Mystery

Charlotte & Thomas Pitt #1 and #2 by Anne Perry

The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #1)The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nobody does Victorian mysteries better than Anne Perry. Her grasp of the culture and mores of the times is unparalleled and her descriptions of the area just make you feel like you are right there in that time and place.

I recently read a later book in this series and enjoyed it so much I wanted to start at the beginning and read them through, in order. This was certainly a great beginning to a long and enduring series.

The bloody and mutilated bodies of lovely young women are showing up on Cater Street. Cater Street is home to the rich gentry of London and they are not happy to have the police nosing around looking for a murderer.

Inspector Thomas Pitt, a very large, tall, perceptive and intelligent man is assigned to investigate the case and it is really baffling. There just isn’t any commonality among the victims and that will make solving the case next to impossible unless the perpetrator is caught in the act

When Pitt shows up at the Ellison’s door to interview the family he is taken with Charlotte. This is during the period when there is a definite separation of classes and the police are considered a very low rank. However, he is still smitten.

Charlotte is a very outspoken, intelligent young woman who chafes at the restraints placed on her gender during that time. She isn’t supposed to read the news papers or be interested in anything other than fashion, embroidery and how to run a home.

You’ll be guessing right until the end – when Charlotte’s life is threatened.

A great read — I highly recommend this book and the series!


Callander Square (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #2)Callander Square by Anne Perry

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nobody does a Victorian mystery better than Anne Perry and there isn’t a better sleuthing team than Charlotte and Thomas Pitt! Winners all around.

Charlotte and Thomas met in the first book of the series and they are now married and expecting their first child. Charlotte’s younger sister has also married her titled suitor from the first book. Everybody is happy, but Charlotte’s sister is getting a little bored with her aristocratic existence. So, when the skeletal remains of three babies are found in Callander Square she decides that she and Charlotte need to help Pitt solve the case.

Add two more murders to the list and the local residents petitioning the government to end the investigation and poor Inspector Pitt has his hands full. It is a good thing he has the help of Charlotte and her sister — isn’t it?

Can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

A Christmas Peril by J. A. Hennrikus

A Christmas PerilBarbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Theater Cop Mystery #1
Publication Date: 09/18/17

This book is exciting, interesting, filled with twists and turns and many well developed and likable characters. I believe this is either the first or second book by this author and it will be interesting to see how she develops as a writer as time passes. It certainly lays a great foundation for the series.

Edwina “Sully” Sullivan was once part of the state police of Massachusetts, but she is now medically retired and divorced from her unfaithful husband. She’s moved back to her hometown, Trevorton and taken on the job of General Manager for the local theater. Sully was surprised to find that her skills learned on the police force would serve her well at the theater, but they do.

Sully deliberately chose not to become a PI because she wanted to leave police and investigative work behind. That has worked for five years. However, when the town’s leading citizen is murdered and his son (who is Sully’s friend) is the main focus of the investigation, she has to at least look into it a little to see if she can help.

When she arrives at the police station to see what she can do for her friend, she finds he has a very good lawyer – Sully’s ex-husband. She’s not sure how she feels about that. There is a tingle of excitement at seeing Gus again – but – she doesn’t really want to be around him.

The investigation is filled with twists and turns, multiple murders and multiple perpetrators. One of those perpetrators is a surprise!

Sully is a very relatable character and you can just feel her being pulled by her interest in the case all the while she is trying to stay out of it. She’s also pulled to Gus and it is obvious that the softer feelings are still there for him. He seems to still be drawn to her as well – especially since he didn’t want the divorce – he wanted to work things out. So, it will be interesting to watch and see the romance grow throughout the series. I say that hoping that it will grow because I really like both characters and can see them working together really well.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

Walking On My Grave by Carolyn Hart

Walking on My Grave (A Death on Demand Mysteries)Barbara’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars    Maybe even 2.5 stars

Series: Death on Demand #26
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

I absolutely cannot believe I’m giving this one three stars. This is the final book in the series and I would have hoped for it to end with a bang rather than a whimper. I would have loved it if Annie and Max had decided to close everything down and sail around the world or maybe they find themselves expecting a child – just something – rather than this non-ending ending. Max has deteriorated to the point that I almost didn’t recognize him – he is such a wimpy, uninteresting fellow. Annie too has become a wimp and has lost her determination. So, I guess I have to say that, given the quality of this book, it is time for the series to end and it is a sad ending indeed for a much-loved series.

The book is a normal size, but a portion at the end is taken up with the content of the Chapbooks that are being written by Henny, Laurel, and Emma. I will definitely NOT miss those three because they are becoming very tiresome. At the beginning of the book, you also have a number of pages taken up with a ‘Cast of Characters’ and a ‘timetable’ that is totally unnecessary. So, you have the middle portion left for the actual story.

The mystery itself is okay, but you just don’t come to care about the characters. In previous books you would have come to really know and understand the characters – maybe there were just too many suspects. For some of the suspects, we probably had a total of 5 or 6 lines dealing with them – Curt Roundtree is a prime example of that. Also, the first murder didn’t even occur until something like 100-pages into the book. As I said, the mystery was an okay mystery, but I just never felt invested in any of the victims or suspects.

