The French Paradox (A Wind Country mystery Book 11) by Ellen Crosby – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

“According to Napoleon, in victory you deserve champagne, in defeat you need it.”

 Book Blurb:

Lucie Montgomery’s discovery of her grandfather’s Parisian romance unlocks a series of shocking secrets in the gripping new Wine Country mystery.

In 1949, during her junior year abroad in Paris, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis The French Paradox by Ellen Crosbybought several inexpensive paintings of Marie-Antoinette by a little-known 18th century female artist. She also had a romantic relationship with Virginia vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery’s French grandfather – until recently, a well-kept secret.

Seventy years later, Cricket Delacroix, Lucie’s neighbor and Jackie’s schoolfriend, is donating the now priceless paintings to a Washington, DC museum. And Lucie’s grandfather is flying to Virginia for Cricket’s 90th birthday party, hosted by her daughter Harriet. A washed-up journalist, Harriet is rewriting a manuscript Jackie left behind about Marie-Antoinette and her portraitist. She’s also adding tell-all details about Jackie, sure to make the book a bestseller.

Then on the eve of the party a world-famous landscape designer who also knew Jackie is found dead in Lucie’s vineyard. Did someone make good on the death threats he’d received because of his controversial book on climate change? Or was his murder tied to Jackie, the paintings, and Lucie’s beloved grandfather?

My Review:

I always enjoy these entries to the wine country mysteries, as I’m assured of learning new facts about viticulture and the historical areas of Virginia. In this episode, protagonist Lucie Montgomery (owner with her family of the Montgomery Estate Vineyard) discovers a DB (dead body) in her fields—the guy she was supposed to have met to consult about problems with her sickly grapes.

The French Paradox by Ellen CrosbyHer winemaker-fiancé Quinn is quick to provide support, but it’s just one of several threads and I’m still trying to decide whether or not I like the Jackie Kennedy inclusion. She is also anticipating the arrival of her 93 year old French grandfather for a birthday celebration with a local friend. There are enlightening discussions on the impact of climate change to certain grapes and a comparison of GMOs with hybrids. Additionally, a major sub-plot involves the daughter of her birthday friend and the big reveal regarding her book and the early women art masters tied into the mystery of Jackie O.

The well-plotted narrative delves deeply into the family drama anticipation of a mini-family reunion with her beloved grandfather and her artistic sister’s commission for the art exhibition that will feature renown paintings tied to the books’ announcement.

I really loved The Angel’s Share and Harvest of Secrets but the pacing of this series entry was a bit slow for me and my attention waned. I suppose in the end, part of my enthusiasm this time was the Jackie thread. Not a lot of elements of a cozy, listed as a traditional detective mystery—but didn’t feel that vibe either. Still, these can all be considered standalone and I’ll be looking forward to the next one.

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: Traditional Detective Mysteries, Amateur Sleuth Mysteries
Publisher: Severn House Publishers

  • ASIN : B08QNF14TD

Print Length: 243 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! April 6, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Ellen Crosby - authorThe Author: Ellen Crosby is the author of the Virginia wine country mysteries, two mysteries featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina and MOSCOW NIGHTS, a standalone. THE FRENCH PARADOX, the 11th book in the wine country series will be out 1/29/21 in the UK, 4/6/21 in the US and 3/1/21 as an ebook. Before writing fiction, Crosby–who has lived in England, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the former Soviet Union–worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, an economist at the US Senate, and Moscow reporter for ABC Radio News. Visit her website at http://www.ellencrosby.com and follow her (very) occasionally on Facebook at EllenCrosbyBooks, sometimes on Twitter at @ellencrosby–but mostly on Instagram at ellencrosbyauthor. She also writes an erratic (but interesting) newsletter.

©V Williams

The Body from the Past (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery Book 5) by Judi Lynn – a #BookReview – #cozymystery #TuesdayBookBlog

Happy Publication Day!

 Book Blurb:

The Body from the Past by Judi LynnA closed room in her newest fixer-upper leads Indiana house-flipper Jazzi Zanders to reopen a chilling cold case involving a high school girl . . .

Jazzi, her cousin Jerod, and her husband Ansel are preparing to renovate a charming house that reminds her of an English manor. Before purchasing it, they had inspected the house for structural issues, but now when they do a more thorough walk-through, they discover a teenage girl’s bedroom that clearly hasn’t been touched in years. Dust covers the pink canopy bed, clothes still hang in the closet, and a hope chest remains full of journals and memorabilia. They’ve stumbled on a shrine to a dead girl.

