The Art of the Decoy (A Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery) by Trish Esden – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“Open by chance or appointment.”

Book Blurb:

After her mother is sent to prison for art forgery, Edie Brown returns to Northern Vermont to rebuild her family’s fine art and antiques business. She’s certain she can do it now that her mother is gone. After all, butting heads with her mom over bad business practices was what drove Edie away three years ago, including a screwup that landed Edie on probation for selling stolen property.

The Art of the Decoy by Trish EsdenWhen Edie scores a job appraising a waterfowl decoy collection at a hoarder’s farmhouse, she’s determined to take advantage of the situation to rebuild the business’s tarnished reputation and dwindling coffers. In lieu of payment, Edie intends to cherry-pick an exceptional decoy carved by the client’s renowned Quebecoise folk artist ancestors. Only the tables turn when the collection vanishes.

Accused of the theft, Edie’s terrified that the fallout will destroy the business and land her in prison next to her mom. Desperate, she digs into the underbelly of the local antiques and art world. When Edie uncovers a possible link between the decoy theft and a deadly robbery at a Quebec museum, she longs to ask her ex-probation officer, and ex-lover, for help. But she suspects his recent interest in rekindling their romance may hide a darker motive.

With the help of her eccentric uncle Tuck and Kala, their enigmatic new employee, Edie must risk all she holds dear to expose the thieves and recover the decoys before the FBI’s Art Crime Team or the ruthless thieves themselves catch up with her.

My Review:

Protagonist Edie Brown has grown up in the family’s fine art and antiques business. Unfortunately, her mother landed in the slammer for art forgery, implicating Edie in the process for which Edie paid with probation for selling said property.

Now she is back in Northern Vermont to take over the business with a little help from uncle Tuck. In the meantime, Tuck has hired an employee, Kala, a computer whiz and otherwise smart dynamo—perfect addition to the faltering business.  When she is approached with a waterfowl decoy that may be the tip of an iceberg, Edie sees a huge possibility in scoring a collection from a hoarder’s farmhouse with hopes of securing lucrative auctioning rights.

“For me, researching folk art was like setting a beagle free in a park full of squirrels.”

The Art of the Decoy by Trish EsdenBut Edie may get a taste of the business that she had failed to perceive when her mother got into trouble. The art and antiquing community holds those who would turn a multi-million dollar find into underworld funds without interest in the beauty or history of the exquisite folk art carving.

Edie definitely gets in over her head as she fails to ignore warnings, including one from an ex-lover (who she’d love to make a current lover). While I had a few problems getting into Edie’s head, I appreciated several other main characters including Kala and Shane. There is more than one antagonist, a murder off page, the craft of antiquing, and descriptions of the area and proximity to Canada.

For a debut novel and the first in the series, the author appears to have set up quite the storyline as well as several remarkable characters. Definitely a good start and an interesting introduction to the world of buying, trading, pricing and selling of antiques. The well-plotted narrative, however, tends to sag a bit and do a repeat of motives, slowing the pace. It might have kept a heightened interest by fewer repeats and a bit more fleshing of Edie. Also, going forward, I’ll be interested to see where the relationship with Shane goes, as well as additional background into Kala’s character.

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. Currently on pre-order.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Small Town & Rural Fiction, Traditional Detective Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B098PXZNDF
Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):
Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Trish Esden - authorThe Author: Trish Esden loves museums, gardens, wilderness, dogs and birds, in various order depending on the day. She lives in Northern Vermont where she deals antiques with her husband, a profession she’s been involved with since her teens. Don’t ask what her favorite type of antique is. She loves hunting down old bottles and rusty barn junk as much as she enjoys fine art and furnishings. Trish is the author of the Scandal Mountain Antiques Mystery series.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Striking Range: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

A deadly secret is buried in the Colorado high country–and murder is only the beginning in the seventh gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries.

Striking Range by Margaret MizushimaHe was suspect number one–the man who tried to kill Deputy Mattie Cobb and may have killed her father thirty years earlier. But when Mattie and cold case detective Jim Hauck reach the Colorado state prison where they will finally get to interview him, he’s found dead in his cell. There’s only one clue: a map leading to Timber Creek and rugged Redstone Ridge.

