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

Add to Goodreads

 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