Tag Archives: mystery

Book Review: SKETCHER IN THE RYE by Sharon Pape

Publisher: InterMix

Published: December 13, 2013

Format: ebook (260 pages)


Series: A Portrait of Crime Mystery

Origin: Publisher through NetGalley (egalley)

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***


My Look:

Hobo has disappeared on Harper Farms, and even though Hobo is a dog not a ghost, Rory McCain is worried.  The otherworldliness of her life is enough to make anyone crazy, but she’s gotten used to it, sort of.  But Hobo is somewhere loose on a working farm on a cold November day and could get hurt or worse. 

Soon, Rory’s delight in finding the dog was outmatched by the dog that was all over her despite his recent mud bath with the pigs.  After the embarrassing incident, she had the pleasure of bumping back into the man who had just hired her private detective agency for a case of industrial farm espionage.

Gil Harper was a man who held money as no object in solving this case and whose loyalty didn’t protect his family.  Rory was told to investigate everyone, including all of his family members, and Gil openly declared his belief that anyone of them could be the culprit.  She was already racing the clock when she had another race with Hobo.  This stinky mud covered creature didn’t weave back to the love of his life in the pigpen, but instead he dove into the corn maze. She had managed to keep up and maintain a slight hold upon his leash until she stumbled.  Now, her dog was lost again.  

She tried to follow the sounds of Hobo’s insistent barking which seemed to be deflected by their current environment.

Meanwhile, Hobo’s noise was akin to an alert that went viral for trouble.  Almost lost inside the maze,  she was finally able to track her dog, but trouble wasn’t all he found.

Now, how was she going to explain another dead body in her presence?  Her friend, Leah, is still with the police and doesn’t treat her as a traitor for leaving the PD, but this isn’t how most of them feel.  Let’s just say professional courtesy isn’t usually extended to private detectives anyway, but a stranger in town would garner more than an ex police officer in this town. 

Maybe all wasn’t lost.  If this man on the ground had a pulse, all she’d have to do was call in an emergency.  Rory knelt and was able to quickly determine a coroner’s wagon would outweigh the chance an ambulance would suffice, and Rory and ghost partner Zeke had more than one case to solve.  However, her ghostly partner wasn’t the easiest to work with, on many occasions.

Picture an 18th century Western Federal Marshal working with a modern woman.  Got that picture?  Okay, now add to that having to make sure when this said partner disappears, he’s not up to something that the living can see.  Yeah, Rory’s only problem on this case wasn’t going to be the cold shoulder of the police department.

She couldn’t leave the dead man here, right?  No.  She did what any civic-minded citizen would do.  She called her best friend at the police department.  Suddenly, the disembodied voice of her partner accused her of creating more trouble, but when she turned, Zeke was here in person, wearing the duds from yesteryear looking like anyone else.  Yeah, this was going to mean trouble for sure.  


My Take:

Sharon Pape’s SKETCHER IN THE RYE a cozy mystery wrapped inside a ghost story that will keep you turning pages!

I enjoyed sleuthing with Rory McCain.  She is a former police sketch artist with a penchant for murder, crime, and ghosts, but she is able to draw the who, discover the why, and prove it all too.   Zeke is a Federal Marshal and a character all to himself.  However, his ghostly image becomes human through his story too.  He’s a man who has solved murders,  put away the criminals, and loved.  He is also a man who lost his love before he lost his life.  

These two detectives make an exceptional tag team in crime, but their backgrounds can add some problems in the mix.

SKETCHER IN THE RYE by Sharon Pape takes us inside her great family ties, some growing pains, and more than a few family dysfunctional situations to solve a crime, save a life, and discover who did it.  However, you’ll just find yourself wanting to read more of her titles in this series, SKETCH ME IF YOU CAN (Berkley 2010), TO SKETCH A THIEF (Berkley 2011), and SKETCH A FALLING STAR (Berkley 2012).


Book Review: THE AMBITIOUS CARD by John Gaspard

Publisher: Henery Press

Published: August 20, 2013

Format: Paperback (288 pages)

ISBN: 9780988657137  

Origin: Publisher through NetGalley (egalley)

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***


My Look:

Eli Marks is a bachelor, a debunker, and a magician, but now, he can add a new title to that list.  A murder suspect.

