Cozy

“Murder on Cape Cod” by Maddie Day

 

 

“Murder on Cape Cod” is the first title in a new series by Maddie Day (aka Edith Maxwell), Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery. Mac (MacKenzie) Almeida belongs to a cozy book club in fictional Westham on Cape Cod, that gathers at different houses to discuss the book of the week. After a meeting one night, she trips over a body on her way home – not quite the same as reading about the fictional bodies on the page.

 

To make matters worse, Mac knew the dead man, an often unpleasant, frequently unreliable handyman, with surprising connections to several members of the community. Why was he killed and by whom? The evidence left at the scene implicates only one person, but how could that be? The prime suspect goes missing, confusing matters for everyone. Guilty people don’t flee, do they?

 

Mac is a bike shop owner and is in a unique position to see lots of people pass by the window every day. She can recognize anyone out of place and since there is absolutely nothing impersonal about a small town, plausible suspects keep popping up.

 

One of the several interesting plotlines cleverly intertwines employee difficulties at the bike shop with the murder. Day uses the real-world challenges of small business ownership to complicate matters for Mac – getting workers to show up on time, dealing with impatient customers, honoring ‘the customer is always right’ credo. I felt as if I was right there in the store.

 

“Murder on Cape Cod” contains plenty of local food discussions at mealtimes. It’s especially fun to read that Mac loves good food, but does a lot of take-out. In Real Life, Day is a talented amateur chef, a personal detail that shines through her descriptions of various dishes in her other series Country Store Mysteries as well as those in this new series. Yummy sounding recipes are included in the back of the book. Cozy readers will also be delighted at the way Day inserts titles of actual cozy mysteries and their characters into the conversations.

 

Day’s writing is crisp in “Murder on Cape Cod” and her multi-layered plot features a cast of characters both diverse and perfectly suited for life in the ebb and flow of a tourist town. Mac’s caring and reliable boyfriend has his own business and Day shows us a rock-solid couple, enjoying each other and their time together, without being joined at the hip. Mac’s father is a pastor, and his wife’s interest in astrology plays a role in the story. Mac’s errant brother and her main employee? There are surprising reveals. And it has to be said: a huge round of applause to Maddie Day for writing a refreshing octogenarian grandmother who is feisty and quite capable of managing her own life.

 

“Murder on the Cape” is a solid page-turner, with a strong new female character, who can’t help herself when wanting to discover the truth. I look forward to the rest of the series.  🙂

 

Please visit www.edithmaxwell.com for more information about the Cozy Capers Book Group.

 

 

 

 

 

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Book List: Author Barbara Ross

 

Author Barbara Ross’ Maine Clambake Mysteries series is thoroughly entertaining with terrific writing, an engaging cast of core characters, intriguing murders, and the Maine setting that is a personality in itself. It is no wonder that the series has been nominated so often for top mystery awards. Our own NBR readers chose “Clammed Up” as a Top Ten read for that year. I have tried several of the delicious recipes in the books and can report that they are tasty and easy to make.

 

Click on the titles and check out the books:

 

Clammed Up”   (review here)

Boiled Over

Musseled Out”  (review here)

Fogged Inn”     (review here)

Iced Under

Stowed Away”  (It just won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Truly an excellent read.)

Steamed Open” (review here)

 

 

Nogged Off” – part of the Christmas collection, “Eggnog Murder”

Logged On” – novella in the Christmas collection, “Yule Log Murder”

 

The Death of an Ambitious Woman”  (Not part of the Clambake Mysteries)

 

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody” (First in new series – out now)

“Hallowed Out” – novella in the Halloween collection, “Haunted House Murder” (coming August, 2019)

“Sealed Off” (new title in the Maine Clambake Mysteries coming in October, 2019)

 

Enjoy!  🙂

 

 

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“Poisons Can Be Deadly” Book List

 

On occasion www.kerriansnotebook.com crosses into the Nightstand Book Reviews realm. Many of you have shown a great interest in the various poisons used as a method of dispatching the victim(s) on the Kerrian’s Notebook site, so I thought you might like to have a list of 30 books with poison as the primary cause of death here on NBR. The authors and their fans provided the titles. The books were written/published after 2015, so there are no classics in the list, just relatively new ones to add to your TBR pile. Any post-2015 titles missing? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author, the list also includes links to the book 'buy' pages. Click on the titles to find out more.

 

Mary Angela  “An Act of Murder

Juliet Blackwell  “Toxic Trousseau

Laura Bradford  “The Silence of the Flans

Becky Clark “Fiction can be Murder

Brenda Donelan  “Murder to Go

 

Jan Edwards “In Her Defense

Amanda Flower  "Toxic Coffee"

Maggie Foster “The Arms of Death

Daryl Wood Gerber  “Wreath Between the Lines

Debra H. Goldstein  “One Taste Too Many

John Hazen “Zyklon

 

Katherine Bolger Hyde  “Arsenic with Austen” and “Cyanide with Christie

Maureen Klovers  “The Secret Poison Garden

Jim & Joyce Lavene  “Killing Weeds

Meg London  “Laced with Poison

 

Edith Maxwell  “Mulch Ado About Murder,” “Murder Most Fowl,” and “Farmed and Dangerous.”

