Book Review: A Bottle of Rum by Steve Goble @Steve_Goble @SeventhStBooks

A Bottle of Rum
A Spider John Mystery #3
Steve Goble
Seventh Street Books, November 2019
ISBN 978-1-64506-003-1
Trade Paperback

Spider John Rush and his sidekick Odin are pirates in the process of retiring from the business. What with one thing or another, Spider John has decided to become an upstanding member of society. No more riding the bounding main, pillaging and killing. Or so he says. Odin not so much. But when the innkeeper where they do their serious drinking is murdered right under their noses, they can’t help becoming involved. John has discovered the murder weapon to be a throwing knife he made and gave to a young pirate friend named Hob. Hob became enthralled with the notorious Anne Bonny and sailed away to further adventure in piracy. The thing is, Spider John caught up with the murderer, and it wasn’t Hob. So where is his friend, and why did that man have his knife?

A naturally noticing and curious man, Spider John means to find out. Perforce, Odin goes along with him, bellyaching all the way.

Soon they find themselves in a predicament at what seems to be an asylum for the insane and the sick. There is a cemetery with several fresh graves, as well.  Since they only ever see one of the patients, a young woman obsessed with death, John doesn’t know for certain if Hob is shut up somewhere within the creaky manor house or if he inhabits one of those graves. And when confronted with Half-Jim, a one-armed, one-legged, all the way crazy pirate who’d as soon kill a man as look at him, finding Hob becomes a real problem. Apparently, Half-Jim has set his sights on Spider John to add to the body count.

The dialogue is wonderfully written for an entertaining bunch of foul-mouthed pirates. The action proceeds at a goodly pace. I often forgot this was supposed to be a mystery as I got wound up in the actions of the worst bunch of ruffians a reader ever met. A fun read.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, January 2020.
https://carolcriggercom.sitelio.me/
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: Puddin’ on the Blitz by Tamar Myers @severnhouse

Puddin’ on the Blitz
A Pennsylvania-Dutch Mystery #21
Tamar Myers
Severn House, December 2019
ISBN 978-0-7278-8915-7
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Although the culinary fare at Magdalena Yoder’s new restaurant, Asian Sensations – a unique combination of Asian and Amish cuisine – is not to everyone’s taste, the good citizens of Hernia are unanimously agreed that the desserts concocted by the restaurant chef, Barbara Hostetler, are to die for.

Not literally however. When a guest at the PennDutch Inn drops dead shortly after consuming a slice of Barbara’s delicious Blitz torte, Magdalena finds herself arrested for murder. Did someone deliberately set her up? In order to clear her name and protect her nearest and dearest, Magdalena must identify a ruthless killer – before they strike again.

Tamar Myers has been entertaining mystery readers—including me, most decidedly—for many years and this latest Pennsylvania Dutch entry is no exception to the rule. Magdalena Yoder is an enduring protagonist and, after so many adventures, has gotten amateur sleuthing down to a fine science, you might say.

Now, if you’re looking for a dynamic crime thriller with a well-tuned sleuth, you’re in the wrong place. Magdalena isn’t always the nicest person around, a bit too sharp-tongued, and, as cozies often do, a lot of attention is directed towards her personal life and the goings-on in the inn and the village. The mystery to be solved isn’t as strong as in some earlier books but it’s interesting and there are some  unusual aspects to it, not least of which is the true identities of the couple who rented the restaurant for an exclusive meal.

This is the first in the series that I’ve read in several years but I had no trouble catching up, so to speak, and I enjoyed it even though it’s not quite up to snuff with some of the previous books. It’s a nice read for a lazy day and I’ll definitely be back.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2019.

Book Review: Reservations for Murder by Tim Myers

Reservations for Murder
A Lighthouse Inn Mystery #2
Tim Myers
Berkeley Prime Crime, 2002
ISBN 978-0-425-18525-4
Mass Market Paperback
Currently available in trade paperback and electronic editions

Proprietor of the Hatteras West Inn, Alex Winston would  just as soon not get involved with another murder. Unfortunately, some people just aren’t very considerate and blacksmith Jefferson Lee has been literally skewered to a timber of Alex’s new building, hoist on his own petard, so to speak. The Golden Days Fair, showcasing old-fashioned artisans and crafters, is about to open on the inn’s grounds and there are way too many potential suspects. If Alex is going to prevent more bad publicity, he’s going to have to do some snooping of his own…

Author Tim Myers brings back a delightful cast of small-town characters in this sequel to Agatha-nominated Innkeeping With Murder and introduces us to a few more we’ll hope to meet again. Alex’s sleuthing, hindered somewhat by an old girlfriend’s amorous hints and the dislike that nearly everyone felt for the murdered man, is not
especially appreciated by the local sheriff but Alex is convinced the sheriff is heading in the wrong direction. In the meantime, his housekeeper and friend, Ellie, has left town and gossip has it she’s not coming back. So what else can go wrong?