He is a well-known in the circle of magicians, psychics, and sensitives, but Eli is not usually liked much among this crowd, for good reason really.  He performs, but he’s also known to expose the frauds and enjoy it too.

When he’s not making the magic world mad, he and his uncle, Harry, make customers happy.  They run Chicago Magic (which is far from that location) and sell to those who really want to learn their craft.  In fact, Uncle Harry will not sell the next trick to some of his customers until the customer proves the mastery of the one they owned previously.  

This store has been in his family for years and was Eli’s home during his childhood.  With Halloween closing in on them, his uncle is already in preparation mode and everything seems to be going according to plan until Eli picks the wrong fraud to expose.  This man who was publicly shown off, and didn’t take it well, is murdered.  He dies with the same card that Eli used to expose him, exposing Eli to his ex-wife’s police detective husband before becoming a thorn in his ex-wife’s side.  

On the good side of luck, he’s finding that his new love interest seems interested in him too. 

However, once more murders happen to the people Eli knows, he is aware that even his prosecutor ex-wife can only do so much, as this frame couldn’t fit any better around Eli’s neck.  And by the time Eli thinks he knows who is doing this, he founds out that not only is he wrong, but he is about to die too.

My Take:

John Gaspard’s AMBITIOUS CARD will introduce you to the world of magic and it’s history, but this book will leave you falling into murder along the way.

I really enjoyed getting to know Eli Marks, and I loved Uncle Harry too.  These two show that old school and new age come from the same cloth and both men have the utmost respect for the craft.  To each, trickery is not magic but true magic is a time-honored tradition, and it’s one that today is still very interesting.  You’ll find yourself rooting for Eli and his love interest, while enjoying Uncle Harry’s assortment of friends.  

THE AMBITIOUS CARD by John Gaspard is a must read!



Book Review: THE WORLD BENEATH by Rebecca Cantrell

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Published: January 10, 2014

Format: ebook (315 pages)

Series: Joe Tesla 

Origin: Recommendation

***Though the author provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Most would agree that Joe Tesla is a successful millionaire.  After all, his company made today’s facial recognition abilities possible, but Joe’s success seems to have become stymied by fear. Those who know Joe know he doesn’t relent to people or governmental agencies, but those who know Joe, now, call him everything but brave.

Joe doesn’t even understand how this happened. 

One day he was normal and one morning he was too scared to go outside. The doctors call it one thing while his former colleagues call it something totally different. Unfortunately, he agrees with most of them, during most times. 

Agoraphobia is known to occur, but it didn’t occur to him until one day, after one night, a couple of drinks, and a government agency fight later.  He’s been trying to piece out this puzzle, but he’s also been learning to adjust to life inside and outside his old Victorian home.  Joe’s Victorian is a home inside one of the many connected underground tunnels of New York City.  It’s owned by a family friend of his and much to her brother’s dismay, Joe stays here.  There are many secrets held in these tunnels and with his penchant for a puzzle he puts things together to distract him from the knot in his mind barring him from the world outside.  He often studies and explores these amazing places.

At least, he did until he meets Subject 523, known also as Rebar.  

It was kind of normal to meet strange people underground, and Rebar seemed to be some form of military by stance and speech but one look at this man labeled him homeless.  However, he wasn’t just down here looking for a place to stay, this man was taking down a tunnel wall by sledgehammer, and the pieces he already removed seemed to expose yet another part of the tunnel.  This man was so intent on his task he didn’t mind Joe watching him.  Also, when the wall fell, he wasn’t at all surprised by his discovery.  On the other hand, Joe’s astonishment leads Rebar to realize Joe wasn’t in on it with him and up comes the hammer.  Joe takes off running. 

What Joe Tesla couldn’t know was that his nightmare of running doesn’t end, it just stops for a bit and reloads.  Like in some gamer’s paradise, at every turn, something else is to happen and others will join in the fun.  

The rest of this nightmare begins when Joe Tesla couldn’t just forget about what he saw in that exposed wall.  He went back to poke around, but discovered his former threat as demolished as those bricks, and a new threat sends Joe and his dog Edison running for their lives, with even more questions.

