Mystery Mayhem

Here’s a quick look what’s new in some of my favorite mystery series!

killerThe Alex Delaware novels follow psychologist Alex Delaware as he dives into criminal minds to assist L.A. police lieutenant Milo Sturgis.  In this latest installment, Killer, Alex is called on by the courts to provide a recommendation in a custody battle.  Connie Sykes is trying to take custody of her sister’s 16-month old baby but the wealthy physician turns cold and violent when she loses her case.  With bodies piling up, the baby and her mother missing, Alex and Milo are in a race to find the culprits and the missing child.

I always enjoy these novels, and this one was no exception.  Oddly, although I like Alex Delaware, he is one of the least interesting characters for me – must be my love of quirkiness!   Milo, a large, gay, gruff detective is endearing in spite of his brusqueness.  And the introduction of a former child patient of Alex’s, now leading a gang in Oakland, is touching and sweet and funny and sad.

Title: Killer
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 352
Publication: Ballantine Books, February 2014

accusedThe Rosato & Associates novels follow Bennie Rosato and her law offices, composed of all female attorneys, as they try to right wrongs.  In this latest installment, Accused, Mary Dinuzio has been made a partner in the firm and her first client is Allegra, a beekeeping 13-year old obsessed with reopening the six-year old case of her sister’s murder.  The killer confessed and is behind bars, but Allegra is convinced that he’s innocent.  Unfortunately, her family is wealthy and powerful, convinced that Allegra has emotional and mental issues, and does not want to see the case reopened.  With little support from the firm, Mary will have to go out on her own to ensure that justice has been served.

All of the characters in the firm are unique and interesting, with their own distinct personalities and strengths.  This novel in the series focuses mainly on Mary as she struggles with being a partner, changes in her romantic life, and her overbearing but endearing super stereotypical Italian family.  I like Mary, who has an inner strength she does not recognize, and her fantastically funny family, but I missed seeing more of the other members of the firm.  Still, it was a fun, fast read with enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.

Title: Accused
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 368
Publication: St. Martin’s Press, October 2013

death overdueThe Librarian Mysteries follow mid-Western librarian Karen Nash and her romantic interest, British B&B owner Caldwell.  Another fun cozy mystery series that has the added benefit of being about books!  In this latest installment, Death Overdue, the victim is Caldwell’s ex-girlfriend, Sally, killed by a toppling bookshelf after announcing her intent to take half of the proceeds from the sale of the B&B.  Since Karen and Caldwell are hoping to use that money to pursue their dream of opening their own bookshop, Caldwell quickly becomes the main suspect.  But with Sally’s Italian lover, her fed-up sister, and an out-of-town book scout hanging around, Karen knows it has to be someone other than the new love of her life.  This is a fun, quiet, cozy mystery series.  Not a ton of action, but a lot of talking and drinking tea and trying to figure out whodunit.  A great way to spend a wintry afternoon.

Title: Death Overdue
Author: Mary Lou Kirwin
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 256
Publication: Gallery Books, November 2013

due or dieThe Library Lover’s Mystery series follows Lindsey, the new director of the public library on the coast of Connecticut in Briar Creek, and of course, the murders that seem to pop-up on a regular basis there!

In the second book in the series, Due or Die, cranky Bill Sint is voted out as president of the Friends of the Library, being replaced by Carrie Rushton, a forward-thinking volunteer.  When she comes home from the election to find her husband shot dead in his recliner, she quickly becomes the main suspect.  And as a nor’easter paralyzes the town, Lindsey and her friends will have to figure out whodunit while the local police force focuses on digging out.

Like the previous book in this series, there are plenty of great characters including a mentally unstable woman who wants to see Bill Sint reinstated as president, Bill’s charming nephew who is pursuing Lindsey, the cranky librarian, the charter boat captain who seems to have a crush on Lindsey, and all of Lindsey’s friends and neighbors.  These characters and their interactions and relationships make this a thoroughly enjoyable series.  I also love all of the library scenes – the programming, the patrons, the politics – they all feel so familiar on some level!

Title: Due or Die
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Publication: Berkley, March 2012

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Mystery Mayhem

Here’s a quick look what’s new in some of my favorite mystery series!

billionaire blendThe Coffeehouse Mystery novels follow Claire Cosi, the owner of The Village Blend, a coffeehouse in New York City which she owns with her wealthy world-traveler ex-husband Matteo, having formerly been owned and run by her mother-in-law.  Claire is constantly stumbling into dangerous situations or finding dead bodies.  Much to the chagrin of her cop boyfriend Mike she sticks her nose into the authority’s business, trying to solve the latest murder.

In this latest installment, Billionaire Blend, a car bomb goes off outside of The Village Blend, killing the driver while the owner is in the coffeehouse talking to Claire.  The car happens to belong to a young tech-billionaire who wants Claire to create an exclusive coffee, affordable only by the ultra-rich.  Claire is soon drawn into the world of the wealthy, being flown around the world and taken to the most exclusive clubs.  More interestingly, she finds herself in the middle of corporate intrigue, cut-throat rivalries, and sibling jealousies.  Of course, in the end, it will all work out!

This is a fun series with little surprises but enjoyable characters.  Claire’s relationship with her ex-husband is interesting, old emotions wrapped up in a new type of partnership.  Madame, Claire’s mother-in-law, is a classy lady with a colorful history.  Mike and Claire struggle in their relationship at times, adding a dose of reality.  And Claire also struggles with motherhood to her adult child, Jill, balancing being there with learning to let go.  To top it all off there are recipes!  And I love recipes, even if I never actually make them!

Title: Billionaire Blend
Author: Cleo Coyle
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 400
Publication: Berkley, December 2013

books can be deceivingThe Library Lover’s Mystery novels is a cozy mystery series that I discovered recently.  It’s a fun mystery series, and it’s for library lovers, so how can it be bad?  🙂  The series follows Lindsey, the new director of the public library on the coast of Connecticut in Briar Creek, and of course the mysteries that seem to pop-up on a regular basis there!

In the first book in the series, Books Can Be Deceiving, Lindsey’s best friend and the children’s librarian, Beth, becomes the chief suspect in a murder.  When Beth tries to talk to a New York publisher about the children’s book she’s been working on she discovers that her boyfriend and Caldecott award winner, has stolen her ideas.  When she and Lindsey go to confront him what they find is his dead body.  Will Lindsey be able to figure out who did it before Beth is thrown behind bars?

Being the director of a small public library I enjoyed the way that the story revolved around this small library and its staff.  The characters are delightful, from the stern and cranky Ms. Cole who hates anything new and is constantly disapproving of Lindsey, to the supportive group at the Crafternoon Club at the library – a group of lively characters that share books, food, and crafts.  I am definitely looking forward to spending more time with the group from Briar Creek and seeing how this series matures.

Title: Books Can Be Deceiving
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Publication: Berkley, July 2011

murder as a second languageThe Claire Malloy Mystery novels follow Claire Malloy, a bookstore owner in a small college town, where she lives with her teenage daughter Caron.  Constantly stumbling into trouble, Claire also always seems to stumble upon the answer, much to the annoyance of her beau, Deputy Chief Peter Rosen.

In the latest installment, Murder as a Second Language, Claire has recently married Peter and moved to a beautiful house outside of town.  With the bookstore being run by hired help, and Caron busy being a teenager, Claire suddenly finds herself with time on her hands.  When she agrees to help out at an ESL tutoring center, she is pushed into being on the board which faces budgetary issues and accusations of embezzlement.  When an elderly Russian student, who is strongly disliked by most people at the literacy center, is found dead by the copier, Claire is back in the thick of it again.  Only this time Peter may actually want her help.

I found this book in the series to simply be ok, not great.  Claire’s overly bratty teenage daughter is starting to get on my nerves, and Claire actually started to in this book.  Maybe it’s because I have to work and there are a million things I would do with my days if I didn’t, but I found her “Woe is me, I have nothing to keep my occupied” attitude to be grating.  I liked her better when she was living in her crappy apartment, trying to make ends meet, and running her bookstore.  It will be interesting to see where her character goes from here…  And Caron?  Hopefully she goes far away to college…

Title: Murder as a Second Language
Author: Joan Hess
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Publication: Minotaur, December 2013

takedown twentyThe Stephanie Plum novels follow the bumbling bounty hunter through the streets of Trenton, New Jersey as she unsuccessfully tries to catch the latest skip.  With ex-prostitute Lulu and the wild and unpredictable Grandma Mazur helping her out, it’s a wonder she has trouble!  And of course there is a love triangle with both the hunky and secretive security guru Ranger and the gorgeous police detective Morelli both on the scene to get her out of trouble.

In this latest installment, Takedown Twenty, Stephanie is on the trail of a mob boss that was arrested for running someone over (several times) but no one will tell her where he is.  To make matters worse, he’s Morelli’s actual godfather, causing his grandmother Bella to give Stephanie the evil-eye for trying to catch him.  And Ranger’s around too – asking Stephanie to help him track down the killer of a client’s elderly mother – which will require spending some time with Grandma Mazur at the bingo halls.  Oh, and did I mention that there’s a giraffe named Kevin running around loose throughout the streets of Trenton?

I have always loved this series, it is the only set of books that consistently makes me laugh out loud while reading.  Unfortunately, they don’t make me laugh quite as much as they used to…  The stories have become too formulaic, there are no surprises, just different versions of the same antics.  And honestly I’m getting really tired of the whole Ranger vs Morelli thing.  Grow up and make a decision and move on already!  Or at least have something interesting happen between them all!  Having shared my frustrations with the recent books in the series, I still need to be fair and say that I did laugh out loud, and it was still a fun and fast read.  I just know it could be (and should be) better…

Title: Takedown Twenty
Author: Janet Evanovich Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 320
Publication: Bantam, November 2013