Archive for the ‘Cozy’ Category

Board Stiff-Annelise Ryan

March 9, 2014

Board Stiff
Annelise Ryan
Kensington, Mar 4 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758272768

In Sorenson, Wisconsin someone murders Twilight Home CEO and owner Bernie Chase. Resident Irene thinks Bjorn killed him, but he cannot remember what he did or saw. As she explains to Deputy Coroner Mattie Winston that Chase was killing patients costing him a lot of money for their care, she also shows her the body in the restroom with isolyser powder all over Chase.

Irene hesitates bringing the cops in to investigate as she wants to protect Bjorn. Mattie demands they do so while musing that she will see her former boyfriend Homicide Detective Steve Hurley for the first time since his wife and a teenage daughter he never met before arrived at his house. Mattie applies her forensics skills to help the cops with the inquiry.

The latest Mattie Winston Mystery (see Lucky Stiff and Frozen Stiff) is a wonderful amusing cozy due to a very strong cast beginning with the protagonist. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this fun entry due to the residents of Twilight Home as seemingly every one of them insists Chase was a serial killer who deserved to die and though several suffer from dementia complicating the case; others conceal what they know behind a claim of having the disease.

Harriet Klausner

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A Taste Fur Murder-Dixie Lyle

March 1, 2014

A Taste Fur Murder
Dixie Lyle
St. Martin’s, Feb 25 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250031075

Near New York City, Deirdre “Foxtrot” Lancaster works as the “Gal Friday” to affluent and certifiable (eccentric to her face) Zelda “ZZ” Zoransky. She adores her boss but also worries about ZZ going over the top of insanity. One of Foxtrot’s most important and insane tasks is to put together ZZ’s weekend salon soirees, which means acting as the chaos wrangler and needed mental visits to the only peaceful place on the estate, the pet cemetery.

However, this calming visit takes a strange twist when Foxtrot thinks she sees her deceased cat Tango, but writes it off as overactive nerves. At her home a few miles away from ZZ’s estate, the reanimated Tango and Tiny the ghost dog join a stunned Foxtrot who panics over her sanity. When a murder occurs at ZZ’s estate, Foxtrot and her companions investigate to insure the cops do not arrest her beloved lunatic employer.

The first Foxtrot-Tango paranormal cozy is a lighthearted zany whodunit due to the beleaguered heroine and a fascinating albeit underdeveloped support cast (animal, ghost and human). Sub-genre readers will enjoy A Taste Fur Murder as the unlikely three amateur sleuths, using supernatural and admin assistant skills, farcically fumble, bumble and stumble their murder inquiry.

Harriet Klausner

Hooperman-John M. Daniel

November 3, 2013

Hooperman
John M. Daniel
Oak Tree, Nov 1 2013, $14.95
http://www.oaktreebooks.com
ISBN 9781610090612

In 1972 stutterer Hooperman Johnson works as a shipping clerk at Maxwell’s Books in Palo Alto, California. Hoop enjoys being with the books though his actual assignment is to learn how major theft of the merchandise was occurring.

The undercover Hoop knows that the amount of pilfering is way beyond simple shoplifting so he surmises an employee must be involved. He observes the petty fights between the workers and begins dating suspect Lucinda Baylor; though he rationalizes that romancing her makes for a smart cover.

More a character study of eccentricity than a whodunit, Hooperman is a wonderful cozy that uses flashbacks to enable the audience to better understand what makes the bookstore cop tick while Hoop’s stuttering is superbly handled to include his embarrassment and harassment. Homage to a throwback to an era when the Indies mattered as social meeting places (and Amazon was a river), readers will appreciate this engaging nostalgic look back to life in a bookstore.

Harriet Klausner

Fixed-L.A. Kornetsky

October 20, 2013

Fixed
L.A. Kornetsky
Gallery, Oct 8 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451671650

In Seattle, private concierge business owner Ginny Mallard enjoys stopping at Mary’s Bar & Grill. Bartender Teddy Tonica likes when Ginny and her shar-pei Georgie visit though the canine relaxes outside.

