Category Archives: Mystery

Review: Officer Elvis

Author Gary Gusick / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 198 Pages


This is the second book that features Darla Cavannah.  You don’t have to have read the first to enjoy this book. There are some characters from the first novel, but their introduction in this installment gives you what you need to know efficiently. Darla and most others weren’t brought to tears with the death of fellow law enforcement Tommy Reylander. He was more known for being an Elvis impersonator than for being a stellar detective. I liked the reference to The Maltese Falcon.

“When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it.”

So Darla takes on the case even though the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) wouldn’t have of its own volition.

The pace of this is good with some humor sprinkled in. But it’s not goofy, wacky humor. It is a police procedural in its structure. The region and societal habits are so present, the setting is like an additional character to the story. I stayed up an hour past my self-imposed bedtime to read more. It’s good reading.

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Auhtor Photo Gary GusickGary Gusick is a retired advertising executive with over thirty years experience as a copywriter and creative director. He is a multiple winner of virtually every national and international award for creative excellence in advertising.

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Friday, April 17th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, April 20th: Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, April 21st: Omnimystery News – author guest post

Wednesday, April 22nd: Lilac Reviews

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Tuesday, May 12th: Mom in Love with Fiction

TBD: Mystery Playground – author Q&A

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Review: Dead Drop

Author Jesse Miles/ Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 269 Pages

Cover Art Dead DropI liked Dead Drop.  Jack Salvo was a competent private investigator. It was refreshing to see a pure detective novel where the P.I. actually knows how to do a stake out, research missing people, deal with others for information, and navigate a relationship with the police. He is efficient and effective. I didn’t have to read through information about quilters, cupcakes, dogs or cats, or other hobby type sub-plots.

It did seem statistically impossible that all the women he came in contact with were attractive and single.  Maybe this was a nod to Mike Hammer? He wasn’t a cad about women though.

The conflict starts quickly.  Jack is in a potential client’s office with the difficulty being outlined.  A corporation has uncovered that an embezzlement has taken place. They want it handled in a quiet way.

The setting was Los Angeles– and this was another strong suit of the author.  The city was described well enough to be an additional character in the book without spending pages and pages describing it.

Anyone that enjoys pure private investigator mysteries will like this solid entry in the sub-genre.

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Interview with Chrystle Fiedler

I love your theme of natural healing in the books.  If someone wanted to start choosing some natural treatments, what one ingredient would you say they should get for their pantry/medicine cabinet? Why this one first?

First of all thanks for having me over to visit, second, if I was going to start with one thing, it would be an aloe plant. You can put it on your windowsill and if you have a minor burn, or sunburn, you just cut the leaf, and the aloe oozes out and you can apply it! My other favorite is lavender, it’s great for stress reduction. Put 8-10 drops of lavender essential oil in your bath with Epsom salt and have a good soak, or put a few drops on your pillow or create a sachet to help you relax and go to sleep. I look for lavender in shampoo and body care products too, that and patchouli. Kiss My Face is a good brand and NO animal testing. I always look for that.

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For someone that was completely new to natural remedies, what guidebook or website would you recommend for their journey?

Mother Earth Living, Organic Living and The Essential Herbal websites are all are great – even Prevention features natural remedies now. As for books, anything by Brigitte Mars, a master herbalist and healer with over 30 years of experience and Rosemary Gladstar, grand dame of herbal lore. In fact, Rosemary wrote the foreward for our latest book which is intended to help you feel happier: The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing: Easy-to-Use Natural Remedies, Herbs, Flower Essences, Essential Oils, Supplements, and Therapeutic Practices for Health, Happiness, and Well-Being. Our first book together, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies: Time-Tested & Almost Forgotten Wisdom for Treating Hundreds of Common Ailments, Aches & Pains Quickly and Naturally is for everyday complaints and is a good reference book to keep around the home.  People seem to like them, so that’s good!

 

Since you have the fiction mysteries and your non-fiction works, I have to ask- do you work on projects simultaneously.  Or do you have to complete one before beginning another?

