mystery


The third book in the Whispering Pines cozy mystery series.

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Publication year: 2018
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 490

After returning to the small village of Whispering Pines for the first time in over a decade, Janye O’Shaye has finally started to feel like she fits in. She’s the Sheriff and she and her friend Tripp are busily renovating her grandmother’s huge house to start a B&B. She knows that Tripp wants to be more than friends. Even though she wants it, too another part is afraid that she’ll be hurt again. Her little West Highland White Terrier Meeka is happy, though.

Jayne decides to kayak to work and good thing that she does: a tourist is near drowning and she rescues him. She tries to make him go to the local healing center but he refuses. Feeling a bit frustrated, she continues to work. But by afternoon, that tourist is dead. It looks like an accident but Jayne wants to be sure. She also finds her Grandmother’s old diaries. Officially, her Gran drowned in her own bathtub but Jayne feels that something more sinister happened. She thinks that the diaries could give her a clue.

She’s tired because she still hasn’t got a deputy and she needs to run the station by herself at the height of the tourist season. Also, the renovation isn’t going as quickly as she thought.

This was a good continuation to the series. It’s as much quirky fun as the previous ones.

Most of the characters are familiar but we don’t see much of the carnival folks from the second book. Although we do get a couple of new eccentric characters. When Jayne finds the diaries their story about the founding of the town and the lives of the original inhabitants draw her. She ends up reading the diaries during her working hours, too. I enjoyed finding out more about her Gran and the town.

This book ties up the continuing mystery of her Gran’s death.

The third book in the Casino Witch humorous fantasy cozy mysteries.


Publication year: 2018
Format: ebook
Page count at Goodreads: 189

About a year ago, Ella’s dad was murdered and she found out that she’s a mage. Her father’s death is still a mystery but she doesn’t have any clues about who did it. She doesn’t have any memories of her mom. She also doesn’t know why her dad kept her a secret from everyone in the magical community or why he didn’t tell her that she’s a mage. Her dad’s old friends Badger and Bear agreed to train her. About six months ago, Ella declared herself a Monza, a follower of “old way” who must stay celibate. She did it to get out of the clutches of mage law. She had, and still has, feelings for handsome, if aloof and unfriendly, security consultant Vin.

For six months, Ella has been training or rather burying all her feelings in training. She’s also pushed her best friend Vanessa to train with her. But now Vanessa is putting her foot down. Her mother who is Ella’s teacher, is away for a week. Ella has pushed them to go through all the exercises in just couple of days and Vanessa wants to stop doing them.

Their friend Natasha comes to Ella’s loft. Natasha has her own comedy show in on the casinos. Two of the women working in her show have left and she needs help. Vanessa jumps at the chance but Ella hesitates. She wants to keep practicing.

After Vanessa and Natasha leave, Ella’s tutor Bear stops by. Apparently, the girls from Natasha’s show haven’t left: they’re dead from drug overdose. Bear wants Ella to investigate. Ella agrees and a job at the comedy show is a great way to go undercover. However, she decides to keep the investigation secret even from Vanessa.

This is a more serious entry in the series. While we still get wild antics from Patagonia, Ella’s huge black familiar cat, there aren’t many other jokes or humor, especially compared to the previous book which was set in a hilarious cheese convention. Ella investigates the overdose with a drug which seems to affect only mages. Also, a handsome new love interest appears. The mystery around Ella’s dad and childhood deepens, though.

While I didn’t enjoy the plot as much as in the previous book, I did enjoy the characters and quite a lot of other things, like the descriptions of Ella performing on the comedy show. She thought it would be just a small thing but it’s really not and panicked at first. Vin doesn’t appear much which is good because I can barely stand him. Natasha is a great character and I’d like to see more of her.

The second short story in the cozy mystery series Mom and Christy’s Mysteries.

Publication year: 2016
Format: ebook
Page count at Goodreads: 95

After her husband left her, Christy decided to move back to her mother’s house and help her in the catering business. Also, they solve crimes together!

Barbara Turing runs a computer firm and she knows that someone in her company is selling their secrets to competitors. To find out who, Barbara wants to hire Christy and her mom, Jo. But they’re not licensed private eyes, so they’ll just cater a lunch and ask a lot of questions.

Before long, Jo and Christy narrow down the suspects to three and one of them is the most obvious choice. Jo tells Barbara who they suspect and Barbara confronts the man in his office. Christy heads back to their catering van. While she’s on the yard, the office building’s fire alarm goes off… and a body falls out the window. He’s the man suspected of selling secrets and he was in the office alone with Barbara just moments before. So, now Jo and Christy’s client is a suspected murderer.