Frankly, I almost felt that this book was written by another author – not only a different author who hadn’t written any of the previous books but one who hadn’t read them either. I was really disappointed in the wrap-up for the series.

Alibis Can Be Murder by Connie Shelton

Alibis can be Murder (Charlie Parker #17)Alibis can be Murder by Connie Shelton

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Charlie Parker #17
Publication Date: 6/4/17

Connie Shelton creates warm, very relatable characters in this series and you come to care about them as friends. You love spending time with them and sharing their adventures. Shelton’s descriptions of Albuquerque and New Mexico pull you right in and make you feel like you are seeing that mountain or hiking down that trail. These books are all excellently written.

We learn a bit more about Charlie’s history after her parents died. There are several flashback paragraphs that go back to those years after she was orphaned and was living with an elderly neighbor. I love how ‘gram’ dealt with the teenage Charlie who was, of course, straining to free herself from her bonds. Then, you see the two of them fifteen years later and they are as close and loving as a real grandmother and grandchild.

The relationship between Drake and Charlie is really special. He is a man who isn’t threatened by a strong woman and is happy to let her be herself. Yes, he worries for her safety at times, but then she worries for his as well. He isn’t over protective and doesn’t try to tell her what to do. They have a really great partnership.

Charlie owns RJP Investigations with her brother Ron. Ron is a licensed private investigator and Charlie is a CPA who takes care of their books (as well as the books for Drake’s helicopter business). Although Charlie isn’t supposed to be an investigator, she often gets sucked into Ron’s cases for one reason or another.

We have two cases this time – one involves a retired football quarterback and the other involves Charlie’s young neighbor that she used to babysit. The football player’s case has Ron trying to track down a very valuable Superbowl ring. In that one, you have infidelity, disrespect, and a swindler that is way over the top. The neighbor’s case has Charlie trying to assure that both of her young twin neighbors are well. Gram is sure that there is a problem because she hasn’t seen the once inseparable twins together in months. Charlie thinks the girl may just have run away and the twin is covering for her – but – she is young and Charlie wants to assure she is safe. In that one, you have disinterested parents, bullying, sexting and many other unsavory things.

I hope you’ll read this story and enjoy it as much as I have. I would really suggest that you read the books in order because you will come to know and understand all of the characters so much better if you do. You could read this one as a stand-alone book and enjoy it, but having all of that background just adds to the enjoyment.

Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich

Dangerous Minds (Knight and Moon, #2)Dangerous Minds by Janet Evanovich

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Knight and Moon #2
Publication Date: 6/20/17

When I’m ready for smiles, giggles, and guffaws encased in an intriguing mystery, Janet Evanovich is my go-to author. Just picture sitting on your sofa listening to or reading this book and you just burst out laughing and your spouse looks at you like you have suddenly gone nuts. That is the way it is through this entire book. The characters are busy investigating a very serious mystery and you are sitting there with a huge smile on your face. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read. If you like Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, then you’ll love this one as well.

Emerson Knight, gazillionaire, takes eccentric to a whole new level. He’s brilliant and loves solving impossible, improbable puzzles. So, a whole island going missing and megalomaniacs seeking world domination and/or destruction are right down his alley. Oh, and by the way, add that he is romance cover gorgeous and charming as well!

Riley Moon has multiple degrees from Harvard and she can also shoot, rope and ride with the best of them. She’s strong and resourceful – and attractive as well. Riley works for Emerson Knight because he caused her to lose her last job – and he pays her REALLY well. She always has really good intentions, but somehow she always gets caught up in the force of nature that is Emerson Knight and can’t manage to escape.

Emerson once studied under Wayan Bagus who is a monk, so when he shows up at Emerson’s home asking for help because his island has disappeared, Emerson dives right in and investigates. The investigation takes us to Yellowstone and Hawaii and includes a secret government organization bent on ruling the world.

I hope you’ll give this book a try because I think you will like it.

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Leave It To Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

Leave It to Cleaver (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery Book 6)Leave It to Cleaver by Victoria Hamilton

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: A Vintage Kitchen Mystery Book 6
Publication Date: June 23, 2017

Delightfully entertaining, well-written, and an interesting and exciting plot. What more could you ask for in a mystery? It literally keeps you guessing right to the end.

For me, this is Jaymie’s ‘coming of age’ story. As I was reading through the book, I kept feeling as if the author was saying goodbye and was tying up loose ends. I even wondered if this might be the last book in the series. However, I think that feeling of goodbye is more a goodbye to the youth and immaturity present in the previous books. I can’t wait to see where our more mature and settled Jaymie takes us. (Yes, there will be more books – I asked.)

Jaymie Layton doesn’t have a regular nine-to-five job. She has many jobs and businesses and even manages to fit volunteer work into her busy schedule. She also seems to manage to fit murder investigations into her schedule as well. That is a good thing because it seems she just keeps finding dead bodies.

