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

Purr M for Murder

purr m for murder

Purr M for Murder
A Cat Rescue Mystery

T. C. LoTempio
Crooked Lane Books, an imprint of The Quick Brown Fox & Company, LLC., 2017

From the dust jacket, “Sydney McCall left behind an ex-fiancé and a New York advertising job to return home to Deer Park, North Carolina, and help her sister, Kat, run the local animal shelter, Friendly Paws. Determined to save the shelter from financial trouble, Sydney and Kat organize a cat café fundraising event at a local coffee shop. Things are looking up until their landlord, Trowbridge Littleton, threatens to shut down the event. When Sydney drops by his art gallery to make peace, she finds Kat – along with Littleton’s dead body.

“Local homicide detective Will Worthington—who just happens to be Sydney’s old high school crush—is highly suspicious of the sisters’ involvement. Desperate to clear their names from the suspect list, Sydney pounces on the investigation. With the help of one of the shelter cats, a savvy orange tabby named Toby, Sydney begins poking her nose into other local business whose owners may have benefited from Littleton’s death—until the killer notices she’s pawing a little too closely at the truth.”

Toby and I argued over who would read this book – I said I should because it’s the protagonist is female and he said he should read it because the story revolves around an orange and white tabby named Toby who solves a murder. We decided to read it together; he of course wanted to emphasize all the ‘Toby’ parts, but since I’m writing the actual review, I’ll tell you about the whole book.

We both enjoyed this little murder mystery – it had us guessing until the end – the murder of Littleton takes place off stage – so there’s no violence in the beginning, but things do get a little dicey for Sydney when she uncovers who the murder is and they try to get her. (Toby wants to insert here that his namesake saves the day!!!). I liked the concept of surrounding this ‘cozy’ at a pet shelter – and the cat café idea is really cool to let folks meet their new feline companions.

It’s a standard genre mystery – with the main character a strong, independent-minded woman who is not in law enforcement but gets involved in solving crimes and has a relationship with a man who is in law enforcement, who continually cautions her not to get involved but understands and forgives her when she gets herself into trouble. That’s not a bad thing – its’ just part of the genre. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of these books, but they’re a nice break from all the other books we read and review.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the story is an enjoyable and convoluted mystery with likeable characters that includes cats!!! Toby wants to interject here that he gives it 5 paws because the hero of the book is Toby!

Reviewer: BobbieSue
bobbiesue-loc

(and…)

toby-loc
Toby

Blood Rubies

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Blood Rubies
A Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery

Jane K. Cleland
Minotaur Books, 2014

Blood Rubies is a cozy murder mystery set in the fictional Rocky Point, New Hampshire with antiques as its underlying theme. This book is number nine out of a series of nine. In it, the reader is given a lesson in Russian Imperial antiques, namely the Fabergé Eggs as well as ‘gadget canes’ something I’ve never heard of. The story is basically an up and coming celebrity chef has a Fabergé egg that has been passed down through her family and she asks Josie to appraise it for her. While waiting for the egg to show up, the fiancé of the chef’s best friend is murdered and the priceless egg is found smashed beyond recognition around his feet. Together with the local police chief, Josie solves who killed the fiancé and where is the Egg, while trying not to be murdered herself.

Main Characters
*Josie Prescott, antiques dealer, appraiser and owner of Prescott’s Antiques
*Ana Yartsin, up and coming celebrity chef, asks her father to bring the family’s Fabergé Spring Egg to her in Rocky Point where she is filming her new TV show.

Secondary Characters
*Chief Ellis Hunter, local police chief and friend to Josie. He blatantly seeks her help in solving the murder constantly by asking “What would you do?” which doesn’t make him seem to bright.
*Ty, former local police chief and boyfriend to Josie. The moments between him and Josie are all sugary-coated-sweetness and romance. Blechhh!
*Heather Walker, Ana’s best friend and fiancé of Jason, seemingly so dazzled by Jason’s brilliance, can’t see him for the creep he really is
*Jason Ferris, fiancé of Heather, arrogant, mean-spirited and self-centered – which makes him a perfect murder victim
*Peter Yartsin, hot-headed, fly-off-the-handle brother of Ana and obsessed with Heather in a stalker-like way
*Stefan Yartsin, father to Ana and Peter, seems guilty from the beginning because he is most definitely hiding something!!

