Category Archives: Cozy Mystery

Depths of Deceit (Jamie Rush Mystery, #2) by Laura Oles

Depths of Deceit (A Jamie Rush Mystery)Depths of Deceit by Laura Oles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With its engaging characters and fast-moving plot, this is an excellent follow-up to the series’ debut.

When Renata, a waitress at their favorite eatery, Taqueria San Juan, tells Cookie and Jamie that her sister, Leah, has gone missing, the two investigators want to help find her. And even though clients have been slow in paying their bills lately, they offer to do it pro bono. Both feel that family is more important than money and give the case their full attention, although initial indications point to Leah having lit out by her own choice. But when Leah’s car shows up in the possession of a senior citizen who frequents Erin Clay’s entertainment center who explains that Leah asked her to hide the vehicle for her, they realize the girl is involved in something far more dangerous than just trying to escape her big sister’s scrutiny.

Depths of Deceit is the second book in author Laura Oles’s Jamie Rush Mystery series, and already I feel like these characters are old friends. Even with her odd childhood and struggle to break away from her con artist parents, Jamie is a pretty well-adjusted and normal woman working in an unusual business. With his more traditional upbringing and extended family, her partner, Cookie, is a great guy, a good friend, and a perfect partner in their joint business. Their friends Erin, Marty, and Riley are likable and engaging people. The introduction of the smug, self-satisfied yet somehow charming Alastair Finn adds an interesting bit of tension to both Jamie’s and Cookie’s lives. Fun characters also abound when they visit Erin’s senior community center.

The author has created a delightful setting on the Texas Gulf Coast in the fictional Port Alene. The Corpus Christi area has been an annual destination for me for over 30 years, so I enjoyed trying to match up the disguised locations with the actual ones. Descriptions are so well done that I felt like I was there, even for the cold snap the characters were initially experiencing.

The story may lean toward the cozy end of the mystery spectrum, but it definitely has its grittier moments. The plot takes some exciting and unexpected twists and turns, and I honestly didn’t want to put this book down until the final page had been read. The setting continues to be a very moody and atmospheric version of what is typically a sunny and touristy beach destination. The action takes us to some darker locations that made my skin crawl. I enjoyed the unusual backstory for the missing sister and the dangerous men with whom she had become involved. The subplot of Jamie’s parents and her younger sister was emotional, and I felt for both her and Grace.

With very engaging characters and a fast-moving and compelling plot, this is an excellent follow-up to the first book in the series, DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN. I recommend DEPTHS OF DECEIT to readers of mystery fiction, especially those who like strong female protagonists, bulldogs, and the Texas Gulf Coast.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

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Daughters of Bad Men (Jamie Rush Mystery, #1) by Laura Oles

Daughters of Bad MenDaughters of Bad Men by Laura Oles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Past and present clash on the Texas Gulf Coast in this excellent debut mystery by Laura Oles

Jamie Rush and her partner, Cookie Hinojosa, are skip tracers, private investigators skilled in the art of finding people who don’t want to be found. Sure, they do the bread-and-butter cases, too: divorce, surveillance, the occasional repossession, all to make ends meet; however, it is Jamie’s personal knowledge of how to disappear that has led to them excelling in their specialty.

They live and work in the small coastal town of Port Alene. Near Corpus Christi, it thrives on the tourist industry: spring break, beach vacations for inland Texans, and the annual influx of ‘Winter Texans,’ those from out of state fleeing the harsher conditions in their home states. Cookie, a Hawaiian shirt-wearing native son of Port Alene, is part of a large, extended family, but Jamie, a more recent arrival, had a much different upbringing.

Jamie’s parents were grifters, small-time con artists, and their activities necessitated frequent moves when things got hot where they were working or the grass looked greener elsewhere. Jamie had decided long ago she didn’t want any part of that lifestyle and left it and her family behind. However, she still hoped that one day they would straighten up and be the real family she’d always wanted. So Jamie couldn’t say no when her estranged brother, Brian, begged her to help him locate his missing daughter despite her suspicions he wasn’t telling her everything he knew.

Daughters of Bad Men is a fantastic debut for the Jamie Rush Mystery series by author Laura Oles. The main character, Jamie Rush, is a likable and capable yet vulnerable young woman who, despite her unfortunate childhood, has broken away from her family’s shady way of life and landed on her own two feet with a pretty positive outlook. She’s one smart cookie, able to read people, and has a witty personality. She and her partner have a delightful friendship and excellent working relationship that I really enjoyed. Their friend, Erin Clay, is a woman of contrasts. Although looking like a member of the Junior League, she’s building a successful bookie operation among the locals and the Winter Texans and doing so away from the influence of her father, a well-known, if not notorious, bookie in Las Vegas.

