Reviews

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:

Maine Clambake Mysteries:

Clammed Up”   (review here)

Boiled Over

Musseled Out”  (review here)

Fogged Inn”     (review here)

Iced Under

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

Steamed Open” (review here)

Sealed Off

Shucked Apart

Muddled Through” (out now)


Jane Darrowfield Mysteries:

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody” (First in the series, review here, part of the ‘Four Books, Four Genres’ post)

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door” (shortlisted for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction)


Shorter Stories:

Nogged Off” standalone novella 4.5 in the Clambake series

Logged On” – standalone novella 6.5 in the Clambake series – pre-order

Hallowed Out” – standalone novella 7.5 in the Clambake series – pre-order

“Scared Off” – novella in “Halloween Party Murder


Stand Alone:
The Death of an Ambitious Woman


Buy them all and Enjoy!  🙂

 

 

Book List: Author Liz Mugavero/Cate Conte

 

Liz Mugavero, a delightful New England writer living in Massachusetts, has written three series, all three with animals as pals (and clue finders) for the lead characters. The first book in her first series, “Kneading to Die,” garnered her an Agatha nomination for Best First Mystery. It was clever, funny, and the beginning of one of the best cozy series out there, the Pawsatively Organic Mysteries. Who can forget the kibble on the body?  Lolol

Cate Conte, Mugavero’s alter ego, pens the second series, the Cat Café Mysteries, also a big hit with the fans. Click on the titles (and a few reviews) to find out more about the enjoyable, wonderfully written books. A new title, “Gone, But Not Forgotten,” can be pre-ordered via the link below.

The third series, featuring a witch as the lead character, Full Moon Mysteries, is getting happy, great reviews.

Click on the titles to learn more about the books.

 

As Liz Mugavero: 

Pawsatively Organic Mysteries:

Features Stan (Kristan) Connor, an Ex-Corporate PR Exec, & Nutty, her Maine Coon Cat. Among the fully fleshed out characters is a hunky bar owner boyfriend and his dog, making Stan’s life interesting as she navigates her new life in a small town and keeps finding bodies. Why the name for the series? Stan wants to open an organic animal treats business. Recipes included!

Kneading to Die” –   review here

A Biscuit, A Casket”   review  here

The Icing on the Corpse

Murder Most Finicky

Custom Baked Murder”    review here

Purring Around the Christmas Tree

Murder, She Meowed

 

As Cate Conte:   https://www.cateconte.com

The Cat Café Mysteries

Maddie James has a successful juice bar business on the west coast, but returns to her hometown of Daybreak Island off the coast of Massachusetts to take care of family matters. Maddie and a stray cat (based on one of Liz’ own cats) get caught up in murder! Maddie is a thoroughly enjoyable new character, with equally appealing love interests. The reason for the title of the series? Maddie is opening up a Cat Café, complete with cats for locals to adopt.

Cat About Town”  – review here

Purrder She Wrote

Tell Tail Heart

A Whisker of a Doubt

Claws for Alarm

Gone, But Not Furgotten,” can be pre-ordered here.


You can read Liz Mugavero’s Author Profile here.

 

Cate Conte’s first title in The Full Moon Mystery series is the entertaining “Witch Hunt.”.


The second title, “Witch Trial,” is out now.

Happy Reading!  🙂 

*Many thanks to Liz/Cate for the photos and book art!  🙂

 

 

“A Side of Murder” by Amy Pershing

 

“A Side of Murder,” by Amy Pershing, is a delightful debut Cape Cod foodie mystery. Samantha Barnes is an up and coming chef in NYC, but a very public disagreement with her boss (who is also her ex) that involves a knife and a snipped body part, sends her home to an inheritance on Cape Cod and a restaurant review job. Sam hopes to escape far away enough from the media mess (and the ex) that her life has a chance to return to some sort of normal.

 

The fun writing, engaging characters, and a will-they-won’t-they relationship with a hunky Harbor Master (an old high school love) bring charm and the right amount of dreamy to the story. Delicious details about the food, a puzzler of a mystery, as well as great tips for cooking some of the dishes, make this a series well worth cozying up to.

