Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Death al Fresco (A Sally Solari Mystery #3) by Leslie Karst

Death al Fresco (A Sally Solari Mystery #3)
When her father is fingered for murder, it’s up to Sally Solari to serve up the real killer before their new restaurant’s reputation goes up in smoke in the delectable third Sally Solari mystery.

It’s Indian summer in Santa Cruz and restaurateur Sally Solari decides an open-air painting class is the perfect way for her to learn more about Paul Gaugin, the inspiration for her family’s newest restaurant. But the beauty of the Monterey Bay coastline is shattered when Sally’s dog Buster sniffs out a corpse tangled up in kelp.

The body is identified as Gino, a local fisherman and a regular at the Solaris’ restaurant until he disappeared after dining there a few nights before. Witnesses claim he left reeling drunk, but his waitress swears Gino only had two beers with his dinner. And then the fingers begin to point at Sally’s dad for negligently allowing an inebriated customer to walk home alone at night.

From a long menu of suspects that includes Anastasia, the mysterious woman who dined with Gino that fateful night, Gino’s deckhand Bobby, and bocce player Frank who accused Gino of cheating, Sally must serve up the tall order to clear her father’s name in Death al Fresco, Leslie Karst’s third culinary cozy perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke and Leslie Meier.  (Summary via Goodreads)

When I read a book there are lots of times that I find one word best describes the book.  And I have to say when reading Death al Fresco by Leslie Karst the word that pops in my mind throughout the entire book is HUNGRY.  

In Death at Fresco, the third book in the Sally Solari Mystery series by Karst, you are hanging out with Sally who is going back and forth from her father's restaurant, Solari's to Gauguin's, the restaurant that Sally inherited from her aunt.  As she just recently inherited Gauguin's she is trying to learn thr ropes of owning and running her own business but she is also getting pulled back to her father's restaurant to help him prepare for a huge dinner honoring the Mayor of their sister city.

As if that isn't enough a local fisherman, Gino, that frequented the Solari's is found washed up on the beach by Sally's dog.  When Sally learns his approximate time of death happens to be right after he was in the restaurant appearing very intoxicating and he was kicked out by her father, Sally cannot help but try to figure out what happened and why he ended up dead.

While you read Death al Fresco you will notice that it is slightly different than most cozies in the way that Sally approaches the case.  Usually the main character is butting heads with the police and getting themselves in hot water.  However, with Death al Fresco as Sally goes about working at both restaurants, she witnesses things and just seems to talk to some of the locals.....without giving much away.  Even though the underlying fact is that she is trying to find out who would hit Gino over the head and throw him into the ocean and why.  He was just an old local fisherman.......  Also she wants to prove that her father had nothing to do with his death even if there are some facts that say otherwise......

Make sure you have a yummy snack, maybe an antipasto or a nice dish of black cod with miso and sake, or a slice of panettone or something to keep your appetite in check because once you start reading it will be hard to put the book down.....

Review by Missi S.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Murder on the Aloha Express (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #2) by Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens

Murder on the Aloha Express (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #2)
From the bestselling cozy mystery writing team of Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens comes the next to-die-for novel in the Aloha lagoon Mysteries series...

Travel agent Gabby LeClair, a divorced big-city transplant trying to find some aloha spirit in her soul, prides herself on working hard to give the Aloha Lagoon Resort guests a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But that turns out to be more than anyone bargained for when the body of a client is found dead during one of Gabby's island tours. The victim is a lawyer who's escorted a small group to Aloha Lagoon for distribution of a deceased billionaire's estate...but it looks like someone believes the only good lawyer is a dead lawyer. Between the bad press causing her phone to go silent and the police working on "island time," it's up to Gabby to find the killer before her business goes belly-up. With the help of her good friends, and a hot helicopter pilot with a flirtatious streak, Gabby turns sleuth to figure out just which member of the lawyer's party had it in for him. But before long it's clear there's way more at stake than her livelihood, and if Gabby isn't careful, she and her friends may find themselves on an island getaway to death.

