Friday, June 6, 2008


THE SPIRITUALIST is not a cozy mystery per se -- but it is a fun, fast, and engaging mystery set in 19th Century New York City.

Evelyn Atherton's husband has been murdered, and Evie is the main suspect. To save herself, she must delve into the world of spiritualism and the occult, to determine what is real, what isn't -- and who is telling the truth, and is telling deadly lies. And who exactly is the mysterious Michel Jourdain, who claims to be a medium?

This is similar to THE ALIENIST, though not nearly as complicated or effective. I read THE SPIRITUALIST in one day -- the ending wasn't hard to figure out early on, and the writing is wonderfully breezy. I enjoyed reading this book, Evie's adventure, and I thought the ending was just right. I do wish there had been more twists and turns in the story, but overall, this is a "thumbs up" read, and I think you'll enjoy it.

BEST SERVED COLD by Jimmie Ruth Evans

Okay, now this is getting addictive. This series is really fun, and each one is like eating a delicious root beer float -- you love it while you're eating it, and you hate to see it end because it was so delicious.

Book three in the Trailer Park Mystery series, starring one Wanda Nell Culpepper, brings back all of the characters we are coming to know and love -- and it also brings us a new character, Wanda Nell's brother, whom she hasn't heard from since her mama died years before. She and Rusty used to be close as kids, but now they just can't sem to get along. Wanda Nell wants them to get close again, but Rusty has something bothering him, and he just won't open up about it. Next thing you know, a man is dead, Rusty is the suspect, and Wanda Nell kicks into high gear.

Miranda is still troublesome, Juliet is still wonderful, TJ and Tuck are still together, and Wanda Nell's best friend is still packing a rifle!

This is a highly recommended cozy series!

(Jimmie Ruth Evans is a pseudonym for Dean James, who wrote a wonderful mysery series for Kensington. He also writes as Honor Hartman, and I just ordered book 2 in the Bridge Club mystery series -- will write about that as soon as I devour it!).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Good Blog

If you don't already know about this cozy mystery blog, head there now -- you'll love it:

Friday, May 30, 2008

CLUBBED TO DEATH by Elaine Viets

By the time I began reading Elaine Viets' entertaining "Dead-End Job" mystery series, several of the books had already been published. Which, truth be told, is my favorite way to begin a series. Once I read a series and like the first book, it's very convenient to have several more books in the series available to read right away. Imagine how happy I was to begin reading Mary Daheim's two marvelous series (B&B and Alpine) after she had published nearly 20 in each! As an impatient person by personality, it's hard to wait a year for another book to come in a series I love. Can you relate?

Anyway, the schtick for this series is that lead character Helen Hawthorne is on the run from the law after a dirty judge awarded her cheating husband alimony and future earnings from Helen -- this, after the husband cheated on Helen and destroyed her marriage. She vowed never to give her ex a dime, and disappeared -- and despite her high-earning past, she now is living under the radar (off the system) and has to take low-paying jobs to make the rent. She lives in an apartment compound with a colorful cast of characters, including her P.I. boyfriend Phil.

What I love about this series is that Elaine Viets pays attention to the details in all the right ways. She adds little touches that tickle me every time I pick up a new book in the series. For instance, in every book she adds new characters who live in a particular "cursed" apartment in the complex, and it becomes a secondary story line that is fun to watch unfold. Brilliant.

In this latest book, Helen gets an up-grade -- she is now working as a customer service rep for an exclusive resort. The rich customers are a pain in the behind, and the boss is, too. And then she is murdered (of course). Leave it to Helen to find the culprit -- especially when the police begin suspecting her!

