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

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

Book Notes Review: Rhythm and Clues by Olivia Blake

 

Disclaimer: 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.

 

 

 

Rhythm and Clues


The Record Shop Mysteries #3
by Olivia Blacke

Publisher’s Summary

The rhythm is gonna get you.

It’s been five whole months since the last murder in Cedar River, Texas, and Juni Jessup and her sisters Tansy and Maggie have been humming along when disaster strikes again.

Their struggling vinyl records shop/coffee nook, Sip & Spin Records, is under pressure from predatory investors, though the Jessup sisters aren’t ready to face the music and admit defeat. But the night after theirmeeting, the sketchy financier is killed outside their shop during a torrential Texas thunderstorm that washes out all the roads in and out of town. Now the sisters find themselves trapped in Cedar River with a killer, and Juni is determined to solve the case.

When the river spits out an unexpected surprise, Detective Beau Russell asks for Juni’s help, never predicting her investigation will spin her into danger. Up until now, the Jessup sisters have been playing it by ear, but with the whole town watching, can they catch a killer before he strikes again?

My Thoughts

This is the first book I’ve read in the series, and I didn’t have any difficulty following the storyline or figuring out the relationships. For the most part, the characters kept me interested, but Tansy’s over-protective tendencies toward her sister Juni and Juni’s love life got a bit tiresome. The three Jessup sisters, Maggie, Tansy, and Juni (Juniper) own Sip and Spin Records, a vinyl record/coffee shop in Cedar Rivers, Texas. In business for only six months, they are being courted by Zackary Fjord and his business partner Savannah Goodwin. The two want to buy a controlling interest in Sip and Spin Records. So far, the answer has been ‘no.’ Zackary and Savannah are well-written as business partners with possibly questionable ethics. As the story evolves, the murderer’s identity and motive become more difficult to pin down. There are plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep a reader guessing. Rhythm and Clues is a fun, quick read.

4/5 stars.

Read excerpt here
Olivia Blacke’s website

Publishing Information

Imprint publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Mystery/cozy mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781250860132
Pub date: 3/26/24

Book Notes Review: To Slip the Bonds of Earth by Amanda Flower

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

 

 

Book Cover for To Slip the Bonds of Earth

To Slip the Bonds of Earth

A Riveting Mystery Based On a True History
by Amanda Flower

 

From the Publisher

While not as famous as her older siblings Wilbur and Orville, the celebrated inventors of flight, Katharine Wright is equally inventive – especially when it comes to solving crimes – in USA Today bestselling author Amanda Flower’s radiant new historical mystery series inspired by the real sister of the Wright Brothers.


December 1903: While Wilbur and Orville Wright’s flying machine is quite literally taking off in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina with its historic fifty-seven second flight, their sister Katharine is back home in Dayton, Ohio, running the bicycle shop, teaching Latin, and looking after the family. A Latin teacher and suffragette, Katharine is fiercely independent, intellectual, and the only Wright sibling to finish college. But at twenty-nine, she’s frustrated by the gender inequality in academia and is looking for a new challenge. She never suspects it will be sleuthing…

Returning home to Dayton, Wilbur and Orville accept an invitation to a friend’s party. Nervous about leaving their as-yet-unpatented flyer plans unattended, Wilbur decides to bring them to the festivities . . . where they are stolen right out from under his nose. As always, it’s Katharine’s job to problem solve—and in this case, crime-solve.

As she sets out to uncover the thief among their circle of friends, Katharine soon gets more than she bargained for: She finds her number one suspect dead with a letter opener lodged in his chest. It seems the patent is the least of her brothers’ worries. They have a far more earthbound concern—prison. Now Katharine will have to keep her feet on the ground and put all her skills to work to make sure Wilbur and Orville are free to fly another day.

My Thoughts

Characters

Katharine Wright is the younger sister of Wilbur and Orville Wright. In To Slip the Bonds of Earth, Flower brings this little-known figure to life in this lively historical mystery. Katharine is a Greek teacher in Dayton’s Steele High School, runs the home she shares with her brothers and widowed father, and oversees her brothers’ bicycle shop when they are in Kitty Hawk working on their flying experiments. She’s an intelligent, independent woman. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind and is often frustrated by the constraints placed on her because she is a woman. I love this character.

Mystery

Word is out that the Wright Brothers have achieved the unthinkable-they’ve flown an airplane. Now competitors want to get their hands on brothers’ flight plans before they are patented. Wilbur takes them to a party rather than leave them unattended at home, where they are stolen. When Katharine’s chief suspect is found murdered, it is up to her to solve the case, recover the plans, and clear her brother’s name. There are plenty of viable suspects, legitimate motives, but only one solution.

Amanda’s website

 

Publishing Info

Publisher: Kensington
Genres: Fiction/Mystery & Detective/Historical
Pages: 288
On Sale: 03/26/24
ISBN: 9781496747662