Some Cozies for spring reading: Kate Carlisle takes us to small-town California in her latest Fixer-up Mystery, CROWNED AND MOLDERING (Obsidian, 2015, $7.99). Shannon Hammer, the construction expert of Lighthouse Cove, is ready to tackle best-selling author Mac Sullivan’s project, restoing the old lighthouse that gives the town its name. After all the hassles with the local historian, both Shannon and Mac are more than eager to gut the place. But everything comes to a halt when the body of a young woman is found jammed into the dumb-waiter, and it looks like a town mystery is about to be solved. The body is identified as an old friend of Shannon’s who disappeared fifteen years before. Suspect in her murder include many of Shannon’s high school classmates, a charismatic teacher, and a school counselor whose position owes more to politics than to competency. Then there’s another murder, and Shannon knows she has to act quickly to prevent a terrible miscarriage of justice. Bits of construction lore are sandwiched between clues in this look at the nastier side of small-town life.
A small village in Ireland is the scene of A TURN FOR THE BAD, by Sheila Connolly (Berkley, 2016, $7.99). Maura Donovan is still finding her feet as the proprietor Sullivan’s Pub in Leap when a farmer announces that one of their own has gone missing. John Tully was a dairy farmer, not a fisherman, so why was he taken off the beach, leaving his young son alone? What has this to do with the body of an unknown man that washes up soon after? And who owns the grand boat that’s been lurking in the bay?
Smuggling has been a part of Irish life for centuries, but Tully had no connection with it… or so his brother says. Maura concocts a Plan that involves almost everyone in the village, from a pair of fishermen-turned-distillers to the local lord, and finds that the hardest part of being a pub-owner is waiting for other people to do things! Another Irish jaunt, with more to come.
More foreign affairs back in the USA, in Julie Hyzy’s latest White House Chef mystery, FOREIGN ECLAIRS (Berkley, 2016,$7.99. White House chef Ollie Paras has had her share of adventures, but she doesn’t realize how serious her danger is until her purse is stolen on her way back home from work. Her new husband, Gav, knows more than she does about who is behind the mugging, but things get serious when an explosive device is found in a National Forest. Ollie is the target of a dangerous madman, one who will stop at nothing, including the assassination of the President of the United States, to complete his self-appointed revenge. There’s a shocker of an ending, and a possible new career for Ollie, in this nail-biter that includes many recipes fit for a king… or a president.
Margaret Maron reveals more of Judge Deborah Knott’s complicated family history in DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS (Grand Central,2015, $8.00). One of the matriarchs, Aunt Rachel, is dying, and Deborah is summoned to her bedside, to give comfort to the woman who holds the family’s secrets. Now that she is dying, Aunt Rachel is rambling, revealing far more than anyone wants to hear, especially the one who hastened the old woman’s death with a pillow over her face. A long-lost treasure trove, a long-ago affair, babies born too soon or too late, all have a part in the unraveling of this tangles tale of love and murder. In the end, a most unlikely killer with an even less likely motive is revealed, and Justice is properly served. Maron at her best.
From Appalachia we go to Maine, in THREADS OF EVIDENCE, by Lea Wait (Kensington, 2015, $7.99). Harbor Haven is the home of Angie Curis and her group of needlepointers, all of whom are agog with the news that the old mansion, Auroroa, has been bought by a real-life movie star, Skye West. Angie is asked to appraise the old furniture in the house for possible renovation, and is especially intrigued by a set of needlepoint tapestries that may hold a clue to the murder of a young girl some forty-five years before. Then someone tries to poison Skye, and Angie finds herself tracking two murderers… one in the past, and one in the present. Recipes for Maine treats are included.
Reviews provided by Roberta Rogow for her column Roberta’s Ramblings in the April 2016 edition of The Book Breeze.