The author makes the coastal setting of Port Alene come alive. The descriptions are vivid and familiar, and I enjoyed trying to decide if the locations were actual ones, but disguised, or entirely fictional. I could easily visualize where the action was taking place, and I wanted to make a trip to Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, or Rockport quick, fast, and in a hurry.

The plot is smart and complex and held my attention from page one. I got the distinct impression that there is so much more happening below the surface of life in Port Alene than what is visible and that our characters are just getting started with their involvement in the business of the various crime families and criminal organizations. That feeling gave the book an extra undercurrent of menace and danger lurking nightside there. I hope there are many more mysteries to come in this series.

With its likable and engaging characters, sultry, salt-sprayed setting, and the emotion-tugging puzzle of a murder, I recommend DAUGHTERS OF BAD MEN to mystery fiction readers, especially those who like strong female protagonists, dog-and-cat partnerships, and a tempting setting on the Texas Gulf Coast.

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Dead in the Alley by Sharon D. Michalove

Dead in the AlleyDead in the Alley by Sharon D. Michalove
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful setting and characters with a keep-you-guessing mystery!

Back in her hometown of Sherburne, Michigan, after an 18-year absence, Bay Bishop is the head chef and co-owner with her husband, Derrick Anderson, of the Sherburne Bistro, a successful and much-needed upscale restaurant in the popular tourist destination. She was in the kitchen the day Derrick stepped out the backdoor for a smoke break and was struck down and killed by an unknown assailant on a motorcycle. Bay is devastated by the loss of her partner of 10 years, and when his death is deemed a homicide, she is naturally the chief suspect!

To make matters worse, one of the detectives on the case is her old high school boyfriend, Greg Musgrave, the boy who broke her heart and drove her to leave Sherburne in the first place. The investigation quickly discovers Derrick was keeping a lot of secrets from his wife, including not paying the mortgages on the restaurant or home, insurance, or the bills, and Bay has been left destitute, with the bank taking everything.

She must turn to her family, with which she has a complicated and uncomfortable relationship. And in a place she should have found refuge, she encounters even more secrets, and her parents are absolutely not forthcoming with the answers she desperately needs. Instead, she finds herself drawn back to Greg and discovers her feelings for him are as strong as ever.

Dead in the Alley was an entertaining mystery with a lovely second-chance romance with a plucky, deserving heroine in Bay Bishop. The setting is small-town Michigan, and the story has a culinary-themed foundation. The story is told from two points of view, that of Bay and Greg. However, the greater focus is on Bay, as she takes a lead role in solving the mystery and clearing her name. Deaths occur out of sight, and details are general, placing Dead in the Alley in the cozy mystery category. I loved the characters, the setting, and the whole vibe of the story, and with both main characters still having several irons in the fire, I hope the author is using the book as a jumping-off point for a new series.

Besides the highly likable main characters, there are quite a few secondary characters that really shone. In particular, I liked the two “wingmen” of the story: Terrie Sullivan and Danny Tellman. Their appearances in the story and subplot were usually fun, sometimes snarky, but always delightful. Dog lovers will enjoy Greg’s Portuguese Water Dog, Ace.

The mystery behind Bay’s husband’s murder had several good suspects. The author had me suspecting some characters that were eventually shown to have no part in the events at all: subtle and tricky.

With an attractive and tantalizing Fall setting in beautiful and comfortable small-town Michigan, likable and genuine characters, and a solid, kept-me-wondering mystery, I recommend DEAD IN THE ALLEY to cozy mystery readers especially those who enjoy a culinary-themed story.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Tours.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Deadly Keepsakes: A Tori Winters Mystery by Anita Dickason


DEADLY KEEPSAKES

A Tori Winters Mystery

by

ANITA DICKASON


Mystery / Women Sleuths

Publisher: Mystic Circle Books

Pages: 360 pages

Publication Date: July 1, 2022


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When Tori Winters becomes the star witness in a murder trial, someone tries to kill her. Terrified, she’s not giving the killer a second chance. With all her worldly possessions packed in her car, Tori is on the run. A mysterious phone call about an inheritance leads her to Granbury. After all, who would look for her in a small, quaint Texas town?

