in another delightful mystery from cozy writer Ellie Alexander, Without a Brew.

It’s winter in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, which for local brewmaster Sloan Krause means lots of layers, pine and citrus-flavored craft beers, and getting the new guest rooms at Nitro into pristine condition before visitors flood in for IceFest—a local tradition filled with fireworks, ice carving, and winter games of all varieties. But Sloan and her boss Garrett quickly learn that being brewkeepers turned innkeepers may not be as idyllic as it sounded.

While one couple staying with them seems completely smitten, a flashy group arrives in the evening demanding rooms. Sloan and Garrett are less than impressed, but agree to rent to them anyway. The night takes a turn when brewery patron Liv Paxton finishes her frothy pint and, with no previous plan for an overnight stay in Leavenworth, eagerly takes Sloan up on the offer of sanctuary from the snow—until she has a strange run in with some locals and the other guests. Sloan could be imagining things, but when Liv’s room is found trashed the next morning, a hateful message painted on her car, and Liv herself is nowhere to be found, Sloan is convinced another mystery is brewing. With many of the potential suspects hunkering down under Nitro’s roof, she knows her co-workers and friends won’t be safe until she serves up the killer a hoppy pint of justice.

My Review:

I really enjoying tearing into this series as soon as the next book is available. Not a beer drinker, but this series is written so well I’m almost ready to try–it’s right there with soliloquies about wine. Such an art—I’ll bet you never knew!

“The beer thief, or sample thief, as they were sometimes called, was a long plastic device with a gravity valve on the base.” Hmmm…okay.

Sloan Krause is the product of the foster care system, but has found a strong family and idyllic home in Leavenworth, Washington, where she has joined Garrett in crafting unusual beers made from specialty hops and crops unique to the area and the season. They’ve gradually added more services, light snacks and soups and are now looking forward to opening rooms above Nitro as a limited B&B. Her ex is from a strong German family where she honed the knowledge of her craft and learned to love the family she never had. She also has a teenage son, Alex.

In this episode, they are gearing up for IceFest and testing their B&B quarters which has resulted in an eclectic group of guests—opposites on the social pole with one group downright obnoxious, as well as a couple celebrating an anniversary, and a single woman stranded for the night.

So many strong layers here to enjoy: the description of the delightful Bavarian style town nestled in the high mountains of Washington state and the citizens, the information regarding the art of brewing, the equipment, the nuances, ingredients and recipes, Sloan’s mysterious background coming to the fore and its possible connection to her (soon-to-be ex) in-laws, and the mystery itself expertly woven smoothly together. It’s okay that it’s Book 4, the author easily adds bits of pertinent data (no info dump), although these are fun enough to go back and start with Book 1.

The protagonist herself, Sloan, is not an in-your-face amateur sleuth. She doesn’t generally put herself at risk. She is good with people, quietly putting them at ease, and usually gets the clues she’s looking for without their being any the wiser. Also, she works well with local police Chief Meyers, herself an intelligent woman, effective, exchanging hints.

The mystery rides the tide with Sloan’s personal life growth and that of the service industry and occasionally slips in a quick recipe explanation or two. The mystery is not without twists or red herrings. Not like you won’t get a sense of the perp (although once again, not one I wanted it to be). The author builds her characters so three-dimensionally, the reader becomes engaged and except for the rude and crude one, not easy to assign guilt.

Fully invested and rolling in all the layers, the conclusion comes whether or not you’re ready. The storyline has resolved several issues, set up for the next book, and fully cemented you in the series. The only issue I had was of “the sharp edge of the shovel.” Just not sure that’s one you’d walk away from.

I missed the first, but have read and thoroughly enjoyed Books 2 and 3. You should check out this atmospheric and character-driven series. On pre-order now, this one releases in November.  

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

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars

4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ASIN : B084M1SDGK

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

About The Author:

ELLIE ALEXANDER is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses and breweries nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails of Southern Oregon and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries. Follow her on social media to learn more about her books, see her recipe videos, and participate in fun giveaways!

