Victoria Gilbert: A Cryptic Clue

Hunter & Clewe #1

This novel has a very meta set up.  Jane Hunt, a retired librarian, has found a job cataloguing the library of Cam Clewe, a wealthy young man with a huge collection of books, many of them mystery novels.  Jane is 60, and she’s downsizing because her daughter has left home (and her house was too expensive).  She’s found an apartment, one that sounds like something Kinsey Milhone would feel comfortable living in, a tiny but charming space over the carriage house/garage of a retired reporter. read more

Lucy Connelly: An American in Scotland

I gobbled up this yummy first in a series book from Lucy Connelly.  As the title indicates, American doctor Emilia (“Em”) McRoy is fleeing a busy ER back in San Francisco as well as a relationship gone wrong, and headed to tiny Sea Isle, Scotland.  She discovers, as does the heroine in all fairytales, that she’s to live for free in a converted castle (I mean, church) and perks include free food everywhere in town as well as a free car.  The job also comes with a working brother and sister – Tommy does the gardening and the capable Abigail, who runs the office, as well as the new MRI machine that the “Laird” of the town has thought to provide. read more

Trish Esden: A Wealth of Deception

I truly enjoyed this book, the second in a series featuring antiques dealer Edie Brown, whose business is on the brink of collapse.  Her mother is in jail for art fraud and Edie is a convicted felon herself, having (unintentionally) sold stolen art to an undercover agent.  This series set up happens in book one, The Art of the Decoy (2022).  I was able to jump right in with little trouble, though I do want to go back and read the first book.

The book opens with a description of what it means to be an “outsider” artist (think Grandma Moses).  For the novel, Esden creates an outsider artist named Vespa, an elderly woman whose disturbing, complicated collages have taken the art world by storm.  When Edie and her uncle Tuck head over to do an appraisal and purchase a few items from a woman named Annie, Edie is surprised to see what she thinks in an original Vespa on the wall.  Annie is clearing out her mother’s house, and insists the work is her brother’s “craft project.” read more

Margaret Mizushima: Standing Dead

Book eight of this strong, enjoyable and very readable series finds Mattie Wray on the precipice of avenging the family trauma that made her childhood an extremely difficult one.  Two books back (Hanging Falls) Mattie at last reunited with her long lost sister; in the previous installment, Striking Range, she reunites with her mother.  As this book opens, she and her sister are heading to Mexico to see their mother together, but when they arrive, she and her husband have vanished.

There’s quite a bit of backstory to wade through at the beginning of the book.  To set the stage for a new reader, Mattie is an officer in the Timber Creek, Colorado, police department, where she works with her K-9 companion, Robo, who always has a key role in the stories.  Mattie is involved (and on the verge of marrying) the local vet, Cole, and his veterinary work and family are part of the strong backstory of the novels that ground the books, making them pack an emotional and relatable punch. read more

Joyce St. Anthony: Death on a Deadline

It’s 1942, and Irene Ingram is managing The Progress Herald while her Dad is covering the front lines.  She’s in tiny Progress, Pennsylvania, and everyone in town is in a state of excitement at the news that Clark Gable will possibly be attending the war bond rally at their county fair.  The sensible and skeptical Irene is not so sure about it, though, and the book starts with her trying to get to the truth of the Clark Gable rumor.

This is a bit of a different take on a WWII mystery.  Many of the books are set in Europe, where the war was a daily and deadly occurrence.  However, the war reached its fingers everywhere, and even tiny Progress feels the impact.  Sweethearts, brothers and husbands are away; there’s shortages of almost everything; women are working in places they hadn’t before, like the newspaper.  St. Anthony brings the war home with her chapter epigraphs in the form of newspaper headlines, detailing the sinking of ships and lives lost all over the globe, and some even close to home.  The U.S. was not inviolable, as Pearl Harbor proved. read more

S.K. Golden: The Socialites Guide to Murder

This charming, frothy concoction is as charming and frothy as it’s heroine, Evelyn Elizabeth Grace Murphy, daughter of the owner of New York City’s Pinnacle Hotel.  She lives in the penthouse, and she never leaves the building – there’s no need!  She has a social life, friends, food delivery, even a dog walker.  It’s 1958 and she loves to dress like her favorite movie star, Marilyn Monroe.  Her fluffy white dog – she carries him around in her purse – is named Presley.  As the story opens there’s a big art exhibition opening, and Evelyn is on the arm of movie star(let) Henry Fox.  She’s dressed to the nines, in a replica of Marilyn’s pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  read more