The Wedding Plot: A Mercy Carr Mystery by Paula Munier – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

The Wedding Plot by Paula Munier

Mercy & Elvis Mysteries #4

Book Blurb:

The Wedding PlotUSA Today bestselling author Paula Munier’s fourth Mercy Carr mystery, finds Mercy and Elvis at a deadly Vermont wedding.

Love never dies a natural death…

The Wedding Plot by Paula MunierWhen Mercy’s grandmother Patience marries her longtime beau Claude Renault at the five-star Lady’s Slipper Inn, it promises to be the destination wedding of the year. Just as the four-day extravaganza is due to begin, the inn’s spa director Bodhi St. George disappears—and Mercy’s mother Grace sends Mercy and Elvis to find him. But what they discover instead is a stranger skewered by a pitchfork in the barn on the goat farm where St. George lived.

As Mercy tries to figure out who the victim is and where St. George is hiding, the bride and groom’s estranged relations gather for the first of the pre-wedding festivities. Long-buried rivalries and resentments surface—and Mercy realizes that they’re all keeping secrets that could tear both families apart. When Elvis interrupts the escalating melodrama to alert Mercy to an intruder on the estate, she finds a wounded St. George in the cottage where she and Troy are staying. St. George is not who he says he is—but when he escapes from the hospital and disappears again, Mercy thinks he’s gone for good. With the wedding imminent and the families at each other’s throats, she decides finding St. George will have to wait.

The big day arrives—but the danger is far from over. With the families and the festivities still under threat, it’s up to Mercy and Elvis together with Troy and Susie Bear to stop the killer and save the bride and groom—before death do they part.

My Review:

I really like Mercy Carr, formerly an Army MP and her bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois, Elvis—a promise to his former handler to care for him. Highly trained and intelligent, Elvis is the star of the series, as well as her love interest, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Game Warden Troy Warner. He has a rescue Newfoundland Retriever mix, Susie Bear, who you just want to hug.

The Wedding Plot by Paula MunierThis entry to the series has Mercy participating (unwillingly) in her grandmother’s destination wedding at the luxurious Lady Slipper Inn, an over-the-top lavishly restored historical resort in the “Live Free or Die” state. Of course, the whole family is there and that is the problem, beginning with her mother, Grace, who is orchestrating the entire affair.

Mercy is thrown into the position of instructor for the wedding party’s yoga session, filling in for the missing spa director who is the manager of the adjacent goat farm, producer of award-winning artisan Cruyére cheese. But meeting Annie, owner and operator of the creamery, discovers with Elvis far more than a missing yoga instructor—a dead body. And it’s not the yoga instructor.

Nor will it be the only body Mercy and Elvis discover and as the wedding plans advance and guests begin arriving, complications set in.

I wouldn’t really call this novel a cozy mystery. I read the first and third (The Hiding Place), but still struggled with the sheer amount of characters. The main support character, Annie, was well fleshed and we did get additional background on Mercy. The Vermont descriptions were both delightful and terrifying, the storms enough to drive any Sunday driver into another state.

While the canines had an integral part of this narrative, it was the families of the wedding party and the clashes between them and their problem with Mercy and her chosen life path that took center stage. Finding and discovering ever-deepening and disturbing minutiae had the plot going in different directions, but always coming back to the next family conflict. Honestly, I thought the wedding would never happen.

The conclusion satisfies but the storyline bogged down for me this time to the point where it became slow going. No problem—Book 4 being a one-off for me. I’ll be looking for Book 5. I like the series and Mercy, Troy, and those amazing dogs.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: ‎ 125082236X
ASIN: B09CNF3X3W
Print Length: 342 pages
Publication Date: July 19, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Paula Munier - authorThe Author: PAULA MUNIER is a literary agent and the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Mercy Carr mysteries. A BORROWING OF BONES, the first in the series, was nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was recently named the Dog Writers Association of America’s Dogwise Book of the Year. The second, BLIND SEARCH, pubbed in November 2019. The third, THE HIDING PLACE, will debut in March 2021.

Paula was inspired to write the series by the hero working dogs she met through Mission K9 Rescue, her own rescues, Newfoundland/retriever mix Bear, Great Pyrenees/Australian cattle dog mix Bliss, and Malinois mix Blondie, and a lifelong passion for crime fiction.

