Review: The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell

Description (from cover): “Every summer for the past ten years, six awe-struck bakers have descended on the grounds of Grafton, the leafy and imposing Vermont estate that is not only the filming site for “Bake Week” but also the childhood home of the show’s famous host, celebrated baker Betsy Martin.

The author of numerous bestselling cookbooks and hailed as “America’s Grandmother,” Betsy Martin isn’t as warm off-screen as on, though no one needs to know that but her. She has always demanded perfection, and gotten it with a smile, but this year something is off. As the baking competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s merely sabotage–sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned too high–but when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect.

A sharp and suspenseful thriller for mystery buffs and avid bakers alike, The Golden Spoon is a brilliant puzzle filled with shocking twists and turns that will keep you reading late into the night until you turn the very last page of this incredible debut.”

My Thoughts:

Six baking competition contestants descend on Grafton estate in Vermont to begin this year’s “Bake Week” contest. Betsy Martin is the main star of the show and has been for many years. She has made a name for herself writing cookbooks and now the show has launched her into a culinary legend. Now this year, the producers think that the show is becoming stale and have invited Archie Morris to help her co-host the show and Betsy is not having it. She instantly takes a dislike to Archie and lets everyone know how she feels but she plods on for the sake of the show. Each of the contestants, Hannah, Gerald, Stella, Lottie, Peter and Pradyumna have their own backgrounds and are excited to participate in the competition. The competition starts and immediately there is drama; salt is put in the sugar container, a burner is too hot and burns a contestant’s filling. Is someone there to sabotage the competition? What will they do to win?

Soon we find out. A body is found in the baking tent during a terrible storm and all the remaining contestants are shocked to learn that they are now suspects and they all have motive. Is one of them a cold-blooded killer? The twists and turns of this book is keep the reader guessing until the very end. Every chapter in this book is told through the eyes of one of the contestants and each chapter is a different contestant’s story. I loved that there were many points of view and the author did a fantastic job of weaving everyone’s stories into one fluid and engaging read. When I wasn’t able to read because I was at work, I found my mind slipping back to this book and wanting to see what would happen next.

Man oh man, was this book fabulous. I really enjoyed this book and the author did a fantastic job in this debut novel. I think Maxwell is a phenomenal writer and I hope there are more books coming from her in the future. Simply put this book is hard to put down. I really enjoyed the characters as they were well-developed and very engaging. If you like baking competitions and murder, well this is a delightful treat.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Jessa Maxwell

Series: N/A

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: March 7, 2023

Pages: 287

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: Murder on Bedford Street by Victoria Thompson

Description (from cover): “Hugh Breedlove is far from the most agreeable client private investigator Frank Malloy has ever had, but his case is impossible to refuse: his young niece, Julia, has been wrongfully committed to an insane asylum by her cruel and unfaithful husband, Chet Longly. Though Breedlove and his wife seem more interested in protecting the family reputation than their niece’s safety, Frank and Sarah agree to help for the sake of Julia and the young son she left behind.

Frank and Sarah’s investigation reveals a dark secret–a maid at the Longly home died suspiciously under Chet’s watch, and now it seems Julia’s son might also be in danger. The Malloys fear they are dealing with a man more dangerous than they had anticipated, one who will do anything to defame his wife. But all is not as it seems in the Longly family, and perhaps another monster is hiding in plain sight…”

My Thoughts:

The Gaslight Mysteries has been a series that I have followed for a long time. I always enjoy reading this series and being reunited with the characters that have come to feel like family. In this book, Malloy is approached by Hugh Breedlove to investigate why his niece was committed to an insane asylum by her questionable husband and to secure he release as quietly as possible. Breedlove’s daughter is about to begin her debut in New York City’s high society and he doesn’t want the scandal to tarnish his daughter’s chances of a successful marriage. After meeting with the niece, Julia, Frank and Sarah are of the mind that Julia is in fact sane and should be released immediately.

During their investigation, they determine that there were many secrets behind closed doors between Julia and her husband, Chet Longly. Did Chet put Julia into the aslyum so he can continue his affair without interference? Why did a maid die under mysterious circumstances at their house? Frank and Sarah soon find themselves involved in more than they had bargained for.

While I have long been a fan of this series, this book just quite didn’t do it for me. I figured out what was going on pretty early on and it was a little frustrating that Frank and Sarah took so long to figure it out as well. This was probably one of my least favorite in the series and I was a little disappointed as the others in this series have been so outstanding. While not enough to turn this fan off from this series, I am hoping that this will not be a trend in what has come to be one of my favorite historical mystery series.

