Review: An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

Description (from cover): “Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?

Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswold village, and the rustic charm and cosy fireplaces of her little cottage are everything she’d hoped for. But when she tears down the old garden shed to make way for a chicken coop, she unearths much more than she’d bargained for…the body of a young woman, apparently buried for decades, thrusting Julia into a baffling mystery.

With only one copper on the case in Berrywick, Julia decides to solve the who and whodunnit herself, taking her wayward puppy Jake along for the ride. And so begins a whirlwind tour of the village–from the dotty 90-year-old to the delightful doctor and the village gardener, it seems everyone has something to hide.

Soon, Julia is convinced she has discovered the killer’s identity until Jake, a true Labrador, finds a new love of the local lake’s waterfowl and instead ends up catching her chief suspect…drowned. Back at square one, with potential culprits galore, Julia–newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper–despairs at ever solving the murders.

But as Julia ruffles feathers village-wife, the clock is ticking. There is someone in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?”

My Thoughts:

This book really reminds me of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton. This book takes place in the Cotswolds just like Agatha Raisin and well the Cotswolds seems to be such a lovely place. I have always wanted to visit there and I love it when I can read a mystery that is set in such an idyllic place. I adore the small English village murder mystery as they seem so relatable for some reason. The small town where everyone knows their neighbors and gossip runs abound seem to always get my attention. In this book, newly single Julia Bird has left London to start a new life in Berrywick after retirement. Not much information is given about Julia’s mysterious past and why she left her job as a social worker, but I am hoping that the author expands a little on this back story in the upcoming books in this series. There seems to be a hint of a story there, but the author decided not to give too much away in this book.

Julia is new to Berrywick and quickly sets about exploring her new village. She meets some new friends and adopts a Labrador puppy. She befriends the local contractor and sets about tearing down an old shed on her property to build a chicken coop. During this process, a body is found and it appears that the body has been there for many years. No one in the town remembers anyone missing and they have no clue who could have been murdered. Julia is determined to find out who the body belongs to and why they were buried under a shed on her own property. When Julia stumbles across two more bodies during her investigation, she becomes concerned that her new idyllic village might not be as peaceful as she hoped.

I really enjoyed reading this book and thought that the author did a great job of setting the scene of a small village and village life. I felt the ending was a little rushed, but overall this was a great quick read and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it prior to the publication date. If you love Agatha Raisin, Midsomer Murders, Hamish Macbeth, and like series, this is probably a new series you do not want to miss. Julia’s character is hard not to like and I am curious to see what trouble she finds herself in moving forward with the series and how her new life in Berrywick plays out.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Katie Gayle

Series: Julia Bird Mystery #1

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Pages: 262

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Traitor in the Ice by K. J. Maitland

Description (from cover): “Winter, 1607. A man is struck down in the grounds of Battle Abbey, Sussex. Before dawn breaks, he is dead.

Home to the Montagues, Battle has caught the paranoid eye of King James. The Catholic household is rumoured to shelter those loyal to the Pope, disguising them as servants within the abbey walls. And the last man sent to expose them was silenced before his report could reach London.

Daniel Pursglove is summoned to infiltrate Battle and find proof of treachery. He soon discovers that nearly everyone at the abbey has something to hide–for deeds far more dangerous than religious dissent. But one lone figure he senses only in the shadows, carefully concealed from the world. Could the notorious traitor Spero Pettingar finally be close at hand?

As more bodies are unearthed, Daniel determines to catch the culprit. But how do you unmask a killer when nobody is who they seem?

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Daniel Pursglove mystery series by K. J. Maitland. I reviewed the first book, The Drowned City, on this blog previously. The problems I had with that book are prevalent in this book as well. The books in this series tend to be long, very descriptive and a little chaotic at times with the switching back and forth between storylines. I will say that I did enjoy this book more than the first book as it was easier to read for me this go around. Nonetheless, the ending left me scratching my head a little bit trying to figure out all of the storylines and what exactly happened. I still am not quite sure.

In this book, we see the return of Daniel Pursglove who has been sent to Battle Abbey to act as a spy. He is told to make himself a part of the household and find out if there are priests being hidden there and whether the residents are attending Mass instead of the required Protestant services. Pursglove quickly avails himself to the household and soon finds himself an integral part of the household. In the small town surrounding the Abbey, there is a creature that has been wreaking havoc on the town at night. Animals are missing or killed, strange noises and fear has been walking the streets at night and the villagers are up in arms.

