Book Review: Late for Dinner by M.K. Scott @morgankwyatt @SDSXXTours

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Title: Late for Dinner
Series: The Way Over the Hill Gang, Book 1
Author: M.K. Scott
Publisher: Sleeping Dragon Press
Publication Date: July 9, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Cozy

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Late for Dinner
The Way Over the Hill Gang, Book 1
M.K. Scott
Sleeping Dragon Press, July 2018
ISBN 978-1944712334
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Marcy Collins proved her investigative skills in the field time and time again, but after an accident leaves her disabled, she’s forced into early retirement in a senior convalescent center. Although her mind and body may not be what they used to be, her steadfast determination to fight crime and advocate for victims continues.

When her well-meaning former partner is assigned with helping to keep her mind agile, he unknowingly inspires her to search for clues in a long-forgotten cold case. Before he knows what’s happening, Marcy assembles a team of sharp-eyed, witty, and often cantankerous senior sleuths to bring a criminal to justice and help her regain some of what she thought she’d lost for good.

Follow the former detective and her team of unconventional sleuths as they dig through the clues and wind their way down a treacherous path of deception, tomfoolery, and murder!

Senior sleuths always amuse me, most likely because I’m a senior myself and would like to think my brain would still be lively if I end up in an assisted living facility 😉 Solving crimes would be right up my alley and much more fun than playing bingo or doing arts and crafts. I mean, think about it—surely years of reading mysteries would pay off then, right?

Late for Dinner introduces a few elements to the senior sleuth concept that are a little different from what I’m accustomed to seeing. The leader of this small pack of investigators is not a senior herself; Marcy is in the assisted living home to hopefully recover from a crippling car accident and she was, in fact, a police detective, waiting to see if she can go back to desk duty or will be forced to retire. Also, the first case they look into has no connection to any of them so there’s no personal impetus to solve this cold case.

What the Way Over the Hill Gang does have is a yearning for something interesting to do and each member has expertise to offer, such as Lola’s sharp eye and ability to read people. Herman, Jake and Gus all served in the military in World War II and bring relevant experience and skills to the mix while Eunice, on the periphery and not officially part of the gang, is a world-class gossip and can ferret out almost anything that’s out of the norm. I liked all these people a lot, even when they were annoying as all get out.

Watching the gang work to prove that a woman had not committed suicide years ago was a lot of fun despite a couple of issues. The writing seemed a little stilted to me, to the point that I occasionally had to read a passage again to make sure I got it right. Also, I never could get a handle on when this is taking place—there are references to techniques and items that point to today but the three men would have to be in their 90’s and it seems unusual they would all be so active,. When all is said and done, though, I don’t really care so much and will certainly move on in the series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2020.

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Apple Books
Amazon // Indiebound

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An Excerpt from Late for Dinner

Lola stared at her manicured fingers gripping the card deck with the same disgust she’d shown when she discovered the local television station had replaced her favorite crime program with a teen reality show.

Her elderly bridge partner, Herman, had a shock of silver hair that waved over his skull similar to a rooster’s comb. Any hair in a man’s later years was all gravy to the point most of the other male residents grumbled that Herman was a show-off.

He waved his hand in front of her face. “Still breathing? Good partners are hard to come by.”

“Don’t I know it.” She shuffled, ignoring the twinge of pain in her hand.

Marcy and Jake laughed at her comment, but Herman narrowed his eyes, probably taking it as an insult regarding his failure to get the last two trumps.

Lola dealt out a card, still out of sorts, but not quite able to put her finger on why and retorted, “Retirement stinks!”

Marcy, always a calmer member of the group, shot her an easy smile that hardly creased her face. Most folks would think she was younger than her forty plus years with her dark hair hardly touched by gray and her trim body. The only old thing about her was the wheelchair, which was temporary.