I prefer to work on one after the other but that isn’t always possible. In that case, I block out time for one and then switch to the other book. It keeps things interesting!  I also write articles for natural health magazines like Natural Health, Spirituality & Health and Green Living so I have to make time for this as well. It’s nice to be able to follow my interest in natural health to fiction, non-fiction and journalism!

What’s been the most surprising thing about being an author?

What hard work is really is to take a book from idea to completion. First comes the idea, but then you need to build that into a workable outline, then write the book! And then edit it and then incorporate your editor’s notes and the copy editor’s and proofreader’s notes. The other not-so-surprising thing is the feeling of accomplishment and with my health titles and natural remedy advice, the feeling that I’m helping others by providing information, and solutions.

What was the first mystery book you remember reading (not necessarily a cozy- but a mystery)? What impression did it leave?

Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie! I wished that I could come up with the convoluted plots like she did! I love to watch Poirot and Marple on Masterpiece Mystery too.  When I read the Christie novels I never imagined that I could do the same thing—you know, be a writer, like that! It was only when I read Dying for Chocolate by one of my favorite authors Diane Mott Davidson that I thought, now this I can do!

What’s your next book about?

The next book is Dandelion Dead: A Natural Remedies Mystery and it features our lively and thriving wine and vineyard community on the East End of Long Island. Expect murders with poisonous plants and murder by wine! It takes place during the week before Halloween and fall is one of my favorite seasons, so I’m able to use the activities usual on this day including a masked ball!  and incorporate all of my good feelings about this beautiful season on the East End of Long Island, NY.
PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF?

Suspicion is unearthed when an outspoken surgeon turns up dead in Willow McQuade’s medicinal herb garden.

A bitter battle has sprouted in the village of Greenport on the eve of the annual maritime festival: Willow McQuade has transformed a vacant lot alongside Nature’s Way Market & Café into a beautiful garden of healing plants—as much a tribute to her late aunt Claire, the shop’s beloved founder, as an enlightening educational center. The town board awarded Willow the plot fair and square, but that’s not how some folks see it—including Dr. Charles White, who invested in plans to develop a high-end hotel on the property. When the belligerent surgeon publicly threatens Willow during the festival, Willow’s boyfriend, Jackson Spade, ratchets up the hostile confrontation to defend the woman he loves, sowing seeds of guilt that take root by the time Dr. White’s corpse turns up amongst Willow’s chamomile and ashwaganda plants. To prove Jackson’s innocence, she must dig deep to bring a killer to light.

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About This Author

CHRYSTLE FIEDLER is the author of the previous Natural Remedies mysteries, Scent to Kill, and Death Drops, as well as six nonfiction books on natural healing and herbal remedies. Also a freelance journalist specializing in alternative health topics, her work has appeared in Natural Health, Spirituality & Health, Mother Earth Living, Green Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Vegetarian Times, and Remedy. She lives in Greenport, New York with her 3 dachshunds and 2 cats, three of which are rescues. Visit www.chrystlefiedler.com, or follow her on Facebook, and Twitter.

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You can see my writing work here: https://chrystlefiedler.contently.com

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Garden of Death Contest

PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF? Murder is unearthed when an outspoken surgeon turns up dead in Willow McQuade’s medicinal herb garden.

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Book Cover Garden of DeathWhen a local doctor is found dead in Willow McQuade’s medicinal garden, she must find the killer to clear her boyfriend’s name in this third clever book in the Natural Remedies Mystery series.

Dr. Willow McQuade, owner of Nature’s Way Market & Café, has put the finishing touches on a new medicinal plant garden for Greenport’s annual Maritime Festival and is ready for the festivities to begin. But it’s not all flowers and sunshine at the grand opening, when Willow discovers the body of another contestant, Dr. Charles White, face down in her garden.

