By Familiar Means

by familiar means

By Familiar Means
A Witch’s Cat Mystery (Bk 2)

Delia James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2016

Rom the back of the book: “After discovering her mystical heritage—and being adopted by a furry feline familiar Alistair—artist Annabelle Britton has decided to make picturesque Portsmouth, New Hampshire, her new home. Now, she can take the time to figure out her new abilities and welcome her grandmother, who is visiting Portsmouth and her old coven for the first time in decades.

“But being a witch doesn’t magically put money in the bank. When she’s hired to paint murals for a new coffee shop, it seems like a wish come true. But then a series of spooky sounds and strange happenings convince the owners that their new shop is haunted. They want Annabelle and her coven to evict the restless spirit before the grand opening.

“Annabelle is certain the haunted happenings at the shop are just hocus pocus. When her search reveals hidden smugglers’ tunnels beneath the shop—and a dead body—Annabelle, Alistair, and the coven suddenly find themselves in a cat and mouse game with a killer.”

With the second installment of this mystery series, I have been thoroughly won over by the author. The author constructed another excellent mystery and I truly had no idea who was the murderer until the ‘Big Reveal’. There were so many good suspects, so many threads to the mystery, I was completely mystified! I liked how the author continued Annabelle’s exploration into witchcraft – she approaches it with trepidation and a healthy dose of respect. Of course, my favorite character is Alistair – I love how he can appear and disappear at will; I wish I had the same skill! I would pop in at mom’s work every now and then just to surprise her!!

As a cozy mystery, the murder takes place way off stage and Annabelle is threatened with violence a couple of times. We meet a different policeman – who is thoroughly obnoxious and the subject of civil disobedience and drug use (pot) is brought up by a “hippie-type” couple. There’s also a budding romance which may evolve over time, but nothing untoward in that department takes place. This is a nice PG-rating-type book, that if you don’t mind reading a mystery with witches and magic, that is easy to enjoy.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because it kept me guessing throughout the book, and that’s my favorite kind of mystery!! Book 3 will be out soon and I can’t wait!!

Reviewer:

bobbiesue-loc

BobbieSue

 

A Familiar Tail

a familiar tail

A Familiar Tail
A Witch’s Cat Mystery #1

Delia James
Obsidian, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2016

From the back of the book: “Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alistair and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.

“Suddenly saddled with a witch’s wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town….

“Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her, rather than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.”

Wow! I enjoyed this book so much I read it straight through in one day! It’s always exciting to start a new book, especially when the book is a new series and the author has to do a lot of world-building. Love it! Portsmouth, New Hampshire – never been there, by the way – is wonderfully described – I felt I was there amongst the gardens, old shops and cottages and fancy houses. And of course, the star of the book is Alistair, a lovely gray cat who is magical and helps Annabelle solve the mystery – actually, he knows what’s really going on, but you know humans. They are inept at discerning our obvious clues so it takes his new person the whole book to figure it out.

Speaking of which, the mystery was well done – I didn’t figure out who the culprit was, nor any clue as to why, until it was revealed towards the end of the book. I hope the follow-up books are just as well done as this one; I’m seriously looking forward to them!!! The book is perfect reading for any mystery lover of any age – as long as you don’t mind practicing witches!

Rating: 4 ½ paws out of 5 – my highest rating, without it being a 5-paw rating, ever! Why 4 ½ and not 5? Well, while the story was fabulous, I’m not likely to read it again and there was no real emotional investment on my part which is the hallmark of a 5 paw book!

Reviewer:

bobbiesue-loc

BobbieSue

 

Elementary, She Read

elementary she read

Elementary, She Read
A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery, #1

Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane Books, 2017

From the dust jacket, “Gemma Doyle, a transplanted Englishwoman, has returned to the quaint town of West London on Cape Cod to manage her great uncle Arthur’s Emporium. The shop—located at 222 Baker Street—specializes in the Holmes canon and pastiche and is also the home of Moriarty the cat. When Gemma finds a rare and potentially valuable magazine containing the first Sherlock Holmes story hidden in the bookshop, she and her friend Jayne (who runs the adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room) set off to find the owner, only to stumble upon a dead body.

“The highly perceptive Gemma is the police’s first suspect, so she puts her consummate powers of deduction to work to clear her name, investigating a handsome rare books expert, the dead woman’s suspiciously unmoved son, and a whole family of greedy characters desperate to cash in on their inheritance. But when Gemma and Jayne accidentally place themselves at a second murder scene, it’s a race to uncover the truth before the detectives lock them up for good. Vicki Delany’s outstanding series debut is sure to charm the most discerning fan of the great fictional detective.”