If Lola had had a clue that chasing criminals would have kept her looking young, she might have chosen that as a career as opposed to making use of her long legs and other notable assets as a Vegas showgirl. Still, it had been a good life. Her ability to sum up people in a few seconds allowed her to have more than her share of pleasant adventures and adoring admirers. That was behind her. She sighed and acknowledged Marcy with a nod, curious to hear what the woman might say.

“Hear ya. Most working folks would envy us. We’re all living in a premier assisted living community with plenty of activities. What else could you want?”

Lola pursed her lips and rolled her eyes upward as she tried to explain how she felt without insulting her companions. “Sure, we have shuffleboard, fit and sit exercise class, flower arranging, and Bible Bingo. Those are old people things. Even the food has morphed into tasteless mush.”

“About that.” Jake held his hand up. “Something is going on with the dietary director.” He glanced around making sure he had everyone’s attention and cupped his ear with his hand. “I hear things.”

A general murmur of agreement followed, with the exception of Gus yelling, “What?” He sat at a nearby table playing solitaire. Gus didn’t know how to play bridge and had no desire to learn.

Various eyes connected around the table, knowing the inevitable process of repeating what had been said in a much louder decibel would probably result. Gus’s early life of working with explosives damaged the man’s hearing. Even though he had hearing aids, he usually didn’t wear them, because he thought they made him look old.

Instead of yelling his former comment, Jake ran a hand over his shoe polish black hair before mouthing the words. Gus popped up both thumbs, signaling his understanding. At some point, he taught himself to lip read, but it only worked if he was directly looking at a person.

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About the Author

M. K. Scott is the husband and wife writing team behind The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Morgan K Wyatt is the general wordsmith, while her husband, Scott, is the grammar hammer and physics specialist. He uses his engineering skills to explain how fast a body falls when pushed over a cliff and various other felonious activities. The Internet and experts in the field provide forensic information, while the recipes and B and B details require a more hands on approach. Morgan’s daughter, who manages a hotel, provides guest horror stories to fuel the plot lines. The couple’s dog, Chance, is the inspiration behind Jasper, Donna’s dog. Murder Mansion is the first book in The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries. Overall, it is a fun series to create and read. Drop Dead Handsome is the second book in the series. Killer Review should be out in October 2016.

Website // Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Bookbub // Amazon // Goodreads

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Teeny Book Reviews: Pharma Con by Peg Herring and Epiphany by Susan Slater @authorpherring @susansslater @ColumbineGroup

Pharma Con
Kidnap Caper #2
Peg Herring
Gwendolyn Books, May 2019
ISBN 978-1944502263
Trade Paperback

How could a group of people make life just a little bit better for those who have had wrong done to them, something like the old TV show, “Leverage”? The motley crew of Robin Hooders led by Robin and Em that we first met in KIDNAP.org returns, still on the quest to bring justice or, at least, a kind of retribution, to those who prey on the vulnerable. While they go after their latest target, both Robin and Em are questioning their own futures with the outfit but that doesn’t stop them from going after Neil Preston, head of a pharmaceuticals company. Anyone in the US who is faced with exorbitant drug prices can sympathize with this crusade, especially since this man is reaping all the benefits of his unbridled greed. It’s an adventure full of clever tactics and a lot of sassy humor and any reader will enjoy this caper.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2020.

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Epiphany
Dan Mahoney Mysteries, Book 4
Susan Slater
Secret Staircase Books, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-945422-67-6
Trade Paperback

Insurance investigator San Mahoney is already in St. Augustine, FL, with his wife, Elaine, when his company assigns him to look into a very large theft from the local Basilica but, tangentially, one of the nuns has been murdered. Sister Leah was involved in a very nasty side business but is that why she was killed? Dan needs to work with and around the police and, meanwhile, he and Elaine are concerned that his mom, Maggie, may have gotten herself involved in a sketchy situation in her new town, Dragon’s Bend, especially when a dead body pops up there, too. Elaine’s twenty-year-old son comes to visit and a family Christmas is in the making but Dan really has his work cut out for him this time what with the missing relics, bodies and hints of a really distressing criminal activity.