This was another humorous, fast-paced short mystery story. It’s similar to the first one in tone, a quick and fun read. The office party has an apple theme.

Jo and Christy are just as much fun as in the first book. Christy has, again, trouble driving the large van and Jo is just as personable and chatty as ever. They have a warm relationship but Christy realizes (briefly) that her mom has other sides to her. Sometimes Jo can still embarrass her daughter, especially when a certain handsome detective is concerned.

The first short story in the cozy mystery series Mom and Christy’s Mysteries.

Publication year: 2016
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 86

Christy is 35 and on the brink of a divorce. Her job was as the manager of her soon-to-be ex-husband, so she’s in a lousy waitressing job. However, Christy’s mom, Jo, has recently started a catering business. So, Jo invites Christy to return home and help her mom with the job. Christy agrees and moves back to Fletcher Canyon, and together with her mom. Their first catering job together is a birthday party for an 85-year old man. Christy’s cousin is his nurse. The party isn’t a success and ends with a whimper when Christy finds the man of the hour dead.

The local detective is very handsome but unfortunately his suspicions all turn to Christy’s cousin. Clearly, Christy and her mom must solve the case themselves.

This is a delightful, short mystery. Christy’s mom Jo is Filipino and Christy’s father was white. Christy is a fun character: she’s a bit overweight, she can’t cook but she can drive the catering van, just barely. There’s also a cat. Christy and her mom are on good terms and I loved their relationship. They both have a past and Jo’s best friend Weiling helps them a lot.

Christy is the first person narrator and she’s a lot of fun.

The mystery was just the right length for the story. I have the next story in the series already.

The first book in the Bakery Detectives cozy mystery series.

Publication year: 2016
Format: ebook
Page count: 161 at GoodReads
Publisher: Fairfield Publishing

Rachael Robinson has a a bakery in Belldale. But business has been slow recently because across the street Bakermatic is selling their cakes and cupcakes a lot cheaper. They can afford to do that because it’s a big firm and they sell prepackaged cakes. Rachael takes part in the Belldale Street Fair but there, too, Bakermatic wins over pretty much all customers with their free samples. A food critic blogger, who doesn’t seem to like anyone’s food, tastes Rachael’s pie but later the critic is found dead, poisoned. Someone spreads a rumor that Rachael is responsible and her customers desert her. It’s up to Rachael and her best friend Pippa to find out the murderer.

This was a quick, fun read. The characters aren’t very deep but their fun to read about. Rachael hates Bakermatic and is convinced that they must have poisoned the critic. She’s the first person POV character. Pippa is almost the opposite of Rachael: Rachael needs to be a responsible bakery owner while Pippa has a hard time holding down a job even for a week. But they’re quite loyal to each other and both are fun to read about. They watch crime TV-shows. When the local police, meaning the handsome detective, says that Rachael is a prime suspect, Pippa and Rachael decide to investigate.

While this was a short book, it has lots of twists and turns and humor. A good introduction to the series.

This is the second new Hercule Poirot novel, not written by Christie.

Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2016
Format: print
Page count: 321
Finnish publisher: WSOY
Finnish translator: Terhi Vartia

I can’t really say if Hannah’s style is close to Christie; I read this in translation and I’ve read most Christie books in translation, too. However, Closed Casket has been written in first person, which is very different from Christie’s book. I think this is a deliberate style choice.

The narrator of the book is Inspector Edward Catchpool from Scotland Yard. Apparently, he was involved in the previous case, too, and talks about it a few times. He, Poirot, and a group of other eccentric people have gathered to the estate of Lady Playford, in Ireland. Catch pool and Poirot don’t know the lady and she refuses to tell them why she had invited them.

Gathered to her home are her two children and their eccentric spouses, a couple of lawyers and the lady’s secretary and his nurse. They’re all strange to some degree. Of course, one of them is murdered right in front of Poirot and Catchpool.

This was an enjoyable enough mystery and the characters were interesting. It’s not as good as Christie’s best, though.

The second book in the contemporary cozy mystery series Whispering Pines.

Publication year: 2017
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 244
Publisher: Brown Bag Books

Jayne O’Shea came to the small Whispering Pines village to repair her grandparents’ house for selling. She’s a former police detective from Madison who had to quit her job. She was looking for some peace and quiet in a tranquil village. Now, she’s exploring the resident circus. She and Tripp, who is just a friend, really, enjoy a great night at the circus. But the next morning, one of the performers is found dead. Whispering Pines doesn’t have a sheriff currently and so Jayne uses her skills to stop anyone from getting to the crime scene and to investigate it initially. But the county sheriff takes over and everyone near Jayne tells her not to investigate further. Of course, she has her hands full trying to clear the huge house with just herself and Tripp. She also wants to turn the house to a bed&breakfast place, but needs her parents’ permission to do that.