 

 

Book #2, “An Eggnog to Die For,” has a Christmas theme, with a dead Santa, the Feast of the Five Fishes, a need for quiet in the midst of visiting parents with their own secrets, more recipes, and delightfully clever writing.

 

 

Book #3, “Murder is No Picnic,”  is on the way in June! My copy is on pre-order.  🙂

 

 

 

Book List: Author Linda Lovely

Linda Lovely is a terrific writer with a wonderful sense of humor in real life as well as on the page. Years ago, I was new to the Southern Writers realm and attended a meeting where Linda chatted about her books. She shared with the group that she had read several romantic suspense books and found them lacking in love lives for anybody north of 50 years old.

 

I’ll never forget her question to the group: “Why should the young have all the fun?” Lovely delivers stories that feature romantically active characters  in the second half of life. Women of a certain age can relate to the accomplished female protagonists that have already achieved quite a bit, but who can also solve the crimes placed in their way. While attracted to men who are their worthy equals, these are women who have also proven that they can exist rather nicely on their own.

 

Take a look at Linda Lovely’s engaging book list and click on the book titles for the ‘buy’ links:

 

Marley Clark Mysteries a retired military intelligence officer works security on a Carolina island, and proves that life after 50 can be an adventure.

Read “Dear Killer” review here.

 

 

 

 

No Wake Zone

 

Smart Women, Dumb Luck Romantic SuspenseThree women meet at Blue Ridge University, then find they can count on each other again many years later.

Dead Line

Dead Hunt

 

Standalone1938 historical suspense about a woman fighting for her life and that of her son, and then she is wrongly accused of murdering her husband.

Secrets Can Kill”                

 

The Brie Hooker Series stars a vegetarian cook who agrees to help out her goat-farm-owning, meat-loving Aunt. The murder and mayhem is sometimes intense, and the meat vs vegetable scenarios are hilarious. The men in the books vying for Brie’s heart aren’t bad either. Plus, who knew that ‘salami’ could be used as a swear word?

 

Read “Bones to Pick” review here 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read “Picked Off” and “Back Pick” reviews here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HOA Mystery Series

“With Neighbors Like These” is the first of three planned books in Lovely’s new series. Retired Coast Guard Investigator, Kylee Kane, comes home to help her mother, and Kylee reconnects with hunky Ted Welch. His company manages a number of Home Owner’s Associations, including the one where Kylee’s mom (who knows everything and everyone) lives. A dispute between deer hunters and conservationists results in a death, mayhem occurs at another property, and Ted hires Kylee to check out any security issues. Events quickly escalate and together they solve multiple crimes, as the unfolding investigation leads them in directions they could not have anticipated.   


Multi-layered plots are always central to Linda Lovely’s novels. With her fully fleshed out central characters perfectly set up to navigate the twists and turns of the storylines, this entertaining mystery writer always delivers a thoroughly engrossing read. “With Neighbors Like These,” is a stellar, page-turning beginning to her brand new HOA Mystery Series, out now.

 

Please visit https://www.lindalovely.com to learn more about Lovely and her upcoming events.

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy G. West’s “The Plunge” – Guest Review by Kathy Waller

Guest Reviewer, Kathy Waller, joined us from Texas while she recovered from total knee replacement surgery. Coincidentally to the surgery she had won a copy of Nancy G. West’s book, “The Plunge,” in a Nightstand Book Reviews drawing and had then reviewed it on her own blog. I asked if she would honor us with her review, she agreed, and here it is, including her humorous take on her surgery and recovery.

 

“I had a total knee replacement two days ago. It isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

 

Lying in bed at Ascension Seton is delightful. Nurses are wonderful. The cafeteria is too good for my good.

 

But physical therapists won’t leave me alone. They keep showing up and wanting me to get out of bed and walk.

 

The one who came in the morning after surgery asked if I was ready to get up and move. I said I never wanted to get up and move again. That was the wrong answer.