How many people know of this secret?  How many of them want Joe dead?

My Take:

THE WORLD BENEATH by Rebecca Cantrell is a heart-pounding thriller with an infective puzzle!

Rebecca Cantrell brings to life the amazing world beneath the sidewalks of New York. Her character, Joe Tesla, is a down-to-earth computer geek who struck it rich but maintains his giving heart; his kindness and affection for people shows through in all of what he does, while his resourcefulness will astound you.  Joe doesn’t need his wallet to solve a problem, his brain doesn’t work that way.  Give the guy a can of beer and some Wi-Fi, and he could literally change he way you see the world around you.  He uses his powers for good not evil, even though everything he does is not exactly lawful.

Joe Tesla lives the story of many, but his world holds more dangers than these panic attacks induce.  With him and Edison, you’ll be racing the clock to find answers that can save thousands of lives, but his adversaries come out of the walls within the ranks of government bureaucracy, having more pull than any imagination could muster.

Rebecca Cantrell’s THE WORLD BENEATH is a virtual page-turner!


Publisher: Kensington

Published: January 07, 2014

Format: Paperback (384 pages)

ISBN: 9780758292056

Origin: Publisher

***Though the publisher provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Martha Rose, Birdie Watson, and Lucy Mondello are on their way to meet with Claire Terry.  They’ve discussed whether Claire would be a good fit for their quilting club for Quilty Tuesdays, and now they want to be sure . . .  

These gals are a bit dubious, as a previous new member really wasn’t a good fit at all.  All three women know Claire Terry’s quilting abilities, as she’s won many awards, but this grouping is made of friends not frenemies, and being an award-winning quilter isn’t a requirement. 

Upon arrival, it was odd the host wasn’t answering her door. 

The meeting was scheduled and therefore expected; Claire hadn’t cancelled.  Martha Rose looked in the window and saw someone laying on the floor. The resulting alarmed conversations brought forth the nearest neighbor to the rescue with a key, but no rescue attempts could help Claire Terry. This grouping discovers her dead body, lying unseeing on the floor with bloody hands. 

Fast forward to a quilt showing, knowing it would be her last, it was hard to see the dead woman’s quilt hanging with its award. However, what was even harder was to see her quilt and a few others stolen. A masked thief had caused many disturbances upon his escape, but a detective wants to know why these women seem to show up at crime scenes. Just when things couldn’t possibly get worse, Martha Rose was asked by the association to make the condolence call on the Terry family. 

Mrs. Siobhan Terry had a request.  It was one Martha couldn’t decline, although she doubted she’d be able to find anything.  Claire had once told her mother that these quilts denote her life stories.  Did they? 

Finding nothing stuffed inside the quilts begins a puzzle these three ladies are perfect to solve, but Martha Rose pays a price for playing the lead amateur detective, when death threats push up the suspense in this deadly game of hide and seek. 

My Take:

FORGET ME KNOT (A Quilting Mystery) by Mary Marks is a surefire hit in crafting cozies!     

These women are all in various stages and ages over fifty. Some of them have health problems, not so great marriages, or cheating ex-husbands, but they all they have close stitched friendships that brings each a support system.  Their love of quilting is their attachment, but their love of each other is their true bond.  Murder is a motive for growing closer and solving a puzzle, but it’s also a motive for keeping each other close and watching out for safety.  Maybe quilting is reason to kill, but it’s also a great way to gather clues.   

Meeting Martha, Lucy, and Birdie is a like being with a group of people you’d love to spend more time with. Their life isn’t yours or mine, but their situations could easily be any of ours. I chuckled, clamored, and clucked, but I rooted for a shot of romance along the way.

Mary Marks’ FORGET ME KNOT is a standalone title that will introduce you to the world of quilting, with both bad and good characters.  However, if you’ll be able to pardon my pun, you will find yourself on pins and needles until the next Quilting Mystery comes along! 

Book Review: THE SECRET ROOMS by Catherine Bailey

Publisher: Penguin Books

Published: December 31, 2013

Format: Paperback (512 pages)

ISBN: 9780143124733  

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

History is everything but boring within Belvoir Castle  . . .