About Aloha Lagoon:
There's trouble in paradise...
Welcome to Aloha Lagoon, one of Hawaii's hidden treasures. A little bit of tropical paradise nestled along the coast of Kauai, this resort town boasts luxurious accommodation, friendly island atmosphere...and only a slightly higher than normal murder rate. While mysterious circumstances may be the norm on our corner of the island, we're certain that our staff and Lagoon natives will make your stay in Aloha Lagoon one you will never forget!  (Summary via Goodreads)

I love the Aloha Lagoon Mystery series by Gemma Halliday Publishing.  If you are new to the series I highly recommend booking a room at the Aloha Lagoon Resort and grabbing your spot on the beach because you are going to want to stick around !!!

The Aloha Lagoon Mystery series is a series of books written around the Aloha Lagoon Resort.  Each book is written by a very talented and creative author and centers around one aspect of the resort......it could be the Blue Hawaii Wedding Chapel or the Loco Moco Cafe or the Happy Hula Dress Boutique or Gabby's Island Adventures.....  

And Gabby's Island Adventures by Sally J. Smith and Jean Steffens is where we are hanging out in Murder on the Aloha Express which is the second book in the series.  Gabby owns and runs Gabby's Island Adventures and she has just booked a huge group for a tour.  The group is on the island honoring the last wishes of Thomas Wesley Senior.  Real estate mogul Wesley Senior wanted his last will and testament to be handled where he and his wife spent their honeymoon.  So his very devoted lawyer, David Sherwin Esq., is there with Thomas Wesley Junior, his wife, family and a few friends to honor those wishes.

Unfortunately before they can get down to business Sherwin is murdered while on the tour that Gabby set up.  Not only does this put a damper on the family's plans but it puts a big black cloud over Gabby's business when news of the murder on her tour gets out and the cancellations start to pour in.  Gabby has no other choice but to talk to the members of the family and try to put the pieces together on Sherwin's death.

With the help of her twin employees, Lana and Koma and business partner Rick, Gabby starts asking the family and friends questions.  But with the help of the internet and one member of the party, Gabby gets herself a little too close to the murderer........

I LOVE these books and especially after reading a few I can really appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into each of them.  Within Murder on the Aloha Express, Smith and Steffens keep with the series and mention people that are in other books in this series.  It doesn't matter what book you start with because they are all individuals of their own.  I do, however, suggest you start with one of them and keep reading them......  You seriously will not want to leave Aloha Lagoon Resort even if murder seems the common denominator......

Review by Missi S.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Lethal in Old Lace (Consignment Shop Mystery #5) by Duffy Brown

Lethal in Old Lace (Consignment Shop Mystery #5)
Reagan Summerside returns in national bestselling author Duffy Brown’s fifth Consignment Shop mystery, now for the first time in hardcover.

There are two social functions in Savannah guaranteed to get people talking: weddings and funerals. And just as consignment shop owner Reagan Summerside agrees to marry the hunky Walker Boone, her neighbors, sisters Annie Fritz and Elsie Abbot, step up their business as professional mourners. They are so successful that the Sleepy Pines Retirement Center has hired them as a part of their retirement package. But the celebration over good business is cut short when the residents at Pines suddenly begin dying at an alarming rate. And the sisters are the first suspects.

Reagan has her doubts, however, and begins to look into the strange phenomenon. But then something even stranger happens: a body winds up in the sisters’ pink Caddy. The evidence begins to pile up and the suspicious case of Willie Fishbine, who swindled the sisters out of a fortune and coincidentally died prior to the Pines case, is reopened.

Not wanting Willie to be buried until they can find the killer responsible for the murders, Reagan must catch the culprit in time to walk down the aisle. Witty, fabulous, and full of charm, Lethal in Old Lace is perfect for fans of Ellery Adams and Jenn McKinlay.
   (Summary via Goodreads)

FUN !!!  Fun, Fun, and More Fun !!!!

Lethal in Old Lace is the fifth book in the Consignment Shop Mystery series by Duffy Brown and the best word to describe it is FUN !!  

I am new to the Consignment Shop Mystery series with Lethal in Old Lace being the first in the series that I have read.  However, that didn't matter.  As soon as I started reading Lethal in Old Lace, I felt right at home with Reagan and her crew in Savannah.  I had no problem keeping up with Reagan as she walked, ran or scootered around town following dead people......  It seems that Reagan is a magnet for dead people and it also seems that that is kind of the norm around town.  Even though she tries her hardest to stay clear of dead people and the problems that come with them, it doesn't matter.  She ends up in the middle of things and everyone is looking at her to resolve and solve the issues.