Though she usually works with veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie’s K-9 partner Robo has just sired a litter of pups, who require special, time-consuming care at Cole’s clinic. Left to explore the map’s clue without him, Mattie and Robo journey into the burned forest surrounding Redstone Ridge. But before they can finish their search they’re called to help investigate the death of a young woman found in a campground filled with elk hunters. Identification of the deceased points to her having recently given birth, but the infant is nowhere to be found.

As a deadly storm descends upon the mountains, covering everything with a layer of ice and snow, Mattie and her team search for the missing newborn. The storm batters the area, taking its toll on the team and forcing the sheriff to call in reinforcements. When new evidence surfaces, they decide that finding the woman’s killer will lead them to her baby, making them even more desperate to solve the case.

Then Cole goes missing, stranded alone in the high country with a person that Mattie now suspects is the mastermind behind several murders, including her father’s. She and Robo take to the trail to find Cole–but the killer has a cold-blooded plan that threatens them all.

My Review:

I just love it when author Margaret Mizushima comes out with a new installment in the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series. This is the seventh and my new favorite in the series.

Striking Range by Margaret MizushimaProtagonist Deputy Mattie Cobb is partnered with her canine, Robo. The little Colorado town of Timber Creek is small but situated on major north/south, east/west roads and gets their fair share of action—even up in God’s country, those gorgeous pine covered mountains.

Mattie is still trying to clear her father’s reputation as a dirty cop and think she’s finally going to talk to the one guy who could shed some light on what actually happened all those years ago. When she arrives with California Cold-Case Detective Jim Hauck to interview him, however, he is discovered deceased in his cell. They find a map he has left marking locations of his activities that will generate an excursion into the high country.

In the meantime, the multi-layered plot begins to ease into other experiences such as the birth of a litter of puppies that Robo has sired and the discovery of a young woman’s body who has just given birth. The newborn infant, however, is missing.

I have really come to love the support characters, including her boyfriend, veterinarian Cole Walker and his two daughters. I always get to learn more about canine behavior and their amazing relationship with their handlers (or owners), their intelligence, intuition, and empathetic natures.

The writing style always manages to grip the scene and describe it down to the nuances of body language, inflection, and personality. They come alive on the page, as does the scent of the mountains, the chill of the temperatures, and the wind as it slices sideways through the heavy winter clothing.

The fast-paced plot lines make for a compulsive read. It’s gripping and never waivers or sags in the middle or constantly repeat gains.

The police procedurals remain authentic, realistic, and the interpersonal dynamics believable. As always, suspenseful and artful storytelling, building the tension as it shifts the scenes.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley and these are my honest and unbiased opinions. I started the series with Hunting Hour (Book 3) but my last reviews were Hanging Falls and Tracking Game. This is one of my very favorite authors and series and I’m always happy to recommend. Currently on pre-order.

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mystery, Cozy Animal Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B08PYR6FN9
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble Kobo

Margaret Mizushima - authorThe Author: Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves as president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, Twitter @margmizu, Instagram at margmizu, and her website at http://www.margaretmizushima.com.

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron – #BookReview – #cozymystery

“Try is a fail word…Because it gives you an out.”

 Book Blurb:

The next shot from Cupid’s bow may be fatal in USA Today bestselling, Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron’s hearty and delightful seventh Cajun Country mystery.

Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen ByronIn Pelican, Louisiana, Valentine’s Day has a way of warming the heart, despite the February chill. But the air at Crozat Plantation B&B turns decidedly frigid when celebrity chef Phillippe Chanson checks in. And when the arrogant Phillippe–in town to open his newest Cajun-themed restaurant–perishes in a fiery boat crash, Maggie Crozat’s dear friend JJ lands in very cold water.

Did JJ, proprietor of Junie’s Oyster Bar and Dance Hall, murder Phillippe because he feared the competition? Might Maggie’s mother, Ninette, have bumped off the chef for stealing one of her cherished recipes? Or was the culprit a local seafood vendor, miffed because Phillippe was somehow able to sell oysters for a remarkably reasonable price, despite an oyster shortage?

Maggie had planned to devote her February to art lessons in New Orleans, a present from her sweetheart, Bo. But now she has to focus on helping her friend and her mother cross a murder charge off the menu. Meanwhile, Maggie receives a series of anonymous gifts that begin as charming but grow increasingly disturbing. Does Maggie have an admirer–or a stalker? And are these mysterious gifts somehow related to Phillippe’s murder?

