COZY MYSTERY LOVERS-Have you read Ellen Byron’s Cajun Country Mysteries? If not, I would recommend you check them out.
I picked up “Murder in the Bayou Boneyard,” which launched in the fall of 2020, won a “Lefty” Award, and was an Agatha nominee this year! It is the sixth book in this series, but can be read as a stand-alone.
With an engaging plot, inviting setting, kooky characters, and recipes, this book is a “delicious” read!
It is Halloween in Pelican, Louisiana and Maggie Crozat and her family own a B&B. To drum up business, the Crozat family and four other B&Bs host “Pelican’s Spooky Past” packages. Things get really hairy when guests start sighting a “rougarou.” A cross between a werewolf and a vampire, a rougarou is a local legend rumored to prowl the swamps and woods of Acadia and New Orleans.
A rougarou sighting turns deadly when one of them stumbles onto the stage of the “Resurrection of a Spirit” play. The neighboring town of Ville Blanc police think they have found the murderer in Maggie, and, as bodies pile up, she must prove her innocence and save her family’s B&B.
I loved the southern charm of Pelican and the crazy cast of characters. My favorite is Gran.
With southern cooking mentioned throughout the book, it was a bonus to see the recipes posted in the back.
Ellen Byron has a new book in this series coming out in August of this year called “Cajun Kiss of Death.” I will definitely put this new one on my “to be read” list!
Five years ago, pretty and popular Andie Bell was murdered, and Fairview’s whole town is convinced her boyfriend, Sal Singh, killed her. Aspiring journalist, Pippa Fitz-Amobi cannot shake the notion that they are all wrong. Is Sal innocent and the killer still out there? For her senior project, Pippa starts an investigation into the murder that reveals a growing list of suspects and people who want to keep the case closed.
I read this 387-page mystery in five days. I couldn’t put it down. Suspense, suspense, suspense! Great storytelling and characterization on this roller coaster of a ride, cleverly written, YA mystery.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is Holly Jackson’s first novel. The sequel is “Good Girl, Bad Blood,” which I have ordered from my favorite local bookstore, Mystery Lover’s Bookstore and I cannot wait to read.
I was lucky and won a copy of “Punning with Scissors.” Becky Clark’s second book in her Crossword Puzzle Mystery series.
I call this book an “I can’t wait to see what happens next, whodunit!” A great read filled with puns and humor. It is an entertaining, page-turning cozy mystery with loads of suspects and a quirky cast of characters.
Quinn Carr works at the Chestnut Station diner and writes crossword puzzles for the Chestnut Station Chronicle. When the newest member of the “Retireds,” Hugh Pugh, is arrested for the murder of his husband, Quinn is determined to prove his innocence. She enlists the help of her police officer friend, Rico, and drops clues to the police chief in her crossword puzzles.
I hadn’t read the first book, “Puzzling Ink,” in her Crossword Puzzle Mystery series, so I was unfamiliar with this fun cast of characters. I especially loved the dog’s name “Virginia Woof,” his owner’s name “Hugh Pugh,” the back-and-forth prattle between the Retireds, the Chestnut Station diner, and its owner, Jake. Rico’s inability to tell a fib is an amusing character trait that is sure to bring lots of laughs in future stories.
This author did an excellent job of world-building and bringing to light the severity of true OCD. Quinn is a very interesting protagonist. I am looking forward to reading Becky Clark’s next book in this series. Will more than friendship develop between Quinn and Rico?
I was so fortunate to receive an ARC copy of “Harm Not the Earth.” This is Liz Milliron fourth book in her Laurel Highland Mystery series set in beautiful Western Pennsylvania involving Sally Castle, a public defender, and Jim Duncan, a state trooper.
In “Harm Not the Earth,” two experienced outdoorsmen from an environmental group are found dead in the Casselman River. Jim and Sally both feel this was no accident, but Jim’s resources to investigate are limited as this is out of his jurisdiction. Never one to back down and both displaying resolve and ingenuity, Jim sets out to find the killer while Sally takes on the case of protecting an abused woman intertwined with the murders. Their personal lives become a bit more tangled however, when presented with new job opportunities. During the course of their investigations, they must be careful not to ruin their solid and growing relationship. But, can a public defender and a state trooper stay committed to their careers and each other?
Liz Milliron expertly introduces the characters, and the scenic landscape of Southwestern, PA. Then, ride along shotgun, as one by one she systematically examines each lead and ticks down the suspects. In her typical style, the reader feels the action and the characters come alive on the page.
Another great read in the Laurel Highland Mystery series!
My latest read was a book by Maggie Blackburn called “Little Bookshop of Murder.” Below is my review~
Snobbish Summer Merriweather, a Shakespearean professor, is returning from England to her hometown, St. Brigid’s Island, to attend her mother’s funeral. Her seemingly healthy, loved by everyone on the island, free-spirited mother, Hildy, has died of an apparent heart attack. Summer doesn’t believe the preliminary cause of death, as her mother had no underlying conditions or symptoms. When more than one note is discovered left to Hildy that says “Sell the bookstore or Die” Summer’s gut tells her someone very close to her mother put a permanent end to Hildy’s romance reading days. Summer believes her mother was murdered. She enlists the help of her Aunt Agatha, cousin, niece, and the members of Hildy’s beloved Mermaid Pie Book Club to sleuth out the killer. I suspected the perpetrator early on, but still enjoyed the array of beach town characters, including Hildy’s African grey parrot, Mr. Darcy, who I thought for sure would squawk out clues. Maggie Blackburn did an excellent job of bringing the town of St. Brigid Island, the quaint bookstore “Beach Reads,” and the boardwalk to life. I picked this book up at my local library and the one thing that caught me was the number of typos, mix-ups of characters, and repetition. There were more than a couple. Overall, I enjoyed this story and plot line. This is my first read of this author and I will pick up the next book in this series.
