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Search tags: Mysteries
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review 2018-12-15 19:27
Murder of a Stacked Librarian / Denise Swanson
Murder of a Stacked Librarian - Denise Swanson

There’s no place like Scumble River at Christmastime, and this year, school psychologist Skye Denison has twice as much to celebrate—and to do. In addition to the usual holiday frenzy, Skye’s wedding to police chief Wally Boyd is less than a week away—that is, if the groom isn’t too busy working to attend. The town’s sexy new librarian, Yvonne Osborn, has just been murdered, and the list of suspects is piling up faster than late fees on an overdue book.Yvonne’s strict sense of right and wrong annoyed some townspeople and infuriated others. Did her high standards lead to her death? Skye is distracted by worries about what havoc the crazy Dooziers will wreak on her wedding day and whether she’ll fit into her dress. But Skye can’t afford to leave any page unturned because unless she works quickly to expose the scheming killer, her happy ending may be put on permanent hold.…

 

I may have stepped into this series at book 16, but I needn't have worried that I would be missing out on anything.  In fact, the author may have over-explained a few details!  I was unsurprised to read Charlaine Harris' blurb on the cover--this book reminded me very strongly of two of Harris' series (Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard). There is the same attention to a lot of tedious detail.  We know how often Skye cleans her cat's litter box and we know every bite that she eats plus far more than we need to about her personal hygiene habits.  

 

But those seem to be characteristics of cozy mysteries set in the Southern States.  That, plus the image of the Southern mother being over-bearing and persistently entangled in her children's lives (thinking of Molly Harper's Jane Jameson series too).  Add to that Skye's preoccupation with marriage, her weight, and doing everything perfectly, all of which make me roll my eyes!

 

So this was not the right book for me, but I know for a fact that there are cozy mystery readers out there who will eat this up and ask for more.  That's why there are over 16 books in the series.  In some ways, I'm glad, as I really don't need more series clamouring for my attention!

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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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