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
Website: https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/elliealexanderauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elliealexander

(C) 2020 V Williams

V Williams

Trick or Thief: A Humorous culinary Cozy Mystery Short Read (Death by Cupcake) by D E Haggerty #BlogTour #BookReview #cozymystery

I am so delighted to provide a review for you today at my blog stop for Trick or Thief by D E Haggerty on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Trick or Thief by DE Haggerty

Book Details

Trick or Thief: A Humorous Culinary Cozy Mystery Short Read (Death by Cupcake)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Independently Published
Digital – 120 pages
ASIN: B0878QF5V9

Book Blurb

A little haunting sounds like innocent fun until a ghost plunders your stockroom.

Kristie is convinced ghosts don’t exist until food starts disappearing without a trace from the Youth Center storage. There are zero clues as to who’s been inside the building. The security guard hasn’t seen a thing, and the security tapes are mysteriously blank. When the ghost widens his hocus-pocus to include Kristie’s office, the gals of Callie’s Cakes jump in to find the culprit before Kristie can get in a whole mess of spooky trouble. 

Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes expose the ghost before Kristie’s facility is destroyed? 

Cupcakes not included, although recipes for all the delicious cupcakes Anna bakes are.

My Review

Trick or Thief by D E HaggertyMy first short read by the author and this the sixth of the series.  Callie and Anna and co-owners of Callie’s Cakes. They specialize in beautiful and very tasty cupcakes and are the two best friends of Kristie Larson who took over management of the local youth center.

Kristie likes to think she is the more sane of the three, but Callie is a also a bit on the reticent side, following Anna who tends to leap into whatever situation is confronting them at the moment and at the moment that would be the mysterious thefts at the youth center. Who would steal bread and peanut butter at 4 am? More than once?  

It is approaching Halloween and Kristie has plans for the kids, but Anna and Callie are all in the investigation of the penny ante thefts. Then it starts getting more serious and Anna and Callie have to become more subtle in their plans if they are to keep their activities a secret from their police detective significant others. Kristie’s guy, Tyler, is a fireman and working odd hours, so she reluctantly goes with the plans of “Lucy and Ethel.”

They do manage to solve the mystery and no one gets maimed or murdered and the narrative stays light-hearted, humorous, and well-fed. Lots of cupcake recipes following the conclusion.

A fast, easy read, a promised romance, and clean mystery (no filters needed here). I received the digital download for the blog tour and these are my unbiased opinions.

+Add to Goodreads 

D E HaggertyAbout The Author: D.E. Haggerty is actually just plain old Dena, but she thinks using initials makes her sound sophisticated and maybe even grown up. She was born and raised in the U.S. but considers herself a Dutchie and not only because it sounds way cooler. After a stint in the U.S. Army, she escaped the US to join her husband in Holland. She fled Holland over ten years ago when she couldn’t stand the idea of being a lawyer for one single second more. Turns out Bed & Breakfast owner in Germany didn’t do it for her either. When the hubby got a job in Istanbul, she jumped ship and decided to give this whole writer thing a go. She’s now back in Holland, which she considers home. Sorry, Mom.

Author links

Website: http://dehaggerty.wordpress.com

Blog: https://dehaggerty.wordpress.com/category/mymusings/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dehaggerty

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dehaggerty

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dehaggerty/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7210211.D_E_Haggerty

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/D.E.-Haggerty/e/B00ECQBURU/

Newsletter signup: https://mailchi.mp/027b2768aa1c/newsletter-sign-up-for-a-writers-life-by-de-haggerty

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/denahaggerty/

Bookbub author page: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/d-e-haggerty

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/d-e-haggerty-4b49a29/

Purchase Link – Amazon

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

August 20 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 20 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

August 21 – Nadaness In Motion – REVIEW

August 21 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

August 22 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 23 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, GUEST POST

August 24 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 25 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

August 25 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

August 26 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT

August 27 – Books to the Ceiling  – GUEST POST

August 28 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

August 28 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

August 29 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

August 30 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

August 30 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

August 31 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

September 1 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT

September 1 – ebook addicts – REVIEW

September 1 – Reading Authors Network – SPOTLIGHT

September 2 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – RECIPE

September 2 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW Great Escapes Book Tours

 Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this short cozy mystery!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview Cozy Culinary Mystery

RosepointPub Crawl I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling…with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five StarsFive Stars

 Book Blurb:

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronMaggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October–and Halloween–approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana.

