Kristan (Stan) Connor is back in “Custom Baked Murder,” this time with more furry friends in residence and a love life that is heating up. Kristan is busy getting ready to open her long-anticipated pet café, with specially designed display cases, and new ideas to make both human and furry customers happy. She has two new backers for the business – one she’s happy about; the other she puts up with in order to realize her dream.
Her mother, ever detail oriented and still driving Stan crazy, is getting engaged to the Mayor and the big announcement will be made at a blowout party at the groom-to-be’s house. But the Mayor doesn’t show, and Stan’s irritating former colleagues do – along with her former fiancée. Talk about cringe worthy events. Oh, and there’s the murder at the party. Certainly, a memorable evening. And not in a good way.
The murder victim isn’t well-liked, so the question the police must answer is not who killed her, but instead, which one on the long list of enemies got to her first? Rumors fly and suspicions drive wedges into the small community, with several misunderstandings and family surprises thrown into the mix. Kristan must shield her mother from the press, while trying to prove her own former fiancée innocent. The overlapping story-lines are intriguing and keep the pages turning in this well-plotted mystery.
Including old friends and enemies in “Custom Baked Murder” adds a delicious twist. Sometimes we hope that the oldies (but baddies) will fade away from our lives forever, or that they might have changed, but wham! There they are, creating havoc yet again when least convenient. Mugavero captures this dynamic perfectly as she delivers the multiple red herrings.
Mugavero has expanded the relationships among the ensemble characters throughout the Pawsitively Organic series, evolving them in a natural way as time has passed. One gem of a character is Cyril, the reporter. Anyone who has ever met a small-town journalist will recognize the dogged chase after any detail that will make headlines. His shifts between investigation and bargaining for information are spot-on. And, then we have Stan’s hunky love interest, Jake, who keeps proving why he’s one of the good guys. The sisters have a larger role this time and fans will love that the series has become an engaging family affair.
Never fear, dogs and cats play important roles, including when Kristan throws a fund-raiser for a K-9. Mugavero continues to show us ways we can help the real-life animals in our lives. Happily, “Custom Baked Murder” includes more healthy pet recipes. The blueberry biscuits look tasty enough to be people food.
Don’t miss “Custom Baked Murder,” the fifth in the highly entertaining series.
Read my review of the Agatha nominated, “Kneading to Die,” here.
Read my review of “A Biscuit, A Casket” here.
Please visit www.lizmugavero.com for more information about Liz and her future projects, as well as her continuing work in Animal Advocacy.
It’s the time of year when bouquets of flowers fill the stores, the gift of a box of chocolates takes on new meaning, and love songs (and movies) fill the airwaves. Swoonworthy stuff, ya’ll.
Instead of creating a post about current titles that inspire hearts to flutter, I put out an open call for men and women to name their favorite Greatest Love Stories of All Time. Thanks to Mari Barnes*, Sarah Bewley, Leah Canzoneri, Kait Carson, Peggy Clayton, Joy Ross Davis, Missy Davis, Laura Di Silverio, Saword Broyles Ellis, Terri Gault, Courtney Carter Girton, Sherry Harris, Cynthia Kuhn, Joyce Laferrera, Marj Lilley, Alice Loweecy, Gary Miller, Sylvia Nickels, Debbie York Parker, Nanci Rathbun, Jeanie Smith, Ellis Vidler, and Lynn Chandler Willis for their wonderful suggestions. *drawing winner
Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, and where available, links to the Greatest Love Stories are included. Click on the titles and read more about them.
“At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon
“Cinderella Story” by Wendy Logia
“Come Rain or Come Shine” by Jan Karon
“Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte
“Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry
“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
“Persuasion” by Jane Austen
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
“Shadow of the Moon” by MM Kaye
“Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson
“Soulless” by Gail Carriger
“The Far Pavilions” by MM Kaye
“The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper
“The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks
“The Princess Bride” by William Goldman
“The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy
“The Second Coming” by Walker Percy
“The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough
Are you thinking romantic, weak-at-the-knees thoughts?
Our work is done. 😉
Photo credit: Patti Phillips
Jen, a T-Rex and the center of the controversy in “Dry Bones,” is the largest specimen of its type ever found and it shows up in Sheriff Walt Longmire’s county. Longmire deals with all kinds of victims, but a dinosaur? That’s a new kind of cold case.
A skeleton of this importance would be a windfall for the local museum, but first Longmire must figure out if the High Plains Dinosaur Museum has the right to claim Jen as its own. When the Cheyenne owner of the ranch where Jen was found turns up dead, things get complicated. It’s possible that the T-Rex belongs to the Cheyenne Nation…or the federal government…or the family of the guy who died.