They learn Jessica was killed in the middle of her high school graduation party. The murderer was never identified, but the brother-in-law of Jazzi’s friend, who went to school with Jessica, was suspected and never lived it down. He implores Jazzi to review the cold case and finally prove him innocent. Now it’s up to the house-flipper to nail a killer who will do anything to close the door on the past . ..

My Review:

Can’t believe we are already at Book 5 of this series from this prolific writer. This entry to the series veers off just a tad from previous plot lines in that they don’t discover a body in their newest fixer—they discover a locked room that had been the bedroom of the deceased. It’s still the open case of a murder.

The Body from the Past by Judi LynnJazzi, her hubby Ansel, and cousin Jerod are working on another flipper, this time in the little town of Merlot. The room they discover locked was actually that way when the last owner bought and not needing the room simply left it as is. The house has been sold with furnishings and the room in particular left just as the teenager had prior to her untimely death.

They don’t get too deeply into the project before Jazzi is asked to dig into the cold case as the girl’s boyfriend was the prime suspect but never arrested or charged. Still, he is left with the stigma and would like to be cleared, once and for all.

Ah, youthful energy!! Jazzi balances her full on rehab work with the boys as she also prepares their lunches and snacks, meets the girls for their weekly gab fest, and provides a big family dinner every Sunday, as has been her routine now for some time. They have a pug, George, and two kitties that they tend. In between, she begins to read the journal left by the young graduating high schooler. It’s enlightening, but not wholly revealing.

Then a body is found obviously connected to the case which involves Gaff, their local police connection who manages to show up for a lot of lunches (just to exchange information, of course). Now she’ll ramp up her efforts and begin systematic interviews with all involved.

The narrative is well-plotted, the mystery just under the surface, as the three work through their plan for renovation, choosing colors, textures, materials, appliances, and equipment. Having also worked on rehabbing old houses for years, I’m always fascinated with the description of what and how they go about it. Of course, styles and colors have changed a LOT since we worked nights and weekends on our projects while working full-time.

I enjoy the characters and having read several of the books now (including The Body in the Attic and The Body in the Apartment), see a subtle change in dynamics of the main characters. The pacing is just right, working on the mystery, working on the house, working on the family relationships, and working on some pretty interesting food dishes (several included at the back). An easy-in conclusion and the promise of Book 6 and I’m a happy reader.

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

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Underground

  • ASIN : B082WRCXS3

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: September 22, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

 Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Judi Lynn - authorThe Author: [Judi Lynn] USA Today Best-selling author for The Body in the Attic.
When I started self-publishing, I wrote urban fantasy as Judith Post. Then my wonderful agent, Lauren Abramo, suggested I try to find a publisher by writing romance, and she was right. I sold my Mill Pond romances to Kensington’s Lyrical Press. After six romances, my equally wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, asked if I’d like to try to write a mystery. Ironic, because I started writing–forever ago–by writing mystery short stories and selling them. I decided to write about a fixer-upper because my husband and I bought a 1920s small bungalow when we got married, and it needed lots of work. We’re still working on it. And cooking crept into the stories because I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat supper with us. A lot of my passions have ended up in my books:)

Connect with Judi on Facebook and her blog at Judi Lynn Writes

©2020 V Williams V Williams

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis – a #BookReview #literaryfiction #TuesdayBookBlog

“Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother.”

A review by the CE.

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars Five Stars

Book Blurb:

In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis’s latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona DavisIt’s 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn’t ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village’s new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women’s rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she’s forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she’s wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie’s running begin disappearing from the library’s famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library’s history.

His Review:

This book is a romp through the changing morays of women in America during the early and last decade of the 20th century. The story takes place in the marble confines of the New York Public Library.  The building superintendent, Jack Lyons, and his wife Laura were resident caretakers of the building and as such at the time made their home in the library.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona DavisThe struggle for the right to vote and the development of women as independent members of society was just beginning. Jack sees himself as a writer who will produce a great American novel and thereby produce a good income for his family. Every spare minute of his day not working for the library was spent in that endeavor. Laura is given the position of curator of the Berg Collection of early books by such luminaries as Poe and Whitman, while being expected to raise the children and do all of the chores of keeping their home. Laura wants to write as well.

