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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Review - The Art of Theft

I have been a fan of this new series that re-imagines the Sherlock mythos since the debut, A Study in Scarlet Women (click here), the second book, A Conspiracy in Belgravia (click here), and the third, The Hollow of Fear (click here).  This outing for our intrepid consulting detective sets the brilliant mind of Sherlock to the problem of a near impossible heist to help a dear friend.

Author: Sherry Thomas

Copyright: October 2019 (Berkeley) 303 pgs

Series: 4th in Lady Sherlock Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Private Investigator

Main Character: Charlotte Holmes, disgraced upper class woman who creates the Sherlock Holmes identity

Setting: 1886 England and France

Obtained Through: Publisher (via Netgalley) for honest opinion

From book blurb: "As "Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective," Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.

But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.

Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia's admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake..."

Charlotte Holmes is blond, pretty, very feminine and frilly, too fond of sweets, and far too intelligent for the time period. Essentially the opposite of what the traditional image is of Sherlock.  Lord Ingram Ashburton, a long time friend who cares very deeply for her even if she doesn't return his feelings will assist Charlotte no matter what.  Mrs. John Watson, a retired stage actress who has become Charlotte's unique and talented sidekick is the reason Holmes takes up this cause. Charlotte's adult younger sister, Olivia, has escaped the controlling grasp of her parents for a few weeks and follows Charlotte into the scheme.  Plus, she will get some time with Mr. Marbleton who she is quite fond of.  Stephen Marbleton is in hiding from the dangerous Moriarity and takes part at great peril.

The setting is both London and the remote French country side surrounding the French chateau where the exclusive auction will take place.  The French location is wonderfully atmospheric and presents its own challenges to the heist, giving the story added stakes.

The series has exciting killer/villain reveals and this was no different.  I enjoy how the Sherlock we know is turned on his head and re-imagined brilliantly. This is a historical heist as well as a cat and mouse game.  Nothing is as it seems and only the mind behind Sherlock Holmes is up to the task of seeing through the maze to the true intentions.  This can be enjoyed as a stand alone novel, but I suggest at least starting with the book just prior to this one, The Hollow of Fear, to better understand the relationship between Charlotte and Lord Ingram.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Review - Murder at Kensington Palace

My apologies for being absent the last few months.  I have many reviews to write and post because I have been reading a good bit.  I just haven't had the time to write the reviews.  Plus I was in a car accident on icy roads and totaled my car back in November.  Although I only had some bruising, the experience left me a bit unsettled and I am just now getting back to the blog.

I truly love this series.  I reviewed the first in the Wrexford and Sloane series, Murder on Swan Lake, (click here) and the second in this new series, Murder at Half Moon Gate (click here). Read on to find out how the third novel in this new historical mystery stacks up.
Author: Andrea Penrose
Copyright: Sept 2019 (Kensington) 298 pgs
Series: 3rd in Wrexford and Sloane Mystery series
Sensuality: Mild
Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy
Main Characters: Widowed Charlotte Sloane, a satirical cartoonist under the name A.J. Quill teams with Earl of Wrexford, former military man and amateur chemist
Setting: Regency era, London England
Obtained Through: Publisher (via NetGalley) for honest review
Book blurb:  "Wrexford and Sloane must unravel secrets within secrets—including a few that entangle their own hearts—when they reunite to solve a string of shocking murders that have horrified Regency London . . .
Though Charlotte Sloane’s secret identity as the controversial satirical cartoonist A.J. Quill is safe with the Earl of Wrexford, she’s ill prepared for the rippling effects sharing the truth about her background has cast over their relationship. She thought a bit of space might improve the situation. But when her cousin is murdered and his twin brother is accused of the gruesome crime, Charlotte immediately turns to Wrexford for help in proving the young man’s innocence. Though she finds the brooding scientist just as enigmatic and intense as ever, their partnership is now marked by an unfamiliar tension that seems to complicate every encounter. 
Despite this newfound complexity, Wrexford and Charlotte are determined to track down the real killer. Their investigation leads them on a dangerous chase through Mayfair’s glittering ballrooms and opulent drawing rooms, where gossip and rumors swirl to confuse the facts. Was her cousin murdered over a romantic rivalry . . . or staggering gambling debts? Or could the motive be far darker and involve the clandestine scientific society that claimed both brothers as members? The more Charlotte and Wrexford try to unknot the truth, the more tangled it becomes. But they must solve the case soon, before the killer’s madness seizes another victim . . ."
Charlotte Sloane and the Earl of Wrexford, Wrex for short, team up again for this complicated and dangerous case.  Their relationship is tense at times and the reader is in the middle of it.  The two street urchins Charlotte has officially adopted, Raven and Hawk, are being tutored while still maintaining some of their street habits.  They are a joy to watch blossoming.  This story also provides more of Charlotte's background story.

