Mystery

Upstaged by Murder by C.S. Challinor

Upstaged by Murder (Rex Graves Mystery, #10)Upstaged by Murder by C.S. Challinor

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Rex Graves Mystery #10
Publication Date: 7/8/18

Another excellently written and well-plotted addition to the Rex Graves Mystery series. While this is a part of a series, you would be perfectly fine reading it as a stand-alone book. If you are interested in exciting, fast-paced action, you won’t find it in this book. It is a logical progressive mystery where Rex interviews subjects, examines evidence and comes to a conclusion – usually not a conclusion being pursued by the police investigators.

Rex and his new bride have come to London from Edinburgh in order to pack up her old house. It is just to be a quick long-weekend trip to finish the packing up and then heading back to Edinburgh. While in London, Rex and Helen decide to attend the opening night production of a local amateur theater. Rex and Helen are seated in the front row, in the uncomfortable chairs – and Rex can’t help but doze a little bit.

When there is a refreshment break between acts, everyone hears a scream which is part of the play and a loud bang – which is NOT part of the play. The curtains are closed, so the audience can’t see what has happened, but the crew and cast are quickly moving to the area. What caused that loud bang? Well, it was the sound of the gun that took the life of the beautiful, sweet star of the show, Cassie Chase.

There are many suspects including the entire cast and crew. Everybody loved and admired Cassie and nobody can think of anyone who would wish her harm. Rex and the police inspector had to question everyone – and eliminate everyone except the guilty party.

Rex talks to witnesses and suspects and examines evidence until an idea begins to form in his mind. He is sure he knows who did it and even how, but he has no proof. So, he does the type of reenactment that you see in a lot of the old style murder mysteries. He calls everyone together and they reenact the scene at the time of the murder. A classic who-done-it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and hope you will as well.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview

“I requested and received this e-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.”

Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

Scandal Above Stairs (Kat Holloway Mysteries, #2)Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Kat Holloway #2
Publication Date: 7/3/18

This is the perfect follow-up to Death Below Stairs. The mystery is multi-faceted, we meet a new character, we learn more about the continuing characters and we feel as if we are in Victorian London in 1880. The descriptions of life both above and below stairs just make you feel as if you are right there in the kitchen with Kat making those lovely meals. You feel the heat of the stove, smell the lovely odors of the dishes Kat is preparing, and feel the tension of the timing and delivery of those meals. The writing is flawless, the plot well planned and executed and the characters are interesting, fully developed and totally three dimensional.

The main new character is Tess, Kat’s new kitchen assistant. You’d think Tess and Kat would be totally incompatible because they seem to be polar opposites – oil and water. Tess is free-spirited, undisciplined, improper, and she’s also a former ‘tea leaf’ (thief). I absolutely loved Tess’s exuberance and flinging her arms around the prim and proper Kat and giving her a huge hug. Tess is intelligent and learns quickly and she appreciates the opportunity to learn and grow. She is also totally loyal. I loved her and she quickly became one of my favorite characters. We also learn of but don’t actually meet, Tess’s brother. It will be interesting to see if he plays much of a role in future books.

We learn a bit more about the past of the enigmatic Daniel McAdam – just enough to whet our appetites to learn more in future books. We have some small hints of who his employer MIGHT be, but don’t learn anything of real substance there. I really like Daniel and wonder what changes, if any, he’ll make in his employment and lifestyle since his son was injured and his feelings for Kat seem to be growing.

Lady Cynthia reappears in this book as does Elgin Thanos. Talk about opposites attracting. I love these two characters and truly hope to see a meaningful relationship develop there. We’ll have to wait and see what develops there.

The story begins with a disaster in the kitchen. The whole roast pig, the crowning glory of the meal Kat had created for this dinner party, lay on the floor amid cracked pottery. Bits of vegetables and sauces rolling everywhere. Anyone else would have run from the kitchen in tears, but not the capable, intrepid Kat Holloway. She immediately rearranges the courses and prepares additional dishes. Not what she would have preferred, but a perfectly acceptable meal. Then, after that long and stressful day, Lady Cynthia wants to speak with her. Goodness – can’t it wait? Well, it turns out that it can’t.