Willow’s hunky boyfriend, Jackson Spade, immediately becomes a suspect due to a recent fight with Dr. White. Willow knows she has to remedy the situation, but it won’t be easy with the other applicants’ vendettas and vandals wrecking her garden at every turn. And when she finds buried treasure in her garden that just might belong to the legendary Captain Kidd, the stakes become even higher. Was Dr. White searching for that treasure? Did someone kill him to get to it first? With the help of Jackson and her eccentric ex-boyfriend, Willow follows the clues to uncover the truth that someone wants buried… Continue reading

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Review: The Mystery of the Invisible Hand

Author Marshall Jevons/ Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 334 Pages

Cover Invisible HandI completely adored this novel.  I will advise that its appeal may not be universal.  You see, there are two things about the story that are quite different from your usual cozy.  First, this protagonist doesn’t go around poking their nose into things trying to solve the case.  Henry Spearman is a visiting Nobel Prize winning professor at a college.  He is brought in to teach a special class on art and economics at a small university.  He never even met the victim.  Instead, people come to him for various reasons and share information and request his help.

The police involved respect his observations.  He has a track record of using his knowledge of economics to evaluate the world around him and sometimes catches killers with this talent. He goes about his job and we are privy to the college experience.

Secondly, we get to hear his class sessions and public speeches.  I felt like I was in college again.  Cerebral.  You don’t have to have a PhD to enjoy these passages, but a passing interest in art or economics would help you to appreciate them.  What is the difference between the Coase Theorem and the Coase Conjecture?  Can a durable good be monopolized? There are also references to great literature.

The pace is even and the vocabulary high. I have to say I savored every word.

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Review: Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities

Author Mary McHugh / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 318 Pages

Flamenco Cover Art

This is the second novel in the Happy Hoofers mystery series. You can enjoy this book even if you haven’t read the first. Five friends, Tina, Janice, Pat, Mary Louise and Gini travel and perform dancing routines together. Their first encounter with murder was on a cruise ship in Chorus Lines, Caviar, and Corpses. This newest adventure is on a train trip through Spain. It has a colorful cover and characters.

This is your classic setup. There’s someone that is a nasty mess of a person. Everyone seems to have a reason to want them dead. We aren’t surprised when Dick Shambless ends up that way early on. Some motives are out in the open for all to see, some are below the surface to be unearthed.

It is a delightful trip with these ladies covering dancing, information about Spain, photography tips, a little romance and drama, and some great food and recipes. I am going to have to make the orange flan dessert recipe. I’ve already written my ingredient shopping list.

My only comment for improvement would be that the dialogue didn’t seem to reflect the different characters. It was all relatively brief and crisp. There are five gals in the happy hoofers, and the other travelers on the train. Don’t we all have an academic friend that speaks a little differently than the salesman we know? Or someone from a different region of the country that makes different vocabulary choices. Then there’s the person that has to have all eyes on them- so they deliver their stories as if they are on stage. It just seemed like the dialogue was rather generic for the different character’s personalities.

Anyone that enjoys cozies where motives are uncovered and women’s friendships are valued would get a kick out of this series.

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February 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Spotlight

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Review: Deadly Portfolio

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 Author John Hohn /Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 330 Pages

The book description at the Amazon website is pretty thorough. I was drawn to this book because I do a little bit of options investing myself. This novel is a little different from your typical mystery novel where Deadly Portfolio Cover Artyou are trying to guess the murderer before the detective. In this work you know who did it pretty early on and are along for the ride to see how the families cope and how the officials come to their conclusions. It’s more like a Columbo episode where you are introduced to the situation, see one character decide on a course of action that isn’t good for another’s health. Then the investigators enter and see what they unravel, and who cracks under the strain.

There were just enough characters without getting you lost. However, the author surely loves names that begin with M. Morrie and Monica have a son name Michael. Morrie’s business partner is Matthew and their biggest client is Mac McAllister. Moran is one of the cops involved in the investigation. I can’t really say that I loved any of the characters. Matthew was the closest that came to being someone I could respect or admire. The pace of the novel was fairly even. The difficulties the characters found themselves in felt real for this day and age. If you have gone through a divorce, have step children, or know someone that does, a lot of the dynamics in this book will seem believable.

