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.

Review: As the Wicked Watch by Tamron Hall

Description (from cover): “The first in a thrilling new series from Emmy Award-winning TV Host and Journalist Tamron Hall, As the Wicked Watch follows a reporter as she unravels the disturbing mystery around the deaths of two young Black women, the work of a serial killer terrorizing Chicago.

When crime reporter Jordan Manning leaves her hometown in Texas to take a job at a television station in Chicago, she’s one step closer to her dream; a coveted anchor chair on a national network.

Jordan is smart and aggressive, with unabashed star-power, and often the only woman of color in the newsroom. Her signature? Arriving first on the scene–in impractical designer stilettos. Armed with a master’s degree in forensic science and impeccable instincts, Jordan has been able to balance her dueling motivations: breaking every big story–and giving a voice to the voiceless.

From her time in Texas, she’s covered the vilest of human behaviors but nothing has prepared her for Chicago. Jordan is that rare breed of a journalist who can navigate a crime scene as well as she can a newsroom–often noticing what others tend to miss. Again and again, she is called to cover the murders of Black women, many of them sexually assaulted, most brutalized, and all of them quickly forgotten.

All until Masey James–the story that Jordan just can’t shake, despite all efforts. A 15-year-old girl whose body was found in an abandoned lot, Masey has come to represent for Jordan all of the frustration and anger that her job often forces her to repress. Putting the rest of her work and her fraying personal life aside, Jordan does everything she can to give the story the coverage it desperately requires, and that a missing Black child would so rarely get.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, Jordan believes, and he’s hiding in plain sight.”

My Thoughts:

Let me just start this by saying “Oh MY GOD!!” This book was amazing. I simply couldn’t put it down and could not stop thinking about it when I wasn’t able to read it. Tamron Hall, is well known as a television anchor and journalist, but she really brought her “A” game to this book. She uses her own personal experiences to shape her main character, Jordan Manning, who is also a reporter. Jordan is a crime beat reporter for a local television station in Chicago who is a little out of her element as she comes from a smaller city in Texas. She is a woman of color and is frequently overlooked for career advancement due to her skin color and her gender. She is a phenomenal reporter and even better investigator.

The author really does a great job of showcasing what Black women have to face daily in their lives from racial bias to career bias and to just being overlooked by society in whole. When it comes to criminal investigations it appears that the Black community is often overlooked and misjudged and the author does a great job of highlighting the inconsistencies in the system . As we all know, Chicago is a city that is rife with racial injustice and the author uses this as her starting point in this book. Fifteen-year-old Masey James has been missing for several weeks and the police keep claiming she is a runaway, much to her mother’s frustration. But when her body is found brutally murdered in a rundown park, the police start their investigation into her death and it seems race and mistakes within the system play a big part in trying to sweep her murder under the rug. Jordan sees this as her chance to make sure Masey’s story stays in the limelight and shines the light on social and racial injustice.

Jordan’s character is immensely likeable and it’s hard not to feel for her. She is struggling to make a name for herself in her career, she is very empathetic to the people she covers in her stories and it affect her on a daily basis. This book provides an interesting view on reporters and what they have to face in their daily lives and careers. They put on a brave face in front of the camera, but no one really thinks about how the gruesome stories that they cover may really affect them emotionally. I really enjoyed this book and have told several of my friends that they must read this book. It appears that Hall plans to write more in this series and as soon as the next book is released, I will be reading it. This was a fantastic read that stays with you even after you have finished it.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Tamron Hall

Series: Jordan Manning #1

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: October 26, 2021

Pages: 396

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: Death in Disguise by Emma Davies

Description (from cover): “Francesca Eve thought she was prepared for anything at the events she caters for in her pretty little Shropshire village. Missing canapes? No problem. Burnt brownies? A piece of cake…But a dead body? Now that’s a recipe for disaster.

Francesca is nervous about catering her first ever murder mystery party, but it’s clear from the clink of champagne flutes and piles of empty plates that the evening is a roaring success. The guests look spectacular in their disguises, whispering and giggling as they try to identify who killed beautiful young Becky. But days later the game takes a sinister turn when Becky is found poisoned, and all the signs point to the culprit being a party guest.

From the woman having an affair to the guest hiding her true identity, everyone had a secret–and it turns out that Becky knew them all. As Fran finds herself centre-stage in a real-life murder mystery, the finger of suspicion points at each guest in turn. And Fran starts to wonder, were any of these secrets dangerous enough to kill for?