 

The afternoon PT had me walk halfway to El Paso. And back. He taught me–or tried to teach–me to use the two-wheeled walker (as opposed to the four-wheeler I’ve been using). (In British literature, two-wheeled walkers are referred to by the brand name, Zimmer frames. The phrase sounds so sophisticated that I may adopt it.)

 

This morning I walked to Santa Fe. The pain people had awakened me at eight and I said I had no pain. After the walk, I told the nurse to tell them I’d changed my mind. She gave me something to go with the something I’d already had. They’re free with the pain meds, which I appreciate.

 

I hope to go to inpatient rehab. Doctors are on board. I’m convinced going straight home would be a recipe for a fall, considering I have to have someone with me every time I stand and walk. And for transport home, they’ll have to tie me to the top of the car. The knee bends a bit but on a good day it doesn’t like to get in and out of the car.

 

But enough of my griping. I’m fine.

 

Because I have a killer painkiller–a new book. A book book, paper and everything.

 

I won it in a drawing from Nightstand Book Reviews.

 

Nightstand Book Reviews is, in its own words, a site devoted to reviews of books that are great reads. Under this umbrella are books written by bestselling authors as well as by debut novelists in both ebook and paper format. Some are traditionally published authors and some are indies.

 

It’s for recommendations, not rants.

Now to my new book. It’s The Plunge by Nancy G. West, author of the
Aggie Mundeen mysteries. Aggie and her good (very good) friend, Sam
Vanderhoven, live in San Antonio, where Sam is a detective with the police
force. Aggie’s penchant for helping Sam with his cases sometimes gets in his
way–at least he thinks so–but that doesn’t discourage Aggie. She’s willing to stay out of his business, but when she thinks she can help . . . and she’s impulsive . . . and when she has the opportunity to check out a new acquaintance’s medicine cabinet . . . impulsive or not, she’s a pretty good amateur detective.

 

The Plunge takes Aggie in a new direction–away from San Antonio, east about thirty miles to the Guadalupe River in Central Texas. When the Guadalupe floods, the effects can be disastrous, especially for people living nearby. And when there’s so much rain that surrounding creeks, and sometimes even the San Antonio River, overflow, results are devastating for miles around. That happened in 1998.

It’s in October of 1998 that Aggie and Sam plan a getaway at the home of Sam’s friend on Lake Placid, one of the river’s several lakes, ostensibly for pleasure but really so Sam can quietly investigate the disappearance of his friend’s boat. Even a little rain won’t ruin the retreat. But the pleasure weekend quickly turns into a rapid–critical–evacuation. Sam has left Aggie at the cottage to start his investigation and must reach her before the water does. Car motors stall, and at one time Aggie is looking for trees to climb.

 

Complicating things is that while on the water, in the dark, they see something–a drowning? Or a murder? Now there’s more than a missing boat to investigate.

 

As they say in fourth-grade book reports, if you want to know how the story ends, you’ll have to read the book. It’s a good one.

 

The Plunge touches me personally because I drove across the Guadalupe River near Lake Placid nearly every working day for twenty-eight years. I worked with people who lost everything, one whose house floated off its foundation. Another, who lived west near San Antonio, watched a car almost wash away on Interstate 10; her son raced to pull it out with a tractor, and the tractor floated. Even where I lived, thirty miles east of the Guadalupe on a smaller, quieter river, houses flooded, and several people were airlifted out.

 

Using this setting, Nancy G. West combines a first-rate mystery with the urgency and personal toll of the ’98 flood. The Plunge makes for a suspenseful read.

 

 

Please visit Kathy Waller at https://kathywaller1.com/ where she “tells the truth, mainly,” and shares information about her own writing life and her award winning books.

Many thanks to Kathy for sharing her review and best wishes for a speedy recovery!

 

 

Book List: Julie Hennrikus

New England author, Julie Hennrikus, has been entertaining us with three quite different mystery series, written under three different names, for several years. In honor of her most recent book launch, “Wreathing Havoc,” here’s a list of all her books. Enjoy!

 

Click on the book titles to learn more about the books.