Instead, Tori’s life is about to spin into an existence where nothing is as it seems. The historic house she inherits is steeped in secrets from the past. Secrets that may prove deadly. A stranger in a strange town, who can she trust? There is the disinherited step-grandson and the lawyer and his son. What are they hiding?

Tori’s inheritance may not be a blessing when a killer strikes again. It could be her death warrant.


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5 Stars!!!

Deadly Keepsakes is a modern recreation of the Gothic romantic suspense novel in the vein of such great authors as Phyllis A. Whitney or Daphne du Maurier. Rather than the setting of the big house on the dark, remote, craggy-cliffed island, author Anita Dickason has reimagined the genre by placing the story smack in the middle of hot and sunny, small-town Texas.

Dickason amps up the suspense from the very start with Tori fleeing her home in Springfield, only months after her mother’s death, to escape the intimidation and revenge of the Russell family. But thankfully, Tori is a bright, capable, and determined heroine (unlike some of the fragile, helpless females of old), and she takes matters into her own hands to keep herself safe.

When she reaches her new town in Texas, she is immediately surrounded by the influential, successful people at the core of Granbury society: men who seem to feel they know more about what’s in her best interests than she does. I was so glad to see her set them straight quick, fast, and in a hurry. Two handsome men are also personally interested in the new heiress, and both are deliciously suspicious. But our girl keeps a wary eye on them both, though. Even as she feels attracted to one, she doesn’t let this blind her to his possible participation in the strange goings on. She keeps them both at arm’s length as she figures things out.

Deviating from the Gothic romantic suspense formula, though, is the presence of Mia O’Brien and her posse of friends/employees. I enjoyed this group of young women so much with their camaraderie, witty banter, and we-got-your-back attitude. I loved how Mia knew everyone in town and all their business and background. She always “knew a guy” who could do whatever needed doing. She and the other women were a fun and entertaining support network and just what Tori needed.

I especially enjoyed the secrets the house held and Grandmother Elly’s backstory with her family history of gambling, gunrunning, and liquor. Readers should be sure to read the author’s notes at the end of the book giving the story behind the fiction and its roots in the life and times of a real, local gangster from the area. I also felt the sadness of the tragic reasons Tori and her grandmother never met. In the end, Elly had everything but what she wanted most: her family.

With its fresh setting, strong heroine, excellent support characters, and solid, relentlessly evolving mystery, I recommend DEADLY KEEPSAKES to mystery readers, especially those who enjoy their stories with a lot of suspense and a touch of romantic suspense as well.

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Award-winning author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, SWAT tactical officer, and the team’s first female sniper.

Anita’s extensive law enforcement experience and knowledge provide the inspiration for her plots, and characters. She writes about what she knows, cops and crime.

Her works have received multiple awards from Book Viral Millennium Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, Literary Titan Book Awards, Independent Author Network Book Awards, and Speak Up Talk Radio Firebird Award.

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Book Blitz & Giveaway – A Shot in the 80% Dark (Bean to Bar Mysteries Book #4) by Amber Royer

A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK
Bean to Bar Mysteries, Book 4

by

AMBER ROYER


Cozy Mystery / Culinary Mystery / Woman Sleuth 

Publisher: Golden Tip Press

Date of Publication: July 15, 2022

Number of Pages: 285 pages

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Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop is thriving. Despite everything she’s been through with the murders she’s helped solve, Felicity is ready to take on new challenges. So when a local museum offers her a contract to create a chocolate replica of a gigantic sailing ship sculpture for a gala celebrating Galveston’s history, she jumps at the chance to combine chocolate-crafting with art.

The project is fun – right up until there’s not just one but two dead artists on the scene, and Felicity has to change gears back to detective. Logan, Felicity’s business partner and previous bodyguard, and Arlo, Felicity’s ex who is now the cop investigating the case, are split on which victim they think was actually the intended one. Felicity may have to take some chances, both emotionally and in luring out a killer, to determine the truth.

Can she find out how Galveston’s history relates to the murders, unmask a killer, and prepare 2,000 chocolate desserts for the gala all at the same time?


A well-plotted, crave-inducing addition to the Bean to Bar Mysteries series!