Then the body of a second guest is found, and it becomes clear a deranged killer is going off-script. It seems anyone who was involved in the game that night is in their sights, even Fran. Can she unmask the murderer before the final curtain falls?

A page-turning cozy mystery packed with twists. If you love Clare Chase, M.C. Beaton and The Thursday Murder Club you’ll absolutely adore this unputdownable whodunnit.”

My Thoughts:

I am always on the hunt for new authors and new mystery series to read. I love reading series for some reason. I enjoy watching the characters evolve throughout series and come to love them as friends. A series that keeps me on my toes is one that I am sure to love and follow through the years. I was able to get an advance readers’ copy of this book from Netgalley and I decided to give it a chance. I was pleasantly not disappointed. Usually the first book in the series is my least favorite, but this one was incredibly engaging and interesting.

Fran is a caterer in a small English village. She has been hired to cater a local woman’s party and the theme is a murder mystery. Everything goes off without a hitch and when the victim from the murder mystery party, Becky, actually turns up dead poisoned by a mushroom days later, Fran cannot help but investigate. It seems everyone at the party had secrets and that Becky was blackmailing everyone. Everyone is a suspect and Fran doesn’t know who to trust. When the party host’s son Adam comes to Fran to tell her that something isn’t quite right with the entire situation, the two of them decide to investigate.

This book had many twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the other shoe drops and nothing is as it seems. I just love a mystery that is going to keep me guessing until the very end. At the conclusion when the murderer is revealed, I was shocked as I really didn’t see it coming and I was impressed with the author’s ability to keep this reader in the dark until the conclusion. This was a delightful read in what I hope is to become a wonderful cozy mystery series.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Emma Davies

Series: Adam and Eve Mystery #1

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: February 9, 2022

Pages: 357

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: The Maid by Nita Prose

Description (from cover): “Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter–she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black–but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different–and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.”

My Thoughts:

There has been great acclaim and hype associated with this book and I was lucky enough to snag a copy of this new release at my local library. In this book, Molly is a young maid at a fancy hotel. She prides herself on her job and obsession with cleanliness and order. She was made for this job and she is very good at it. Her employers have no complaints about her work and she is shocked while doing her job she stumbles across the dead body of a wealthy man, Charles Black. Charles Black was not well liked and the hotel staff avoided him due to his temper. When the police start investigating the crime and Molly becomes the prime suspect, she is in a state of shock. She is not the most articulate person and she doesn’t know how to get herself out of the mess she finds herself in. She struggles to learn who is out to help her and who is out to make sure she lands in jail as the murderer.

This is not your average mystery. Usually the main characters who are investigating the crime are witty, smart, and on top of their game. Molly is not like other protagonists. She has been sheltered all of her life, she doesn’t understand how the world works, and how people will use other people to further their own desires. Overall, Molly doesn’t know who to trust and she finds herself repeatedly trusting the wrong people. I struggled with this while reading the book. Some of these things were just blatantly obviously and it was a little frustrating. I applaud the author for portraying the main character in a different light and trying something different. Even though I spent half of the time frustrated by Molly and her antics, the book overall was a good read and one that I found hard to put down.

There were several places in this book where there were nice little twists that I didn’t see coming. I was literally shocked with my mouth open at these times. I really did enjoy this book and would love to see the author do more with Molly, but I am not sure if she intends to turn this into a series or leave it as a stand alone. While this is not your average mystery, I find that Prose did a great job in creating her own mystery with your not-so-average protagonist. That alone is a feat in itself and the author should congratulate herself on creating such a unique mystery read. I think that if you are on the fence about reading this book, you should give it a chance and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: Nita Prose

Series: N/A

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: January 4, 2022

Pages: 280

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: Death with a Double Edge by Anne Perry

Description (from cover): “When junior barrister Daniel Pitt is summoned to the scene of a murder in the London district known as Mile End, he knows only that the victim is a senior barrister from the same firm. To Daniel’s relief, it is not his close friend Toby Kitteridge, but the question remains: What was this respected colleague doing in such a rough part of the city? The firm’s head, Marcus fford Croft, may know more than he admits, but fford Croft’s memory is not what it used to be, and his daughter Miriam–Daniel’s sometime sidekick–isn’t in the country to offer her usual help. And so Daniel and Toby must investigate on their own, lest the police uncover something that may cast a suspicious light on the firm.

