A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman

After widowed Mary Archer is killed in London in the summer of 1899, Frances mentions that her late husband’s cousin Charles had been courting Mary, making him a suspect. Frances teams up with handsome neighbor George and young family friend Lottie to investigate Mary’s death in this lively sequel to A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder. Frances, Lady Harleigh, is shocked to learn that Mary was a gossip columnist and possibly a blackmailer. The off season in London has rarely been so exciting. Suggested for Regency or Victorian romance readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, or fans of Elizabeth Peters or Deanna Raybourn. Witty and delightful, this is a charming Victorian mystery with some humor and a hint of romance.

Brenda

The Tale Teller

The Tale Teller by Anne Hillerman

Set in the Navajo Nation in the scenic American southwest, this is Anne Hillerman’s best mystery so far; her fifth novel continuing the tradition of her father Tony. Fans of either Hillerman’s books, and readers of contemporary American mysteries with police protagonists, along with readers attracted by the Four Corners setting, will be sure to enjoy. Retired police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn is asked to look into items missing from an anonymous museum donation, including a valuable artifact linked to the Navajo’s Long Walk. Joe continues to recover his fluency in spoken English after an injury, preferring to communicate by writing or in spoken Navajo. As his companion Louisa doesn’t speak Navajo, their relationship has some ups and downs. Navajo Police Sergeant Jim Chee investigates a string of burglaries and a shooting, while Officer Bernie Manuelito discovers a body on a running trail, thanks to a loyal dog. Family and clan connections are very important here, with a number of secrets to be uncovered. The main characters continue to develop, adding greatly to this mystery’s appeal; a very satisfying read. The first book featuring Bernie is Spider Woman’s Daughter.
Brenda

 

The Right Sort of Man

The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair

Despite the title, this appealing first novel is a historical mystery, not a romance. In 1946, Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge, a war widow, have combined their unique talents to open The Right Sort Marriage Bureau in Mayfair, London. Iris can’t talk much about her work during the war, but she has all sorts of contacts and can pick locks. Wealthy Gwen has a young son and a gift for matchmaking. After their latest client, shop clerk Tillie La Salle, is found dead and her match, accountant Dickie Trower is charged with her murder, Iris and Gwen team up to save their business. They investigate Tillie’s connections to the black market and Gwen learns to travel around London by bus, visiting Dickie in prison, where he’s worried about his goldfish. The postwar London setting is richly detailed, the characters are likeable and believable, and the dialogue is witty. I’m already looking forward to Montclair’s next book, A Royal Affair, to be published next June.

Brenda

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman

This entertaining Victorian mystery is perfect summer reading for fans of British mysteries or Georgette Heyer’s witty Regency romances. Set in 1899 in Surrey and London, American-born Frances Wynn, the elder Countess of Harleigh, is just finishing her year of mourning for her husband Reggie. Frances and her young daughter Rose are moving to London, over the protests of her brother and sister-in-law, who want Frances to fund repairs to their manor house.

Frances’ aunt and younger sister Lily arrive for the season, and Lily acquires three suitors. After a stolen bracelet is found in Frances’ bag, Frances and her neighbor George Hazelton are concerned that one of Lily’s suitors may be responsible for recent thefts at society balls. If that wasn’t enough, Inspector Delaney calls to ask Frances questions about Reggie’s death. Lighthearted and fast-paced, this first novel is a delight. I enjoyed the audiobook narration of Sarah Zimmerman, and look forward to reading A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, which is available now.

Brenda

The Lost Man

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

In the harsh, relentless heat of the Australian outback, Queensland rancher Nathan Cameron searches for answers when his brother Cameron is found dead by an isolated headstone, not too far from his fully stocked jeep. With his teen son Xander visiting from Brisbane for the Christmas holidays, Nathan settles in at the nearby family homestead, looking for answers. Younger brother Bub isn’t the brightest and Nathan’s extremely isolated, while successful Cameron seemed to have it made with lovely Dutch wife Ilse and two young daughters. A compelling standalone mystery by the author of The Dry, this novel has a twisty plot and an ever intensifying pace. Audiobook narrator Steve Shanahan is outstanding as the backstories of the family, staff, and neighbors are revealed. The complicated relationship of the three brothers and their mother Liz are the legacy of an angry, violent father who isn’t missed. Paintings are significant here, especially those of the legendary stockman’s grave. The red clay dust of the outback is everywhere, but Nathan finds beauty in the wide open spaces, as may the reader. A very satisfying read, this is on my list of most memorable books of the year.
Brenda

 

An American Agent

An American Agent by Jacqueline Winspear

Private investigator Maisie and her friend Priscilla spend a few evenings a week driving an ambulance in London during the blitz. Catherine Saxon, an American reporter, rides along one night, reports what she saw on the radio, and is found dead the next day. Maisie and her assistant Billy investigate, with occasional help from an attractive American agent, Mark Scott. Maisie visits Catherine’s boarding house, and meets with her friends, all while worried about her family in Kent, where she spends weekends. An intriguing puzzle, appealing characters, and a fast-paced story make this a memorable mystery. The first book in the long-running series is Maisie Dobbs.

Brenda

Death and Daisies

Death and Daisies by Amanda Flower

A charming Scottish cozy mystery in which Fiona Knox, a florist from Tennessee, opens a flower shop in Duncreigan, a fishing village. After a violent thunderstorm the local minister, who was anything but welcoming to Fiona, is found dead on the beach. He disapproved of the magical garden Fiona inherited from her godfather. Fiona feels compelled to help Chief Inspector Neil Craig by investigating on her own, especially after a threatening note is left in her shop. Plenty of local color and appealing characters make for a very pleasant read. This is the sequel to Flowers and Foul Play, the first book in the Magic Garden series. Readalikes include Paige Shelton and Molly MacRae’s Scottish mysteries.

Brenda