Meanwhile, the mysteries in the closely knit community continue.

This was another great read in the cozy mystery series. The combination of local Wiccan practices and the police procedural works well for me and is very interesting. Jayne’s best friend Morgan owns the local witch shop and is a practicing Wiccan. The villagers are very eclectic bunch. I also love Jayne’s dog Meeka which is a white Westie. Meeka used to be a narcotics dog but is now an emotional support dog. The carnies, as they call themselves, are quirky people. Many of them have physical disabilities so they’re even more misfits than the other Whispering Pines villagers.

We’re introduced to two new characters. Lupe is a reporter who want to do a series of feel-good pieces about the thriving tourist village and the circus. She’s, of course, very curious and wants to talk with everyone. The village also gets a new sheriff’s who is very young… and brings with him his mother as a deputy.

I found it a bit strange that both of Jayne’s closest friends, Morgan and Tripp, are against her investigating the murder now and in the previous book. However, most likely that was done to bring some more conflict in their relationships. I’m very curious to see what happens in the next book.

The ending was satisfying but the village’s mysteries still continue.

The first book in the contemporary cozy mystery series Whispering Pines.

Publication year: 2017
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 284
Publisher: Brown Bag Books

This series is set in a very small and quirky town of Whispering Pines in Wisconsin.

Jayne O’Shea is twenty-six and a former homicide detective. She and her West Highland White Terrier Meeka have come to Whispering Pines because her grandmother passed away recently and she needs to make her Gran’s house ready because her parents want to sell it. However, she’s also looking for some peace and quiet after she quit the job she loved because of traumatic events and broke up with her fiance.

But when she arrives to her Gran’s huge house, it has been vandalized. Also, Meeka finds a dead body in the backyard. It’s the body of a young woman whom Jayne doesn’t know. She calls the local sheriff.

Jayne doesn’t want to get involved; she wants to relax and find a new direction for her life. But when the sheriff doesn’t seem at all interested in investigating the murder of the tourist, Jayne investigates with Meeka. The local people are a very strange set. Many of them loved Jayne’s Gran and are also welcoming to her, at least to her face. But many are also suspicious of outsiders because Whispering Pines is a very insular community. Many are practicing Wiccans who face ridicule and prejudices outside the town. Most are misfits who don’t fit any anywhere else.

Sheriff Brighton is slow to investigate an outsider’s death and his deputy Reed, who is also the sheriff’s nephew, is hostile to Jayne from the start. One man claims that he can see when death is approaching a person. Then there’s the local witch shoppe’s owner who seems to be the only person who really welcomes Jayne.

And then there’s Tripp, a young man who arrived to town a short while ago. He likes it there, but nobody wants to hire him. Jayne needs someone to clear out her Gran’s house and she enjoys his company, so she considers hiring him.

I enjoyed the writing style which is in the first person. Jayne makes short observations of every person she meets which was a good way to introduce them. The book has a large cast of characters but many of them felt distinct for me. I especially enjoyed the budding friendship between Jayne and Morgan, the witch shop owner.

Meeka is a former cadaver and drug dog but she has been trained to assist Jayne’s emotional problems. They go almost everywhere together. Jayne herself has a lot of problems. She feels that she can’t trust herself because of past decisions which turned out badly. Her mother is a business woman who disapproved of Jayne’s career and now is trying to control her.

The mystery is a twisty one. The ending was a bit abrupt and I couldn’t really buy the murderer’s motives. However, otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the quirky characters so I will continue with the series. While the murder is solved, the rest of the mysteries remain unresolved.

The first book in a fantasy series. It’s a murder mystery but can be read as a stand-alone.

Publication year: 2019
Format: ebook
Page count at GoodReads: 306

This was a fascinating read. It’s set in a fantasy world where magic is taught and not an inborn talent. The world has also technology although it’s somewhat tied to the magic. Using magic is called cyphering. Women rule societies and men are considered too emotional and weak-willed to serve the state, even though that attitude is waning, so the world has reverse sexism. The characters aren’t human. I got the sense that they’re cat-like creatures. (I freely admit this could come from my inordinant fondness for C. J. Cherryh’s hani.) Their faces are muzzles and they have fur but also skin. But they behave mostly in human ways and have very human motivations. Otherwise, of course, it would be hard for us readers to understand them.