Most important character
*Hank, the Maine Coon Shop Cat

I enjoyed this book as its always fun to learn about antiques. The mystery was well thought out and all the various suspects eliminated one by one in a logical and thoughtful way. I guessed at who the murderer was almost from the beginning – not because of any evidence but because of the way his/her character was written. It was pretty obvious, at least to me. 

Blood Rubies is pretty far along in the Josie Prescott series and although it can stand alone for the most part, I did feel like I had missed out on previous stuff that might have made the events in this book more meaningful. That was a long sentence to say, it is a series book and it reads like a series book. It didn’t help that the author footnoted her previous books three  separate times when describing events or characters. And, as adult authors usually do, she is very, very descriptive when it comes to – well, just about everything. Does the fact that Josie sits and gazes out the restaurant window at “A small brown bird landed on a birch tree. It fluttered its wings for a moment, then grew still. . . . The little brown bird appeared to be resting, its head tucked under its wing.” (pgs 181-182) really make a difference to the story? Some readers may like little moments like these. I don’t; I think they’re just fluff. I won’t be reading the rest of the series any time soon – there are just too many other books on my to-read pile.

Rating: 3 out of 5 paws

Reviewer: BobbieSue

Jane Cleland  Jane K. Cleland

Other Books

Consigned to DeathDeadlly AppraisalAntiques to Die ForKiller KeepsakesSilent AuctionDeadly ThreadsDolled Up for MurderLethal TreasureOrnaments of Death

Faberge Eggs

File:Tsarevich (Fabergé egg)-crop.jpg The Tsarevich Egg is a Fabergé egg, one in a series of fifty-two jewelled eggs made under the supervision of Peter Carl Fabergé. It was created in 1912 for Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna as a tribute by Faberge to her son the Tsarevich Alexis (Alexei). The egg currently resides in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. (Wikipedia)

File:Madonna Lily Egg.jpgMadonna Lily Egg in Moscow Kremlin Armoury, taken August 2003 by User:Stan Shebs 

File:Memory of Azov Egg.jpg  Photo of en:Memory of Azov Egg (1891) in Moscow Kremlin Armoury, taken August 2003 by User:Stan Shebs

File:Peterthegreategg.JPG  Peter the Great Egg

File:Romanov Tercentenary Egg-2.jpgRomanov Tercentenary Egg by Fabergé 1913

Dead with the Wind

 

Dead with the Wind

Dead with the Wind
A Southern Ladies Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2015

The two grand ladies-of-a-certain age are back for another murder mystery. This time they travel to St Ignatiusville in Louisiana for the wedding of a cousin’s granddaughter. Together with their “ward” Benjy (he is a college age young man who came to stay with them during the last book when his mother was killed) and their two rescued pets, Peanut the Labradoodle and Endora the Abyssinian cat, they help the local police solve the murder of 3 (or is it 2?) distant relatives.

Main Characters

*An’gel Ducote, the elder of the two unmarried sisters and the more direct of the two. She puts herself in the middle of the investigation of the accidental(?) death of her goddaughter, even when the local police say its’ an accident. She is not at all pleased when said police officer treats her condescendingly as an “old girl.” She stands toe-to-toe with him and only backs down when good manners insist upon it.
*Dickce Ducote, the younger of the sisters and more easygoing than her sister. She is charming, a bit flirtatious and dotes upon their goddaughter’s little girl – something An’gel would never do!
*Benjy Stephens, travels with the sisters but mostly looks after the animals. He also brings information he gleans from around the country home to the sisters to help solve the mystery.

Secondary Characters
*Mirielle Champlain, matriarch of the stately Southern home, Willowbank. She is afraid of conflict of any sort so when her granddaughter tears up an antique wedding gown during a temper tantrum, she has a massive coronary and is absent for most of the book.
*Jacqueline Mims, daughter of Mirielle and goddaughter to An’gel and Dickce, and even more afraid of conflict than her mother. She kowtows to both her husband and daughter and weeps through most of the book.
*Sondra Mims, spoiled rotten brat daughter of Jacqueline, is used to getting everything she wants when she wants it. She’s beautiful and knows it and is about to marry an equally beautiful man; only she refuses to wear the antique wedding gown her grandmother wants her to. She is a true ‘bridezilla’ and causes her mother and grandmother no end of grief at least until someone tosses her off the third floor balcony!
*Lance Perigord, Sondra’s intended and equally as beautiful and as dumb as she is. But he is also gay – which begs the question, why would Sondra knowingly marry a gay man?
*Horace Mims, second husband of Jacqueline and supposedly a shrewd business man but is in cahoots with another man in a bid to recover from some bad investments.
*Estelle Winfield, housekeeper for Mirielle and unbelievably rude to everyone she comes across. Tactfulness is not her watchword!
*Jackson, mild-mannered elderly butler at Willowbank. Certainly Jackson isn’t the murderer! He’s too caring and sweet!
*Trey Mims, son of Horace from his first marriage, has an EXPLOSIVE temper and is not happy that Sondra is marrying Lance.
*Richmond Thurston, long time family friend and lawyer for the Champlain family, is privy to family financial secrets.

