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Monday, August 22, 2022

Review - The Woman in the Library

 "[The Woman in the Library] is a mystery-within-a-mystery, with the clues in Freddie's story becoming more intriguing as Leo's advice becomes more sinister. The two story lines work together beautifully, amping up the suspense before reaching a surprising conclusion." ― Booklist

This is the mystery of the moment, getting a lot of attention and praise.  See what my thoughts are on the unique plot and writing.

Author: Sulari Gentill

Copyright: June 2022 (Poisoned Pen Press) 292 pgs

Series: Stand Alone Mystery

Sensuality: Off-page intimacy

Mystery Sub-genre: Suspenseful Mystery

Main Characters: Freddie and Hannah, authors

Setting: Modern day, Boston primarily

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book Blurb: "Ned Kelly award winning author Sulari Gentill sets this mystery-within-a-mystery in motion with a deceptively simple, Dear Hannah, What are you writing? pulling us into theornate reading room at the Boston Public Library.

In every person's story, there is something to hide...

The tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer."

My Thoughts:

The novel has an interesting approach: 1) A mystery writer, Hannah, in Australia is writing a novel set in Boston.  Hannah corresponds with Leo in Boston to get details of the city and locals correct.  We get a chapter of Hannah's murder mystery and the next chapter is Leo's email replies which start to take a strange turn.

2) Hannah's actual manuscript is based on Freddie, a female writer, who goes to the Boston Public Library seeking inspiration for her book.  After hearing a horrific scream from somewhere inside the library, Freddie and the three people she was sitting near strike up a conversation and eventually form an unlikely friendship.  A few hours later a woman is found murdered in the Library.  As their friendship solidifies, something is off among the foursome.  But Freddie is getting seriously involved with one of the group.

It seems like this approach would be confusing, but it actually flowed quiet well.  I was invested in Hannah's manuscript and got absorbed in that story, while the email critiques of the chapters were a slow burn and wouldn't have worked on their own. 

This was cleverly plotted with a different approach to the storyline. The manuscript mystery was engrossing while the Hannah and Leo storyline sneaks up on you.  This built tension while the Hannah's manuscript built suspicion as well.  The manuscript characters where well written and Freddie was easy to like.  I wasn't sure if I would like this story, but it hooked me and provided enough surprises in both storylines.  I don't know that I would heap as much praise as I see some pouring on it, but it is certainly a superb mystery that I highly recommend.  Some are labeling it "literary" but this is a solid mystery all the way around.

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

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Monday, August 1, 2022

Review - Mrs. Morris and the Pot of Gold

 Salem, Massachusetts, B&B owner Charlene Morris will need the luck of the Irish—and the help of a ghost—to unveil a hooded killer 

First book in the series is Mrs. Morris and the Ghost (click here

Author: Traci Wilton

Copyright: Aug 2022 (Kensington Books) 306 pgs

Series: 6th in Salem B&B Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal cozy mystery, amateur Sleuth

Main Character: Charlene Morris, new B&B owner

Setting: Modern day, Salem, Massachusetts

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book Blurb: "Charlene has hired a van to ferry her B&B guests to an all-you-can-eat corned beef and cabbage dinner hosted by Salem’s Irish community at the Ancient Order of Hibernians club—but she should have booked a hearse. It’s never a good sign when the family black sheep drunkenly crashes a party by punching the guy dressed as a leprechaun. But things go from troublesome to fatal when Charlene stumbles upon a second brawl in an upper room—and this fight Connor Gallagher loses, his anonymous assailant rushing past Charlene, hidden by a hoodie.

 Now Detective Sam Holden has another homicide on his hands, with Charlene as the only eyewitness. Even if she can’t give the police sketch artist much to go on, Charlene is determined to ID the murderer, with the help of Dr. Jack Strathmore, the charming ghost who haunts her B&B. The answer lies in the motive, and to uncover that sleuth and spook will need to shine a light on Connor’s shady past—before the killer pulls another Irish goodbye . . ." 

Charlene, previously of Chicago, still misses her deceased husband but she has settled into her new life in historic Salem as a B&B owner. Jack Strathmore is the extremely handsome ghost who owned the family mansion and chose to stay with Charlene when he could have "gone to the light".  Their relationship is enough for both of them at the moment.  Will Johnson and Minnie, her small staff, are delightful as grounds maintenance and cook/housekeeper.  Avery is a teen who works part-time and has become like family to Charlene.  Detective Sam Holden is six foot and resembles the actor Sam Elliot, and is fond of Charlene but waiting for her grieving to end.  Silva is her plush white cat who is a sweet cat with little antics.  To complicate things further, Charlene's parents come for a surprise visit.  Charlene and her mother historically have a contentious relationship, so she isn't happy to see them.

The setting of Salem wasn't utilized particularly. Rather, the Irish annual celebration takes center stage in this outing.  The investigation takes place in and around caring for and entertaining her B&B guests.  The plot has some meaty aspects and the murderer isn't easy to detect.  There is plenty going on and keeps the readers interest.  The climax was nail biting and quite suspenseful.  

This is a perfect mix of tenacious heroine, flirty ghost, well developed murder mystery, and spot on writing.  This is a cozy goodness and the Jack makes a charming ghost for the ideal entertaining mystery.  I am now on a mission to read the ealier books I've missed.

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

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