Their inquiries in Mile End lead them to a local brothel and to an opium den, but also–unexpectedly–to a wealthy shipbuilder crucial to Britain’s effort to build up its fleet, which may soon face the fearsome naval might of Germany. Daniel finds his path blocked by officials at every turn, his investigation so unwelcome that even his father, Special Branch head Thomas Pitt, receives a chilling warning from a powerful source. Suddenly, not just Daniel but his whole family–including his beloved mother, Charlotte–is in danger. Will Daniel’s devotion to justice be the undoing of his entire life, and endanger Britain’s defense at sea? As ever, the fates of family and history are inextricably intertwined in this spellbinder from Anne Perry.”

My Thoughts:

See my previous reviews of books #2 Triple Jeopardy and #3 One Fatal Flaw in this series.

This book is the fourth installment in Perry’s Daniel Pitt series and while the previous book in this series One Fatal Flaw was a little lackluster, this book really brings the series back to where it was previously. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have to say that this is one of my favorites in the series so far. There was a lot of character development in this book and it provides a future for the characters. Also, appearances by Thomas and Charlotte Pitt play heavily in this book. The author has chosen to have them only appear in tiny bits in previous installments, and it was nice to have them play a more active role in this book.

Daniel Pitt is shocked when he is asked by the police to identify a body in Mile End, a dubious neighborhood known for its brothels, opium dens and seedy characters. He identifies the body as one of his colleagues at his law firm and due to the personal connection, he feels that he must try to discover why his colleague was murdered in such a violent manner. Nothing make sense: Was he murdered due to his previous legal cases, or was it much more personal? Using his investigative skills, Daniel enlists other colleagues, friends and his parents to assist him in this investigation. As more murders occur, Daniel feels he is set on a hopeless course for justice.

As I stated previously, this was probably one of my favorite books in this series. I found that it was well-written, the plot was very engaging and it was hard to put down. Twists and turns in the plot kept this reader very well entertained throughout this book. The only issue I had with this book was that I felt the ending was a little rushed and the author could have taken a little more time in concluding the storyline. Other than that, I would say that this was a great read and installment in a series that I am coming to love. I was lucky to receive the next book in this series, Three Debts Paid, which is due to be released in April of this year, as an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher. Make sure you stay tuned for that review in the next couple of weeks.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Anne Perry

Series: Daniel Pitt Mystery #4

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: April 13, 2021

Pages: 296

Genre: Historical Mystery

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 Body in the Garden by Katharine Schellman

Description (from cover): “London 1814. Though newly-widowed Lily Adler is returning to a society that frowns on independent women, she is determined to create a meaningful life for herself even without a husband. She’s no stranger to the glittering world of London’s upper crust. At a ball thrown by her oldest friend, Lady Walter, she expects the scandal, gossip, and secrets. What she doesn’t expect is the dead body in Lady Walter’s garden.

Lily overheard the man just minutes before he was shot: young, desperate, and attempting blackmail. But she’s willing to leave the matter to the local constables–until Lord Walter bribes the investigating magistrate to drop the case. Stunned and confused, Lily realizes she’s the only one with the key to catching the killer.

Aided by a roguish navy captain and a mysterious heiress from the West Indies, Lily sets out to discover whether her friend’s husband is mixed up in blackmail and murder. The unlikely team tries to conceal their investigation behind the whirl of London’s social season, but the dead man knew secrets about people with power. Secrets that they would kill to keep hidden. Now, Lily will have to uncover the truth, before she becomes the murderer’s next target.”

My Thoughts:

I am always on the hunt for new historical mystery series to read and I had heard good things about this book. When I was able to snag a copy at my local library, I jumped at the chance. The thing that really drew me into this book was the description that lovers of Tasha Alexander and Rhys Bowen would really enjoy this book. Alexander and Bowen are two of my favorite historical mystery authors, so I knew that I had to give this book a shot. I was not disappointed. Lily Adler is newly widowed and is struggling to find her way in the world without her husband. She has returned to London with the hope of throwing herself back into the social scene to help her forget the loss of her husband. She soon finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation.