Paula also written three popular books on writing: PLOT PERFECT, THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO BEGINNINGS, and WRITING WITH QUIET HANDS, as well as the acclaimed memoir FIXING FREDDIE: A True Story of a Boy, a Mom, and a Very, Very Bad Beagle, and HAPPIER EVERY DAY: Simple ways to bring more peace, contentment and joy into your life.

She lives in New England with her family, her three rescue dogs, and a rescue torbie tabby named Ursula.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

Death by Didgeridoo (Jamie Quinn Mystery Book 1) by Barbara Venkataraman – #BookReview – #cozyanimalmystery

Book Blurb:

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman Attorney Jamie Quinn is on a six-month hiatus from practicing law to deal with her beloved mother’s death. Rarely leaving the house, she shares most of her days with her late mother’s cranky cat.

But soon, Jamie is forced into action by a frantic call from her Aunt Peg, whose autistic son Adam is in police custody and suspected of murdering his music teacher, a once-famous rock star named Spike.

It’s up to Jamie to find the real killer. The problem is, Spike seems to have had more enemies than he had friends, and Adam had confessed to the murder already. Can Jamie piece together the evidence and bring the murderer to justice before it’s too late?

A delightful, light mystery set in the small town of Hollywood, South Florida, Death By Didgeridoo is the first book in Barbara Venkataraman’s Jamie Quinn Cozy Mysteries series.

My Review:

That’s a fun word—Didgeridoo—of course, a wind instrument originating and common to Australia. But, yeah, so both the title and the cover are a serious draw.

Fortunately, the short story following delivers the implied promise. It’s both unique and vaguely familiar.

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman A cozy mystery with an attorney protagonist (shudder), practicing family law until her mother’s death leaves her devastated and almost literally unable to function. Six months has not seen her return to her former active lifestyle, now barely capable of leaving the couch long enough to feed her mother’s cranky cat. The cat is on a formidable mourning period of its own.

When she receives a hysterical call from her Aunt Peg about her son, Adam, Jamie is forced to get up and deal with it—it’s family—and Adam cannot handle being pulled in and suspected in the murder of his music teacher with his own musical instrument. Adam has Asberger’s Syndrome. He is shutting down–and this trauma could make it permanent.

Jamie is forced to swing her focus on her cousin and her aunt—she is not a criminal attorney—but is smart and resourceful and it doesn’t take too long (this is a short story after all) to first, get her cousin calmed, and then invoke the help of her best friend and a PI.

The storyline necessarily moves at a good pace and along the way develops the characters sufficiently that the reader becomes invested in a positive outcome. The victim of the didgeridoo was not particularly viewed with love but the numero uno suspect is entirely innocent and naïve and almost becomes victim number two. It’s easy to become invested in the characters.

A quick read, engaging, and entertaining. I received a (now permanently) free review copy of this book as an introduction to the series after a request from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Women Sleuths, Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Next Chapter
ISBN: ‎ B099KZ3XX8
ASIN: B00GVJ4WOY
Print Length: 102 pages
Publication Date: November 13, 2013
Source: Author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Barbara Venkataraman - authorThe Author: Award-winning author Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law and debt collection.

She is the author of the Jamie Quinn Cozy Mystery series, as well as: Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person; The Fight for Magicallus; If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place; Quirky Essays for Quirky People; and the Flash Fiction Shorts series.

She has won the Indie Book of the Day award twice, the Book of the Day Award, a gold medal for memoir in the Readers’ Favorite Competition, was a finalist in the Kindle Book Awards twice, and won first place in the Amateur Detective category of the Chanticleer Murder & Mayhem Mystery Writing Competition.

Her popular Jamie Quinn Cozy Mystery Series includes: Death by Didgeridoo, The Case of the Killer Divorce, Peril in the Park, Engaged in Danger, Jeopardy in July, and Malice in Miami.

Her recent non-fiction: Accidental Activist: Justice for the Groveland Four, a memoir she co-authored with her son about lessons he learned while working to exonerate four men falsely accused of a terrible crime in the Jim Crow South.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Songbird (Jax Diamond Mysteries Book 1) by Gail Meath –#BookReview – #historicalmysteries

Book Blurb:

Songbird by Gail MeathMeet Jax Diamond, a sharp, sophisticated, skilled, no-nonsense private detective. Or is he? Glued to his side is his canine partner, Ace, a fierce and unrelenting German Shepherd whose mere presence terrorizes criminals into submission. Well, maybe not.

