Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Gypped by Carol Higgins Clark

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439170312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439170311

Book Description

When Regan Reilly returned to the West Coast, where she began her career as a PI, she never imagined that her unsuccessful appearance on a game show seven years earlier would throw her trip totally off course! 

REGAN REILLY is in Los Angeles with her husband, Jack, head of the NYPD Major Case Squad. After Jack finishes his meetings with the LAPD, the couple may head north to the wine country, or may head south to Baja. Their only plan is to see which way the wind blows. The first day back, Regan goes shopping at an upscale new mall in West Hollywood. To her surprise, she runs into Zelda, a woman she’d become friendly with seven years before at a television studio in Burbank, when they were waiting to appear on the game show Puzzling Words. They haven’t seen each other since. Zelda and Regan didn’t win much money, but Zelda made up for it! A year ago an elderly neighbor she barely knew left Zelda eight million dollars. She has been enjoying her newfound wealth but is aware of the need to give back. At a recent fundraiser, she bid on a week’s stay in an old Hollywood Hills estate and was the lucky winner. She’s currently in residence there and invites Regan to a party at the mansion. While Jack attends a business dinner, Regan goes to Zelda’s by herself, unaware that she is being followed. Regan is more than surprised at the run-down condition of the house and grounds. People should be paid to stay here, she thinks. Zelda introduces Regan to a colorful cast of characters, including her old neighbors, friends from her yoga class, a filmmaker, Zelda’s financial adviser, her bookkeeper, and her personal assistant. It’s all good fun. As the guests are leaving, Zelda asks Regan to stay for a cup of tea. They’ve barely sat down to chat when Zelda falls ill. A worried Regan doesn’t want to leave Zelda alone and decides to spend the night at the isolated, aging estate. It’s not long before Zelda asks Regan to investigate people in her life, starting with her father’s new wife, Bobby Jo. The couple said “I do” in the back of a cab at a drive-through chapel in Las Vegas after only three months of togetherness. Has Zelda’s windfall put her in danger? Regan is determined to find out, not knowing that she’s a target herself!

About The Author

Carol Higgins Clark is the author of fourteen previous Regan Reilly mysteries and coauthor of five bestselling holiday suspense novels with her mother, Mary Higgins Clark. Also an actress, Carol recently had a part in the TNT movie Deck the Halls, based on the first holiday mystery she and Mary co-wrote. Carol studied at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College. She lives in New York City and Los Angeles.

My Review

Gypped is a good title because I'm feeling a little gypped by the length of the book.  It was incredibly short and I'm glad I borrowed it from the library instead of buying it.  While it was a good story and very readable I felt that the everything in the book could have been fleshed out more.  A good, quick read if that is what you are looking for.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: As The Crow Flies by Craig Johnson

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023516
Book Description

The Wyoming lawman returns after staking his claim on the New York Times bestseller list
Embarking on his eighth adventure, Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire has a more important matter on his mind than cowboys and criminals. His daughter, Cady, is getting married to the brother of his undersheriff, Victoria Moretti. Walt and old friend Henry Standing Bear are the de facto wedding planners and fear Cady’s wrath when the wedding locale arrangements go up in smoke two weeks before the big event.

The pair set out to find a new site for the nuptials on the Cheyenne Reservation, but their scouting expedition ends in horror as they witness a young Crow woman plummeting from Painted Warrior’s majestic cliffs. It’s not Walt’s turf, but the newly appointed tribal police chief and Iraqi war veteran, the beautiful Lolo Long, shanghais him into helping with the investigation. Walt is stretched thin as he mentors Lolo, attempts to catch the bad guys, and performs the role of father of the bride.

With the popularity of Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series growing apace, fans new and old will relish As the Crow Flies, the sheriff’s latest quirky and complex investigation.

About the Author


Craig Johnson is the author of the Walt Longmire mystery series. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

My Review

My first introduction to Sheriff Walt Longmire was in the novella The Divorce Horse.  As The Crow Flies is the eighth book in the series but the first one I've read.  I really enjoyed the story and the Wyoming setting.  It was a little bit reminiscent of a Tony Hillerman mystery with the First Nations playing a prominent role.

