Sunday, December 28, 2014

Once Upon a Grind by Cleo Coyle

book cover
Once Upon a Grind
by Cleo Coyle


ISBN-13: 9780425270851
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: December 2, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Fairy tale fever has descended on New York City, and Clare Cosi gives her coffee truck a "Jack and the Beanstalk” makeover for a Central Park festival. Clare’s coffee hunter ex-husband contributes a bag of African beans with alleged magical properties.

Clare remains skeptical—until she receives a vision that helps her find a young model’s body in the park’s woods. The police dismiss "sleeping beauty” as the victim of a drug overdose. Then Clare uncovers evidence that points to a roster of suspects, from a wolf of Wall Street to a New York Giant and a wicked witch of the West Side.

Now Clare is really in the woods—with a dangerous predator on her heels and an investigation that leads from a secret Prince Charming club right back to her own NYPD detective boyfriend. If she doesn’t solve this mystery, those magic beans predict an unhappy ending.


My Review:
Once Upon a Grind is a cozy mystery/suspense novel. This novel is the fourteenth in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this story didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous books.

The mystery was a clue-based puzzle mystery. Clare has some muddled, dream-like visions (induced by special coffee beans) which contain subtle clues. However, the clues are mainly of the normal sort. I did identify the critical clue which would point to whodunit, but it wasn't until nearly the end that I realized who fulfilled that requirement and the other clues. It's probably possible to catch on earlier, but I think the author had good pacing with revealing the critical clues.

Clare's police friend uses her to help uncover some secrets as an undercover spy (of sorts), so she's placed in suspenseful, potentially dangerous situations. I liked that the heroine was clever and how her boyfriend and ex-husband appreciated her help and supported her.

There was some bad language. There were no graphic sex scenes. Overall, I'd highly recommend this interesting, suspenseful mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scandal at Six by Ann Purser

book cover
Scandal at Six
by Ann Purser


ISBN-13: 9780425261774
Mass Market Paperback:
352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 2, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Lois Meade has scrubbed her way through the homes in Long Farnden, and she’s not afraid of dusting cobwebs and killing a few bugs. But in her role as amateur sleuth, she’s learning to beware of snakes in the grass . . .

Spring has arrived in Long Farnden and with it, a mysterious infestation. Lois Meade’s daughter has found her village store overrun by insects and reptiles. As Lois looks into the invasion, her investigation leads her to Robert Pettison, a seemingly unhinged zookeeper, and his nephew. The two of them are knee-deep in illegal trade, and they don’t take kindly to Lois poking her nose into their business.

Lois enlists the help of her faithful cleaner Dot Nimmo and police inspector Hunter Cowgill to discover more about Pettison and a suspicious death at the zoo.


My Review:
Scandal at Six is a cozy mystery. This is the thirteenth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous novels.

The theme of illegal rare animal trade was an interesting idea, but there actually wasn't much mystery to this story. The "bad guys" are point-of-view characters, so we know from the start who is putting snakes and such in the shop. There are a few deaths where it's implied a certain POV character caused them, but this is never definitively addressed.

The only mysterious death happens at the very end. We have all the clues from previous events, and the solution is quickly uncovered. There were enough clues that I could immediately narrow down the suspects and only one seemed likely--and that was, indeed, whodunit.

There was some bad language. There was no sex. I'd recommend this novel to those interested in the theme and who don't care about the lack of mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Death with All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette

book cover
Death with All the Trimmings
by Lucy Burdette


ISBN-13: 9780451465900
Mass Market Paperback:
320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 1, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good will toward men, don’t seem to extend to the restaurant biz. Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals someone’s sabotaging her kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate.

Things heat up fast when the restaurant is set on fire—and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage. Amid holiday festivities like the lighted boat parade and visiting relatives who stir up mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer who may turn up the heat on her next…


My Review:
Death with All the Trimmings is a cozy mystery/suspense. It's the fifth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous novels.

The story was more of a suspense, with the heroine being shot and a friend getting tied up, than a mystery. There were some clues as to who was involved in the various incidents, but more attention was on the drama of everyone's lives. In the end, I thought they'd forgotten to find the actual murderer. The only mention of whodunit was from one Bad Person accusing another of the murder. We're given practically no clues about the actual murder, so I'd expected at least some police confirmation that they'd found proof against the accused and that it was, indeed, whodunit. Ah, well.

There was some bad language (or, as one of the characters would call it, "naughty language"). There was no sex. I'd recommend this novel to people who enjoy suspenseful, drama-filled books with a focus on awesome food.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Aground on St. Thomas by Rebecca M. Hale

book cover
Aground on St. Thomas
by Rebecca M. Hale


ISBN-13: 978-0425252512
Mass Market Paperback:
400 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 2, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
The tropical paradise of St. Thomas is shut down as the FBI seizes control of the island to apprehend government officials on bribery charges. Tourists and locals are stranded until FBI agent Gabe “Friday” Stein can find the missing governor and two senators who have eluded capture.

Innocent of any crime, Senator Julia Sanchez can only escape wrongful arrest with the help of eccentric Senator Bobo. As they try to blend in with increasingly hostile locals and make their trek across the island to safety, Senator Sanchez is only just beginning to realize the extent of the corruption behind the island’s idyllic fa├žade


My Review:
Aground on St. Thomas is a suspense novel set in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is the third book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, but there appears to be an underlying story that continues through the series. The plot and outcome of the previous novel was also "spoiled" in this one.

The idea behind the story and the action was intriguing. However, there wasn't much mystery to it for the reader since we get POV thoughts and motives from all the major (and some minor) players in this political game. The characters were varied and each had motives of their own, so it was never certain exactly how things would turn out--who would survive physically and politically.

While the pacing was generally good, there was a slow point a few chapters in where each main character stopped to think about his background and what lead up to the action in the previous chapters. It's too bad this wasn't staggered throughout the story instead of done all at once, but the pacing did pick back up nicely after that.

There was no sex or bad language, and the minimal violence was more implied than described. I'd recommend this interesting novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.