Even though in Lethal in Old Lace all Reagan wants to do is enjoy her engagement to her sexy, lawyer boyfriend, Boone Walker, she cannot turn away from her neighbors and friends, the Fritzs' sisters when they are arrested for murder !!  Everyone in town knows that the sisters are uncapable of hurting anyone but it's a hard case to prove when the body of Bonnie Sue McGrath is found poorly buried in the sisters' garden.  And this is just after the passing of another resident, Willie Fishbine, of Sleepy Pines Retirement Center.  

Things seem off with these two deaths so of course Reagan with the help of her Auntie KiKi does some investigating of her own.  As she runs around town looking into these two deaths, she finds herself promising eveyone from the bus driver to the local cop to the coroner a place in her wedding party..... All this so she can marry the man of her dreams ???  Well that and solve the two murders !!!

From Reagan naming her oversized purse and wedding dress when she finally finds the time to shop for one, to the relationship she has with Boone and her Auntie KiKi,  to the crazy way everyone acts and talks and back to Reagan running around town.....it all flows throughout the book and you cannot help but laugh and love this quirky little town......  I for one will be visiting whenever I get the chance.....

Review by Missi S.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Playing With Bonbon Fire (A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery #2) by Dorothy St. James

Playing With Bonbon Fire (A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery, #2)
Chocoholic Charity Penn must smoke out the killer to stop her newly inherited beachside chocolate shop from going up in flames in Dorothy St. James’ decadent follow-up to Asking for Truffle.

Chocolate shop owner Charity Penn is finally settling into life in the quirky South Carolina seaside town of Camellia Beach cooking up chocolate treats. She’s even helped organize the town’s lively beach music festival which has brought rollicking crowds eager to dance the Carolina shag. That is, until one of the band’s lead singers is found dead beside a beach bonfire.

While also trying to balance the amorous attention of music star Bixby Lewis, in town for the festival, and her quest to perfect a new hot flavored bonbon, Charity dives into the investigation. Though it’s more spice than sugar when she discovers a threatening note, comes across decades of age-old secrets, and Bixby comes into the line of fire when a gas grill explodes on the deck of a beachfront house.

Now Charity must turn up the heat and catch the killer before her chance melts away in Playing With Bonbon Fire, the delightful second Chocolate Shop mystery served up just right for fans of JoAnna Carl and Joanne Fluke.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Even though Playing with Bonbon Fire is only the second book in Dorothy St. James' Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery serier, I am a diehard fan !!  I fell in love with the series with her first installment, Asking for Truffles, and know that with every new book, I will continue to fall in love with them.

How can you not fall in love with a series of books centered in a beachtown ? Centered around a chocolate shop ??  And the main character Charity Penn is someone you know that if you met her in real life you would want to be her friend ?  

Now we know that the first book in any series usually sets the groundwork for the reader to get to know the area and the main characters involved.  And that is exactly what Asking for Truffles does when you start reading Playing with Bonbon Fire, you are already comfortable and fall right back into things with Penn.

And boy is Playing with BonBon Fire a catcher !!!  As the town is gearing up for a weekend long beach music festival, things for Penn are anything but smooth sailing !!!  (Which as you know from the first book, is par for the course in her life....)  As the first night of the festival is winding down, Penn witnesses a bonfire on the beach and finds a dead body in the fire !!  As she trys to figure out why someone would kill a member of a band that hasn't performed in 30 years, it seems someone is trying to kill Penn as well.  But why ???  

We also get to meet Penn's sister, Tina.  Tina sent her music star ex-boyfriend Bixby to help out with the music festival but seems to be in the middle of a lot of "mishaps" that endanger his life and those around him.  As with Penn though, we cannot help but fall in love with Tina and all her spunk !!!

There is a lot going on in Playing with BonBon Fire but it is nothing that the devoted reader cannot handle !!  The only problem will be when you get to the end of the book and have to wait patiently for the next installment.  But that's okay because we are left with a lot to ponder and keep our imagination sparked.....

Review by Missi S.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Plum Tea Crazy (A Tea Shop Mystery #19) by Laura Childs

Plum Tea Crazy (A Tea Shop Mystery, #19)

Theodosia Browning investigates a Charleston steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.