New York saw a large increase in the population in the second decade of the century; primarily poor and struggling immigrants. Disease was particularly cruel during that time period and wages extremely low. A year at Columbia School of Journalism including books and tuition was $170. Laura receives a scholarship for one term or $85.00. Now in addition to being a curator and family matriarch, she becomes a student. Meanwhile, her husband used any time available to “write” his novel.

The male students were given assignments to review trials or the mayor’s speeches. The females were sent to cover neighborhood conditions. Hardly the same interest in the topics. Laura meets one of the new social workers, Dr. Amelia Parker, a no-nonsense large woman who takes no guff from anyone. She is teaching immigrant women how to care for their children. She takes Laura under her wing and introduces her to the Heterodoxy Club. The group is scorned by society and the topic cannot be written about but is the topic assigned for her master’s thesis.

Her granddaughter Sadie Donovan is hired at the library to do basically the same tasks as her grandmother so many years before, without her grandmother’s yoke of family and husband. Books disappear during both ladies’ tenures and they are suspected of being the thieves. The author skillfully intermingles the two lives drawing parallels nearly a century apart. Both women are fighting the upward battle of emancipation.

CE WilliamsThe dual plots move along smoothly and my interest was held throughout. I became sympathetic to the plight of both of the women and their crass treatment in general during the time period. Success for any woman seemed to require the overcoming of societal morays and prejudices along with reduced pay and increased responsibility. This is a fulfilling novel, well written and paced with empathetic characters and a joy to read.  5 stars CE Williams

Receiving this digital download free from the publisher and NetGalley did not affect my opinion of the book or the content and this is my honest opinion. Highly Recommended.

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Literary Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Literary Fiction
Publisher: Dutton
ISBN: 1524744611
ASIN: B081M7TFWS
Print Length: 365 pages
Publication Date: To be released August 4, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Pre-Order Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Fiona Davis - authorThe Author: Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of historical novels set in iconic New York City buildings, including THE CHELSEA GIRLS and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, working on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down to write fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages and she’s based in New York City.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The Age of Witches: A Novel by Louisa Morgan – a #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Historical Fantasy Fiction

Book Blurb:

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganIn Gilded Age New York, a centuries-long clash between two magical families ignites when a young witch must choose between love and loyalty, power and ambition, in this magical novel by Louisa Morgan.
In 1692, Bridget Bishop was hanged as a witch. Two hundred years later, her legacy lives on in the scions of two very different lines: one dedicated to using their powers to heal and help women in need; the other, determined to grasp power for themselves by whatever means necessary.
This clash will play out in the fate of Annis, a young woman in Gilded Age New York who finds herself a pawn in the family struggle for supremacy. She’ll need to claim her own power to save herself-and resist succumbing to the darkness that threatens to overcome them all.

My Review:

Having descended from Bridget Byshop who was hanged in 1692 for being a witch, Harriet Bishop is still being very careful about her abilities beyond the herbal concoctions she creates to heal. She is one of two sisters from Bridget’s line. The sisters, however, did not choose the same path to magic–one chose healing and the other dark power to ruthlessly gain her desired outcome. Their grandmother Beryl tried her best to pass on the legacy, but Harriet and Frances grew up in different circumstances and Frances was determined she’d rise above the squalid memories of her childhood.

The Age of Witches by Louisa MorganNew York City during the Gilded Age was a magical community, thriving, discovering modern conveniences. Frances’s goal was to be accepted into the Four Hundred–the entitled old money rich of the city. Frances is an early Eliza Doolittle, willing to do anything to rise to the level of the successful, tasteful aristocracy. She would do that by forcing her seventeen-year-old step-daughter to marry into the nobility of England and arranges a trip with Annis to find a suitable prize. Annis Allington has her own ideas, however. She adores her thoroughbred stallion, Black Satin (Bits), and her goal is to create a fine bloodline of thoroughbreds. But back then, who would purchase on the “expertise” of a woman breeder. Annis has no ideas of marriage and certainly not to a stuffy British nobleman. She is determined that no one will tell her what she can or can’t do.

The narrative conjures visions of magic spells, amulets, cantrips, and herbal concoctions. The herbal blends are devised by mortar and pestle, each recipe’s ingredient carefully chosen for the desired outcome. The incantations are poetic.

While Annis would be considered the main character, there are four POV’s, that of Annis, Harriet, Frances, and later James. You can almost visualize Frances as the evil witch, complete with long and crooked nose and pointy hat. Harriet, always the peace-maker, soft-spoken carries the big stick, and wide-eyed novice Annis uncovering the new world of sorcery. Both the good and bad.