In the middle of the drama at the Abbey and the hysteria of the small town, Pursglove soon finds himself embroiled in more mysteries than he can handle and he is not sure which one is more dangerous. He has to constantly be on his toes as everyone is not who they seem and there is a murderer lurking in the shadows. This book was a better read than the first one, however I struggled to understand what was happening at times and I felt the ending didn’t really conclude the mysteries.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: K. J. Maitland

Series: Daniel Pursglove Mystery #2

Publisher: Headline Review

Publication Date: March 31, 2022

Pages: 461

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Countdown to a Killing by Tom Vaughan MacAulay

Description (from cover): “London, Sicily, Huddersfield 2016-2017: Wen Li is a deeply kind and sensitive twenty-nine-year old British-Chinese woman who suffers from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which manifests itself in an incessant, overwhelming fear that she might have murderous impulses. Unlucky in love and emotionally scarred, Wen falls for colleague, Lomax Clipper, a tremendously frustrated and delusional Englishman. He’s in love with a Sicilian young woman he met while working in Italy, but he and Wen do share a mutual loathing of their boss, Julian Ponsonby. Julian’s struggling too–with a toxic relationship and his father’s refusal to accept his sexuality. On his return to Sicily, via a sabbatical, Lomax befriends Fifi de Angelis, a vulnerable Sicilian man with restricted growth who has been ostracised by his family.

An original concept, this is an innovative novel in literary fiction told through interwoven correspondence, emails and WhatsApp messages, with the suspense around an impending murder steadily building. Countdown to a Killing is a deep exploration of multiple perspectives and points of view of individuals who are inextricably bound. The key themes of love, sexuality, ethnicity, mental health and acceptance are sensitively explored in a unique linear year multi-layered and metafictional narrative. Packed with humour, heartache and a cast of expertly-crafted characters, this contemporary take on the epistolary novel will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.”

My Thoughts:

Epistolary novels are quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I think it is a unique way to tell a story and have the readers make their own determination about the events taking place in the story and about the characters themselves. In this book, the main characters are Wen Li and Lomax Clipper. They are both obsessive about things in their own ways. Wen has been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Lomax is obsessed with writing his novel at any cost. They are coworkers and friends and the story mainly covers their correspondence to each other and to other people. There are some other minor characters that show up in this book and we get to learn about them through their own correspondence, but mostly the story is focused on Wen and Lomax’s lives.

The author did a great job of weaving everything together. There were only two issues I had with this book. The first was the “editor’s” comments throughout the book to remind the reader that a murder was going to take place during the story. It felt repetitive and a little unnecessary to be overly reminded throughout the story. Having this happen once would have been sufficient enough to get the point across, but for some reason the author felt it wasn’t enough. The second issue that I had with this book is that it suddenly ends after the “murder” occurs. The murder happens and then the story ends. Not much is resolved afterwards and I felt like there could have been a little more of a conclusion as there was so much build up to the actual murder.

Overall, this book was fun to read and it did keep me guessing as how everything would play out with the impending murder. I really enjoyed learning about Lomax and Wen’s lives and how they handled everything with their relationships, work and families. I highly recommend this book to others and encourage others to seek this one out if you are looking for a different take on a murder mystery. This is MacAulay’s second novel and for it being only the second book he has written, this was a good read and one that I had a lot of fun reading.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Tom Vaughan MacAulay

Series: N/A

Publisher: RedDoor Press

Publication Date: May 26, 2022

Pages: 352

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives by Rick Bleiweiss

Description (from cover): “The year is 1910, and in the small and seemingly sleepy English municipality of Haxford, there’s a new chief police inspector. At first, the dapper and unflappable Pignon Scorbion strikes something of an odd figure among the locals, who don’t see a need for such an exacting investigator. But it isn’t long before Haxford finds itself very much in need of a detective.

Luckily, Scorbion and the local barber are old acquaintances, and the barbershop employs a cast of memorable characters who–together with an aspiring young ace reporter for the local Morning News–are nothing less than enthralled by the enigmatic new chief police inspector.

Investigating a trio of crimes whose origins span three continents and half a century, Pignon Scorbion and his “tonsorial sleuths” interview a parade of interested parties, but with every apparent clue, new surprises come to light. And just as it seems nothing can derail Scorbion’s cool head and almost unerring nose for deduction, in walks Thelma Smith–dazzling, whip-smart, and newly single.

Has Pignon Scorbion finally met his match?

