“’Should we wake up the others?’ Felicia glanced around the table. The remaining guards looked shell shocked.”
Angie Turner, chef at Idaho’s finest farm-to-table restaurant, has organized a team-building event at a haunted prison, only to find a real-life murderer in their midst. . . .
Contented employees make for a successful restaurant, which is why the County Seat’s crew goes on a quarterly out-of-office meeting. This time, the location is the Old Idaho Penitentiary near the Boise Foothills, a prison brimming with ghostly lore. The lock-in features actors role-playing as guards, fascinating prison stories . . . and an unscripted murder.
Who sentenced one of the faux guards to a very authentic death? Angie, her boyfriend, and the County Seat gang are locked in with a killer—excellent motivation for a little sleuthing. Between ghostly apparitions and flesh-and-blood suspects, Angie’s plate is full, but will her luck, and her life, hold out until the gates reopen at dawn?
Yes, I love when a book location is one of my old stomping grounds and in particular this spine-chilling old penitentiary in the foothills of Boise. My WOW® motobuddies and I took the years’ ride-in-mascot to the prison for some very special shots of the facility with the mascot (and us in prison stripes).
In this Halloween themed novella, Angie Turner and her County Seat restaurant crew have scheduled a 24 hr stay in the haunted prison as a team-building exercise. (Sorry—no way would I want to be locked in that place overnight, particularly with no cell phone. So many stories about that place and it does give off creepy vibes.)
Anyway, in addition to the team, there are four “guards” (actors) as well as other guests. Angie is allowed to include Dom, her trusty St Bernard. It’s a cozy. Someone is gonna die. And it’s a prison after all…
I’m not sure how much team building actually got done, although we got to be privy to some support character personalities and their work together as they solved the whodunit. The fun part (for me) was the paranormal element—that of the story of a female ghost (so many stories there). The ghost and Angie communed and Angie (with the help of her crew) followed the clues. There can’t be that many suspects—right? But it won’t be as easy as you think to solve.
This is a great setting for a Halloween mystery. It’s has some interesting characters and the mystery moves along. A fast read and fun cozy.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: Two-Hour Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Short Reads, Fiction Short Reads
Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Cahoon/e/B0082PWOAO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0market paperback. And, because she can’t help telling stories, she also writes the Farm to Fork series. Romance novels are published under the pen name, Lynn Collins. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and three fur kids. Sign up for her newsletter at http://www.lynncahoon.com
(C) 2020 V Williams
NB: This is the first post using WP’s new block editor. I voted it down last time. Apparently, I do not have that choice this time. So, it being rather crude, it’s obvious there’s a learning curve and not easy for this old dog. Please forgive.
Dog-loving divorcée and amateur sleuth Lilly Echosby is not the only one who wants her new foster poodle. Some are willing to kill to have him . . .
Lilly’s best pal Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson has done it again! She’s convinced eccentric poodle-loving billionaire Archibald Lowry to sponsor a grand fundraiser for the Eastern Tennessee Poodle Rescue. Tragically, it’s too late to rescue Lowry, who is murdered at the event. His pet poodle is now orphaned, so Dixie begs Lilly to foster the adorable pup. Of course, she already has a poodle—her beloved Aggie, named after Agatha Christie. Fortunately, Aggie seems to like the new addition to the family, whom Lilly renames Rex, after her second favorite mystery author, Rex Stout.
But she’s barely welcomed Rex into her home when there’s an attempted poodle-nabbing, foiled with Aggie’s help. As desperate characters try to get their hands on the canine cutie, Lilly turns to Dixie’s dog training class to help her sort through a litter of suspects. Ultimately, she may have to unleash Rex as bait to collar the killer . . .
Lillie Ann Echosby moved from Indiana to a new life in Chattanooga,TN. She became involved in a local poodle rescue having one of her own she calls Aggie (after Agatha Christie). She’s a little thing but feisty and full of heart and personality. Lillie is thrilled to be hosting an event for the local poodle rescue at the museum where she’s employed when a tiny poodle shuts down the event after he leads the curious back to his murdered owner, who it turns out is the billionaire sponsor for the event. Lillie is asked to foster the little thing until they can square away the details of the deceased. Of course, Lillie falls in love with him and promptly renames him Rex (after Rex Stout).
