Book Notes Review: The Last Word by Gerri Lewis

PublishedThe Last Word by Gerri Lewis

The Final Word
by Gerri Lewis

Publisher’s Summary

An obituary writer finds one of her neighbors dead before her time in this debut cozy mystery perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Eva Gates.

Obituary writer Winter Snow is no stranger to grief, and writing obituaries for the citizens of Ridgefield, Connecticut, is her way of providing comfort to those who have been in her shoes. But funerals and eulogies are meant for the dead, so when the very much alive Leocadia Arlington requests her own obituary by the end of the week, Winter’s curiosity is piqued. Even more so when she finds Mrs. Arlington dead soon after. Officer Kip Michaels and his relentless partner Tom Bellini make it clear that Winter is under suspicion for the death.

Drafting an obituary for someone who hadn’t died yet certainly looks bad, but Winter knows that it wasn’t her, and she becomes obsessed with trying to figure out the real killer. She dives headfirst into the investigation to give Mrs. Arlington and herself some peace. When Winter realizes Mrs. Arlington was working on a revealing memoir that has now gone missing, Winter begins to wonder if the death wasn’t exactly random–accident or otherwise.

With the help of her foodie Uncle Richard, her wise octogenarian neighbor Horace, her best friend Scoop, and Diva, the Great Pyrenees puppy she inherited from Mrs. Arlington, Winter must uncover the killer before the next obituary written is her own.

 

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book, staying up past my bedtime to finish it in two days. The characters were well-written, especially Winter Snow, the protagonist. The obituary writer occupation was one I hadn’t come across yet, so I enjoyed reading about an occupation that was new to me.
The pacing kept me reading. The mystery took a twist I didn’t see coming, but it fit the story.

I hope this series continues.

 

Publishing Info

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pub date: Feb. 20, 2024
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781639106318

 

 

Book Notes Review: Ill-Fated Fortune by Jennifer Chow

Ill-Fated Fortune
Book One in the Magical Fortune Cookie series
by Jennifer J. Chow

From the publisher:

The first in the heart-warming and deliciously mysterious Magical Fortune Cookie series from Lefty Award-nominee Jennifer J. Chow.

Felicity Jin grew up literally hanging onto Mom’s apron strings in their magical bakery in the quaint town of Pixie, California. Her mother’s enchanted baked goods, including puffy pineapple buns and creamy egg tarts, bring instant joy to all who consume them. Felicity has always been hesitant in the kitchen herself after many failed attempts, but a takeout meal gone wrong inspires her to craft some handmade fortune cookies.

They become so popular that Felicity runs out of generic fortunes and starts making her own personalized predictions. When one customer’s ill-fated fortune results in his murder, Felicity’s suspiciously specific fortune has the police focusing on her as the main culprit. Now Felicity must find a way to turn her luck around and get cleared from suspicion.

My Thoughts

Ill-Fated Fortune is the first book in the Magical Fortune Cookie series. I wanted to like this book, but I struggled with it. The characters didn’t really hold my interest, and the mystery didn’t keep me guessing. The magical elements were in the book, but they didn’t hold my interest either.
Having said all of that, though, I would read a second book. Many times, I’ve read a second book in a series that was far stronger than the first.
If this sounds like book you want to read, but are hesitant to buy, borrow it from the library and give it a try.

3/5 stars

Publishing Information

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781250323033
Pub date: 02/20/2024

Book Notes Review: Crime and Cherry Pits by Amanda Flower

Crime and Cherry Pits
Farm to Table Mysteries #4
by Amanda Flower

 

Shiloh Bellamy has her hands full. She’s a vendor at the prestigious Cherry Farm Market in Traverse City, Michigan, and she’s determined to clear her cousin Stacey of a murder charge.

In this fourth installment of Flower’s Farm to Table Mysteries series, Shiloh continues to seek ways to expand Bellamy Farm’s financial footing. In Crime and Cherry Pits, she’s landed a coveted spot at the Cherry Farm Market in Traverse City, Michigan, thirty miles from her hometown of Cherry Glen. She continues to grow as an entrepreneur, constantly challenged by the demands of running a family farm. Her personal life grows as well as she makes decisions about long-term love. She still has a rocky relationship with her father, Sully, and things have gone south in her relationship with her cousin Stacey. This small family of three is threatened with disintegration because of fighting over her grandmother’s estate.
The mystery is a solid one. Someone killed Professor Dane Fullbright in front of a crowd. The suspects are numerous, all with viable motives. Against Sheriff Milan Penbroke’s wishes, Shiloh keeps asking questions, and puts herself in the crosshairs of a killer.

