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Search tags: Contemporary-British-Cozy
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review 2015-04-09 13:53
Death of a Liar-Another fun visit to the Highlands
Death of a Liar - M.C. Beaton

Another trip to the Scottish Highlands is always a pleasure for me.  Hamish MacBeth is an old friend and so are his weird neighbors.  Death of a Liar is the 30th book in this series so I know them pretty well.

Hamish is going about his usual business when a new couple moves into town.  The residents of Lochdubh don't expect newcomers to last long in the Highlands but they don't expect them to end up murdered in their yard.  As that investigation is proceeding, with all the usual interference from Detective Blaine, a known liar in the next town is found murdered in her garden.  MacBeth assumes the murders are related but no one else does so he goes to work on it.

Hamish does some solid police work in this book. In the end, you'll see who the murderer is before it's revealed but there are plenty of interesting plot turns and twists along the way.  I've read some reviews that say this series is more about the characters and less about the mysteries.  I don't know.  The characters are always integral to the mysteries and to the atmosphere of a very insulated society.  The atmosphere of the Highlands comes through strongly. 

If you haven't read the others in the series, I wouldn't start with this one.  I'd go back to the beginning because Hamish does have a lot of history by now.  His inability to have a lasting relationship with women is well established and many of these women float through this book.  A lot of that history is talked about.  For me, it's discussing well-known history but if you hadn't read the others, it might be a little distracting. 

I love Hamish MacBeth and Lockdubh.  I'll keep reading about them as long as M.C. Beaton keeps writing about them. 

I was thrilled to win this book through Goodreads First Reads program and I appreciated the opportunity to give my honest review.

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review 2015-03-02 13:52
The Tomb in Turkey-My newest Simon Brett fix
The Tomb in Turkey: A Fethering mystery - Simon Brett

I'm a huge fan of Simon Brett and I may not be capable of giving him less than 4 or 5 stars.   He's one of the five authors I would take to a desert island.  So realize as I write this review of his newest Fethering mystery that I am a huge fangirl.  All that said, I think this one lives up to what I've come to expect of him. It's fun and twisty and the characters are colorful. Jude is as free a spirit as you'll ever meet and Carole is as uptight as a person can get. Does traveling together really seem like a good idea?

Jude gets the opportunity to use the villa of an old friend for a vacation. The villa happens to be in Turkey. Carole is not at all sure that this makes any sense, she hates to leave her granddaughter and she's sure she will be sick the whole time but after much shilly-shallying she decides to go. Packing her Imodium, of course. As she suspects, the old friend is an ex-boyfriend of Jude's who's wife is a bit on the jealous side. Jude starts to wonder if she's made a terrible decision, inviting Carole to go. It should be a great vacation. I love to travel so the plot already had me intrigued. It does, however, have a little different feel than most of his other writing because usually his books are so very British and this is set in Turkey.

There are murders, there are suspects galore, there are weird neighbors, there is an exotic setting and there is the fabulously witty writing of Simon Brett. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review but I would have bought it when it came out if I hadn't been able to get it from them.  Yeah, lifelong fan of Simon Brett.

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review 2014-11-13 12:37
Something Borrowed, Someone Dead-Great village atmosphere
Something Borrowed, Someone Dead - M.C. Beaton

So you have this neighbor who likes to borrow things.  And doesn't like to return them. Would you kill her for that? That seems to be the motive behind the death of Gloria French.  When the whole village gets up in arms and starts accusing each other, Agatha Raisin is called in to find out who the killer is so that peace can return to the village.  The problem is, no one really wants her to solve the case.

M.C. Beaton excels at writing the small village atmosphere.  Whether it's this series or Hamish MacBeth, I always feel the slightly claustrophobic atmosphere of the insulated country village where outsiders are outsiders and if you weren't born there, you'll never be a local.  That atmosphere is thick in this book.  As Agatha and her quirky group of friends and associates try to find the murderer, everyone tries to shut them down.  Why would a whole village protect a murderer? 

