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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review - Pride, Prejuduce, and Poison

This new series is touted as "Perfect for fans of Laura Levine and Stephanie Barron, Elizabeth Blake’s Jane Austen Society mystery debut is a mirthfully morbid merger of manners and murder."  Find out more about this exciting debut novel with a Jane Austen Society as the main theme for the series.  

Author: Elizabth Blake

Copyright: August 2019 (Crooked Lane Books) 332 pgs

Series:  1st in Jane Austen Society Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Erin Coleridge, owner of a used bookstore out of her home 

Setting: Modern day, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, England

Obtained Through: Publisher (Netgalley) for honest review

From the book blurb: "Erin Coleridge’s used bookstore in Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, England is a meeting place for the villagers and, in particular, for the local Jane Austen Society. At the Society’s monthly meeting, matters come to a head between the old guard and its young turks. After the meeting breaks for tea, persuasion gives way to murder—with extreme prejudice—when president Sylvia Pemberthy falls dead to the floor. Poisoned? Presumably…but by whom? And was Sylvia the only target?

Handsome—but shy—Detective Inspector Peter Hadley and charismatic Sergeant Rashid Jarral arrive at the scene. The long suspect list includes Sylvia’s lover Kurt Becker and his tightly wound wife Suzanne. Or, perhaps, the killer was Sylvia’s own cuckolded husband, Jerome. Among the many Society members who may have had her in their sights is dashing Jonathan Alder, who was heard having a royal battle of words with the late president the night before.

Then, when Jonathan Alder narrowly avoids becoming the next victim, Farnsworth (the town’s "cat lady") persuades a seriously time-crunched Erin to help DI Hadley. But the killer is more devious than anyone imagines."

Erin Coleridge is such a genuine character that I became vested in her quickly.  DI Peter Hadley is portrayed well, balancing his job with a growing interest in Erin when she could be a suspect.  I love Sergeant Rashid Jarral's character and hope to see more of him.  The myriad of suspects and townspeople each have their motives and quirky personalities as you expect in a cozy, but they have some depth. 

Kirkbymoorside (a real town in North Yorkshire) is a delightfully rendered setting that is like a warm blanket on a chilly night, you don't want to leave it.  The plot seems simple but has a few surprises and twists.  The pacing is spot on and kept my interest as new motives come to light.  

The killer reveal was a surprise and handled well for shock value.  The wrap up left me wanting more of Erin and to find out about her and DI Hadley.

I had been immersed in several historical mysteries and wasn't sure if a modern mystery would keep my interest.  This book did the trick.  I couldn't help but feel like this was remeniscent of Miss Marple only with a younger heroine and updated writing style.  The Jane Austen Society provided a great theme to build the mystery around.  I think any cozy mystery fan will enjoy this new series.

Rating: Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend. 

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Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Spotlight and Giveaway-Singapore Sapphire

Today we are featuring a giveaway for readers. Berkley publishing has graciously offered one copy of Singapore Sapphire, the first in the new Harriet Gordon series to a lucky winner.  

Early twentieth-century Singapore is a place where a person can disappear, and Harriet Gordon hopes to make a new life for herself there, leaving her tragic memories behind her--but murder gets in the way.

About the book:
Singapore Sapphire (A Harriet Gordon Mystery) by A. M.


"Singapore, 1910--Desperate for a fresh start, Harriet Gordon finds herself living with her brother, a reverend and headmaster of a school for boys, in Singapore at the height of colonial rule. Hoping to gain some financial independence, she advertises her services as a personal secretary. It is unfortunate that she should discover her first client, Sir Oswald Newbold--explorer, mine magnate and president of the exclusive Explorers and Geographers Club--dead with a knife in his throat.

When Inspector Robert Curran is put on the case, he realizes that he has an unusual witness in Harriet. Harriet's keen eye for detail and strong sense of duty interests him, as does her distrust of the police and her traumatic past, which she is at pains to keep secret from the gossips of Singapore society.

When another body is dragged from the canal, Harriet feels compelled to help with the case. She and Curran are soon drawn into a murderous web of treachery and deceit and find themselves face-to-face with a ruthless cabal that has no qualms about killing again to protect its secrets."

“Skillfully and seamlessly weaves actual people and events of the time with rich, multidimensional fictional characters.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“My favorite new mystery series! Set in a unique and compelling setting, and filled with fascinating historical research, deft characterization, and thrilling suspense, readers will devour Singapore Sapphire. One of the best books I’ve read this year. I can’t wait to read Harriet’s next adventure.” – Anna Lee Huber, bestselling author of the Lady Darby Mysteries

“Singapore Sapphire is a gem of a story!  You will love the intrepid heroine and the exotic locale that bring this twisty tale to life. I loved every minute of this steamy adventure.”-Victoria Thompson, Bestselling author of Murder in Trinity Place.

“Filled with all the hot, decadent splendor and sultry danger of Colonial-era Singapore. Rich, atmospheric, and fascinating!”—USA Today bestselling author C.S. Harris

Entry for giveaway lasts until September 30, 2019 6:00 p.m. (MST). U.S. entries only please.
The publisher will be shipping the book to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be an email subscriber of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until 6:00 p.m (MST) on September 30, 2019. I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

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.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Review - Murder at Brightwell

This novel was shortlisted for the Edgar Award for best first novel in 2015 and received critical acclaim.  I found the premise fascinating and like to start with the beginning of a series.  So I bring you the first in the Amory Ames mystery series set in the 1930s with a spunky heroine.

Author: Ashley Weaver

Copyright: Oct 2014 (Minotaur) 333 pgs

Series: 1st in Amory Ames Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Amory Ames, dissatisfied society wife of a playboy

Setting: 1932, Brighton on the south coast of England

Obtained Through: Publisher/NetGalley for honest review

Book Blurb: "Amory Ames, a wealthy young woman questioning her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo, is looking for a change. She accepts a request for help from her former fiancĂ©, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will not only test her friendship with Gil, but also will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the luxurious Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe a disreputable ladies man. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and as the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim."

Amory Ames, hurting from her husband's neglect is developing a jaded view of life after a short time married.  She thinks perhaps she should start living her life apart from Milo and takes this opportunity to not sit at home wondering when Milo will spend some time with her.  She doesn't seek sympathy, rather she starts to live a little.  Milo, the lackadaisical husband who can't seem to stop being the playboy is my least favorite character but at least he gets a smidgen jealous.  Gil Trent, the former fiance has good and bad qualities and is the catalyst for Amory to re-evaluate her situation.  Gil's sister, Emelline reminds Amory of her pre-married self as she is helplessly in love with a man who won't make her happy.  Each of the characters, even Milo, are under suspicion at one point or another. 

Bright and luxurious Brightwell made the mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie's "An Affair at Styles" only more stylish.  It is an excellent setting and used to great effect.  The pace keeps up between looking for a murderer and Amory's dealing with Milo and their complicated relationship.  My interest was carried throughout to the end.  

The climax has a deliciously tense killer reveal and the wrapup ties up threads while leaving just enough about Amory and Milo's situation to be continued in the next book "Death Wears a Mask".

There is wonderful sharp witty dialog, particularly between Amory and Milo.  Amory is a well developed character that you can relate to on many levels.  The running theme that money doesn't gaurantee happiness is under the surface and simply demonstrated.  

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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