The murder happens in the opening pages and the story plays out throughout the novel.  The murderer was a surprise to me and I enjoyed the road to get there.  Sheriff Longmire's daughter is set to get married and much of the novel focuses on that as well.  Since the ceremony was to be a traditional Cheyenne ceremony on native land everything in the story revolved around each other.

There were interesting characters and a unique setting.  The First Nations people were portrayed realistically.  The story was good and an enjoyable read.  I'm looking forward to going back and reading the earlier books as well as new adventures for Sheriff Walt Longmire.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Divorce Horse by Craig Johnson

  • File Size: 635 KB
  • Print Length: 51 pages
  • Publisher: VIKING ADULT (April 16, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007HUD72Y

Book Description

Sheriff Walt Longmire and his soon-to-be married daughter, Cady, hit the race track in an original story from New York Times bestselling author Craig Johnson

Walt Longmire, the longtime sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, has little time to relax. Still recovering from his manhunt chasing down escaped convict and sociopath Reynaud Shade in the Bighorn Mountains, Walt just can’t find the opportunity to sit back and kick off his cowboy boots. His daughter, Cady, is getting married in a few months to the brother of his under-sheriff Victoria Moretti and is in town, helping her dad ‘recuperate’ and to talk about love, life, and weddings.

Meanwhile, the American Indian Days Parade and Pow Wow are attracting tourists and trouble. The pride and joy of Tommy Jefferson’s stables—and the catalyst for his marital problems—the notorious divorce horse, has gone missing, and Jefferson, renowned Indian Relay Racer and one-time meth head, wants him back. With the help of his best friend Henry Standing Bear and his daughter, The Greatest Legal Mind Of Our Time, Walt sets off to the races.

My Review

Thrilled to discover a new western mystery writer, Craig Johnson. It is a novella that bridges the gap between Hell is Empty and As The Crow Flies.  It takes place mostly at a racetrack during the American Indian Days and Powwow.  Tommy Jefferson's horse, known as the Divorce Horse, due to the divorce battle over assets between Tommy and his soon to be ex wife. 

It is a good introduction to the characters.  I am looking forward to the setting of Wyoming in this series of Walt Longmire mysteries. I've been to Wyoming several times and love the open spaces, the plains, the Bighorn Mountains, and Yellowstone Park.  A friend is heading up a project in Green River so we might be heading that way soon.  I wish I had the time to start at the beginning but I've been lucky enough to have been granted a review copy of As The Crow Flies as well. 

I can tell already by the writing style in this novella that I'm going to enjoy this series by Craig Johnson.  Now on to As The Crow Flies.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: Deader Homes and Gardens (A Claire Malloy Mystery #18) by Joan E. Hess

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (February 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312363621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312363628

Book Description

 Claire Malloy discovers that house-hunting can be murder—literally—in the latest entry in Joan Hess's "wildly entertaining series." (Mystery Scene)

Back from her somewhat unusual honeymoon, Claire Malloy must face the harsh reality of life with her new husband, police chief Peter Rosen, and her teenage daughter Caron—three people simply can’t fit into her cosy two bedroom apartment. After a week of fruitless looking, she finally finds the perfect
place—a well preserved large house on a large plot of land in an area called Hollow Valley. There are only a few problems. Such as the real estate agent disappeared mid-showing and hasn’t been seen since. And the last owner died in circumstances labeled ’accidental’ but were actually both ’mysterious’ and ’dubious’. The family that owned the estate is now suing the lover of the dead owner over the rights to the property. Oh, and it isn’t really for sale. When the previous owner’s lover dies practically at her feet, Claire decides to take matters into her own hands. After all, to get the house of her dreams, first she has to find a killer. And all’s fair in love, war, and real estate.

About The Author

 JOAN HESS is the author of both the Arly Hanks and the Claire Malloy mystery series, most recently Mummy Dearest. She now lives in Austin, Texas.

My Review

Claire Malloy has fallen in love with the house of her dreams and there the trouble starts!   The Hollow Valley has a questionable ownership and is the backdrop for several murders.  There is an unusual cast of characters who inhabit Hollow Valley...would she really want these people as her neighbours?