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Author: Victoria Thompson

Series: Gaslight Mystery #26

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: April 25, 2023

Pages: 336

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.

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower

Description (from cover): “January 1855. Willa Noble knew it was bad luck when it was pouring rain on the day of her ever-important job interview at the Dickinson home in Amherst, Massachusetts. When she arrived late, disheveled with her skirts sodden and filthy, she’d lost all hope of being hired for the position. As the housekeeper politely told her they’d be in touch, Willa started towards the door of the stately home only to be called back by the soft but strong voice of Emily Dickinson. What begins as tenuous employment turns into friendship as the reclusive poet takes Willa under her wing.

Tragedy soon strikes and Willa’s beloved brother, Henry, is killed in a tragic accident at the town stables. With no other family and nowhere else to turn, Willa tells Emily about her brother’s death and why she believes it was no accident. Willa is convinced it was murder. Henry had been very secretive of late, only hinting to Willa that he’d found a way to earn money to take care of them both. Viewing it first as a puzzle to piece together, Emily offers to help, only to realize that she and Willa are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse that reveals corruption in Amherst that is generations deep. Some very high-powered people will stop at nothing to keep their profitable secrets even if that means forever silencing Willa and her new mistress.”

My Thoughts:

Amanda Flower has long been one of my favorite cozy mystery writers. I love her Amish series and when I found out she was writing about one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson, I knew I had to read this book. This book is told not in Emily’s point of view, but from her maid, Willa’s. This book starts with Willa going to the Dickinson house for an interview for a maid’s position. She doesn’t think she is going to get the job and when the housekeeper dismisses her, she is surprised when Emily tells the housekeeper to stop looking for a maid and to hire Willa on the spot. Willa is determined to do a good job for the family and is honored to have the opportunity to work for such a prestigious family. She feels like her life is taking a turn for the better for once.

That feeling is short lived when Willa finds out that her beloved brother, Henry, has been killed in an accident at the local stables. Willa goes to the stables herself to see where her brother spent his last days. She is shocked to learn that her brother was not killed in an accident, but was brutally murdered. With this carrying heavy on her shoulders and with no one else to turn to, she tells Emily who is determined to set out on an investigation to find out exactly what happened to Henry and why he was murdered. From Amherst, Massachusetts to Washington D.C., Emily and Willa use the Dickinson’s family name and status to chase down a murderer. With the hostility brewing between the North and the South over the issue of slavery, they soon find themselves right in the middle of a political fiasco. Not knowing who they can trust in their small town, it seems that everyone is not who they appear to be, Emily and Willa soon find themselves as targets in the investigation. Can they race against the clock to find justice for Henry or will they find themselves to be the next victims?

I really enjoyed this book because it provided a different perspective of Emily Dickinson and the country as it embroiled itself in the fight of slavery. The book dragged slowly in some parts and that was a little hard to get through, but nonetheless, this was a good strong first book in what I hope to be a promising new historical mystery series. The next book in this series will be released in September of this year, and I am hoping to be able to read more about Emily and Willa’s adventures.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: Amanda Flower

Series: Emily Dickinson Mystery #1

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Pages: 334

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: Helltown: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer on Cape Cod by Casey Sherman

Description (from cover): “Before Charles Manson, there was Tony Costa–the serial killer of Cape Cod.

1969: The hippie scene is vibrant in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Long-haired teenagers roam the streets, strumming guitars and preaching about peace and love…and Tony Costa is at the center of it all. To a certain group of smitten young women, he is known as Sire–the leader of their counter-culture movement, the charming man who speaks eloquently and hands out hallucinogenic drugs like candy. But beneath his benign persona lies a twisted and uncontrollable rage that threatens to break loose at any moment. Tony Costa is the most dangerous man on Cape Cod, and no one who crosses his path is safe.

When young women begin to disappear, Costa’s natural charisma and good looks initially protect him from suspicion. But as the bodies are discovered, the police close in on him as the key suspect. Meanwhile, local writers Kurt Vonnegut and Norman Mailer are locked in a desperate race to secure their legacies as great literary icons–and they both set their sights on Tony Costa and the drug-soaked hippie culture that he embodies as their next promising subject, launching independent investigations that stoke the competitive fires between two of the greatest American writers.

