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review 2017-03-09 05:34
Bookman Dead Style (Dangerous Type, #2)
Bookman Dead Style - Paige Shelton

Good.  Not great, but good.  I like the setting; the shop that fixes typewriters, restores books, does small batch publishing on an old Gutenberg replicate.  I like the characters too, although I'm not really invested in any of them.  I sort of expected this though; I've read two of the author's other series and felt the same way.


The mystery plotting was sketchy; I didn't guess the murderer at all, but I don't think the author made that possible.  For all the sleuthing Clare does, I'm not sure she really finds any clues that are useful to herself or the reader.  She doesn't deduce anything, but rather is lead to the culprit at the end by their own behaviour.


Still, in a market that has become rapidly shallow over the last few years, this is a pleasant, entertaining cozy mystery.  I'll happily read the next one.

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review 2017-03-06 04:46
Pot Luck (Elliott Lisbon, #4)
Pot Luck - Kendel Lynn

If, from a bibliophilic perspective, the unthinkable should happen, and I was only able to follow 10 cozy series, this would definitely be one of the keepers.  There's just something wonderfully competent and enjoyable about Kendel Lynn's writing; the characters she's created feel like the kind of people I grew up with and the community resembles the kind I grew up in.


Having said that, this one didn't work quite as well as the rest.  It was still better than your average cozy, but she didn't hit it out of the ballpark.  The plot felt scattered, but as I write this I wonder if that wasn't part of the point.  Elliott feels scattered and disconnected to her own life and job in this book, wondering what happened to her focus; the plot definitely mirrored her inner turmoil, so perhaps that was the point.  If so, I still maintain the book wasn't all it could be if I didn't feel emotionally invested enough to immediately see the connection.


I'm also a little bummed at the lack of romantic spark in this one.  She's got all the elements at hand, and she spent the last three books setting it up, but either she's got us in a holding pattern, or she's jumped past all the good stuff.  I hope it's the former; I'd definitely like Ransom to play a more active role next time around.


For all the grumbling though, I'd still recommend this series in a New York minute.  It's solidly plotted, with an intelligent female lead who is surrounded by strong intelligent women and interesting (and intelligent) men.  Very few stereotypes, no caricatures.  Moderate humor.  I'm a solid fan.

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review 2017-02-23 04:17
The White Cottage Mystery
The White Cottage Mystery - Margery Allingham

My first Allingham, and fittingly, her first too.  Definitely not my last.  


DCI Challenor's son is on his way home to London one evening when he sees a young woman stepping off the bus with a heavy load and stops to offer her a ride to her home.  Moments after leaving her there, he and the local constable hear the rapport of a shotgun and on returning find a man most definitely dead and a hallway full of suspects.


This is a very short read, relative to today's average mystery, coming in at just 157 pages.  But it's a fast-paced 157 pages and Allingham dispenses with anything monotonous or that might smack of filler.  The timeline jumps from one paragraph to another; sometimes by just a few hours, sometimes a few days, towards the end, a few years.  This might really aggravate some readers but if you're familiar with Golden Age mysteries, you won't find it unusual.


I thoroughly enjoyed it; so much so that it was 1am when I finally shut the light off, having finished the entire book in one sitting.  She had me guessing the entire way through, and not once did I come close.  I found DCI Challenor's advice at the end appalling; it would never fly in our time, but in the age it was written, it would have been standard.


A very good mystery and from my first peek, I'd say Allingham is under valued as a master of mystery, but to be sure, I'll have to read a few more - as soon as possible.

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review 2017-02-16 06:47
Better Late Than Never (Library Lovers' Mystery, #7)
Better Late Than Never - Jenn McKinlay

McKinlay has to be the most inconsistent writer to have ever graced my shelves.  She creates fantastic, likeable characters, and then proceeds to play with them like a disturbed child pulling wings off of flies.


If someone purporting to love you, or at least be infatuated enough to want to pursue you, isn't listening while you repeatedly say "no, I'm not going to date you", it's not charming, even if he's British.  Making your normally intelligent, independent MC constantly roll over and accept not being listened to and laughing each time her feelings are dismissed isn't anything to be proud of either.  Mixed messages much?


"She was just lying there, with her arms crossed over her chest and her feet crossed at the ankles, looking perfectly peaceful - almost as if she was taking a nap."


Not if she was strangled, she wasn't.  Suffocation and strangulation are entirely different deaths and strangulation is never pretty.  This isn't an obscure fact; McKinlay was either wilfully ignorant or lazy.


Her plot twists weren't subtle, neither was her plotting.  In quite a few areas, the narration was unnatural and stilted; people don't talk like this is real life.


She did two things right, for which I'm happy to give each a star:  the love triangle is resolved, and boy howdy, McKinlay should stick to romance.  The moments between Lindsay and *ahem* almost made reading the book worthwhile all on their own.  The chemistry was palpable.  


She also ends this book with Lindsay swearing off sleuthing for good.  I don't know if this is the end of the series or just a weird cliffhanger-ish thing, but either way, it gives me the perfect opportunity to stop reading this series, always hoping in vain for improvement - for which I am heartily thankful.

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review 2017-02-11 07:24
The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle (Book Club Mystery, #2)
The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle - Laura DiSilverio

I read the first in this series without high hopes, frankly, and I was pleasantly surprised by it.  It had great characters, with a strong focus on friendships and family, and I really liked the chemistry between the MC Amy-Faye, and Detective Hart.


This second entry still has all of that - including the great chemistry - and those are the things that carried the story for me.  I've read enough cozies now that it's impossible to not feel weary when certain over-used tropes are trotted out, and the family/friend in peril is one of the most threadbare.  Still, I could have over-looked it (because there really are only so many reasons a girl can get herself involved in a murder mystery) but plots that involve the amateur detective and her friends running "investigations" that involve questioning suspects always make me roll my eyes.  I always end up with the sense that these characters are playing dress-up and make-believe.


Still, if a cozy fits the mood, there's at least as much to like as there isn't.  DiSilverio can write well, and it's one of the better edited books I've read (especially from Penguin) in awhile.

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