The two canines get along just fine but there are ensuing attempts to dognap Rex. In the meantime, Lillie’s daughter Stephanie comes for an impromptu visit. Lillie has a cadre of great friends and support that lend a sleuthing effort to solve the canine caper, and the reader is introduced to both Stephanie and Lillie’s romantic interest, Joe and Red, both in law enforcement.
Lillie is a great character surrounded by additional strong support characters, including Dixie, dog show judge and trainer and owner of a dog castle RV, and there are interesting tidbits of dog speak, which I always enjoy.
My first experience with this series, albeit not the author, and the storyline moves at a cozy pace while including the mystery with the appealing friend associates. There are details that bother me, including whipping around in an RV for errands (at 6-7 mpg) and the conclusion that I found a bit contrived wrapping up a few loose threads but not all.
Receiving this digital ARC download from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion. Recommended for all who enjoy cozy mysteries, especially including dogs.
Genre: Cozy Culinary, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mysteries Publisher: Lyrical Press ASIN: B07ZPK3DCJ Print Length: 225 pages Publication Date: To be released August 11, 2020 Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: V.M. Burns was born and raise in the Midwestern United States. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Seton Hill University. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. She is the secretary of her local chapter of Sisters in Crime (The East Tennessee Smoking Guns) and the Education Grants Coordinator for the national Sisters in Crime. She currently resides in the warmer area of the U.S. with her two poodles. Readers can visit her website at http://www.vmburns.com
When professional organizer Maggie McDonald finds a body in a snowdrift outside her friend’s ski cabin, she must plow through the clues to find a cold-blooded killer . . .
Lake Tahoe in February is beautiful, but Maggie can’t see a thing as she drives through a blinding blizzard with her friend Tess Olmos and their dogs, golden retriever Belle and German shepherd Mozart.Maggie has offered her professional decluttering skills to help Tess tidy up her late husband’s cabin in preparation to sell. She also plans to get in some skiing when her husband Max and their boys join them later in the week.
What she doesn’t plan on is finding a boot in a snowdrift attached to a corpse. The frozen stiff turns out to be Tess’s neighbor, Dev Bailey, who disappeared two months ago. His widow Leslie expresses grief, but Maggie can’t help but wonder if it’s a snow job. As more suspects start to pile up, things go downhill fast, and Maggie must keep her cool to solve the murder before the killer takes a powder . .
My first experience with the author and the series included dogs (and if you follow my blog, you know I can’t resist a book with doggy characters) and gorgeous Lake Tahoe–such a soft spot in my heart for Lake Tahoe–so many happy memories there. But winter in Tahoe? Oh yes, can be extremely treacherous.
This entry to the series has protagonist Maggie making a trip to Tahoe with her good friend Tess Olmos in February as Maggie will take on years of accumulation in Tess’s family cabin in preparation for a future sale to finance Tess’s son’s college expenses and her change of profession. Maggie is a professional organizer and this will be a getaway trip for her with her family following later for a ski vacation. Should be perfect! But, oops! The weather can turn on a dime in the High Sierras. The blizzard from hell hits them on their way over Donner Summit (no doubt you’ve heard that well-know story before–the Donner Party?) and it’s all they can do to make it to the cabin safely.
Leaving the car where it doesn’t belong in the turnaround, the first trip out of the cabin in the morning to trek back to the car has Maggie discovering a DB (that’s dead body in cop-speak). Unfortunately, the husband of one of Tess’s neighbors took his dog out just after Christmas and never returned. It sends Tess reeling as she lost her husband just 18 months previous and is part of the reason she’s selling. Between the weather and the unnerving discovery, organizing, cleaning, and clearing gets put on the back burner.
Maggie begins to meet the neighbors from the cul-de-sac snoop to the family of the deceased, all just struggling to survive the latest spate of storms crippling the mountains and their lives. The conditions are extreme, between the loss of power and heat, high winds, and plummeting temperatures, everyone hunkers down. Descriptions of the mountains and hillside homes create an appropriate frigid scene. Maggie’s dog, Belle, and Tess’s dog, Mozart, along with neighbors dogs lend added dimension to the cozy, if not freezing atmosphere.
Perhaps this is one of those series in which you should have started with Book 1. I found myself lost, especially in the first third of the book understanding the characters. There seemed contradictions in description, causing a stumble, awkward scenes, and dialogue. Maggie begins her surreptitious interviews of the neighbors and discovers there may have been more than one possible suspect. Chief Quinn Petit seems to welcome the help even as the plot takes some twists which will have you suspending disbelief. Visit from friends back home (under extreme conditions?) and a sudden introduction to the perp in the conclusion was rather contrived and somewhat a disappointment for me.