Immersive, unflinching, and shocking, Helltown is a landmark true crime narrative that transports us back to the turbulent late 1960s, reveals the secrets of a notorious serial killer, and unspools the threads connecting Costa, Vonnegut, and Mailer in the seaside city that played host to horrors unlike any ever seen before. New York Times bestselling author Casey Sherman has crafted a stunner.”

My Thoughts:

The 1960s and 1970s were some of the most prolific decades in American history for serial killers. Serial killers seemed to roam the great American landscape throughout these decades in a more prominent way that we don’t really see in future decades. While there are still serial killers these days, the 1960s and 1970s really shaped how investigators profile and hunt these vicious killers. A lot of the methods that were introduced during this time period are still in use today. Some of the famous serial killers from this time period include Charles Manson, the Zodiac Killer, Ted Bundy, and the Boston Strangler just to name a few. While you don’t hear much about Tony Costa, this book is his story. In 1969, Tony Costa is living in Provincetown in Cape Cod. He is a hippie, he is a drug user and dealer, he seems to be charming and has amassed a following of teenagers. These followers call him the Sire and he is their leader. While not essentially a cult in the true sense of the word, his followers believe in him and support him in everything he does.

This book tells the story from Tony’s point of view and also from the investigators as well. While this is a “true crime” novel, there is some fiction as the author provides commentary from Tony himself and what he was thinking as he viciously murdered four women. This book takes the reader briefly through Tony’s childhood and leads the reader up to the moments before the crimes, during the murders, through the investigations, and ultimately to Tony’s trial. While some of the fictional narrative of Tony seems a little overdone, the rest of the book and how everything weaves together was very well done. True crime is a hard genre as the author has to tell the story in a way to entice the reader, but stay true to the known facts. Sherman has nailed this and this book is good read if you are looking for something that is not overly fictionalized but well versed in the facts of the cases.

While in some parts of this book, I found the story dragged a little, I was fascinated to learn more about a serial killer that I knew nothing about. Serial killers, the investigations and profiling of them, and the mechanics that cause and encourage them to kill has long been an intrigue of mine. I have always wanted to learn more about why serial killers kill, why they choose the victims they ultimately murder, and what causes them to commit these atrocious crimes. While the side stories of Vonnegut and Mailer seemed a little excessive, this book was a great read. Sherman has several other true crime novels out there that might be worth checking out as well if you are into true crime like I am.

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Author: Casey Sherman

Series: N/A

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

Pages: 468

Genre: Nonfiction/True Crime

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: Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow

Description (from cover): “Two cousins who start a food stall at their local night market get a serving of murder in this first novel of a delicious new cozy mystery series by Jennifer J. Chow, bestselling author of Mimi Lee Gets a Clue.

When Yale Lee discovers her cousin Celine is visiting from Hong Kong, she is obliged to play tour guide to a relative she hasn’t seen in twenty years. Not only that, but her father thinks it’s a wonderful idea for them to bond by running a food stall together at the Eastwood Village Night Market. Yale hasn’t cooked in years, and she hardly considers Celine’s career as a social media influencer as adequate experience, but because she’s just lost her job at her local bookstore, she feels she has no choice.

Yale and Celine serve small dishes and refreshing drinks, and while business is slow, it eventually picks up thanks to Celine’s surprisingly useful marketing ideas. They’re quite shocked that their bubble tea, in particular, is a hit–literally–when one of their customers turns up dead. Yale and Celine are prime suspects due to the gold flakes that Celine added to the sweet drink as a garnish. Though the two cousins are polar opposites in every way, they must work together to find out what really happened to the victim or the only thing they’ll be serving is time.”

My Thoughts:

Oh this book. I really wanted to love it. The characters are well-developed, the story line is cute, the Chinese-American food culture is intriguing and interesting; however, the mystery fell flat. Yale Lee is a loner. She eschews technology for books and she is just floating through life her way until she is laid off from her job at a local bookshop. Not knowing what to do next, she turns to her father who owns a restaurant for income. Her father has a great idea for Yale to lead the food stall branch of the restaurant and gives her free rein to do as she pleases with this new business venture. She is surprised when her cousin Celine flies in from Hong Kong under mysterious circumstances and her father pushes the two of them to work together. Yale is a little concerned as her cousin is a well-known Instagram influencer and has a completely different outlook on life. Just trying to make the best of it, Yale placates her cousin and just goes along with the flow.