While viewing the harbor's Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow's walk of Timothy Neville's Charleston mansion, local banker Carson Lanier seemingly tumbles over a narrow railing, then plunges three stories to his death. But a tragic accident becomes something much more sinister when it's discovered that the victim was first shot with a bolt from a crossbow.

At the request of the mansion owner, Theodosia investigates the tragedy and is soon neck deep in suspects. An almost ex-wife, a coworker, a real estate partner--all had motives for killing the luckless banker, but one resorted to murder to settle accounts.


One of the many reasons that I love the Tea Shop Mystery series by Laura Childs is the confidence that Theodosia Browning, the main character, has.  Halfway into the story you have this tidbit of a conversation .....

"And you'll call your friend, Detective Riley?  Tell him that it would be so great if the police could kind of keep an eye on my house and my shop?"
"Of course I'll ask him," said Theodosia.  "And I'm sure he'll be happy to extend a little extra protection.  After all, he's been working on this case for several days now.  It's a tangle, but I'm confident he'll get it sorted out."
Because if he doesn't, I'll have to figure it out myself.

And it's that last sentence that grabs you...because you know that that is exact what will happen !!  

Theo has this way about her that people are drawn too.  Maybe because she owns the Indigo Tea Shop and tea is seen as a relaxing and enjoyable drink, or maybe because she has a way of seeing people differently than others view them, or maybe it's because she's done it in previous books.  But whatever the reason, even if you are just reading Plum Tea Crazy as your first Laura Child's novel or it's your first Tea Shop Mystery series book, you will draw the same conclusion...... Theo is someone you want on your side and in your corner.

And Laura Childs is a no-nonsense author just like Theo is a no-nonsense main character.  Within the first chapter of Plum Tea Crazy the stage is set !!  The murder has occurred and the list of suspects is already growing !!!  And Theo and her dapper side-kick, Drayton, are first on the scene....well they are at the party because they are catering the event but still..... 

And the story stays strong throughout the entire book.  From just hanging around with Theo and gang at the Tea Shop preparing teas, you never know who will interrupt or what will occur to Theo trying to obtain information from her boyfriend, Detective Riley without tipping her hand in the knowledge that she has learned and other little thing in between.

You will love Theo, Drayton and the Indigo Tea Shop as well as the circumstances surrounding the murder and I believe that you will be just as shocked as I was when you find out who the actual murderer is and why !!!  Childs and Theo have you so focused on certain people that when Theo finally does revel the actual guilty person, you will be stopping to catch up !!!

And don't stop there....make sure you read the recipes and the helpful tea time tips at the end of the story.  I, for one, plan to try some of the yummy recipes !!!

Review by Missi S.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Murder Between the Covers (A Dead-End Job Mystery #2) by Elaine Viets

Murder Between the Covers (A Dead-End Job Mystery Book 2) by [Viets, Elaine]

From Anthony and Agatha Award-winning author Elaine Viets—the thrilling mystery series about one woman trying to make a living... while other people are making a killing.

Helen Hawthorne is still on the run because of her refusal to pay her worthless ex-husband alimony. But a girl’s gotta eat…and pay rent, utilities, etc. So she’s taken a cash-paying job at Fort Lauderdale’s own Page Turners bookstore. And while the job is decent enough, the owner of the store is anything but.

Page Turner III is a boor with more money than brains: he’s cheating on his wife while running his family business into the ground and has a list of enemies longer than any bestseller. So when he turns up dead, no one is too surprised. What is surprising is where—in the bed of Helen’s glamorous gal pal Peggy, whose usual bedmates are more cultured, refined…and still breathing.