I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read for a review. If you’ve followed the series, you may very well appreciate this entry, enjoy the cozy mystery.
Rosepoint Publishing:Three-point Five of Five Stars
The Author: Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Her first book, ADDRESS TO DIE FOR, received a Kirkus Star and was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. Suspense Magazine selected CLIFF HANGER as a Best Book of 2019. A Certified California Naturalist, Mary enjoys sharing the beauty of her state’s natural world with readers.
With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O’Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim’s neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight—not unlike the bat who’s recently been spotted in the town park.
But everyone’s blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She’d better keep her wits about her, though—or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .
“It sure looks haunted,” Edna murmured to no one in particular, to the cast of Dracula in general. They were grouped around her on the sidewalk that ran past the old Hanratty place that Carlos and Bella had rented. I’d never been inside though once I’d driven by it when I first moved to Etonville on my way out of town. The house stood on half an acre of scruffy lawn with patches of dried dirt, surrounded by a few straggly trees—minus leaves at this time of the year—and no neighbors. The nearest houses were on a side street some distance away. The three-story building looked as if it might collapse at any moment, its outer walls covered with weathered, gray shakes, the steps to the front door supported by concrete building blocks. There was no handrail. Light leaked out of windows on the first floor. Curtains covering small, circular panes on the third story—an attic room?—quivered. Was someone up there watching us? I shivered. A turret rose upward from the right side of the structure, giving the house a smidge of outdated dignity. A drain pipe dangled loosely from the gutter.
“Let’s go.” Penny corralled actors and nudged everyone forward to the front door. There were six company members, Renfield saying he’d be along later, plus Penny, Lola, Pauli, and me. Strength in numbers.
We crept across the porch cautiously, aware of the creaking beneath us as the flooring shifted with each individual’s footsteps. Penny put out a hand to knock on the door. Before she could hit knuckles to wood, it flew open. “Welcome everyone!” Bella stood in the doorway, a silhouette backlit by muted foyer lighting.
Behind her Carlos stood silently, observing the group huddled in his entryway, like deer caught in headlights.
Lola took the lead, moving graciously into the house. “Thank you. So nice of you to invite us to your home.”
I’m not sure what the members of the Etonville Little Theatre were expecting. Given the exterior and location of the Hanratty homestead, I anticipated something out of a late-night classic horror film.
Fall is closing in, Halloween is upon the town of Etonville and the Etonville Little Theatre has decided on running with Dracula. They have a great new actor who is playing Dracula as if he is one–his wife and the cast party at their old, creepy home part of the mystique. Problem is, someone in a Grim Reaper costume is found in the local cemetery with what appears to be a stake through his heart. This definitely carries the whole Halloween production too far.
Dodie O’Dell is manager of the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore. Because of the season and the scheduled play, they are very busy in the restaurant promoting a theme menu. She definitely has a capable chef in the kitchen and bar and restaurant staff are more friends than employees. But this one strikes too close for comfort and she’ll have to “look into it.” Not the first time she’s taken on sleuthing duties.
Dodie is also engaged to the local police chief, Bill, and while not having reservations about him, is dragging her feet getting into the whole wedding planning thing with BFF Lola. So distracting herself with the current mystery is not too difficult.
In the meantime, we are introduced to the restaurant regulars, the town’s recurring characters, and some description of the area and contiguous small villages.
It’s a cozy mystery. They do tend to begin a bit slow for me. I’m as bad as the next mystery reader waiting anxiously for something to happen. Dodie has a fine way, however, of handling the restaurant while beginning with questions surrounding the details of the victim’s death then zeroing in on the weirdly perceived Dracula actor.
As Dodie begins sifting through clues and building on instinct, the reader is treated with the eccentricities of some of her closest buddies, Edna the police dispatcher who speaks in code–police code–and Penny who enjoys famous quotes, but always gets them wrong.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you live longer.”
Not character-driven really, as Dodie makes steady progress with her investigation and interviews, but the characters really start growing on you. The description of the restaurant setting is easy to imagine and becomes warm and comfortable with the smells of the kitchen wafting into the dining area.