All is well until one of the customers at the food stall is found dead by Yale later that evening after the night market has closed. The murder weapon is suspected to be Yale and Celine’s bubble tea that was served to the victim earlier that evening. When the police begin investigating, they hone in on Yale and her cousin as the prime suspects. Yale is determined to clear her name and that of her father’s restaurant and sets out on her own investigation. Celine is eager to help and Yale and Celine begin their investigation much to the police’s chagrin.

I had problems with this mystery. At times the clues were so obvious and the characters were clueless as to what to do with them. I felt like I was screaming at them in my head to get it together. That was frustrating to say the least. However, I loved the premise of the storyline. This is a quirky new cozy series featuring food and the LA food scene that has a lot of potential. The characters are well-developed, engaging and it is easy to like them. I am not ready to throw in the towel on this series, as it has a lot of promise. I will wait to read the next in the series, Hot Pot Murder, which appears to be coming in June 2023. I am hoping that this is a case of the debut blues and that the series will continue to emerge and engage the reader moving forward. Not the best cozy debut, but this series has so much potential to be a delightful cozy series.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: Jennifer J. Chow

Series: LA Night Market Mystery #1

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Pages: 300

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: Fair Lady, Masked by Maggie MacKeever

Description (from cover): “An actress in her time plays many parts. This may be Delia’s last.

New York, 1890. Is no one what they seem?

Delia Ross has freed herself from society’s expectations. Luke Kelly has not. The emancipated actress and the disapproving police detective set out for Saratoga in pursuit of a fugitive jewel thief. Along the way they will encounter collusions and contrivances, diabolical double-dealings, a talented table-turner and a murderer and, maybe, a very irritated ghost.”

My Thoughts:

Delia Ross, an actress who has made a name for herself on the stage has found herself in a new role, an investigator for the New York police. When the police approach Delia about pretending to be the widow of an Italian Marchese to see if she can assist them with locating a jewel thief, she jumps at the chance to try something new while not knowing that this might be her most dangerous role to date. The investigation begins in Saratoga, New York, where the cousin of the jewel thief is a medium who the police are concerned may be in contact with the thief. Delia must keep her eyes and ears open and try to locate the thief who may be disguised as anyone. Delia enlists the help of her disabled and feminist sister in her investigation.

This book was a little chaotic at times. I really enjoyed Delia’s character, but there wass some room for improvement. I also found that it was really hard to keep up with who all the characters were. At times, I was so confused as to who was doing what and who they were. I can’t even tell you what happened at the ending as it was so confusing. Despite this, I really liked the premise of the story and the mystery and think that the series has some potential even if it needs to be a little more clearer to the reader what is happening. I felt overwhelmed reading this book, especially at the end.

While this book has a lot of room for improvement, I really did enjoy the main characters of Delia and her sister and think that that the author has a good start for some great characters. I would like to see what happens next in the series and I am hoping that this is just a case of the debut blues that sometimes affects new series. Not the best book I have read, but the series does hold some potential for the future and I would give this series another shot before not continuing further with the series.

Overall Rating: 1.5 stars

Author: Maggie MacKeever

Series: A Gay Nineties Mystery #1

Publisher: Vintage Ink Press

Publication Date: July 1, 2022

Pages: 240

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: Dairy, Dairy, Quite Contrary by Amy Lillard

Description (from cover): “Looking for a fresh start, advice columnist Sissy Yoder heads to small-town Yoder, Kansas, to help in her aunt’s café. But when a milkman is murdered, the newcomer becomes the prime suspect…

After Sissy’s rodeo cowboy boyfriend turns out to be more of a rodeo clown, she packs a bag; picks up her Yorkshire terrier Duke; and leaves Tulsa, Oklahoma, bound for her parents’ former hometown. There are still plenty of Yoders in Yoder, Kansas, including Sissy’s aunt Bethel, who owns the Sunflower Café but recently broke her leg. It’s a homecoming of sorts as Sissy arrives to help in the café and reunite with her pregnant cousin Lizzie. Plus she can continue to secretly write her newspaper advice column as seventy-year-old “Aunt Bess.” But it’s Sissy who could use some advice when she finds the milk deliveryman out behind the café with a knife in his back. As the sheriff’s prime suspect, it’s up to Sissy to catch the backstabber herself–before someone else gets creamed…”

My Thoughts:

Sissy Yoder’s life has fallen apart in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has broken up with her boyfriend, moved out of her apartment, and her life seems to be up in the air. When her aunt breaks her leg and needs help in Yoder, Kansas with her café, Sissy decides life has just handed her a second chance or at least a break so she can figure out what to do next. When she arrives in Yoder, her aunt is not happy to see her. She doesn’t need help with the café, even if she has a broken leg. Just when things couldn’t get worse, Sissy finds the milk deliveryman dead behind the café, with a knife sticking out of his back. Being the newest member of the community, the police chief is dead set on her as the main suspect. He is constantly watching her and waiting for her to make a mistake. She is determined that she must solve the crime on her own, before she ends up wrongfully accused of murder.