Five local plantation B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play–and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican’s spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.

My Review:

It’s nearing Halloween and Maggie Crozat and her parents, owner of the Cajun Country B&B, are gearing up along with the other B&Bs in Pelican, Louisiana to provide holiday specials along with festivities appropriate to the spooky, ghouly, and darker time of year. Maggie and the B&B community is working hard against Gavin Grody, better known for an agenda he calls, “Rent My Digs” as his endeavor has impacted their normally successful seasons, being one hour from New Orleans.

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen ByronThey are promoting all manner of activities, including a play they are holding in an ancient graveyard, Cajun food in typical Louisiana amenities, and a pet parade. They will also have readings from a local VooDoo priestess, Helene, and Maggie has created a spa on her premises that she is hoping will be a major draw along with the masseuse she is bringing in–a remotely related cousin she has never met.

Her cousin, Susannah, brings her husband Doug and his twins. She outfitted her art studio in the old schoolhouse for the family and began to set appointments. Unfortunately, sightings been made of a rougarou, an old Cajun creature legend. Susannah announces her land runs through the schoolhouse making Maggie and the Crozat’s the obvious suspects of what is quickly assessed a murder.

Of course, her own Pelican PD doesn’t believe they would be involved. It is the neighboring jurisdiction that smells an easy solve and the murder happened there, so Maggie and clan will have to go looking to find the killer. In the meantime, her Grandmeré is becoming a bridezilla as she is planning a wedding with Maggie and her beau, Detective Bo Durand of their precinct. He has a young son, Xander who is looking forward to Halloween and planning his costume with the same fervor as her Gran the wedding.

I thoroughly enjoy the sense of humor this author brings to her storytelling, which is always well-plotted and easy paced, with fully developed characters alive with Southern hospitality personality. One of her guests has a parrot that often enlivens and entertains the others. The family melds easily as an enviable tight, happy clan, the occasion is atmospheric, and there are always tidbits of Louisiana Cajun folklore and culture, foods, descriptions of the land and people.

“In Louisiana…We only follow the rules we like.”

If I didn’t remember that humidity and those bugs so well, I’d be packing to head south.

The casual road to the conclusion sneaks up on you, as do the perps in the final reveal. I had my eye on one or two others, but was wrong and that doesn’t often happen. There is an explanation of particular custom or word origins and then the recipes. If I remember right it was after I read Fatal Cajun Festival that I ran out and bought ingredients for a Jambalaya. (I do love shrimp.) This novel includes more than one I’ll try (if I’m ever allowed to go grocery shopping again).

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review Book 6. Engaging and entertaining, I greatly enjoy this author’s writing style, both this series and her new one, Catering Hall Mysteries (Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRico). If you haven’t yet discovered her books, now is the time. Highly recommended!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H3BT6F
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Murder in the Bayou Boneyard (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint recommended

Maria DiRico - authorThe Author: [Ellen Byron] Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel. Also writes the Catering Hall Mysteries (HERE COMES THE BODY, #1) as Maria DiRico.

Ellen writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries, debuted under her pen name, Maria DiRico.

Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Body in the Apartment (A Zazzi Zanders Mystery Book 4) by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

The Body In the Apartment by Judi LynnThe charming homes of River Bluffs, Indiana, make perfect projects for house-flipper Jazzi Zanders. Less charming is her hothead brother-in-law, who’s a bit of a fixer-upper himself.
But could he also be a murderer?