Donna Blanchard McNicol  “Barely a Spark

Britni Patterson   “A Thousand Deadly Kisses

 

Alec Peche  “Murder at The Podium,” and “Crescent City Murder

Karen Pullen “Cold Feet” 

Nancy Cole Silverman  “Shadow of Doubt                                     

Fran Stewart  “Pink as a Peony

 

Joyce Tremel  “Tangled Up in Brew

Kathleen Valenti  "As Directed"

Nancy G. West  "River City Dead," and "The Plunge."

 

Have fun choosing several books from this wickedly entertaining list!  🙂

 

 

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“Steamed Open” by Barbara Ross

 

Julia Snowden is back in “Steamed Open,” the seventh book in Barbara Ross’ Agatha nominated Maine Clambake mystery series. Julia has worked hard to bring the family Clambake business back from the brink of financial disaster, but a new threat challenges her problem-solving ability – the clams she needs for the Clambakes may no longer be readily available. This isn’t a matter of refinancing or getting a backer to underwrite a cash-strapped, seasonal business. The very character of the business itself is vulnerable to the baffling decision of one man.

 

The problem? Public entry to a prime clamming beach and the parking lot near it have been fenced off after local philanthropist, Lou (Heloise) Herrickson, passes away. Her heir, Bartholomew Frick, a very unpleasant distant relative of Lou’s, is not at all interested in the impact that decision has on the community – both tourists and business owners alike. He is only interested in selling the beachfront house and all its contents as quickly as possible. The professional clammers can’t dig up the clams and the dwindling supply is threatening to remove clam dishes from all the area seafood restaurants.

 

Frick winds up dead, killed with a clam rake, and Julia was the last person to see him alive – except for the killer. Who did it? Was it a frustrated local resident, a disgruntled neighbor, or an annoyed vacationer? Who will inherit the estate now since Frick died before a will could be written? Ross provides us with plenty of motives as well as a few feisty suspects and a complex side-plot that moves front and center as the story evolves.

 

Julia bends the rules a bit while looking for someone who would inherit the estate and return the beach access to what had gone before. She has a personal stake in the outcome, since every day without access to the beach creates difficulties for the business and her entire family. “Steamed Open” revisits the point that summer tourist businesses have a limited four- month window in which to earn the money to live on for the year. Not an easy place to exist, let alone thrive.

 

I spent many summers at beach towns on the USA East Coast and as Ross discusses in her book, public beach access is flatly denied in some oceanside communities and in some places, day passes can only be purchased at the police station. Regulations vary from town to town where the debate rages with loud, angry exchanges at the public and private meetings. It’s a choice between a source of revenue for the town and owners that don’t want their expensive beach fronts crowded with strangers that litter the sand and destroy the dunes. Compromises between the groups are hard to achieve in real life.

 

Julia’s relationship with her boyfriend, Chris, gets complicated in “Steamed Open.” He has his own secrets and while they have given each other plenty of space before, she now feels that if the two are going to continue to complement each other in business and as a couple, there has to be more openness. What Chris reveals will break your heart.

 

“Steamed Open” is a study in the necessity to get answers quickly before time runs out and everybody loses. A murder and a search for an heir that affects the entire community? High stakes investigations indeed and a great read, with Ross delivering a clever multi-layered plot, well-crafted continuing (and a few new) characters, and as always, wonderful recipes and that fabulous coastal Maine setting.

 

Click here to read Ross’ Author Profile.

 

Please visit http://www.maineclambakemysteries.com/ for more information about Ross, her appearances, and her other work.


 

 

 

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“Mardi Gras Murder” by Ellen Byron

 

“Mardi Gras Murder,” the fourth entry in the Cajun Country Mystery Series, stars independent Magnolia Marie (Maggie) Crozat, an artist/B&B owner whose family has lived in Pelican, Louisiana for generations. In the weeks before Mardi Gras, a torrential rain hits St. Pierre Parish, flooding all the towns and bayous in it, submerging houses and pushing everyone’s junk along as the water rises to find release at the Gulf of Mexico. The rainwater finally settles and wreckage is left behind, but so is the body of a stranger, found at the back of the Crozat property.

 

“Mardi Gras Murder” is enriched by its inclusion of how natural disasters bring neighbors together, whether to haul away debris or provide temporary housing to the newly displaced. This is no ordinary town, but a tight-knit community steeped in tradition that shouts to the world: “Mardi Gras will go on. Peli-CAN!” despite the flooding, the damage, and the dead body.

 

Maggie’s Gran comes down with pneumonia, so to carry on family tradition, Maggie is pushed to judge the beauty pageant in her stead. For a sick senior citizen, Gran wields an awful lot of power from that sickbed, a delightful plot nod that embraces older kinfolks as respected contributors to society. Maggie conforms to some of the Pageant rules to keep the peace, but shows us a different approach to showcasing young women, not with their lineage, but by demonstrating talent, brains, and showing them encouragement when needed.