But the two of them are a whole lot smarter than they look. And they have their hands full when a playwright’s death is declared natural causes, and his new manuscript worth a million bucks is missing.

Laura Graystone, a beautiful rising Broadway star, is dragged into the heart of their investigation, and she’s none too happy about it. Especially when danger first strikes, and she needs to rely on her own ingenuity to save their hides.

Join Jax, Laura and Ace on a fun yet deadly ride during the Roaring Twenties that takes twists and turns, and a race against time to find the real murderer before he/she/they stop them permanently.

My Review:

I was absolutely taken by this gorgeous book cover and I love the period of the twenties. Women were just beginning to break out, jazz, blues, and the Charleston were the rage, prohibition in 1920 caused the rise of “speakeasies” (illegal taverns). A very colorful time in American history. And, of course, I enjoy historical fiction.

Songbird by Gail MeathLaura Graystone is the songbird, rising quickly in the musical theatre. She has the opportunity of filling the limelight when the production’s leading lady is mysteriously murdered.

Jax Diamond (what a perfect name!) is the PI, former detective, who is sure that the death of a playwright who has written a musical especially with her talent and voice in mind dies with what looks like natural causes. Not.

The first book in the series, we are gradually introduced to their backgrounds and the twenties atmosphere of New York. Jax has a formidable looking GSD he named Ace and the dog figures prominently in the storyline (which, of course, I also enjoy). Jax is multi-talented and mysterious—not revealing all about himself.

The author has tried to keep the authentic feeling of the period with both the speech (vernacular), and the sights and sounds of the prohibition era, including historic Coney Island. There are subtle sub-plots and twists and turns that keeps the reader pursuing justice.

There is a romance between the two with a cautious exploration of their relationship. Jax, however, lost his usual cool persona when there was a perceived threat to Laura, which seemed an over reaction to the situation.

The copy I received from NetGalley seemed to be an uncorrected proof as there were so many edit misses it sometimes slowed the read to visually correct either missing words, punctuation, or words used incorrectly. Otherwise, I found the storyline interesting, well-plotted and fast-paced, the characters well on their way to development, and the conclusion fitting.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mystery
ASIN: B09HMRCVCL
Print Length: 212 pages
Publication Date: November 11, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Indie Bookstore

Gail Meath - author The Author: Award-winning author Gail Meath writes historical romance novels that will whisk you away to another time and place in history where you will meet fascinating characters, both fictional and real, who will capture your heart and soul. Meath loves writing about little or unknown people, places and events in history, rather than relying on the typical stories and settings.

The subgenres of her books vary from action-packed westerns, plot twisting murder mysteries and biographies of powerful women who defied the strict rules of society fighting for the freedom of their countries. Her romances may exclude steamy sexual scenes, yet the intensity between heroine and hero will satisfy your deepest fantasies.

Outside of writing, she spends loads of time with her husband, children and grandchildren. http://www.gailmeath.com

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Enjoy Your Weekend!

Hemlock for the Holidays (A Fine Art Mystery Book 3) by Paula Darnell –#BookReview – #cozycrafts

Book Blurb:

Hemlock for the Holidays by Paula DarnellAs Lonesome Valley kicks off the holiday season with its annual parade, artist Amanda Trent embraces the Christmas spirit, happy that her family will be coming to town to celebrate the season with her and her loyal pets, Laddie, a friendly golden retriever, and Mona Lisa, an independent calico cat.

Amanda has just one nagging concern: her art sales have stalled, so her checking account is starting to look a bit puny. Her financial woes pale, though, in comparison to her concern when several people eat carrot bars laced with hemlock at the high school’s arts and crafts fair, resulting in one unlucky man’s death. Was the poisoning an accident, or did someone with evil intent deliberately spike the sweet baked goods?

Leads the police follow don’t pan out until Amanda puts the puzzle together. But, sometimes, knowledge can be a dangerous thing. . . 

My Review:

Amanda Treat is getting ready for the Christmas season in Lonesome Valley. She is a fairly new resident, divorcée, and starving artist. She is expecting both her parents and her children for the holidays and looking forward to a high school arts and crafts fair, in which she participates with her co-op Roadrunner Gallery. A slump in her sales, she is sweating having enough income to get through the next couple of months.

