Category Archives: Cozy Mystery

Review: Death Overdue by Mary Lou Kirwin

  • Series: Librarian Mysteries
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Original edition (November 5, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 145168466
  • Source: Publisher

In this second book in the Librarian Mystery series, Minnesota librarian Karen Nash is in London helping Caldwell, her love interest, locate a site for their dream bookstore. This is a big step for her; it wasn’t long ago that she was in heartbroken in London after she discovered her previous boyfriend was having an affair. This step would mean leaving her life in Minnesota and making the permanent move to London. Obviously, this is a concern for Karen and she finds herself questioning every decision she and Caldwell make together.

Even more chaos erupts when Caldwell’s former flame, and joint owner of his B&B, Sally Burroughs, appears out of the blue, demanding that her share of the lucrative business be split with her. She disappeared without a trace nearly seven years ago, leaving Caldwell in her wake. Before Karen and Caldwell can even discuss what is to be done about this situation, a freak accident occurs. In the middle of the night, a bookcase falls and an avalanche of books traps Sally beneath it, killing her instantly.  Caldwell is arrested and taken into custody, charged with her murder. His fingerprints are found on the bookcase and the hook that secured it to the wall. Karen immediately begins to investigate. While Caldwell does have a reason to want her dead, surely he isn’t capable of such a brutal killing, specifically when it involves the disruption of his treasured library?

As mentioned, this is the second book in a cozy mystery series. I discovered the previous book, Killer Librarian, during Cozy Mystery Week last year. I instantly fell in love with the setting Kirwin created and Karen’s sassy attitude!  I was thrilled to learn that she and Caldwell connected and really looked forward to their life together.

That said, while I did enjoy Death Overdue, everything I loved about the previous book seemed to be absent or lacking. I didn’t feel the spark between Karen and Caldwell.  It was almost as if their relationship was more of a business one than anything else. Additionally, while the mystery aspect had me intrigued, I really wasn’t invested in learning what happened. Sally was a truly detesting character and I could have cared less what happened to her. I wanted to get back to Karen and Caldwell’s life together and their hunt for the perfect bookstore location.

All in all, I did still enjoy this book as a part of this series. It could definitely serve as a standalone, but would recommend starting with the first book, Killer Librarian. Despite my issues with this one, I am still looking forward to reading more about Karen and Caldwell and their dream bookstore!

Review: Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (December 31, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0425251810
  • Source: Kaye Publicity

White House executive chef Olivia Paras grew up believing her father was a hero, yet during a recent visit to her mother she learns otherwise. Not only was he dishonorably discharged from the army, after his murder evidence was found, implicating him for selling corporate secrets. How had a man, buried in Arlington National Cemetery, be guilty of such charges? Ollie refuses to believe this claims and, with the aid of her Secret Service boyfriend, Gav, she must get to the root of what really transpired decades earlier. They locate a number of her father’s former acquaintances in an effort to find out more.Doing so, however, puts her life and the nation’s security at risk.

In the sixth book in the White House Chef mystery series, I truly appreciated how much of this novel revolved around Ollie’s search for the answers to her endless questions about her father. Fans of this series know how often Ollie gets wrapped up in danger of some sorts but in this novel, readers get to see Ollie up close and personal, quite vulnerable and desperate for answers. That’s not to say the crazy antics of the White House, the First Family and Ollie’s quirky cohorts aren’t portrayed at all, but in this case they serve as more of a backdrop than the main story. In actuality, in Fonduing Fathers readers actually get to see the First Family portrayed as typical people, the First Son, Josh, attempting to remain as normal as he can, pursuing his own passion in becoming a chef.

While I enjoyed every book in this series (my favorite cozy series!) this may be my favorite because readers get to see inside Ollie’s life, even if it does reveal dangerous secrets that should remain hidden. As mentioned above, this is the sixth book in the series. In many cases, I would suggest that readers new to the series pick up at any point but in this case I believe it is paramount to start at the beginning and watch Ollie’s evolution as an individual and as the White House executive chef. Highly, highly recommended.

 

Cozy Mystery Week Day Seven: Review-Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Original edition (November 27, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1451684649
  • Source: Publisher

Karen Nash is a small-town librarian in Minnesota. She’s preparing to embark upon a dream trip to London with the love of her mid-life, Dave. Just a few hours before their flight, Dave calls and breaks things off with Karen, their four-year relationship ending in a matter of minutes. Obviously, Karen is shattered. Taking a few minutes to collect herself, she thinks about all the time and effort she has put into this trip and decides to go…without Dave.

