Category Archives: Mystery

Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6) by Deanna Raybourn

Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6)Twelfth Night by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Twelfth Night
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Lady Julia Grey
Pages: 51
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date: June 1, 2014

Summary:

To mark the passing of another decade, the esteemed (and eccentric) March family have assembled at Bellmont Abbey to perform the Twelfth Night Revels for their sleepy English village. But before Lady Julia and her handsome sleuthing husband, Nicolas Brisbane, can take to the stage, a ruckus in the stable yard demands their attention. An abandoned infant is found nestled in the steel helm of St. George. What’s more, their only lead is the local legend of a haunted cottage and its ghastly inhabitant—who seems to have returned.

Once again, Lady Julia and Nicholas take up the challenge to investigate, and when the source of the mystery is revealed, they’ll be faced with an impossible choice—one that will alter the course of their lives…forever.

Review:

I should have reviewed this book when it was first released. I certainly was anxious to read it at the time. Unfortunately, I procrastinated and then forgot to write the review. The silver lining to that is that it forced me to re-read the book in order to finally review it. I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Twelfth Night is a short story, not a novella, in the Lady Julia Grey universe. If you are not familiar with these books, you have a treat in store for you. You don’t want to start with this one because it is full of spoilers from the previous novels.

I am glad I re-read it at this time because it is definitely a Christmas holiday book, although it does not take place exactly at Christmas. It is a family book as is appropriate for the holidays with family members we love and those we only tolerate, as well as one or two that we would rather avoid altogether.

The best thing about re-reading this book now is that I am once again excited about the Lady Julia Grey books. I see a re-read of the entire series in my near future. If you are new to the series, the author appears to have finished writing them, so you will be able to read them as quickly as you can without having to wait for the next book to be published. I assure you it was hard to wait. They are so good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1) by Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1)Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Death Below Stairs
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Kat Holloway, #1 (also called A Below Stairs Mystery)
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Review:

First, read the prequel to this book – A Soupcon of Poison. It’s less than a hundred pages, but really sets up the background for Death Below Stairs. The prequel is wonderful and I was anxious for the first actual novel in the series. What do you mean I have to wait two years before it is published?!?

Guess what? Not only did I score an early reviewer’s copy, I got it almost five months before the publication date. And this book was so worth the wait.

Jennifer Ashley is a wonderful author. Some authors write really well in one genre, but lose me when they write something different. She is definitely not one of those authors. I discovered her years ago as a science fiction/romance author writing as Allyson James. I don’t know if I found her historical or paranormal books next, but it doesn’t matter. I love them both. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie will always be one of my favorite books in any genre.

Anyway, Death Below Stairs is set in Victorian London and focuses on a cook for the upper classes name Kat Holloway. She is an excellent cook and has little trouble obtaining a new position when it becomes necessary. She also has the unfortunate habit of finding dead bodies.

And that is the true focus of this series.

These are historical novels. Yes, there is a developing romance, but it is strictly a subplot. The heart of these books is a mystery. It’s not necessarily just one mystery either. There is a murder, of course, but the why is just as interesting as the who.

Speaking of interesting, to me, it is not the mystery or the romance that makes these books so engrossing. It is the details. Kat talks about the dishes she prepares for the family in the house as well as the servants. It’s not tedious at all. It adds flavor (and yes, that pun is intentional) to the story. And while the family is integral to the plot, it is the characters below stairs and their lives that I find fascinating.

I am not normally a fan of historicals, but the author makes the events so compelling that I am tempted to delve into a little nonfiction reading just to get more of the background. It’s not needed, but my interest has been piqued. Just who were the finnegans?

I highly recommend anything by Jennifer Ashley, but if your taste runs to historicals, you will love this book.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Promise Not to Tell (Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2) by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to TellPromise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Promise Not to Tell
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2
Pages: 304
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she leaves her secrets behind . . .

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire… and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.

Review:

This is the second book in what will be a trilogy about three brothers who survived an early childhood in a cult. The first, When All the Girls Have gone, came out in 2016 and was wonderful. Of course, all of Jayne Ann Krentz’ books are wonderful.

In my opinion, these two books are a little darker than her earlier works. The focus is on the suspense rather than the romance. Make no mistake, the romance is there. It is just not the focus. As with all of her books, there is a strong, alpha male and a strong female that takes no guff from him. And, in my opinion, that’s where the humor comes into this book.

