Danielle Arceneaux: Glory Be

Glory Broussard #1

Great books are like a song.  They have a melody and a rhythm all their own, and envelop you in their reality.  Danielle Arceneaux’s debut novel, Glory Be, might be Patti LaBelle’s You Are My Friend. Glory, the heroine of the novel, is an older, heavier black woman living in LaFayette, Louisiana.  She’s a divorcee and fills her time with church, the local Red Hat Society, and heading to the coffee shop Sunday afternoons to run her business – she’s a bookie.  Her life is in chaos, and it’s not made any better when her best friend, Amity, is found dead, an apparent suicide.  Like many a mystery heroine before her, Glory is certain Amity’s death is not a suicide, and begins trying to prove it. read more

Carol J. Perry: Now You See It

Witch City #13

Carol J. Perry’s thirteenth book in her Witch City Mystery series is the delightful addition Now You See it. In it, Salem’s local reporter and scryer, Lee Mondello, once more finds herself drawn into solving not just a murder, but a possible heist as well. As a scryer, Lee is both blessed and cursed with the gifts of sight. Mirrors, pools of water, and even the metallic surface of an elevator door can sometimes trigger images to appear before her. The images don’t always tell a comprehensive story, and sometimes they are just a still frame like a picture, but they all inevitably help Lee to unravel any mysteries surrounding her life. Her husband, Pete, is a local Salem police detective, and while he believes in his wife and her gifts, he prefers to deal in the real and provable. It makes sense – a police detective can’t very well arrest someone based on his wife claiming to have seen something in the nearby fishbowl. Lee isn’t offended, as she knows physical evidence is crucial to getting criminals to stay behind bars. But turning visions into evidence can be a little tricky. read more

Michael Falco: Murder in an Italian Village

Bria Bartolucci #1

Few sights and experiences rival that of the coast of Italy, and the beautifully colored buildings of Positano balanced along cliff faces and overlooking stunning stretches of ocean. Michael Falco launches a new mystery series set in this idyllic place. The first book is Murder in an Italian Village and it follows widow and single mom Bria Bartolucci as she also starts a new life running a B&B called Bella Bella. While she has lived near Positano, she has only recently made it home for herself and her son Marco. She is not only striving to make her business thrive, but also to become an accepted part of the Positano community and not be seen as a tourist or outsider. read more

Korina Moss: Case of the Bleus

Cheese Shop #4

I am delighted to be able to review Korina Moss’ fourth book in her Cheese Shop series, Case of the Bleus. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading my way through the adventures of Willa Baur as she has established her cheese shop Curds & Wey in the town of Sonoma Valley, and helped the local police catch more than a few murderers. While said authorities might not be thrilled with her methods, they certainly can’t argue with the results. But despite her sleuthing prowess, none can dispute that Willa’s true passion remains with cheese. Korina Moss’ description of the various cheese, and Willa’s passion for it, will have readers pausing just long enough to have a little cheese snack of their own as they read along. Perhaps even trying one of the tasty cheese recipes included at the back of the book. read more

SJ Bennett: Murder Most Royal

Her Majesty the Queen Investigates #3

I love this series.  When I tell people about it, that the books have Queen Elizabeth II as the detective, there are many skeptical raised eyebrows.  The wonder of the books: the plots are wonderful; there’s diversity in the characters – the Queen’s foil is her aide, Rozie, a London born Nigerian – and the respect for the Queen, by all accounts a practical and dutiful woman, shines on every page in the nicest possible way.  The books allow you to imagine that it might have gone this way if the Queen really was a secret detective, guiding the police and Scotland Yard to solutions she’s already figured out, with Rozie’s help.  There’s also a shining thread of feminism underneath all the stories, celebrating women’s strength in the many forms that strength takes. read more

Andrea Penrose: Murder at the Merton Library

Wrexford & Sloane #7

Murder at the Merton Library is the seventh book in Andrea Penrose’s Regency mystery series featuring the Earl of Wrexford, a brilliant scientist, and his wife Charlotte, who, under the name of A.J. Quill, is England’s leading satirical cartoonist.  Only a select few are aware of A.J. Quill’s true identity.  Their unconventional family includes two street urchins, Raven and Hawk, collectively known as the Weasels, who have been adopted as their wards.  Also staying with them is Peregrine, a boy of mixed race who inherited a title from a murdered relative in the previous book.  Charlotte’s aunt Alison, a delightful–and feisty–older woman, is also very much a part of their sleuthing team, as are Wrexford’s and Charlotte’s friends, Kit Sheffield and his fiancée Cordelia, a mathematician.  Sheffield appears to be an idle wastrel, but, in fact, he has a sharp mind and has come to be the head of a business venture, which he has to keep secret because gentlemen are not supposed to engage in business.  Wrexford relies on logic and solid evidence to solve crimes, while Charlotte uses her intuition and her artist’s eye.  Together, they make a perfect team. read more

Mia P. Manansala: Murder and Mamon

Tita Rosie’s Kitchen #4

This is one of the more charming, youthful, and vital series in the cozy universe, combining many traditional cozy elements – cooking, coffee, a dog, family dynamics – and giving all these elements a new kind of flair through the cultural background of the main character and the diversity of the cast.  Series heroine Lila Macapagal now has her own place, the Brew Ha café, next to her Tita Rosie’s restaurant. Her large Filipino family makes for a rich background for the books, and in this installment, her extended gaggle of aunties – called the “Calendar Crew” are starting their own business venture: a laundromat.  They are getting set to open during the town Spring Clean event. read more

Amy Chua: The Golden Gate

This is a first novel from Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and it’s an ambitious and almost overstuffed concoction set in 1944 San Francisco.  Peeling away the many, many complicated layers of her story, the essential plot line is this: in 1930, two sisters were playing at the Claremont Hotel while their mother played tennis.  One of them dies by plunging down a laundry chute.  Fast forward to 1944, and their grandmother is giving a deposition to the DA, who is sure one of her granddaughters (one of them the sister of the dead girl) is guilty of murder, and he doesn’t mind charging them all if he can’t get a straight answer from her. read more

Catherine Lloyd: Miss Morton and the Spirits of the Underworld

Miss Morton #2

Following on the heels of Catherine Lloyd’s first Miss Morton book, Miss Morton and the Spirits of the Underworld, set in 1830’s Britain, brings back Miss Morton and her boisterous employer, Mrs. Frogerton. Caroline Morton is Mrs. Frogerton’s paid companion, following a loss of wealth and status that left her needing to make her own way in the world. Her job is far from an unpleasant one, however, as she and Mrs. Frogerton get on well. And now that the daughter of the house, Dorothy, is of age, the two women plan to guide her through her first season together. read more

Ann Cleeves: The Raging Storm

Two Rivers #3

Ann Cleeves goes from strength to strength.  The third novel in her Matthew Venn series finds Matthew investigating a crime in a village he’d visited as a child. The book opens with the raging storm of the title, and no one is better than Ann Cleeves at setting the stage using nature as a backdrop.  The coastal town where the story takes place gets a “callout” – the volunteer coast guard heads out to see what’s up with an abandoned boat in the middle of a storm.  They find the boat, and inside, the body of a man. read more