Hemlock for the Holidays by Paula DarnellAmanda has a golden retriever named Laddie and a “mercurial” calico cat named Mona Lisa and interaction with her animals, their feeding, playing, and pet sitting is featured in the narrative as well as the struggles for sales of both her landscapes and pet portraits, with the mystery the other third of the novel. I’m thinking that was part of my problem with this one, the third in the series. My first.

Several high school students are poisoned at the art fair and a few days later there is a death, which becomes her focus when not dealing with the other two. I could not relate well to Amanda and felt few of the support characters stood out. Dialogue was awkward at times, but worse (for me) was the excessive description of minutia.

While the novel was well-plotted, I found the pace slow and had difficulty retaining interest. I just couldn’t get immersed sufficient to care which character was dog-sitting and I’m not a person looking for recipes at the end. Not a cozy for me, but I’m sure there are many who will enjoy.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley and these are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating:  Three point Five Stars

3 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Crafts & Hobbies Mystery, Cozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Campbell and Rogers Press
ASIN: B09645DYV5
Print Length: 192 pages
Publication Date: August 5, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Paula Darnell - authorThe Author: An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she’s also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop.

Paula’s interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications.

She is the author of the cozy mystery series, DIY Diva Mysteries, and a historical mystery, The Six-Week Solution. Her new cozy mystery series, Fine Art Mysteries, is in the works for 2021.

Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Goodnight Moo (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery Book 2) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

“… when a mysterious tractor accident looks suspiciously like murder, Brynn suspects someone is up to no-gouda.”

Book Blurb:

Goodnight Moo by Mollie Cox BryanWelcome to Shenandoah Springs, Virginia, the bucolic small town where Brynn MacAlister keeps cows, churns cheeses—and is sharper than the ripest cheddar when it comes to solving mysteries . . .   With a foster cow in her corral and a new calf on the way, Brynn MacAlister has a lot on her plate. Especially since her micro-dairy farm is hosting the first annual cheesemakers contest at this year’s summer fair. A relative newcomer, Brynn’s hoping the contest becomes a tradition, bonding her even more strongly to the community. But when a mysterious tractor accident looks suspiciously like murder, Brynn suspects someone is up to no-gouda . . .   Some folks say the lead suspect was just defending his underage daughter from a suitor more mature than a vintage provolone, but Brynn isn’t buying it. Especially when another dead body turns up and Brynn’s top cheesemaker falls under suspicion. It’s enough to make a girl bluer than her best Stilton. But not enough to stop Brynn from getting to the bottom of things. What she discovers is the small town harbors some pretty unsavory characters. And the closer Brynn gets to the killer, the deeper she gets into danger . .

My Review:

Having read Book 1 of the series, I snatched this one up when it became available as an ARC as I really enjoyed the rural farm setting and the animals. In Book 1, protagonist Brynn MacAlister moved to the bucolic Shenandoah Springs property with funds from her grandmother’s passing. Buttermilk Creek Farm includes the main house, guest house, and barns with three resident Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and went into an extended mourning period. Now one of the other cows is pregnant.

Goodnight Moo by Mollie Cox BryanWes stayed to live with her in the guest house after his grandmother died in a fire in an adjacent property and brought with him youthful skills and enthusiasm as well as being media savvy. There is a resident kitty in the main house and Freckles, the dog, was a rescue from one of the main support characters, the local vet, Schuyler. This time Schuyler arrives with a Highland cow, orphaned when his elderly owner passed away. Brynn promises to “foster” the cow until the vet can find a forever home, but you know what will happen with that one.

They are excited about the county fair in which Brynn has organized a cheese competition until an accident on a local farm turns out to be one of murder. The owner’s tractor went all AI on him and it ran over a summer worker. He is the first person of interest but then Wes takes the honor when it appears his gun is involved in a second murder. Now it gets nasty, with Wes being Pakistani, taking on racist overtones. Ransom ware begins to hit after Brynn has a severe accident of her own and the cheese competition turns real blue.