There is one scene where Cabot is upset with his family. He accuses Virginia of taking their side. She tells him:

“I’m not taking sides. I’m offering advice.”

“I don’t need advice.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you some. Don’t worry, it’s free.”

In an earlier scene, Virginia is “having words” with her grandmother and Cabot proves his intelligence.

He kept his mouth shut. A smart man did not step between two quarreling lionesses.

It is these moments of lightness that I consider a trademark of a JAK book right along with her alpha males and strong females.

Although this is the second book in a trilogy, it could be read without the first. I don’t recommend it, but you could. -grin- The mystery in this book is resolved, but there is an overarching plot which is not. It all goes back to the cult.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Tale of Two Kitties (Magical Cats, #9) by Sofie Kelly

A Tale of Two Kitties (A Magical Cats Mystery #9)A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Tale of Two Kitties
Author: Sofie Kelly
Series: Magical Cats, #9
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkeley
Date: September 5, 2017

Summary:

With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…

The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.

Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town’s history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don’t work for free…

Review:

Hercules and Owen! I love Hercules and Owen! I would hate to have to pick between the two of them for a favorite because they have such distinct personalities. For some reason, Hercules seems to be the more well read of the two while Owen is the one who “gets things done!”

Oh, did I mention they are cats . . . with special powers. Hercules can walk through walls — literally, while Owen can disappear — also literally. And no, after reading these books that doesn’t seem odd at all.

And yes, there are humans in these books that get into all kinds of trouble and have to have the cats help them out.

Hercules and Owen live with Kathleen who is the town librarian. I realize that is a cliche: cats and librarians. However, as I said the cats have special powers and although Kathleen is only human, she is smart enough to let them help her solve the many murders she seems to get involved in.

This book even starts with a dead body.

You’d think by now it wouldn’t bother me to step on a body in the middle of the kitchen floor, but I was in my sock feet and the body — missing its head, no surprise — was damp.

With cat slobber.

And I’m going to leave that right there. You can see why I enjoy these books so much.

A Tale of Two Kitties is number nine in the Magical Cats series. I have loved everyone of the books. There is an extensive cast of recurring characters, so you really want to read them in order. Actually, you don’t want to miss a one of them because they are just that good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Quote-tastic Monday: Curious Minds (Knight & Moon, #1) by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)

Okay, this is a redux of a review I posted in July of last year.  I have just re-read this book because its sequel, Dangerous Minds, is due out next week – June 20, 2017.  Let’s be honest though.  I re-read this book because it is great.  I have read it three times now and it deserves the five stars I gave it from the start.  The plot is hysterical, the interactions are hysterical, and it has some of the funniest lines I have ever read.

If you never had a chance to read it, grab it.  It will definitely get you out of any reading slump you may be suffering.  And yes, I’m talking about me.

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Curious Minds
Author: Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton
Series: Knight & Moon, #1
Pages: 336
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Date: August 16, 2016

Summary:

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

Review:

I loved this book – absolutely loved this book. Five stars is not enough. I cannot wait for the next one and there’s not even a title yet on Goodreads. I want it NOW!

UPDATE:  BOOK TWO, DANGEROUS MINDS, IS DUE OUT ON JUNE 20, 2017.

Okay, I have that out of my system.

This is the first book in Janet Evanovich’s new series and it is cowritten with Phoef Sutton. It’s really funny just like the Stephanie Plum books, but for some reason doesn’t read like a Plum book. The zaniness and humor are there, but it just doesn’t seem the same. I can’t really explain it.

The book is written from Riley’s point of view, but Emerson is my favorite character. He is so brilliant and so rich that he doesn’t follow normal societal rules and that’s what makes him my favorite. When he is told he can’t do something, his response is not “why not?”, but “I’m already doing it.”

I don’t normally use a lot of quotes in my reviews, but I’m making an exception for this one. None of them are spoilers and you have to see why I think this book is so great.

“You don’t seem especially worried,” Emerson said. “I drink a lot,” Irene said. “And I smoke dope. It keeps me more or less happy.”

That will do it.

In this next quote, Riley wants her breakfast and has told him she gets irritable if she isn’t fed.

