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A Trio of Cosy Mysteries

I am hoping to catch up on my review writing by grouping some of the mysteries I have read over the past couple of months into related by somewhat shorter reviews.

The following books are Cosy mysteries with a strong sense of place and community.

Poisoned Ground” by Sandra Parshall is the sixth installment in the Rachel Goddard Mystery series.  Rachel Goddard is a veterinarian in rural  Blue Ridge Mountain Mason County, VA.  She makes a farm visit at the Kelly place and finds both Lincoln and Marie Kelly shot to death.  A packet of information from a resort company hoping to buy up a number of prime Mason County farms is found on the kitchen table.  The mystery revolves around determining whether pro-resort forces or anti-resort forces are behind the murders and stopping any further mayhem.  If the story was only about the struggle between pro-development sources and pro-agrarian forces it would be a story that has been told before, but there are many twists and turns and querky characters that make this plot much more interesting and unique.  Recommended.

Alan Beechey‘s “This Private Plot” is a British cosy set in the Cotswolds near Stratford-Upon-Avon and is part of Beechey’s Oliver Swithin Mysteries.  Oliver is a children’s book author who’s girlfriend, Effie, is a Scotland Yard detective. Oliver is also an amateur sleuth.  They are on their way to visit Oliver’s family in the Village of Synne when they come upon a body swinging on the end of a jump rope tied to the Synne hanging tree on the edge of town.  The initial conclusion is that the man hanged himself, but Effie and Oliver prove otherwise and thus also become targets of the killer.  The book is a little too punny for my tastes, but many who appreciate British humor, and all the references to Shakespeare will enjoy this book.  The mystery not only revolves around discovering who murdered Mr. Breedlove, but also seeing if Oliver’s brother, Toby, an archaeologist doing a dig in Stratford, can definitively prove the connection between Stratford Will Shakespeare and the London Will Shakespeare.  Once I got into the mystery, and especially the elements having to do with the historic mystery surrounding Shakespeare’s identity, this book grew on me and I give it at least one thumb up.

Death at the Door” by Carolyn Hart is the third in the “Death on Demand Bookstore Mysteries.”  Annie Darling is the owner of the Broward’s Rock bookstore while her husband, Max, operates a private investigation service.  There are the usual bevy of mystery loving members of the community who help Annie solve the most recent spate of Broward’s Rock murders.  First one of the island’s most respected doctors is shot and is at first thought to have committed suicide.  When the wife of a local artist is hammered to death by her husband’s sculpture mallet, Annie, Max and the island’s group of amateur sleuths make the connection between the two deaths and determine that the sheriff has the wrong guy locked up.  As usual, Hart has drafted an absorbing mystery with lots of potential suspects.  Again, recommended.

Liz Nichols






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Ghost Gone Wild by Carolyn Hart

Carolyn Hart has come up with another adventure in “Ghosts Gone Wild” for her human-saving ghost, Bailey Ruth Raeburn, formerly of Adelaide, OK.  This time Hart has invented a side-kick for Bailey Ruth who has a very different personality, Delilah Delahunt Duvall, the horse-riding ghost who was Aunt Dee to Nick Magruder, the guy who is the one Bailey Ruth is supposed to save.  Nick made it big as an entrepreneur and has retired back home to Adelaide.  Jealous former high school friends goad him into being everyone’s least favorite town citizen until someone actually takes a shot at him and he is saved by Bailey Ruth just to be accused of killing one of these former friends.  Nick’s personality is such that the head of celestial visiting to earth, Wiggins, never actually sent Bailey Ruth back to earth to save the man; it was all connived by Delilah Duvall.  Therefore, once Bailey Ruth makes herself visible during her rescue visit to Nick she is unable to turn herself back into a ghost, and she worries that she will be stuck in a half-life state forever unable to get back to heaven.

Bailey Ruth and Dee are delightfully contrasting characters, and yet they make a good team.  It is pretty clear by the end of the adventure that they could easily be paired up again for another book plot.  I was not an easy convert to the Bailey Ruth Ghost Novel series.  It all seems pretty silly, but rescuer-ghosts have been a successful part of literature for centuries amusing readers in a way that seems almost timeless.  “Ghost Gone Wild” is not necessarily great literature (unlike Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” or the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”) but it does provide a few amusing evenings of laugh-out-loud reading for the cosy mystery lover.

Liz Nichols

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Death Comes Silently by Carolyn Hart

In this installment in the Death on Demand Mystery series bookstore owner, Annie Darling, finds a substitute for her shift at the local thrift shop in order to host a book signing for the latest novel by the town’s local mystery writer, Emma Clyde.  Her substitute is murdered during the shift, presumably by the young handyman, an ex-con.  Annie and her friend, Henny,  have reason to believe the young man had nothing to do with it.

This cozy mystery will appeal to fans of Carolyn Hart’s series.  It’s easy to feel the clammy winter fog in Broward’s Rock, SC as Hart describes it and to experience some of the sense of terror that Henny and Annie feel as they are pursued in the thick island undergrowth by the killer.  The setting and the characters are familiar, but the suspense and action are always riveting and new.

Hart should also win over new fans to the long-standing Death on Demand series with “Death Comes Silently” because it is not hard to get to know the cast of characters and the idyllic setting of Broward’s Rock just from reading one installment in the series.

Liz Nichols

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