Tag Archives: cozy mystery

Case of the Missing Morris Dancer by Cathy Ace

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This book’s catchy title caught my eye on a display in the Library, and I’m happy to report it did not disappoint! The story is set in idyllic rural Wales, at the stately home of the eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth who is about to be married. His doting mother is anxious to provide a wedding weekend with complete aristocratic traditions for her family, friends, and folks who live in the nearby village. Plans seem to be going along delightfully, until a key member of the local Morris Dance troupe does not turn up for an important meeting. As luck would have it the village is the home-base for an all-women private investigation agency called WISE. The WISE women spring into action, happy to help the Mother of the Groom who is also an honourary member of their group.

Each of the WISE women use their personal strengths and connections to work together and solve the mystery. Wedding preparations continue throughout the story, and are woven into the investigation. The Duke is delightfully portrayed as a bumbling mommy’s boy, and a bit of a snob. This story reminds the reader that things are not always as they seem, particularly in quaint villages. If you enjoy this book, you can read more by Cathy Ace, and follow the WISE women on more adventures.

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Mysteries with a Little Faith (Max Tudor Mysteries) by G.M. Malliet

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wicked-autumnEveryone who knows me is aware of the fact that I like (love?) cozy mysteries. I read anything that catches my fancy, whether it’s light, dark, humorous or tragic, but I find I turn to cozies as a palate cleanser between deeper books. When another staff member recommended the Max Tudor series by G.M. Malliet, I was eager to give them a try. Growing up, I read numorous Father Brown mysteries by G.K. Chesterton and some of the Father Dowling mysteries by Ralph McInerny so the idea of a man of the cloth involved in murder, mayhem and the dark reaches of the human heart seemed like familiar territory.

Max is a former MI-5 agent who has become an Anglican priest and now resides in the tiny English village of Nether Monkslip, which sadly, like Miss Marple’s beloved St. Mary’s Mead, has an unusually high murder rate and circumstances leave Father Max in the thick of the action.  There is a sturdy group of supporting characters in the village as well as Police Inspector Cotton and his forces from Monkslip Super Mare to move the action along but the stories belong to Max.  The first in the series, “Wicked Autumn” centers on the murder of Nether Monkslip’s unofficial organizer. Wanda Batton-Smythe attempted to control everything and everyone in Nether Monkslip, usually through manipulation or intimidation, so when her body is found in the kitchen of church hall the entire village falls under suspicion.  As Max finds the body and has special training due to his secret agent past, the task of finding the murderer falls to him.

In a throwback to Christie’s “And then there were None” , the second book in the series “Fatal Winter”fatal winter concerns the stabbing death of Lord Footrustle and the death of his twin Lady Baynard. The murderer must be one on the family and when Max is sent by Cotton to console the family and prepare for the services, he’s actually on a spying mission to find the murderer.  Among the cast of suspects are the daughter Jocasta, an actress past her prime, Lamorna the adopted and much put upon granddaughter,Gwyneth, the sex-pot ex-wife who is always in need to money, Lester and Felberta, the unscrupulous nephew and his grasping wife.  The action is pleasantly paced and the mystery is well done, making for a satisfying cozy. I look forward to “Pagan Spring”, the third in the series and spending more time in Nether Monkslip.

G. M. Malliet is part of the ever growing group of American writers who write English mysteries. While I had been aware that Elizabeth George of Inspector Lynley fame and Martha Grimes who writes Richard Jury were both American, I was surprised last year to find out that the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, by Charles Todd, is actually a US mother and son team. Deborah Crombie, Nancy Atherton,  Laurie R. King, C.S. Harris, Charles Finch and others, also seem to find murder more attractive with a cup of tea.

Rather Spiffing! Say Hello to the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple

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Charming is the only word that truly describes the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series by Carola Dunn. Set in Great Britain during the early 1920’s, the novel center around a  aristocratic  young lady who has fallen on hard times due to the death of her father, brother and fiance in the Great War.  Rather than living on the charity of wealthier relatives, Daisy has chosen to go to work for her living, which was very radical for a well bred lady. Taking assignments working as a journalist for Town and County magazine,  Daisy is asked to  chronicle the history of the great houses of the Kingdom, which makes use of  her connections in order  to gain entry.  Daisy simply happens to be at the right place at the right time to discover wrongdoing.  Her first foray into detecting begins with ‘Death at Wentwater Court”,  begins with the body of one of the guests i floating under a frozen lake following a skating accident. The accident is about to be covered up when Daisy notices a small discrepancy  in one of her photographs of the crime scene that will lead her to a murderer.

Her penchant for finding dead bodies puts her together with Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, whom she will  eventually marry.  The series
is light and breezy though there are times when it is unlikely, at best, that Daisy would be the person to uncover a murder, but she’s bright, forthright and never is a simpering heroine so it’s easy to overlook the bumps in the plot. Her relationship with Alec grows naturally out of their situation, and he’s given enough to do as a character that the chemistry between them works.  Each novel features a series of regular characters that help or hinder the investigations, but also act as foils to speed the action along.

The period is recreated with both fun and authenticity and the dialogue is period which adds a sense of fun. I have recommended this series to a number of people in the past five years and each one has been charmed by it, so grab your cloche and a martini, jump into the rumble seat and have a spiffing time with Daisy.

A whole latte fun!

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It’s time to cleanse our palate after the scary vampire entry.  I read Derek’s entry and thought to myself, think about puppies or bunnies or hmm… maybe coffee. So I hopped onto Novelist and did a search under coffee shops. Wow – 226 entries came up.  Looking through the list I noticed somewhat of a theme. There’s more than one mystery series that revolves around a coffee shop.  I’ve generally found them safe places to be but authors Sandra Balzo and Cleo Coyle don’t seem to think so. I haven’t read any of the series listed, due to the fact that I actually don’t like mysteries. There…I said it out loud. Here’s a look at two of the series listed. You can find the full list of titles in the series, by typing in the name of the series and clicking on series title.

Coffeehouse mysteries series by Cleo Coyle. There are 8 titles in this series, starting with “On What Grounds” and ending with “Holiday Grind”. Coming this summer is the latest title in the series “Roast Mortem”. Library Journal has this to say about the series – “Coyle’s Coffeehouse books are superb examples of the cozy genre because of their intelligent cast of characters, their subtle wit, and their knowledge of the coffee industry used to add depth and flavor to the stories…Highly recommended for all mystery collections.” The series follows Clare Cosi, manager of The Village Blend Coffeehouse.  When Clare is around there seems to be all sorts of trouble brewing and it usually involves a murder. The books contain a recipe section from The Village Blend Coffeehouse. For even more recipes check out the virtual version of The Village Blend at http://www.CoffeehouseMystery.com It should satisfy your sweet tooth and cravings for all things coffee. You might want to make yourself a treat before you sit down to read. Enjoy!

Maggy Thorsen mysteries series by Sandra Balzo.  This should help quench your thirst for a good coffee shop mystery. There are 5 titles in this series with catchy titles such as “Bean There, Done That” and “Brewed, Crude And Tattooed”. The series begins with “Uncommon Grounds”, which is the name of the coffee shop that Maggy and two friends open in a Wisconsin town.  I’ve been known to visit a coffee shop or two in Wisconsin (ok, maybe more than two), but I’ve never seen the kind of activities that Maggy has.  Like Clare Cosi, Maggy Thorsen seems to be surrounded by murders and uses her amateur sleuthing abilities to try to solve them.

Well that’s all that’s brewing here this week.  Hope you enjoy these coffee shop mysteries.