In A Star is Dead, the third Angela Richman novel by Elaine Viets, when a Hollywood diva dies after humiliating three homeless women, her staff, and the town's patriarch, Angela's friend is accused of killing her. Did he? Using her Death Investigator skills, Angela professionally unravels the complicated threads of the murders and deaths she encounters. A Star is Dead is a quick, but intriguing read. Debra Goldstein
During these unsettling times, I find myself more and more turning to old favorites. I'm not alone in my love for Sue Grafton's alphabet series, and Kinsey Milhone is one of my favorite fictional detectives. I remember reading A is for Alibi for the first time decades ago, being totally blown away by the tight plot, superb clue planting, and memorable main character. I remember thinking I'd like to hang out with Kinsey in real life. I worried that the book wouldn't stand up to rereading.
I didn't have to worry. The passage of time has done nothing but add another level of interest to the story of a woman who hires Kinsey to discover who murdered her philandering husband. I enjoyed the glance back into a past where pantyhose, typewriters, and telephone booths are still commonplace, and I loved visiting with Kinsey. Shari Randall
I'm alternating old favorites I've always meant to read again with recent books. And doing a lot of beta reading, which varies from I-wish-I-could-write-like-that to get-back-to-basics.
I've just started The Crystal Cave, the first in Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy (I think there's a fourth one that came later.) I love the way I can get lost in these books. I look up from reading, mildly surprised that I'm in my living room in twenty-first century Pennsylvania, not just outside Camelot. K. M. Rockwood
I decided to pick from one of my piles that's been on the nightstand for a while and am glad I chose Joseph Finder's Judgment. It's one of the better thrillers I've ever read, done from the point of view of a woman judge, Juliana Brody. She's done everything right her whole life and has achieved a sterling reputation, living a satisfying life in Boston with her husband and teenage son. However, something comes over her at a conference in Chicago and she has a one-night stand in the hotel with a suave, handsome, sexy man. Back home, she is assigned a complicated case and is pressured to make a decision she knows would be wrong. When a video of that Chicago encounter is shown to her, and people connected with the case start dying, she knows she has to use all of her wits to save her reputation, and possibly the lives of her and her family. This was a terrific read. Kaye George
The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear is one of the most popular mystery series around, and rightfully so. The fifteen books available take us from the time Maisie is thirteen and entering the household of a wealthy family, through her years as a nurse in World War One and later on when she acts as a detective and a psychologist. Her cases often reflect the brutal history of war and how it affects soldiers and civilians long afterward. Recently I’ve listened to Books 6 of this wonderful series: Among The Mad. A shellshocked veteran is threatening terrorist attacks on London. Sunday night I was fortunate to hear Jacqueline Winspear being interviewed by her editor. I heartily recommend this series. Marilyn Levinson
Tear it Down by Nick Petrie: This is the fourth in the series I have fallen in love with. The gutsy and wounded hero with the righteous girlfriend you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley and loyal friends goes to Memphis to help his girlfriend’s friend who is in over her head. He confronts a carjacker who he instructs about how to drive his truck, gangsters and a human monster. Good stuff. I want more. Warren Bull
I just finished Hid From Our Eyes, the long-awaited new addition to Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery Series. Usually, I dive into one of her releases and devour it in a couple of days. This one took me longer, probably because of my inability to concentrate lately. However, by the time I was midway through, I was totally immersed. The story covers three eerily similar homicides over a number of decades, but following the time jumps was never an issue and the many story threads tied neatly together by the end. She has done it again, serving up a complex and thought-provoking tale, complete with a maddening cliffhanger. I certainly hope I don’t have to wait as long to see it resolved in the next book. Annette Dashofy
Since my travel plans got cancelled due to the COVID-19 quarantine, I treated myself to a slew of books set in distant lands to satisfy my travel bug. First up was a winner, The Lost Man by Jane Harper. Set on neighboring cattle ranches in the immense Australian outback, the story offers a complicated and satisfying mystery with a genuine sense of the vast Queensland landscape and the cost of human isolation, so apropos for our time. Martha Reed
The husband-and-wife team of Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini have written another winner in the Coffeehouse Mystery series. Clare Cosi, the intrepid amateur sleuth and manager of the Village Blend coffeehouse in Greenwich Village, wakes one morning in nearby Washington Square Park wearing a stranger’s clothing and unable to remember the past fifteen years of her life.
