Book Review: Smugglers & Scones by Morgan C. Talbot

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

SMUGGLERS & SCONES (Moorehaven Mysteries, #1) by Morgan C. Talbot is a wonderful new cozy mystery that introduces us to a special B&B in Seacrest on the Oregon coast and a cast of intelligent and quirky characters.

World famous mystery writer, A. Raymond Moore left his huge home, Moorehaven, on the Oregon coast in trust to his friend Hilt, the town’s former chief of police with the stipulation that it become a B&B for mystery writers only. Now that Hilt is older, he has hired his niece, Pippa Winterbourne to run the B&B. Pippa has modernized the advertising and recipes in her six years at Moorehaven and now has a large group of famous, new and want-to-be mystery authors rotating through Moorhaven’s doors.

When a small tourist fishing boat crashes in the middle of the night, Pippa rushes to help and saves the handsome Lakyn “Lake” Ivens. They both find out the next day that there was also a dead man on the boat. Lake has no memories of the accident or what happened to the dead owner of the boat. Pippa, with the help of Lake, the visiting authors and a cast of fun characters from Seacrest become tangled in a deadly plot that incorporates the town’s Prohibition history with the present.

Pippa is a strong and intelligent lead character. She loves Moorehaven, her job, the writers who stay at the B&B and all the characters that populate Seacrest. Her Uncle Hilt keeps the old mansion in working order, while also taking care of his old friend’s journals, papers and books for future writers and scholars to study. At a few places in the book, it does slow down a bit, but I feel this is because there is so much to set up and characters to introduce for the series. Overall though, the world-building was entertaining and interesting.

Characters make a cozy for me and this book is full of many that I can’t wait to revisit. Pippa is a great choice as a lead. The “Glaze and Gossip” group she is invited to join had me laughing out loud. Tyleen with her binoculars and Wallis the gloomy florist all add to the town’s cast of unique characters. This is a wonderful story and I love that there will always be mystery writers and their books involved in each story.

I am anxiously waiting for the next book in this series!

Book Review: Adrift by Micki Browning

adrift

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Well, another new author has me hooked by her debut mystery for her series.

ADRIFT (A Mer Cavalllo Mystery #1) by Micki Browning features Dr. Meredith “Mer” Cavallo, a marine biologist, currently working as a safety dive master in the Florida Keys as she waits for a funded research position. On a normal afternoon tourist group dive, Mer rescues a man five miles from the boat he came out on, who swears he doesn’t know how he got there and he saw a ghost on the wreck of the USS Spiegel Grove.

Mer needs money and is financially bribed into a night dive with a paranormal group filming a documentary trying to prove the existence of the ghost on the USS Spiegel Grove. The dive goes terribly wrong and Mer stands to lose all of her scientific credibility because she believes she saw a ghost as she tries to save one diver while she loses another. The police are suspicious of Mer because she was involved in both incidents surrounding the wreck and she knows she has to clear her name if she is to have a chance to return to academia and she refuses to believe in ghosts.

This story has mystery, suspense, surprising plot twists and a great lead character.  Ms. Browning leads you down one path, only to twist and turn you onto another, always with facts and logic. I have never been to The Keys or been diving and yet I was never bored or lost as the logistics and technical elements were woven into the story. Mer is a character that at first was a little too cold for me, but as I got to know her through a past love interest (who is going to be an interesting story himself), her brothers and mother, you realize that she isn’t really cold, just intellectually brilliant and socially inept, similar to Dr. Brennan from the Bones series. I am now hooked and need to know what path Mer will follow in the future. Hopefully the next book will be out soon!

Thanks so much to Random House Publishing Group-Alibi and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Looking forward to more in this series.

Book Review: Murder By The Book by Devorah Fox

murder by the book

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

I really enjoyed MURDER BY THE BOOK by Devorah Fox which is a mini-cozy mystery that is packed into 27 pages. I KNOW!!! I was very surprised that such a short story had almost everything I look for in a much longer book.

Candy Wadsen comes into work at the Sugarloaf Inn and Resort to find her loathsome boss murdered at his desk. Candy is a mystery book buff and knows what to do, but reality is very different from books. She is quickly cleared with her alibi by the hunky Sergeant Dan Petrowski, but the rest of the staff had to stay for an after work meeting and all become suspects.

This is a wonderfully clever who-done-it that had me guessing until the end. All of the characters were your usual cast of quirky cozy mystery types and they were well written for the short length of the story. When you want a very quick and smart mini-cozy mystery, grab this one and you will not be disappointed!

Book Review: Roots of Murder by R. Jean Reid

roots of murder

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

ROOTS OF MURDER by R. Jean Reid is a mystery that is both thought provoking and powerful.