Jhee is a middle-aged woman who has been working as a magistrate, a justicar for years. Now, she’s been called to the capital and she’s taking her family with her. Shep is her primary husband, a former soldier, and they’ve been happily married for a long time. Just before they left, Jhee married two others, but more out of sense of duty than any passion. Both new spouses are young and she’s constantly thinking that she’ll get them better spouses, more appropriate for the youngsters’ tempers and ambitions, when they get to the capital. Mirrei’s mother was Jhee’s old friend and Jhee has some sense of duty toward her. Mirrei is a healer but her own health is fragile because she’s suffering from a disease which is becoming increasingly common. Kanto is a handsome young man and he’s interested in fashion and the arts. He’s also a musician and artist. He feels that Jhee favors the other spouses over him. Jhee is somewhat uncomfortable with this new arrangement: she tries to make time to her new spouses and not show too much fondness for Shep.

Their ship hits a coral reef and is wrecked. Fortunately, there’s an abbey nearby and the crew and Jhee’s family are welcomed there.

The abbey’s previous abbess, Saheli, died just a few days before. Apparently, she translated straight to a spiritual plane. Jhee is more distressed when she finds out that three prospectives, young male attendants, have also died: one fell during an earthquake, one died from a disease, and one apparently killed himself. Even though Jhee’s the area’s justiciar, she hasn’t heard about the deaths before. With the ship needing repairs, she starts to investigate.

All the regular staff in the abbey are women and many of them think men are beneath them. Saheli was the one exception so her death is starting to look increasingly suspicious to Jhee. Jhee enjoys reading, but the abbey’s archivist takes an immediate dislike to her. The current abbess, Pyrmo, is apparently a drunkard and soon Jhee suspects her of murder, too. With the locals whispering about the ghostly Mist Abbess, she has her hands full both with the investigation and trying to balance her new, and more complicated, family life.

The abbey is full of strange characters and the more we learn about them, the less spiritual they seem. Lady Bathseba is a retired vizier. She still lives in luxury in the abbey. She’s quite snobbish but seems to know a lot about what’s going on. Then there’s a poetess who pretends to be drunk so that she can snoop around. The others snub her. The abbey’s doctor is also a drunk and the others no longer trust her but go to the herbalist to get medicines. The cast of characters is large and the book would’ve benefited from a list.
Jhee is the major POV character with a couple of chapters from another character’s POVs. It’s not particularly fast-paced but has a solid mystery.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the story. Jhee and her spouses are interesting characters and I also enjoyed most of the supporting cast. The world-building was mostly good, too, without info dumps. However, the magic wasn’t explained much and sometimes I wanted more descriptions of places and people. Jhee’s spouses all have public names and private names. Shep, for example is Dawn Wolf publicly. But none of the other people, male or female, have names that mean something. So I didn’t get the name system. Also, the book could have done with another round of editing. But these are small concerns.

I loved the different culture and I’m definitely reading the next book.

The second book in the Miss Fortune humorous mystery series.

Publication year: 2013
Format: Audio
Running time: 7 hours 20 minutes
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell

Fortune Redding is CIA assassin but because there’s now a price on her head, she’s been sent deep undercover to a small town called Sinful in Louisiana. She’s posing as a former beauty queen and a current librarian but she isn’t a reader and she’s never even seen a beauty pageant on TV. In the first book, she became fast friends with the Sinful Ladies Society: Gertie and Ida Belle who were undercover agents during Vietnam. Now, they’re retirees and also solve murders.

A former beauty queen and an aspiring actress Pansy Arceneaux returns to Sinful. She has lots of skeletons in her closet, because she seems to be in the habit of sleeping with other women’s boyfriends and husbands. She and Fortune get in a very public fight which ends with Fortune threatening to kill her. The next morning, Pansy is found dead and everyone in the small town are convinced that Fortune did it.

Well, everyone except Gertie and Ida Bell who want to help prove Fortune innocent. The handsome deputy sheriff Carter is under of lot of pressure to arrest Fortune even though there’s no actual proof that she did it.

This was a fun, fast-paced adventure with quirky characters and lots and lots of coincidences. Gertie and Ida are very funny. Fortune hasn’t actually done any homework about her supposed cover so I’m not sure how good a spy she actually is. She doesn’t read or watch TV so she’s pretty clueless about lots of ordinary life stuff. It’s not very realistic but it’s lots of fun.

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