Blood may be thicker than water, but this case is thicker than gumbo. And solving it will determine whether Maggie gets hearts and roses–or hearse and lilies–this Valentine’s Day.

My Review:

Book 7, rumored to be the last in the series, begins a multi-layered plot with plans for Valentine’s Day. It’s Pelican, Louisiana, near New Orleans and Pelican has a new Cajun themed restaurant to celebrate—until it’s arrogant owner dies in a fiery boat crash. Well, come on, the man was stealing old family recipes and he made more enemies than friends, so the suspect list isn’t short.

Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen ByronGran got married about the same time Maggie Crozant married her policeman beau, Bo and she is knee deep in fundraising plans that includes a lively senior participation. Bo got her art lessons in New Orleans—she is an artist or thought she was—but is this really going to work? The teacher doesn’t really appreciate any of her stuff.

And then there is her stalker. Shopping for gowns. And another death. Good grief—so many issues.

I enjoy the atmospheric description that puts you right into the middle of the culture. She has her family and the business, Bo is a detective, and there are a lot of peripheral characters, names swapped back and forth. The author infuses her narratives with a sense of humor and the delicious fragrances of the local dishes.

“Like the saying goes, worry is paying interest on a debt you may not owe.”

So I’m not sure why this one didn’t quite click with me. It was slow moving and filled with the minutia of daily life, the struggles, the southern philosophies of life. The mystery was there, just not quite at the forefront, suspense was lacking, and the ending was an obvious wrap. I’ve read two others in this series, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard and Fatal Cajun Festival and loved both but this one fell short for me.

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

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Southern United States Fiction, Southern Fiction, Cozy Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08N6SMX1J

Print Length: 329 pages
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo


Ellen Byron - authorThe Author
:
Ellen writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries and Catering Hall Mysteries (under the pen name Maria DiRico). 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, is inspired by her real life. LONG ISLAND ICED TINA, the second in the series, recently launched, with both books in the series garnering great reviews.

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.

©2021 V Williams –

What You Never Knew: A Novel by Jessica Hamilton – #BookReview – #ghostmysteries – @crookedlanebooks

Book Blurb:

Told in alternating points of view between the living and the dead, Jessica Hamilton’s debut novel will be perfect for fans of The Lovely Bones.

What You Never Knew - Jessica HamiltonIdyllic Avril lsland, owned by the Bennett family, where their hundred-year-old cottage sat nestled in acres of forest. Forty-year-old June Bennett believed that the island had been sold after the summer of her father’s disappearance when she was only twelve years old. It’s months after the shocking death of her older sister May in a fatal car accident, that June finds out that the cottage was never sold. Avril Island is still owned by the Bennett family and now it’s hers.

Still reeling from the grief of losing her sister, June travels back to Avril lsland in search of answers. As she digs, she learns that the townspeople believe her father may in fact have been murdered rather than having abandoned his family in the dead of night, as she was led to believe by her mother. And that’s when she begins to notice strange things happening on the island–missing family possessions showing up, doors locking on their own, unexplained noises in the night, shadowy figures disappearing into the woods. It takes June no time at all to realize that her childhood summers at Avril Island were not at all what they had seemed to be.

My Review:

Alternating chapters between May and June Bennett spark an interesting hook into this ghost mystery thriller. Extremely close, June loses her older sister May in a tragic auto accident only to set in motion the exploration of family secrets well hidden more than thirty years.

The daughters of well to do parents, they spent their summers on Avril Island. The idealistic laid back warm summer life spent in a gorgeous resort setting is well described and immersive. But their summers on the island ended when June was twelve with the sudden disappearance of her father. Their narcissistic mother divulges that he’d left the family and she subsequently sold the island.

Nope.

What You Never Knew - Jessica HamiltonJune has also recently divorced an overbearing, unemotional husband and left with two daughters of her own, and now without the sensitive support of her sister goes into deep grieving. She is shocked to learn she is sole owner of the island. Her daughters safely with her ex for the summer, leaves for the resort and the island to retrieve some of those good memories, the happy times, and hopefully a lessening in her grieving process.

The reader begins to learn about their mother, emotionally crippling and manipulative, but beautiful mother. She was the catalyst that drew the sisters closer, stronger in their common bond. The POV of May is compelling, drawing mental pictures of an ethereal sentient trying to “talk,” guide her sister—trying in her own way to remember events that led to the tragedy that split the family and those of her family from the local, year-round folks. May is still not sure why she has been drawn back or for what purpose.