College student Mora Rees works as a volunteer at the Lifehouse animal shelter. She is concerned when $2000 vanishes; as the missing money could impact the animal shelter’s grants since all donations must be accounted for. Having read about Gin and Tonic in the newspaper (see Collared), she comes to Mary’s to persuade them to investigate the stolen funds. Gin accepts the case while Tonic reluctantly agrees to keep her out of trouble. As they interview staff and scrutinize records, Georgie and Penny the bar cat who adopted Tonic as his pet discuss how to help the humans solve the case so that there mates at the shelter have a home.

The second Gin & Tonic cozy is a lighthearted leisurely-paced anthropomorphist whodunit with life in a cheerful neighborhood bar in many ways superseding the sleuthing. The lead humans and their animal owners are unique engaging leads while the investigation is mostly low-keyed.

Harriet Klausner

The Tenth Witness-Leonard Rosen

September 4, 2013

The Tenth Witness
Leonard Rosen
Permanent, Sep 1 2013, $29.00
ISBN 9781579623197

In 1978 off the coast of Holland, Poincare & Chin Consulting works on salvaging the HMS Lutine having won the Lloyds of London contract. The frigate went down in 1799 near the Wadden Sea allegedly loaded with gold bars.

Taking a leisurely stroll on the beach, Henri Poincaré meets Liesel Kraus, Kraus Steel heiress. Henri and Liesel are attracted to one another after he gets over the initial shock as to whom she is and begin a romance. However, he begins to hear tales that Kraus Steel owes its success due to Liesel’s father Otto’s WWII business deals; as Henri’s late uncle knew first-hand. Though Henri realizes he should mind his business, he makes inquiries to learn the truth.

The prequel to All Cry Chaos focuses on Henri’s first case that he did not know was a case; which eventually led to Interpol recruiting him. The timely storyline told by ethical Henri uses a wonderful historiographical late 1970s spin to look back to the 1940s at those exploiting the Nazi terror and aftermath to make an exorbitant profit by paying coolie wages to desperate workers. Leisurely-paced, readers will appreciate this strong tale as the avaricious affluent use the system at the cost of the masses.

Harriet Klausner

Gone with the Woof-Laurien Berenson

August 29, 2013

Gone with the Woof
Laurien Berenson
Kensington, Aug 27 2013, $24.00
ISBN 9780758284525

Melanie Travis is contented to stay at home with her new baby and her canine horde in their new house while her relatively new husband Sam goes to work and her nine year old son to school. However, six foot sexagenarian Aunt Peg has found her a pet project. Curmudgeon ailing Edward March commissions Melanie to write Puppy Love, his memoir as a dog show judge. To Melanie’s chagrin, March’s bio focuses on his trysts with numerous breeders and dog show women. His adult son Andrew, who has had his share of the females too, objects.

When someone kills Andrew in a hit-and-run, a traumatized Edward pleads with Melanie to investigate as he needs to know who he believes deliberately murdered his son. Though she accepts, Melanie realizes her task is Herculean as a horde of females had sex with father and or son and probably most would not want a tell-all sexploits published, but she wonders which one would kill to prevent this book from being written.

The sixteenth Melanie Travis amateur sleuth (see Hounded to Death and Doggie Day Care Murder) is an amusing lighthearted twisting mystery as the heroine deals with six canines, a newborn, a tweener, her husband, and the zany others; I’m exhausted typing this. The fast-paced storyline uses the interesting behind the scenes at a dog show as the milieu for an engaging family affair mystery.

Harriet Klausner

Pinot Envy-Edward Finstein

July 25, 2013

Pinot Envy
Edward Finstein
Bancroft, Jul 16 2013, $21.95
ISBN: 9781610880893

San Francisco resident Woody Robins teaches a Wine Appreciation class at Rosewell College where the fortyish professor is on faculty. He also writes a column on wine for Haute Living and has published a book Wine Is A Four Letter Word. Woody even met his girlfriend Julia Harper when he provided consulting work for her firm the Wine Emporium and found his cat Mouton in a back alley next to empty wine bottles.

Having solved a wine fraud case, Woody meets with UC Davis Professor Walter Pendry to discuss a rare double magnum, the last bottle remaining from an exclusive Napoleon-commissioned label. Last year, James McCall purchased the wine valued at 2.5 million, but recently the bottle was stolen from his secure vault in the Los Carneros area that straddles Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Woody goes straight from Davis to the McCall estate where he agrees to investigate the theft because he believes his client is not committing insurance fraud. With Julia, his Aunt Sadie and others, he begins his inquiry.

