Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Mystery on Hidden Lane Clare Chase 4*#Review @bookouture @ClareChase_ #MurderMystery #cozymystery #Suffolk #Village #Writer #amateursleuth

Meet Eve Mallow: an American far from home, a professional busybody… and an amateur detective?

Seasoned obituary writer Eve Mallow has a new assignment: to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. A chance to spend a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus and meeting new people sounds like a dream. But it turns out that Bernard’s life was much less interesting than his death. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the charismatic cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?

As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled a few feathers. In fact, from the keepers of the Cross Keys Inn to his own staff at High House, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve becomes certain that one of the people she’s met must be the murderer. She has never done any detective work before… but is there something in her notes that can crack the case?

An unputdownable page-turner

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The essence of a good British murder mystery is an intelligent amateur sleuth. Good observational skills, an unassuming manner, which encourages confidences and an unbridled fearlessness, to confront, potentially dangerous people, and situations head-on. Writer Eve Mallow has these qualities.

Eve Mallow writes obituaries. An American, living in London, she is divorced, and her twins are now grown-up. She takes a job writing an obituary for a famous cellist and visits the Suffolk village where he lives to find out more about him.

Observant, she soon realises that this is not a straightforward death. Finding out her subject was murdered, draws her further into his previous life, to find the truth. She quickly endears herself to the villagers and begins to uncover some surprising revelations.

The setting is perfect for a murder mystery, unspoilt, picturesque, remote, with many unobserved places, perfect for committing murder. The cast of characters is complex, eccentric, and flawed. They are the sort you may find in any English village, which makes them relatable. The plot has twists and misinformation. and many suspects. The first victim had many unpalatable traits and so there is a veritable queue of people who may want him out of the way.

Eve is relentless in her investigation and willing to put herself at risk, unsurprisingly she solves the case. There is lots of scope in this series, both in terms of the protagonist and the setting, and I look forward to reading the next book.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Hattie Goes To Hollywood Caroline James 4*#Review @CarolineJames12 #cozymystery #HattieGoesToHollywood #AmateurSleuth #FemaleDetective #Rurallife #VillageLife murdermystery #cumbria #Giveaway #Drake @rararesources

A Cumbrian Village…
Three suicides…
A red-hot summer…

Join super-sleuth Hattie as tempers and temperatures rise in the Cumbrian village of Hollywood. With mischief and shenanigans aplenty, will Hattie discover the truth?

A funny and intriguing mystery – the first in a new series by Caroline James

When recently bereaved Hattie Mulberry inherits her aunt’s dilapidated cottage in the village of Hollywood in Cumbria, she envisages a quiet life. But retired hotelier Hattie is bored and when her neighbour asks her to investigate a suspicious suicide, Hattie’s career takes a new direction and H&H Investigations is born. During the hottest summer for years, Hattie discovers there have been three recent suicides in Hollywood and she determines to find out why. Temperatures rise as she throws herself into village life and, with mischief and shenanigans aplenty, Hattie has her work cut out. But will she establish the truth?

Amazon UK Amazon

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A good cozy mystery should have the following attributes. A cast of complex characters, some of which must harbour dark secrets. Plenty of opportunity for humour, but despite this, the potential for a heinous crime. An enigmatic, quirky amateur sleuth, and an idyllic setting that seems at odds, with what happens there.

‘Hattie Goes To Hollywood’, has all of the above. The residents of Hollywood village are quirky and not necessarily what they seem. The plot has lots of comic moments and humorous dialogue. There are three suicides, but are they suicides, or something more sinister? Hattie a recent widow, returns to her native Cumbria, to live in the rundown cottage, her aunt left her. She needs something to do, and being friendly, inquisitive, observant and tenacious, making a career out of private investigation seems feasible. The village of Hollywood is delightfully rural, but its beauty hides darkness.

Hattie is a complex forthright woman whose no-nonsense manner attracts confidences and indiscretions. She has a positive outlook on life, has a good heart, and a weakness for attractive men. I loved her. The writing is full of vivid imagery, so you can easily imagine the village and its occupants. The mystery is well-plotted, and the humour tempers the severity of the crime effectively. The characters are realistic, full of eccentricities and flaws, and bring the story to life. Like many cozy mystery amateur sleuths, Hattie has an animal companion. Not what you’d expect, but Drake does have intuitive detective skills.

A clever, comical cozy mystery, making this a wonderful escapist read.

Giveaway to Win a cuddly Drake toy! (Open INT)
Be in with a chance to win Drake, Hattie’s faithful pet duck! Tall Drake & Handsome – A gorgeous soft toy who will be your friend for life.

