Book Review: The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman @richardosman @PamelaDormanBks

The Man Who Died Twice
A Thursday Murder Club Mystery #2
Richard Osman
Pamela Dorman Books, September 2021
ISBN 978-1-9848-8099-4
Hardcover

If you read The Thursday Murder Club and enjoyed it as much as I did, then you should definitely get your hands on The Man Who Died Twice, the second book in the series. It’s great to revisit Coopers Chase, the upscale retirement village, along with the those unforgettable characters Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim who live there.

Still on something of a high after solving the first Thursday Club Murder Mystery, the friends and neighbours are enjoying some peace and quiet. But not for long! When an old friend and colleague of Elizabeth’s appears asking for her help, fearful for his life after being accused of stealing diamonds worth millions, she is hard pressed to refuse.

It isn’t long before a body turns up and Elizabeth and her friends suddenly find themselves dealing with a murderer intent on recovering those precious diamonds no matter how many bodies fall by the wayside in the attempt. But Elizabeth hopes to prevent that from happening by finding the missing diamonds.

The Murder Club members also find themselves coming to Ibrahim’s rescue after he is knocked down and injured by some street kids who also steal his phone. Mixed in with that are a local drug dealer and several MI6 members who are also chasing the diamonds.

Elizabeth takes charge as only she can, but bodies do appear fairly regularly and she and her friends are soon tangled up with a number of unsavoury characters in a new and far reaching adventure.

Dabs of humour lighten this, at times dark, yet enjoyable tale and there’s also a bit of romance thrown in.

The Author has a winning combination here…. and I can hardly wait for the next Thursday Murder Club Mystery to appear.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, October 2021.

Book Review: The Art of Betrayal by Connie Berry @conniecberry @crookedlanebks

The Art of Betrayal
A Kate Hamilton Mystery #3
Connie Berry
Crooked Lane Books, June 2021
ISBN 978-1-64385-594-3
Hardcover

Here’s a long, carefully constructed mystery that becomes more and more involving as it develops. By the time readers reach the high level action two-thirds along, the narrative has a firm grip. The questions raised beg to be answered and the relationships, particularly between the two principals, Tom and Kate, our narrator, will not let us go.

Kate Hamilton, American antiques dealer is in Suffolk, enjoying time with her new love, Detective Inspector, Tom Mallory. While he works, Kate spends time helping out in a local antique shop. When an older woman brings her a startlingly important and valuable piece of Chinese ceramic, Kate’s instincts shift abruptly to high alert.

Murder, connected to a local spring fair and to events almost twenty years in the past, rise, tangle and provide both answers and murky fog. Both Kate and Tom are soon mired in the increasingly complex case. Who is the old woman? Why was she murdered? What, if anything, does an obscure ancient Anglo-Saxon phrase have to do with the case, and why does a white lotus petal appear on the floor of the breached Antique shop?

The number of interesting and useful characters are very well managed, the pace develops slowly to a surprisingly tense climax and the author’s handling of many details is professional, accurate and satisfying. Betrayals occur in many large and small contexts in the lives of the characters, all precisely handled and satisfying. An outstanding, well-designed mystery is properly resolved and leaves the reader with pleasure at recognition of having experienced a fine piece of literature and a cracking good mystery.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2021.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Sins of Edom, Red Sky.

Book Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman @richardosman @PamelaDormanBks

The Thursday Murder Club
A Thursday Murder Club Mystery #1
Richard Osman
A Pamela Dorman Book/Viking, September 2020
ISBN 978-1-9848-8096-3
Hardcover

This is Richard Osman’s first mystery novel and it’s getting some great reviews. He is well-known in Britain having been the host of the popular television quiz show “Pointless” for a number of years.

His foray into mystery writing has been well received and indeed the novel is up for a number of awards. I’m not surprised. I really enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club. Its setting is a retirement village in Kent called Coopers Chase and that’s where we meet Ron, Joyce, Ibrahim and Elizabeth, the members of the Thursday Murder Club.

Joyce is the newest member of the Club. She is Penny Gray’s replacement. Penny is in the nursing home, unable to communicate after a debilitating stroke. Penny was an Inspector with the Kent Police before retiring. She’d brought with her a number of unsolved case files, files the Thursday Murder Club has been working to solve.