In this fictional small town of Yoder, the Amish are a huge part of the community. They eschew electricity, drive tractors instead of cars and have their own ways of living among the English. Sissy enjoys the quiet life in the small town and it takes some adjustment coming from a big city to such a slower pace of life. She finds it peaceful except for the cloud of suspicion of murder hanging over her head. In a small town where everyone has known each other since birth and the ties are strong, she must clear her name at any costs.

This book is the first in what appears to be a promising cozy mystery series. I love the Amish and how they prefer to live simple lives and the author did a great job of researching and painting the scene for the reader. I really enjoyed Sissy’s character and hope that she decides to end up in Yoder despite the increasing crime rates. This book has a lot of promise and it was a nice quick little cozy read that was perfect to read on a rainy Saturday. A fantastic read that deserves more attention in the future. So glad that I got to read this and cannot wait to see what happens next in the small Amish village of Yoder.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Amy Lillard

Series: Sunflower Café Mystery #1

Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Pages: 306

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 Great Jewel Robbery by Elizabeth McKenna

Description (from cover): “Mystery with a splash of romance…

Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.”

My Thoughts:

Emma and Grace are friends who are journalists for the Chicago Tribune who are covering a charity ball for the paper. Emma is tagging along with her friend Grace who is actually covering the story and didn’t want to attend by herself. They are transported to the world of wealth and riches in a mansion outside of Chicago where it seems that they can escape the world for a little bit. When they arrive, their hostess shows them an extremely expensive necklace that will be auctioned off that night for charity and the evening begins without a hitch. When Emma goes to the study looking for her friend, she stumbles across the hostess’ brother-in-law who is unconscious on the floor. He seems to have been hit on the head and they attribute it to his drinking and brush it off. That is until they find the safe open and the rare necklace has vanished.

Emma is automatically suspect number one. She was the one who found the man unconscious and the safe wide open under mysterious circumstances. Emma knows that she is not the one who has committed the crime, but she is struggling to get the handsome police detective to believe her. He sets out on investigating everyone at the party and while there are plenty of other suspects, the detective seems to be honed in on her for the theft. Deciding that no one can clear her name except herself, she is determined to listen behind doors and find a better suspect for the robbery other than herself.

This book was a quick little read. I enjoyed reading it and found that I read it in one day. I will say that at times it was hard to keep up with all of the characters as there seemed to be so many and I got a little confused on who was who. Also, there was many references to a statue that was spelled as “statute” throughout the book. I am hoping that got cleaned up on the final edit, because that was a little distracting for me. All in all, this book was a cute little read and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more installments in the future.

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Author: Elizabeth McKenna

Series: A Front Page Mystery #1

Publisher: Self Published

Publication Date: May 29, 2019

Pages: 206

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 Self-Made Widow by Fabian Nicieza

Description (from cover): “From the cocreator of Deadpool and author of Suburban Dicks comes a diabolically funny murder mystery that features two unlikely sleuths investigating a murder that reveals the dark underbelly of suburban marriage.

After mother of five and former FBI profiler Andrea Stern solved a murder–and unraveled a decades-old conspiracy–in her New Jersey town, both her husband and the West Windsor police hoped that she would set aside crime-fighting and go back to carpools, changing diapers, and lunches with her group of mom-friends, who she secretly calls The Cellulitists. Even so, Andie can’t help but get involved when the husband of Queen Bee Molly Goode is found dead. Though all the signs point to natural causes, Andie begins to dig into the case and soon risks more than just the clique’s wrath, because what she discovers might hit shockingly close to home.

Meanwhile, journalist Kenny Lee is enjoying a rehabilitated image after his success as Andie’s sidekick. But when an anonymous phone call tips him off that Molly Goode killed her husband, he’s soon drawn back into the thicket of suburban scandals, uncovering secrets, affairs, and a huge sum of money. Hellbent on justice and hoping not to kill each other in the process, Andie and Kenny dust off their suburban sleuthing caps once again.”

