Five Mysteries

Are you looking for some new mysteries? Mysteries have been very popular here this past year, so here are some mini reviews of four new mysteries I’ve recently read, and one classic mystery.

Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie has been keeping mystery readers up late since 1937. A new movie version featuring Kenneth Branagh as private detective Hercule Poirot is expected this fall. The setting is appealing, if a bit menacing, featuring a cruise on Egypt’s Nile River. A rich heiress and her new husband, a mother and daughter, a great aunt and her niece, an author and her son are all featured, along with the renowned Belgian detective and the jilted lover of another passenger. If you enjoy twisty plots with an atmospheric setting and an intensifying pace, this is still a wonderful read, if you can overlook some dated cultural references.

 

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke is the latest in the popular cozy Hannah Swendson series, where everyone in Lake Eden, Minnesota drops into The Cookie Jar for a cup of coffee and all the latest news. A much disliked resident of Lake Eden is found by dead by one of Hannah’s sisters, and Hannah has to solve the mystery to clear her sister’s name. Full of tempting recipes, this is the perfect mix of mystery and comfort read.

 

An Extravagant Death by Charles Finch is a Victorian era mystery in which Charles Lennox, a private detective in London, visits New England and finds his detecting skills needed in opulent Newport, Rhode Island, when a young debutante is found dead on the beach. Charles misses his family dreadfully, and considers leaving his profession, especially after a close call.

 

Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood will be published June 1. I won’t share too much of the plot yet, but I can guarantee that it’s a delight to read. It’s been several years since the last Phryne Fisher historical mystery set in Melbourne, Australia, but this is worth the wait. The popular television series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, has been filling the gap for many fans of this Jazz Age series.

 

Mystery of the Drowned Driver by Shanna Swendson is the third novella in the Lucky Lexie cozy mystery series, featuring a young newspaper editor in small town Texas whose boss is the ghost of the founding editor. Lexie wonders if her days in town are numbered as she stirs up ill feeling with questions about recent sales of family farms.

 

All of these titles are available from Libby/Media on Demand and/or Hoopla, several of them as audiobooks. Enjoy!

 

Brenda

 

 

 

Spoils of the Dead

Spoils of the Dead by Dana Stabenow

After nine years, a new Alaskan mystery featuring Trooper Liam Campbell is a welcome return. I don’t remember the earlier books featuring Liam and his wife, pilot Wyanet Chouinard, but this book is a good entry into the series as Liam and Wy move to a new post in Bleweston. Wy’s flight to Bleweston beautifully describes the area’s scenery and wildlife. Liam meets the brewer who sold him a bayfront house and several other locals, and is invited to visit archaeologist Erik’s dig site on the coast. After a few days at his new post with extremely efficient assistant Sally Petroff, Liam gets a call that two boys found a skeleton in a cave. Exploring the cave the next morning, Liam also finds Erik’s body. Liam, assisted by Wy, investigates, with the most local insight coming from an elderly woman who keeps sneaking out of her assisted living facility.

The setting is gorgeous and most of the locals are friendly. The mysteries of the two deaths aren’t solved by any great detecting on Liam’s part, but rather by a confession. Liam does uncover one of the town’s many secrets; why his assistant Sally has been lying to him. Robyn Carr fans who also read mysteries will likely enjoy getting to know Liam and Wy, along with fans of Stabenow’s Kate Shugak mysteries (start in the middle with the darkly funny Breakup). Readers of Sue Henry’s Alaskan mysteries or Anne Hillerman’s Navajo mysteries may also enjoy. Mystery fans who prefer an intricate but solvable mystery plot may be disappointed, but I enjoyed the characters and setting very much.

Brenda

Hidden Treasure

Hidden Treasure by Jane Cleland

The gorgeous cover drew me to this book. While there are several other books in this mystery series, I was pleased that I could pick up this one and get immersed in the story without reading the earlier books. Set on the Atlantic coast of New Hampshire, the mystery is centered around an antique trunk containing the Egyptian box and cat statue pictured on the cover. Antique dealer Josie Prescott and her husband buy a house from Maudie Wilson, whose nieces have persuaded her to move to an assisted living apartment. When doing a walkthrough of the house before renovations, Josie finds the well-hidden trunk, which becomes an object of interest to many. Maudie, Josie, and Josie’s friend Zoe are memorable characters, and the antiques business is fascinatingly described. The setting is appealing, especially as Josie loves to go hiking on the dunes or in the woods. I plan to read the first book, Consigned to Death, and see if I enjoy it as much as Hidden Treasure. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