Click on Giveaway link to enter here

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Caroline James

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

Books by Caroline James:

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me Jungle Rock

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

Website Twitter Facebook Amazon Author Page

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery

Dressed to Kill Kathleen Delaney 4* #Review #AMaryMcGillCanineMysteryBook @severnhouse @kdkoppang #CozyMystery #USA #AmateurSleuth #SmallTown #BookReview

Mary McGill and her cocker spaniel Millie get the fright of their lives on Halloween when they hear gunshots coming from the bank and the robber, dressed in a clown costume, points his gun at them before fleeing the scene. Mary is horrified when she discovers Police Chief Dan Dunham has been shot in the shoulder and a woman has been killed. Why would the clown shoot an ordinary citizen?
Mary soon learns that the victim is Victoria Witherspoon, a local woman who owned a sewing shop and must have recognised the clown costume – because she made it herself. With Dan in hospital and unable to investigate, can Mary and Millie unmask the savage killer clown before he strikes again? 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts

An engaging cozy mystery, set in a small town. This is the fourth book in the series, but the mystery is standalone. Mary McGill and her dog are amateur sleuths with a notable success rate, there are plenty of small-town values and ethos in this story, which will appeal to those who like this genre. The mystery is well-written, with plenty of suspects, and false leads, and all the loose ends are neatly tied up at the story’s conclusion.

Mary is a likeable detective, who uses her local contacts and knowledge to solve the crimes. The animals are important characters and give this story, a wider appeal.

If you enjoy North American small town cozy mystery, this is a perfect read.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery

Last Pen Standing Vivian Conroy 4*#Review @PPPress @VivWrites #CozyMystery #StationeryShopMystery #BookReview #PublicationDay #Montana

Will this paper trail run cold?

As the new co-owner of Tundish Montana’s stationery shop WANTED, Delta Douglas knows how to organize a killer crafting event. Creativity and cardstock are all she needs to move one step closer to her ultimate dream: developing her own line of crafting products. But on the night of the workshop, at the swanky hotel venue, glitter isn’t the only thing found sprawled on the floor. A hotel guest is discovered dead in the bar, and amid the confusion, Delta’s best friend is suspected of the crime.

Enlisting the help of her Paper Posse and Spud, her canine sidekick, Delta dives into the investigation. But with many high-powered suspects on the line, Delta soon realizes her sleuthing may come with deadly consequences

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This promises to be a truly unique cozy mystery series. Beautiful stationery, lovely animal companions and a clever, courageous amateur sleuth in Delta, what more can you ask?

The setting is vivid and easy to visualise from the descriptions in the story. There are many personalities to meet, some of which will feature hopefully in future stories, The plot has lots of twists and all the clues and false leads that this genre demands.

Friendship, mystery, and a hint of romance make this a lovely escape, to the hills of Montana, but be careful, not all the residents are as harmless as they appear.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

The Vicarage Murder Faith Martin 5*#Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks #MonicaNobleDetective #MurderMystery #CozyMystery #VicarsWife #TheCotswolds

IN A QUIET COTSWOLD VILLAGE ALL HELL IS ABOUT TO BREAK LOOSE Monica Noble is throwing a party to welcome the village’s new residents. The guests include Margaret and her cheating husband Sean, who’s a celebrity chef. Also on the list are an Oxford university professor, a 40-something divorcee, and the owner of a chain of gyms.

Then as the drinks are flowing, a shotgun blast rings out. One of the guests is found dead.

DCI Dury and Sergeant Jim Greer are soon on the scene and discover that the victim had many enemies. Almost all the guests harbour secrets and motives for murder. Even Monica’s daughter comes under suspicion. When another villager is strangled to death nearly a week later, the stakes are raised. Can Monica help the local detectives save her daughter and solve the murders before anyone else pays the ultimate price?

MONICA NOBLE was widowed young, leaving her to raise her feisty daughter on her own. That is until she met and fell in love with Graham Noble, a country vicar (pastor), who enticed her to leave her high-flying job in advertising in the city and move to the Cotswold countryside. There she found bucolic life very pleasant indeed — until murder started to rear its ugly head. And she discovered, to everyone’s surprise, that she had a flair for solving the most unholy of crimes.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I read so many books, but I do love a good murder mystery to escape and relax with. This revamped series from Faith Martin, (formerly published under the pen name Joy Cato), is a perfect example.