Dodie’s quandary regarding Bill isn’t really hammered out until the conclusion (but then very satisfactorily), and the climax ramps up the excitement considerably with a real surprise you probably didn’t see coming. (Well, okay, I didn’t.) The sixth in the Dodie O’Dell mystery series, this can function fine as a standalone, and is certainly a series with premise and characters you’ll enjoy.
I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley for this book tour and greatly enjoyed the opportunity to read and review. Recommended cozy mystery.
About The Author: Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.
Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra potion shop, feels some dread anticipating her ten-year high school reunion at the new hotel in New Camel—but it turns out even worse than she feared. Running into her very first boyfriend is pleasant enough. Chatting with Ashley—who still can’t let go of a tragedy that happened on prom night—is a bit more uncomfortable. But the worst part comes when one of Kailyn’s oldest friends is found dead in the ladies’ room.
Soon this upstate New York town is in an uproar. And with some help from time-traveling wizard Merlin—who has adopted an unusual and alluring creature as his familiar—it’s up to Kailyn to identify the alumnus most likely to commit murder . . .
What’s better in these dark times than a good cozy mystery that is fun from beginning to end with great characters that turns humor up several notches? I didn’t discover this series until I read Book 4 but found each to function fine as a standalone. Still, I can’t help but wonder what I’ve missed in the others.
Book 5 has protagonist Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra Potion Shop nervous about attending her ten-year class reunion. She has Aunt Tilly to assure her that she will be fine and she is…right up until she runs across Ashley still obviously mourning the death of her intended in an apparent accident on prom night followed by the discovery of another of her classmates newly deceased in the ladies room.
In the meantime, Aunt Tilly is still trying to provide a home for their long distant relative Merlin, who accidentally time-traveled into their lives. Now the wizard can’t seem to figure his way back and has decided he must have a familiar and decides on a marmot. Merlin has apparently lost some of his magick as his spells seem to go awry fairly often.
Kailyn is still in witchy apprenticeship and needs to get with the program, as any untried magickal talents she possesses will go dormant after the age of 30. Her spells need some work as well. She has leveled with Travis, her sweetheart, about her skills and as he is a news anchor seems to keep an open mind about the whole thing, having witnessed some remarkable happenings.
Kailyn is great at ferreting out clues, interviewing those associated with the recently deceased and realizes the motive and tie to the ten-year-old accident that was never explored sufficiently to rest the case. Between calming Tilly and Merlin and interviewing suspects, she tends to her shop creating the proper potions, makeup and creams, then adds her spells that give her products “something extra” they can’t get elsewhere.
It’s character-driven while never losing sight of the mystery, infusing humor often, mad-cap situations with a wizard from several previous centuries ago, and her own familiar (an aging kitty) as well as five other cats (mercy!).
As a side note: I guess ground hogs are also known as marmots as well as “whistlepigs” although in the northwestern states are also known as rock chucks (or wood chucks). I can remember, however, dodging little rodents crossing the road not much larger than adult mice (baby marmots?) when riding my motorcycle, and trying very hard NOT to hit one of the little things–but ground hog size they were not (thank heaven)–and was told they were whistlepigs. So ???
This is such an engaging series and wonderful to lose yourself, even temporarily, into the wonderful world of magick with characters easy to invest in. I was given this digital download by the publisher through NetGalley for this blog tour and fully appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommended as a well-plotted, fast-paced and fun cozy mystery. Get your own copy, you’ll be glad you did. Trust me.
Sign up for your chance to win one (1) Digital Set of 5 of Abracadabra Mysteries by Sharon Pape Rafflecopter giveaway
Sharon Pape describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they had ever condensed. Around the same time, Redbook published her first short story.
Then life brought her an unexpected challenge that went by the name of breast cancer. When her treatment was over, she became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery Program and went on to be the program’s coordinator for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Several years later, with the help of her surgical oncologist and two other survivors, she started her own not-for-profit organization to provide information and peer support to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.
Once the organization was running smoothly and didn’t require as much of her time, she returned to her first love – writing. During this second stage of her career, she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist and a splash of humor.
The charming homes of River Bluffs, Indiana, make perfect projects for house-flipper Jazzi Zanders. Less charming is her hothead brother-in-law, who’s a bit of a fixer-upper himself. But could he also be a murderer?
