Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

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A young British couple is driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again. Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part of his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love. As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Review

Layla and Finn are coming back from a skiing vacation in France when Finn stops at a picnic area to use the restroom. Upon his return, Layla is gone.

The book starts with Finn’s recollections of that night some ten years ago. He gives the impression that the description you read in the book is what was told to the cops at the time, but that in reality, the truth about that night is very different.

Now ten years later, Finn is living with Ellen who just happens to be his missing girlfriend Layla’s sister.

I have to say that I really enjoyed Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, and Bring Me Back was a book that had a solid four stars for most of the story, then it got to the end and I just could not believe how improbable the ending was. I was truly disappointed with the ending. I thought the story had such a great premise and I was completely hooked. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t believe the ending.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Better Off Read by Nora Page

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When her best hope of saving her storm-damaged library is found murdered, senior librarian Cleo Watkins hits the road in her bookmobile in search of justice. Septuagenarian librarian Cleo Watkins won’t be shushed when an upstart young mayor threatens to permanently shelve her tiny town’s storm-damaged library. She takes to her bookmobile, Words on Wheels, to collect allies and rally library support throughout Catalpa Springs, Georgia. However, Cleo soon rolls into trouble. A major benefactor known for his eccentric DIY projects requests all available books on getting away with murder. He’s no Georgia peach, and Cleo wonders if she should worry about his plans. She knows she should when she discovers him bludgeoned and evidence points to her best friend, Mary-Rose Garland. 

Review

Better Off Read is the first book in the Bookmobile Mystery series. The main character, Cleo Watkins is a librarian who also runs a bookmobile, words on wheels, in the city of Catalpa Springs, Georgia. Cleo is desperately trying to fix the damaged library and prevent the young mayor, Jeb Day, from closing it down. Cleo soon comes across the body of an old patron, Buford Krandall, and evidence seems to point to her friend Mary-Rose, so Cleo decides to solve the murder on her own and clear the name of her best friend.

Ok, so this book was the classic example of judging a book by its cover. I mean, isn’t this cover super cute? I loved everything about it–a cute cat, a cute dog, a bookmobile, all the elements for a great cozy mystery. Unfortunately, this book was quite disappointing to me. The premise is great, a librarian fighting to keep the city’s public library alive, a murder needing to be solved, a small town setting, Southern cooking, you name it. The problem with the story is that although the premise was great, the characters were very unrealistic and poorly developed. Cleo, the main character, is supposed to be this seventy-year-old lady who really seemed more like someone in their forties or fifties. It is not to say that a person in their seventies can’t be as active and energetic as Cleo, but it just didn’t feel that way when you were reading the book.

The story as a whole did not hold my interest and I found myself putting this book down way too many times. I really wanted to love this book, but it just didn’t do it for me. Since this is book one in the series, I believe there is still hope for the other books to come.

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron

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It’s Mardi Gras season on the bayou, which means parades, pageantry, and gumbo galore. But when a flood upends life in the tiny town of Pelican, Louisiana—and deposits a body of a stranger behind the Crozat Plantation B&B—the celebration takes a decidedly dark turn. The citizens of Pelican are ready to Laissez les bon temps rouler—but there’s beaucoup bad blood on hand this Mardi Gras. Maggie Crozat is determined to give the stranger a name and find out why he was murdered. 

Review

The story starts with a body that turns up behind the Crozat Plantation B&B at the same time that the town is preparing for their Mardi Gras celebrations and beauty pageant. Maggie Crozat’s grandmother usually deals with the Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen pageant, but now she is sick in the hospital and left it to Maggie to coordinate the event.

Maggie feels overwhelmed. She is not really a fan of beauty pageants and is determined to find out the identity of the body that turned up behind her family’s plantation. So, she starts a little investigation of her own. Her relationship with Bo, the official cop in Pelican, is rocky, her father is busy trying to win the Gumbo cookoff and when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, one of the judges at the beauty pageant is also found dead. Now Maggie and Bo have to rush against time to find out if these two murders are connected.

What I think worked well in this novel was Byron’s wonderful characterization of the South. The descriptions of the people, the foods, the preparations for celebration–everything was so on point that it transported me back to Louisiana. I love New Orleans, and I really enjoyed learning more about that culture and the fact that although most people are familiar with the more over-the-top Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, smaller towns in Louisiana celebrate what’s called Courir de Mardi Gras–which translates to “Fat Tuesday Run.” I really appreciated all the research she put in writing this story and all the bonus recipes at the end of the book.