Monica, the vicar’s wife has left her high-powered advertising career and the glamour of London because she fell in love with a country vicar. It has to be said that the vicar is charming, clever and compassionate, and even though there is an age difference, they are compatible in every way.

The garden party is the perfect setting for a murder, and the author doesn’t disappoint. The cast of characters are flawed and in some cases unlikeable, but they are relatable. It’s not hard to spot the most likely person to be murdered. Finding the murderer is not so easy, as the detectives and later Monica discover. The plot twists again when it seems resolved. making the ending a surprise.

A lighthearted, cosy style murder mystery, with a clever, unassuming amateur sleuth and a vibrant, twisty plot. No wonder ‘The Cotswolds’ is so sought after.

I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

A Whisker in the Dark – LeighAnn Dobbs @bookouture @leighanndobbs 4* #Review #PublicationDay #CozyMystery #TheOysterCoveGuesthouse

Discovering the 300-year-old skeleton of shipping tycoon Jedediah Biddeford in the ballroom wall is a big old hassle for Josie Waters, owner of the Oyster Cove Guesthouse. Especially when Biddeford’s descendants turn up, certain that a family legend about treasure buried nearby must be true.

Josie is too busy dreaming up the perfect cake for the Oyster Cove’s 250th-anniversary celebration to worry about the Biddeford family – plus half the town – digging up her yard… until one of her guests is murdered in the guesthouse garden.

With worries that her guesthouse will get a reputation for being the kind of place you only leave in a body bag, Josie must put her detective skills to work to find the killer. Lucky for her, Nero and Marlowe and their gang of cat sleuths are also on the case.

From the old wharf to the town common, to the guesthouse itself with its many nooks and crannies, the cats are sure to sniff out the killer… but can they help Josie stop the person behind the mysterious murder before they strike again?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

This is the second book in the Oyster Cove Guesthouse cozy mystery series. Attracted by the cover, I love cats, and still fondly remembering reading ‘The Cat Who…’ cozy mysteries when I was younger, I dived in.

I was surprised that the characters didn’t immediately draw me in. Maybe, I needed to read the first book in the series? As I read on, there is the necessary backstory to Josie, her friends and family, to see how their story got to this point. The murder mystery is standalone, and the cats Nero, Marlowe and their friends are so perfectly characterised, they tell their own stories.

The characters, once you get to know are delightfully quirky, the family of guests staying at the guesthouse, less so, but they are flawed, and therefore realistic. The plot has plenty of twists and false leads, so just when you think you know who did it, another suspect appears.

The cats are major characters in this story, their detective musings are like a parallel universe to the main story. This story relies on a little ‘magic’, but everyone who has shared life with a cat or two will find this easy to accept.

The ending ties up all the loose ends, and guess what? The cats find the culprit.

If you enjoy reading cozy mystery with a New England setting, quirky characters, and cat detectives, this is for you.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery, Mystery

The Country Inn Mystery – Faith Martin 5* #Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks #MurderMystery #Crime #TheCotswolds

Jenny Starling is working at The Spindlewood Inn for the weekend. It’s hosting a Regency Extravaganza, involving historical costume, amateur dramatics and food. The leading actress of the amateur dramatic society and reputed man-eater Rachel Norman portrays a doomed noblewoman. But when she turns up actually drowned in the pond, there’s suddenly a murder to investigate.

There’s been plenty of trouble at the idyllic country inn. The performers weren’t a happy troupe, and Jenny discovers a simmering romantic tension. Who wanted Rachel dead and why? Jenny Starling is going to need all her wits to crack this complex case. This is the seventh in a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with a great cast of characters and baffling crimes which will keep you in suspense to the final page.

JENNY STARLING In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Jenny is providing holiday relief for a friend at a Country Inn in the Cotswolds, the highlight of her visit is a Regency Extravaganza, where a select few from the local amateur dramatics society will be acting out a piece of local Regency scandal with a tragic end.

The clues for this one start early on, but are so well hidden that you don’t realise their significance until the end. There is slightly less emphasis on the cooking side of things, in this first time published Jenny Starling mystery. The focus is on the characters, mostly from Jenny’s point of view.

The characters are realistic and the tensions between individuals in the group of guests, and actors gradually revealed, but none seem relevant until an unfortunate incident occurs and someone dies. Is it suspicious or not? If it is, it appears to be a perfect crime, committed in plain sight of all.

The relationship between the investigating police officers and Jenny is less antagonist than usually the case, but her amateur sleuthing and astute observation skills make interesting reading.

An enjoyable book, with a well-described setting, enigmatic amateur detective and a twisty, absorbing plot.