Why was the physician of King George VI expected?  Most astonishing of all, why was this physician and others awaiting the patient to be ready for them?

These questions show only the beginning of the Duke of Rutland mystery, while England was entering the fray of World War I.  Other issues plagued the hierarchy landing many in a state of turmoil long before the war.  In fact, to some, the war was a welcome act, to others it marked the end of a lifestyle, and to some, it was a fear like no other. 

To understand this time and culture one needs to understand the history.  Further, one needs to know that history has the ability to change, albeit not sometimes expectedly.  Moreover, one needs to realize the family dynamic.  The family position was, well, everything and appearances mattered daily. However, it was the first-born male heir who mattered most, but this young heir landed at death’s door. 

Was it an accident?  Or an illness?  Or was it something more? 

Know up front that a castle was not a domicile, but it was the domain of many families, each in their own place.  A major household such as this was not a mere building, but it was sustenance to whole villages.  Villagers worked inside and outside the estate and their work earned the family wages — “a feudal system”. However, many things had changed from a long-lasting agriculture depression, where many Dukes’ positions financially suffered. Land was devalued. It was at this time, taxes became levied on the ducal aristocrats and a stripping of their political powers were meant to castrate the bunch.  

The Duke of Rutland’s problem actually was far more reaching than this and scaled many years before.  To keep from losing land, the Duke was using legal maneuvering to disinherit his second and only living son, while his mother was using whatever sway she could to keep her family growing.   From war strategies to safe keeping of documents, this family weaves itself through actual history, in both the good and bad ways, depending on who knows about it and who was on the receiving end of the deception. 

However, what exactly was important enough to hide that would cause this Duke to die while keeping it hidden?  

My Take:

In THE SECRET ROOMS, historian and author Catherine Bailey provides a narrative that changes the course of her writing and research, when mystification is inbred with fact and becomes a point of view meant to not be seen.  Her resulting true mystery raptures the reader from page one and doesn’t falter!  

Catherine Bailey brings to life yesteryear that Downton Abbey fans will relish, and her riddle manages to capture mystery lovers and history buffs too. 

The lives in this story will have you enthralled, as you race to find answers that lay just beyond indecorum and falsehoods. Strong women, weak men, appear inside the walls of Belvoir Castle, but roles change as their time progresses. If you are like me, you’ll believe that just maybe someone still living is suspicious that things weren’t right in the past.

Catherine Bailey’s book, THE SECRET ROOMS, is a book I recommend!


Publisher: Witness Impulse

Published: December 17, 2013

Format: ebook (372 pages)

Origin: Publisher through Edelweiss: Above the Tree Line

***Though the publisher provides the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Andrea Kendricks owes her mother big.  This Debutante Dropout doesn’t flaunt or use her family position or wealth, but when a friend is in need, Andy asks her mother for assistance.  However, the repayment to her mother, Cissy, stretches a mile and then some.  For instance, Andrea Kendricks is now working temporarily for one of Cissy’s closest friends, Marilee Mabry, and this assignment is taking painstakingly long.   Andy wants to get back to her nonprofit work, but it will take a while.

However, just when Andy’s nearing the finish line for this temporary job, Cissy has yet another angle to wangle.   

You see one of the many dates that Cissy Blevins Kendricks imposed on her daughter has actually led to chemistry.  Her and Mr. Malone are doing okay in Andy’s book, but Cissy feels this relationship has stalled.  Now, Andy’s repayment includes attending the “soiree” of her temporary employer in designer duds to keep interested the many expected male counterparts that will attend. Never you mind that Andy has all the interest she wants in Mr. Malone.  

In the meantime, Brian Malone has other ideas for Andy’s time on that date.  This is when Andy comes up with a plan, hit the party, stay an amount of respectable time, and take Mr. Malone up on his timely offer.  

Accepting the duds wasn’t as stressful as Andy thought, since wearing designer fashions that made her look pretty wasn’t what this debutante dropout expected.  She arrived at the party as planned, but when she went to check out the video equipment, Andy got an eyeful.  Marilee Mabry’s daughter is, um, entertaining on the office sofa.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the man she kept busy was the young stud belonging to her mother.  Not wanting to deal with this messy situation, Andy ignored Kendall Mabry’s rant about how awful her mother is and what she’s done to deserve this treatment and set to finish the job she was there to do.