Mardi Gras Murder is book four of the Cajun Country Mystery series, but I was able to follow along fine–even though I haven’t read the other books in the series. This is a great cozy mystery! I read the entire book in one sitting, and I really enjoyed the ending.

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Dead Pretty by David Mark

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One girl missing. One girl dead. A stunning new novel from one of Britain’s most original crime writers, Dead Pretty finds Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy and Detective Superintendent Trish Pharaoh grappling with vigilantes, unsolved murders, and a killer far too close to home.

Review

This book was initially a little confusing to me. It took me some time to get used to David Mark’s writing, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is book five of Detective Sargeant Aector McAvoy and not having read any of the previous books in the series might have contributed to my initial confusion. Once I got into the book, I just couldn’t put it down.

I love a good crime story, and this is a great one. The story is a bit disturbing with some pretty descriptive scenes, but overall this is a gritty and riveting story that would’ve probably received 5-stars had I read the other books. I highly recommend this one. David Mark got me hooked, and his other books just made it to my TBR list.

I received an early copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House First To Read in exchange for my honest review.


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Sherlock Homes: The Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

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When Sir Charles Baskerville is found suspiciously dead, his friend, Dr. James Mortimer asks Sherlock Holmes to look into the death. While the cause of death is determined to be a heart attack, Mortimer suspects foul play and fears that Sir Charles’s nephew and sole heir, Sir Henry Baskerville, may be in danger next. At the center of the investigation is the curse of the Baskervilles, which dates back to the time of the English Civil War. Supposedly the family’s ancestor, Hugo Baskerville, sold his soul to the devil, and the family has been haunted by a large spectral hound ever since. Because Sir Charles was found with a look of horror on his face when he died, appeared to be running away from something, and large paw prints had been found near his body, there is reason to believe that the “Hound” may have returned. The details of the case spark the interest of Sherlock and he agrees to take up the case. “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” is the third of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and is widely regarded as one of his best. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.

Review

This is by far my favorite book by Sherlock Holmes and a true tour de force. I absolutely love the gothic and eerie feeling of this book. The narrative is based on Watson’s letters and diary, and through Watson’s eye we witness the implied threat of the moor, the foggy and gloomy weather, and the spectral hound.

Doyle creates this gothic and supernatural atmosphere that seems to give explanation for all the terrifying things that are happening on the moors. And it is this very atmosphere of doom that makes this such a suspenseful book.

It is hard to believe that Doyle got tired of writing this wonderful character. This book is a classic. Hard to imagine a world with Agatha Christie or her beloved detective, Hercules Poirot, without the contribution that Doyle and Sherlock Holmes made to this genre.

This book is on my list in The Classics Club Challenge.

 


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Secrets, Lies, & Crawfish Pies

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Romaine Wilder, a big city medical examiner with a small-town past, has been downsized and evicted. With few other options, she’s forced to return to her hometown of Robel in East Texas, leaving behind the man she’s dating and the life she’s worked hard to build. Suzanne Babet Derbinay, Romaine’s Auntie Zanne and proprietor of the Ball Funeral Home, has long since traded her French Creole upbringing for Big Texas attitude… But her plans are derailed when the Ball Funeral Home, bursting at the seams with dead bodies, has a squatter stiff.

Review 

Romaine Wilder is a medical examiner living in Chicago who seems to have the perfect life until she is evicted and has to move back to her hometown in Texas. Romaine moves in with her Auntie Zanne “Babet” who owns and runs a funeral home. Death is no stranger to this medical examiner who comes from a line of morticians, but when a body is found at her family’s funeral home, Romaine, cousin Sheriff Pogue, and Auntie Zanne join forces to try to solve the mystery in time for the Tri-County Annual Crawfish Boil and Music Festival.

This is book one of the Romaine Wilder Mystery series. Although Romaine is the main character, I have to say that Auntie Zanne is the star of this story. She is absolutely hilarious. This book has several out loud laughing moments, and I honestly enjoyed reading about French Creole traditions and Southern life.

I loved this fun cozy mystery, and I look forward to reading more books in this series. This book is scheduled to be published June 12th, 2018.

I would like to thank Henery Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

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A Brush With Death by Ali Carter

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In the village of Spire, murder is afoot. Wealthy landowner Alexander, Earl of Greengrass is caught with his trousers down in the village graveyard before meeting a gruesome end. Luckily Susie Mahl happens to be on hand. With her artist’s eye for detail and her curious nature, she is soon on the scent of the murderer…

Review

Susie Mahl is an artist who specializes in pet portraits. While staying with friends, the Earl and Countess of Greengrass at their beautiful house in the village of Spire, the Earl is found dead and Susie with her witty and inquisitive nature quickly starts her own investigation into the murder.

