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Search tags: Cozy-Mysteries
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review 2017-05-20 05:26
Above the Paw (Paw Enforcement, #5)
Above the Paw - Diane Kelly

Another so-so entry.  Kelly has the plotting down pat, but she struggles with the amount of research to share with her reader; even when it's interesting stuff, it's over-bearing.


Megan and Brigit go undercover at a local University to try to break up an ecstasy dealing ring.  Kelly writes this series from multiple POV: Megan's, Brigit's (which is, thankfully, usually only a paragraph or two, because there's only so much doggy POV a reader can take) and the villain's.  She does a bit of slight-of-hand with the villain's POV here and I'm not sure it totally worked.  It did obfuscate things nicely, but she failed to tie it all together in any satisfying way.  


It was a good enough read to hold my attention but not quite strong enough to suck me in.  I'd read another one happily, but I won't wait on the edge of my seat for it.




Total pages: 370

$$:  $3.00

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review 2017-05-15 09:45
Don't Go Home (Death on Demand, #25)
Don't Go Home - Carolyn Hart

25 books in, and Hart still writes a fairly decent murder mystery.  


Annie is flying solo for the first time, as Max has gone fishing for a week, and even the three stooges (long-time recurring characters that include her mother-in-law, a best-selling island author, and Annie's best customer) are off cruising the Mississippi.  This group exodus allows Annie to work with her friend and island crime reporter Marian Kenyon, who has a very personal interest in the latest murder.


Hart is an excellent author, if at times a bit too emotional for my tastes, and most of the time disturbingly good at plotting a crime.  This is one of her few books where I was able to single out the murderer before the denouement, but her writing is so atmospheric and her characters are so vivid that knowing whodunnit doesn't ding my enjoyment of the story.  What did was the introspective angst and a morally questionable stunt at the end.  If it had been developed a little more carefully and allowed to build up naturally along with the story, it would have made an excellent springboard for a 'does the end justify the means?' discussion, but whether by design or by poor editing, it felt tacked on instead, leaving it firmly in the 'stunt' category.


After 25 books, I'm too heavily invested in this series to quit, but I'm crossing my fingers that the 26th will be a stronger showing.




Pages:  263

$$:  3.00


(Takes place on Broward's Rock Island - fictional island off South Carolina)

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review 2017-05-12 06:31
At Bertram's Hotel
At Bertram's Hotel - Agatha Christie

I grew up with Agatha Christie the way some people grew up with the Bible; she was a constant presence in our house.  Being a contrary child, that means I'd read everything except Christie.  Mild guilt about this while I was in my 20's had me picking up the Miss Marple short stories (minimal commitment, you see).


I gotta say, while I could understand the attraction, I didn't understand the devotion.  Miss Marple was smart and the mysteries were great, but the abuse of village parallels was too much.  Towards the end,  I was just yelling "just say what you mean you old bat!"


Which is why it's now very many years later and, with few exceptions, I still haven't read most of Christie's work, even though I've been slowly accumulating them.  When my current booklikes-opoly square required a book set between 1945 and 1965, At Bertram's Hotel was just about the only book I had that fit the bill.  


So, here I am, finally reading my first full-length Miss Marple.  I'm happy to report only one village parallel!  And Miss Marple does more than just sit on a bench and knit; she's actively eavesdropping and inventing mishaps to get closer to people who are up to no good.  She felt like an active participant in the mystery, even if she wasn't really sleuthing and had no idea about what exactly was going on until the end.


But the book was generally a bit odd.  At 192 pages I should have had it read in a few hours; instead I kept falling asleep every time I picked it up so that it took me 3 days instead.  It wasn't boring; Christie is a master at pulling you into whatever setting she's cooked up and I quite enjoyed Bertram's Hotel, but the momentum was very slow to build and ultimately, what should have been a tidal wave of a story was more of a small surge: I felt the pull, but nothing so strong as to suck me in completely.


I also got the impression that Christie was rather fed up with Miss Marple when she wrote this, or maybe just feeling wistful herself about the way the world seemed to be changing rapidly around her.  I kept imagining Christie as Miss Marple; longing for a time when England, and by extension, her mysteries, were more elegant, well-mannered, and gracious.  Even though there would be at least 10 more books after this one, At Bertram's Hotel feels like a nostalgic look back by an author who's feeling her age.


So, not her best, but I'm betting it's nowhere near her worst; definitely more likeable than reading the Marple short stories back-to-back.






Total pages: 192

$$:  $2.00

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review 2017-05-05 13:34
Michelangelo's Ghost (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, #4)
Michelangelo's Ghost - Gigi Pandian

I'm always reluctant to start these and then love them once I do.  Jaya Jones is an historian specialising in Indian history (India Indian) and I admit, that's not my historical catnip.  But Pandian always ties the plot to other cultures too, and then there's the female Indiana Jones vibe with a touch of art thief, and each book pretty much ends up as a fun adventure.


This time, Jaya gets information about an unknown renaissance artist rumoured to have worked with Michelangelo; this artist spent many years working and learning from artists in India and could be a long missing link between Indian and renaissance art.  This information sends her to Italy, where it's said the artist hid his artwork in the Parco dei Mostri - The Park of Monsters.


Pandian manages to weave Jaya's brother into the story line - although I have to say, I think I was meant to like him, but he just came across as a stick-up-the-backside prat.  More romantic progress is made and many startling revelations revealed, but this doesn't take up much story space.  


While there are a few elements I disliked, for the most part it was a fun story: art, adventure, thieves, ghosts, and big gothic statuary.  It would be hard not to like it.


As always, Pandian includes an author's note at the end explaining what in the story is historically accurate, and what is fiction/creative license. Parco dei Mostri is a real place, as is the fact that Michelangelo spent time in the vicinity around the time of the Park's creation.






Total pages:  273

$ Earned: $3.00

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review 2017-04-30 11:51
Against the Paw (Paw Enforcement, #4)
Against the Paw - Diane Kelly

I generally like this series; I think the story lines are better than average and the characters are people you can get behind.


Against the Paw is probably the least cozy of the 4 I've read, venturing into the slightly darker territory of voyeurism.  As a police officer, Megan has the agency to investigate, and she does so more or less realistically (the last scene dings credibility a bit).


I still find the dog POV chapters weird, but they are super short so it's easy to over look it. It's obvious Kelly has done her research; unfortunately I found it a little too obvious.  There's a bit of over-explaining done about the law and about the honour of being a police officer and it makes the narrative lean towards the clunky.


Generally though, it was a good read and I'll happily read the next one.





Page Count:  352

Virtual dollars: $3.00

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