Recently “Close to the Bone,” a publisher of pulp, noir, crime, dirty realism & horror contacted me to see if I was interested in reading and reviewing Weston-Super-Nightmare by John Bowie. Bowie’s articles, poetry, short stories, and novels have appeared in Red Dog Press, Close to the Bone, and Bristol Noir, to name a few. I had never read this author and very little in the pulp-noir genre. The prospect of reading this story intrigued me. Below is my review.
John Bowie is an excellent storyteller. As a spider’s web draws your eyes to the center, Bowie pulls you into the dirty underworld filled with violence, gangster wars, and a seedy bar called Hell’s Belles. He introduces a cast of characters you can’t escape. You immediately find a soft spot for his protagonist, Jimi, and a dislike for the hard-edged Max Ballard and the men who do his bidding. Told in a deep and dirty way, some of the story makes you squirm, but Bowie’s writing is poetic and lyrical. Set in the seaside town of Weston, England, his vivid descriptions of the coast make me want to travel there. I loved the references to rock music and artists woven throughout the story. If you are a reader of pulp-noir, I am sure you will enjoy Bowie’s latest. Weston-Super Nightmare is a crash toward destiny thriller.
When I heard that Liz Milliron was writing a second book involving her character Betty Ahern in the Homefront Mystery Series, I couldn’t wait to read it. Below is my review.
History and Mystery
It’s 1942, and Betty Ahern is back and leaving her mark not only on the engines she builds at Bell Aircraft but as a darn-good private detective in the First Ward, a neighborhood in the City of Buffalo, NY.
In “The Stories We Tell,” Liz Milliron’s second book in the Homefront Mystery series, courageous and bold Betty takes on a case of a co‑worker at Bell who is grief-stricken over the sudden death of her grandmother. Before long, Betty is caught up in a secret dating back fifty years. Determined to solve the case, she enlists the help of her loyal friends, Dot, Lee, and Detective MacKinnon of the Buffalo PD. Betty uses her moxie to uncover the truth as one clue leads to another and more and more suspects die. Betty better watch out, or she may be next!
Liz Milliron does an exceptional job of dropping you into the time period and holding you there. Her characters are real, likeable, and her descriptions of the ethnic neighborhoods, the people, and culture during that era are well-researched and impressive.
A great page-turner. I can’t wait to see what Betty is up to next!
I was super excited when I was lucky and received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Annette Dashofy‘s new stand-alone book “Death By Equine,” coming out on May 11. If you haven’t read this author, I highly recommend her books! She has ten Zoe Chamber’s Mysteries and once you’ve read one, you will be hooked and this latest, although not part of the Zoe Chambers series, is no exception. You can preorder Annette’s book “Death By Equine,” at Mystery Lovers Bookshop or for your Kindle through Amazon.
Below is my review:
Annette Dashofy’s latest book, “Death by Equine,” immerses you in the world of horse racing through a racetrack and its vet. She has created a protagonist in Dr. Jessie Cameron that jumps off the page and straight into your heart. As with her other books, her characters are well-developed, her story suspenseful, and you gain knowledge (in this case knowledge of horses, horseracing, and racetracks). Filled with a vivid cast of characters and in Dashofy’s style, with so many great plot twists, I did not see the ending coming. This book is a stand-alone, but I am hoping to read more stories with Dr. Cameron. An engaging mystery and a real page-turner.
Click on the Program Guide for more info on Sisters in Crime.
The festival runs from March 1 through March 13 and has a ton of great programming.
Here is a link to the event trailers on their YouTube channel.
If you want to hear me read “Codeword: Redfish Rodeo!” tune in on Monday, March 8 at 9:00 p.m.
When you create a character for your story, how much time do spend on your character sheets figuring out what your character’s favorite food is? Would they douse their eggs in ketchup or not eat eggs at all? Do they drink only expresso or are they fueled on energy drinks? Are they the type to shop only at a gourmet specialty store or do they frequent the neighborhood food trucks? Is your heroine allergic to peanuts? Is their refrigerator stocked with beer or fresh fruits and vegetables? Do they love plain pizza or tons of toppings? In honor of National Pizza Day which was two days ago, I’ve included a picture of one of my favorite foods, pizza.
As I grow as a writer, I have learned that the food your character eats makes them come alive on the page. It makes them human. It advances the plot and bolsters backstory.
Food in your stories can make for some great funny scenes. My latest binge on Netflix is Schitt’s Creek. There are some great food and drink scenes in this story.
What are your character’s favorite foods? How did you decide this? Did you base the food your character eats and drinks, likes or dislikes on the plot of your story?