A Shot in the 80% Dark is a fine, well-plotted mystery that kept me entertained, guessing, and turning pages until the very end. Felicity, the main character, works hard and is serious about discovering who committed the precisely timed and very public murder. She goes to suitable sources, asks the right questions, and keeps her boyfriend, the lead detective on the murder case, informed and up-to-date on what’s she doing. Only little slip-ups put her in danger, and those felt like they were honest missteps. The ‘rookie mistake’ is actually claimed by Arlo himself! There are many viable suspects, and they are logically ruled out one by one. However, I didn’t know who was going to be the last suspect standing at any point until the killer was finally revealed, and I liked that the truth felt plausible because of the circumstances of the situation.

As the series continues, Felicity’s circle of friends expands and incorporates suspects from previous murders, old acquaintances, and frenemies. The author has done a great job with character development over the series, and I did feel the need to catch up with some of these folks. I like that there are so many recurring characters, even if they only get a mention or brief appearance in a story.

The story is naturally ‘choc’ full of chocolate-craft. Royer sprinkled in little tidbits of chocolate fact and fun throughout, and the result is a confection in and of itself. The story also has an extraordinary amount of pastry and other food discussions that had me craving a trip to Galveston. I learned so much (and had to google for more) and wanted to try all of the fictional delights the characters described.

The Galveston setting is fun and feels so familiar and comfortable. I loved hearing about different locations and sights, even just which end of the island the characters were on as they investigated. I enjoyed imagining all the small shops and businesses Felicity mentions or encounters during her day. The reminders of the damage from Hurricane Ike still having such an impact so many years later were quite sobering.

A wonderful part of this cozy mystery is the love triangle between the main characters. I could empathize with Felicity’s hesitancy to start another relationship yet. Her emotional struggle feeling the need to choose between two good men feels deep and genuine. Both men seem equally desirable, and it is no wonder she’d have a tough time making a choice, even if she wasn’t still grieving for her lost love. I felt the same genuineness in Logan’s and Arlo’s struggles with Felicity’s continued indecision. Still, both exude their concern and understanding that their need to be chosen as “the one” exerts a lot of pressure on her that she’s just not ready to handle.

A Shot in the 80% Dark is the fourth book in the Bean to Bar Mysteries, but the author provides enough backstory throughout for a reader who hasn’t read the previous books to have a great, entertaining reading experience. However, be warned that starting with this book will have the reader looking for the earlier stories; they are not to be missed.

I recommend A SHOT IN THE 80% DARK to readers who enjoy culinary-themed cozy mysteries, Texas-based cozies, Galveston, or chocolate…and who doesn’t like chocolate?


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Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: A Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. 

Amber and her husband live in the DFW area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: It’s a Mad, Mad Murder by Cindy Vincent

   IT’S A MAD, MAD MURDER

A Maddie Montgomery Mystery

by

CINDY VINCENT

Cozy Culinary Mystery / Women Sleuths / Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Whodunit Press

Date of Publication: November 15, 2021

Number of Pages: 303 pages 

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Things are a little too hot to handle for famous culinary-mystery author, Maddie Montgomery, in her normally quiet neighborhood set in the Houston suburb of Abbott Cove. Especially after her neighbor, Randall Rathburn, has a heart attack and rams his vintage car into a light pole. Though his death is ruled an accident, another of Maddie’s neighbors insists that Randall was murdered, and he implores her to investigate. But Maddie isn’t on board with the half-baked idea, not until she attends the over-the-top funeral where she develops some suspicions of her own. That’s when she decides to take the leap from crime writing to crime solving. After all, she doesn’t exactly want a killer running around her cul-de-sac . . . But the murder of her neighbor isn’t the only mystery she’s got cooking. When her publisher goes belly-up and her agent happily dumps her in favor of younger, dystopian authors, Maddie boils over into a full-blown career crisis. And while she tries to simmer down, her new role as amateur sleuth only stirs the pot even more. Then from car chases to stakeouts, and from a neighbor who owns a suspicious amount of spy gadgetry to a widow who seems a little too merry, Maddie’s first case has her head spinning like the beaters on her handheld mixer. And soon Maddie finds that solving a crime in “real life” is a lot more difficult . . . and a lot more dangerous.

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Cindy Vincent is the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers, and the Tracy Truworth, Apprentice P.I., 1940s Homefront Mysteries. She is also the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.  Cindy is a self-professed “Christmas-a-holic,” and she starts the planning for her ever-expanding, “extreme” Christmas lights display sometime in the early spring.

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Hour is Come (A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery, #0.5) by Victoria Tait

A tantalizing beginning for the new Dotty Sayers Mystery series!

