Mystery

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.

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“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*

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Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance

Bad Neighbors (An Agnes & Effie Mystery #2)Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: An Agnes and Effie Mystery #2
Publication Date: 4/10/18

Welcome to the picturesque small town of Naneda in upstate New York for the foliage viewing season. The town is filled with funny, quirky and unique residents who will become some of your favorite book friends. The title characters are the pudgy, twenty-nine-year-old Agnes Blythe who has body image issues and her seventy-something, former super-model great-aunt Effie who has inherited a ramshackle, historic inn that she and Agnes are restoring. The supporting characters are also back and they are as much fun as ever! The book will give you belly-laughs and at the same time, there is an intense murder mystery to solve. It is an excellently written and fun read!

A leaf-viewing tour bus breaks down and pulls into the local garage for repairs. The occupants have to be put up in local lodging for the night – but the local inns are almost filled to capacity. They divide the members of the tour group out among the inns, but they still need more rooms. The only option is to get The Stagecoach Inn to take some of the group even though the Inn isn’t ready for occupancy yet. Boy – are those folks in for a surprise.

While the tour group is waiting at the garage for the various inns to pick them up, one of the group discovers a dead body. As Agnes arrives to pick them up, there are police cruisers everywhere with lights flashing – and – is that Otis they are putting into the back of the police car? Otis and Agnes are sorta/kinda dating and he absolutely cannot have murdered anyone!

Aggie and Effie decide they need to investigate to clear Otis’ name because the police detective seems to have fixated on Otis as the only suspect. The plot is complex, but Aggie and Effie’s investigation will keep you in stitches. I love that the tourists play such a major role in the investigation. There are lots of red herrings to keep us and our investigators guessing right up to the very end. The identity of the murderer will surprise you!

I highly recommend this book. It is funny and entertaining – just wait for their spa visit! If you want a book that will leave you refreshed and feeling good after you finish reading it, then this is the one for you!

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“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.”

Lost Books and Old Bones by Paige Shelton

Lost Books and Old Bones: A Scottish Bookshop MysteryLost Books and Old Bones: A Scottish Bookshop Mystery by Paige Shelton

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Scottish Bookshop Mystery #3
Publication Date: 4/3/18

Oh! My! I’ve definitely found a new series to start reading. This is my first book by this author but it definitely will not be my last! The mystery is well plotted, the story is wonderfully written and the characters are both relatable and likable. The setting is perfect (Edinburgh) and the author’s descriptions make you feel as if you are right there with the characters. This author includes lots of actual interesting history that she weaves seamlessly into the story. Though this book is part of a series, I had no trouble with understanding the character relationships, so it could be read as a stand-alone. However, the book intrigued me so much that I am going to read the first two books in the series as soon as I can. I’m really looking forward to them and the next books in the series as well. One of the things that I loved was that it was not so filled with sub-plots that you were constantly dragged away from the main plot. Of course, I also like the romance.

Almost a year ago Delaney Nichols left Kansas for her dream job at The Cracked Spine in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Cracked Spine deals in new books as well as antique books, manuscripts, maps, etc. Since her arrival in Scotland, she’s already helped in investigating two murders and she’s certainly glad that is all behind her.

In the last few months, she’s made friends with two students, Sophie and Rena, from the University of Edinburgh Medical School. While they are at a club, celebrating the completion of a big exam, she notices some strange interactions and people and she also meets another student, Mallory and likes her very much. She also meets the odd Dr. Eban who is an instructor at the school. At the end of the evening, she and the students go their separate ways – Mallory and Sophie take one cab, Delaney takes another and Rena takes yet another.

Delaney (I just love that name) gets a call from the bookstore the following morning and is told she needs to get there as soon as she can. As Delaney approaches the store, she is met by chaos. There are police cars, crime scene investigators, policemen and a detective all over the outside of the lovely old bookstore. What in the world is going on? The shop had been broken into and a body had been found outside in the close (alley). Then, she learns that she knows the victim.

As someone who is always intrigued by a mystery, Delaney can’t just sit by and allow the police to do all of the investigating. She shares all she learns, but she refuses to sit idly by and allow others to investigate. Besides, she’s intrigued by some things she knows and doesn’t want to share.

The supporting characters are lovable and quirky and her boyfriend/lover, Tom is just perfect for her. She cares for him more and more but is unsure how long the relationship will last because he has dated half the women in Edinburgh and none of the relationships last more than a few weeks. Strangely, they have been dating for almost a year, so she wonders what is different and how soon he’ll leave her. One of my favorite characters is Artair, Tom’s father. He’s delightful.

I definitely loved the book and recommend it as a great read with a combination of mystery and romance.

Please check out my reviews at:
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“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.”