As a resident of St. Augustine, I was captivated by the author’s careful and quite accurate use of this beautiful, historic city as the setting for Dan’s latest investigation and enjoyed recognizing different locations. Ms. Slater has also crafted an intriguing tangle of crimes and puzzling it out kept me swiping pages on my Nook to see what would happen next.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2020.

Book Review: A Texan Goes to Nirvana by Kelly Jackson @AnAudiobookworm

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Book Review: The Nine by C.G. Harris

Audiobook Tour: The Nine by C.G. Harris

 

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Author: C.G. Harris

Narrator: MacLeod Andrews

Series: The Judas Files, Book 1

Length: 6 hours 53 minutes

Publisher: Hot Chocolate Press

Released: Oct. 15, 2019

Genre: Urban Fantasy

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In the Inferno, Dante almost got it right…

Nine circles of hell, each one worse than the last. For Gabe, all of hell
is level nine, where the real baddies endure subzero climates and
have their nether regions cradled in cryogenic underwear.

Gabe has carved out his own safe niche in this Arctic afterlife with his
successful black-market business. When Judas Iscariot makes him an
offer he doesn’t dare refuse, Gabe must leave behind his contraband
Twinkies and Dr. Pepper to become a double agent for the most dangerous
organization the world has never heard of and save humanity before it’s too late…

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Buy Links

Buy on Audible

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C.G. Harris is an award winning science-fiction and fantasy author from Colorado who draws inspiration from favorites, Jim Butcher, Richard Kadrey and Brandon Sanderson. For nearly a decade, Harris has escaped the humdrum of the real world by creating fictional characters and made-up realities. When not writing, Harris enjoys sipping scotch while watching the twisted humor of Drunk History. Seeing our past through the bottom of a whisky glass is more entertaining than reading a dusty textbook. C.G. Harris is the pen name and combined persona created by authors, Chuck Harrelson and Kerrie Flanagan. Together they have published, The Judas Files, a gritty urban fantasy series and The Rax, an apocalyptic science fiction series.

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

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Narrator Bio

MacLeod Andrews is a multiple Audie, Earphone, and SOVAS award winning audiobook narrator, as well as an award winning film actor and producer. He’s perhaps most recognized in audio for narrating the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey and The Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson. His films They Look Like People and The Siren have played festivals all around the world and are available for streaming on major platforms domestically and abroad. He has a cat named Luna, a well known affinity for chocolate chip cookies, and rations his social media fix to twitter.

WebsiteTwitter

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You might not think the nine circles of hell could be amusing, even hilarious, but I gotta tell ya, The Nine had me practically guffawing and I imagine other drivers on the road must have thought a loony was behind my wheel. Gabe and Alex are full of snark and charm and all the good things that make me like characters mixed with a bit of whatever it was that got them in Hell in the first place and I love them both.

So, Gabe is a guy who’s really good at working the black market and there are a lot of folks in Hell who miss stuff from above, like Twinkies. Searching out the goods takes a bit of effort and time but, when he comes across an amnesiac damsel in distress during a firestorm, he calls her “Stray” and takes her in. She showed up just in time to watch the shop while he goes to a meeting he dare not refuse with Judas Iscariot who assigns him to infiltrate the Judas Agency, a group that’s nefarious even by Hell’s standards. That’s when he meets the badass Alex who really gives Gabe a run for his money and, despite all the picking at each other, these two were obviously meant for each other. Can Gabe stop a contagion that will nearly wipe out humanity without Alex finding out?