 

Many interesting characters inhabit the pages of “Mardi Gras Murder,” and Bo Durand, a Pelican police detective and Maggie’s hunky boyfriend, fits nicely into Maggie’s circle. In a real-world subplot, the tension and misunderstandings between them deliver a nuanced look at how couples and blended families cope with difficult issues.

 

In this entertaining Cajun mystery, gumbo pots are sacred and locked in safes along with secret recipes. Maggie suspects she was second place to her dad’s black pot during each year’s preamble to Mardi Gras. Even the winner of the Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen Pageant wears a crown that includes a rhinestone gumbo pot in its design.

 

Happily, because of the internal Crozat family competition for the top gumbo prize, there are several cooking scenes. I could taste the fabulous seafood gumbo while it simmered on the stove, although I was pleased to see that Bo planned to enter his chicken and sausage version into the competition. There are as many kinds of gumbo as there are cooks to debate their choices, and Byron cleverly included that banter in the book.

 

Complete with yummy sounding recipes, there is lots happening in “Mardi Gras Murder.” It engages and informs us with local history and dialect while supplying us with more than one mystery to solve, more than one body, and more than one plausible suspect to investigate. Great fun!
 

“Mardi Gras Murder” has recently been nominated for this year’s Left Coast Crime Award (the Lefty) and the Agatha Award.  🙂 This just in: "Mardi Gras Murder" won the Agatha last night for Best Contemporary Novel. Bravo!  🙂

 

Please visit www.ellenbyron.com for information about her other books in the award-winning series.

 

 

 

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The Agatha Awards for 2018 books

 

The nominees for the Agatha Awards for 2018 Books (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards were given to mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic Awards Banquet on May 4, 2019. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2018.


The Agatha Awards recognize the "traditional mystery," meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives cannot be found here, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.


Congratulations to all the nominees and winners (indicated in red)!  🙂


Best Contemporary Novel 
“Mardi Gras Murder” by Ellen Byron
“Beyond the Truth” by Bruce Robert Coffin
“Cry Wolf” by Annette Dashofy
“Kingdom of the Blind” by Louise Penny
“Trust Me” by Hank Phillippi Ryan


Best Historical Novel 
“Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding” by Rhys Bowen
“The Gold Pawn” by LA Chandlar
“The Widows of Malabar Hill” by Sujata Massey
“Turning the Tide” by Edith Maxwell
“Murder on Union Square” by Victoria Thompson


Best First Novel (Tied for the win)
“A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder” by Dianne Freeman
“Little Comfort” by Edwin Hill
“What Doesn't Kill You” by Aimee Hix
“Deadly Solution” by Keenan Powell
“Curses Boiled Again” by Shari Randall


Best Short Story (Tied for the win)
"All God's Sparrows" by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"A Postcard for the Dead" by Susanna Calkins (in Florida Happens)
"Bug Appetit" by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"The Case of the Vanishing Professor" by Tara Laskowski (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)

"English 398: Fiction Workshop" by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)


Best Young Adult Mystery 
“Potion Problems” by Cindy Callaghan
“Winterhouse” by Ben Guterson
“A Side of Sabotage” by C.M. Surrisi


Best Nonfiction 
Mastering Plot Twists” by Jane Cleland
“Writing the Cozy Mystery” by Nancy J Cohen
“Conan Doyle for the Defense” by Margalit Fox
“Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life” by Laura Thompson
“Wicked Women of Ohio” by Jane Ann Turzillo

Happy Reading!!!  🙂

 

 

 

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Top Ten Reviews – 2018

 

Lots of great books, talented authors, and legions of dedicated booklovers, combined to make 2018 another amazing year of reading. Whether discovering a new author, or returning to a tried and true favorite, the NBR interest was more than double that of last year. Our NBR international community of readers made their choices known for the 'Top Ten Reviews of 2018' in the list shown below.

 

Although not included in the ‘Top Ten Reviews’ list, the response to the 2018 author profiles (Sherry Harris and Jeri Westerson) proved that readers want more of this feature and we will happily provide as many new profiles as the schedule allows. Click on their names – links to books included.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author (except for ‘Try Something New This Summer’), click on the links to read the reviews for the first time, or to enjoy them again.

 

“Try Something New This Summer” (5 different genres and authors) https://bit.ly/2IZIhU1 

 

“43 Missing” by Carmen Amato   https://wp.me/p2YVin-15v

 

“Circle of Influence” & “No Way Home” by Annette Dashofy https://wp.me/p2YVin-10Y

 

“The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni  https://bit.ly/2DmiRia

 

“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus     https://wp.me/p2YVin-178

 

 “The Code” & “Black Ace” by G.B. Joyce   https://wp.me/p2YVin-14M

 

“Defending Jacob” by William Landay  https://bit.ly/2pJh5C6

 

“Bones to Pick” by Linda Lovely  https://wp.me/p2YVin-Z6

 

“Louise’s War” & “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah Shaber  https://bit.ly/2F73Pkx

 

“Scot Harvath Series” by Brad Thor  https://bit.ly/2IzvqYt

 

 

Warm thanks, everyone! May 2019 bring you many page-turning, great new reads.  🙂

 

 

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