Jazzi married her gorgeous contractor Ansel—not his family. But somehow she keeps living with them. So she’s delighted to help Ansel’s brother Radley move out of their home and into his own place, in the same building as his work supervisor, Donovan. But when Donovan is shot and his apartment ransacked following an argument with Ansel and Radley’s older brother Bain, their sibling becomes a suspect—especially after his missing gun turns up as the murder weapon.

Told not to leave town by Detective Gaff, big brother moves in with . . . Jazzi and Ansel. Now Jazzi needs to prove Bain’s no killer, not only to keep him out of jail—but to get him out of their house. What was the killer looking for in Donovan’s apartment? And what will happen to the next person who gets in the way?

My Review:

Book 4 has Jazzi and Ansel happily married and seeing Radley, Ansel’s brother, moving to an apartment of his own. Unfortunately, Bain, their oldest brother comes to River Bluffs at the same time to retrieve Radley and drag him (kicking and screaming) back to the old farm. Having once fled, no way he’ll go back and he’s moving to the same complex where his co-worker Donovan lives. Unfortunately, Bain and Donovan quarrel and when Donovan is shot, and Bain’s gun is inexplicably missing, guess who looks like suspect numero uno? Of course, they know he didn’t do it, but can’t leave now.

The Body in the Apartment by Judi LynnSo now that they’ve inherited the temporary responsibility for Bain, he’s taking Radley’s bedroom but boredom overtakes and he asks to be included in the current house-flipping project, a Victorian somewhere between them and Jerod, Jazzi’s cousin and a big third of their rehabbing efforts. Jerod’s wife is soon to have their third baby, so an extra hand couldn’t hurt.

With the death of Donovan, Detective Gaff  (is the author having a little fun with the reader choosing that name?) once again calls upon Jazzi to help with his interviews and investigations gleaning leads where he can’t. (Where did he get his badge?)

In the meantime, her hands are full with helping on the fixer-upper, coordinating food and accommodations (their own home–rehabbed to allow for guests and parties) for her sister’s wedding, their usual Sunday dinners with the family, the extended family, and anyone else who wants an easy Sunday with great food. I’ve read three of the four in the series and always wonder where Jazzi gets the time to do any of the extensive food prep and cooking described, why they aren’t waiting for housing inspectors to pass their rehab work, or how long it took them to get the permit approvals to do some of the extensive removal of walls). Her gorgeous 6’5″ Viking, Ansel, is the General Contractor, if I remember correctly, but he has few subs. Okay, I’m still over-thinking it all and this is a cozy mystery.

And it is one low-key and well-plotted, easy-paced mystery. It’s not out to build tension, but tell a story. The main plot is cleverly tucked betwixt and between Jazzi’s life. She fits in a few interviews of her own and passes her intelligence to Gaff who in turn relays his discoveries back to her and between them, formulate theories. The perp isn’t hard to figure–pretty obvious early on.

So what is it that’s so compelling about the series? The characters, the location (Indiana, for heaven’s sake, and the reason we took a quick trip down to Logansport to check out the Trail–nice– but short), and the whole unique staging of house-flippers. Bain gradually goes from unlikeable character to one with new familial possibilities, extending Ansel’s side.

Yes! A series that I started with Book 1 (and thought I’d read them all–apparently not.) Still, although it might fill in a few blanks, this entry could very well act as a standalone if you haven’t read them all. The conclusion escalates into a gritty, heart-pounding climax. Then, as with any good cozy, soothes the heart rate, and dissolves all loose threads, quietly setting the stage for Book 5. And I’ll be looking forward to it.

