Tag Archives: cozy mystery

Review- The Battered Body by Ellery Adams

The Battered Body

Title: The Battered Body (Supper Club Mysteries book #5)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Author: Ellery Adams
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Beyond The Page, May 2018
Pages: 328
Rating: 3
Sexy rating: 0
Violence rating: 5
Description from Amazon:

Librarian James Henry and the supper club will have more than enough food for thought trying to count calories and catch a killer . . .

Reluctantly visiting humble Quincy’s Gap to create a special wedding cake, celebrity chef the “Diva of Dough” is not nearly as sweet as her delectable confections, and it’s just a matter of time before she alienates everyone she meets. When her corpse is discovered, covered in cake batter no less, there are more than a few locals who think she got her just desserts. And despite their own distaste for the woman, James and his friends know they have to rise to the occasion and solve the murder.

With clues and suspects few and far between, the supper club members realize that catching the culprit will be anything but a cake walk. And when a second victim turns up dead, they’ll have to quickly discard any half-baked notions about the killer . . . before they all get iced.

**
This is my first book by this author. I really like to read a good whodunit especially in the “Cozy Mystery” genre because although there is usually a murder there is not an abundance of gore. This was book #5 in the series and it did standalone. We do meet characters from previous books and there seems to be an ongoing storyline. At times I did want to know more about characters from previous books so my recommendation is to start this series from book one for a more immersive experience. But you will not be lost if you start with this book.

You will like James and his friends who help local police deputy, Lucy, solve crimes. Lucy is also James’ on-again-off-again girlfriend. The victim had many enemies so figuring out the murderer is some work but saying that, I did wish for an earlier and more detailed introduction to the criminal. I thought the 24 year-old twins who worked at the library were rather immature and I didn’t understand that immaturity. Perhaps that was explained in a previous book.

I recommend this book with some reservations. I think it can be enjoyed more fully if the series is started from the beginning. For me coming in at book #5 it was only just “okay”.

 

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Recent Release Review- All The Little Liars by Charlaine Harris

all-the-little-liars

Title: All The Little Liars (An Aurora Teagarden Mystery, book #9)

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Author: Charlaine Harris

Publisher: Minotaur, October 2016

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 240

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 2

Description from Amazon.com:

Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora’s 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there’s an even worse discovery—at the kids’ last known destination, a dead body.

While the local police and sheriff’s department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip’s disappearance related to Aurora’s father’s gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be?

With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother…if he’s still alive.

**

I am delighted that Charlaine Harris has written another Aurora Teagarden mystery.  I have read all of the Teagarden books and have enjoyed every one and this one is no exception.  These are “cozy mysteries” in that there may be violence but it is not graphic and gory.  These are more in the who-done-it variety.

In this addition we find Aurora newly married and expecting her first child. She and new husband Robin set out to solve the mystery of her missing half-brother, Phillip. It is not too difficult to figure out who the villain is in this book.  I wish we had a few more red-herrings thrown in, but it is still a page turner and also a standalone in the series.

If you like figuring out the bad guy and don’t want gore then I recommend this book for a very entertaining read.

 

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Recent Release Review- Thrice The Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

Title: Thrice The Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d

thrice-the-brinded-cat

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Author: Alan Bradley

Publisher: Bantam, Sept. 20, 2016

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 352

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.

**

Once again in book #8 of this series, Flavia DeLuce is stumbling upon a dead body. If you have read my other reviews of books in this series, you know that Flavia is a precocious 12 year old genius with a particular interest in chemistry and crime solving.  She has been compared to Eloise and Sherlock.  For me she is just delightful.  The mystery here wasn’t as interesting as some of the past books but Flavia’s crime solving and interactions with adults is absolutely joyous. The series is set in post WWII Britain and I’m guessing the early 1950’s or late 40’s.  There is still a recovering economy and no fancy crime solving helps like DNA testing, etc.  The crimes need to be solved by ruthless investigation and brilliant deduction, both of Flavia’s star qualities. Flavia’s family consists of a hospitalized father, a book addicted reader sister Daffy and a boy crazy older sister Feely. Her chief emotional support comes from a family retainer, Dogger, who appreciates her genius and comes to her aid without condescending to her age.

Each book in The Flavia De Luce Series is a standalone novel. You may enjoy later books in the series by reading the ones that went before for background but each mystery is solved in each book.

I highly recommend this book and the entire series.

