Mysteries I Read in April

Friday, April 24, 2020

You would think, what with social distancing and all, I would be reading a lot. It turns out I haven’t. For some reason, reading hasn’t been at the top of my list lately. Of course, I’ve been really busy working on my new series. I’ve also been promoting the first book. And, because I want the third book to be the best historical mystery ever, I’ve been watching a number of YouTube videos on writing, as well as dipping into the myriad writing books I own.

But I’m always reading at least one novel, so here are two I read in April.

Revenge is Sweet (Vintage Sweets Mysteries #1)
By Kaye George

First, a disclosure:
I’ve known Kaye George, at least virtually, for decades. We were members of the Guppies chapter of Sisters in Crime together, which is where we met. We’ve also met in person a few times. I like Kaye a lot.

She’s also been nominated for the Agatha Award several times for her both her short stories and novels. She’s written several series, including a historical mystery series featuring a Neanderthal tribe and sleuth Enga Dancing Flower. Now, that’s something completely different!

This book isn’t. Different, that is.

In standard cozy style, this book takes place in a small tourist town in Texas. The sleuth, Tally Holt, owns Tally’s Old Tyme Sweets, a shop where she makes and sells candy and cookies cooked from her grandmother’s recipes. Next door, is Bella’s Baskets, owned by Yolanda Bella.

Local handyman Gene Faust, handsome, sweet-talking ladies’ man, has one bad habit. He uses his charm to borrow money from these ladies, and he doesn’t pay it back.

So it’s no surprise that when he’s found dead in Tally’s kitchen with Yolanda’s scissors poking out of him, that there are a lot of suspects.

Needless to say, I wanted to like this book. And I did. But “liked” is the operative word. I didn’t love it. Part of that is probably me. I’ve grown tired of the modern cozy mysteries that seem to have cookie-cutter characters, settings, and plots. There was nothing particularly different about this one, except having dual points of view, which turned out to be not an asset, but a problem. The women’s voices weren’t different enough to make it easy to tell who was narrating the story at each point.

But if you like conventional modern cozies, this might be a book you’ll love.

Deadly Proof (A Victorian San Francisco Mystery)
By M. Louisa Locke

This is the fourth book in this series that I’ve read, and I think it’s the best one so far. As Annie and Nate plan their wedding, complications abound. Including a murder. Make that two murders.

The first is the owner of a print shop, where women set type and men run the presses (as a rule). There’s a lot of information about this business, and based on Goodreads reviews, you’ll either love learning all about this or find it tedious. I loved it. I was never bored. Which is a good thing, because following along with what happens there makes the reveal of the murderer a lot more understandable.

When the owner is murdered, the senior woman compositor is the primary suspect. She’s arrested and put in jail, and Nate is persuaded to defend her. There’s just one problem: the suspect refuses to talk to anyone, including her mother and husband.

Of course, the series characters we’ve grown to love all put in an appearance and are integral to the goings on at Annie’s boarding house. And the new characters we meet are just as well drawn.

While Nate is a lawyer, these really aren’t legal mysteries. They’re more like cozy historical one of whose sleuths happens to be an attorney.

While you can probably read this book without having read the first three in the series, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the interaction among the characters a lot more if you read the books in order.
Highly recommended.

The Case of the Mysterious Madam (Shipwreck Point Mysteries #1)
By Elise M. Stone

And, of course, if you haven’t read Unsafe Harbor yet, you might want to pick up The Case of the Mysterious Madam. It’s the same book, but with a new title and a new, gorgeous cover.

My apologies to those of you who bought the original and probably won’t be getting an update from Amazon. Nothing about the book inside has changed. (Okay, the title page changed.) But I thought it needed a professional cover, and with the rest of the books in the series having titles that start with “The Case of…”, I wanted this book to follow the pattern.

The book also has a snazzy new description:

Murder. Scandal. Can one man’s troubled conscience save an innocent woman from a terrible fate?

1894, Whitby, Massachusetts. Hard-working attorney Titus Strong's last win left him riddled with guilt. Fleeing the shame of freeing a murderer, he retreats to a seaside community notorious for gambling, booze, and bawdy houses. But befriending the town madam becomes his newest controversy when she’s accused of murder.

With the scarlet woman slammed behind bars, Titus is convinced she didn’t pull the trigger and sets about clearing her name. But between shipwrecks, hidden loot, and blackmail in the village, the persistent lawyer finds himself on the wrong end of something far more dangerous than a smoking gun.

Can Titus redeem himself and free a blameless woman before she’s sentenced to death?

The Case of the Mysterious Madam is the atmospheric first book in the Shipwreck Point historical mysteries series. If you like tormented heroes, small-town scandals, and complex twists and turns, then you’ll love Elise M. Stone’s tale of redemption.

Buy The Case of the Mysterious Madam to crack open a treasure chest of truth today!

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