I had a hard time putting this story down and it lingered in my mind when I was not reading. It starts out a little slow, but there is a lot of history to incorporate and it picks up speed very quickly with a suspenseful climax. Although fictional, this story covers very real topics regarding race relations, social injustice, poverty and voting rights in the South during the 1960’s and today.

Nell McGraw is trying to deal with her grief and that of her two children as they go on after the loss of Thom, Nell’s husband. She takes over running Thom’s weekly local paper, the Pelican Bay Crier in Mississippi by herself now instead of as a couple. Nell gets a call that human bones have been found in the park and they appear to be about 50 years old. This discovery leads Nell and her coworkers at the paper to go on a search to identify the bones and to find out why they were buried there.

While Nell and her coworkers try to discover the mystery surrounding the bones, Nell is dealing with the backlash from a local family trying to get her to quit prosecuting the drunk who caused the accident that killed her husband. The paper is covering the race for mayor and also trying to unravel a past scheme to steal the valuable property of poor black residents through property tax fraud. The author weaves this web of several storylines, past and present, into an amazing story.

I really want this book to be the start of a series and I checked online and it seems there will be a second book featuring Nell in June of 2017. Nell is such a strong female lead with her own problems to conquer and a wonderful cast of secondary characters. I felt this book was especially poignant considering the current state of affairs in our country. I did not want this book to end!

Book Review: Dark Water by Robert Brynzda

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Once again, Robert Brynzda has me reading late into the night on the edge of my seat!

DCI Erika Foster is back in DARK WATER, the third book in the DCI Erika Foster series. This is one of my favorite British police procedural series. Erika is an amazing character who is flawed, driven, and at times extremely brusque and yet I cannot stop wanting her to succeed in her personal life as well as professional. She also has a great cast of secondary characters surrounding her that are all unique in their own ways.

At the beginning of this story, Erika is in a new district and no longer working murder investigations but instead is working major organized crimes. To put a major drug dealer behind bars, the local quarry is dredged to recover drugs hidden in the depths. The drugs are found, but so is the wrapped skeleton of a child. Erika cannot get the sight of those small bones out of her mind and fights to get the case assigned to her and to have Peterson and Moss moved to be on her team once again. The bones are 26 years old and the case has already destroyed one DCI’s career, but Erika and her crew refuse to quit.

This is a complex case with many plot twists and surprises. When you think you have it figured out, it takes a sharp turn in another direction and yet in the end, all the little threads come together in a very satisfying climax. With a fast paced plot and interesting, intriguing characters, Mr. Brynzda has delivered another exceptional addition to this series.

Thanks very much to Bookouture and Net Galley for allowing me to read and review this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This is an excellent book and series!

Feature Blog: DCI Erika Foster Series, #1 and #2 by Robert Bryndza

     

I am currently reading Dark Water, which is book #3 in this series, so I just wanted a short preview of the first two amazing books in this series to appear on my site. Both books received a 5 Star rating from me and many other reviewers. Robert Bryndza has written a series with a multi-dimensional strong female lead character, interesting secondary characters and fast paced, unique murder plots.

Book #1 – The Girl In the Ice

This book was extremely hard to put down. It was fast paced, intriguing, gripping and just a great all around read. This is the start to a new series that I strongly recommend.

DCI Ericka Foster  is back on the job after terrible personal tragedy to investigate the death of the socialite daughter of a rich, political family. Politics and class hamper their investigation at every turn because the dead girl is somehow tied to the murder of three prostitutes murdered in a similar fashion. The killer knows Erika and her team are close to uncovering the truth which means Erika needs to be eliminated from the case, permanently.

DCI Erika Foster is a strong female protagonist. The cast of supporting characters in her investigative unit are all interesting in their own right and I can’t wait to learn more about them in future books. The plot was fast paced and besides the investigation into the murders you get a glimpse of how the rich and powerful can interfere with justice. Excellent start to a new series!

Book #2 – The Night Stalker

I am in love with DCI Erika Foster and all the wonderful, flawed characters and suspenseful, exciting plots. This book had me reading past my bedtime and checking all my doors and windows.

The very first chapter raised my blood pressure. Don’t we all worry about the shadows in our room or under our beds? The Night Stalker has a list and is ready to eliminate each in turn. As Erika and her team try to figure out a motive and find their suspect, The Night Stalker contacts Erika personally. Is The Night Stalker a stone-cold psychopath or a victim out only for revenge? Erika has to decide, but her own feelings are not as clear cut on this subject as she would like. The chase to stop a killer and save her friend, Isaac Strong, from prosecution for these murders is on and you will not want to put this book down.

I cannot recommend this author and series enough! Mr. Bryndza writes a British police procedural with characters that I feel are so lifelike that I can see them really working away in England to solve murders. The plot pace is fast and his writing crisp. I am going to be anxiously awaiting the next book and what decision Erika makes in regards to her future.

This is a must read series for me!