For fans of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, author Rick Bleiweiss’s quirky new detective and ensemble cast of characters set against the backdrop of small-town England in the 1910s will feel both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly new.”

My Thoughts:

I was offered the chance to review this book by the publisher through NetGalley and I jumped at the chance to read it. This is a new series set in 1910 in England in a small town where it seems crime never happens. When a new police inspector, Pignon Scorbion, arrives in town, everyone is surprised by his demeanor and his attention to looking fashionable at all times and his strange name. He is not like their last police inspector and they are suspicious of him and whether he can bring any value to the village. Quickly, however, Pignon Scorbion, shows the small town what he is capable of in regards to solving mysteries and uses his friends at the local barbershop to help him investigate three crimes that have recently occurred in Haxford.

The concept of this book is very good. I am not quite sure why the author decided to have Scorbion conduct all of his investigations in the local barbershop and not the police station, but it is what it is. That really didn’t make a lot of sense to me and while it did bring some added value to the book, it left me a little confused as to why this would have been done. I guess you just have to roll with it. I did like the characters in the book and liked how there were three separate mysteries to solve in this book.

While I was not overly impressed with this book, I did still have a good time reading it. I liked the characters and would read the next book in the series to see if there is some character development. There was a teaser for the second book at the end of this one, but I never read them so I am assuming the next book will be forthcoming in the next year or so. If you like to read mysteries that are short, to the point and are quite whimsical, this might be a book you might want to look into.

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Author: Rick Bleiweiss

Series: Pignon Scorbion Mystery #1

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose

Description (from cover): “Opulence. Sex. Betrayal…Sometimes friendship can be deadly.

Meet the women of Buckhead–a place of expensive cars, huge houses, and competitive friendships.

Shannon was once the queen bee of Buckhead. But she’s been unceremoniously dumped by Bryce, her politician husband. When Bryce replaces her with a much younger woman, Shannon sets out to take revenge…

Crystal has stepped into Shannon’s old shoes. A young, innocent Texan girl, she simply has no idea what she’s up against…

Olivia has waited years to take Shannon’s crown as the unofficial queen of Buckhead. Finally, her moment has come. But to take her rightful place, she will need to use every backstabbing, manipulative, underhand trick in the book…

Jenny owns Glow, the most exclusive salon in town. Jenny knows all her clients’ secrets and darkest desires. But will she ever tell?

Who amongst these women will be clever enough to survive Buckhead–and who will wind up dead? They say that friendships can be complex, but no one said it could ever be this deadly.”

My Thoughts:

Wow! What a read! I really enjoyed this book. Think Real Housewives meets Big Little Lies. I couldn’t put this book down. Shannon, Crystal, Karen, Olivia and Jenny are part of the elite squad of Buckhead. Shannon has just gone through a divorce with politician Bryce. Crystal is his new young wife, who is struggling to fit into the high-stakes of society in Buckhead. Karen is a realtor with a highly successful business who is married to an equally successful plastic surgeon, Mark. Olivia is married to Dean and is known as the mean one of the group. She is determined to be on top at no matter what cost. She is manipulative and snarky and the others just put up with her to save face. Jenny is the owner of Glow, the salon that is the hangout for all of the ladies. She has put her salon and her clients first and she is now eager to carve out a personal life of her own.

This story is told through the characters’ own voices. Each chapter is told through a different character and it was fun to see how their own personal lives and secrets affected each other and the story overall. It seems in Buckhead everyone is out to get ahead and they simply don’t care if they step on each other toes to get to the top. The drama that filled these pages was so intense and engaging, that it made it impossible to want to stop reading. I read this book in one day as it was so good. The author did a great job of entwining everyone’s stories and the conclusion was simply shocking. You know going into it someone is going to die clearly from the title of this book, but you have no idea of who is the victim and the circumstances surrounding the murder until the very end.

Thoroughly captivating and engaging, this story was one that left me reeling at the end with all the twists and turns. I cannot say enough good things about this read and I encourage anyone who enjoys a complex mystery to pick this one up. I have previously never heard of this author or any of her books, but after reading this one, I am going to check out her other books and I encourage other readers to do the same. If you pick this one up, you will not be disappointed.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Jeneva Rose

Series: N/A

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Pages: 354

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Drowned City by K. J. Maitland

Description (from cover): “Gunpowder and treason changed England forever. But the tides are turning and revenge runs deep in this masterful historical thriller for fans of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor’s Ashes of London, Kate Mosse and Blood and Sugar.

