Fixing to Die

fixing to die

Fixing to Die
A Southern Ladies Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2017

From the back of the book, “It’s autumn down south, and An’gel and Dickce Ducote are in Natchez, Mississippi, at the request of Mary Turner Catlin, the granddaughter of an old friend. Mary and her husband, Henry Howard, live in Cliffwood, one of the beautiful antebellum homes for which Natchez is famous.

“Odd things have been happening in the house for years, and the French room in particular has become the focal point for spooky sensations. The Ducotes suspect the ghostly goings-on are caused by the living, but when a relative of the Catlins is found dead in the room, An’gel and Dickce must sift through a haunted family history to catch a killer.”

Another great cozy mystery by Miranda James! I love to follow these two ‘ladies of a certain age’ as they solve another murder mystery. This one involves crazy family members and maybe a ghost or two! They’re very genteel and lady-like in their ways but are able to overlook (with some disgust) the rude behavior of the younger generation around them. The suspect I had in mind turned out to be the killer but the ghost – well, that was a definite surprise!! My only disappointment is that I have to wait months and months for the next installment!

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for a good mystery that the reader has a ghost of a chance solving!!



Twelve Angry Librarians

twelve angry librarians

Twelve Angry Librarians
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2017

From the dust jacket, “Lighthearted librarian Charlie Harris is known around his hometown of Athena, Mississippi, for walking his cat, a rescued Maine Coon named Diesel. But he may soon be taken for a walk himself—in handcuffs…

“Charlie is stressed. The Southern Academic Libraries Association is holding this year’s annual meeting at Athena College. Since Charlie is the interim library director, he must deliver the welcome speech to all the visiting librarians. As if that weren’t bad enough, the keynote address will be delivered by Charlie’s old nemesis from library school.

“It’s been thirty years since Charlie has seen Gavin Fong and he’s still an insufferable know-it-all capable of getting under everyone’s skin. In his keynote, Gavin puts forth a most unpopular opinion: that degreed librarians will be obsolete in the academic libraries of the future. So when Gavin drops dead, no one seems too upset…

“But Charlie, who was seen having a heated argument with Gavin the day before, has jumped to the top of the suspect list. Now Charlie and Diesel must check out every clue to refine their search for the real killer among them, before the next book Charlie reads comes from a prison library…”

Sorry for the long introduction; we here at the Library usually try to keep those dust jacket intros short but sometimes it’s hard with adult fiction. Anyway, despite the intro being a little long and a bit salacious (you know our hero, Charlie, is never in any danger of going to prison!!) the book was outstanding. I read it in two days. I waited three months on the hold list for the book and read it so fast I feel guilty. I may have to read it again before I turn it back in!

This light, cozy mystery is a good read and while you know right off who is going to get murdered (in cozies, it’s always the most obnoxious person in the first couple of chapters) its’ less easy to figure out who did the killing. This mystery is a good one and I didn’t figure it out – I had to wait until Charlie revealed who the murderer was!

If you’re looking for vacation reading, check out Miranda James’ mysteries. There are currently two series: this one (The Cat in the Stacks) and Southern Ladies (with 2 elderly Southern belles solving mysteries) that are very well written and fun.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the book has a giant house cat and a librarian as its’ central characters! Also, it’s just a darn good story.



No Cats Allowed

no cats allowedNo Cats Allowed
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, 2016

I have been on the waiting list since February for this book – maybe even earlier – and was not disappointed in having to wait so long! Another cozy mystery starring the beautiful Maine Coon, Diesel and his human, Charlie Harris. Charlie works as an archivist in the library of Athena College in Athena, Mississippi cataloging rare books and collections. He loves his job and takes Diesel with him every day – in fact Diesel goes with him practically everywhere in town! The library has a new interim director, Oscar Reilly, whom everyone loves to hate. He is an obnoxious, know-it-all bully and has no problem stirring up trouble wherever he goes. Is it any wonder he gets murdered? After a couple of chapters of his noxious nonsense even I was ready for him to be killed off! As in the previous Diesel mysteries, murders  just seem to follow Charlie around and he is on hand to help the local cops figure it all out.

This is another fun book to read. I had my suspensions early on who the killer might be; I think the author made it a little too obvious in this one. But that didn’t stop my enjoyment of reading the book. Even though I figured out who did it, I didn’t know why so that was a mystery until the end!! I enjoyed getting caught up with the familiar characters from the other books and reading how their literary lives are moving on. I’m hoping Charlie and Helen Louise finally get married in the next book and it’s a shame I’ll have to wait a year or so to find out!! I love this series and haven’t come across a bad one in the bunch!!

Rating:  4 paws

cropped-cropped-visiting-the-vet-2005.jpgReviewer: Toby

I read this as a part of the Summer Reading Challenge;

Topic: Read a Mystery or Thriller!

Click on the Library Logo to go to our Summer Reading Challenge Page!

VBPL_Logo_w tag

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 James, aka Dean James

Its a labradoodle like Peanut!!

Its a Ruddy Abyssinian like Endora!!!

Arsenic and Old Books


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!!