Narrator MacLeod Andrews bears major responsibility for making this so much fun and that has a lot to do with two things, his distinctive voices and his interpretations of who these people are. Of all the personalities, I think I liked Alex the best but, truly, all of them kept me listening. Great job, Mr. Andrews!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

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Nov. 19th:

Dab of Darkness Book Reviews

Nov. 20th:

Viviana MacKade

Southern Girl Bookaholic

Nov. 21st:

Buried Under Books

Nov. 22nd:

Nesie’s Place

4 the Love of Audiobooks

Nov. 23rd:

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

Eileen Troemel

Nov. 24th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Nov. 25th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

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Book Review: Dressed to Kill by Kathleen Delaney @kdkoppang @severnhouse

Dressed to Kill
A Mary McGill Canine Mystery #4
Kathleen Delaney
Severn House, November 2019
ISBN 978-0-7278-8894-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Mary McGill and her cocker spaniel Millie get the fright of their lives on Halloween when they hear gunshots coming from the bank and the robber, dressed in a clown costume, points his gun at them before fleeing the scene. Mary is horrified when she discovers Police Chief Dan Dunham has been shot in the shoulder and a woman has been killed. Why would the clown shoot an ordinary citizen?

Mary soon learns that the victim is Victoria Witherspoon, a local woman who owned a sewing shop and must have recognised the clown costume – because she made it herself. With Dan in hospital and unable to investigate, can Mary and Millie unmask the savage killer clown before he strikes again?

Like a whole lot of other people, I really hate clowns and I felt this way even before Stephen King gave us IT (a great book, BTW, despite my aversion). Still, I know Kathleen Delaney‘s work and had no doubt this particular clown would leave my nerves alone…and I was right 😉

Police Chief Dan Dunham, Mary McGill’s nephew-in-law, is shot by a bank robber dressed as a clown but he’s not the only victim. The local seamstress, Victoria Witherspoon, might have been killed because she could identify the robber, despite the rubber mask. Dan will be recovering from surgery for a while and Mary saw the robber run out of the bank so she decides she’ll need to help Detective Sean Ryan from San Louis Obispo Homicide even though he’s rude and obnoxious. Mary has to oversee the cleanup from the very successful Halloween in the Park event she chaired but, more importantly, she’s pretty sure there’s something familiar about the clown and she needs to figure it out.

With more than a little help from her Cocker Spaniel, Millie, and some human friends, Mary thinks her way through some baffling leads, frequently a half-step ahead of law enforcement officials. That’s at least partly because the locals soon tire of the “imported” detective and his supercilious attitude that actually gets in the way of seeing clues; those same locals have come to believe in Mary’s sleuthing abilities after several earlier crimes. Soon enough, another death increases the pressure and Mary’s common sense and the wisdom that comes with age become invaluable in identifying the killer and the “why” behind the crimes. I thoroughly enjoyed not only this story but also spending time with some old friends and new, not to mention the delightful four-legged variety.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

Note: Goodreads, Amazon and other sites all have this incorrectly listed as Book 19 but it’s really Book 4 in the series. Mary McGill appears in several earlier books but she’s the central character in these four books.

Book Reviews: False Flag in Autumn by Michael Bowen and Footprints in the Butter by Denise Dietz @BowenMysteries @DeniDietz

False Flag in Autumn
Josie Kendall Washington Crime Stories #2
Michael Bowen
Farragut Square Publications, October 2019
Ebook

When reading detective/thriller/political fiction, one likes to believe that the author did adequate serious research or has reasonable experience or understanding of the primary field. Here is a novel that demonstrates such deep dives into political research, and apparent extensive knowledge of the political scene in the United States, it is just a little scary.

Josey Kendall is political spinmeister working for a small agency in Washington, D.C. She’s young, experienced and possessed of sometimes amazing and practical understanding of the way politics work in the modern republic. Ms Kendall not only understands how connected to media campaigns must be, but often how to manipulate that same media to achieve desired results. Kendall’s problem, if she has one, is her basic honesty sometimes gets in the way of the objectives her company’s clients desire.

