Interview with a Dead Editor

Interview With a Dead Editor by Shanna Swendson

The day Lexie Lincoln is laid off from her job as a newspaper reporter, she’s invited to interview for a job as a reporter and assistant editor for a small town newspaper. Unfortunately, she finds the editor’s body before she even gets to interview. An ice storm strands her in town, and police officer Wes Mosby is having trouble confirming her alibi. I enjoyed the small town Texas setting with good food and quirky characters, including a ghost. The cozy mystery with a paranormal twist was well-plotted, and Lexie is pleasant company with a plausible reason to investigate a suspicious death. If she can clear her name, Lexie just might be interested in moving to Stirling Mills, especially as the job includes a cozy Art Deco apartment. I’m looking forward to the second Lucky Lexie mystery, Case of the Curious Crystals. Readalikes include books by Sophie Kelly, Joanne Fluke, Donna Andrews, as they are cozy mysteries with appealing characters, some humor, and small town settings. Shanna is the author of the Enchanted, Inc. series. This ebook is available from Libby/Overdrive/MediaonDemand.

Brenda

Under a Dark Sky

Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day

The Tuesday Evening Book Group is discussing this award-winning psychological suspense novel set at a dark sky park near Mackinaw City, Michigan on October 27, on Zoom. Copies of the book are still available at the Circulation Desk, and downloadable audiobooks are available from Hoopla or Overdrive/Libby. Eden Wallace, 34, has been a widow for 9 months. She found the reservation for a suite at the park her husband Bix had made, for their anniversary weekend. She needs a getaway, but Eden is afraid of the dark. At the park, she learns there’s been a mistake; the rest of the cabin has been booked by a group of six 20-somethings. One of the six is killed in the night, and they’re all suspects, even Eden. Then there are more accidents. Readers who enjoy psychological suspense novels will race through this tense tale as Eden uncovers secrets and wonders who she can trust among the five remaining friends and police officers Warren Hoyt and Bridget Cooley. Full of surprises, this is not a book to start after dark.
Brenda

The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne

The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne by Elsa Hart

Lady Cecily Kay, a botanist, is in London in 1703, studying Sir Barnaby Mayne’s collection of botanical illustrations. The amazing collections filling the mansion are a source of fascination for many other collectors, and Lady Cecily joins them on a tour. She is surprised to meet Meacan, a childhood friend who is doing some illustrations for the eccentric Mayne. When Sir Barnaby is found dead in his study at the end of the tour, an unlikely suspect confesses, then flees. Lady Cecily and Meacan investigate, learning more about the society of obsessive collectors. The early 18th century London setting is fascinating, and the mystery is intricately plotted. Readalikes include The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. Historical fiction readers looking for an unusual setting will also be interested in this intriguing, absorbing read. I don’t see a connection to Hart’s other historical mysteries, beginning with Jade Dragon Mountain, but I enjoyed them as well.

Brenda

The Sirens of Mars

The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart Johnson

Another enjoyable popular science book that is part memoir. Planetary scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson describes human interest in Mars, from just seeing a bright spot in the sky to Lowell imagining canals and civilizations to William Pickering reporting the weather on Mars from Jamaica, with incredible descriptions. Then disappointments, with failed missions and bleak, lifeless images interspersed with joys, such as finding that there is water on Mars, and not all of it is acidic.

The summer after her freshman year in college, Sarah got to travel to the Mojave Desert to help test early versions of Mars rovers. She grew up in Kentucky, where her father was interested in astronomy and geology. In the book, Sarah describes a trip to Arizona with her father where she got to look through medium range telescopes, and it made a more personal connection with the solar system than with huge telescopes where she views images on a computer screen.

Sarah has worked on Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers, looking for the signatures of chemical compounds that might indicate life or the possibility of life, in the past or present. Her writing is accessible, enthusiastic, and lyrical. Clearly, including the Perseverance rover due to land on Mars next February, there are many more observations to make, and more discoveries to come. The author dreams of finding microscopic signs of life on Mars, or on the moons of Jupiter or Saturn, including Titan, Enceladus, and Europa.

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Brenda

This Side of Murder

This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber

In this atmospheric and intricately plotted mystery, war widow Verity Kent attends an engagement party in 1919 that is anything but a celebration. Verity drives to the coast in her late husband Sidney’s roadster, and travels to Umbersea Island, where she finds that most of the guests are connected to Sidney’s army unit. When one of the men is found dead and bad weather strands the guests and a few employees on the island, the tension level cranks up to high. Everyone seems to have a secret, including Verity, who did intelligence work during the war that even Sidney didn’t know about. Many plot twists kept my interest, along with the fast pacing and a very clever mystery. This is the first Verity Kent mystery; the sequel is Treacherous is the Night.