1606. England stands divided in the wake of the failed Gunpowder Plot. As a devastating tidal wave sweeps the Bristol Channel, rumours of new treachery reach the King.

In Newgate prison, Daniel Pursglove receives an unexpected–and dangerous–offer. Charles FitzAlan, close confidant of King James, will grant his freedom–if Daniel can infiltrate the underground Catholic network in Bristol and unmask the one conspirator still at large.

Where better to hide a traitor than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel goes to Bristol to investigate, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy–and in pursuit of a killer.”

My Thoughts:

This book is set in the 1600’s in Bristol in an England that is deeply divided between the Protestants and Catholics. King James I is on the throne and this story takes place a year after the Gunpowder Plot was foiled. James is terrified of assassination and sees death in everything and is very superstitious. He is paranoid and determined to prevent any Catholic uprisings in his Protestant England. Daniel Pursglove is in prison and is offered the chance of a pardon if he seeks out a missing conspirator from the Gunpowder Plot.

Rumor has it that the missing man is in Bristol, which has just been devastated by a tidal wave that killed hundreds and destroyed many homes and businesses. Daniel travels from London to Bristol to seek out the missing man and bring him to justice at the cost of his own freedom. If he is successful he won’t have to return to prison and will be a free man; if not, he faces torture and death. Daniel makes connections when he arrives in Bristol and no one is to be trusted.

This book was a long read at 495 pages. At times, I felt the writer used too many descriptive details and could have condensed the story somewhat. Overall this was a good read and a fantastic debut to this new historical mystery series. I loved the setting as it has been quite some time since I have read anything in this time period. The superstitions and the unrest during this time really shows throughout this book and the author did a wonderful job of researching the time period. The book did seem tedious in some areas, but overall, I found this to be a quite engaging read and I am excited to read the next book in this series.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: K. J. Maitland

Series: Daniel Pursglove Mystery #1

Publisher: Headline Review

Publication Date: April 1, 2021

Pages: 495

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Hot Time by W. H. Flint

Description (from cover): “For fans of The Knick, The Alienist, and The Last Days of Night, an entertaining, atmospheric crime thriller set in the Gilded Age.

New York, August 1896. A “hot wave” has settled on the city with no end in sight, leaving tempers short and the streets littered with dead horses felled by the heat. In this presidential election year, the gulf between rich and poor has political passions flaring, while anti-immigrant sentiment has turned virulent. At Police Headquarters, the gruff, politically ambitious commissioner Theodore Roosevelt has been struggling to reform his notoriously corrupt department. Meanwhile, the yellow press is ready to pounce on the peccadilloes of the Four Hundred, the city’s social elite–the better to sell papers with lurid stories and gossip or perhaps profit from a little blackmail on the side. When the body of Town Topics publisher William d’Alton Mann is found at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, any number of his ink-spattered victims may have a motive.

Hot Time is an immensely entertaining, deeply researched, and richly textured historical novel set in a period that reflects our own, with cameos by figures ranging from financier J. P. Morgan to muckraking journalist Jacob Riis. Our guides through New York’s torrid, bustling streets are Otto “Rafe” Raphael from the Lower East Side, one of the first Jewish officers in the heavily Irish force, who finds as many enemies within the department as outside it; Minnie Kelly, the department’s first female stenographer; Theodore Roosevelt himself; and the plucky orphan Dutch, one of the city’s thousands of newsboys, who may have seen too much.”

My Thoughts:

New York in the Gilded Age is an absolute darling time period to read about. The corruption in the city during this time is notorious and even more so in the New York Police Department. Theodore Roosevelt at this time is a police commissioner who has been working diligently to reform the police department and get rid of its corrupt ways. Facing battles from every corner, he is determined to make the police department one that the citizens of New York can respect and trust, which is no easy feat as police officers have been known to take bribes and be involved in crime themselves. Otto “Rafe” Raphael is the first Jewish police officer in a department full of Irish police officers and he is resolved to make a name for himself. When publisher William d’Alton Mann meets with Mr. Roosevelt one evening and is murdered the following day, Rafe is concerned that his mentor and hero may have been involved in the crime. Nevertheless, Rafe is set on figuring out the murder and who may have been involved at any cost.