A meeting has been called by the property owner Ian Ventham with regard to proposed changes to Coopers Chase. His plans involve expanding the community solely for the purpose of increasing his wealth. The residents are frustrated and annoyed at this development, but there appears to be little they can do.

The following morning the residents are shocked to learn that Ian Ventham has been murdered. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is excited that The Thursday Murder Club has a current crime to solve. She takes charge and with the help of the other Club members set about investigating the murder.

All the characters we meet in this charming mystery are well rounded, interesting and intelligent people. There is a good deal more to Elizabeth than meets the eye, as she and her retired friend, each with a skill to enhance the investigation, boldly involve themselves in the search to uncover the killer.

There’s much to explore and more to admire as they unravel this intriguing tale.

Check it out… you won’t regret it!!

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, January 2021.

Book Review: Upstaged by Murder by C.S. Challinor

Upstaged By Murder
A Rex Graves Mystery #9
C.S. Challinor
Midnight Ink, July 2018
ISBN 978-0-7387-5647-9
Trade Paperback

It’s opening night for a play by a local playwright that brings together five celebrated British literary sleuths to identify the murderer of a glamorous young woman, occupant of a luxurious manor house. At the end of Act 1, Lady Naomi Grove is scripted to be killed. Shockingly, a single shot rings out, killing the actress behind a theatre scrim.

In the audience is a well-known Scottish barrister and private detective, Rex Graves. He’s enjoying a short vacation with his new wife, Helen. His natural curiosity and reputation draw him to offer his services to the local policeman tasked with finding the real killer.

With Graves, readers will be treated to an interesting twisting trail through the lives of the amateur players, all of whom are initial suspects. The community is naturally enthralled by the dramatic circumstances and nicely used by the author as the broader setting for the detection. Red herrings will mis-direct readers at crucial points throughout this cozy mystery and the relationships between Graves, his new bride and the constabulary are well-thought-out and presented.

For mystery readers who are fans of cozy murder mysteries, this novel will provide a fine weekend of enjoyable recreation beside a nice wood fire.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

A Teeny Book Review Trio @dpeterfreund @ABRAMSbooks @martywingate @BerkleyMystery @atticalocke @mulhollandbooks

In the Hall with the Knife
A Clue Mystery #1
Diana Peterfreund
Harry N. Abrams, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-4197-3834-0
Hardcover

I whiled away many, many hours with friends years ago playing Clue, one of the best board games ever, and then I fell in love with the game-based movie starring Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Brennan and the rest of a wonderful cast. A series of novelizations came along; a new movie is in pre-production and there was a movie or mini-series (hard to tell which) that bears no real resemblance and I wasn’t impressed. Now, there’s a new book and, I must say, I had a lot of fun with this.

Ms. Peterfreund has turned this into a teen cast and they all have names that fit the game, names such as Finn Plum and Scarlet Mistry. Rather than a gloomy mansion with guests who must discover a murderer before they’re all killed, we have a small group of students who are stranded in their forest-bound school with the headmaster who is soon found murdered. The game is on, not only to find the killer but to figure out who can be trusted and who has much to hide. Readers of all ages will really enjoy this.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

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The Bodies in the Library
A First Edition Library Mystery #1
Marty Wingate
Berkley Prime Crime, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-984-80410-5
Hardcover

Hayley Burke recently started her dream job as curator of a book collection focused on the women authors of the Golden Age, authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. The late Lady Georgiana Fowling’s personal assistant and now permanent The First Edition Society secretary, Glynis Woolgar, views Hailey with suspicion but she hasn’t figured out the curator’s big secret yet—while Hayley has experience with libraries and literature, she knows next to nothing about the Golden Age or, in fact, mysteries and detectives. The two women do NOT see eye to eye on how Hayley is running things, including hosting a fan fiction writing group in the library, and things certainly don’t get better when a body is found in their own locked room mystery. To get to the answers she needs before her position as curator implodes, Hayley reads her first mystery, The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie, and is soon assisting the police with their investigation, whether they want her help or not.