Whisper The Dead by Stella Cameron

Whisper the Dead: A Cotswold Village Mystery (Alex Duggins Mystery #5)Whisper the Dead: A Cotswold Village Mystery by Stella Cameron

Barbara’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Alex Duggins Mysteries #5
Publication Date: 4/1/18

This is my first book by this author and therefore my first book in this series. The mystery is very interesting and you aren’t sure who the villain is until very near the end. I thought it was somewhat of a slow read with many characters and many strings to follow, but the mystery was still a viable one. I think that it would probably have been easier to follow had I read the earlier books in the series. So, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as a stand-alone read – however, it did get easier to follow as I got further into the story. I did have trouble becoming truly invested in the characters, but maybe that comes from not reading the earlier books as well. There were a number of things that just didn’t make sense to me – for instance – why would the police accompany an adult witness to a crime home in order to explain why she was delayed. Also, why would it cause worry/panic for said fully grown adult when she had called to tell them she was going to be late. Then, there was the way the detectives treated Alex – she was the enemy one minute and their best friend the next. I’m not sure how Alex’s detective skills were in the previous books, but they were non-existent in this one. Things just happened to her she didn’t really do any investigation that I could see. If you are like me and want a strong romance to accompany your mysteries, I didn’t see it in this book. You have a father and son dating a mother and daughter. The younger couple is the central romance and I can see his love and affection for her quite plainly, but I don’t see hers for him. Again – maybe it is because I didn’t read the previous books.

Alex Duggins moved back to Folly-on-Weir after her marriage fell apart. She now owns and runs the local inn/bar/diner named The Black Dog. Luckily it is a very successful and profitable business for her and she has several quirky employees. She also has Tony Harrison, the village veterinarian for a friend and lover. He’s definitely in love with her and wants more from the relationship – and I think she wants the same, but she doesn’t show it quite as readily.

There is much gossip in the town about a new development and most of the people don’t seem to be particularly happy about it. Alex hasn’t seen it and as she is returning home from Stanton she decides she’ll just run by and take a look. As she draws near she smells an acrid stench wafting toward her in the waning light. It isn’t from someone’s chimney – it is a fire. As she approaches the construction trailer, she spots a man floundering on the ground with his legs on fire. She helps the man and calls the police and the fire department. As the fire subsides to the point where the firemen can enter the structure, they find a charred body. Thus – the first of several murders to occur in this small Cotswold village happens.

Strange things happen and Alex receives several back-handed threats. Why does anyone want to threaten her – she certainly didn’t witness anything other than the aftermath of the fire. Another mystery is coinciding with the mystery of the fire and that mystery has to do with Alex and her origins. Lily, Alex’s mother, is simultaneously dealing with issues as well. Will those issues finally cause Lily to Alex who her father is? You’ll have to read it to see, but I can tell you that I did not like Lily nor find her the least bit sympathetic. Because she was embarrassed about being an unwed mother, she won’t tell Alex anything about her father – nor has she told the father. How selfish is that? Alex is an adult and wants to know about her origins and she has every right to know – as does the father.

After three murders and a confluence of investigations, we finally have the solution and it took us quite a few twists and turns to get there.

Please check out my reviews at:
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“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 Half Moon Gate by Andrea Penrose

Murder at Half Moon Gate (A Wrexford & Sloane Mystery #2)Murder at Half Moon Gate by Andrea Penrose

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars (I’d give it more if I could)

Series: Wrexford and Sloane #2
Publication Date: 3/27/18

Penrose’s second book in the Wrexford and Sloane series provides intriguing insights into the main characters pasts and their relationship as well as a mystery that will keep you guessing right up to the very end. The book is fast-paced and very well written. It can certainly be read as a stand-alone book, but you’ll miss all of those formative interactions among all of the characters and their relationships with each other. I’ve now read both books in the series and they are both outstanding!

The Regency period sees the very early beginning and the burgeoning of social and technological changes within England. Science and technological innovation were changing the way people lived and worked. Social order was beginning to change as well and was constantly challenged by satirical cartoonists who were actually quite powerful in molding public opinion. I think that the fact that our author chose Sloane as a very gifted and influential satirical cartoonist and Wrexford as an earl who is a gifted scientist is a big part of what makes this series very appealing to me. The characters are wonderful, fully-developed, humorous, brave and intelligent and when you add in an excellent dose of great history and an excellent mystery, you just can’t go wrong.

Wrexford is a bored, pragmatic, cynical, emotionless man who is also a gifted scientist. He governs his life by scientific principles. No emotions, only empirical evidence, and the step-by-step scientific process need apply! That is – unless Charlotte is involved and then – well maybe it is a little harder to be pragmatic and emotionless.

Charlotte Sloane has secrets – many secrets. Wrexford knows some of her secrets, but not all of them. One of Charlotte’s secrets is that she is the political satirist known as A. J. Quill. It is very important that she keep that secret, though Wrexford knows it, because it is how she earns her living. Were it to become known that A. J. Quill was a woman, nobody would publish her work and she would starve. Charlotte also has a large network of street urchins (boys and girls) as well as other important contacts that keep her up-to-date on what is going on. She always seems to be one step ahead of everyone else when it comes to her cartoons. Charlotte is also a pragmatic lady who always strives to control her emotions.