From the slums of New York to the gilded homes of the Four Hundred, the author takes the reader through New York City in the middle of August 1896 where a “hot wave” has made life unbearable. Horses are dying in the streets, citizens are dying by the hundreds and tempers are easily set off due to the scorching heat with no relief in sight. When Mann’s body is found by the Brooklyn Bridge, Rafe is determined to solve the crime with the help of orphaned newsboy Dutch and no one, even the wealthy and famous, are safe from his suspicions and investigation. In the middle of the tumultuous summer of 1896 and a highly contested presidential election, the author weaves a murder mystery that is thoroughly engaging and highly attentive to details.

This book was a charm to read. The author did a lot of research regarding the main characters and the time period and it really shows throughout this book. Using descriptive details, the author paints a lovely murder mystery set in the middle of one of the worst heat waves in New York City’s history. One can only imagine what it was like for the people who lived during this time and the author does a fantastic job of setting the scene for the reader. I really hope that the author plans to make a series out of this as it was a phenomenal read and the characters were so well-developed and engaging that I hope they make a return in another installment. If you love historical mystery murders, you do not want to miss out on this excellent read by author W. H. Flint.

Overall Rating: 5 stars

Author: W. H. Flint

Series: N/A

Publisher: Arcade Crimewise

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Pages: 245

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: A Most Efficient Murder by Anthony Slayton

Description (from cover): “When the reclusive Earl of Unsworth’s first party in over a decade is spoiled by murder, his Lordship’s loyal and efficient secretary, Mr. Quayle, must unravel a web of red-herrings and old family secrets before the murderer can strike again…

I do not wish to disturb you, your grace, but there is a body in the garden…

England, 1925. When a strange young women is found murdered on the grounds of Unsworth Castle, the Duke and his family are astounded at first, but quickly become enraged when the police begin asking all sorts of impertinent questions.

And when suspicions dare to fall on one of their own, it is up to Mr. Quayle, Lord Unsworth’s exceedingly efficient secretary, to find the true culprit and save the House of Unsworth from scandal and ruin.

My Thoughts:

There is nothing like a British estate murder mystery. For some reason, the British have really nailed this concept like no other and I always find myself drawn to books like this. In this book Lord Unsworth is hosting a party, his first in ten years, in order to celebrate his collection of familial artefacts and to announce his heir. Not being a very social person, this is a major feat for him and he has invited family and friends from far and wide to attend this party. When a guest turns up murdered in the estate’s gardens and no one knows who the young woman is, it appears that sinister things are afoot. Lord Unsworth asks his secretary, Mr. Quayle, to assist the police in the murder investigation on behalf of the family. Mr. Quayle soon finds himself embroiled in the middle of accusations and trying to keep the family’s good name out of the society scandal columns.

I really enjoyed reading this book as I always love a murder mystery set in a grand English house where society comes into play and there are a onslaught of suspects. The author did not disappoint in this regard as there were plenty of suspects and motives for the murder and everyone appears to have secrets. Who exactly wanted this unknown woman dead and who had the means, motive and opportunity to dispose of her body in the estate’s gardens? These are the questions that Mr. Quayle must find out and with the help of the police and their own investigations, Mr. Quayle is determined to find out the solution to the mystery at any and all costs, even if it means losing his job.

It is my understanding that this is the first book in the Mr. Quayle murder mystery series, however, at the end of the book, there was a link to a free copy of a previous publication featuring Mr. Quayle. That book is titled A Quite Deadly Affair and it predates this novel. I am not sure why that book is not considered the first in this series and I have not yet had a chance to read it, but it apparently provides Mr. Quayle’s background as to how he ended up working for Lord Unsworth. I am not sure if it is a full novel or a novella, but I am curious to see if anyone else knows. Nevertheless, this book was a delightful read and I will certainly be looking more from this author in the future. Also, this book is currently listed for preorder at $3.99 for a kindle e-book on Amazon if you want to snag a copy.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: Anthony Slayton

Series: Mr. Quayle Mystery #1

Publisher: N/A

Publication Date: April 3, 2022

Pages: 309

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Description (from cover): “Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lisa Jewell, this international bestseller and “dazzlingly clever” (The Sunday Times, London) murder mystery follows a community rallying around a sick child–but when escalating lies lead to a dead body, everyone is a suspect.

The Fairway Players, a local theatre group, is in the midst of rehearsals when tragedy strikes the family of director Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, the play’s star. Their young granddaughter has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and with an experimental treatment costing a tremendous sum, their castmates rally to raise the money to give her a chance at survival.