So, there you have all the players in this multiple murder mystery. Read it and see if you can figure out who did the killing!

Another great book from Miranda James – a nice little cozy mystery about Southern families and traditions. James does an outstanding job of capturing the atmosphere and familial interactions of well-to-do Southerners. However, I would really like to see her (him) turn her hand – or pen, as it were – toward the not so well off folks of the South; there are just as many eccentric characters in the lower income demographic as there are in the upper incomes!

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue 

https://sp.yimg.com/xj/th?id=OIP.Ma0c9a1bab8bd26552a945657c9513304o1&pid=15.1&P=0&w=300&h=300Miranda James, aka Dean James

Its a labradoodle like Peanut!!

Its a Ruddy Abyssinian like Endora!!!

Arsenic and Old Books

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Arsenic and Old Books
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Group, 2015

Charlie Harris and Diesel return again, this time to solve the murder of a college professor that is widely disliked by students, faculty, Charlie and even Diesel. When the mayor of Athena, Mississippi shows up in the archive with 4 diaries that her husband’s distant grandmother wrote before,during and after the Civil War, a new war begins for those diaries. What do they contain that causes so much clamor and ultimately the death of the professor? Charlie and Diesel will find out!!

Main Characters
*Charlie Harris, librarian, semi-retired, working as an archivist in the local college library, most of his days are quietly spent cataloging old books and papers while Diesel sleeps in the window. Somehow trouble seems to find them and in this book its’ no exception. The Rachel Long diaries cause quite a stir, especially when Charlie starts discovering all the secrets it holds.
*Diesel, a gentle giant of a cat, a Maine Coon, seems to know exactly where to be at the right time. He does give Charlie quite the fright when he briefly disappears from the office.

Secondary Characters
*Lucinda Beckwith Long, Mayor of Athena, her family (and her husbands’) has a long history of politics, power and money in the region. Her son, Beck Long is running for state office and she donates the diaries in hopes his ancestor’s experiences will encourage voters
*Dr. Marie Steverton, history professor at the college, pushy, rude and totally unliked by any of the characters; she and Lucinda go back a long way and she wants those diaries. She has a definite way of getting what she wants, no matter who gets in the way.
*Kelly Grimes, another pushy woman who lies to Charlie about why she is demanding to see the diaries,

Continuing Characters
*Deputy Kanesha Berry, Sheriff’s deputy and reluctantly tolerates Charlie’s continuing presence in solving crimes.
*Azalea, Charlie’s housekeeper and mother of Kanesha; she keeps Charlie and Diesel well fed.
*Melba, secretary to Peter Vanderkeller, the director of the library, works downstairs from Charlie and Diesel; knows all the gossip around town
*Helen Louise Brady, Charlie’s love (he doesn’t like the word ‘girlfriend’), she makes an occasional appearance whenever Charlie and Diesel go to her place for lunch

Like the other books, I really enjoyed Arsenic and Old Books; although it wasn’t until the very end the arsenic came into play, the old books were there from the first page. The story delves into the past quite a bit as the diaries play an important role, but the story isn’t overloaded with static historical information. I really liked this book. The mystery is well developed and it wasn’t until the very end I figured out who the murderer was. I guessed several times along the way, but I was wrong. I guess that’s part of the fun of mysteries! Anyway, if you want a relaxing read, and a good mystery, this is the story for you. In fact, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that the mystery was over and the book had to end. I wanted to keep on reading about the folks of Athena, Mississippi!

Rating: 4 paws out of 5 because I can’t wait for 2016 to get here to read the next installment!!

selfie 092015aaReviewer: BobbieSue

“Miranda James” a pseudonym of Dean James

Murder By The Book » Where a good crime is had by all!Click on the image above for another review!

Miranda James - Cat in the Stacks mysteriesClick on the image above to be directed to Miranda James website!

And of course, I have to close the review with a picture of a Maine Coon!!