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review (HOW’D I miss Book 3?). Recommended as a culinary cozy, but you know I don’t read these for the recipes…although one does look interesting.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Crafts and Hobbies Mystery, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Press

  • ISBN-10:1516110234
  • ISBN-13:978-1516110230
  • ASIN: B07TT2RWQ5

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Body in the Apartment (Amazon) 

+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-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:)

[Goodreads] Judi Lynn received a Master’s Degree from Indiana University as an elementary school teacher after attending the IPFW campus. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades for six years before having her two daughters. She loves gardening, cooking and trying new recipes.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery) by Maria DiRico – a #BookReview – #Cozy

Book 1 of a Quirky New Series!

Book Blurb:

Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRicoAfter her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .
 
Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .

Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .

My Review:

Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRicoI didn’t connect the author’s name right away with Ellen Byron who wrote one of my happy favs last year regarding the Cajun/Bayou mystery Fatal Cajun Festival, but I recognized the author photo. Now here is Book 1 of a new series with another magnetic setting and premise–her father, former mafioso, is trying to go legit with a catering business. She will function as his event planner/sales/manager. The Belle View Banquet Manor is in Astoria (Queens in NYC) near La Guardia Airport. Window-rattling planes coming in for a perfect landing and, thankfully, this building has good bones and in spite of the planes, the land a good location.

The protagonist Messina (Mia) Carina returned from Florida after her no-good husband disappeared in a boating accident leaving her a widow…maybe or maybe not (? She was eventually cleared of being a suspect in his disappearance). Now Mia is sharing a two-family structure in a Queens neighborhood with her grandmother. Nonna lives in one unit with Hero, her dog, while Mia shares her quarters upstairs with the Abyssinian cat she named Doorstop. DOORSTOP?! Knew I was going to love this one right there! A cat named Doorstop. Now that’s funny, y’all. And that is an indication of the subtle shades of humor sprinkled through this delightful romp into the catering business backed by a “GodFather.”

The support characters are wildly unique, full of personality, and utterly engaging. Genuinely Italian, the author develops Nonna beautifully, right down to “hi…are you hungry?” Being a daughter of a (ex?) mob boss has definitely given Mia a persona she’d been happy to discard, but now finding it necessary to reassess. She is close friends with the son of another in the “Family,” and is startled to realize she might have more than friendly feelings for him but then discovers Jamie apparently has a girlfriend. Her brother, Posi, is cooling his heels in the slammer.

While Mia is coordinating her first event, the body found in the cake that was supposed to have been a stripper at the bachelor party wasn’t the stripper but definitely wouldn’t be jumping out of anything anymore. Unfortunately, she’d seen this woman before and there is an apparent connection to her dad, who swears he’s out of the business. His reputation precedes him, however, and the police are quick to jump–in his direction.

Mia, for the most part, seems to have her head on straight. She’s intelligent and handles her clients with a “deal they can’t refuse.” She manages to satisfy even the most outrageous requests. I really liked the characters of Jamie, Nonna, and her dad and the inclusion of the Mafia connections–handled delicately and respectfully. The police in charge of the investigation is not the best and brightest of the force, an old device in cozies and one of my few complaints.

The well-plotted mystery sped up heading into the conclusion and included a rather hair-raising climax although I must admit the final reveal set my head spinning. Still, overall this is a most entertaining debut for this series and I’m keen to continue as I can see there are endless possibilities where these characters might go.

I was given this digital ARC download in exchange for an honest review and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read. This is going to be a fun, engaging series with a compelling setting that I’m looking forward to continuing. Recommended to those who enjoy a good cozy mystery and, by the way, do you know what Cookie Cup Shot Glasses are? There is an amazing recipe for this most unusual cookie/liquor/liqueur/milk dessert at the back of the book.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mysteries
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496725344
  • ISBN-13:978-1496725349

ASIN: B07R8WYLSC
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: To be released February 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes the Body
+Add to Goodreads 

Rosepoint Publishing: Four Point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Maria DiRico - authorThe Author: Maria DiRico (the pen name of award-winning author Ellen Byron) was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances.