Soon, the party was getting underway and Andy saw even more cracks in the behind the scenes on set of The Sweet Life.  The domestic diva, Marilee Mabry, fights with a chef and the chef’s retaliation is something that would gross out the toughest stomach. This launch seems to be headed for a mud match, but unbeknownst to Andy, the best is yet to come. 

Marilee herself has more than one agenda. 

Her arrival on set starts out with a rare, expensive bottle of Dom Perignon and a public lambasting of Marilee’s ex-husband and his wife (husband’s playmate during his marriage to Marilee).   The two women get into a physical tussle that ignites the flames of hell, literally.  The set catches fire, the sprinklers activate, lights go out, and Andy finds a body on the floor.  Seeing Kendall down and barely breathing in bathroom leads Andy to suspect foul play, and she’s not the only one.  When Cissy adds her conspiracy theories, things only go from bad to worse, but luckily Kendall is going to survive.

Despite the mayhem of it all, the prescheduled filming of The Sweet Life segment at the Dallas Diet Club member’s home of Cissy Blevins Kendricks is still on.  Stage hands, props, filming, and audio gear turns the beautiful home into a stage of false wood floors and fights.  More disgruntled infighting comes to the surface, and the domestic diva stabs to death a pecan pie.  

Soon, the filming begins, but a life ends.  While Kendall is alive and well her mother, Marilee Mabry, is lying dead on the floor of her friend’s home. 

My Take:

THE GOOD GIRLS GUIDE TO MURDER: A DEBUTANTE MYSTERY by Susan McBride is a tale within the twisting highway of the society pages!  

Getting to know Andrea, Andy, Kendricks makes her someone to like.  She’s down-to-earth, smart, and funny who struggles to keep herself away from the wealth, glitzy, glamour, and pitfalls of the high society scaffolding in Dallas.  The mystery is not just in the murder or the happenings but also in the people you’ll meet and their motivations.  While new neighbors are welcome, they have their secrets, but the employees of the wealthy hide their own agenda and come armed with knowledge.  However, you’ll also meet those who hang on to the coat hem to be dragged along for the ride with little of their own power being expended.    

Susan McBride’s THE GOOD GIRLS GUIDE TO MURDER: A DEPUTANTE MYSTERY ebook is a re-release of her original hardcover by Avon Harper Collins (2004).  The paperback re-issue will released January 7, 2014.  While this title is a standalone novel, you’ll want to catch the other titles in the Debutante Dropout mysteries!  

Book Review: DEAD SILENT by Amy Beth Arkawy

Publisher: Cozy Cat Press  

Published: April 18, 2013        

Format: Paperback (218 pages)      

ISBN: 9781939816047            

Series: An Eliza Gordon Mystery

Origin: Recommendation

***Though others provide the free ebook, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Goodship, NY is a lovely town for tourists in summertime and of those many whom revisit or establish a yearly routine of showing up.  With the many new visitors, Goodship goes through some growth spurts and some are not all good.  In fact, a new addition to the town ends up very dead and a gossip website about the many residents of this town may very well lead to this inevitable ending.

However, life in this small town will go on throughout all seasons and all seasons seem to have one thing in common.  Everyone eats soup at Soup Opera and this eatery owned by a former Soap star, Eliza Gordon, becomes the very polestar of gossip, bad behavior, innuendo, and sleuthing. 

Eliza Gordon does like having her fingers on the pulse of her adopted home of Goodship, but she isn’t the one pulling the strings behind an evil website called The Goodship Grapevine.  In fact, this site’s mission doesn’t just seem to be about old-fashioned gossip but is rather about the utter destruction of the townspeople, and while this site becomes everyone’s focus, the newest radio star runs a close second.   This man is not loved, liked, or even well tolerated.  Even Eliza’s best friend and radio D. J. /part owner, Midge, despises this man. 

The shock jock in question around the town is Paul Hackett, and it’s not only is radio personality that is questionable.  Midge’s brother suspects his wife of having an affair with this man, and Midge is the one who has suggested as much to him.   This guy seems to always be around the women and especially around young ladies who love the famed.  This eatery owner does wonder what the newly minted Grapevine website and the newest radio star have in common beyond the town of Goodship. Although, Eliza doesn’t just have sleuthing on her mind these days.