Another satisfying entry in this series -- start with book one, and enjoy them all. So far, not a weak one in the bunch.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

REAL MURDERS by Charlaine Harris

I came late to Charlaine Harris' books. I had heard of her over the years, but it wasn't until the phenomenal success of her supernatural series that I started paying attention. Generally, I don't read supernatural series, and I haven't read her Sookie series -- but because of her great success, her publisher began reprinting her earlier mystery books. That's when I discovered her.
Since I am a mystery series fan, I started with book one of one of her two mystery series -- the Lily Bard books. The books are all very slender in size, and I thought they would be lite, cozy reads. That is, until about page 2. SHAKESPEARE'S LANDLORD was a whirlwind of a dark mystery book, with a main character that is broken and shut down. I couldn't put the book down, and the next thing I knew, I had read all five of the Lily Bard books (in order, of course), including the hard-to-find SHAKESPEARE'S CHRISTMAS. All five proved to be moody, moving, and just plain worth reading.
Berkley, her publisher, is now in the process of republishing her first mystery series, the Aurora Teagarden mysteries. And this morning, I finished book one.
You would think I learned from my experience with the Lily Bard books, but my assumption was that the Aurora Teagarden books would be softer and gentler -- real cozies. After all, lead character Aurora Teagarden is a librarian! But just pages into reading the book I discovered that while they are indeed cozy mysteries, they are so with a hard edge to them. More murders and more blood fill these pages than most cozy series -- though they aren't anywhere near as violent as, say, the Kay Scarpetta books. Still, a sweet little library-based cozy series is not where these are.
Start with the premise. A group of people have formed a club called the Real Murder club, based on their mutual fascination with mysteries of the past. Each month, one of the 12 members discusses a famous murder (or murderer), and the group discusses. However, on the night that Aurora was going to present, she finds one of the members murdered violently, in a copy of a famous murder of the past. Soon, other murders happen -- each carbon copies of past murder cases. Who is it? And why is this happening?
Well, suffice to say, this is a page-turner. Charlaine Harris is a gifted writer, and I've loved the books of hers I've read enough that it may actually convince me to try a supernatural series (Sookie, get ready!). If you like your cozies a little harder than normal, give this series a try. Harris is a great storyteller, and you'll fall in love with Aurora Teagarden.

Friday, May 23, 2008

MURDER OVER EASY by Jimmie Ruth Evans

SERIES/SLEUTH: Trailer Park Mystery series -- Wanda Nell Culpepper
# IN SERIES: 2 (out of 4)
GENRE: Cozy/Amateur Sleuth
PUBLISHER: Berkley Prime Crime (mass market paperback)

Wanda Nell Culpepper is getting addictive. I'm only up to the second in the series, and already I love this amateur sleuth and her family. This second book in the series features a more interesting mystery than the first book -- and also we get to know more about some of the secondary characters.

In this second book, Wanda Nell's diner-owner boss is being accused of a brutal murder, and it's up to Wanda to not only clear him but also to take over running the diner. And if that isn't enough, she also has family situations that are demanding her time and attention. This book also gives us a peek into the life of her son, TJ, and his new romance.

I finished reading the last 50 pages or so this morning, sitting on a bench in front of a small lake, the sun shining and ducks all around. The wrap-up of the mystery was interesting enough, but the final scene between Wanda Nell and TJ is downright touching. Reading their scene in that beautiful setting I was sitting in made finishing the book even more moving. Jimmie Ruth Evans (who is really Dean James) is a gifted story-teller, and I challenge you not to be feel your heart tugged when reading this book.

Telling more will give away too much of the story -- and the story is too good to give it away. Suffice to say that this is a series I highly recommend, and cannot wait myself to pick up book three.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mary Kay Andrews

I found this informative interview with bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews on Youtube -- I've read and loved every one of her novels. Her "Mary Kay Andrews" books are fun page-turners usually with a drama (or even murder) in them -- if you have not read any of her books, stop everything, go to Amazon, and order the first one right this second! It's called SAVANNAH BLUES, and you'll thank me once you read it.

She also wrote a series of fantastic cozy mysteries under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. They, too, are well worth seeking out -- and start right here with book one, EVERY CROOKED NANNY.

Her website is:

And here's the video -- enjoy!