Reservations for Murder and it’s predecessor, Innkeeping With Murder, are highly recommended for everyone who loves a true cozy mystery.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2002. Slightly revised 2018.
Review first published on murderexpress.net in 2002.

{Note: resurrecting this old review has reminded me how much I liked Tim in my bookstore days and has prompted me to do a series re-read 😉

Book Review: Clam Wake by Mary Daheim—and a Giveaway!

Clam WakeClam Wake
A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery
Mary Daheim
William Morrow, August 2014
ISBN 978-0-06-231772-8Hardcover

From the publisher—

With the holidays gone and Hillside Manor almost empty, Innkeeper Judith McMonigle Flynn has a bad case of the blues. A housesitting stint at her aunt and uncle’s retirement home on Whoopee Island with cousin Renie seems like the ideal pick-me-up. Surrounded by retirees in the off-season sounds peaceful and pleasant–or so the duo thinks. But it isn’t long before a dead body pops up in their vicinity. Not surprising in an area full of older folks—until they learn it wasn’t a bad ticker that did in the victim, but a very sharp knife. With clouds of suspicion hovering over her and Renie, Judith reluctantly begins sleuthing—if only to prove they didn’t commit the crime.

But what she finds is puzzling. The victim reputedly didn’t have an enemy in the world–except for the killer. Digging for clams and answers, the cousins discover that retirement can be deadly—at least among the eclectic, eccentric residents of Obsession Shores.

It’s kind of mindboggling that this series has lasted so long (#29!) but even more so that it has held up pretty darn well. It follows the tried and true formula of amateur sleuth continually coming across bodies and feeling that she simply must solve the crime but, somehow, author Mary Daheim manages to keep things fresh.

Innkeeper Judith and her cousin, Renie—a truly obnoxious individual but one who sort of fits like an old glove—have been left behind by their vacationing men so Judith has left the bed & breakfast in capable hands and they’ve gone off to housesit for Auntie Vance and Uncle Vince on Whoopee Island. The two will be proxies at a community meeting about installing sewer lines but, lo and behold, within hours of arriving, Judith and Renie have discovered a body. Naturally, sleuthing ensues. Is the battle over sewer lines versus septic tanks really that desperate? What did this poor guy do to deserve being offed? And does Judith’s family history have something to do with all this?

Clam Wake is fun, no doubt about it and, although it may not be the very best in the series, I found a lot of comfort in returning to the Pacific Northwest and spending a little time with Judith, Renie and assorted family, friends and pets, especially Judith’s cantankerous mother, Gert, and equally crabby cat, Sweetums. I missed Joe and Bill, though, and hope to see the husbands again in Ms. Daheim’s next book.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2014.

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About the Author

 

Mary DaheimSeattle native Mary Richardson Daheim lives three miles from the house where she was raised. From her dining nook she can see the maple tree in front of her childhood home. Mary isn’t one for change when it comes to geography. Upon getting her journalism degree from the University of Washington (she can see the campus from the dining nook, too), she went to work for a newspaper in Anacortes WA. Then, after her marriage to David Daheim, his first college teaching post was in Port Angeles where she became a reporter for the local daily. Both tours of small-town duty gave her the background for the Alpine/Emma Lord series. Mary spent much of her non-fiction career in public relations (some would say PR is fiction, too). But ever since she learned how to read and write, Mary wanted to tell stories that could be put between book covers (e-readers were far into the future and if she hadn’t seen her daughter’s iPad, she might not know they exist). Thus, she began her publishing career with the first of seven historical romances before switching to mysteries in 1991. If Mary could do the math, she’d know how many books she’s published. Since she can’t, she estimates the total is at least 55. Or something. At the time of her husband and mentor’s death in February 2010, David and Mary had been married for over 43 years. They have three daughters, Barbara, Katherine and Magdalen, and two granddaughters, Maisy and Clara. They all live in Seattle, too. Those apples don’t move far from the tree…literally.

 

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