I've always enjoyed the Claire Malloy series more than the Arly Hanks which I find a tad silly.  While this book is very readable it did not excite me at all.  It never got my heart racing and it was easy to put down.

All in all an adequate read.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review: Burrows: A Red River Mystery by Reavis Z. Wortham

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (July 3 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 146420005X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464200052

Book Description

Lyndon B. Johnson is President, Beatlemania is in overdrive and gasoline costs 30 cents a gallon when Ned Parker retires as constable in Center Springs, Texas. But his plan to live a quiet life as a cotton farmer is torpedoed. A phone call leads Ned to a body in the Red River and into the urgent investigation headed by his nephew, the newly elected constable Cody Parker. Together they work to head off a multi-state killing spree that sets northeast Texas on fire. As the weeks pass, Ned’s grandchildren, ten-year-old Top and his tomboy cousin Pepper, struggle with personal issues resulting from their traumatic experiences at the Rock Hole only months before. They now find themselves in the middle of a nightmare for which no one can prepare.  Cody and Deputy John Washington, the law south of the tracks, follow a lead from their small community to the long abandoned Cotton Exchange warehouse in Chisum. Stunned, they find the Exchange packed full of the town’s cast off garbage and riddled with booby-trapped passageways and dark burrows. Despite Ned’s warnings, Cody enters the building and finds himself relying on his recent military experiences to save both himself and Big John. Unfortunately, the trail doesn’t end there and the killing spree continues... 

About the Author


As a boy, award-winning writer, Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for Center Springs.   He is the author of Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café. Humor editor and frequent contributor for Texas Fish and Game Magazine, he writes on everything from fishing to deer hunting. In addition to several other magazines, his work has appeared in American Cowboy and Texas Sporting Journal. A retired educator of 35 years, he and wife Shana live in Frisco, Texas.

My Review

I loved the first book in this series, The Rock Hole, so I knew this one would be fabulous as well. Most of the same characters are back including Top, Pepper, Uncle Cody, Miss Becky and Constable Ned.  Top and Pepper are still overcoming the terrors of the Rock Hole.  I think it would be helpful to read that book first.

Burrows revolves around as seemingly abandoned cotton exchange warehouse.  In fact Cody was having nightmares about it for weeks before.  Cody and Deputy John Washington head into the cotton exchange in searching for a fugitive only to find the horrendous example of a hoarder that anyone could hope to find.  They are trapped inside the garbage filled monstrosity and undergo a terrifying journey through burrows or tunnels through the garbage to try to escape.  

This is an excellent read filled with tension-filled action scenes.  The conclusion holds a real shocker, a twist that I didn't see coming at all.  Wortham brings Chisum, Texas life along with all of its interesting characters.  The 1960s small town in Texas is realistically portrayed.  Hard to believe there was still a separation of blacks or whites to the degree that it was.  And kin was still kin and you looked out for each other.

Highly recommend this excellent thriller.  It publishes in July.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: Powers of Arrest: A Cincinnati Casebook by Jon Talton

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590585569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590585566

Book Description

Cincinnati homicide Detective Will Borders now walks with a cane and lives alone with constant discomfort. He’s lucky to be alive. He’s lucky to have a job, as public information officer for the department. But when a star cop is brutally murdered, he’s assigned to find her killer. The crime bears a chilling similarity to killings on the peaceful college campus nearby, where his friend Cheryl Beth Wilson is teaching nursing. The two young victims were her students. Most homicides are routine, the suspects readily apparent. These are definitely not. Once again, this unlikely pair teams up to pursue a sadistic predator before he kills again. But finding him will mean uncovering some of the darkest secrets in a Midwestern metropolis where change is slow, tradition and history lay as thick as the summer humidity, and lethal danger can hide in the most respected places.

About the Author

 Jon Talton is the author of the David Mapstone novels, which follow the adventures of a historian-turned-deputy, working the mean streets of the urban West.