 

The Clock Shop Mystery Series by Julianne Holmes, features expert clockmaker Ruth Clagan who inherits the clock shop, Cog & Sprocket, from her Grandfather. The bells toll for more than one body in this lovely town of Orchard, Massachusetts, and Ruth must get herself in gear to outsmart the killers. The first book in the trilogy received an Agatha nomination for Best First Mystery. If you like clocks and/or are fascinated by the history and how they work, you’ll love this series.

 

 

 

Read the review for Agatha nominated “Just Killing Timehere.

                 

Clock and Dagger

Chime and Punishment

 

The Theater Cop series by J.A. Hennrikus is actually the first series that Ms. Hennrikus worked on, but as happens with many writers, was not her first series published. She has been active in the arts field for a lot of her professional life and theater was a big part of that involvement. The drama of life in and around the stage are a focal point of this entertaining mystery series, featuring a diverse set of characters, and former cop, now theater manager, Edwina Sullivan.

 

 

Read my review of “A Christmas Perilhere.

 


With A Kiss I Die

 

The Garden Squad Mysteries, by Julia Henry, centers around a stealthy group of crime-solving, garden loving residents that fixes up neglected gardens and pathways. After dark. When nobody can see them or protest. Have digger, will weed. There are murders of course, but there are also great gardening tips, and (from the readers’ point of view) hilarious situations in which Henry places these midnight gardeners led by 65 year old Lilly Jayne. I wonder if I can hire them to take care of my neighbor’s scruffy looking sideyard….All kidding aside, the series is great.

Read my review of “Pruning the Deadhere.

Tilling the Truth

Digging up the Remains,” has a Halloween theme.

Wreathing Havoc” combines two of Hennrikus’ passions, gardening and the theater!

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Ellen Byron’s “Cajun Kiss of Death,” and the Cajun Country Mystery Series

Ellen Byron, the Agatha Award winning author of the Cajun Country Mysteries, recently launched the thoroughly entertaining seventh book in the series, “Cajun Kiss of Death.” There’s never a dull moment in Maggie Crozat’s family, and a triple wedding at the beginning pulls out all the stops.

 

Great food has always been a part of the series, and as a result, favorite regional dishes frequently simmer on the stove at the Crozat Plantation B&B. Happily, Byron shares a few of the featured special recipes. I have my eye on the calas recipe in “Cajun Kiss of Death.” It’s a rice ball that has been deep fried and rolled in sugar or syrup. It promises to be a yummy breakfast treat or afternoon snack with coffee or tea.

 

In “Cajun Kiss of Death,” oysters are selling at rock bottom prices at a new restaurant, forcing established local eateries to struggle to stay afloat. Maggie’s mother, Ninette, discovers that a celebrity chef re-created her signature recipe to sell in his own place. Say what? Are the two actions related? Neither piece of underhandedness wins any friends and the chef winds up deader than a week old crayfish. Nin is one of the suspects he betrayed, but with rival restaurateurs, disgruntled ex-wives, sou chefs, and flamboyant cooks in the mix, there’s no shortage of people to investigate.

 

Each of the series books has featured a believable and often topical theme. “Mardi Gras Murder” gave a nod to the real life area’s resiliency after Katrina and other crushing storms leveled surrounding New Orleans neighborhoods. Pelican is no ordinary town, but a tight-knit community steeped in tradition, a solid theme often repeated. 

 

The series has engaged us with extensive local history through the well-developed plots and an eclectic cast from New Orleans culture. We have witnessed the grit needed to keep the family business going throughout hurricanes, cash flow challenges, less than honest outside influences, and even a pandemic. There is a special warmth and depth to the characters and we can’t help but recognize our own favorite relatives in Byron’s books.

 

Books in Order:
Click on the titles for the ‘buy’ links.

Plantation Shudders
Body on the Bayou
Cajun Christmas Killing

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the review for “Mardi Gras Murder” here.

Fatal Cajun Festival
Murder in the Bayou Boneyard
Cajun Kiss of Death

 

Wonderful series. Get them all.

Please visit www.ellenbyron.com for information about her other books in the series, as well as her new projects.

 

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