Book Notes Review: Death in the Details by Katie Tietjen

Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing an ecopy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Book cover of woman's gloved hands holding a miniature chair

 

Death in the Details
by Katie Tietjen

Publisher’s Summary

 

Inspired by the real-life mother of forensic science, Frances Glessner Lee, and featuring a whip-smart, intrepid sleuth in post-WWII Vermont, this debut historical mystery will appeal to fans of Victoria Thompson and Rhys Bowen.

Maple Bishop is ready to put WWII and the grief of losing her husband, Bill, behind her. But when she discovers that Bill left her penniless, Maple realizes she could lose her Vermont home next and sets out to make money the only way she knows how: by selling her intricately crafted dollhouses. Business is off to a good start—until Maple discovers her first customer dead, his body hanging precariously in his own barn.

Something about the supposed suicide rubs Maple the wrong way, but local authorities brush off her concerns. Determined to help them see “what’s big in what’s small,” Maple turns to what she knows best, painstakingly recreating the gruesome scene in miniature: death in a nutshell.

With the help of a rookie officer named Kenny, Maple uses her macabre miniature to dig into the dark undercurrents of her sleepy town, where everyone seems to have a secret—and a grudge. But when her nosy neighbor goes missing and she herself becomes a suspect, it’ll be up to Maple to find the devil in the details—and put him behind bars.

Drawing inspiration from true crime and offering readers a smartly plotted puzzle of a mystery, Death in the Details is a stunning series debut.

 

My Thoughts

Characters

I liked the characters-Mapel Bishop is the main character. She’s a widow that finds out her husband’s death leaves her destitute. A lawyer by training, she can’t find a job in her field because she’s a woman (the year is 1946), living in a small town in Vermont. She’s determined to make it on her own, but the only thing she can do is build dollhouses and the miniatures to make them lifelike. Then she discovers a body hanging from the rafters. Tiny details bother her, and she can’t ignore them because Maple has a strong sense of right and wrong, and a strong desire to see justice done. She’s a strong female character with a history of defeating the odds. She also has a prickly side to her, and it constantly alienates those around her, except for Charlotte.

Charlotte is her best friend. She has her hands full with three boys, and running diner with her husband, but she’s always there for Maple. Ginger Comstock is a thorn in Maple’s side.

Mystery

Maple finds a body hanging in a barn when she goes to deliver a dollhouse. She disagrees with the coroner’s ruling of suicide because small details bother her. She’s determined to find the truth. Kenny, one of the deputies, becomes her ally to find out the truth. The mystery kept me guessing until the end.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed reading Death in the Details. The characters are lively and engaging.
Mapel Bishop, the main character, grows and changes throughout the novel. Watching her grow from a widow with what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to a self-confident business owner. I was also drawn in by Mapel’s hobby of building dollhouses and furnishing them with miniatures she constructs herself. I’ve always found dollhouses and miniatures interesting, and this book didn’t disappoint. There is also humor throughout the book, which is always a plus.

The mystery kept me guessing throughout the book. The historical details also drew me into the novel. Overall, this debut novel is well-written, with complex characters, dollhouses and miniatures, and a mystery that kept me guessing until the reveal. I ordered a physical copy, and if there are more in this series, I will be reading them.
5/5 stars.

Publishing Info

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Hardcover | $29.99
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Pub date: Apr 09, 2024
Pages: 288

ISBN 9781639107186

Book Notes Review “The Poison Pen” by Paige Shelton

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

 

The Poison Pen

Book 9 in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery series
by Paige Shelton

Publisher’s summary

The Poison Pen, the ninth installment in the Scottish Bookshop series by Paige Shelton, set in a specialty bookstore in Edinburgh called The Cracked Spine.
Edinburgh is mourning recent the death of Queen Elizabeth II when Bookseller Delaney Nichols’s boss comes to her with a most unusual assignment. An old friend of his, living in an estate in the village of Roslin, has found what could be a priceless relic on her property, and Delaney is tasked with investigating. Could Jolie possibly have an item of breathtaking Scottish historical significance in her possession? But when Delaney arrives at Jolie’s estate, she is greeted by a legal team with a vested interest in the property. Jolie manages to remove the interlopers, but as they’re examining the priceless item, they hear a scream, and meet a much less welcome discovery: a body.
As Delaney digs deeper, she discovers Jolie’s own fascinating history. Jolie’s mother had long claimed that her daughter was the rightful heir to the throne, not Elizabeth II, because of an affair she claimed to have with King Edward VIII. The only evidence, however, is in the form of a purported journal that one of Edward’s secretaries kept. The puzzles become more confusing when a connection is uncovered between this far-fetched story and the murdered man. Delaney will have to read between the lines to put together the pieces…or become history herself.

My Thoughts

Characters

There is a robust cast of characters. Delaney Nichols is a Kansas transplant living in Scotland. She’s now part of a solid group of friends in Edinburgh and has married one of the local pub owners. But she still struggles a bit with things like driving direction/feeling like she’s driving on the wrong side of the road. She’s also successfully solved several local murders.
Jolie Lannister is a close friend of Delaney’s boss. A hoarder, she lives in the old family estate, which has seen better days. She’s a flamboyant character and fun to read.
Bowie Berry is Jolie’s attorney. She’s pushy, over-bearing, annoying, and may or may not have her client’s best interest at heart.
Elias is Delaney’s co-investigator in this book. A cab driver, he and his wife have become close friends of Delaney. He becomes involved when an old friend is accused of murder.
The rest of the characters are well-rounded and a solid group of friends.

Mystery

An old sword goes missing. What is its history? Is it as old as Delaney suspects? Is it worth killing for? Is Jolie the illegitimate daughter of Edward VIII, as her mother claimed? And why did someone have to die? It’s a twisty path to the truth.

Overall thoughts
The Poison Pen is a quick read. The characters are well-written, with plenty of conflict to add interest. The mystery isn’t easily solved, and that is a good thing. The only issue I had was with one of the characters and how easily he seemed to have gotten an important job. I don’t want to give away any more because of spoilers. 

4/5 stars

Paige Shelton’s website

Publishing Info

Publisher Imprint: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery/Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
Pub date: 4/9/24
ISBN: 9781250890603