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

 

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d

thrice-the-brindled-cat-hath-mewd

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d
A Flavia de Luce Novel

Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press, Penguin Random House, 2016

From the back of the book: “In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. ‘It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits.’ But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.”

I was so excited to read this book. I’ve been mildly disappointed in the previous two, with The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches being so depressing and As the Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust not being set in England and Flavia filled with so much angst and homesickness. But this book – oh, this book.

Another really great mystery that I didn’t figure out at all, and Flavia with her brilliance and smart-aleck nature made for another great story. However, with Flavia’s father sick in the hospital she is, again full of angst and heartache. We don’t see him through the entire book and – I’m breaking one of my taboos here – SPOILER ALERT – neither does Flavia – ever again. I was so mad at the author after I read the last chapter, the last page, the last paragraph – I wanted to throw the book across the room!! I’m still mad about it. I’m not going to spell it out specifically what happened because I’ve already told you why I’m so mad! I hate it when an author messes with a character I love so much – I know it’s their right, it’s their creation and they can do whatever they want with it. But I don’t like it when they write so much pain and heartache into their fictional lives. I was already on the fence about reading another Flavia novel due to the depressing heartache in this one and then I finished it. So, I don’t know if I’ll read the follow-up novel or not. I’ll decide when it comes out. I suppose if I want a happy-ending mystery I’m going to have to read Nancy Drew.

Rating 5 out of 5 paws because any book that makes me so furious about what happens that I want to throw the book against the wall (I wouldn’t – [a] because it’s a book and [b] because it’s a library book) deserves the highest rating I can give it.

Reviewer:

bobbiesue-loc

BobbieSue

Digging Up the Dirt

digging-up-the-dirtDigging Up the Dirt
A Southern Ladies Mystery

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2016

From the back cover: “An’gel and Dickce Ducote, busy with plans for the Athena Garden Club’s spring tour of grand old homes, are having trouble getting the other club members to help. The rest of the group is all aflutter now that dashing and still-eligible Hadley Partridge is back to restore his family mansion. But idle chatter soon turns deadly serious when a body turns up on the Partridge estate after a storm…
“The remains might belong to Hadley’s long-lost sister-in-law, Callie, who everyone thought ran off with Hadley years ago. And if it’s not Callie, who could it be? As the Ducotes begin uncovering secrets, they discover that more than one person in Athena would kill to be Mrs. Partridge. Now An’gel and Dickce will need to get their hands dirty if they hope to reveal a killer’s deep-buried motives begore someone else’s name is mud.”

This is the third book in this series and it is just as good as the other two. An’gel and Dickce are elderly sisters who, while always showing proper comportment, are like a dog with a bone when it comes to solving a murder! They live in an antebellum home in Athena, Mississippi where eccentric people are welcome – as long as they aren’t wielding a gun – and really nasty people are usually murdered.

There is a 40-year-old murder to solve that is connected to more recent murders and a group of older garden club ladies who argue and fuss like school girls over the handsome bachelor newly returned to town. The murders take place off stage, there is just a touch of wistful romance, and a lot of funny moments. As An’gel and Dickce move forward to solve the murder the reader has to continue turning the pages to keep up with them. I had my suspicions of who the murderer was but as usual, I was wrong.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the mystery was a good one, it takes place in the South, my mom’s ancestral home, and has an Abyssinian named Endora and a Labradoodle named Peanut that lighten the mood when things get too dark.

bobbiesue-loc

Reviewer: BobbieSue

 

Before I go, this is what I found in the front of the book:mudpie-review-for-digging-up-dirt Do you see it? A review from Melissa’s Mocha’s, Mysteries & Meows (now & More) blog. That’s Mudpie’s blog!! That’s so cool!!!

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

21874813-1As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
A Flavia de Luce Novel
 
Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press, 2015
 
From the back of the book: “Banished! Is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.”
 
Poor Flavia! Banished to the colonies! For being bad? No! For being too good as a spy and detective! Aunt Felicity is head of an underground organization of spies that works toward the common good of England and Flavia is now a part of it. This mystery has her trying to figure out who the other players are and what their purpose is, as well as solving a murder. The story is well written and the mystery is perplexing all the way to the end; there are lots of twists and turns along the way, which Flavia is able to decipher despite her raw homesickness.
 
I did miss reading about Bishop’s Lacey, Flavia’s home town, and all the accompanying characters; I also, surprisingly, missed her obnoxious sisters. But the book was enjoyable nonetheless and well worth the read. The next book is on hold at the library – I am #16 on the waiting list! Oh! I shall have to wait until after the holidays to enjoy another Flavia de Luce mystery. Bummer!!!
 
Rating:  4 paws
 
007Reviewer: BobbieSue