Book Review and Spotlight on Motts Cold Case Mysteries by Dahlia Donovan @DahliaDonovan @ttpubs @SDSXXTours

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Title: Pierced Peony
Series: Motts Cold Case Mystery Book 2
Author: Dahlia Donovan
Publication: Tangled Tree Publishing, May 2021
ISBN 978-1-922359-57-5
Trade Paperback
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From the publisher—
 
On a casual walk along the Cornish Coast, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley stumbles upon a body and a perilous new murder case in the second novel in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series.
 
As spring rolls into summer, Motts settles into her cottage. She’s enjoying a daily stroll when a body in the sea destroys her peace and quiet. It brings yet another mystery for her to solve.
 
How does a woman who vanished from Polperro three years prior wind up battered by waves?
 
Motts is drawn into the investigation despite her best attempts. She finds a family in turmoil and loads of suspects. With no easy answers, she tumbles further into chaos and ever closer to danger.
 
Can Motts find the killer before she’s the one put on ice?
 
Will she survive a bone-chilling brush with death? 

I have a definite fondness for British village mysteries and this one set in Cornwall drew me like a magnet. Add to the charming setting a protagonist who’s autistic AND not one to fall into a romance at the first sight of a handsome cop and, well, what more could I possibly want?

A compelling mystery full of misdirections and clues would make Pierced Peony just about ideal but I can’t go quite that far. Motts is a paper crafter and didn’t know the dead woman, who had been missing for several years, so her reasons for snooping are even thinner than in most cozies. Pacing is a bit uneven and the tale occasionally drags just a little.

On the other hand, it’s really nice to have an autistic character in a series again—the one I enjoyed in the past is E.J. Copperman’s Asperger’s Mysteries featuring a character on the spectrum—and that does explain some of Motts’ driven behavior. I love her pets, a hairless cat and a turtle who are certainly not your usual fluffy, ultracute critter companions and Motts herself is appealing in unexpected ways; also, the people around her are supportive and caring enough to give her a true community.

All in all, this is a delightful story that happens to have a few flaws and much gentle humor and I think any cozy fan will be happy to discover this series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2021.

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Poisoned Primrose
Motts Cold Case Mystery Book 1
Author: Dahlia Donovan
Publication: Tangled Tree Publishing, July 2020
ISBN 978-1-922359-19-3
Trade Paperback
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“Wonderful mystery with a unique and special heroine!” – A Cozy Cup of Murder
 
Meet Motts and the quirky cast of characters in her world. Poisoned Primrose is a quintessential cosy British mystery and an all-round fun story to throw yourself into.
 
Autistic, asexual, and almost forty, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley flees London with her cat and turtle to a quaint cottage in Cornwall. She craves the peace of life in a small village. The dead body buried in her garden isn’t quite what she had in mind, though.
 
Unable to resist her curiosity, she falls directly into a mess of trouble and runs head-first into the attractive detective inspector, Teo Herceg. She tries to balance her business with the investigation, but as the killer focuses on her, staying alive becomes trickier than advanced origami.
 
Will Motts survive the onslaught of murderously bad luck?
 
Can she solve the mystery before it all spins out of control and off a cliff?
 
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Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

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Book Review: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves @AnnCleeves @panmacmillan @MinotaurBooks

The Long Call
The Two Rivers #1
Ann Cleeves
Pan Macmillan, April 2020
ISBN 978-1-5098-8956-3
Trade Paperback
Minotaur, July 2020
ISBN 978-1-250-20445-5
Trade Paperback

Ann Cleeves is the well known author of two very popular mystery series; Shetland with detective Jimmy Perez, and Vera, with Detective Vera Stanhope. Here in The Long Call we meet a brand new Detective, DI Matthew Venn. Matthew has returned to Barnstaple in North Devon where he grew up. His father died recently but Matthew hadn’t seen or spoken to his parents since he began attending university, unable to conform to the strict evangelical group they belonged to known as the Barnum Brethren.

The body of a man with no identification has been found on the beach. He’s been stabbed and DI Venn’s first task is to identify the victim. It isn’t long before they learn he’s Simon Walden, a secretive man with mental issues and a relative stranger to the area.

As DI Venn, along with detectives DS Jen Rafferty and DS Ross May, begin their murder investigation we meet a number of the locals as they are interviewed. Widower Maurice Braddick and his thirty year old Down Syndrome daughter Lucy who attends the Woodyard Centre; Hilary and Colin Marston who have recently moved to the area and might have seen the victim prior to his death; Gabby Henry an artist who teaches painting at the Woodyard Community Centre, who isn’t telling the whole truth, and Caroline Preece with whom the victim had been staying.

There are a few more players in this intriguing mystery including DI Venn’s mother who reaches out to Matthew when her friend’s daughter Christine Shapland, Lucy’s friend and another Down Syndrome girl, disappears. Lives are in danger as the perpetrator attempts to stop the police from uncovering the truth and solving the murder.

Ann Cleeves is a master at portraying these small towns and the people who live in them. They are an endless source of interest as inevitably behind closed doors all is not what it seems…

I highly recommend this mystery and hope it’s the first in a new series featuring DI Matthew Venn. I was happy, however, to see a reference to a new title in Vera Stanhope’s series – The Darkest Evening – due out later this year.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, June 2020.