By focusing on a stolen valuable bottle of wine, this fascinating cozy enables readers to learn about the engaging history and present day vineyards. Though paid and with an SFPD detective amongst his team, Woody acts like an amateur sleuth as he fumbles his way from one scenario to another. The protagonist’s reflections on relationships in his life are overdone and detract from the case. Still readers will toast Edward Finstein with a less costly pinot for an engaging character-driven whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

Gone With The Win-Mary Daheim

July 14, 2013

Gone With The Win
Mary Daheim
Morrow, Jul 9 2013, $23.99
ISBN: 9780062089847

At the Hillside Manor B&B in Seattle after the old bat crashed her wheelchair into a birdbath, Mary Smith checks in. However, Mary is actually Judith McMonigle Flynn’s friend Ruby Tooms, who used an alias to insure she would be welcome after what happened at the Little Bavaria Oktoberfest.

Ruby asks Judith and her husband retired cop Joe Flynn to investigate the murder almost two decades ago of her mother Opal; her father was in jail at the time of the strangulation having stolen Judith’s wallet at her late first husband’s Meat & Mingle cafe. With fans creating a web site proclaiming her detecting skills, Judith has vowed no more inquiries. However, Joe has a personal interest in this case as his former partner and still close friend Precinct Captain Woody Price worked the unsolved homicide. An intruder further motivates Joe, his reluctant wife, and her sleuthing partnering cousin Renie Jones to look into the murder of Ruby’s mom.

The latest Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery (see The Wurst Is Yet to Come and All The Pretty Hearses) is an engaging humorous cozy as this time Joe wants them to take on the case instead of Judith tripping over a corpse. With a strong cast, readers will enjoy this lighthearted amusing whodunit as the amateur sleuthing cousins plus Joe hesitatingly investigate.

Harriet Klausner

Evening Bags And Executions-Dorothy Howell

June 25, 2013

Evening Bags And Executions
Dorothy Howell
Kensington, Jun 25 2013, $23.00
ISBN: 978075825334

In Holt’s Department Store employee Haley Randolph is euphoric after obtaining an events planner job at L.A. Affairs involving a Hollywood charity gala using a Beatles theme. However, her new boss Vanessa Lord wants her to quit, but stubborn Haley refuses to resign though she is under pressure.

Before she can start on the gig, Haley finds the murdered body of the event’s baker Lacy Hobbs; commissioned to create a six-foot yellow submarine cake. At the same time charity auction head Sheridan Adams accuses Haley of stealing a valuable collection of Beatles bobbleheads. Deciding the murder of the Lacy Cakes’ owner and the theft take precedent over the latest fashionable bag; as Haley knows she would not look good in prison garb, accompanied by the proper attire, she investigates.

The latest Randolph cozy (see Tote Bags and Toe Tags, and Slay Bells and Satchels) is a lighthearted zany amateur sleuth as the queen of handbag divas works the case her way. Fans will enjoy the humorous storyline commencing with Haley stumbling over another corpse.

Harriet Klausner

You Cannoli Die Once-Shelley Costa

May 31, 2013

You Cannoli Die Once
Shelley Costa
Pocket, May 28 2013
ISBN: 9781476709352

Since 1937, the successful Miracolo family restaurant in Quaker Hills forty minutes north of Philadelphia has served Italian cuisine to hungry patrons. The current head chef Eve Angelotta and the current diva her septuagenarian Nonna Maria Pia Angelotta tend to argue a lot over marriage and producing future chefs.

On Monday, Eve finds her cousin Kayla’s lover lawyer Joe Beck in her garbage looking for his missing wedding ring after three nights of late banging. Tuesday tops Monday when Eve finds a corpse with his head bashed in the kitchen on top of a classic Caruso 78. The police inform Eve and her horde of relatives that the victim is Arlen Mather, Nonna’s boyfriend. When Nonna’s alibi collapses, the police arrest her for the murder. Eve and her cousins know Nonna is a feisty pain in the butt, but not a killer so they investigate Arlen’s “Night at the Opera”.

The first Angelotta culinary cozy is an amusing Philadelphia shtick amateur sleuth. The cousins’ inquiry is fun to follow especially Eve’s humorous asides though readers need a scorecard to keep track of who’s who amongst the family horde. Still fans will enjoy dining at Miracolo.

Harriet Klausner