Brenda

The Falcon Always Wings Twice

The Falcon Always Wings Twice by Donna Andrews

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio version of the latest Meg Langslow cozy mystery. There is a large cast of quirky characters, the mystery is fast-paced, and the tone is light and often humorous. Meg is a blacksmith who doesn’t often have much time to practice her craft, especially as she and her husband Michael, a drama teacher, are raising twin boys. This book is set at a renaissance fair in northern Virginia, where Meg is one of two blacksmiths putting on demonstrations every weekend. Everything is going well with the fair, except for prankster actor Terence, who annoys almost everyone, and a visiting director who wants to get too involved with the fair. An early morning owling walk led by Meg’s grandfather ends with discovering a body in the woods, and Meg, once again, turns amateur sleuth. Bernadette Dunne narrates expressively and the well-detailed fair setting is especially appealing. Well Played by Jen De Luca, a romantic comedy set at a renaissance fair, sounds like a good readalike. I’m looking forward to The Gift of the Magpie, to be published next month.

Brenda

The Other Windsor Girl

The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock

Princess Margaret is 19 when Vera Strathmore’s cousin Rupert introduces them. Vera, who lost her fiancé in the war, writes romance novels under a pen name and dreams of moving to New York City to write. Swept up in Princess Margaret’s social set, Vera becomes a lady-in-waiting to the temperamental princess. In Blalock’s novel, the princess enjoys dancing, drinking, smoking, flirting, and Captain Peter Townsend. Vera puts her writing dreams on hold indefinitely, and her work for the princess gets more demanding over the years. Viewers of The Crown will be familiar with the plot and setting, but Vera’s viewpoint has both clarity and empathy. A fun, escapist read, with plenty of gorgeous gowns.

Brenda

Mistletoe & Mr. Right

Mistletoe & Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler

The Tuesday Evening Book Group recently read and discussed The Tourist Attraction, a romantic comedy that begins the Moose Springs, Alaska series by Morgenthaler. This is the sequel; fun, heartwarming, and full of small town Alaska quirkiness. Rick Harding runs the local pool hall/pizza joint and caters only to locals, not tourists. He lives with his nephew Diego, who reluctantly works at the town’s resort. Unexpectedly, Rick falls for rich developer Lana Montgomery, who just might be interested. Lana and her friend Zoey have taken up the challenge to find the Santa Moose, a rogue moose who has it in for the town’s holiday decorations. Lana wants her family’s company to build luxury condos in Moose Springs, but the local residents aren’t very welcoming. This is a fun, light read. A third book, Enjoy the View, is expected in January. Mistletoe & Mr. Right will be published October 6.

Brenda

The Lost Jewels

The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning

Long buried treasure. An American historian specializing in jewels, Kate Kirby. Her great-grandmother, Irish immigrant Essie Murphy. An antique pendant worn by Kate’s cousin Bella. All of these, along with a handsome photographer, are linked to the true story of the Cheapside Jewels, over 500 pieces of jewelry buried in a cellar sometime before the Great London Fire of 1666, and uncovered in 1912. They include a diamond from India, an emerald from Columbia, and a cameo of Queen Elizabeth I. Kate and photographer Marcus search for the story of these jewels and find long-hidden secrets of Essie and her sister. A page-turner that’s occasionally bittersweet but ends happily in two time periods, this is a good readalike for historical novels by Beatriz Williams, Kate Morton, and Fiona Davis.

Brenda

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut by Sarah Graves

No worries; no one is harmed in this mystery by the doughnuts or other pastries sold at The Chocolate Moose in Eastport, Maine. There is a connection between Eastport’s Pirate Festival and a body found with a stuffed parrot on its shoulder in a downtown cellar. Bakers and amateur sleuths Jake and Ellie race to investigate, especially as Jake has been framed and is a murder suspect. Jake (short for Jacobia) has a number of close calls in this mystery, but also learns to drive a speed boat and enjoys time with all four generations of her expanding family. The coastal Maine setting is vividly drawn, the main characters are appealing, and the pacing is brisk; this is the perfect light mystery to read on Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19.

Brenda