Lady Cynthia’s friend, Clemmie (we met her and two other friends in the last book), is in a terrible pickle. Three of her husband’s very valuable paintings have been stolen from their home – and her husband is blaming her. There is no evidence of any break-ins and nothing else is missing. Clemmie is a gambler and loses frequently, so she constantly owes large amounts of money. Her husband had recently refused to cover those losses any longer, so he accuses her of stealing the paintings to pay off her gambling debts. She didn’t do it. So, Lady Cynthia asks Mrs. Holloway to help her friend.

As soon as Kat meets with Clemmie and hears the entire story, she is sure she knows what happened – who and how, but not why. The why of it unwinds slowly and surely throughout the book to reveal quite a big snarl.

In the meantime, Davis, the butler, mentions to Kat that he has seen Daniel McAdam working in a pawnshop. Surely not! During her next day-out to visit her daughter, Kat decides to return home by way of the pawn shop – just to see if it really was Daniel. It was! During the visit, she learns that Daniel is investigating the disappearance of antiquities from the British Museum and some of those involved are very dangerous thugs.

Over the course of time, Kat and Daniel learn that their investigations are intertwined – like the strands of a rope. These people are very dangerous and Daniel doesn’t want Kat involved, but, of course, she’s going to do what she can to defend Clemmie and to help Daniel where she can.

There are multiple murders, attempted murders and a tragic accident before all is solved. The villain might surprise you, but it might not. The wrap-up is lovely with all of the injured being cared for and . . . maybe there is something developing there.

I’m really enjoying this series and particularly Kat and Daniel. I can only wonder what our author has in store for them. How will their lives change if they marry? Kat is a live-in domestic, so how can she continue her employment should she marry and live with Daniel? How would that change her relationship with Lady Cynthia? We surely don’t want to lose her! I wonder if Daniel isn’t employed by Whitehall – if he is, how will that affect a marriage with Kat? Would she help him with cases? Will they both finally get their children to live with them? So many questions, so very much to look forward to in this delightful, well-written series!

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview

“I requested and received this e-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.”

Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly

Murder at the Mansion (Victorian Village Mysteries, #1)Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Victorian Village Mysteries #1
Publication Date: 6/26/18

Great beginning for a new series. I read Connolly’s County Cork series (set in Ireland) and thoroughly every one of those, so when a new book for a new series popped up, I wanted to read it as well. This one is set in the financially troubled town of Asheford, Maryland. This small town is headed in the same direction as many other small towns today. All of the younger folks are moving to the cities because of the jobs and amenities offered by big cities. Asheford is struggling because the tax base is shrinking and jobs are leaving.

Katherine (Katie/Kate) Hamilton manages a small, very upscale, boutique hotel, the Oriole, in Baltimore. Although it only takes about an hour to get to her hometown of Asheford, she hasn’t been back there in years. She left after high school and has never looked back – especially after her parents moved to Florida. So, Kate was really surprised when her very best friend, Lisbeth, from high school, called and asked to see her.

Lisbeth explains to Kate that Asheford is in serious financial straits and that the town council would appreciate it if Kate would come to Asheford and give any recommendations she might have for using the grand old Victorian mansion that the town now owns. They would love to make it a centerpiece of the town but don’t know if it is feasible or how they could make it work. Kate agrees to take a look. When she sees the old mansion she is enthralled – then, as she looks around the town an idea begins to form. When she learns that her high school nemesis, Cordelia (Cordy), is living in town, Kate is a bit disconcerted, but she’s really ready to deal with her and put those past run-ins to rest. But, then, Cordy is found, by Kate, murdered on the stops of the lovely old Victorian – Barton Mansion.