Difficult to become engaged with forty-year old June, she is rather one dimensional. Ezra, the son of the family who did some caretaking of the island, is not fully developed either but characterized as being her only close childhood friend. I doubt June could have lived thirty years on royalties from a one-and-done book published in her twenties (or if still family money—how?). Ezra never married, thoroughly embroiled now in caring for his mother suffering from dementia.

The conclusion kinda veers off the rails but confirms what I suspicioned early on and wondered what took so long. The big reveal is certainly not a surprise. There is, however, a gotcha that you don’t see coming—one more little twist—that adds some fun.

There were some edits missed, it’s an ARC, and a couple contradictions that I’ll assume are fixed prior to release. Otherwise, it is certainly entertaining and for the most part keeps the reader engaged. Just a few points of disbelief to overcome and for a debut novel, an ambitious and worthwhile effort.

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

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Ghost Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ASIN : B08FZMZ6K2

Print Length: 297 pages
Publication Date: To be released April 13, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 

Jessica Hamilton-authorThe Author: [Goodreads] Jessica Hamilton was born in Australia but grew up in Canada. She has lived and worked in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, India and Japan. She studied writing at the Humber School for Writers as well as George Brown College. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, son and daughter. What You Never Knew is her first novel.

©2021 V Williams

Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima – a #BookReview

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaMurder stalks the rugged Colorado high country–and sends Mattie Cobb on a quest to uncover the darkest secrets from her past in the sixth gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries

A deluge has flooded the high ground near Hanging Falls–but heavy rains aren’t the only menace descending on Timber Creek. While on a scouting mission to pinpoint trail damage, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo stumble upon a body floating at the edge of a lake. Robo catches human scent, which leads to an enigmatic forest-dweller who quickly becomes suspect number one.

With help from veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie identifies the victim, and discovers an odd religious cult whose dress and manners harken back to the 19th century. As the list of suspects grows, an unexpected visit from members of Mattie’s long-lost family sheds new light on her childhood as they help Mattie piece together details of the fateful night when she was abducted at age two.

The tangled threads of the investigation and family dynamics begin to intertwine–but darkness threatens to claim a new victim before Mattie and Robo can track down the killers.

My Review:

Not content to wait closer to release, I had to jump to my new Mizushima book. I am always so delighted by each in the wonderful series that features the awesome GSD Robo, a well-trained service dog. Always a late bloomer, I discovered the series at Book 3, read each since, and really enjoyed them all.

Hanging Falls by Margaret MizushimaThe K-9 series features Robo as a brilliantly, intuitive service animal–the stories do not breach anthropomorphic levels–they stay authentic. Robo is a large powerful animal and is treated with respect while carefully kept to his manners. His handler, Mattie Cobb works with local law enforcement and in this narrative finds a DB (dead body) washed downstream and caught in a tree snag off the trail in the flood of the high country she and wildlife manager, Glenna Dalton, are scouting. The wild mountains of Colorado and Timber Creek are dangerous and unpredictable, but this is obviously a homicide.

Mizushima’s books always run a strong sub-plot and this story dealing with the issue of family pushes her backstory to the foreground. Her own family was torn apart resulting in an abusive childhood and many unanswered questions. She is carefully cultivating a relationship with the local veterinarian, Cole Walker, and his family that appears to be progressing.

Investigating the death of the young man on the mountain, they discover a new “family” that has moved to their area, a cult. There is a subsequent death which Mattie and Robo also discover and all leads continue to swerve back to the cult where there appears to harbor a smoldering discontent. Cole is introduced to the members through a visit to investigate a split hoof on one of their farm animals where he notes a girl about his oldest child’s age with her own beautiful GSD.

While the team continues to investigate the two deaths, obviously related at this point, they begin to ferret out more and more details and discover a new vet in the area tied to a pharmaceutical rep adding an additional layer to the mystery.

In the meantime, Mattie has been contacted by her long-lost sister and nervously awaits a visit by Julia and her grandmother. As she was raised in the foster care system, she is hoping to finally answer questions about her abduction and the disappearance of her mother. Oh, yes, this is a thread that will weigh heavily in the next episode.