When Captain Alasdair Sayers was killed while on a peacekeeping tour in Africa, he left behind a young wife, Dorothy (known as Dotty to all), and two children he’d shared with his former spouse, Angela. The regimental benefits provided Dotty a place to live at the camp and a small annual income; however, the amount earmarked for the children didn’t even cover their school fees, and Angela was beside herself.

Although Angela had left Alasdair for another man, she was bitter that Alasdair, after her desertion, had risen to the officers’ ranks and re-married. She and Dotty had never been friends, but their relationship had never been acrimonious, and she appeals to the younger woman’s naivety and tender emotions for money. She bulldozes Dotty into placing some of Alasdair’s antique furniture for sale in an upcoming auction nearby.

After the auction house men removed the pieces selected for the sale, Dotty realized she’d not completely emptied Alasdair’s bureau and went to the auction location to retrieve the contents. But as she removed one of the bureau drawers, she was thrown off balance and accidentally bumped into a large grandfather clock, and out fell a dead body.

Hour is Come, a generously sized prequel to author Victoria Tait’s Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery series, is fast-paced and really fills out the background for Dotty and her family and friends. This is not a historical mystery; Dotty is not THE Dorothy Sayers; she’s a namesake via her marriage to the deceased Captain Sayers.

Frankly, Dotty surprised me. She’s meek, timid, and achingly reserved. She is putty in the hands of Angela, the more worldly, bold, and grasping ex-wife. However, as Dotty’s backstory is revealed, I could easily see how she’d developed into her current condition. She came from a sheltered girlhood home straight into a “father-approved” marriage with an older, set in his ways, rigid army captain, not to mention the shock of becoming a widow at age 28. I almost cheered at the mention of her purchasing the china cups from Akemans Antiques Centre, something her deceased spouse would never have allowed her. Baby steps. I’m glad that as the story progressed, she continued to test her wings, desires, and judgment.

Dotty’s world is initially populated by kind Army wives and regimental staff who also display the tendencies to protect, guide, and try to make decisions for the young woman. She abruptly expands her circle of acquaintances through her unplanned involvement with the antique dealers, including members of the local constabulary. I most enjoyed her burgeoning friendship with the “hot mess” known as Constable Keya Varma and anticipate more adventures between the two.

The Cirencester-area setting was terrific. The author gives us enough detail to picture where the action takes place without bogging down the story with exposition. It felt comfortable, and the descriptions of the lovely scenery, bustling markets, quaint shops, and snippets of its long and storied history were tantalizing; just the place to visit next time you travel.

But speaking of tantalizing, Hour is Come is precisely that. After reading it, I was absolutely sold on continuing this series, ready to begin book one, Fake Death. However, the prequel is only available through the author to subscribers to her free e-newsletter, so sign up and get your download.* I recommend HOUR IS COME to cozy mystery readers who enjoy female protagonists, sleuths with superior baking skills, settings in the Cotswolds, and antiques.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author.

*As of April 13, 2022, HOUR IS COME is available FREE on Bookfunnel here.

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Ghost Agents (Ghost Agents Trilogy, Book 1) by Nita DeBorde

GHOST AGENTS
by
NITA DEBORDE
Categories: Science Fiction / Cozy Mystery / Paranormal / Texas History 
Series: The Ghost Agents Trilogy
Publisher: Mabelonia Press
Date of Publication: July 31, 2021
Number of Pages: 309 pages 
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An organization that has operated in secret for centuries… a mystery that threatens to burn it all to the ground… and she’s the only agent who can stop it…
To the residents and tourists of Galveston Island, Claire Abelard is the friendly young woman who works at the local candy store by day and leads ghost tours of the island’s haunted locations by night. They don’t realize this persona is a cover for Claire’s real job as an agent of the Bureau for Historical Preservation, a clandestine organization that monitors and assists energy projections, or the entities more commonly known as “ghosts.”
When projections begin disappearing from around the island, Claire worries that history may be repeating itself. She launches a dangerous investigation and uncovers a sinister, arcane organization whose agenda threatens not only Galveston’s ghosts, but everything she has worked her whole life to protect.
The truth behind the disappearances rocks Claire’s world to its core and shows her that ghosts aren’t the only things that can come back to haunt you.
Nita DeBorde is a published author and teacher from Houston, TX. Writing and teaching are her two major passions, though traveling and being dog-mom to a crazy Staffordshire-Boxer mix named Mabel are high on the list as well.
Nita has taught high school French for more than 20 years and absolutely loves her “day job” job (about 95% of the time). She loves to travel, and not surprisingly, France is her favorite destination, though her home state of Texas runs a close second.
She is also a huge history buff, which comes through in her fiction writing, and particularly in her latest novel, Ghost Agents, a genre-defying, cozy paranormal mystery with a little sci-fi and romance thrown into the mix. Ghost Agents: Revelations, the second book in the Ghost Agents Trilogy, is slated for release in March 2022.
Nita’s first novel, Project Lachesis, is currently available in both Kindle and hardcopy format from Amazon.com.
Her first published work, a Christian allegory titled Lessons from the Meadow, was published in December of 2013 under the pen name A.M. Ward. Stay tuned for more titles by A.M. Ward in the Christian fiction genre.
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Viking Private Investigation: Season Three (Viking P.I., #3) by Tommy Ueland

