Mystery Reviews

Long winter nights are good for cozy mysteries… here are a few for a good night’s read.

51w3y3ccz4L._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_Christine Husom has a new series, centering on a curio shop specializing in snow globes. The first in the series, SNOW WAY OUT (Berkley, 2015, $7.99) Cami Brooks has returned to her old home town in upstate New York after being involved in a distressing scandal, to open a new store and a new life. She’s making a good start, but life gets more complicated when she finds the body of the town troublemaker with a knife in his back, right after her first snow globe making class. Things get more confusing when snow globes appear and disappear from the shop. Is the addled Vietnam veteran responsible? Or is there something more sinister going on? Past sins come to light, long-lost brothers are united, and the guilty are punished, in this slice of small-town life. Instructions for making a snow globe are included

51H19P2pVzL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_BITE THE BISCUIT, by Linda O. Johnston (Midnight Ink,2015,$17.50) also features a new shop, this one featuring healthy treats for dog. Carrie Kennersly works as a veterinary technician at a local clinic, but she’s always wanted to have her own business. Now she’s opening The Barkery, as an annex to a local bakery, and it looks as if her dreams are coming true… that is, until a rival pet store owner arrives at the opening and makes it clear that there will be only one pet store in town! When the rival is found dead, with one of Carrie’s trademark dog buscuits nearby, it looks as if the rivalry has taken a nasty turn. It’s up to Carrie to find the killer, while keeping her own pets in line and providing treats for the canine population of Knobcone heights, CA. There are red herrings a-plenty, and Carrie goes on several wrong trails before confronting a most unlikely killer. Recipes for dog-friendly treats are included.

510-Hb9yOhL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Deirdre Verne’s DRAWING CONCLUSIONS (Midnight Ink, 2015, $14.99) takes us to the darker side of the mystery world, as Constance “CeCe” Prentice searches for the truth about her brother Teddy’s death. On the face of it, Dr. Theodore Prentice’s death was an accidet, triggered by his eating a cookie containing an allergen, but the police decide that it’s murder, and for some reason, CeCe is next on the list. The answers lie in the research institute funded by a mysterious Balkan entrepreneur, headed by CeCe’s father, where CeCe’s brother discovered the terrible secret behind their experiments. CeCe’s skteches are important clues in finding the killer, whose motives are as warped as his experiements. Not an easy read, but a compelling one.

51jrdcRFjIL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_In a lighter mood, CATNAPPED!, by Elaine Viets (Obsidian, 2015, $7.99) is another case for private eyes Helen Hawthorne and Phil Sagemont, now happily married and living together in Palm Beach, FL. A tearful socialite wants them to get her beloved cat out of the hands of her soon-to-be-ex-husband. It looks like an easy job, but then the husband turns up dead, and the cat is missing. Helen takes on yet another “dead-end job” as a cat groomer, while Phil checks out the dead man’s background. The sleazy side of cat shows gets exposed, and so does a thoroughly nasty murderer. Another great entry in a long-running series.

Weber--A Killer Retreat CoverMore pets take center stage in A KILLER RETREAT, buy Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink, 2015, $14.99). Yoga teacher Kate Davidson takes Bella, the temperamental German shepherd along when she’s given an offer to teach at an exclusive resort. Trouble starts early, when Kate and her boyfriend Michael run afoul of one of the guests at the resort, whose unleashed dog sets Bella into a frenzy. Bella isn’t the only one; this woman manages to insult or distress everyone in the place. It’s not surprising that she turnes up dead; unfortunately for Kate, she has no alibi for the time of the murder. There are plenty of other suspects, all at cross purposes, and Kate finds herself fighting off the least likely of them at the edge of a cliff, before the murder is solved, and Kate resolves some of her personal issues. Plenty of character, and oddball characters, in this expedition into the Northwest. DON’T MISS OUR INTERVIEW WITH TRACY WEBER IN THE JANUARY 2016 EDITION.

Reviews provided by Roberta Rogow for her column Roberta’s Ramblings for the December 2015 edition of The Book Breeze.

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