Brenda

The Windsor Knot

The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett

When a young Russian musician is found dead at Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth doesn’t think the investigation by MI5 is headed in the right direction. With help from her new assistant private secretary, Rozie Oshodi, a veteran and daughter of Nigerian immigrants, the Queen secretly makes inquiries. In the spring of 2016, the Queen is soon to turn 90, and enjoys talk of horseracing, walks with her dogs, and giving well-deserved honours. The mystery is clever and intricately plotted, but I most enjoyed the characterizations of the Queen, who is depicted as shrewd, loyal, and an excellent judge of character, and of Rozie, along with the wonderfully described setting of Windsor Castle. The first book in a planned series, this compulsively readable and engaging mystery is sure to delight fans of The Crown and readers of British mysteries with amateur sleuths.

Brenda

Meet Isabel Puddles

Meet Isabel Puddles by M.V. Byrne

I quite enjoyed this first Mitten State cozy mystery, set in a small town on the coast of Lake Michigan. Isabel Puddles, a widow and empty nester, makes ends meet by working in her cousin Freddie’s hardware store and also by selling pies, pickles, and knitted scarves. When she has time, Isabel and her dog, Jackpot, enjoy the view from her lakeside deck. Isabel, as a local rather than a tourist, gets a discount on her daily breakfasts at the café with her outspoken friend Frances. On rare occasions, Isabel helps out at the funeral home, styling hair and makeup, which leads to evidence that her friend Meg’s elderly father didn’t die from natural causes. Isabel investigates, with the help of her friends, who add comic relief, though I would have liked a little less reckless driving. A potential wind farm, a hidden beaver dam, and some unexpectedly rickety steps add to the mystery, while the pacing and suspense increase as Isabel gets closer to the killer or killers. Readalike mysteries include The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert, Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves, and A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn. This was a pleasant read to start the new year.
Brenda

Ask Me No Questions

Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble

Philomena (Lady Dunbridge), her butler Preswick, and her new maid Lily have just stepped off the boat in New York City for a visit to Phil’s friend Bev Reynolds when shots rings out. Bev’s husband Reggie is found dead in his roadster, in the arms of his mistress Mimi. Phil is just out of mourning herself, but neither widow is grieving her spouse. Reggie’s true love was breeding and racing horses, and some of the most exciting scenes are at the stable and the Belmont racetrack. Detective Sergeant John Atkins is investigating Reggie’s death when another body is found, casting suspicion on Bev. Phil, Preswick the butler, and Lily investigate, as Phil takes the reader on a whirl through Manhattan society in 1907. Lively, entertaining, and sassy, with a strong sense of place, an enjoyable first mystery set in the Gilded Age. Tell Me No Lies and A Resolution at Midnight continue Phil’s adventures.

Brenda

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict

Marrying right before World War I, Agatha Miller followers her mother’s advice to put her new husband Archibald Christie first. Unfortunately, other than surfing and playing golf, nothing Agatha does seems to make Archie happy. She even puts time with her daughter Rosalind at a lower priority, and leaves her behind to travel with Archie. Finally, Agatha thinks about what makes her happy: time with her daughter, mother, and sister Madge, and writing mysteries. It’s not so enjoyable reading about Agatha and Archie’s increasingly unhappy marriage. Then Agatha suddenly vanishes in December 1926, the same day she and Archie have a loud argument during breakfast. The story really takes off here, and the disappearance is related from Archie’s point of view, as the police become suspicious of his role in her disappearance. I wanted to know more about Agatha Christie’s life after reading this novel, which is based on the real disappearance of the author. It’s been 100 years since the first Hercule Poirot mystery was published; so it’s perfect timing for a novel about the creator of Poirot and Miss Marple. This mystery will be published in late December.
Brenda

Frightfully Good Mysteries

 Halloween Mysteries

The Crystal Cave Trilogy by Susan Wittig Albert

Howloween Murder by Laurien Berenson

15 Minutes of Flame by Christin Brecher

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron

Fudge Bites by Nancy Coco

Dressed to Kill by Kathleen Delaney

Death of a Wicked Witch and Haunted House Murder by Lee Hollis

Shatter the Night by Emily Littlejohn

Murder in the Corn Maze by G. A. McKevett

McPherson, Catriona. Scot & Soda by Catriona McPherson

Halloween Murder by Leslie Meier

Mrs. Morris and the Witch by Traci Wilton 

 

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

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