Living in the same town (and house) where she was born and grew up is perfect for Jaymie who is an introvert and has trouble being the center of attention. She has no desire to live anywhere else. She also has a diverse set of very good friends and a much wider set of close acquaintances, which makes investigating murders much easier.

Those same good friends are also handling the planning for her upcoming marriage to Jakob. Jamie is so in love with him and his little daughter and can hardly believe her good fortune. She’s had a number of love interests in the past, but none of them were right for her – some were actual jerks. Jakob is a definite keeper.

There are so many things going on in Jaymie’s life that she hardly knows whether she’s coming or going. So, when she and her sister, Becca, discover human remains in a trunk in the basement of an old house they are cleaning out, she is absolutely determined she will not become involved. However, as she learns the identity of the deceased and that it was a high school friend of her sister Becca, she becomes more and more curious. Then, the police chief asks her to see what she can find out about it because she is good friends with many of the people who went to high school with the girl.

Then, there is a second body discovered in the river and the remains are identified as a girl who also disappeared on the same day as the first girl. Undoubtedly their disappearances and deaths are related – but – they weren’t friends and didn’t know each other — or did they?

The investigation takes Jaymie back in time to the 1980’s to learn more about her sister’s high school days. The investigation, reading the diaries of many of those involved, and talking to the friends about those times brings Jaymie and Becca even closer. The investigation takes many twists and turns and you’ll be guessing right up to the end.

One of my favorite parts was the wedding. You could just feel the love in the room and I also felt as if I were in attendance. I loved that the little dog was the ring bearer!

I did wish there was more of Jakob in the book and that he was involved in the investigation – at least a little. While the love between he and Jaymie was plain to see, it almost seemed like they were each doing their separate things and never the twain shall meet. Maybe in future books, he’ll be more involved because then they will be living in the same house.

Another thing I thought was odd and unworkable, especially with a young child, was their intention to live part of the year in Jaymie’s house and part of the year in Jakob’s house. I know they both love their homes and neither wants to give theirs up, but the switching all the time would seem to be unworkable to me.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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No Perfect Magic By Patricia Rice

No Perfect Magic: Unexpected Magic Book FiveNo Perfect Magic: Unexpected Magic Book Five by Patricia Rice

Barbara Rogers rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Unexpected Magic #6
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Delightfully entertaining and witty with a perfect hero and heroine. Any book that has a beginning paragraph like “Dead meat, lemme, lemme, oh no, heel! Yummy bite, wiggle, flower lady now, please. . .” just has to be a delightful read!

I have loved the entire Unexpected Magic series. Each hero and heroine are perfectly matched to compliment the others ‘powers’. This is another match-up of an Ives male and a Malcom female, so you know sparks fly. It is part of a series but could be read as a stand-alone book. However, I would strongly suggest reading the entire series from beginning to end because it is wonderfully delightful and the characters are so very interesting.

Lady Aurelia is the daughter of a duke. She lives in pampered luxury with lots of love and every material want or desire completely fulfilled. Yet, she is a prisoner in all that luxury. No, she isn’t a physical prisoner but is imprisoned none-the-less. Aurelia has ultra-sensitive hearing and sounds from everywhere bombard her so much that she cannot focus or even carry on a normal conversation. Aurelia stays at their country estate because she cannot tolerate all of the cacophony in London.

William Ives-Madden is the bastard son of a marquess and half-brother to the current marquess. William is quiet, very quiet. He seldom speaks and spends all of his time with the dogs that he trains for others. His dream is to purchase his own property where he could train the dogs rather than traveling all over the country to do it. He also has the lady he plans to marry all picked out. His life is all planned out and set and he’ll have enough money saved to buy the property he wants within the next year. William not only trains the dogs, he ‘communes’ with them. He can read their thoughts and send them commands with his thoughts.

William is training a dog for Aurelia’s father at their country estate when Aurelia comes running out to him just at dusk. She is very upset and says she hears a child crying in great distress and they must hurry to find her. Will hears nothing, but since Aurelia is so distressed, he decides to help her conduct the search. Will sees this as an excellent opportunity to work Argyle (the duke’s dog) further. At first, Argyle cannot pick up the sounds either, but finally, between Argyle and Aurelia, they find a badly injured little girl and her also badly injured pet.

That is how the mystery began – and quite a mystery it is. The search for the little girl is hindered by the fact that she is deaf and mute and very, very frightened. You’ll love the search for her family and what happened to them. It is filled with twists and turns and leaves you guessing right up to the very end!

During the course of their investigations, Aurelia discovers that William has a dampening effect on all of the noise that tortures her life. When Will is around, she can actually focus and carry on a conversation. Will admires Aurelia but knows that there is no chance of him ever being able to marry the daughter of a powerful duke. It would also require him to live in London, which he hates and there wouldn’t be a place to train his dogs. So, what is a girl and guy who have complimentary ‘gifts’ to do? Read the book and you’ll see.

A delightful read that I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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