Her prodigal brother-in-law, Jonas, has returned home to the family estate.  

This home is in the same place she’s living and although this sprawling estate can still provide the privacy she needs, this living arrangement has stirred up a need to leave it and a curiosity about her dearly departed husband’s younger brother who bears a striking resemblance to her man.   It’s been so disturbing to her that she actively tries to avoid the man.  Meanwhile, Eliza is still in therapy to get over the death of her husband and move into a budding relationship with Goodship’s Police Chief, Tom Santini.  However, even her relationship with Tom is skewed toward her husband.  Tom was her husband’s best friend.  Despite her history as a Soap star, Eliza’s personal life was usually tidy, in order, and happily without much drama.  However, these days the only order her life seems to have is keeping herself busy at the eatery, but even Soup Opera was founded with and established with her husband, Eddie.

This former Soap star’s life is about make a turn that could lead to her murder.  Once the most despised radio host is murdered inside her best friend’s radio station and haunting flyers appear to tell everyone about The Quiet, it all seems indicative that there is something more sinister happening that goes much beyond the murder, and it could be infecting the town’s youngest adults.  Even if these two events are much unrelated, which they do seem to be, it spells trouble for Goodship and even more trouble for our soup designer sleuth.     

My Take:

Amy Beth Arkawy’s DEAD SILENT, is a twisty tale of mystery that will have you worried about The Quiet and about murder, while you turn pages hoping everyone will still be standing at the end!

Eliza Gordon is a widow whose grieving has stabilized into a steady ache with fewer tears but a cloak of sorrow remains.  However, her widowhood has also sprawled out into a wanting for change in life without the loss of her memories or the betrayal of them.  Given all this, her natural curiosity for crime solving tends to get in the way of real life’s changes, but a murder does provide refuge for her mind around a whodunit to give her some much-needed space to stop using therapy as a way to delay these changes.

I’m hooked on this series and look forward to the next Eliza Gordon mystery!

Book Review: OF GRAVE CONCERN by Max McCoy

Publisher: Kensington

Published: July 02, 2013

Format: 304 pages

ISBN: 9780758281937  

Series:  Ophelia Wylde Paranormal Mysteries

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

I saw a dead girl.  Okay, to a spiritualist medium it shouldn’t have been so shocking, but it was a moment for sure.   Most of the time, I pretend talking to dead people.  Easy, really.  After visiting the best graves, it’s easy to find the recent dearly departed with the most cash and the wealthy family who would be the easiest picking.  

Now, I’m not the self-satisfying type, so hold on and I’ll explain.  

Dr. Ophelia Wylde wants to give comfort to those who hurt not just enjoy their cash, and she wants to give the peace that she is denied when her heart aches.  

See the thief that stole from me wasn’t the same kind of thief that you might be thinking of me.  This man took more than cash in the most perverse way. Enough said about that.  You see I am a widow.  While both my husband and I shared love, happiness, and a belief in the spirits speaking, we made a promise—if  ever eternally separated, we would reconnect with a message.  While I believe that is somewhat still possible, I know that this is my last chance to have it happen.

In these years, since my beloved’s death, I moved down the wrong path.  However, the belief that the dead can speak was founded many years ago in New Orleans, and still follows me today at a strange place for sure, Dodge City.  If the sight of a dead girl didn’t cost me angst the animal smells and sunning hides would certainly have had the privilege.

In 1877, the locomotive is my mode of travel with my beloved pet, Eddie.  He is not a talking bird, for the record; he does something better.   Anyway, my desire to find this dead girl overtook me, and I wound my way to her.  Although, I did need to be brief before the train moved on without me. You see that just wouldn’t do.  I have an appointment to keep, and it is one that is dear to me.  

After arriving at the spot that held this woman, I knew my eyes deceived me.  I wasn’t a little one seeing a dead man in the mirror anymore, no.  This dead girl did not even exist.  