I really enjoyed this light-hearted cozy mystery. Susie Mahl is a great detective. She is funny and witty and I loved how Carter combined a little bit of a country house murder as well as giving us some insight into the life of an artist. This is a great read for fans of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple with a dash of Downton Abbey.

This is Ali Carter’s first novel and the first book in the new series about pet portraitist and super-sleuth Susie Mahl.

I would like to thank the author and Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 


About The Author

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Ali Carter was born in Scotland in 1983. She read art history at St Andrew’s, followed by an eclectic career before settling in for the long run as a fine artist. She specializes in oil paintings from life with an emphasis on color. Writing, walking and cooking all accompany her painting. Ali lives in East Sussex with her husband Sam. Ali’s first novel, A Brush with Death comes out 7th June 2018.

Website


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A Tiding of Magpies (A Birder Murder Mystery #5) by Steve Burrows

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When his most celebrated case is suddenly reopened, Detective Chief Inspector Jejeune‘s long-buried secrets threaten to come to light. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Lindy, faces an unseen threat of her own, one from which even Jejeune may not be able to protect her. Between fending off inquiries from the internal review and an open murder case that brings more questions than answers, Jejeune will have to rely on the help of the stalwart Sergeant Danny Maik more than ever. But Maik is learning things that cause him to question his DCI‘s actions, both past, and present. In the current case, and in the former one, the facts seem clear enough. But it is in the silences, those empty spaces between the facts, that the truth is to be found.

Review

This is book 5 in the Birder Murder Mysteries series. I must admit that I’m always fearful to read books in a series, especially when I haven’t read the previous books. Occasionally books can stand on their own and you don’t really need to have read the previous books.

Unfortunately, that was not the case with this novel. What first attracted me to this book was the fact that I’m also a bird watcher and I thought it would be cool to read a mystery that brought together both of my passions.

The book starts with Detective Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune working together with Sergeant Danny Maik to resolve a murder of a young man in a Polish community in Canada. The positive aspects of this book are the fact that the mystery starts off strong and really picks up midway through the book. The extensive descriptions of birds, and I particularly enjoyed the explanation on Eurasian magpies.

Unfortunately, the fact that most of the important characters had been introduced in previous books really made understanding and even sympathizing with them extremely difficult to me. Jejeune seemed flat and unrealistic as a character, and I spent most of the book trying to understand the references to events from previous books. It is almost unfair to properly rate a book that I could have enjoyed better had I read at least one of the previous books. My advice is to read the other books in the series to get a better appreciation for this novel.

It is in the silent spaces between the facts that the truth often lies.”

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free early copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Curtain by Agatha Christie

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The house guests at Styles seemed perfectly pleasant to Captain Hastings; there was his own daughter Judith, an inoffensive ornithologist called Norton, dashing Mr. Allerton, brittle Miss Cole, Doctor Franklin and his fragile wife Barbara, Nurse Craven, Colonel Luttrell and his charming wife, Daisy, and the charismatic Boyd-Carrington. Hastings was shocked to learn from Hercule Poirot’s declaration that one of them was a five-times murderer. True, the aging detective was crippled with arthritis, but had his deductive instincts finally deserted him?

Review

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan and I just love Poirot. I’ve read most of his stories and I even watched the old BBC series with David Suchet. Somehow, Curtain was never a book I really gravitated towards. One day while perusing my favorite used bookstore, I came across the book and decided to give it a try.

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To say that this novel is bittersweet is an understatement. First, Poirot and Hastings find themselves back at Styles, the house from the novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles where we were first introduced to the eccentric detective and to his friend Arthur Hastings. The other sad part is that we now find Poirot much older and in a wheelchair.

“Nothing is so sad, in my opinion, as the devastation wrought by age.
My poor friend. I have described him many times. Now to convey to you the difference. Crippled with arthritis, he propelled himself about in a wheelchair. His once plump frame had fallen in. He was a thin little man now.”

Despite Poirot’s crippled appearance, his “little gray cells” are working just fine and soon enough Poirot declares to Hastings that one of the guests at Styles has committed five murders and is about to commit one more.

I personally liked the book. I don’t think I would ever truly love any book that narrates Poirot’s last case. The end was sad, almost brought me to tears, but didn’t completely surprise me. This was also Christie’s last published book before she died. For fans of the genre, this novel will not disappoint you a bit. For Agatha Christie’s fans, this book is a must.