Jon's first novel, "Concrete Desert," was hailed by Kirkus as "an impressive debut." The Washington Post said it "is more intelligent and rewarding than most contemporary mysteries." The series has continued with "Camelback Falls," "Dry Heat," "Arizona Dreams" and "Cactus Heart." "Dry Heat" received Arizona Highways magazine's best fiction award in 2005.

My Review

I have previously read one of Jon Talton's works, South Phoenix Blues, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Powers of Arrest is a different series set in Cincinnati not Phoenix. I never really thought of Cincinnati is an interesting place before this novel.  Now I feel like it definitely deserves a visit!

I really enjoyed this mystery thriller.  It grabbed my attention right from the start.  Great characters, interesting relationships, plenty of action and a setting that was new to me.  I was really cheering for Will Borders to solve the crime and to get the girl.

Powers of Arrest is a great read.  It publishes May 1st.  Pre-order a copy today. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review: Agony of the Leaves by Laura Childs

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (Mar 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425245535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425245538

Book Description

In the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Scones and Bones, Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning finds herself in hot water when a body surfaces at the grand opening of Charleston's Neptune Aquarium... 

The opening of the aquarium is a major Charleston event, and Theodosia has been hired to cater tea, scones, and sandwiches for the private party to honor dignitaries and big buck donors. Things are going swimmingly, until Theodosia escapes the party for a momentary rest, only to discover the body of a man entangled in a net, drowned in one of the aquarium's state-of-the-art tanks.

To make matters worse, the victim is Theodosia's former boyfriend Parker Scully. The EMTs on the scene think Parker's drowning was an accident, but when Theodosia notices what look like defense wounds on his hands, she realizes that someone wanted Parker dead. The local police aren't keen on hearing her theory-especially because of her ties to the victim-so Theodosia knows that if she wants Parker's killer brought to justice, she'll have to jump into the deep end and start her own investigation...


About the Author

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, and the Scrapbooking Mysteries. She is a consummate tea drinker, scrapbooker, and dog lover, and travels frequently to China and Japan with Dr. Bob, her professor husband. In her past life she was a Clio Award-winning advertising writer and CEO of her own marketing firm. 

My Review

I love Laura Child's books! I discovered her with the Scrapbooking Mysteries and then delightfully discovered her other two series the Cackleberry Club Mysteries and the Tea Shop Mysteries.  The Agony of the Leaves is the latest in the Tea Shop Mysteries.  I love being transported to the magical world of Charleston in this series.  Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia, Drayton, Haley, Detective Tidwell,  Delaine and the rest of our favorites are back with the exception of Theodosia's old flame Parker Scully.  Parker is found drowned in the new aquarium on opening night....thus the mystery begins.

This series is very educational for learning about the various types and blends of teas available worldwide.  I have learned quite a bit about various blends of teas that I had never heard of before.  These books also make you very hungry!  Luckily the recipes are included at the end so that you can make them yourself.  There are also tea tips and tea resources listed at the end of the book.

There is an adventure with some bees...bees have always terrified me!  And I'll have to say that I did not even slightly suspect the murderer.  Very clever!  I really enjoyed the ending.  I like that Ms. Childs' moves her characters along.  They have broken relationships, new relationships, they make life changes like moving house.

 Do you like cozy mysteries?  Laura Childs is one of the best.  If you haven't read any of her series yet, don't delay any more.  I've read all of her books and I love each new adventure.  Agony of the Leaves is a wonderful cozy mystery.  Pick up a copy and enjoy with a cuppa!  Looking forward to Postcards From The Dead, a new scrapbooking mystery, in October.  There is a short preview of this new book included.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch (An Aunt Dimity Mystery #17) by Nancy Atherton

  • File Size: 410 KB
  • Print Length: 363 pages
  • Publisher: VIKING ADULT (April 26, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Publishing
  • Language: English

Book Description

Nancy Atherton's seventeenth cozy mystery featuring the beloved Aunt Dimity-the original paranormal detective

When Amelia Thistle moves to Finch, her new neighbors welcome her with open arms-and inquiring minds. Among them is Lori Shepherd, who isn't fooled by Amelia's unassuming persona. Amelia is, in fact, a world-famous artist with a rabid and eager-to-stalk fan base.