The author has done an admiral job of the verbiage, invoking so much knowledge to herbal ingredients and remedies that it doesn’t seem possible you could write with that much confidence and not be involved in the practice up to the eyeballs. The narrative follows Annis on her steadfast course to be true to herself. Harriet toils toward the empowerment of women–quietly but naturally–as a benevolent mentor and realizes she must intervene in Frances’ plan.  Annis is young and idealistic, but wholly empathetic, and I loved the strong connection to her horse. James is an innocent pawn, naive, in a scheme gone mad and Frances…poor Frances will pay a heavy price for her dark plot.

Witch should be a beautiful word, signifying wisdom and knowledge and discipline, but it isn’t used that way. It’s been made an insult, implying evil, causing fear. The word has been perverted.” –Harriet Bishop, 1890

The storyline wrestles with the effects of a maleficia gone awry, finding the path between the two young persons, and the struggle of good versus evil. When is two wrongs the better choice? And can it possibly be used to make right?

Why didn’t I go whole hog five stars is a quibble I had similar to the one I experienced with A Secret History of Witches (which I avidly followed with the exception of the story of Veronica during WWII). This time, I stumbled over the relationship of Annis to Harriet and Frances.

I received this digital download from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed that first book so much I couldn’t wait to tear into this ARC. The author writes with engaging authority, slipping the prose easily between tidbits of ancient technology and entertaining but subtle differences between American and British society. Totally recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: American Historical Romance, Historical Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Redhook

  • ISBN-10:0316419540
  • ISBN-13:978-0316419543
  • ASIN: B07VZFWVYR

Print Length: 448 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! April 7, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: The Age of Witches (Amazon)
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

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

Louisa Morgan - authorThe Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier, on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home.

Under the name Louise Marley, she has written a number of other historical fiction novels, as well as fantasy and science fiction. Please visit http://www.louisemarley.com for more information, and to learn more about Oscar!

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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

Book Blurb:

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

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

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

My Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Details:

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

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

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

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Judi Lynn - authorThe Author: [Judi Lynn] USA Today Best-selling author for The Body in the Attic.
When I started self-publishing, I wrote urban fantasy as Judith Post. Then my wonderful agent, Lauren Abramo, suggested I try to find a publisher by writing romance, and she was right. I sold my Mill Pond romances to Kensington’s Lyrical Press. After six romances, my equally wonderful editor, John Scognamiglio, asked if I’d like to try to write a mystery. Ironic, because I started writing–forever ago–by writing mystery short stories and selling them. I decided to write about a fixer-upper because my husband and I bought a 1920s small bungalow when we got married, and it needed lots of work. We’re still working on it. And cooking crept into the stories because I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat supper with us. A lot of my passions have ended up in my books:)

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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

A Field Guide to Homicide (A Cat Latimer Mystery Book 6) by Lynn Cahoon – a #BookReview #cozymystery

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonBook Blurb:

Cat Latimer and her writer’s retreat group go on a hiking trip—but a murderer has been lurking off the beaten path . . .
 
Cat’s sweetheart, Seth, is going all out on an outing into the local mountains—for the benefit of the writing group Cat’s hosting at her Colorado B&B. But when they try to identify some plant and animal life, they find death instead. The body belongs to a man with a gold claim a few miles away. Instead of striking it rich, he’s been struck down.

To his surprise, Seth recognizes the victim from his military days—and up to now believed he’d already died during his last tour of duty. Now Cat has to solve this mystery before the killer takes a hike . . .

My Review:

Loved the concept of a writer’s retreat for authors, written by an author, about authors learning to be authors. Or readers who enjoy reading about it! It’s bound to be a cozy narrative in a beautiful locale in a small town setting.

Cat (Catherine) Latimer has the perfect location and large home remodeled as a B&B and found her niché, the writer’s retreats. (She is a successful writer, formerly teacher.) Full when she wants, quiet when she needs it to be. Covington College is located within walking distance and accommodates Cat’s guests in the library. She has an amazing best friend, Shauna, a buddy from California who moved back to Colorado to help with the B&B, cook amazing meals, and cleans the rooms. Cat has a boyfriend, Seth, a first love from high school and an uncle who is a police detective.

A Field Guide to Homicide by Lynn CahoonIn Book 6, Seth discovers that the body Cat finds with her group while hiking is a former Army buddy of his. There is only one problem: he was supposed to have been killed while they were still in Germany, and that was ten years ago. Seth had joined the Army thinking they’d wed when he returned. In the meantime, however, Cat marries Michael who was full of surprises. She receives the house after his untimely death.

