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Double Fudge Browie Murder by Joanne Fluke

The Hannah Swensen Mystery series reminds me of the days growing up in Minnesota in and around the area described as the imaginary Lake Eden.  “Double Fudge Brownie Murder” was another walk down memory lane for me.

In this installment Hannah is confronted with the dilemma of being proposed to by three men including the handsome Ross Barton, a film producer Hannah had met in college.  There is at least as much romance in this book as murder mystery it and therefore it does not have quite the dramatic weight of most mysteries.  The fact that there are also recipies thrown in at the end of every chapter also makes this work (and this series) seem a little less substantial than most of the mysteries I read.

There is a murder in the midst of the romantic plot. Hannah finds a murder victim, a judge who has been assigned to try Hannah in a manslaughter case stemming from a freak accident Hannah and her bakery truck were involved in during a storm.  Hannah discovers the judge’s body in his chambers shortly after she is summoned to see the him about her case.  There are lots of potential killers to rule out and for the first time Hannah ends up crossing everyone off her suspect list.  The killer comes out of left field and very nearly gets Hannah as well.

The recipies alone are usually worth the read in the Hannah Swensen series.  In “Double Fudge Brownie Murder” there is not only a sinful brownie recipie, but also such unusual fare as baked doughnuts, hot pepper jam cookies, and a wierd spice cookie recipe with ketchup in it.

Light weight fare, but recommended for those who like food-related cosy mystery books.

Liz Nichols

 

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Staged to Death by Karen Rose Smith

Staged to Death” is the first in what looks to be an entertaining “Caprice DeLuca Mystery” series by Karen Rose Smith.  This book was published in December 2013.

Caprice DeLuca is a home stager in a town that is supposed to be near York, PA called Kismet.  Kismet apparently has a wealth of upscale homes that need staging in order to sell at a higher price. The person who gets called in on these types of jobs in Kismet and nearby York is Caprice DeLuca, a 30-something home stager.  Caprice themes her stagings to match the decor appropriate to the home and the interests of likely buyers.  What she gets when she holds  an open house in the newly staged mansion of Roz and Ted Winslow is one owner who is found slain in his antique sword room and the other owner, Caprice’s friend, Roz, who is accused of the crime.  Caprice takes on the task, to the chagrin of the investigating police detective, of proving that Roz did not murder her husband.

This book is part mystery and part romance.  Karen Rose Smith is an experienced romance writer, and the plot includes a considerable amount of back-and-forth between Caprice and two potential love interests, an attractive but aloof attorney who is Caprice’s brother’s partner, Grant, and an even more handsome emergency care doctor, Seth, who immediately fires up the mutual sexual attraction in Caprice.  There are also a lot of cute cats and dogs in the book to pique the interest of animal lovers as Caprice is a well-known animal rescuer in the town.

Staged to Death” will find a strong fan base among cosy mystery lovers, and especially among those who are also fans of Leslie Meier.

Reviewed with a provided copy.

Liz Nichols

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Angora Alibi by Sally Goldenbaum

Angora Alibi” is the 7th novel in Goldenbaum’s “A Seaside Knitters Mystery” series, a cosy set along the coast of New England in the fictional town of Sea Harbor.

The series feature a multi-generational group of women who get together in this small town every day to knit, gossip and solve the latest mystery in the community.  In this book we find the knit shop owner, Izzy Perry, extremely pregnant and ready to give birth to a little girl.  All of her friends are busily knitting baby gear in advance of Izzy’s shower.  In the midst of this blessed event the knitters are sharing their thoughts on the latest murders in the community with the local police chief.

A young man has been drowned in a diving accident that turned out to be a case of faulty equipment that had clearly been tampered with.  Justin Dorsey was no angel.  He had been caught selling weed to local young adults and had obviously been doing some petty theft at local establishments.  Justin had hinted that he had some bigger fish to fry when he was suddenly killed.  Was he moving in on some bigger illegal crime activity?  Was he blackmailing someone?  An older resident seemed to have figured out what was going on and was about to tell the ladies of the knitting circle what he knew when he was found dead from an overdose of morphine.  Who would have access to morphine and a reason to use it on the old man?

Angora Alibi” is certainly not an example of great literature, but it will satisfy the need for a fast read with an appealing cast of characters and an attractive venue for lovers of Cosy mysteries.  Recommended for those who enjoy a good, fast reading cosy now and then.

Liz Nichols

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Chocolate Covered Murder by Leslie Meier

I like food-themed mysteries.  Not sure what that says about my tastes, but I usually find that they are fun, fast reads.  Meier’s latest in her Lucy Stone Mystery series, “Chocolate Covered Murder” is no exception.  The only disappointment is she did not include the recipe for Lucy’s prize-winning Maple Blueberry Cheesecake in the book. (I’ll have to check Meier’s website to see if she’s posted it there.)

I really like Meier’s protagonist, Lucy Stone.  She’s a small town weekly newspaper reporter and someone who gets to know everyone who comes to town and knows everything that goes on in town.  She’s the kind of character that the reader comes to hang out with every time a new book comes out to enjoy a not-so-taxing read.  In this book Lucy is helped out of a snow-covered ditch by one of the town’s life-long residents and shortly after Lucy discovers that the same man drowned when he fell through the ice in a pond. He had a fish hook caught in his lip.  Lucy suspects foul play, but the police rule it an accidental drowning.  The former wife of the man is one of the owners of Fern’s Famous Fudge, a candy shop that has been a fixture in Tinker’s Cove for years.

There’s a new chocolate shop in town, Chanticleer Chocolates, that is billing its product as the “best candy on the coast.”  The two shops go head-to-head for the Valentine’s Day business and the newspaper, “The Pennysaver” is stuck squarely in the middle.  Most of the townsfolk square off with most of the women supporting Fern’s business and most of the men supporting Chanticleer, mostly because of its bombshell of a store manager, Tamzin Graves.  The big boss of Chanticleer is Trey Meacham, a new businessman to the area, who manufacturers all of the chocolates in an old converted factory in a town nearby.  His business acumen is undeniable, but some of the townspeople discover he may not share all the same interests and values as the regular folk.

There are two deaths that occur in the book that Lucy decides to solve with the help of an Army Major who comes into town late in the story with some information on Tamzin that helps to break open the case.

Chocolate Covered Murder” is an enjoyable, fast read for anyone who loves a cosy mystery set in a quaint New England town.

Liz Nichols

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Review of The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs

The setting of “The Teaberry Strangler” by Laura Childs is one of my favorite cities, Charleston, SC. The book simply wreaks of atmosphere as Childs describes the daily activities that go on in Charleston’s historic Church St. I can picture every move made in that area which makes for a particularly enjoyable read.

The main character, Theodosia Browning, owns the Indigo Tea Shop, and is ably assisted in all things having to do with running the shop by master tea brewer, Drayton, and master baker, Haley. These are all delightful characters with personalities and interests that make reading the book like walking into the lives of old friends.

In this particular mystery Theodosia must figure out who killed the owner of the Antiquarian Map Shop next door to the tea shop. A side issue is about the origin of the human bones found in the back yard of the cottage a few blocks from the shop that Theodosia is in the process of buying. The Historical Society archeologists wind up digging up her back yard in order to discover whether the bones are related to an old graveyard for pirates who were hung nearby in colonial times.

Lovers of the cosy mystery will enjoy this book. The mystery keeps you guessing to the end.

Liz Nichols

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