The setting of Regency London provides great atmosphere and is one of the strong aspects of the series.  I enjoy how the scientific advances of the era are spotlighted.  Add a vicious serial killer, the Bloody Butcher, to the foggy mists of London and you have Gothic gold.  The plot and subplots immediately grabbed hold of me and didn't let go though a few twists and turns.  Ms. Penrose's writing style also contributed to create a page-turning suspenseful tale.

The killer reveal lived up to the standard set by the two previous books with nail biting tension and harrowing danger.  Excellent!  The wrap up left me wishing for the next book.

I enjoy the sharp dialog between Wrexford and Charlotte and how she is respectable yet has a network of street people who feed her information.  Her character is complex and layered.  Wrexford isn't so much brooding as disinterested with the typical superficial interests of the nobility and grouchy.  The two play off each other believably and with wry humor.  The era of scientific exploration adds realism along with the visceral descriptions of everything from Newgate prison to the ball rooms.  To sum it up, this novel is another gem in the series crown.  If you enjoy historical mysteries, this isn't to be missed.
Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend. 

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Monday, October 28, 2019

Review - Death and Relaxation

This is another great book to get into the Halloween mood.  This book is imaginative and absorbing.  There is some heat/steam in one scene, but nothing really explicit.  Check out my review and see if it is for you.

Author: Devon Monk

Copyright: June 2016 (Odd House Press) 326 pgs

Series: 1st in Ordinary Magic Mystery series

Sensuality: One steamy petting scene

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Police Procedural

Main Character: Police Chief Delaney Reed

Setting: Modern day, beach town Ordinary Oregon

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book Blurb: "Monsters, gods, and mayhem...

Police Chief Delaney Reed can handle the Valkyries, werewolves, gill-men and other paranormal creatures who call the small beach town of Ordinary, Oregon their home. It’s the vacationing gods who keep her up at night. 

With the famous rhubarb festival right around the corner, small-town tensions, tempers, and godly tantrums are at an all-time high. The last thing Delaney needs is her ex-boyfriend reappearing just when she's finally caught the attention of Ryder Bailey, the one man she should never love. 

No, scratch that. The actual last thing she needs is a dead body washing ashore, especially since the dead body is a god. 

Catching a murderer, wrestling a god power, and re-scheduling the apocalypse? Just another day on the job in Ordinary. Falling in love with her childhood friend while trying to keep the secrets of her town secret? That’s gonna take some work."

Delaney Reed sleeps with her gun and is trying to fill her deceased father's shoes as the chief of police, while still grieving his sudden death.  She is reliable and overworked.  Sister Jean has the intuition ability, sensing when something bad is approaching but sadly doesn't get details with it.  She is a bit more adventurous than her two other sisters, dying her hair various colors. She handles calls for the police station.  Sister Myra has great timing, always showing up where and when she is needed and is calm and collected. She handles forensics for the small police station.  Ryder Bailey, Delaney's teen boyfriend and heart-throb, had been back in town for a year and she had managed to avoid him. Until now.  Cooper Clark, the ex-boyfriend, is a self centered beach bum.  Thanatos, aka Death, decides to vacation in Ordinary and his character is much like a stiff undertaker who learns to loosen up a smidgen.  I love this character as he attempts to wear Hawaiian shirts with his pressed slacks.

Ordinary Oregon is a great setting.  The idea of a beach town that gets the usual tourists plus various mythical gods wanting a vacation from their duties is a tough one to pull off, but Devon Monk did it expertly.  The town has the atmosphere of fog rolling in and crashing surf along with wooded secluded sections.  Great Gothic touches.

Who would want to kill a god on vacation, or was it one of the mortals that didn't know he was not a regular fisherman?  Surprisingly, there are several people that had a motive. I was so involved in the story that I couldn't waiting to read the next page, and the next chapter.

The killer reveal was a surprise and had some tense moments.  Nicely done.  The wrap-up takes a few chapters to tie up the threads of the story to satisfaction.  I am anxious to read the next in the book as I already miss Ordinary and the Reed sisters.