Tribal rights, family inheritance, federal property or just a really nice set of bones to display? An acting Deputy Attorney is out to make a name for himself and seems to feel that photo ops are more important than catching the bad guys or finding kidnap victims. But, he’s not the only one with priorities a tad off center in "Dry Bones." More people are interested in who gets the dinosaur than the circumstances behind the death of Danny Lone Elk.
With Jen crowding Walt’s holding cells while ownership is being determined, and the interested parties holding Walt’s office hostage, the Sheriff realizes that the only way he can get back to the business for which he was elected is to solve the mystery of Danny Lone Elk’s death and find the gal (also Jen) who discovered the T-Rex to begin with.
It’s a circus.
There are helicopter forays into the back country, harrowing visits to an old mine, entertaining interactions with ever wise-cracking Lucien, Henry Standing Bear saving the day as only he can, and more near misses for Walt than our hearts can stand. Did I mention bullets flying? And the terrifying prospect of Walt taking care of his grand-daughter? He’s not afraid of many bad guys, but the little one? Waaay too funny.
We are treated to Craig Johnson’s dry wit, in several LOL scenes, with Walt’s delivery always perfectly timed. A man of few words, but good ones.
In real life, that entire region of the country is an active dinosaur bone recovery area with several universities and museums conducting legitimate digs. People love a cool dinosaur, so finding the big ones can cement the reputation – and therefore the funding – of an institution for many years.
In “Dry Bones,” Johnson explores the ethics of taking artifacts away from the people upon whose land they were found. It’s not just dino bones that are being removed from their place of origin. World-wide, governments are seeking to recover long lost treasures robbed from centuries old graves, temples, and ruins. Find the treasures? Great. Remove them from the place of origin without permission or proper compensation? These days, that’s a long jail term in the making.
Read Craig Allen Johnson’s Author Profile here.
Read the review of “The Cold Dish” here.
Read the review of “Kindness Goes Unpunished” here.
Please visit www.craigallenjohnson.com for lots of information about Mr. Johnson and his work, his future appearances, and his online store.
In “What She Knew,” Rachel Finch hesitates, but finally gives her son, Ben, permission to run ahead of her to the swings in a park they have been to many times before. She doesn’t want to be seen as an over protective mother. But when she reaches the swings, he isn’t there and is nowhere to be found.
A sense of sorrow envelops the reader at the beginning of “What She Knew,” as Rachel shares the story from her point of view – what could she have done better/differently/instead of, during those minutes leading up to and after Ben’s disappearance? Her story is heart wrenching as she explores her own actions and reactions in the face of enormously challenging circumstances.
Macmillan spares no one, however, and the other stakeholders – the father, the new wife, the investigators – all take turns at center stage, examining their own guilt and excuses as the 8-day search continues. There is plenty of ‘would have, should have’ to pass around when fingers are pointed and accusations fly. People try to help her cope for a while, but Rachel pushes them away in despair, certain that they cannot truly understand. And, of course, they can’t.
Is Rachel or some other trusted adult at fault? People even remotely involved with the child are questioned, then questioned again. The detective work is painstakingly difficult; the media attention excruciating and sometimes misplaced and vicious.
Do we, the readers, remember every detail about every person, bush, swing, and shrub that we pass on our daily walks in the park? Unless we are in the middle of some kind of memory training game, probably not. And, yet that’s exactly what Rachel is asked to do. Every second, every step, every motive, must be accounted for.
“What She Knew” is an astonishing page-turner, and by seeing the reactions to the crime through the major players involved, Macmillan gets us, the readers, highly invested. I found myself defending the parents, then faulting the parents, defending the detectives and faulting the system as the kidnapping details were explained and suspects revisited.
Macmillan has written fully fleshed out characters, with emotionally believable reactions and dialogue, with devastating twists and turns. Who did it and why? Were the right people investigated/punished? ‘Is the investigative process itself, flawed?’ may be a question that haunts you long after the last page of “What She Knew” is read.
Although the action in “What She Knew” takes place in England (where the book is called “Burnt Paper Sky”) the themes are sadly universal and missing children remain a terrible part of our culture. Check out NamUs.gov and the UK missing children’s sites for more information. Read “How long has your daughter been missing?” for related details about missing persons.
Please visit www.gillymacmillan.com for news about Macmillan and her other work. “What She Knew” is an international bestseller and her latest book, “The Perfect Girl,” was published in the USA in September, 2016.