We are introduced to Joshua (Josh) Wainwright, who is a divorced history professor at nearby Johns Hopkins University. Josh is on sabbatical from the university and is acting as caretaker for the Barton Mansion in return for free rooms while he does some historical research. We are also introduced to Lisbeth who was Kate’s best friend in high school. Lisbeth is now happily married to a successful man and is a stay-at-home mom to two children. I am assuming that these two characters will be fleshed out a little more as the series goes on and that we’ll learn more about them.

Josh and Kate work hard to solve the mysteries – yes, there are two mysteries. Are they related or are they totally separate with two separate perpetrators? As Josh and Kate work to solve the murder, they draw closer and closer. Will they end up in a relationship in future books in the series? I can surely see it because they both seem to have an insatiable curiosity, respect, and reverence for historical research. So, I think the two of them will work together to uncover all of the missing information on Henry Barton, his plant, his house and his wife as well as the rest of the history of the town and how it all relates to the civil war.

Another character we are introduced to is Kate’s high school boyfriend – and Cordy’s ex-husband, Ryan. I assume we’ll see him in future books because he still owns the building that housed Cordy’s B&B. I liked him okay and was glad to see that he apologized to Kate for what happened in high school.

I haven’t said much about Kate because I’m not sure how I feel about her. At this point, I don’t love her. She seems very condescending much of the time – like she is better than those around her. I hope that changes. For instance – here are a few of Kate’s thoughts/quotes:

  • “Was I too smart for the men I met? Too successful?”
  • “. . her crises and mine were so very different. She worried about misplaced baseball gloves, while at the hotel I had to track down international shipments of high-priority documents and make sure they reached the right people.” [This was thought about her best friend]
  • “She really has nowhere else to be. Sad, isn’t it?”

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to the next one in the series. It will be fun to see what direction the series and the romance moves in. It will also be fun to see what shops they end up bringing into the Victorian Village because some of the ones that Kate mentioned just wouldn’t work – given the population of the town and the fact that the town will depend on tourists. Kate has already moved most of those out, but it will still be interesting to see where they go with that AND what all of the research turns up.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview

“I requested and received this e-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.”

No Grater Danger by Victoria Hamilton

No Grater Danger (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery Book 7)No Grater Danger by Victoria Hamilton

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Vintage Kitchen Mystery #7
Publication Date: 6/19/18

This is yet another lovely addition to the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series. It is well written, flows smoothly and has a delightful cast of secondary characters. I guessed who the villain was fairly on in the book, but figuring out the what, why and how was still fun.

We’ve watched Jaymie Leighton grow and change through six books. She’s an entrepreneur with multiple jobs – she writes a newspaper column, she works at the emporium, she occasionally works in her sister’s antique shop and she re-creates vintage recipes for modern cooks. However, her favorite thing is collecting vintage cookware. Now, however, her most favorite thing is her new husband, Jakob Mueller, and her new step-daughter, Jocie.

One of Jaymie’s favorite places to be is Queensville’s heritage house. She has worked hard, along with the other members of the Queensville Heritage Society, to make the heritage house a wonderful representation of Queensville’s heritage. So, when Jaymie is presented with the opportunity to use the vintage kitchen area of the heritage house for trying a new teaching technique, she can’t wait to give it a try. The subject will be the spice trade and the trade routes used to get the spices around the world. Luckily, a local family has quite a historical link to the spice trade and Jaymie hopes to learn some of the history to share with the class – and maybe – she can borrow some of the antique nutmeg grinders owned by Miss Perry to display at the heritage house.

Miss Perry is a feisty, independent, crotchety octogenarian who doesn’t take well to strangers. Luckily, Jaymie’s friend, Mrs. Stubbs is her cousin and sets up an appointment for Jaymie to meet Miss Perry. Jaymie and Miss Perry like each other instantly and they strike a tentative deal for Miss Perry to loan the grinders to the historical society. However, when Jaymie comes to pick up the grinders, the door is unlocked, but nobody answers. Feeling apprehensive, Jaymie opens the door and calls out to Miss Perry – but nobody answers. Jaymie is worried for Miss Perry and enters and looks through the home until she finds Miss Perry – lying at the foot of the stairs.