Attending her friend’s ball, Lily escapes to the garden for a moment’s respite from the overwhelming crush of London’s upper elite. In the garden she overhears an argument and is shocked when she hears a gunshot. She hurries over to the scene and finds a young man dead of a gunshot wound. No one else is around. Spurring into action, Lily finds some help and learns that the young man was involved in blackmail. But who was he blackmailing and why did someone want him dead? Lily plans to leave the investigating up to the police, but when she learns that her friend’s husband has bribed the local authorities to stop the investigation, she knows that it is up to her to solve the murder.

This book was a delightful read. I had a hard time putting it down. I immensely loved Lily’s character and how her drive for justice fueled her investigation. Even when she is in harm’s way, she is determined to solve the murder mystery because it is the right thing to do. Lily is a smart, strong and determined woman and she is not about to let anything stand her in her way. This was a great start to a new historical mystery series and I am anxious to read the next book in the series, Silence in the Library. I am wondering if any of you have read this book and what your thoughts are and how you feel this author compares to historical mystery greats Alexander and Bowen.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Katharine Schellman

Series: Lily Adler Mystery #1

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Pages: 327

Genre: Historical Mystery

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: One Fatal Flaw by Anne Perry

Description (from cover): “When a desperate woman comes to Daniel Pitt seeking a lawyer for her boyfriend, Rob Adwell, Daniel is convinced of the young man’s innocence. Adwell has been accused of murder and of setting a fire to conceal the body, but Daniel is sure that science can absolve him — and Miriam fford Croft is the best scientist that he knows. Miriam connects Daniel with her former teacher Sir Barnabas Saltram, an expert in arson, and together, they reveal Adwell’s innocence by proving that an accidental fire caused the victim’s death. But it’s not long before Adwell is killed in the same fiery fashion. If these deaths are, in fact, murders, what essential clue could Daniel and Miriam have missed?

As their investigation deepens, one of Saltram’s former cases comes into question, and Miriam finds herself on the defensive. If the reasoning Saltram used in that case is proved false, several other cases will have to be re-tried, and Saltram’s expert status — not to mention Miriam’s reputation — will be ruined. Haunted by Saltram’s shady tactics in and outside of the classroom, Miriam is desperate to figure out truths both past and present and protect herself in the face of Saltram’s lies. What started as an accidental fire in Adwell’s case seems to be linked to a larger plot for revenge, with victims accumulating in its wake, and Miriam and Daniel must uncover who or what is stoking these recurring flames — before they, too, find themselves burned.”

My Thoughts:

This book is the third installment of Anne Perry’s Daniel Pitt mystery series. I have reviewed the second book in this series, Triple Jeopardy, on this blog. If you know anything about the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, you will know that Daniel is their son and he is now grown up and is a lawyer in his own right. He is just starting out in his career, but has had successful cases prior to this one and he is still struggling to find out more about the law and how to properly defend his clients. In this book, Rob Adwell, is charged with arson and committing murder during the course of the fire. HIs girlfriend, Jessie, pleads on his behalf with Daniel to represent him in his defense and Daniel takes the case believing Adwell is innocent of the crimes. Daniel is able to get the jury to acquit him of all charges and is shocked when Adwell turns up dead in the same manner that he was accused and now Jessie is charged with arson and his murder.

I feel like I struggled with this book. It was long-winded some parts and was probably my least favorite of the series so far. There wasn’t a lot of character development in this book and I am anxious to have the characters evolve at a more faster pace. This book felt more like a placeholder than an actual beneficial installment to this series. Also, most of the books in this series tend to follow one case, this one had three separate cases in it and it was a little hard to follow in parts. This book featured some forensic science and how it was developing in the early 20th century, which was fascinating; however, the same information was repeated frequently throughout the book to the point it was almost overdone.

While this book wasn’t one of my favorites in this series, I do like Daniel’s character and the supporting characters Perry has created in this series. I feel like the author could have taken this book in several different directions and the end result was a little disappointing. The ending felt rushed and while I liked the characters and their stories, it wasn’t enough to make this a very enjoyable read which is surprising coming from such an acclaimed author as Perry. Normally her books are engaging and very hard to put down. I am hoping that the next in the series, Death with a Double Edge, will be better. I have it on my to read list and I am hoping the next installment will be just as engaging as before.

Overall Rating: 2.5 stars

Author: Anne Perry

Series: Daniel Pitt Mystery #3

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Pages: 338

Genre: Historical Mystery

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.

The Shop on Royal Street by Karen White

Description (from cover): “Nola Trenholm is hopeful for a fresh start in the Big Easy but must deal with ghosts from her past–as well as new ones–in this first book in a spin-off series of Karen White’s New York Times bestselling Tradd Street novels.