In order to keep peace in Finch, Lori must help Amelia conceal her identity. Amelia, meanwhile, sets about working on the riddle that brought her to town in the first place. A fragment of a family diary hints that one of Amelia's ancestors might have been Mistress Meg, the Mad Witch of Finch. Following the clue, Lori hunts through Finch's darkest and most secret corners, all the while dodging nosy neighbors and Amelia's frantic fans. With Aunt Dimity's otherworldly help, Lori inches closer to the true story of Mistress Meg-and Amelia.
Returning to the charming world of Finch, Nancy Atherton's latest novel is sure to delight faithful Aunt Dimity readers, Anglophiles, and cozy mystery fans.

About The Author

Nancy Atherton is the bestselling author of sixteen other Aunt Dimity mysteries. The first book in the series, Aunt Dimity's Death, was voted One of the Century's 100 Favorite Mysteries by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

My Review

My first Aunt Dimity book and I don't know how I missed this series before.  Very readable English cozy set in the Cotswolds.  I was provided with an advanced copy through Net Galley and I really enjoyed it.

There is something about an English village that just brings on thoughts of mysteries and secrets. I felt right at home with the characters even though this was the first book I've read in the series.  There is a slight paranormal aspect to the book in the character of Aunt Dimity.  I usually cannot stand anything paranormal but this seems to fit right in.  Probably because Aunt Dimity is helpful, resourceful  and intelligent.

This was a quick and full satisfying read.  I really enjoyed the story and am looking forward to reading more of Nancy Atherton's series.  And the brown bread recipe included sounds delicious.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Review: The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper by Sally Carpenter

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Oak Mysteries (August 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610090314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610090315

About The Book

"I'm not a detective I just played one on television "Get ready to swoon over a new kind of amateur sleuth From 1975-79 teen idol Sandy Fairfax recorded 10 gold albums and stared in the hit TV series Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Now he's a 38-year-old recovering alcoholic, forgotten and desperate for a comeback. An easy gig-a guest appearance at a Beatles fan convention in Evansville, Ind.-turns deadly after a member of the Mersey Marvels tribute band is shot. When police suspect Sandy, and he fills in for the dead musician at a concert, the schoolboy shamus is back in action to find the killer.About the Author: Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in sunny Southern California She has a master's degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school two of her plays, "Star Collector" and "Common Ground," were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. "Common Ground" also earned a college creative writing award. The plays received staged readings and productions in New York City.Carpenter also has a master's degee in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She's worked a variety of jobs including actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio as well as for a community newspaper. She's a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles Chapter. Contact her at

About The Author

Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier now living in sunny Southern California She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school two of her plays, “Star Collector” and “Common Ground,” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. The plays received staged readings and productions in New York City. Carpenter also has a master’s degee in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do. She’s worked a variety of jobs including actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio as well as for a community newspaper. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles Chapter. Contact her at 

My Review

The Baffled Beatlemanic Caper is a well written fun read that I highly recommend.  Although she is a woman, author Sally Carpenter has effectively captured the angst of former teen idol and tv star Sandy Fairfax otherwise known as Buddy Brave.

Sandy is a washed up, aging, overweight and alcoholic actor whose life is basically in the toilet.  He is divorced and his former wife won't let him see his children until he cleans up his act.  His manager gets him an appearance at a midwest Beatles convention. Ringo had once appeared on the Buddy Brave tv show.  Sandy arrives at the shoestring budget convention to find that he still has a fan base that ignores his past indiscretions.  He also finds a body.

The body belongs to a member of the Beatles tribute band performing at the convention.  Not only is Sandy a suspect because he found the body, he also takes over for Dana in the tribute band.  At the same time Sandy is also trying to solve the murder to prevent the police from pining the blame on him.

This novel is filled with Beatles references, interesting characters and the realities of what happens to stars after the lights dim.  It is an extremely well written and easy to follow.  This is Sally Carpenter's first novel and she has done a wonderful job.  I'm looking forward to the next Sally Carpenter novel.