Louisiana has one Congressman who is beholden to no one more than himself and is willing to do almost anything to stay atop the money machine. The novel begins with a contract for Josie’s company to frighten the aforesaid Congressman Bilbo into line with certain corporate interests by establishing a viable opponent for his re-election. Josie accomplishes the goal with alacrity and moves on but the untimely death of a local hood at Bilbo’s hand and the apparently botched investigation of the shooting bothers her. Circumstances draw Josie and her husband Raf more and more into the dim world of alternative and dark politics where they gradually discover not just the event referred to in the title, but something far more dangerous. The swamp was never deeper nor slimier.

The writing is crisp, fast moving, and frequently acerbic with well-placed caustic observations. The narrative is a fine commentary on modern politics and it moves with ever growing tension. The characters are many and varied and carefully drawn. Never do they step outside their roles.

In sum this novel will appeal to fans of the author, to political junkies, and to readers of detective fiction everywhere.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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Footprints in the Butter 
An Ingrid Beaumont Mystery #1
Denise Dietz
Delphi Books, 1998
ISBN: 0-9663397-2-x
Re-issued by Worldwide Library, October 2004
ISBN 978-0-373-26511-4
Mass Market Paperback

I think you have to come at this book with the right frame of mind and stay in it until you are finished.  Ingrid Beaumont and her ganglionic mutt are all over the murder of Wylie Jameston, who is anything but—wily.  Remember that phrase, ganglionic mutt.  The author uses it a couple of times and it appears on the jacket as well.

A wisecracking artist who constantly tells riddles and elephant jokes is murdered at a reunion of his high school class, of which the amateur sleuth, Ingrid, is also a member. With little discernible reason, Ingrid decides to charge in with Hitchcock, the mutt of reference above, and solve the murder, since it appears to her the cops are never going to manage that task.

There are lots of characters in this book and several scenes which by turns will make you laugh and shake your head or grind your teeth in frustration.  The solution is complicated and there are lots of characters to keep track of.  At times an unfocused sub-plot involving Ingrid’s ex, who may or may not be her ex, threatens to obscure the main theme which is that high school reunions can be hell.

I laughed some, ground my teeth a good deal, and wished the author had had an editor with a firmer hand at times. There’ll be more adventures with Ingrid and her ganglionic mutt.  In spite of its problems, this is the kind of mystery and engaging writing which will attract a large and loyal following.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2018.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: Rhythm and Clues by Sue Ann Jaffarian @SueAnnJaffarian @midnightinkbook

Rhythm & Clues
An Odelia Grey Mystery #11
Sue Ann Jaffarian
Midnight Ink, November 2016
ISBN 978-0-7387-1885-9
Trade Paperback

This is the eleventh in Sue Ann Jaffarian’s popular Odelia Grey mystery series.  Odelia is a 220-pound, 5 ft. 1inch paralegal/amateur detective who, as far as I can  tell, doesn’t actually work at her paralegal job very much.  The story begins with Odelia having coffee at a Starbucks (where else?) with Shelita Thomas whose father, Art Franklin, lives in the Seaside Retirement Community where Odelia’s mother, Grace, also lives.  Shelita asked to meet with Odelia to discuss a phone call she received from the management at Seaside complaining that Grace and Art were repeatedly complaining to them about another resident, Bo Shank, who appears to have gone missing.  In fact, they have gone so far as to file a missing person report with the police.  Shelita wants Odelia to do something to stop her mother whom she believes is goading Art into taking action.  Odelia, quite sensibly it seems to me, believes they are both adults and there is nothing she can or should do to stop them from looking for their friend.

However, Odelia is drawn to the problem because Bo Shank happens to be the former lead singer of Acid Storm, a band Odelia adored when she was a teenager.  So, she agrees to help look for Bo.  And therein lies the story.  Odelia is assisted in her search not only by her mother and Art but also by her niece, Lorraine, a somewhat ditzy young woman who is visiting from Chicago.  When Grace and Lorraine go off without Odelia to sleuth they find a dead body and the chase is on.

Despite the dead body, this is an amusing mystery, fast-paced and full of memorable characters with the obligatory detective that Odelia does not get along with.  Rhythm & Clues is a great summer read!

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, July 2019.