After a difficult detour on her road to adulthood, Nola Trenholm is looking to begin anew in New Orleans, and what better way to start her future than with her first house? But the historic fixer-upper she buys comes with even more work than she anticipated when the house’s previous occupants don’t seem to be ready to depart.

Although she can’t communicate with ghosts like her stepmother can, luckily Nola knows someone in New Orleans who is able to–even if he’s the last person on earth she wants anything to do with ever again. Beau Ryan comes with his own dark past–a past that involves the disappearance of his sister and parents during Hurricane Katrina–and he’s connected to the unsolved murder of a woman who once lived in the old Creole cottage Nola is determined to make her own…whether the resident restless spirits agree or not.”

My Thoughts:

A couple of years ago I came across the first book of Karen White’s Tradd Street series and was introduced to this author and her fantastic books. There are seven books currently in that series and the author decided to branch off with this new series featuring Nola Trenholm, who is the daughter of the main characters Melanie and Jack in the Tradd Street series. That series is set in Charleston, South Carolina and this book takes place several years since the last installment in that series. Nola is now twenty-eight years old and has moved to New Orleans. She purchases an old house in the city with the intentions of restoring the property and making it her home. Little does she know that this house has its own past and secrets. When she learns that a murder occurred in the house 40 years ago, she is concerned that there are lingering spirits who don’t want her to be there.

I was so excited to see that the author wanted to continue the Tradd Street series but using Nola and her own story to branch the series out. I loved Nola’s character in White’s other books and I am glad that she decided to give Nola a starring role in her own series. Nola has her own demons that she has had to face. She has a loving family and although paranormal things have been a huge part of her life, she has has her own beliefs and her own agenda. I don’t normally read books that are paranormal based, not that I don’t enjoy them, I just usually don’t seek them out. White’s books are phenomenal and mix the paranormal with real life and mystery that make it near impossible to stop reading. Her characters are well developed and have so much depth that it is impossible to not connect with them as a reader.

I am sincerely hoping that this series continues as long as the Tradd Street series has with seven books. I loved being introduced to city of New Orleans through White’s descriptive details. She really makes you feel like you are in the city and a part of it with using real places and details to make it come alive. If you are interested in this book, I highly recommend that you start with the Tradd Street series and continue through to this one. This book was another fantastic read from Karen White. It is my understanding that there is another book planned in this series and it can’t come soon enough for this reader. I highly recommend this book and all of Karen White’s books in the Tradd Street series.

Overall Rating: 5+ Stars

Author: Karen White

Series: Nola Trenholm #1

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: March 29, 2022

Pages: 384

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: A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poison by Kate Khavari

Description (from cover): “Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever. Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Anna Lee Huber, Kate Khavari’s debut historical mystery is a fast paced, fearless adventure.

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect Mrs. Henry, one of the professor’s wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?”

My Thoughts:

This is the first book in the Saffron Everleigh mystery series. Saffron is an assistant to a botany professor at London’s University College. She is smart and determined to make a name for herself academically. Although this is quite a hard feat for her as she is the first female assistant and is treated differently for being so. Her father was a well-known botany professor at the university and she is eager to make her own way in a world dominated by men. She is often looked over just because she is a woman. When the wife of a professor is poisoned at a party she attends, she knows that nothing is as it appears and she is determined to solve the case. Surrounded by men who think that they are better than her because she is just a woman, she is able to investigate on the sly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am glad that I was able to get my hands on an advanced reader’s copy as I am always on the hunt for a new historical mystery series to love. In this book, the author does a great job of showing the reader how women were treated professionally in the 1920’s. Even though women were starting to leave the home and create careers for themselves, not everyone was on board. That is a struggle that the reader sees Saffron having to deal with a lot in this book. She is smart, but she is a woman and that limits her chances to advance in a field presently dominated by men.

With the help of another research assistant, Alexander Ashton, she sets out to determine who wanted to murder Mrs. Henry and why. Was it her husband who was having an affair or was it one of the other professors in the department who had grudges against her husband? I thought that this was a brilliantly written debut novel in this new historical mystery series and I cannot wait to read more about Saffron’s adventures in the future. I couldn’t put this one down and am extremely excited about this series and will be watching for new books in the future.

Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars

Author: Kate Khavari

Series: Saffron Everleigh Mystery #1

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Pages: 304

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.