What an enjoyable book to read! It was a fast paced read with some good twists and turns. I liked the setting – a bookstore with an adjoining tea room and a pretty New England town. My dislikes are minor – the history between Gemma and the handsome detective confused me at first. I thought that there was a previous book with the two of them in it but once I was satisfied I was only reading history, I wasn’t confused any more (I guess that’s really more of a like than a dislike – so well written was their background story!) I also didn’t like (at first) the fact that the only cat in the series, Moriarty, loved everyone else except for Gemma, whom he thoroughly hated. Then as I thought about it, I realized that Moriarty (the character) would never like to Sherlock Holmes, so it stands to reason that the cat Moriarty wouldn’t like Gemma, the Sherlock-like human. So, that’s also more of a like – another example of fine writing! (I also didn’t like the character of the female detective, but she was very well written to be mean and that’s good!)

As in all the cozies we’ve read, the violence takes place off stage – which we like – and the gory details are left to an absolute minimum. The mystery was good and although my initial suspicions about the murder were correct, I wasn’t absolutely sure until the big reveal. I will be reading the next book in this series.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for a cozy atmosphere in which to learn more about the fans of Sherlock Holmes!

Reviewer:

bobbiesue-loc

BobbieSue

 

Look Both Ways

look both ways

Look Both Ways
Witch City Mystery, Book 2

Carol J. Perry
Kensington Books, 2015

From the back of the book: “When Lee Barrett spots the same style oak bureau she once had as a child on the WICH-TV show Shopping Salem, she rushes to the antiques shop and buys the piece. Just like the beloved bureau she lost in a fire, this one has secret compartments. It also comes with an intriguing history—it was purchased in an estate sale from a home where a famous local murder too place.

“The day after the bureau is delivered, Lee returns to the antiques shop and finds the owner dead. The police suspect the shop owner’s unscrupulous business partner, but Lee wonders in the murder is connected to her new furniture. At least part of the answer may be revealed through a mirror in the bureau, tarnished and blackened, allowing Lee to tap into her psychic visions. Using this bureau of investigation, Lee may be able to furnish her policeman beau with the evidence need to catch the killer—before the next one to be shut up is her…”

With this book, I am caught up with Lee, O’Ryan, and her quirky Salem, Mass friends! I enjoyed this murder mystery as much as the rest of them with the plot line taking me down various roads of possibility toward the murderer. Along with solving the murder there’s a subplot of finding the pink diamond that belonged to the murdered woman. For the astute reader, the two main mysteries are relatively easy to figure out – once you have enough clues. However, being able to solve the puzzles didn’t lesson my enjoyment of the book; it’s an easy and fast read, and the character building is great. Now, I am left with having to wait until later this year or the next for the next installment! Bummer.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because I liked it a lot and it is read-again worthy, which I might do when the next book comes out!

Reviewer:

bobbiesue-loc

BobbieSue

Tails You Lose

Tails You Lose

Tails You Lose
A Witch City Mystery, #2

Carol J. Perry
Kensington Publishing, 2015

From the back of the book: “After losing her job as a TV psychic, Lee Barrett has decided to volunteer her talents as an instructor at the Tabitha Trumbull Academy of the Arts—known as “The Tabby”—in her hometown of Salem Massachusetts. But when the local handyman turns up dead under seemingly inexplicable circumstances on Christmas night, Lee’s clairvoyant capabilities begin bubbling to the surface once again.

“The Tabby is housed in the long-vacant Trumbell’s Department Store. Ass Lee and her intrepid students begin work on a documentary charting the store’s history, they unravel a century of family secrets, deathbed whispers—and a mysterious labyrinth of tunnels hidden right below the streets of Salem. Even the witches in town are spooked, and when Lee begins seeing visions in the large black patent leather pump in her classroom, she’s certain something evil is afoot. But ghosts in the store’s attic are the least of her worries with a killer on the loose…”

This second book in the Witch City mysteries is better than the first one. The mystery is tightly woven and I wasn’t able to figure out who the murderer was this time. That’s the way I like my mysteries! The main character, Lee, is still afraid of using her gift of scrying which was a bit frustrating (but in a good way); and the budding romance between Pete and Lee is moving along at a nice, old-fashioned pace. Of course, the wonderful orange tabby, O’Ryan, was outstanding but not used as much in this book as in the first or the fourth. I’m starting the 3rd book soon and I hope the super-smart kitty will be more prominent in the story line. This story is set in the middle of a New England winter and the author writes in a way that made me believe I was in the middle of Salem on a cold, winter afternoon.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws – if you don’t mind a bit of ghostly and witchly happenings with your cozy mystery, you’ll love this book as much as I did. This series is definitely on my list to read!

Reviewer:

bobbiesue-loc

BobbieSue