About the Author

John HohnI am a Midwesterner by birth. Yankton, South Dakota, is my hometown. I graduated from high school there in 1957. After four years earning degree in English at St. John’s University (MN), I became a teacher. My first wife, Elaine Finfrock, also of Yankton, and I had five children; four sons and a daughter. We divorced in 1977. Continue reading

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Spotlight on Cunning Cruise Ship Caper

Cunning Cruise Banner
Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mysteries (Book 3)
Cozy Mystery
Paperback, 226 pages

SYNOPSIS:

It’s been years since Sandy Fairfax was a teen idol and starred in his hit ‘70s television series Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth, but he still has his fans. Now it’s 1993 and many of his grown-up fans see a leisurely cruise as the ideal vacation. So, when Sandy’s agent finds him a pleasant gig aboard the SS Zodiac, he jumps atCunning Cruise Cover the chance. And, when the offer includes a spot for his musician sister, Celeste, who is blind, Sandy sees an opportunity to re-engage with his estranged sibling. However, the brother-sister duo are barely aboard the ship, when Sandy finds a singer from another shipboard show murdered in his dressing room. When the ship’s security officer does little to investigate, Sandy feels obligated to jump in, even though he isn’t a detective––he just used to play one on TV. Soon he’s grilling potential suspects, including a burnt-out piano bar player, a Southern-fried magician, a blackmail victim, a ventriloquist with a sassy dummy and even a former flame. Will Sandy unmask the killer before the cruise ends? Will he connect with the girl of his dreams? Will he have time to enjoy the sights of Nassau? Or will he end up sleeping with the fishes in the Atlantic Ocean, another victim in this killer’s CUNNING CRUISE SHIP CAPER? Continue reading

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Review: All That Glitters

Author Michael Murphy / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 261 Pages

You know how it is when you have the perfect cup? The aroma is great, the perfect balance in taste, it’s hot enough to warm your soul, but not too hot to burn your tongue and the mug fits perfectly in your hands. All the senses are engaged and you forget the world around you. That is this book to a mystery reader- it has the impeccable balance.

All That GlittersThe setting and characters in this book were just fabulous. Picture the 1930’s in Los Angeles where you are bumping into the likes of William Powell and Carole Lombard. Folks are talking about Dashiell Hammett and who will get the role in The Thin Man. The pace was just right. The author smartly gave you the foundation information you would need for the era but put you into the action and pickle quickly without pages and pages of set up information. This is the second book with these characters, but can be read and enjoyed just fine if you haven’t had a chance to read The Yankee Club.

The chemistry between Jake and Laura is there. They are both smart and at the same time vulnerable in certain areas. Jake is a mystery writer and a former Pinkerton agent. This adds to the believability of having the skills to investigate. The idea that there would be greed, politics, gossip and romantic entanglements in the movie making business was perfectly understandable. All the ingredients for a murder are before the reader.

I think younger readers unfamiliar with actors and actresses of that time might miss a few of the references. Someone old enough to have seen a few of these black and white movies with fantastic gowns and charming ladies, gentlemen and/or scoundrels will smile a little from pleasant memories. I really enjoyed this one.

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Review: Swollen Identity

Author Rich Leder / Reviewed by Felita Daniels / 410 Pages

Swollen Identity Cover

Book 2 in the Series

This is the second book in the McCall and Company series. We reviewed the first Workman’s Complication awhile back here, and I loved it. So I was really looking forward to reading Swollen Identity. This book picks up immediately after the last one.

I still love these characters, the antics, the humor and the action. Kate still struggles with what she wants to do with her life and what life keeps throwing at her in spite of her plans. Fu is still as heroic. The rest of the supporting cast is still colorful and ready to step up for adventure with Kate.

This novel has two story plots going. Kate is still on a quest to find who murdered her father (unpaid mission). Since Fu hung the McCall and Company Private Detective sign on her door, she also has a rich, beautiful paying client, Brooke Barrington. Her name even sounds wealthy. Her son still wants her to get a ‘regular’ job. So her life is going about ten different directions but she still gets it done. Along with the humor there are actual dangerous people and situations to maneuver. I appreciate that a lot about Leder’s books. The people here understand there is real threat to their lives and they still choose to participate (they aren’t just stupid). They are bold, crazy bold, and they think on their feet.

I love his charming humorous chapter titles- icing on the cake. My favorite one in this book is “Most Non of the Chalant.” If you like your mysteries with some smart humor, and an eclectic cast- these books are for you. Five Stars.

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