As a character-driven cozy, the mystery trundles along while Cat discovers her new group is unique–two couples and one college student. The latter doesn’t exactly fit in and almost immediately the two couples click and proceed to produce activity separate from Cat’s usual agenda. There is the hike, but it ended with the discovery of the body. I don’t see her providing guidance in a lot of group discussions or learning moments and it’s handy she has Shauna who handles the bulk of the physical work. But Shauna has a problem of her own, providing a separate little (almost) sub-plot. Then there is the tension between her and Seth and my question, does she really love him or not? Given the little time they have to be together, she doesn’t exactly jump to take advantage of it.

There seemed a few plot holes; missing elements. (Was it because this is my first experience with the author and the series?) Seth didn’t want to introduce his Army buddies to Cat, which I found rather odd, so we don’t know much about them. Cat manages to get a name she can investigate and discovers the deceased had a local girlfriend that she was able to interview. She manages to glean a few tidbits and coordinates with her uncle.

We really don’t get development of the guests with the exception of the college kid and she did impart some wise writerly wisdom to him. (One of the couples takes snide verbal pot-shots at each other.) Uncle Pete plays a large part as does his sweetheart, an ex-cop who flies in to see him but is caught up in his absence with the murder investigation. There are red herrings that have you focusing first on one possible perp, then another, none quite making sense. The why is a biggee: how did he manage to leave Germany, come back to Colorado and be living off grid for so long? Ah, yes, but then we get little off-hand remarks that drop clues like crumbs leading back to the who. Did you pay attention?

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, but not the length of time that it took to lay all the elements to examine. There were quotables and old sayings, “We work in fact here, not maybes.” And “…make sure she knows that no is a complete sentence.” (Loved that one!) “A high tide floats all boats.”

The novel takes some time to get into, moving rather slowly for me and appeared to be one that suggests the reader might be better served to begin with Book 1 of the series. The conclusion wraps up loose ends and confirms the motive, which became obvious earlier, and has Seth taking the next step with Cat. (Perhaps that’s a step he should reconsider.) I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review and these are my own opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books
ISBN: 149671685X
ASIN: B07R9SXCQ8
Print Length: 290 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! January 28, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Field Guide to Homicide
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Lynn Cahoon - authorThe Author: Get a free story at http://www.lynncahoon.com.

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 market 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

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Shattered Justice (A Bone Gap Travellers Novel Book 3) by Susan Furlong – a #BookReview #thriller

Gritty, raw, and unrelenting but war-damaged ex-Marine Irish Traveller. Where is the justice?

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongBook Blurb:

In the Appalachian town of Bone Gap, Tennessee, backwoods justice is more than just blind. It’s swift, silent, and shockingly personal. Especially for Irish Traveller turned deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan . . .
 
“Hear No Evil.”

The first message is found in a playground. A few feet away, a  pair of human ears hang from the monkey bars. Deputy sheriff Brynn Callahan isn’t sure what to make of this grisly scene. Do the ears belong to a murder victim? And if so, where is the body? One thing Brynn is sure of: the earring on one of the earlobes belongs to a man she met at a party the previous night.  . .
 
“Speak No Evil.”

The second message is discovered next to a human tongue on a park pavilion. Once again, no body is found. Brynn can’t help but wonder if the crimes are rooted in the town’s long-simmering tensions between Bone Gap locals and the barely tolerated Travellers who’ve settled there.
 
“See No Evil.”

For Brynn, the investigation hits too close to home—forcing her to confront the demons of her own past. But time is running out. Brynn has to track down the culprit before a third message is delivered—and a third victim is claimed. Rich, atmospheric, and brilliantly chilling, Shattered Justice is the third Bone Gap Travellers novel from the acclaimed author of Splintered Silence and Fractured Truth.

My Thoughts

Shattered Justice by Susan FurlongAnother intense, book-hooking entry to the Bone Gap Travellers series that has you alternately cringing and then reading faster. Ex-Marine Brynn Callahan returned to her family home after an IED ended both her tours and that of her cadaver dog, Wilco. But it wasn’t easy to return to the Appalachians with her Irish Travellers (or Pavees) and assume a job with local law enforcement (the “settled”), straddling both sides from a community that keeps to themselves and wields their own sense of law enforcement.

