Book Notes: The Bitter Past

Thanks to Minotaur Books for providing an e-copy of the book. All opinions are my own. 

 

Book Cover

The Bitter Past
A Porter Beck mystery, Book One.

By Bruce Borgos

One Sentencer Summary

In a case that unfolds in the past (the 1950s) and the present, it seems that a Russian spy infiltrated the nuclear testing site and now someone is looking for that long-ago, all-but forgotten person, who holds the key to what happened then and to the deadly goings on now.

My Thoughts

I almost put this book down immediately after starting it. The description of the murder scene was graphic and something I wasn’t prepared for. But I didn’t, and I’m glad I stuck with it, for the most part. Here’s what I liked about the novel.
The sheriff is a flawed character, devoted to his family and his job. His supporting cast are well-written characters. The mystery is complex, involving past nuclear tests, foreign agents, and FBI. The chapters alternate between past and present, weaving together a complicated plot.
What I didn’t like was the way the female federal agent was written. She came across as a stereotype—a female agent more interested in sleeping with the sheriff than doing her job. It came off, to me, as a woman not able to act professionally, and I almost stopped reading. But I didn’t. I needed the mystery solved and so I finished the book. All in all, this is a solid debut novel.

Book Notes Review: Lights, Camera, Bones

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins Press/Minotaur Books for a free ecopy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Lights, Camera, Bones

A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery #27
by Carolyn Haines

Publisher’s Summary

The latest novel in the series that Kirkus Reviews characterizes as “Stephanie Plum meets the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” featuring sassy Southern private investigator Sarah Booth Delaney.
Delaney Detective Agency gets a taste of the spotlight when they are called to a case on a movie set in Greenville, MS, right on the Mississippi River. Marlon Brandon, heir to a wealthy and influential political family, has brought a film crew to town to film a drama about the 1927 flood that submerged a great deal of Greenville. Marlon wants the world to know the story of the flood—and the heroic role the Brandon ancestors played in rescuing dozens of local residents from drowning.
Or at least that was the plan until he disappeared. If this weren’t concerning enough, the situation appears even more dire when a severed foot is discovered in the Mississippi River, and clues indicate that Marlon may have fallen victim to a freak bull shark attack.
But as rumors swirl around the Delta about Marlon’s motives for making the film, Sarah Booth and Tinkie have to wonder whether a shark is to blame, or an equally ferocious human offender. The show must go on, and Sarah Booth and her crew will have to investigate all manner of creatures, over land and sea, in order to solve the mystery and save the day.

My Thoughts

I skimmed through most of this book. The pace was a bit slow for me. I also had difficulty with one of the plot points. The characters didn’t interest me either. In short, this book wasn’t for me.
But having said that, this book might be for you. This is #27 in the series, so that tells me this author’s writing style appeals to a lot of readers. A series of this length is a fantastic accomplishment! Read the excerpt on the publisher’s page to see if this book is one that interests you.

Carolyn Haines’ website

Publishing Info

Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery, cozy mystery
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9781250885944
Pub date: 5/21/24

Book Notes Review A Limited Edition Murder by Lauren Elliott

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington for a free copy of the e-book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Book cover for A Limited Edition Murder

A Limited Edition Murder

Book 10 in the Beyond The Page Mystery series
by Lauren Elliott

Publisher’s Summary

While in England, a first edition of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights leads bookstore owner Addie Greyborne to a murder on the moors . . .

Although enjoying her extended stay working at Second Chance Books and Bindery in West Yorkshire, Addie still feels adrift—far from home, her friends, and her own beloved bookstore, Beyond the Page Books and Curios. The engagement party of her dear friend, Tony, at Milton Manor promises to be a joyful distraction. But there’s an ill wind blowing at the estate: When Tony presents his fiancé with a special copy of Wuthering Heights as an engagement gift, the lord of the manor insists the book was stolen from his library . . .

Things go from troubling to tragic when Addie takes her Yorkipoo, Pippi, out for a walk on the moors and stumbles across the body of a young woman. When the police suspect Tony of foul play, Addie vows to get to the bottom of what’s going on. But it’s a twisted, treacherous path to the truth and Addie will need to watch her every step . . .

 

My Thoughts

For A Limited Edition Murder, Addie Greyborne is living in England. Moving her to England adds new characters and new settings to the series. When the book starts, Addie has been in England for a year. She’s planning on returning home to Massachusetts after the engagement party of her good friend, Tony. She’s having mixed emotions about leaving England. She has a job she enjoys, and she’s made solid friendships she isn’t sure she’s ready to leave.
It’s a conflict that carries throughout the book—does she stay in England or return to Massachusetts?
One thing that is the same. Even in England, Addie finds herself caught up in a murder. She discovers a body on the moors, and she recognizes the woman from Tony’s engagement party from the night before. The investigation brings her into contact with Detective Inspector Noah Parker, former London Metropolitan Police detective. Sparks of irritation fly as they try to solve the murder.