Poor Jaymie seems to attract dead bodies – but, luckily, Miss Perry isn’t dead, but she is gravely injured. However, Jaymie fears for Miss Perry’s life because there are some strange things happening around the lady. There have been thefts and other ‘accidents’ that could easily have taken her life. Jaymie’s insatiable curiosity is always engaged and she becomes more and more worried about her new friend. Then, a real dead body is found in Miss Perry’s backyard.

There are lots of twists and turns and red herrings scattered throughout the story. Whether you figure out the villain early on or not, the story is still a lovely read. Is there only one villain or several? Why in the world would they want to harm a lovely old lady? Well, you’ll just have to read the story to find out all the answers.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview

“I requested and received this e-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.”

Buried in Books by Kate Carlisle

Buried in Books (A Bibliophile Mystery, #12)Buried in Books by Kate Carlisle

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Bibliophile Mystery #12
Publication Date: 6/26/18

Each book in this wonderful series is better than the last! The series is populated with so many wonderful, funny and quirky characters that you just want to plan a huge dinner and invite them all over! The books are filled with humor and such wonderful descriptions of San Francisco that you feel as if you live there yourself. Great writing, great humor, great mystery and a lovely romance the series, and this book has them all!

Brooklyn and Derek’s wedding is just days away. All of the arrangements are made and she even has her bags packed for their honeymoon in Paris. So, what is she to do to fill the few days until the big event? Well, she’s going to attend and do a workshop, a talk and a Book Lovers Tour of San Francisco for twenty contest winners at the National Librarians Association conference held just a few blocks from her home. That should surely keep the wedding jitters away. NOT.

While on the convention floor, she is greeted by an old graduate school friend, Heather, that she hasn’t spoken to in over twelve years. Brooklyn is not sure how she feels about seeing Heather because their friendship didn’t end well. Once, Brooklyn, Heather, and Sara we the best of friends and were known as The Three Musketeers. Then, Sara stole Heather’s boyfriend and the friendship was fractured beyond repair.

Leave it to Brooklyn to end up trying to help solve a murder before she says her wedding vows when one of her friends ends up dead and another is a suspect. Can Brooklyn and Derek solve the murder and still make it to the altar on time? You’ll just have to read this delightful book to find out.

One of the things I loved about the book was how absolutely joyous Brooklyn was as she looked forward to her marriage. There is no second-guessing in that relationship. If you add Derek’s delightful family to Brooklyn’s sweet, quirky one – you have a marriage and family made in heaven.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview

“I requested and received this e-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.”

Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton

Chicken Culprit (A Backyard Farming Mystery #1)Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.75 Stars
Series: A Backyard Farming Mystery #1
Publication Date: 2/12/18

This was my first time reading Vikki Walton and I enjoyed it. I’m not sure if the series will continue with characters from this book or if there will be new characters and locations with each new book. I hope that it will be the same characters because I like them very much and because I like a nice romance to go with my mysteries, and this book didn’t have any romance at all. It would be nice to see the main character grow into a nice romance rather than this being the only book containing this particular set of characters.

Anne Freemont is in her forties and is now divorced from an abusive spouse. She is beginning a new life in a lovely, small Colorado town. Anne begins meeting her new neighbors almost immediately when she hears a loud argument and screaming near her new home. When she goes out to check on what is happening, she finds an older gentleman holding a chicken and an ax, and a young woman crying and begging him not to harm her chicken. What an introduction to a new town and a new neighborhood!

Days later Anne is disturbed again, by screaming coming from the same neighbor’s yard. This time, the older man is lying on his compost heap – dead – and the young woman is crouching over him screaming. Could this lovely, lively, and very likable young woman have murdered the crotchety older man? Anne is sure she could not have done it, but all of the evidence points toward her.