Worse still, it turns out that Peggy once had a tryst with the late Mr. Turner that ended quite badly, with a scorned Peggy promising the lothario payback—and someone is making it look like she finally collected. With Peggy as the prime suspect in a murder, it’s up to Helen to prove her friend innocent before the police throw the book at her…

Praise for the Dead-End Job Mysteries by Anthony and Agatha Award-winning author Elaine Viets

“A stubborn and intelligent heroine, a wonderful South Florida setting, and a cast of more-or-less lethal bimbos...I loved this book.”—Charlaine Harris
“Brave Viets preps by actually working the jobs she describes in loving and hilarious detail, giving her offbeat series a healthy balance between the banal and the bizarre.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Laugh-out-loud comedy with enough twists and turns to make it to the top of the mystery bestseller charts.” —Florida Today
“Fans of Janet Evanovich and Parnell Hall will appreciate Viets’s humor.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Wit, murder, and sunshine . . . it must be Florida. I love this new series.”—Nancy Pickard
“A heroine with a sense of humor and a gift for snappy dialogue.”—Jane Heller  (Summary via Amazon)

I just love the Dead-End Job Mystery series by Elaine Viets and am very happy that JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc. are giving them new life.  This series was written years ago but I have only recently been introduced to it.  I read and reviewed the first book in this series, Shop Till You Drop, and knew that I wanted to read every single book in this series.

I fell in love with the main character, Helen Hawthorne.  Helen is on the run from her past.  A past where she was married, had a great job, and she thought a solid marriage.  All of that changed one day when she returned home early from work and caught her low-life husband cheating !!!  When they went to court for divorce and the judge awarded her ex a percentage of her future earnings, she vowed that he would never receive another penny from her.  So she packed up and moved to Florida where she has her own apartment, a few people she can call friends, and a cat.  The only bad thing is that in order to keep her vow to not givr her ex another cent, she has to find employers who are willing to pay her cash. 

In Murder Between the Covers, Helen is working at a bookstore called Page Turners, after its founder the original Page Turner.  She is working for the grandson who is a very sleazy, cheap and creepy drunk.  Page Turner III has a hobby of bedding women in his office and taping the sessions.  When he is found murdered, the list of suspects is quite long, unfortunately the police only look at one person.  That person is Helen's friend, Peggy, and the main reason she is the only suspect is because he is found dead in her bed .......

Helen knows that there is no way that Peggy would have killed Page and will stop at nothing to prove that.  With the help of her landlady, Margery, they lead their own investigation.  

There is so much to fall in love with in this series !!!!  As soon as I finished reading the first book I was looking forward to this next one. And now that I am done with Murder Betweent the Covers, I cannot wait to pick up the next book to see where Helen is going to work next and what craziness will follow her....  

Review by Missi S.

Friday, 2 March 2018

A Cold Day in Hell (Cold Case Investigation #1) by Lissa Marie Redmond

A Cold Day in Hell (Cold Case Investigation, #1)

Lauren Riley is an accomplished detective who has always been on the opposite side of the courtroom from her nemesis, slick defense attorney Frank Violanti. But now he's begging to hire her as a private investigator to help clear his client of murder. At first Lauren refuses, wanting nothing to do with the media circus surrounding that case—until she meets the eighteen-year-old suspect.

To keep an innocent teen from life in prison, Lauren must unravel the conflicting evidence and changing stories to get at the buried facts. But the more she digs, the more she discovers that nothing is what it first appears to be. As Lauren puts her career and life in danger, doubt starts to lurk on every corner . . . and so does her stalker.
   (Summary via Goodreads)

A Cold Day in Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond will suck you in from the very beginning and you won't be able to stop reading until you read the very last word.  And when you do, you will feel like your head will explode !!!  A Cold Day in Hell is the first book in the Cold Case Investigation mystery series .... and for me, cold cases are very interesting but this series is more than just cold cases.  

A Cold Day in Hell has you riding along with Lauren Riley who works in the Cold Case Department but she also gets hires as a private investigator for a current murder case.  And what makes it better is that she does not get along with Frank Violanti, the defense attorney who hires her.   But being great at her job and always wanting justice served, Lauren takes on the case, putting her differences with Violanti aside.  

While Lauren is still working cold cases, she has a lot of things she is trying to juggle....her ex-husband is back in the picture but not in the way that she would like him to be, she has a stalker that she is handling until the time is right to blow that all to pieces, she misses her daughters who are away at college, and she is working the private investigator angle on the case trying not to burn all the bridges with the people that help her with her cold cases.......

A Cold Day in Hell will grab you as soon as you open the book and you will blow through the chapters very quickly..... I love reading books with small chapters and even though some of the chapters are very small, they are still filled with intense entertainment !!!!

I was hooked on this first book in this series and will be trying to patiently wait for the second book.  I know from the ending of A Cold Day in Hell that it can only get better.......

Review by Missi S.