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Recent Release Review- The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer

Title:  The Case of the Missing Morris Dancer

The Case of the missing Morris

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Author: Cathy Ace

Publisher: Severn House digital, Feb. 1,2016

Pages: 224

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating:0

Description from Amazon.com:         

The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries, featuring a quartet of female PIs, working from a Welsh stately home. The Anwen Morris Dancers are to play a pivotal role in the imminent nuptials of Henry, eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth. But it looks as though the wedding plans might go awry unless Mavis, Annie, Carol and Christine can help Althea, the Dowager Duchess, by finding a missing Morris man and a set of ancient and valuable artefacts in time for her son’s wedding. Anwen-by-Wye might look like an idyllic Welsh village where family values reign and traditions still mean something in a modern world, but what will the WISE women find when they peer behind the respectable net curtains?

**

My first question upon reading this book was, what are Morris Dancers? So I looked it up and found this video.  It is a type of folk dance in Great Britain.

Video of Morris Dancers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZjLATAUwao

Now that you have been treated to that little snippet, let me explain about what a “cozy mystery” actually is, just in case you were unaware of the genre.  Cozy Mysteries are whodunnits without the gory details.  There can be murders or other dastardly deals but the reader is spared the grisly and gruesome.  Some famous Cozy authors are Agatha Christie, one of my favorites, Alan Bradley who writes the Flavia De Luce mysteries that I’ve previously reviewed and Charlaine Harris who writes the Aurora Teagarden mysteries.

This is a very British mystery set in present day Wales.  I say it is very British because it is chock-a-block full of British slang and references to items that are not generally known in the USA.  So because of those two things, the non-British reader is immersed in anglophilia and for this reader that is a delight.  The ladies of the WISE agency are all distinctive personalities which adds to the enjoyment of the story as do the personalities of the other characters.  There are several small mysteries to be solved within the pages along with discovering the whereabouts of the missing Morris dancer. There is some romance brewing and a baby on the way for some of the WISE women.

I really was surprised that the agency ladies were able to access the Morris dancer’s home and rifle through his computer.  They did justify this somewhat but it still seemed a bit illegal to me.  I will not say too much because I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it was not difficult to figure out who the bad guy was and I might have enjoyed the story even more if he had been introduced earlier.

In this read I was once again introduced to something I knew very little about, Morris Dancing. I look forward to reading more adventures of the WISE women from Cathy Ace and learning more about the Brits..

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Review- Ten Lords A-Leaping by C.C. Benison

Title: Ten Lords a Leaping

Ten Lords a Leaping

 Genre: Cozy Mystery

Author: CC Benison

Publisher: Delacorte Press (December 3, 2013)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 1

Sexy Rating: 5

Christmasy Feeling: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

Although Father Tom Christmas serves his little church in enchanting Thornford Regis with a glad and faithful heart, he never expects to find himself skydiving to raise money for it. Nor, safely back on the ground, to see two of the other divers leap from the plane, then tangle in a midair punch-up and begin falling to the earth.

To say that there is tension between the men in question—Oliver, the 7th Marquess of Morborne, and his brother-in-law Hector, the 10th Earl of Fairhaven—would be an understatement. But the trouble among this ancient landed family really began a generation ago, when a marquess divorced his first spouse to marry his brother’s wife, fathering in his two marriages a viper’s nest of arrogant young aristocrats. Now they have all turned up for the show to witness this shocking event in the sky.

Thankfully the men land safely, but death will not be slighted. Much to Father Tom’s dismay, he later discovers Lord Morborne lying deceased on castle grounds. Rumors of bigamy, art forgeries, and upstairs/downstairs intrigue fly. So do whispers of unvicarly behavior between Tom and Oliver’s beautiful half-sister, Lady Lucinda. In fact, the vicar may be headed for a very hard landing of his own.

**

I don’t read many mysteries but I do like cozy mysteries and try to fit one in whenever possible.  I was excited to get to read this one but that excitement was short lived.  The beginning of the book with character intros was so confusing I thought to stop right there but I carried on until I was 50% in the book and I just gave up.  I couldn’t involve myself with any character other than Tom Christmas and I just didn’t care who killed Olly.  There is little pertaining to Christmas except for the main characters name and the title of the book. I’m sorry to have to say I could not finish this book that is why it is rated “1”.

This is not the first book I have started and set aside, but it is the first I’ve felt compelled to add to this blog.  I thought my readers should know that the title is misleading, especially since we are looking for holiday stories this time of year.

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Review-The Uncommon appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith

Title: The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds (book #9, Isabel Dalhousie Series)

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Author: Alexander McCall Smith

Publisher: Pantheon, Oct. 2012

Source: Free for Review from Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 0

Description from amazon.com:

One afternoon over coffee at Cat’s delicatessen, a friend of Isabel’s shares a call for help from Duncan Munrowe. Crafty thieves have stolen a prized painting from his collection, a work by the celebrated French artist Nicolas Poussin that was earmarked for donation to the Scottish National Gallery. Munrowe has been approached by the thieves and hopes that Isabel will assist him in recovering the painting. Never one to refuse an appeal, she agrees, and discovers that the thieves may be closer to the owner than he ever would have expected.