There is more than one mystery in the book. There is the haunted and beautiful African-American woman, Kandi’s husband Jeff and, of course, who killed Ralph Rogers. You’ll find the answers to all of those mysteries if you choose to read this lovely book. You will also see the possibility for romance between Anne and the local sheriff and/or Sam, the paramedic and assistant-coroner.

While the resolution to the murder mystery was satisfactory, I felt the ending of the book was a bit lame and contrived. There was no point to it and it only made me scratch my head in what was otherwise a nicely written, well plotted and satisfying mystery.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview

“I requested and received this e-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.”

Married by Moonlight by Heather Boyd

Married by Moonlight (Distinguished Rogues, #9)Married by Moonlight by Heather Boyd

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Distinguished Rogues, #9

Release Date: May 8, 2018

The book opens with Gilbert Bowen, the Earl of Sorenson rushing into Lady Berry’s home to save his friend Price Wagstaff, the Earl of Carmichael from being officially charged with murder for the death of Angela Berry. Gilbert vows to find the killer and clear Carmichael’s name. Gilbert has a reputation of a being a brilliant investigator and before he inherited the earldom and was a simple country vicar, he helped Bow Street solve many crimes. But never has a case been more important to him, Carmichael is one of his oldest and dearest friends and only a very few people know that he was in love with Angela and had planned to announce their betrothal at the ball.

Anna Beasley is a very proper young lady, daughter of Carmichael’s godfather and good friend to Angela Berry, she is dancing with Viscount Wade at Almack’s when Carmichael enters. Carmichael is the bane of her existence, her father would love nothing more than for Carmichael and Anna to make a match, but she would rather die a spinster than marry a rake like Carmichael. He approaches her with a friend in tow – a very handsome friend and he teases her. Introductions are made and his friend, Gilbert, Lord Sorenson is charming and nothing like Carmichael. Anna asks if they have seen Angela and Carmichael seems upset and leaves, Gilbert too makes his excuses, he has promised the next set to Anna’s friend Portia. Anna is surprised that she is jealous and tries to ignore the attraction she feels for Gilbert.

The plot thickens when Gilbert’s investigation undercovers two more murdered women with ties to Carmichael, it seems Carmichael has kissed all the slain women. With no real leads, Gilbert forces Carmichael to remain in society and they keep Angela’s death secret while they investigate. They attend a ball on Friday night and Gilbert sees Anna again – Carmichael teases him about her and says he should pretend to court her, she was good friends with Angela and might have information that would help them. Gilbert refuses, he is attracted to Anna, but he won’t use her for information. He dances with her, but ignores her while they are dancing and then goes to dance with other ladies and chats with them, Anna is hurt and slips away to compose herself. But she finds more than she was bargaining for – Carmichael and Gilbert are in the room as well as the murdered body of Miss Goldwell, another friend of hers. She is understandably upset, but Gilbert asks her to keep quiet about what she has seen.

Over the course of the next few days, Anna wonders about Miss Goldwell’s death and when she runs into Gilbert, she asks about news of Miss Goldwell. Gilbert finally gives into his attraction and kisses her. When they are caught together, he announces that they are betrothed. Anna is shocked, but plays along. They say they haven’t spoken to her father yet and beg Lord Wade and Lady Winmere to not say anything.

Anna tells Gilbert he doesn’t need to marry her, but he finds that he wants her as his wife and asks for time to court her. She has doubts, but agrees.

When yet another murder is committed and this time is found out by the ton – Gilbert worries for Anna’s safety, especially when he learns Carmichael kissed her once – he insists that they marry.

This was a very fast paced murder mystery with a dash of romance. The writing is excellent and the story flows nicely, the mystery is well done and kept me guessing until almost the very end, the romance is sweet and understated, but it is not lost to the mystery.

This is the ninth book in the series, but can easily be read as a standalone title. I would happily recommend this book and look forward to more installments.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

View all my reviews

1 2 5
%d bloggers like this: