This is a favorite new series. The books feature Mercy Carr and her military dog, Elvis, who have come home to Vermont to nurse their wounds (and their PTSD) after losing the love of both their lives, Martinez, in Afghanistan. Both have reacclimated to a degree, though Mercy has a hard time with trust and tends to hold herself back when it comes to relationships. While Mercy is slightly on the outs with her perhaps boyfriend, game warden Troy, her life is a full one. She’s taken in a teenage mother, her baby, and her boyfriend; she has a tight relationship with her grandmother, Patience, a vet; and she and Elvis are now working as a complete team.
This is the third book in the “kinship” series, set on the outer edges of 1920’s Ohio (Chillicothe is the big city), and each book centers itself on a different woman, though the central character is always Sherriff Lily Ross. Lily became Sherriff after the murder of her sheriff husband and the first book was her story, as well as the story of labor organizer Marvena, now one of Lily’s best friends. The second novel was about her friend, schoolteacher Hildy, and this book follows the story of Fiona, who is married to the series bad guy, George Vogel.
Paige Shelton will join our book club via zoom on Sunday, May 16, at 2 p.m. Message us on facebook or contact us at store (at) auntagathas.com for a zoom invitation. We’ll be reading the first book in her Alaska Wild series, Thin Ice. The second novel, Cold Wind, is nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark Award this year!
Here’s a precis of Thin Ice, and you can read my review of Cold Wind here.
Beth Rivers is on the run – she’s doing the only thing she could think of to keep herself safe. Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, she had become the subject of a fanatic’s obsession. After being held in a van for three days by her kidnapper, Levi Brooks, Beth managed to escape, and until he is captured, she’s got to get away. Cold and remote, Alaska seems tailor-made for her to hideout.
Tasha Alexander writes one of the most reliably entertaining series in mystery fiction – every book has a complex plot, often a dual timeline, a bit of romance, plus the reader gets to go on some armchair travel and learn a bit of history to boot. In this latest Lady Emily outing, her dishy husband, Colin, takes her to Florence, along with her friend Cecile, for cover, as he works on something so secret for the Crown that he can’t even tell Emily.
It’s 1903 and they’re staying at Colin’s newly discovered daughter, Kat’s, home in Florence, and merely reading the descriptions of Florence will make you long not just for armchair travel but for the real thing. Emily and Cecile are folded into Colin’s work by a circumstance beyond his control – when they arrive at the villa, one of the workers plunges to his death from the top of the villa and is discovered by one of the maids. Emily and Cecile think they can do better winkling out what really happened to him, and of course, they are correct.
This book, which opens amidst the morning chaos of a mother with two children, one of whom has just cut off part of her hair right before school, breezily catches the feel of young motherhood. It’s exasperating, exhausting, and nerve wracking. Finlay drops the kids off at school as she heads to meet her book agent and deliver the bad news that the book she’s supposed to turn in is nowhere near finished.
On top of all this, Finlay’s husband has left her for the cute realtor, his sod business is going full blast, and she has a mountain of bills to pay with no means to do so. Also, to spite her, her ex has let the baby sitter go. Things go poorly with her agent where they’ve met for coffee, but a woman nearby, over hearing – and misinterpreting – their conversation (Finlay writes thrillers) leaves a mystery note on Finlay’s table. The sum of $50,000 is mentioned and there’s a phone number.
This is the second book in Paige Shelton’s series about thriller writer Elizabeth Fairchild, now in hiding in tiny Benedict, Alaska as Beth Rivers, after being kidnapped by a crazed fan. Elizabeth/Beth lives in a halfway house and appreciates the privacy she finds in the Alaskan wild, a place that truly seems to be its own country, existing without a real nod to the rules and regulations more common in the lower 48. Shelton, the author of four other cozier series than this one, is a real pro at narrative, pacing, and character. These skills easily transfer to this series which is a bit darker in tone, and fits in more with work by writers like Ellen Hart, Dana Stabenow and Julia Spencer-Fleming.
I had mixed feelings opening this book. Jane Haddam died in 2019, after completing this one last book, and I was reluctant to start it. I love this series and am sorry to see it end. Jane Haddam was a combination of a traditional detective fiction writer and a contemporary social issue writer. In her best books, the social issues didn’t overwhelm the story – in her worst books, they did. This book is a loving wrap up to her long, revered and beloved series, and if you are a fan of Gregor Demarkian I recommend it.
This charming novel is the righteous winner of the Minotaur/MWA First Crime novel prize. Set in 1892 Bombay during the British Raj, this novel focuses on Captain Jim Agnihotri, who has left the military after a long stint in the hospital. The book has an excellent opening line: “I turned thirty in hospital…with little to read but newspapers.”
In said newspapers, Captain Jim reads the story of two Parsee women who plunged to their deaths from a University clock tower. One was a young bride, one, her younger sister in law. When Jim reads a plea in letter form in the newspaper from the young widower, he is sure that the details of the crime don’t add up. The husband pleads that this was not a suicide but the recently concluded trial leaves this stain and uncertainty on the family.
My husband hates the word “plopped.” I feel the same about “quirky” a ubiquitous word used in describing many, many cozies. But sometimes “quirky” (just like “plopped”) actually applies. In the case of Susan Cox’s Theo Bogart mysteries, I was surprised at almost every turn, and delightfully so, by the array of characters and situations presented by this obviously talented new writer. Quirky does apply.
This is book two in this series, the first one winning the Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime novel award, and it’s been a long time coming. The first novel, The Man on the Washing Machine, was published in 2015. Theophania Bogart is a poor little rich girl. She’s fled a terrible family tragedy back home in England and landed in San Francisco, where she’s established a comfortable new life for herself.
This is an utterly charming series debut. Dennison has two other series, but I think this may be my favorite so far. The story opens as recently widowed Evie sits in her lawyer’s office and discovers that she’s basically broke. Luckily, the lawyer’s secretary discovers a secret letter from Evie’s dead husband, telling her that she now owns a hotel thanks to an unpaid debt. Her sister, Margot, who has flown in from LA to be with her in England, heads back to Evie’s now up-for-sale house where she hatches a plan. For a little restful getaway, they will visit the hotel in question.