Feeling somewhat a fool, I made my way backward to the station and arrived with time to spare.  Although thanks to some idiot’s drivel, my leaving on this train becomes impossible, since a bounty hunter listens to someone’s babble and adds my non-traditional female mode of dress and sums up that I am someone else, entirely.  This person who is supposed to be me is a female serial killer.  

The sound of the cell door closing makes me positive that I will miss my appointment and just might be here . . . forever.

Finally, my bail was set by a man who’s grieving and needs my special, albeit fake, help. However, needing money to pay the lawyer, the hotel, and feed myself is the part that isn’t so selfless.  

Really, it’s not until I recognize the cowboy that I’d stepped over, when he was sauced, do I make the fatal slip-up.  

Fatal does not describe his problem, but it does describe my own.   

Meanwhile, I see the dead woman, again. This time, so does two cowboys, but even knowing there is more than meets my eye on this woman, my earthly time becomes limited due to my own mistakes.   

My Take:

OF GRAVE CONCERN by Max McCoy is an amazing story that blends the Western traditional genre with the paranormal genre of today to make a mystery that will bring you back in time and won’t let you go!

Dr. Ophelia Wylde is someone you’ll come to know as early trailblazer of today’s independent woman.  

Walking with baggage like anyone of us could, this character spins us into a world that exists beyond this one.  In her flawed but believable fashion, Ophelia shows that a woman wearing pants is not a recent fashion trend, and her independent streak is both a product of herself and her circumstances.   She’s a woman of 1877 who knows there are very few ways for a female to make money.   Choosing the way she can live with herself and bring happiness to others, she sees herself perpetrating a victimless crime of mercy, well except for when she becomes the next victim. 

Max McCoy produces a great historical read in OF GRAVE CONCERN with twists and turns that any mystery reader will love.  As the story unfolds, other mysteries emerge.  However, many of these mysteries are of the world and some aren’t.  I know that you that you will be entranced and won’t want to miss the next Dr. Ophelia Wylde mystery!


Publisher: Kensington

Published: May 28, 2013

Format: Hardback (272 pages)

ISBN: 9780758284617  

Series: A Local Foods Mystery

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Cameron (Cam) Flaherty has left the big city and her software career behind, well for the most part.  She can’t seem to run too far from her self-confessed computer geekness, but she does well to incorporate that part of life with her new life.  

Cam took over Great-Uncle Albert’s farm in Massachusetts and has begun her own organic farming with a local group of volunteers and one farm hand, a left over from her granduncle’s ownership and a son of his friend. Due to a volunteer, Lucinda, Cam is connected with the Locavore Club and has gained more volunteer helpers and clients.

While keeping this farm hand, Mike Montgomery, on despite the difficulties she’s encountered with him, she hasn’t had it easy, but she didn’t want to be in the position to let him go. His dislike of her is growing too palpable, but she at least grows used that. This last issue could still cost her the organic certification and could still cause loss of customers, since he continued the argument in front of her customers.    

Finally, he was gone and she had caught him before he used the pesticide on her crop. Cam’s certification was still in process and she was able to save the day with her customers. 

Although, his termination puts an immediate larger problem right at Cam’s door. 

See, he is really gone—his body is found on her grounds, with her pitchfork through him, and she’s chief among suspects.  Living much of the time with her great-aunt and great-uncle, Cam’s love of farming grew, but her actually living the dream has turned into a nightmare. 

At local events, the mother of the deceased accuses Cam of murder, the suspicious police chief questions her and others, and some townsfolk believe she killed Mike and let that be known.  At home, a couple of volunteers leave the farm in fear of their own safety and a father questions Cam over the safety of his volunteer daughter.

Luckily, for Cam one of her old friends is on the police force, but Cam sees not only Ruthie’s strained marriage but also a strained job situation right in front of her.  Ruthie is not able to do much.  In fact, the chief is keeping Ruthie out of this investigation, and the strained marriage is keeping her away from the farm too.  

Can the software she designed to run a farm help her with murder?  Can another software predict a list of suspects?  Can anything keep her from getting arrested?


My Take:

A TINE TO LIVE, A TINE TO DIE by Edith Maxwell is a compelling story in the mystery market, touching many of today’s headlines, creatively! 