“I like you fine.” “I’m not irritable yet.” “You’re not?” Emerson said with surprise. “Very funny.” “I wasn’t trying to be funny,” . . .

Emerson can definitely try anyone’s patience.

Riley reminded herself that she was a professional, and stabbing Emerson with her nail file wouldn’t be appropriate.

And just throwing this one out there,

“Attempted murder is something a lot of couples can’t get past.”

Emerson is not inexperienced with women.

“You have that look,” Emerson said to Riley.
“What look?”
“Squinty eyes, jaw clenched, shoulders hunched. I’ve seen that look on women before and it’s never turned out well.”

And this is a workout program I could get behind.

Irene Grunwald got up early every morning to work out. And by “work out” she meant have a pitcher of sangria while lying in a lounge chair in her backyard and watching the sun rise over the river.

Read this book. You will not regret it.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Quote-Tastic Monday” is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  Head on over there to see what everyone else is posting about this week.

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The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick

The Girl Who Knew Too MuchThe Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Author: Amanda Quick
Series: n/a, but I hope so
Pages: 400
Publisher: Piatkus
Date: May 16, 2017

Summary:

Amanda Quick, the bestselling author of ’Til Death Do Us Part,transports readers to 1930s California, where glamour and seduction spawn a multitude of sins…

When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool.

Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago.

With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under…

Review:

The 1930s is a new time period for Amanda Quick, aka Jayne Ann Krentz. I was a little nervous about this book because this period is not a particular favorite of mine. However, it is an Amanda Quick book, so I had to read it as soon as I could get my hands on it. I was thrilled to score an early reviewers copy MONTHS ahead of time.

I don’t know why I had any doubts. Of course, the book is great. I have never read one of her books that wasn’t. Oliver is an alpha male who is used to people doing what he tells them and Irene is an independent woman who doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do.

Yep, classic Jayne Ann Krentz.

Poor Irene. The bodies keep dropping around her. It’s not her fault, but it’s obvious that she is going to be one of them soon if they don’t find the “bad guy.”

And Oliver never wanted to be involved in finding a murderer, but when one of the bodies is found at his very private and exclusive hotel, what’s he going to do? He’s not completely sure Irene is not involved. She is a journalist after all.

Both Irene and Oliver have secrets in their past that they are not sharing. Could they have anything to do with the current string of murders?

I guess you’re going to have to read the book to find out.

It’s a great book with plenty of plot twists and strong supporting characters. There’s one in particular that I want to have his own book. There’s no mention of a sequel, but I really, really want one.

-sigh- And now I have to wait FOREVER for another book by JAK. Whatever it is and whichever name she uses, I know it will be wonderful.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Quote-tastic Monday: A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly

YES!  I SCORED AN ADVANCE READER COPY OF A TALE OF TWO KITTIES!

I absolutely love the Hercules and Owen books.  I know there are other characters in the series, mostly humans, but Hercules and Owen are the important ones.  After all, it’s not everyone who can walk through walls or disappear at will, now is it?

These books are murder mysteries featuring the town librarian Kathleen and the cats who live with her, Owen and Hercules.  Kathleen has the unfortunate tendency of stumbling onto dead bodies which can be very regrettable when your boyfriend is a police detective.

As a matter of fact, stumbling on a dead body is how this most recent book begins.

You’d think by now it wouldn’t bother me to step on a body in the middle of the kitchen floor, but I was in my sock feet and the body — missing its head, no surprise — was damp.

With cat slobber.

“Owen!”  I yelled, hopping on one foot while I rubbed the other against my pant leg.

The cat stuck his gray tabby head around the living room doorway and looked at me, face tipped quizzically to one side.

“Come and get this,” I said, pointing at the headless yellow catnip chicken, aka Fred the Funky Chicken, I’d just stepped on.

Alas, (wow, I’ve never had the opportunity to use that word before) the other dead bodies Kathleen finds are always human and she, somehow, ends up having to help solve the crime . . . with feline help, of course.

A Tale of Two Kitties is not due out until September 5th.  That just gives you plenty of time to catch up on the series.  The first book is titled Curiosity Thrilled the Cat and there are nine total now.

Enjoy!

Quote-Tastic Monday” is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  Head on over there to see what everyone else is posting about this week.

 

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