Brynn is still suffering from PTSD, as is her dog, and daily struggles with staying clean of the relief she found in dealing with the pain and trauma of those horrific scars. Her first-person dialogue plops you squarely in her head and the fight is unrelenting. Brynn languishes on the fringe between the settled, answering to Pusser who directs her investigations as she deals at home with her own tight-knit neighbors.

Obviously, this novel sets the old saying on edge as ears are found followed by a severed tongue, but the plot won’t be that simple and soon revisits the closely held secret of her beloved Gran setting a strong distraction.  There must be two bodies, but they are missing. Are they connected to the Pavee brought in, Mo’s husband?

The author has an amazing writing style, often producing quotable moments, “…gray, that undefined color in between black and white, the color of limbo, the zone between life and death,” and

“Did you learn anything from your slip, Brynn?” My eyes snapped back to Margaret…Why, yes, Margaret, I learned that Black Label whiskey is worth every damn penny…”

“And when they surface, we suddenly know: we are all victims of our past and vulnerable in our present.”

Brynn is intelligent, flawed, and damaged but between her investigation and Wilco’s help, she’ll ferret out the truth, as deeply buried as it is. The well-developed support characters provide a graphic mindset along with descriptions of the deeply wooded mountains, foreboding and sinister, hides more than the Travellers. A profoundly disturbing depiction moves forefront along with some stomach-turning descriptions. The dialogue is brutal, many times raw, threatening, and the tension builds to a massively intricate conclusion and one you won’t guess. Actually, it could be assumed you stopped trying and just raced through to the heart-stopping climax.

I was given a digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read and review my third book in this series–and looking forward to Book 4. Recommended to any looking for a unique premise and genuinely engaging mystery. This might standalone, but you’ll miss a lot of backstory if you don’t start at the beginning. 4.5/5 stars

His Thoughts

Justice in the backwoods of Tennessee. Can there be such a thing? Ms. Furlong writes a compelling novel about just such a query. This novel is fast moving and at times graphically gruesome. Add a war broken detective and a three-legged dog and you have a read hard to put down!

Brynn is the detective who is scarred from three tours with the US Marines. She has internal demons as well as the perpetrators she is working to bring to justice. She and her dog are both victims of an IED (improvised explosive device). Pain pills and other drugs as well as alcohol are also demons that must be defeated by our detective.

The perpetrators are a related family of women who work to bring justice to their part of the world. A moral code inherent in this society of misfits called Travellers or Pavees cloud the investigation. The women show extraordinary abilities to evade their pursuers.

The layout of the book and the end result left a little to be desired. The reason for the violence is a thread throughout the book which seems apparent. One suicide which was not a suicide, inept police work and inter-clan justice and you have a web full of holes.

Following the clues to the killer or killers is not easy. Ms. Furlong throws in the struggles that many returning military face trying to meld back into society. I found some of them to be red herrings that tended to leave my crime-solving forensic training yelling “WHAT?!”

As with many cozy type mysteries, I find the denigration of the males in the police force a little tedious. Certainly one would expect clashes between the male and female detectives, but not to the extent posed by Ms. Furlong and Harris. It is a common perception by society and the interaction of men and women in the work force. However, this seems a little gratuitous. As society evolves, the movement to have total equality in all areas seems contrived. The issue is well developed in Ms. Furlong’s plot.

The ending of the book is why I did not give it five stars. Out of nowhere another antagonist emerges. Again, a female who seems to be as bent on justice as the primary villain. This is a serious blindsiding in the development of the plot and its’ conclusion. The gruesome crimes seemed overdone and the end story left me asking the question, WHY? Associate Reviewer - C E Williams

Ms. Furlong’s discussion narrative at the end of the novel is a good planning tool. It certainly helps to develop the overall novel in the reader’s mind. I can see where a group discussion may very well lead to a better understanding of the issues and problems faced by veterans in general. My hat is off to her as a very good writer and an understanding human being. 4/5 stars CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496711726
  • ISBN-13:978-1496711724
  • ASIN: B07NX1X3HP

Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! December 31, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Shattered Justice

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Susan Furlong - authorThe Author: Susan Furlong the author of several mystery series including the acclaimed Bone Gap Travellers series. She also contributes to the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries under the pen name Lucy Arlington. She has worked as a freelance writer, academic writer, ghost writer, translator, high-school language arts teacher, and martial arts instructor. She and her family live in central Illinois. Visit her on Facebook or at http://www.susanfurlong.com.

©2019 V Williams V Williams