While growing up in Queens, Maria/Ellen’s cousin’s uncles ran the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls. MARDI GRAS MURDER, the fourth book in Ellen Byron’s bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series, won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. The series has also won multiple Best Humorous Mystery Lefty awards from Left Coast Crime. Fun fact: she worked as cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Maria/Ellen loves to translate what she learned from Martha into recipes for her books.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Sealed Off (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 8) by Barbara Ross – a #BookReview #cozymystery

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5-stars

Sealed Off by Barbara Ross

Book Blurb:

Early October is “winding down” time in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, but there’s nothing relaxing about it for Julia Snowden. Between busloads of weekend leaf peepers at the Snowden Family Clambake and a gut renovation of the old mansion on Morrow Island, she’s keeping it all together with a potentially volatile skeleton crew—until one of them turns up dead under the firewood.

When the Russian demo team clearing out the mansion discovers a room that’s been sealed off for decades, Julia’s baffled as to its purpose and what secrets it might have held. Tensions are already simmering with the crew, but when one of the workers is found murdered, things come to a boil. With the discovery of another body—and a mysterious diary with Cyrillic text in the hidden room—the pressure’s on Julia to dig up a real killer fast. But she’ll have to sort through a pile of suspects, including ex-spouses, a spurned lover, and a recently released prisoner, to fish out one clammed-up killer.

My Review:

I so enjoy the stories of the Snowden Family Clambakes on Busman’s Harbor, Maine. The family built a large mansion and completed the Morrow Island clambake business with fire pits, picnic tables, and covered pavilion to lend the perfect Maine lobster experience to the tourists. Unfortunately, the old mansion was left empty and in a sad state of deterioration after 1929 suffered a devastating fire a couple years ago. They are now in the process of a complete renovation.

Sealed Off by Barbara RossArriving on the island to complete prep for one of the last days’ clambakes of the season, Julia Snowden discovers a body underneath the woodpile.

But there’s more…

A dual plot pops up when the demolition crew at the mansion opens a room that had been totally enclosed with the inhabitant’s personal effects still in the wardrobe and drawers. OMG! I got totally sucked into the interior room next to the nursery, sealed off and hidden. I love story ARC twists like this! Even more delicious, a diary is discovered in the underwear drawer dating 1898.

Now you know Julia is going to have to work on the murder cause the main and most obvious suspect is her boyfriend’s brother, an ex-con. Oops! Forget thinking this will be a simple mystery. There are twists and obvious suspects, ticked off the list one by one. Still, I had suspicions, but wasn’t sure right up until the reveal. Then, oh yeah, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy solve and it involved an unpleasant trope.

Then the governess who wrote the diary–what in the world happened to her? It’s totally engaging with deep plunges into genealogy and web searches, gleaning names one by one.

As always with the Maine Clambake series, it’s easy to invest in the narrative and the delightful small fishing village, the lobstermen jargon, boating terms, and perspectives on weather and waves. You can smell the salt air and crave those fresh dishes. (YES! Fresh is a whole different kettle of fish! One of our fond memories is the breakdown of the old VW bus we had full of Pacific crab. What could we do? Waiting for help, we gorged on fresh crab!) Anyway, the Snowden family has such a history and calls on one of their oldest for this one, sharing memories of the mansion, delightful foods (recipes at the end of the book) and descriptions of the colorful northern state.

The conclusion draws both plots to a satisfying close, neatly tying loose ends, except one: Julia’s boyfriend…stay tuned.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley and was thrilled to get another Maine Clambake mystery to read and review. Recommended for any who enjoy an immersive location, interesting characters, and complex but satisfying plots.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496717953
  • ISBN-13:978-1496717955
  • ASIN: B07Q7X57MG

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Sealed Off+Add to Goodreads
Barbara Ross - authorThe Author: Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Barbara’s Maine Clambake novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in three holiday anthologies from Kensington Publishing. Barbara and her husband live in Portland, Maine.

[Goodreads] Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Her novellas featuring Julia Snowden are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in the anthologies Eggnog MurderYule Log Murder and Haunted House Murder.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, the first book in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019.

©2019 V Williams V Williams