The prologue begins with a heart-pumping chase through the worst part of London. A thick mist from the river is covering the area and the wind is howling (I love the word the author used – skirled – isn’t that perfect it). Our victim is new to London and is hopelessly lost – and finally – he is brutally attacked and killed. Elihu Anthony is an inventor who is on the cusp of patenting a brilliant ground-breaking new technology that will increase the power of steam engines. The patent is worth a fortune for whoever manages to file for it first. Now – what will happen to the patent? Is it the Luddites who are trying to prevent the patent? Is it a greedy investor? Is it family?

Wrexford and his friend Christopher Sheffield are returning home from a gaming hell and take a route through the more unsavory parts of town and discover a lifeless and mutilated body at Half Moon Gate. Not only is the body mutilated, but his clothes are cut and ripped at the seams. Wrexford and Sheffield notify Bow Street, give their account and then go on home. Later, Wrexford is visited by Isobel, the wife of Mr. Anthony and she asks him to solve the case because Bow Street isn’t taking it seriously. That sets us off on a chase that leads to places and events you wouldn’t imagine. There are so many suspects and all of them are very viable – but you won’t guess who the real culprit is until almost the very end (unless you peek).

Raven and Hawk are featured again in this book and they are delightful. They are the street urchins that Charlotte taken into her life and is trying to encourage them to actually live with her and give up their street ways. They are leery of doing that, but she’s winning them over.

Click on the title to see my review of the first book – Murder on Black Swan Lane.

Please check out my reviews at:
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“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.”

Death of an Unsung Hero by Tessa Arlen

Death of an Unsung Hero (Lady Montfort Mystery #4)Death of an Unsung Hero by Tessa Arlen

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Lady Montford Mystery #4
Publication Date: 3/13/18

Well, their carefully guarded secret is out. Lady Montford and Mrs. Jackson solve mysteries, and they are very good at it! Everyone knows and smiles about it, but our erstwhile investigators aren’t aware that everyone knows. So, it is entertaining to see their reactions throughout the book when one person or another mentions their penchant for solving mysteries.

This book is just exactly what I’ve been wanting in the series, a glimpse of Lady Montford’s family – especially her husband. He’s been a shadow figure in the previous books and we had learned that he was tolerant of her investigations, etc. but we really didn’t know him. I was delighted to meet him and came to admire him greatly. He is every inch the gentleman, loves his family, loves his country, loves his wife and supports her in every way. I love their relationship. So, thank you, Ms. Arlen, for providing this view of Lord and Lady Montford and their children.

This story begins about two years after the last book ended – we are well into World War I. England’s citizens have geared up and patriotism is at an all-time high. Everybody is contributing – all of the horses have been conscripted and are serving on the continent just as the men are. At home, everyone’s attention is on growing food to feed the army and producing munitions and other items that are needed. Everyone pitches in, even the aristocracy. Not only is the son and heir to the Montford title serving as a pilot in the RAF (though he is home injured at the moment), the daughter is serving with the Women’s Land Army, and the parents have started a hospital, Haversham Hall Hospital, for the treatment of those who have been shell-shocked.

I love the history in the book, especially about the budding science of psychiatry for helping the shell-shocked victims of the war. All too often, those suffering from shell-shock were further tortured with electro-therapy and other ways of quickly getting them ‘well’ and back to the battlefield. The doctor’s at Haversham Hall Hospital used both talk therapy and a type of ergo therapy – which is basically performing everyday tasks – like farming, harvesting, gardening to help them work through their issues.

Lady Montford and Mrs. Jackson are a formidable team when it comes to investigating crimes. They are so different, you would think that they’d never get along – but they are more friends than employer/employee. Lady Montford is more of an intuitive thinker and Mrs. Jackson is more of a logical step-by-step thinker. Their strengths play off each other and they soon solve whatever crime is at hand.

All crime stories require a victim, but I just hate that the victim required for this story was Captain Sir Evelyn Bray. It seems he had found himself during the war. He’d been a bit of a profligate before, but his bravery and leadership shone once he joined the military. He suffered a great injury during the Battle of Beauville Wood while he was trying to save the remaining men in his troops. When he awoke, he had no memory of who he was or what had happened. He was then sent to the Haversham Hall Hospital to see if Major Andrews could help him with his groundbreaking therapies. After only a few weeks, he was beginning to get his memory back. Then, he was murdered.

There are suspects aplenty in this mystery and you don’t want it to be any of those walking wounded at the hospital. Could it be someone on the staff? What about those individuals in the neighborhood who think the patients at the hospital are cowards who are shirking their duty rather than going back into battle where they belong. It is a twisted tale and you begin to wonder how in the world anyone will find the solution – but they do.

I can certainly recommend this book. I love the characters and plot. From early on, I had a good idea of who the culprit was and was anxious to see if I was right and if I was, to see how they did it.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
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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.”

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