Brynn’s sister, Becky comes to help her after she’s out of the hospital and there is strong support to help with the cows. But what is going on in the community? Small town, southern attitudes harbor sides she hadn’t previously seen and she’s determined to clear Wes even as his father and brother come to his aid as well. She and Becky have a loving, supportive relationship, and Jewel the Highland cow while terribly shy is slowly becoming acclimated.

Sifting through the twists and red herrings, it’s still hard to grapple with who might be behind all the mayhem. Is it all even connected? While they keep negating the role that Chelsea plays as a sixteen-year-old, she certainly isn’t an innocent. And while she presents one major theme, the racist theme falls heavily throughout the narrative.

“There was nothing worse than the disappointment in people who turned out not to be who you thought they were.”

I really enjoy Brynn, the support characters, and the appealing locale. Brynn is compassionate and fiercely loyal. She has an affinity for the animals that is a delight and her passionate approach to artisan cheeses and the farm to table movement is inspiring. My quibble would be the rehashing and overhashing of the major plot points. There is a darker overtone to this well-plotted novel with topical arguments behind the main plot (mostly resolved in conclusion) that I found a bit disturbing. And, of course, there are a number of recipes which have appeal. A strong mystery, engaging characters, and only periodic sagging in pace, recommended as a fun, cozy mystery. Looking forward to Book 3.

Add to Goodreads Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B082WRM3L6
Print Length: 290 pages
Publication Date: To be released August 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorThe Author: Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, “Cora Crafts Mysteries.” is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as “Fresh Fiction Not to Miss” and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman’s World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People’s Choice Award. She’s also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Finders: A Mystery (Mace Reid K-9 Mystery Book 1) by Jeffrey B Burton – a #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Check off all your mystery boxes with this doggy treat.

The Finders by Jeffrey B Burton

Book Blurb:

Jeffrey B. Burton’s The Finders marks the beginning of a fast-paced new mystery series featuring a heroic golden retriever cadaver dog named Vira and her handler, Mason Reid.

Mason “Mace” Reid lives on the outskirts of Chicago and specializes in human remains detection. He trains dogs to hunt for the dead. Reid’s coming off a taxing year—mourning the death of a beloved springer spaniel as well as the dissolution of his marriage. He adopts a rescue dog with a mysterious past—a golden retriever named Vira. And when Reid begins training Vira as a cadaver dog, he comes to realize just how special the newest addition to his family truly is…

Suddenly, Reid and his prize pupil find themselves hurled into a taxing murder case, which will push them to their very limits. Paired with determined Chicago Police Officer Kippy Gimm, Mace must put all his trust in Vira’s abilities to thwart a serial killer who has now set his sights on Mace himself.

My Review:

Yes, okay…okay. It had a dog on the cover. And aren’t I lucky that the cover delivered!

My first experience with the author and this his first in a new series, the Mace Reid K-9 Mysteries, I can’t help it. I’m a new solid fan. The protagonist Mason “Mace” Reid is adorable–not as cute as his dogs, mind you, but there is a vulnerability about him that makes him massively approachable. (Unhappily divorced, he’s still going through the awkward stage. “And, just for the record, Heartache never flushes.”) He does love dogs. He trains them–it’s a side job–obedience, search, and HRD (human remains detection). It’s that latter niché that has him on the local police payroll, called from time to time to search for cadavers. Well, that’s gross but necessary, after all, he lives in Lansing but is frequently called to Chicago.

The Finders by Jeffrey B BurtonHe keeps two canine sisters that have that twin thing going for them, Delta Dawn and Maggie May and a boy named Sue (are you getting it yet?). So when Elvira (Vira) is rescued from a near-death experience, the golden retriever quickly assumes family alpha. That might NOT have gone over so well with the GSD Sue, but he’s aloof and still in recovery from having saved Mace’s life.

There is something special about Vira. Officer Kippy Gimm, who found Vira at a crime scene thought so too. Kippy is partnered with Dave “Wabs” Wabiszewski (see why they call him Wabs?) and she soon seeks out Mace to see about possibly joining forces on a missing persons file she and her partner are working. It doesn’t take long, however, before Mace and his sensitive nose-sniffing dog catches the villain’s attention and ooh is he bad.

The author has given as much personality to Mace’s dogs as to Mace and Kippy comes in a very close second. She and Mace seem to click and it doesn’t take long before the cheerleading squad is chanting romance…okay…not romance. Interest? The usual fast-pace slacks just a tad when they get their heads together to bounce off perp and profiling ideas, but otherwise, this storyline just drives the well-plotted novel with humor, human interest, snappy dialogue, and canine info (feeds my endless fascination with their abilities), along with some nasty side-stuff from the bad guy. Who doesn’t enjoy the perfect mix of K-9 antics with engaging MC (human and canine) personalities, mystery, and Chicago area location details you can visualize?

You’ve seen my interest and appreciation in the David Rosenfelt books and this might be most closely compared to his humor with the serious plot points of the Andy Carpenter books. This is a wonderful start to what promises to be a wholly entertaining series. I read a lot of doggy stories. I may be an expert on dog stories. And I happily recommend this novel and new series. Must Love Dogs? Nah, this is fun whether you do or don’t.

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

Add to GoodreadsBook Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery, Cozy Animal Mysteries
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ASIN: B0818NVFT7
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: Released June 30, 2020 – Happy Publication Day!
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Kobo

Jeffrey B Burton - authorThe Author: Jeffrey B. Burton was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BA in Journalism at the University of Minnesota. THE FINDERS, the first in Burton’s K-9 mystery series, will be coming out in June of 2020 (St. Martin’s Publishing Group). Novels in his Agent Drew Cady mystery series include THE CHESSMAN (MacAdam/Cage, 2012; paperback Harlequin Suspense, 2015), THE LYNCHPIN (MP Publishing, 2015), and THE EULOGIST (The Permanent Press, 2017). His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines. Jeff is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Horror Writers Association. Jeff lives in St. Paul with his wife, daughter, an irate Pomeranian named Lucy, and a goofball/sweetheart of a Beagle named Milo.

This roller coaster of a thriller has some luscious ingredients: moneyed surroundings, including billion-dollar mansions and the boardroom of a bloodsucking pharmaceutical company; some lengthy and artfully described fights and chases; and a killer-for-hire who, intentionally or not, runs off with the whole show. – Booklist on THE EULOGIST

An action-packed thriller with a high body count . . . The plot grabs readers from the start, twists abound, and good triumphs–mostly. – Library Journal on THE EULOGIST

Burton delivers an outstanding serial killer thriller that will impress even seasoned practitioners of this subgenre.
–Publishers Weekly (A Starred Review) on THE CHESSMAN

Jeffrey Burton’s terrific mystery, ‘The Chessman,’ is made up of a lot of moving parts the author brings together masterfully.
–St. Paul Pioneer Press on THE CHESSMAN

Visit http://www.jeffreybburton.com to see more about Jeff’s novels and short stories.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle (A Cate Kensie Mystery Book 1) by Nellie H Steele – a #BookReview #mystery

“A new spin on the classic ghost story”

A shared review with the CE.

Book Blurb:

A heartwarming journey of discovery

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle by Nellie H SteeleStill reeling after the sudden death of her parents, Dr. Catherine Kensie is struggling to pursue her career as a history professor at a small, midwestern college. With no known family, other than her beloved dog, Riley, Cate is astonished when a stranger appears on her doorstep to tell her that she has inherited a castle in Scotland and an antique gold watch accompanied by a mysterious note from a distant relative. When the will stipulates that she must live on the estate, Cate finds the promise of exploring her past impossible to decline. With nothing to hold her back and a desperate desire to surround herself with a familial connection, Cate and Riley say goodbye to their hometown and make the trek across the pond to their new Scottish home.

Soon after arriving, Cate finds castle life to be less than a fairy tale, suspecting something may be amiss in her new home. Between strange events and peculiar manifestations, Cate begins to question her own sanity when it appears that she is the only one experiencing these bizarre incidents. She attempts to make sense of what is happening as she struggles to explain the increasingly unexplainable. With a shroud of mystery enveloping her and Riley, will Cate discover the secret of Dunhaven Castle? 

My Thoughts

Nothing stirs the imagination like a centuries-old castle, wherever it is. In this case, I just know that the castle is old enough to be through generations of the MacKenzies and located in Scotland.

Dr. Catherine Kensie (Cate) is still struggling for tenure having been teaching at a small midwestern college in Aberdeen for several years. But about the time she is denied, again, she is introduced to an attorney who claims she has inherited a castle in Dunhaven, being the only remaining relative of the castle’s owner. She will inherit the title of the Countess of Dunhavenshire. Yahoo!

It’s a no-brainer. She’ll close out her apartment, box up what she’ll move, prepare her little dog, Riley, and fly across the pond to claim her inheritance. The castle is as presented in the pictures. It’s huge, gorgeous, and comes with perks–including a special watch, only bequeathed in person with instruction–and quirky manifestations.

This narrative becomes quite the enjoyable little romp into the Scottish countryside along with a storyline that builds the suspense and a protagonist that must have inherited that Scottish stubborn streak as she’s like a dog with a bone. Cate just keeps picking at it until she begins to unravel the mystery. She is young and energetic and the historian in her is bound to discover the truth and expose the story–all of them. From the beginning, she feels an affinity for the castle–like she belongs there–she’s part of it. I’m sure the reader will continue to see her develop as this series grows.

There are only a few characters so they are easy to keep track of and they all lend interest, even while not yet fully fleshed. I’m reserving judgment of Jack. He’s…okay, but not terribly adventurous.  The well-plotted and easy-paced storyline keeps interest and engagement through the conclusion. The reveal, however, is correctly guessed long before the climax, but still comes with a satisfied grin and interest in seeing where the author will take this one next.

The author has a simple writing style, at times overly minute to minute descriptive. It’s tell not show, but a fun premise and entertaining. Book One, now is your chance to get in on the beginning of what promises to be a fun series. Book 2 Murder at Dunhaven Castle just released and I suspect will ramp up the thriller-suspense aspect considerably.

I was contacted by the author with a request for review in exchange of a gifted copy of Book One and can recommend as the beginning of a promising series. 4/5 stars

His Thoughts

The Secret of Dunhaven Castle by Nellie H SteeleWill a Doctorate in History guarantee a good future and life result? Cate Kensie is teaching in a small-town college with all of the drama of a small town. Tenured professors play games with new hires and throw them the dregs and bones of the teaching year. The future is not guaranteed and Cate is a slave to the whims of her superiors. Her pay is low and her workload high. The coveted letter of a tenure track is nothing more than another setback. Maybe next year they will consider giving her the opening she desires.

An unusual visit from a British solicitor presents Cate with a dilemma. Should she stick with her dream or follow the foreign path to her future. She has no family to talk to, her parents having died in a tragic accident.  Should she abandon her dream and embark on a totally different path in a foreign country. The tenure rejection that is another slap in the face helps her decision.

She has no idea why the solicitor has ferreted her out. She has never known anyone in Scotland and certainly cannot understand why they would have even considered her. She and her small dog Riley will be uprooted if she accepts the offer. Firstly, she has to have a DNA test to prove that she is even related to the person who has identified her as a possible relative. She submits to the test and is found to be a direct relative of the person, Lady Gertrude MacKenzie, who has named her in her will.

The estate she inherits is large and well maintained. Scotland is an entirely different environment for a young American lady and her dog. Her future is set in a rather remote location. This is often a dream for some young and poor people as they grow up: What if I were royalty, how would my future be?

The story shifts to a lonely life in a Scottish castle near the town of Dunhaven. She is the only heir to the fortune and she is given an old timepiece with the strange inscription “Always keep an eye on your time.”

Getting used to a large castle and grounds takes more than a little time. Included in the inheritance is a family of caretakers and groundskeepers. Weeks follow to discover all that the inheritance entails. It is a fun read to accompany Cate on her adventure. I enjoyed seeing the Scottish countryside and lochs from her point of view. As she engages in the search for her roots you begin to enjoy her youthful optimism.

This whole story is well-plotted and pushes your imagination as you read. As I child I dreamed of such an event, but reality was always at the back of my mind. It is fun to relive that fantasy through this authors’ eyes. It is a great escapist novel. 4.5/5 stars – CE Williams

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 Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Supernatural Mysteries
Publisher: A Novel Idea Publishing LLC
ISBN: 1951582020
ASIN: B07Z9HS887
Print Length: 316 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Source: Direct Author Request
Title Purchase Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: 4.25 of Five Stars Four and One Quarter Stars

Nellie H Steele - authorThe Author: Nellie H. Steele lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with her family and her many fur-babies. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys teaching Statistics at a local university or watching her dogs and cats play in the yard.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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