I love Agatha Raisin and her circle of friends.  They are immature, petty, smart, kind, and troublesome.  They do things people would never do in real life but this isn't real life.  It's fun escapism.  It's comfort reading.  Agatha Raisin immerses me in British village life and I enjoy every minute of it.

I received this from Netgalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review it.

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review 2014-07-10 23:39
A Decent Interval-So glad to have Charles Paris back!
A Decent Interval - Simon Brett

I am a Charles Paris fangirl and have been since about 7th grade. The Charles Paris series was one of my first encounters with cozy mysteries and one of my all-time favorites. I am so glad that have a long break, or should I say a decent interval, Charles is back.


Charles is out of work, as usual, when he gets a job doing an historical reenactment for a TV documentary. His astonishment when he finds out that he's playing all the soldiers on both sides of the battle made me laugh. It also has made me look at historical documentaries in a different way. I can see how this could happen and I found that quite interesting.


The main plot of the story revolves around his next job, as the Ghost and First Gravedigger in a production of Hamlet that stars the winners of Top Pop and some other reality show as Hamlet and Ophelia. Needless to say, putting completely inexperienced actors in those roles does not bode well for the production. Hamlet's idea that he should be mic'd in live theater and Ophelia's idea to see songs from her new album during the play show the rest of the cast just what kind of inexperience and ego they are dealing with. As accidents start to plague the production, Charles Paris falls into the role of amateur sleuth that we know and love.


The mystery was well done and I didn’t figure it out until Charles did. There were clues but not enough to throw the solution in one’s face. That makes it a good mystery in my opinion. I always enjoy the reviews of past performances that are sprinkled throughout the narrative. I like the feel of having a insider’s look into the overall state of live theater and of reality tv.


I enjoyed watching Simon Brett bring Charles Paris into the 21st century. Seeing him struggling to cope with the new world of technology was entertaining and realistic. Seeing him struggling to cope with his on-again, off-again relationship with Francis was a bit sad as it always has been.


If you haven’t read this series before, start with earlier ones. Since this is the 18th in the series, there is a lot of history and I feel this is a series where you want to know the history. Charles is not heroic. He is an aging, alcoholic, unsuccessful actor. He’s excessively human and not all readers like him. I do and I’m glad to get a chance to visit him again.

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review 2014-05-09 02:11
The Garden Plot-The best kind of cozy mystery
The Garden Plot - Marty Wingate

I've been known to compare cozy mysteries to various foods such as marshmallows and cupcakes.  This one I would have to compare to one of those fabulous desserts that has whipped cream and chocolate and nuts and a great crust.  You're so happy that you choose to eat dessert that night and you're so satisfied when your plate is clean.  I enjoyed this book that much.


Pru Parke is an American ex-pat gardener living in London after the death of her mom who was British.  Even though Pru's dad was American and she grew up in Dallas, England felt more like home to her because everything her mom had told her and how she had brought her up.  She has decided that if she can't find a permanent job in one year, she's going back to Texas and a guaranteed job.  As she takes on one of her last jobs in London, a body turning up in the garden she's working on throws her life into turmoil. 


One of the strengths of this book is the character of the, well, characters.  They were good people trying to do the right things, except for the villains and they obviously had to be villainous.  I don't enjoy books where the good guys are rude to each other or sarcastic or hate each other through most of the book.  While there were a few instances of people doing things that rational thought should have told them not to do, it wasn't ever out of spite or meanness.  These characters felt and acted like the friends and family they were supposed to be to each other.  The romance was pleasant without all the angst that some writers can't seem to do without. 


I found everything about this book to be enjoyable.  I loved the London atmosphere, the characters were likeable people that I could enjoy, the mystery was well done, the writing was smooth and the editing was professional.  I hope we get to visit with Pru Parke and her friends a lot more in the future.


I received this book through Netgalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review it.

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