Against the backdrop of this intriguing case, Isabel copes with life’s issues, large and small. She and Jamie have begun to suspect that their three-year-old son, Charlie, might be a budding mathematical genius. What should be done about it? Then there is the question of whether Isabel should help a young couple who want to move in together—against the wishes of the girl’s parents. The boyfriend is hoping Isabel might intercede.

As she wrestles with these problems, Isabel finds herself tested as a parent, a philosopher and a friend. But, as always, she manages to use the right combination of good sense, quick wits and a kind heart to come to the right solution, proving once again why Isabel Dalhousie has become one of Alexander McCall Smith’s most beloved characters.

**

This is my first Alexander McCall Smith novel.  He has written many in series, one of his most famous series is THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY SERIES which was made into a TV show.

I expected a cozy mystery and there is a slight mystery running through the book, but it is not the major focus of the novel which seems to be a discussion of ethics, morality and society rules.  I enjoyed the character of Isabel and her interaction with friends and family.  I thought her detecting skills took a back seat to her family affairs.  The mystery really was a secondary part of this book.  This is a quiet book as opposed to a slow read.  There is a true sense of the reality of Isabel’s life even if her husband, Jamie, seems almost “not there”.  The two of them were always going to talk about things “later”, the when later comes they don’t really have a deep discussion.  I think those who have been following this series will truly enjoy this offering.  Being new to the series, I found many things to enjoy in reading about Isabel and her life.

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Review- Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley

Title: Speaking From Among the Bones

Speaking From Among the bones
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Random House, January 29, 2013 (available for pre-order)
Source: Free for review from Amazon Vine Program
Rating: 4.5
Sexy Rating: N/A
Description from amazon.com:
Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such thing as an open-and-shut case.
**
You cannot read the Flavia deLuce novels and not become totally enthralled with the heroine. Flavia is a genius, she dabbles dangerously with chemicals in her deceased uncle’s laboratory. Her mother is presumed dead on a mountain climbing expedition. Her father is totally preoccupied with holding the family estate together and her sisters are so self-involved they give little attention to Flavia. Flavia’s comrade is butler/servant of all tasks, Dogger, who always has time to lend her a hand or answer a question. It is easy to see how such a young precocious Miss can gallivant around the village without too much accounting to anyone.
Bradley writes beautifully and often with profundity, for example:

“How odd, I thought: Here were these four great grievers, Father, Dogger, the Vicar, and Cynthia Richardson, each locked in his or her own past and unwilling to share a morsel of their anguish, not even with one another. Was sorrow, in the end, a private thing? A closed container? Something that, like a bucket of water, could be borne only on a single pair of shoulders?”

There is a certain amount of distraction in Flavia’s Chemistry experiments and the ending, although it ties up the mystery as only Flavia could, leaves us with a surprise wondering what will happen next . I will be waiting to read the next Flavia mystery. I’m totally invested in Flavia’s detecting career .

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Review-I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

Title: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (a Flavia de Luce Novel)

Genre: Mystery

Author:  Alan Bradley

Publisher: Random House, 2011

Source: Free for review from Amazon Vine program

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 1

Description from Amazon.com: It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.

**

This mystery is set in post-WW2 Britain.  It is reminiscent of Agatha Christie and our precocious heroine is reminiscent of Kay Thompson’s Eloise, that precocious child that turned the Plaza Hotel upside down.

Flavia is in turn very bright and yet at times utterly innocent.  There is much wit and wisdom intertwined with the mystery of whodunit. 

I enjoyed this step back into another era and the cozy mystery drama of books I haven’t read in awhile.  I had forgotten how much fun a well written mystery could be.  The author spent a good deal of time on the characterization of Flavia and her family dynamic.  The book was not without pathos as well as comedy.

This is the 4th Flavia mystery novel but it is a standalone read with some mention of scenes from the former books in the series.  I have every intention of reading the other novels in the series.

From Alan Bradley at  http://flaviadeluce.com :

Some of the most frequently asked questions I am asked about Flavia de Luce are these:

1. How are the names “Flavia” and “de Luce” pronounced?

2. What are the titles of the Flavia books, and in what order should they be read?

3. Are the Flavia books suitable for children?

Here are the answers:

1. The pronunciation of Flavia’s name is FLAY’-vee-ah duh-LOOSE.

2. Although the books can be read in any order, it might help with the overall picture if they were read in the order in which they were published: “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”, “The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag”, “A Red Herring Without Mustard”, and the forthcoming (November) “I Am Half-Sick of Shadows”.

3. Although written for adults, the Flavia books can be read by anyone who enjoys them. I’ve heard from readers ranging in age from 8 to 95.

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