Cam Flaherty is a novice organic farmer who teaches us the rules along the way.  Her learning curve becomes ours and her life is something we worry about too.  I really liked Cam as she’s not afraid to ask for help and isn’t afraid to fail.  She’s strong and caring but also business savvy and practical; she’s  a woman who loves to get her hands dirty but realizes that she needs a profit to live.   Her love interest is someone who you’ll like but who also fits the suspect profile along with many other people in town.  You’ll find yourself rooting for this relationship but maybe running from this man too.   

Edith Maxwell’s A TINE TO LIVE, A TINE TO DIE is a great mystery that will have you eating local while you await the next book of her series! 

Book Review: KNEADING TO DIE by Liz Mugavero

Publisher: Kensington

Published: May 07, 2013

Format: 304 pages

ISBN: 9780758284785  

Series: Pawsitively Organic Mysteries

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

Kristan “Stan” Connor is trying to turn a few bad things into a few good things, but she finds the bad just seems to follow her.  

She had loved her job at Warner Insurance, a job she lost due to the company president’s indiscretion that had been, um, uncovered.  She was in the public relations arena, but no spin in the world could cover-up the unrecoverable.  Rather than admonish himself, he excused Stan from her job.  

However, this work issue has come between her and her boyfriend, Richard Ruse.  

She met Richard at Warner, and he is still a VP in sales at the company.  However, Richard makes his thoughts on her move away from the city and other public relations jobs to Frog Ledge consistently known.  To him, this decision was foolhardy and a complete mistake.  Even on her move in day, his help is disgruntled, at best, and he wants her to move back to the city because of the public row they just witnessed between two women—at a new neighbor’s home—as if the same thing or worse wouldn’t happen in the city?  

After a brief disagreement, Richard leaves to meet a friend from Warner for drinks before they leave for the conference.  Well, actually, it was the same conference that Stan’s former job dictated that she attend too, and this was a point that Richard didn’t miss an opportunity to point out.

Truth was, the tension was so bad with him around that his leaving wasn’t all that sad.

After meeting a few friendly neighbors, Stan had the misfortune to meet the less welcoming party of one, who doubles as the town vet and acts like a drill sergeant, Dr. Carole Morganwick. 

This woman accuses Stan of not properly taking care of her cat, Nutty, because she didn’t already make an appointment with her.  Never you mind that Stan was fresh into this town and  her boxes were yet to be unpacked.  Dr. Morganwick ordered Stan to visit her with Nutty in the morning, stressing that because it was just a getting to know the animal appointment that she’d squeeze her in before the first scheduled patient. Normally, Stan’s mouth would have opened with some unpleasantness of her own, but she did her best to keep her words at bay and accepted the appointment.  

After all, what if Nutty got sick and she needed this vet’s assistance later?  For the sake of her feline charge, Stan could take this order and do what was told, um, asked of her.  More of the bad had visited her in her new home, but Stan was still determined to turn it around.  

In the morning, Stan and Nutty arrived at the office even before the receptionist, and this is where all of Stan’s new problems begin.

It wasn’t easy to find the vet down on the floor with a stick in her neck while covered in kibble, but it wasn’t an easy talk with the state police, who treated her like the suspect, either.  In fact, this woman trooper’s insinuations and warnings couldn’t have been missed.

This newbie wasn’t taking the rap.

Stan’s life depends on her ability to clear her name before someone clears Stan’s schedule permanently and sentences town animals to death.  

My Take:

In KNEADING TO DIE by Liz Mugavero, this author makes a successful and compelling foray into the cozy mystery market with a read you can’t put down!

Stan (Kristan) Conner is a smart, financial savvy woman who reaches a turning point in life. With time on her hands to think about what she wants and the ability to find it,  Stan’s burning desire to find this murderer accelerates, once town animals turn up sick.  I took an immediate liking to this sleuth; she will remind you of any number of real people that you could know.  Her love of animals is endearing, while her caring personality translates to mankind too, but her desire to find her niche in a changed environment is something we all can relate to.    

KNEADING TO DIE by Liz Mugavero is a great read that will teach you about Southern animal rescue groups, traditional and holistic animal health, and new thoughts about  animal kibble to ponder while you await the next book of this new series!