Meanwhile, the duo-protagonists, Mattie and Robo, bring the mystery to a successful but nail-biting conclusion. I love that dog. My review of Hunting Hour here, Burning Ridge here, and Tracking Game here. Each can work as a standalone, but you might wish to catch up on this remarkable series and go back to Book 1. Which one did I love best? The one I was then reading.

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review. Anyone who enjoys a good mystery with an immersive, atmospheric setting, impressive animals, and their skillful handlers will find this series fully engaging and entertaining.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Traditional Detective Fiction
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B082H2KD9H
Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 8, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Margaret Mizushima - authorThe Author: Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Active within the writing community, Margaret serves as president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, Twitter @margmizu, Instagram at margmizu, and her website at http://www.margaretmizushima.com.

©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

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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

Verse and Vengeance: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower – a #BookReview

Wouldn’t you love to visit this most unusual bookshop!

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerBook Blurb:

With the help of Walt Whitman’s works, magical bookshop owner Violet Waverly puts her pedal to the metal to sleuth a bicycle-race murder that tests her mettle.

A bicycle race is not Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly’s idea of a pleasant pastime. But police chief David Rainwater wheelie wants them to enter the Tour de Cascade as a couple, so she reluctantly consents.

The Tour de Cascade is the brainchild of Violet’s Grandma Daisy. The race is a fundraiser to build the Cascade Springs Underground Railroad Museum. But not everyone in this Niagara Region village supports the race. As if the bike race weren’t tiring enough, pesky private investigator Joel Redding is snooping around Charming Books. It takes all of Violet’s and Grandma Daisy’s ingenuity to keep Redding from discovering the shop’s magical essence–which communicates with Violet through books.

When Redding perishes in an accident during the race, David discovers that the brake line of the private eye’s bike was cut. Worse, Violet tops his list of suspects. As Emerson the tuxedo cat and resident crow Faulkner look on, Charming Books steers Violet to the works of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. But no other names ring a bell as culprits, and as David’s investigation picks up speed, Violet will have to get in gear to clear her name.

My Review:

Verse and Vengeance by Amanda FlowerProtagonist Violet Waverly is “Caretaker” of the magical birch tree located inside the Charming Books bookshop. Her grandmother, Daisy, also works in the bookshop when she is not fulfilling her duties as the new mayor of Cascade Springs. She has begun a project to provide an Underground Railroad Museum in the village hall. Also prominently featured are Faulkner the resident talking crow who lives in the branches of the tree and Emerson, the black and white tuxedo cat. The fourth in the series and my second, I’ve had no problem reading each entry as a standalone.

Grandma Daisy has urged both Violet and her boyfriend, police chief, David Rainwater, to ride in the Tour de Cascade, a major event meant to provide construction funds for her project, but before the ride is completed, Violet comes upon the fatal accident of private investigator Joel Redding. The shop’s magical “essence,” quietly deposits hints to her about the murder in the works by Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

Violet is still not completely confident of David and won’t divulge her secrets re the bookshop. There is one major perp which Violet steadfastly refuses to believe and works to get to the bottom of who and why. She is a no-nonsense, direct question type of amateur sleuth and there are twists and turns in this well-plotted mystery. The narrative proceeds at an even pace and the fictitious setting of the small tourist town near Niagara Falls is descriptive and inviting. Also, I enjoyed little bits of humor, i.e. “I swear the man could wax on about dryer lint.”

Birch tree However, poetry quotes from Whitman (not one of my favs) on a cell phone Kindle app are difficult to read and interrupt the flow. I’m still having difficulty imagining the interior with the tree (aka The Goddess Tree) and spiral staircase to a second-floor apartment. It’s a paranormal–must swallow some disbelief. There are elements that are not wholly explained in the surprising conclusion and as an ARC edit misses and a few detail contradictions.

I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read for my unbiased review. I am looking forward to Book 5 and recommend to all who enjoy an easy, fast cozy read with a touch of paranormal and romance.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Ghost Mysteries
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

  • ISBN-10:1643851519
  • ISBN-13:978-1643851518
  • ASIN: B07NTYQQM4

Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: To be released December 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Verse and Vengeance
 

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

Amanda Flower - authorThe Author: Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children’s mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children’s/YA Novel. Andi Unstoppable won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel 2015. Amanda is a former librarian living in northeast Ohio. Visit her at http://www.amandaflower.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Birch Tree Attribution: The Goddess Tree

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