The Viking P.I. is back with exciting new cases!

Viking P.I. Tommy Ueland is back, and this time he’s got five new cases (six if you count the longer two-parter separately) for the reader’s perusal. Additionally, a couple of my favorite characters from previous investigations make a reappearance!

In Season Two, Tommy met and managed to ask out Alvide Andersen, a detective with KRIPOS, the Norwegian Criminal Investigation Service. More comfortable with their relationship, Tommy strives to improve his skills and impress his lady. However, he hits a snag when a prior friendship with a famous porn star comes to light during a new case.

Tommy has a good heart. You can feel he’s a nice guy without a lot of stereotypical hangups. Sure, there is the occasional whiskey, but he seems to be vigilant of how much he’s drinking and tries to make sure it remains casual. These cases pay his bills, but he also takes on the deserving pro bono investigation, genuinely wanting to help.

In this collection of cases, Tommy relies on a young computer hacker who made his first appearance in Season One. Their mutual friend, Jannick Jørgensen, is in some real trouble, and Tommy and Sondre must work together to help her. Another interesting case sends Tommy on a journey to Svalbard, across snow and ice, for some sentimental answers.

I recommend Viking Private Investigation: Season Three (and the entire series) to readers of detective fiction who would enjoy a smart but regular guy as their star P.I.

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A Right Royal Revenge (Highland Horse Whisperer, #2) by R.B. Marshall

A winning return to the high-stakes competition and culture of the horse world in the Scottish highlands.

When Isobel “Izzy” Paterson finds a potential client, Pat McDade, dead in his office before their first meeting and herself a prime murder suspect, she leaps into action to clear her name. However, as she didn’t get the chance to discuss the matter the man wanted her to investigate, she has few suspects to look at other than Pat’s wife, Francine, and the all too chummy show-jumper for Francine’s horse, Darcy.

Roommate and business partner, Trinity Allen, is busy with her very successful salsa class in town, its popularity boosted by a timely newspaper article written by the besotted local reporter, Neil Etherington. Izzy, too, has continued her friendship with Police Sergeant Dean Lovell yet finds herself still thinking about her recent beau, Craig MacDonald. He is still at Windsor temporarily replacing their ailing stable manager.

Meanwhile, Izzy is preparing the queen’s stallion, Eagle, a Highland Pony, and Lady Letham’s mare, Allegra, for competition in the upcoming Royal Highland Show. Strange acts of vandalism, some annoying but others that could have hurt someone, are discovered, and the list of suspects quickly expands.

A Right Royal Revenge is an excellent cozy mystery, and Izzy is a dedicated and intelligent sleuth. This time, Izzy’s having to work outside the police investigation as she is one of their suspects, and I liked that the author included how this puts a crimp in her budding relationship with the hunky Sergeant Lovely. The mystery is not easy to figure out, but Izzy gets right down to business, asking the right people the right questions, so the resolution makes sense.

Reading this second book in the Highland Horse Whisperer series was like putting on a much-loved pair of slippers: cozy and comfortable. I felt almost as if I knew these people personally, and I was anxious to see how things were going for them. I have missed these characters.

An extra entertaining aspect to me is that the author laces the story with the everyday activities of caring for and training horses. Wow. It is more complex than I ever imagined: both eye-opening and interesting.

As the series progresses, readers learn more about the local community of Glengowrie. I like continuing characters, in general, and many of the Glengowrie crowd are real stand-outs: some offering stability, others humor and quirkiness. It’s nice to see familiar faces.

I recommend A RIGHT ROYAL REVENGE to readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, horse-themed stories, appearances by royals, and tales set in Scotland.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Cozy Mystery