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review 2017-09-20 09:47
A Cast of Vultures (Samantha Clair, #3)
A Cast of Vultures - Judith Flanders

Flanders delivers again - with the exception of one scene that asked too much suspension of disbelief, I had a great time with this book.


Helping a neighbour check on her missing friend, Sam is sucked into a well-intentioned case of B&E, but when that friend turns up dead in an arson-related house fire down the street, Sam can't resist wondering: how does a man who worked with at risk boys, dined with elderly neighbours, and helped squatters negotiate the law end up setting fires and selling drugs?


The mystery surrounding all of this is deliciously complex, and even though I correctly picked out the guilty party early, I had no earthly idea why that person was guilty (sometimes it's obvious by the story's construction - the dog that doesn't bark, so to speak), and finding out was fun and a little bit... if not surprising, interesting.  And a little bit sad.  


Most of all, I love the scenes that are played out in the publishing house Sam works for - the politics of the job, the editing process (the part that isn't all about the grammar), and the office interactions are all some of my favourite bits.  (Miranda is awesome.)


This is one of those cozy mysteries I can recommend without reservation; it's not the fluffy stuff being pumped out in droves; it's smart, funny, real, and highly relatable in just about all aspects (save that scene I mentioned at the beginning).  These are the ones I buy in hardcover - bring on #4!


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review 2017-09-06 11:59
Murder Go Round (Witch City Mystery, #4)
Murder Go Round - Carol J. Perry

I feel like this one was longer than it needed to be, and about 2/3 of the way through I was losing patience because I could clearly see where the story was going and the clues were so clearly telegraphed that it was driving me crazy that Lee and her Aunt were being so obtuse.


And then I turned out I was wrong about nearly all of it.  Right direction, wrong track completely.  So game, set and match to Perry.  I still maintain it could have been tighter and shorter though.


In general the series and this book are good solid cozies:  great setting, likeable characters with realistic expectations (no 'police are dumb' here) and so far, pretty well crafted mysteries.  Maybe a tad too long, but I'm on board for the next one.


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review 2017-09-05 12:08
Gone Gull (Meg Langslow Mystery, #21)
Gone Gull - Donna Andrews

I love this series not only because the mystery plots are rarely disappointing, but because most of all I love Meg and her entire crazy family.  They are more connected than the mafia and more generous and organised than the Red Cross.  It might be stretching the boundaries of belief, but it's a wonderful stretch. 


The setting of this one didn't wow me much - I prefer Caephilly - but the mystery got me; I never even considered the character in plain sight.


And the final scene when the gulls surround Meg's grandfather... that was kind of awesome.  So was the little pine tree that could.


Can't wait for the next one!




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review 2017-08-31 05:42
Basket Case (Silver Six Mystery, #1)
Basket Case - Nancy Haddock

This came sooo close to being a really excellent cozy, but as is, it's a very good one. 


Nixy is called to Lilyvale, Arkansas by the local detective because he's been called out to the home of Nixy's aunt and  her friends one too many times for fires and explosions and there's talk about the courts stepping in and shipping them all off to a nursing home.  When she arrives she finds 6 people that are anything but incompetent and a rather unconventional reason for all the false alarms.  She also finds an unscrupulous developer itching to get her hands on the family land - and everyone else's too. 


There are a lot of things to love about this book:  strong, independent senior citizens, a strong, independent, educated main character who never, ever resorts to ditzy behaviour or immature behaviour, and a charming small town setting.  The mystery was better than average too, although the murderer wasn't hard to figure out after the half-way mark.


The only reason I didn't rate it higher was Nixy's declaration that she was 'investigating' the murder and she wouldn't rest until she solved it and cleared her aunt.  That, for me, left a disappointing dent in my enjoyment.  In every other way this mystery was great, it just crossed that line into immaturity when the MC decided she could do the police's job better than they could.


I'm interested in reading the next one, as it was easy to grow fond of the characters and setting.  But its with the hope that future mysteries will be more subtly crafted.  

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review 2017-08-29 06:06
Blooming Murder (Iris House Mystery, #1)
Blooming Murder - Jean Hager

I recently had the chance to buy some like-new paperbacks of vintage 80's / 90's cozy mysteries, and this was one of them.  I'd read this series back in '94 when it first came out and although I remember not loving it, it stuck with me, and I wanted to see how it held up 20-odd years later.


Here's the weird thing - I remembered exactly who had done it, and why, including the plot twist, as soon as I started to read the book.  I rarely remember character names 5 minutes after I put a book down but all these characters came flooding back immediately, along with the plot in its entirety.  


So, I don't know if this book suffered from age or my unusually clear memory of it, so I'll just say this: I remember thinking it was mediocre when I read it the first time, and I thought it was mediocre this time.


I have one more of this series that was part of my vintage haul; perhaps it'll be better, or my memory worse, and I'll enjoy the nostalgia trip more.

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