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Search tags: A-to-Z-Mysteries
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review 2018-12-14 16:09
12 Days at Bleakley Manor / Michelle Griep
12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas - Michelle Griep

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they've been striving for isn't what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

 

A sweet Christmas story, easily read in one evening. It’s a combination of historical fantasy, Gothic romance, and mystery story, set in a big ole English edifice, Bleakly Manor. Me thinks it owes a bit to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, as a number of people are anonymously invited to the Manor for the 12 Days of Christmas with promises of rewards should they stay the full 12 days. Their host is not in evidence and the rules quickly change: only one guest will get the reward, the person who makes it to the 12th day. Things quickly begin to happen, eliminating guests by choice & by happenstance.

The Gothic romance aspect involves the two main characters, Clara Chapman and her former fiancé Benjamin Lane. Clara considers herself abandoned at the altar and left penniless. Ben has to be rescued from prison, where he has been merely surviving, wondering why Clara hasn’t come looking for him. The mystery includes deducing who has done this to them and why. Clara is your classic Gothic heroine, orphaned, poor, and separated from her love by a grave problem.

There are interesting details involving the Victorian celebration of Christmas and a seasonally appropriate message about caring for others and the nature of love.

If you’re looking for a cozy Christmas mystery, you could do much worse that 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.

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review 2018-12-14 00:11
MAIGRET SETS A TRAP
Maigret Sets a Trap - Georges Simenon

The novel takes the reader to Paris in early August. It is a rather hot and stale summer in the city, where breezes are few, and those that arise tend to be arid and dry. Enough to make anyone wish for rain. 

At the headquarters of the Police Judiciaire at Quai des Orfèvres, Inspector Maigret feels very much like a man under siege. The press, sensing that a big story is about to break, have made themselves like permanent fixtures in the police station. Over the past 6 months, there have been a number of murders of young women in the Montmartre section of the city. Maigret has been hard pressed to determine who the murderer could be, as well as a possible rationale behind the killings. Most of the novel is taken up with the steps taken by Maigret to set up a trap to snare, once and for all, the murderer and restore tranquility in the neighborhood. 

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review 2018-12-12 20:13
Treasure in Paradise
Treasure in Paradise (A Tj Jensen Mystery) (Volume 7) - Kathi Daley

TJ takes her sisters, her grandfather, her friend, Kyle and 7 animals to Gull Island, SC to take care of an old friend of the family's retreat. When she arrives, she and Kyle and Doc find a body in the attic. They call the police and start to learn about the victim, the deputy and all the players who might have killed the man. The reason she is so persistent is that Doc, a retired coroner, says that the man was murdered. While this goes on, she deals with someone trying to force a sale of the land she is currently taking care of. She also learns that she has feelings for Kyle and he has the same for her. 

 

I have been enjoying Kathi Daley's books and have marked as many as I could for reading. I like that this one went to SC, which is somewhere my husband and I have vacationed together and so we know some of the places mentioned. 

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review 2018-12-12 15:05
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Book
Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow, #10) - Donna Andrews
Six Geese A-Slaying - Donna Andrews,Bernadette Dunne

I decided to backtrack a bit to the series's first (I think) Christmas entry, which is set right after Meg and Michael's marriage and in which Meg is in charge of organizing Caerphilly's annual holiday parade -- emphatically not a "Christmas" parade, since it includes a nod to Diwali (complete with elephants), as well as a Kwanzaa float, which obviously makes this book a fun match with "24 Festive Tasks".

 

Andrews had definitely found her Meg Langslow legs by the time of this book, and the writing and plotting is great fun ... of course a holiday parade themed on The Twelve Days of Christmas offers countless opportunities for things to go hilariously haywire, but you still have to be able to hit just the right balance of humor and storytelling instead of simply stringing together a series of (wannabe) quirky incidents and characters, which not every writer is able to pull off convincingly.  Perhaps the one tiny letdown was that the murderer (and their motive) was fairly obvious well before the conclusion of the book, but still, I very much enjoyed my annual return to Caerphilly for Christmas the holidays.

 

And since a whole rafter of turkeys show up in various parts of the book -- they march in the holiday parade, they're being offered as charity gifts to the local poor, they're roasted at one of the local church community's food stand, and a turkey also features in the Christmas dinner "in the off" at the end of the story, to be prepared by Meg's mother -- I feel justified in using this as my Thanksgiving square read in "24 Festive Tasks" ... even if the turkeys are not accorded quite as prominent a role as the titular six geese (or actually, 37 geese ... or make that 38, counting one deceased of natural causes).

 

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review 2018-12-11 02:00
Ornaments of Death
Ornaments of Death: A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery (Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries) - Jane K. Cleland

Josie is having her annual Christmas party and her cousin, Ian, has arrived from England and she is beyond delighted to have him arrive. When he goes missing, she tries to find him and when he is missing for more than a day, a body is found and when she identifies it as her cousin, she finds out that his daughter is now missing. 

 

This story had many twists and turns and looked at ancestry and antiques and provenance. I had found it last year when my girls started getting braces and borrowed it, but ran out of time to read it, so I just would borrow and read a bit more, finally reading it now. 

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