The book is well rounded with suspense, some sprinkled humor, a little steam but not much, and a mix of quirky and serious characters. The world building of a playground for gods is brilliantly handled and the personal struggles of Delaney grappling with grief and loneliness made me invested in the story.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Spooktacular Giveaway Blog Hop 2019

If you are joining us as part of the Spooktacular Giveaway Blog hop, look around and stay for awhile.  We celebrate everything mystery and suspense here - no doubt you can find something of interest!


We are celebrating Halloween here at Mysteries and My Musings with a giveaway for the eighth year!  One combination prize to a winner, 3 winners!

1)  Bewitched and Betrothed by Juliet Blackwell and Death Waits in the Dark by Julia Buckley

2)  Marigold For Malice by Bailey Cattrell and Booking the Crook by Laurie Cass

3)  Cookies and Clairvoyance by Bailey Cates and A Date with Murder by Donald Bain and Jon Land

Entry for giveaway lasts until October 31 6:00 p.m. (MST).  U.S.  entries only please.  

I will be shipping the books to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be an email subscriber to this blog***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.  ALL ENTRIES WITHOUT AN EMAIL ADDRESS ARE DISQUALIFIED.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on  Oct 31, 2019.    I shall notify each winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.  If I don't hear from you in 3 days, I will select another winner and notify them.

IF you are an email subscriber of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME an email subscriber of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

Other participating Blogs:

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Review - The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum

Here is another fun paranormal cozy to get us in the mood for Halloween.  This was on my TBR pile for a while and I finally got to it.  I am so glad I did.  It is the first in the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery series.  Check out my review and see if this is of interest to you.

Author: Kirsten Weiss

Copyright: March 2016 (Midnight Ink) 290 pgs

Series: 1st in Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy, light paranormal for eerie effects

Main Character: Madelyn "Maddie" Kosloski, unemployed and helping her friend out

Setting: Modern day in small town San Benedetto in central California

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book cover blurb:  "When Maddie Kosloski's career flatlines, she retreats to her wine country hometown for solace and cheap rent. Railroaded into managing the local paranormal museum, she's certain the rumors of its haunting are greatly exaggerated. But then a fresh corpse in the museum embroils Maddie in murders past and present, making her wonder if a ghost could really be on the loose.

With her high school bully as one of the detectives in charge of the investigation, Maddie doubts justice will be served. When one of her best friends is arrested, she knows it won't be. Maddie also grapples with ghost hunters, obsessed taxidermists, and the sexy motorcyclist next door as outside forces threaten. And as she juggles spectral shenanigans with the hunt for a killer, she discovers there truly is no place like home."

Maddie Kosloski got fired from her high profile overseas corporate job for refusing to pay an official a bribe and has to face her siblings overachieving success and pressuring mother. Adele Nakamoto is her close friend and daughter of a vineyard owner/mayor with money to burn.  Harper Caldarelli is another close friend and a financial advisor. Detective Laurel Hammer is Maddie's nemesis from high school who picks right up were she left off making her life miserable.  Blond hunk Mason Hjelm is a potential romantic interest who runs a motorcycle shop next door to the museum.  Tall, dark, and handsome Detective Slate (Laurel's partner) is another potential romantic interest.  The cat,GD for Ghost Detecting, is an interesting adjunct staff for the museum.  

The museum, voted tackiest museum in town, is a run down attraction with  a creepy doll room and resident ghosts.  The town is quirky with its annual Christmas cow (made of straw) tradition that somehow gets set on fire every year.  Between the town and the museum, it combines for a quirky, fun feel that adds a lot to the character and mood of the book.

The plot gets twisty and it's hard to tell who the killer is among the many potential bad guys.  Although Maddie doesn't go out and hunt down clues, many of the clues find their way to her as she works at the museum and asks a few questions.  There are many red herrings complicating the issue as well.  The pacing is light and easy with well timed events which kept me engaged.  The climax is nicely done with thrills and danger.  The wrap-up is delightful with a mock re-trial of one of the museum's ghosts who had been hung for her husband's murder. I loved that touch.

If you are looking for a light entertaining read, you might enjoy this book.  The paranormal isn't dark or scary, rather a few creepy moments and more atmospheric. The premise for this series is great and the author took the idea and truly made it into an enjoyable and fun story.  I am already eyeing the second in the series. 

Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list 

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