Marty Wingate has been one of my favorite traditional mystery authors for some time although I’ve been seriously remiss about writing reviews. With this new series, she has created an ambience of the very Golden Age mysteries the Society promotes but with a charming modern-day setting and the de rigueur sleuthing works really well. Kudos to the author for what looks to be a clever and appealing new series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

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Heaven, My Home
A Highway 59 Mystery #2
Attica Locke
Mulholland Books, September 2019
ISBN 978-0-316-36340-2
Hardcover

Being a black Texas Ranger comes with its own set of problems, as you might expect, and Darren Mathews is indeed dealing with those issues as well as repercussions from his last case. On top of that, his own mother is blackmailing him, his marriage is strained and alcohol is getting the better of him. Investigating the disappearance of a young boy draws him back into the world of white supremacy when the Rangers think Darren is the best man to work with the local white sheriff because the boy, son of a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, was last seen in a black community.

Darren is confronted by racial prejudice from the white people in town, including the sheriff, but also believes that Leroy Page, an elderly black man who saw the child, is not cooperating with the hunt for the boy. Darren’s friend, Greg, a white FBI agent, shocks Darren when he posits that Leroy just might be guilty of a hate crime in reverse. Could he be right?

Several threads in this story reflect the racial stress that has been growing in this country but Ms. Locke has a deft way with words and creates a kind of tension we don’t often see. Getting to the resolution of this disappearance is rough but I couldn’t look away until I knew what really happened.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

Book Review: Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco—and a Giveaway!

Tail of the Dragon
A Zodiac Mystery #3
Connie di Marco
Midnight Ink, August 2018
ISBN 978-0-7387-5106-1
Trade Paperback

Murder in the office place! Imagine that. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

That said, when the body of a prominent, though not well-liked attorney is found with his throat cut, with so many wronged people to choose from, the motive is hard to find. Enter astrologer Julia Bonatti, drawn into the investigation by chance when she agrees to fill-in on her old job during the boss’s assistant’s vacation. She’ll try to discover the murderer at her boss’s instigation by checking her astrology charts, but contradictory information awaits her there.

Slowly, Julia discovers several death threats have been sent to various people at the firm, including the murdered man. Even finding the connection between the three is tough, and as Julia, with the cooperation of an intriguing PI her boss hires, comes closer to getting to the motive, another attorney in the firm is murdered. Worse, Julia’’s astrology charts indicate she may be next.

The motive may come as a surprise. So does the perpetrator. A surprise to Julia, too, which is a nice touch with so many possible killers out there. Shudders. Not a place I’d want to work.

If I have a complaint, it’s that I’m not interested in precise street names and addresses. I don’t even know if they’re real for the city of San Francisco, so to me they were something to skip over. Other reader’s opinions will, of course, vary. The book is well organized, well paced, and well written.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, August 2018.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder, Four Furlongs and Hometown Homicide.

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To enter the drawing for a very
gently used print advance reading copy of
Tail of the Dragon by Connie di Marco,
leave a comment below. The winning name
will be drawn on Sunday evening,
September 16th. This drawing is open
to residents of the US & Canada.

Book Review: Judgment of Murder by C.S. Challinor

Judgment of Murder
A Rex Graves Mystery #8
C.S. Challinor
Midnight Ink, November 2016
ISBN 978-0-7387-5009-5
Trade paperback

For a mystery, this British entry into the field is so low key that I think even I might have a more exciting life. Scottish barrister Rex Graves’ old mentor, Lord Murgatroyd–also known as Judge Murder, has passed away. Phoebe, his daughter, thinks he may have been murdered, although the evidence is flimsy. An unlocked window? A not very valuable stamp album gone missing? None of it seems very convincing, but Rex travels from Edinburgh to Canterbury upon her invitation to see what he makes of the situation.

Not much, as it turns out. But he makes a few phone calls when he gets back to Edinburgh, and oddly enough, is put in danger by a man the judge had put in prison, but who has been released.

Meanwhile, a schoolgirl from the area has been kidnapped and is feared dead. It happened not far from the judge’s house, and is a subplot that runs through the story. Actually, it’s the most interesting part, as the characters in this story did not intrigue me, nor were they particularly sympathetic. The most interesting is Rex’s pal Alistair, who also has the most action. Turns out the judge’s daughter is a tippler and a would-be man eater, not that that sort of thing works on a man like Rex.

The dialogue seemed mundane to me, and old-fashioned in the extreme for people who carry mobile phones and drive a Jaguar, but it does get the job done. In the climax, all the ends are tied, the plot holes explained, and everyone gets their due.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, April 2018.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder, Four Furlongs and Hometown Homicide.