Arriving at the airport with less than an hour to spare, Karen is shocked to find Dave boarding the plane. To make matters worse, he isn’t alone; a skinny, young attractive woman is at his side. Fuming, Karen realizes that the best revenge would be to continue with the trip as planned.

Upon arrival in London, Karen retreats to the bed and breakfast she reserved for their stay, only after following Dave and his young honey to the hotel where they are staying. Obviously, she’s completely shattered to find out the true cause of the breakup, but she’s in London! A city she has dreamed of visiting and she intends on making the most of it. The owner of the bed and breakfast is the incredibly charming Caldwell Perkins, a book lover like herself. Her room is full of classics she can’t wait to devour. Still upset about what happened with Dave, she agrees to join Caldwell on a trip to the local pub. There, she gets slammed, not realizing the beer served in England is a bit more potent than American beer. She finds herself talking to a brooding, mysterious stranger, telling him what happened with Dave, perhaps maybe wishing he were dead…

The next morning, Karen awakes and finds another guest of the B&B sitting a chair, a copy of the classic Milne book,Winnie the Pooh,draped across his leg. Karen believes he is sleeping but unfortunately soon realizes he is dead. Was his death natural or was it murder? Karen, obsessed with mysteries, can’t help but get involved, at the same time wondering if that strange man she spoke with in the pub the other night truly intended on following through her wish to kill Dave…

Since Cozy Mystery Week is drawing to an end, I thought it would be appropriate to feature a brand new cozy series. Killer Librarian is the first in a new series. A truly stunning debut, this cozy has a whole host of characteristics I absolutely love as a reader including an absolutely gorgeous setting, a bit of mystery, characters who share my love of books and, ok, a little romance. Karen’s character is a true delight. She’s an intelligent, witty librarian who believes her live can’t get any better when in actuality it can’t get much worse. Readers can’t help but feel sympathy for her, ultimately wanting the very best for her.

The setting! I can’t help but talk endlessly about the beautiful setting Kirwin portrays. Having never visited London myself, Kirwin portrays a setting so vivid that I feel as though it’s a city I’ve known all my life. She picks up on cultural differences between the United States and England (i.e. back yard vs. back garden, book store vs. book shops, etc.). At one point on the novel, Karen visits Hay On Wye, a small village overflowing with book shops. Hello? A bit of heaven on earth.

While nothing yet has been announced about subsequent titles in this series, I cannot wait to read more about Karen, the killer librarian. Highly recommended.

 

Review: An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette

  • Paperback:320 pages
  • Publisher:Signet; Original edition (January 3, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0451235517
  • Source: Author

Haley followed her “soul mate” and moved to Key West.  Unfortunately, when she catches him in bed with another woman, the relationship ends abruptly. Haley’s a strong, independent young woman and vows to make a life for herself in Key West.  She’s always been a foodie and decides to apply for a food critic job for a new Key West style magazine.  When she learns that her potential new boss, Kristen Faulkner, is the very woman who stole her “soul mate”, she doesn’t think things can get worse. Unfortunately, they do.

Kristen is murdered, killed by a poisoned Key Lime pie, the very pie Haley writes an article about shortly after Kristen’s death.  Due to her relationship with Kristen, the police name her the number one suspect in her murder. To save her reputation, and, frankly, any attempts to be a food critic, Haley must find out the identity of the real killer.

An Appetite for Murder is the first book in Burdette’s Key West food critic mystery series and it is a true delight! Not only does she cause your mouth to water with all the talk of food, but she really captures the essence of Key West as well; the culture, the people, the food, comes to life on the pages.  The setting is absolutely perfect, particularly for those of us up North suffering from frigid temperatures this time of year! 

Haley’s character is completely likeable; while she is a food critic she’s not snooty at all, she’s actually quite fond of tasting and critiquing food from local fast food restaurants.  The secondary characters are quite rich as well; I look forward to reading about them more in subsequent books. Finally, you can’t have a foodie book without recipes! Recipes for a few of the dishes Haley makes throughout the course of the book are included as well.

Bottom line: if you are a fan of cozy mysteries this is a series you can’t afford to miss out one! Highly recommended!