My Thoughts:

This book is the second in the Suburban Dicks mystery series. I read the first book, Suburban Dicks, after I was selected to review this second book in the series. The first book in this series was great, but this book was even better. I really have come to enjoy the characters as they are not perfect, yet they have the talent to solve mysteries that seem impossible to solve. Andie is a mother of five children in suburban New Jersey, where the rich like to play and keep secrets from one another. Kenny Lee is a reporter who after redeeming himself, is struggling to find his place in the world. When another mystery comes up, Andie reaches out to Kenny to help her solve the death of her friend’s husband. It appears that he died of natural causes, but Andie cannot let the feeling go that something isn’t quite right about the whole situation.

I felt like this book was better than the first. I am not sure if it is because I really came to enjoy the characters in the first book, or what, but I couldn’t put this book down. This book hits closer to home as it involves one of Andie’s only friends in her small town. She has suspicions but it seems that her friends are also hiding secrets and she doesn’t know who to trust, including her own husband. She can’t seem to let the feeling go that something is wrong and she is determined to find out what is going on even at the cost of her own family.

The character development in this book was phenomenal and the ending leaves the reader with a cliff-hanger. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment as I need to see how everything plays out. The author has done a great job of creating a modern day mystery series that is simply engaging and thrilling from the very first page. If you can get a copy of this book or the first book in the series, I highly recommend that you do as you will not be disappointed.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Fabian Nicieza

Series: Suburban Dicks Mystery #2

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Pages: 400

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: Clause of Death by Lorna Barrett

Description (from cover): “Tricia Miles and her sister, Angelica, are the co-presidents of the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce. Things are changing in the booktown, and some merchants would say not for the better. They grumble that too many non-book-related stores are moving into the village, taking up the most visible storefronts on Main Street, diluting the “Booktown” moniker. Of course, the members with other businesses, like the latest, The Bee’s Knees, are fine with other businesses moving in. No matter what side of the argument they’re on, all the business owners agree on one thing: Tricia and Angelica are to blame.

Still, it’s a pretty typical day in the life of a small-town Chamber of Commerce until one of the disgruntled bookstore owners is killed — Eli Meier from The Inner Light Bookstore, the most vocal of the Chamber complainers. He sold religious and other spiritual books, but also stocked books on wild conspiracy theories and sold incense, crystals, etc. Eli had never been a member of the Chamber until Angelica recently convinced him to join. He hit on her and she, having good taste, turned him down. He hounded (but not stalked) her, and some might think that was a motive for murder.

Stoneham’s new police chief is an old friend of Tricia’s, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to go easy on her sister. One might even say that he’s going to throw the book at her.”

My Thoughts:

Booktown seems like the perfect place to live. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by books in a quaint New England town? The only downside to Booktown: all the murders. Tricia has long been a resident of Stoneham, New Hampshire which is known for its love of all things books. Her and her sister, Angelica, have made a name for themselves in the small town with their successful businesses and being co-presidents of the local Chamber of Commerce. That being said, some of the other members of the Chamber have different ideas for what businesses should be allowed to open up in Booktown. The most vocal about his discontent at the Chamber meetings is Eli Meier. Eli owns a shop that is known for selling books that champion conspiracy theories and he is known to be a little off his rocker himself. Not one to promote good working relationships with other Chamber members, it is no surprise when Eli is found dead, by Tricia nonetheless.

Tricia is known in the town for being the village jinx as she has stumbled over many murder victims since she moved to Stoneham. When she comes across Eli’s body, she is determined to sit this one out, but with her curious nature and knack for solving murders, she can’t help but investigate. With a new police chief in town and the help of her family and friends, she is determined to find justice for Eli, despite not liking the man at all. This book is the 16th installment of the Booktown mysteries. I fell in love with this series many years ago and anytime a new book is released, you can guarantee that I will be reading it. The characters are so well-developed and feel like your own family. This book does not disappoint and the ending will leave you on the edge of your seat waiting anxiously for the next installment.

I ended up devouring this book in one day. I couldn’t put the book down as the plot was so suspenseful and engaging throughout each page. Another fantastic delivery from Lorna Barrett that doesn’t disappoint. I have found that readers of this series, continue to come back to this well written and spectacular series and simply cannot get enough. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, what are you waiting for?

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Lorna Barrett

Series: Booktown Mystery #16

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Pages: 334

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.