I loved this book. I’ve read all the books in the series, and A Limited Edition Murder is the best book yet. The new British characters are well-written. The mystery is complicated and kept me guessing. A cold case is thrown into the mix, further complicating the story. And the ending! I’m already eager to read the next book in the series.

5/5 stars.

Lauren Elliott’s website

 

Other books in the series

Publisher’s Info

Publisher: Kensington Cozies
Genre: FICTION / MYSTERY & DETECTIVE / WOMEN SLEUTHS
Pages: 320
Pub date: 5/21/24
ISBN: 9781496735195

 

 

Book Notes Review: Four Alarm Homicide by Diane Kelly

Disclaimer: Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a free e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Four Alarm Homicide

House Flipper Series #6
by Diane Kelly

Publisher’s Summary

The sixth in the delightful cozy mystery series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville, TN—where the real estate market is to die for. 
Some properties are too hot to handle…
Carpenter Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck are hot for a historical property that has just come on the market—a fire station in Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood that was built nearly a century ago.
The cousins have just begun the interior demolition work at the fire station when Joanna Hartzell, who lives in a townhouse around the corner, comes by with a plea for help. Joanna owns the right half of her building, which she proudly maintains in perfect condition, while the left side falls into disrepair: the seven adult children who inherited it years ago refuse to lift a finger on repairs. Never one to turn down a challenge, Whitney and Buck manage to acquire the rundown townhouse—though it turns out Joanna is only one of the many neighbors interested in buying the property once they’ve worked their magic.
Then Joanna shows up at the fire station confused and rambling, then collapses, never to recover. Alarm bells go off for Whitney: she suspects something—and someone—evil could be the real cause. Can she and Collin put the clues together and smoke out a killer?

My Thoughts

Four Alarm Homicide is a quick read. House flipper and bride-to-be Whitney Whitaker must solve a murder while trying to finish rehabbing an old fire station and a townhouse. She’s more than up to all three tasks. But she asks so many questions, she comes under suspicion herself. Now she needs to clear her name and finish the fire station in time for her wedding.
This is the first book I’ve read in this series, and I wasn’t lost. The plot kept me guessing, and the murderer’s identity caught me by surprise. The clues were all there, but I didn’t put them altogether. Well-done.
4/5 stars.

Read an excerpt here.

Diane Kelly’s website

Publishing Info

Imprint Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 304
On Sale: 04/23/2024
ISBN: 9781250816085

Book Notes Review “Murder of an Amish Bridegroom” by Patricia Johns

Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for a free e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Murder of an Amish Bridegroom

An Amish Seamstress Mystery
by Patricia Johns

Publisher’s Summary

The quiet Amish lifestyle isn’t all that it seems in this debut cozy mystery series, for fans of Amanda Flower and Wanda E. Brunstetter.
Petunia Yoder is Blueberry, Pennsylvania’s youngest old maid, at twenty-two years of age, and completely unmarriageable. But she’s determined to celebrate her friends’ weddings with joy and a full heart. Unfortunately, Petunia’s best friend, Eden Beiler, is playing a dangerous game with a man who is ruining her reputation.
Ike Smoker is the community’s iceman—the one who cuts, stores, and sells the ice—and when Petunia discovers him dead with an ice pick in his chest, Eden is found on the scene with blood on her hands. Homicide detective Asher Nate is new to the area, and he has a challenge on his hands. The Amish community sticks close together, and he doesn’t understand the subtleties and nuances of the clues he uncovers. He needs an Amish interpreter, and he asks Petunia if she’ll help. In a bid to keep her best friend out of prison, she agrees.
The community is filled with people who had good reason to hate Ike Smoker, especially as Petunia and Asher begin to uncover his secrets. Was someone trying to protect their family’s reputation? Or to exact revenge for a sin buried deep in the past?

My Thoughts

Patricia Yoder is the antithesis of the ideal Amish woman. She can’t cook, speaks her mind, and asks a lot of questions. She’s dubbed the youngest old maid in her Amish community, and no Amish man in his right mind would consider her for his wife. Patricia seems to have accepted this with a sense of humor. But the characteristics that alienate her in the Amish community are ideal as a detective investigating a murder. She teams up with Detective Asher Nate as a liaison between the detective and her Amish community. But her best friend, Eden Beiler, is accused of killing Ike Smoker, and her liaison role becomes secondary to her goal of clearing Eden’s name.
The mystery has several solid suspects. I had a suspicion of the murderer’s identity, but the misdirections kept me guessing.
Overall, this is a quick, entertaining read. 3.5/5

Patricia Johns’ website

 

Publisher’s Info

Hardcover: $29.99
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9781639105328