The usual Village Blend crew, including Clare’s ex-husband Matteo Allegro, his mother, Madame, and an assortment of baristas, join Clare’s fiancé, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, liberating Clare from the hospital and assisting her investigation of why she was seen accompanying a hotel heiress minutes before the woman’s disappearance.
Nothing makes sense until, after drinking many mugs of decent coffee, Clare strips away the drug-induced fog clouding her memory and solves several past murders.
A fast-paced ride through New York City and the Hamptons, laced with plenty of coffee brewing factoids and cookie and cake recipes. Margaret S. Hamilton
Josie Bianci was killed fifteen years earlier in a terrorist attack on a train. Since then, her sister, Kit, an ER doctor in Santa Cruz, has rebuilt her life, but the pain and grief her sister’s loss continues. Kit was the studious one, overcoming so many odds to get through medical school, while Kit was the gorgeous one who fell deeply into drugs and sexual promiscuity. One evening Kit is watching the television news and she sees a woman who must be her sister, escaping from a fire in Auckland, New Zealand. She is a dead ringer for Josie. How could that be?
Kit travels to Auckland to find this woman, and her journey involves recalling a difficult and twisted path growing up in a dysfunctional home filled with pain and parental neglect. Once in New Zealand, she also meets a secretive and attractive man who helps her in her hunt for Josie. This book has all the emotions: grief, love, loss, anger, joy. The story of the family is engrossing, and the journey Kit takes is one of redemption. Susan Van Kirk
After four back-to-back medical conventions, event planner Sophie Winston is ready for a break. But then she is given the opportunity to ghost write a cook book for big bucks. Given her bathroom needs a major redo—she accepts the assignment but finds out two women have gone missing. Sophie doesn’t think it is a coincidence, and one of them turns out to be the first ghost writer on the project she took over.
Set in the fall, as the book evolves the temperatures get colder and colder. Wouldn’t you know, ghost writing the book also means she must test cook all the recipes! But the recipes have codes handwritten beside them. They have to be clues.
This is one of the coziest cozy series I’ve ever read. The recipes alone are worth the price of the book. I always want to get back to Sophia, Mars, Daisy, Natasha, and Nina. E. B. Davis
Time to read thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown met desperation to reduce the to be read shelf induced by our decision to return to Maine. As a result, I’ve been zipping through a four-foot-high stack of books that I would prefer to donate to our local library rather than pack. So far, the endeavor is moving right along.
The Burning Room by Michael Connelly. This is the second Bosch book I’ve read. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Connelly’s writing. Bosch is at the end of his career in The Burning Room. He enrolled in the DROP program at the LAPD and he’s got less than a year remaining on the force before retirement. The cold case unit has recently taken the decision to pair young, green, detectives, with seasoned pros, and Bosch has drawn Lucky Lucy. A former beat cop who not only survived the gun battle that killed her partner, but took down his attacker.
The duo are assigned the task of finding the person who fired the shot that killed a Mariachi musician. The shot was fired six years ago, but the bullet only recovered from the musician’s spine after his death. Soon after starting the assignment, Bosch discovers his partner is privately working the case of the Bonnie Brae tragedy where nine children died in an arson set fire. When Bosch learns his partner is one of the few surviving children of that tragedy, he decides the team should take on the case.
Connelly’s skill as a storyteller is apparent as he weaves the stories of these two disparate cases together without letting the reader become confused. Each case is fully formed and the decisions surrounding the partners actions make perfect sense and bring the book to a fully satisfying conclusion. One of the highlights of the story was the characterization of Lucy. She’s young enough to be Bosch’s daughter and Connelly pays homage to this generational difference through Lucy’s actions and language. Her youth and inexperience provide an interesting spice to Bosch’s seasoned investigation letting the reader know the LAPD will be in good hands after Bosch’s departure. Kait Carson