Jazzi married her gorgeous contractor Ansel—not his family. But somehow she keeps living with them. So she’s delighted to help Ansel’s brother Radley move out of their home and into his own place, in the same building as his work supervisor, Donovan. But when Donovan is shot and his apartment ransacked following an argument with Ansel and Radley’s older brother Bain, their sibling becomes a suspect—especially after his missing gun turns up as the murder weapon.
Told not to leave town by Detective Gaff, big brother moves in with . . . Jazzi and Ansel. Now Jazzi needs to prove Bain’s no killer, not only to keep him out of jail—but to get him out of their house. What was the killer looking for in Donovan’s apartment? And what will happen to the next person who gets in the way?
Book 4 has Jazzi and Ansel happily married and seeing Radley, Ansel’s brother, moving to an apartment of his own. Unfortunately, Bain, their oldest brother comes to River Bluffs at the same time to retrieve Radley and drag him (kicking and screaming) back to the old farm. Having once fled, no way he’ll go back and he’s moving to the same complex where his co-worker Donovan lives. Unfortunately, Bain and Donovan quarrel and when Donovan is shot, and Bain’s gun is inexplicably missing, guess who looks like suspect numero uno? Of course, they know he didn’t do it, but can’t leave now.
So now that they’ve inherited the temporary responsibility for Bain, he’s taking Radley’s bedroom but boredom overtakes and he asks to be included in the current house-flipping project, a Victorian somewhere between them and Jerod, Jazzi’s cousin and a big third of their rehabbing efforts. Jerod’s wife is soon to have their third baby, so an extra hand couldn’t hurt.
With the death of Donovan, Detective Gaff (is the author having a little fun with the reader choosing that name?) once again calls upon Jazzi to help with his interviews and investigations gleaning leads where he can’t. (Where did he get his badge?)
In the meantime, her hands are full with helping on the fixer-upper, coordinating food and accommodations (their own home–rehabbed to allow for guests and parties) for her sister’s wedding, their usual Sunday dinners with the family, the extended family, and anyone else who wants an easy Sunday with great food. I’ve read three of the four in the series and always wonder where Jazzi gets the time to do any of the extensive food prep and cooking described, why they aren’t waiting for housing inspectors to pass their rehab work, or how long it took them to get the permit approvals to do some of the extensive removal of walls). Her gorgeous 6’5″ Viking, Ansel, is the General Contractor, if I remember correctly, but he has few subs. Okay, I’m still over-thinking it all and this is a cozy mystery.
And it is one low-key and well-plotted, easy-paced mystery. It’s not out to build tension, but tell a story. The main plot is cleverly tucked betwixt and between Jazzi’s life. She fits in a few interviews of her own and passes her intelligence to Gaff who in turn relays his discoveries back to her and between them, formulate theories. The perp isn’t hard to figure–pretty obvious early on.
So what is it that’s so compelling about the series? The characters, the location (Indiana, for heaven’s sake, and the reason we took a quick trip down to Logansport to check out the Trail–nice– but short), and the whole unique staging of house-flippers. Bain gradually goes from unlikeable character to one with new familial possibilities, extending Ansel’s side.
Yes! A series that I started with Book 1 (and thought I’d read them all–apparently not.) Still, although it might fill in a few blanks, this entry could very well act as a standalone if you haven’t read them all. The conclusion escalates into a gritty, heart-pounding climax. Then, as with any good cozy, soothes the heart rate, and dissolves all loose threads, quietly setting the stage for Book 5. And I’ll be looking forward to it.
I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review (HOW’D I miss Book 3?). Recommended as a culinary cozy, but you know I don’t read these for the recipes…although one does look interesting.)
The Author: [Judi Lynn] USA Today Best-selling author for The Body in the Attic.
When I started self-publishing, I wrote urban fantasy as Judith Post. Then my wonderful agent, Lauren Abramo, suggested I try to find a publisher by writing romance, and she was right. I sold my Mill Pond romances to Kensington’s Lyrical Press. After six romances, my equally wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, asked if I’d like to try to write a mystery. Ironic, because I started writing–forever ago–by writing mystery short stories and selling them. I decided to write about a fixer-upper because my husband and I bought a 1920s small bungalow when we got married, and it needed lots of work. We’re still working on it. And cooking crept into the stories because I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat supper with us. A lot of my passions have ended up in my books:)
[Goodreads] Judi Lynn received a Master’s Degree from Indiana University as an elementary school teacher after attending the IPFW campus. She taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades for six years before having her two daughters. She loves gardening, cooking and trying new recipes.
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