But not everybody is convinced of the experimental treatment’s efficacy–nor of the good intentions of those involved. As tension grows within the community, things come to a shocking head at the explosive dress rehearsal. The next day, a dead body is found, and soon, an arrest is made. In the run-up to the trial, two young lawyers sift through the materials–emails, messages, letters–with a growing suspicion that the killer may be hiding in plain sight. The evidence is all there, between the lines, waiting to be uncovered.

A wholly modern and gripping take on the epistolary novel, The Appeal is a “daring…clever, and funny” (The Times, London) debut for fans of Richard Osman and Lucy Foley.”

My Thoughts:

This book is written in emails, letters, text messages and articles which is a nice departure from the normal writing style of books. Using this method, the author makes the reader figure out the story on their own and use the evidence to make their own determinations. I am a paralegal by day and a mystery reader by night, so the opportunity to be able to use my legal training while reading for my own entertainment was a nice change of pace. Two young attorneys have been asked by a senior attorney in their firm to review the evidence in a murder trial. They scour through the many pages of emails and messages to make their own determinations, but the reader is doing this along with them throughout the book. Using the epistolary method, the reader comes to learn about the characters through their own words.

A small town theatre group has been close-knit for many years putting on amateur versions of plays. When a new couple, Sam and Kel Greenwood join the group, the other members are wary of the newcomers, but try to welcome them to the group with open arms. When the director of the play, Martin Hayward and his wife Helen, announce to the group that their two-year-old granddaughter has a rare form of brain cancer, the group rallies around them and they start a campaign to raise the funds needed for her expensive experimental treatment. Everyone pitches in and donates funds and their time to ensure that the funds are raised for the little girl’s treatment. Of course, nothing is as it appears things start to not match up. When a member of the group is murdered, everything comes to light and it seems everyone involved may have a motive for the murder.

This book was phenomenal. I couldn’t put it down and having to use my own deductions to try to solve the mystery was something that I really enjoyed. The evidence is only partly provided to the reader, and having to make deductions based on the facts presented was a different experience for this accomplished reader. The characters were well developed and had their own issues and everyone is not who they seem to be. There were many twists, turns and shocks during the reading of this book, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what was going to happen next. I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to see if the author is going to write another book in this format. Even if she doesn’t, she has proven herself to be an author to watch in the future.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Janice Hallett

Series: N/A

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: January 25, 2022

Pages: 431

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was selected by myself at the library, and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood

Description (from cover): “The elegant Miss Phryne Fisher returns in this scintillating collection, featuring four new stories.

The Honourable Phryne Fisher–she of the Lulu bob, cupid’s bow lips, diamante garters, and pearl-handled pistol–is the 1920’s most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.

Miss Phryne Fisher is up to her stunning green eyes in intriguing crime in each of these entertaining, fun, and compulsively readable stories. Whether sniffing out the whereabouts of a priceless pilfered book, an heirloom locket, or a missing eight-year-old girl, Miss Fisher proves herself move than equal to the task–and always fashionably attired. With the ever-loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr. Butler, and all of Phryne’s friends and household, the action is as fast as Phryne’s wit and logic.”

My Thoughts:

I was so happy to learn that there was a new Phryne Fisher mystery out and when I had the chance to request an advance reader copy through Netgalley, I didn’t even read the description, just clicked that I wanted to read it. To my disappointment, this is not a new book in the series, but a collection of short stories featuring our favorite detective Phryne Fisher. Apparently, there was a collection of short stories published previously by Greenwood and this book features those same stories, with some edits, and four new ones. While not exactly what I was hoping for, this story collection was fun to read nonetheless.

Phryne Fisher’s murder mysteries have become famous in their own right. The novels in the series are widely acclaimed and there is a television show, a movie and new there is even an a spin-off television show based all on Miss Fisher’s characters. A collection of short stories was well received by this reader, however, some of the stories were a little short and did not explain how Phryne reached her conclusions. I think any book featuring Phryne Fisher is a good read, but I was disappointed that this was not a new novel in the series.

I did like that the stories were short and I could read one when I had a few minutes at lunch or when I had some down time. The stories did feature some of the other beloved characters that we have come to love throughout the series, but overall there wasn’t a lot of substance to the stories that really contribute to the series as a whole. The author does write an introduction at the beginning of this collection, which outlines how she came up with the idea of Phryne Fisher as a character and for the novels in the series. Unfortunately, that probably was one of the more interesting parts of this collection.

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Author: Kerry Greenwood

Series: Phryne Fisher Short Story Collection

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Pages: 272

Genre: Historical Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.