4/5 stars

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Cozy mystery
Pages: 312
ISBN: 978-1728273051
Pub date: 02/20/24

Disclaimer: I own the book

Book Notes Review-The Warm Hands of Ghosts by

Thanks to Netgalley and Ballentine for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

Book cover for The Warm Hands of Ghosts. Two white hands holding a red poppy.

 

The Warm Hands of Ghosts
by Katherine Arden

Summary

During the Great War, a combat nurse searches for her brother, believed dead in the trenches despite eerie signs that suggest otherwise, in this hauntingly beautiful historical novel with a speculative twist, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Bear and the Nightingale.

 

January 1918. Laura Iven was a revered field nurse until she was wounded and discharged from the medical corps, leaving behind a brother still fighting in Flanders. Now home in Halifax, Canada, Laura receives word of Freddie’s death in combat, along with his personal effects—but something doesn’t make sense. Determined to uncover the truth, Laura returns to Belgium as a volunteer at a private hospital, where she soon hears whispers about haunted trenches and a strange hotelier whose wine gives soldiers the gift of oblivion. Could Freddie have escaped the battlefield, only to fall prey to something—or someone—else?

November 1917. Freddie Iven awakens after an explosion to find himself trapped in an overturned pillbox with a wounded enemy soldier, a German by the name of Hans Winter. Against all odds, the two form an alliance and succeed in clawing their way out. Unable to bear the thought of returning to the killing fields, especially on opposite sides, they take refuge with a mysterious man who seems to have the power to make the hellscape of the trenches disappear.

As shells rain down on Flanders and ghosts move among those yet living, Laura’s and Freddie’s deepest traumas are reawakened. Now they must decide whether their world is worth salvaging–or better left behind entirely.

 

Listen to a sample or read an excerpt

My Thoughts

The Warm Hands of Ghosts is a mix of historical fiction, mystery, and supernatural elements. I loved this book.
The story starts in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in January 1918.  A ship laden with explosives has blown up in the harbor, destroying much of Halifax, and killing Laura Iven’s parents. Laura is a registered nurse, sent home from the military hospitals of World War I after suffering a severe leg injury.

While nursing the injured from the explosion, injuries reminiscent of the wounded she left behind in Belgium, a crate arrives from Flanders with her brother Freddie’s belongings. But she’s not received a death notice from the army. Since her brother is the only member of her family left, Laura returns as a civilian nurse to the war and its hospitals to search for her brother.

Laura’s search will take her beyond the physical lines of the war. In a place with so much death, the demarcation between the physical world and the supernatural blurs. Faland inhabits this no-man’s-land. He comes and goes as he pleases, preying on the PTSD of soldiers at war. Once a man is in Faland’s grip, he never wants to leave. If Laura finds physically finds Freddie, will she still lose him to his memories?

The research Arden put into this novel is evident because I was immersed in post-explosion Halifax, the military hospitals, and the horrors of trench warfare. I was drawn to Laura-her commitment to her patients, her bravery at returning to the front, her determination to find Freddie and bring him home. Freddie is very much a soldier caught up in a war he doesn’t understand. Surrounded by death and destruction, he finds the only way to survive is trust a German soldier, the very person he was sent overseas to kill. Freddie’s battle is as much a mental war as a physical one, at a time when soldiers suffering from the mental strains of war were left on their own.
The Warm Hands of Ghosts is a well-written historical novel that also combines elements of mystery (is Freddie dead or alive?) and the supernatural (who or what is Faland?) Arden’s newest novel has earned a place on my bookshelf.

5/5 stars.

Publishing Information
Publisher: PenguinRandomHouse
Genre: Fantasy
Pub Date: Feb 13
ISBN 9780593128251

 

Book Notes Review: Murder at an Irish Chipper by Carlene O’Connor

 

 

Murder at an Irish Chipper
Book #10 in the Irish Village Mystery series
by Carlene O’Connor

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

Publisher’s Summary

A belated honeymoon turns into a busman’s holiday when gardas Siobhán and Macdara Flannery find themselves investigating a dead body found in a fish and chips shop . . .

Siobhán’s brother Eoin’s new family restaurant, The O’Sullivan Six, is so close to opening—but waiting on the necessary permits plus the heat of July in the village of Kilbane in County Cork is driving everyone a bit mad. Macdara Flannery comes to the rescue with a plan—take a holiday by the sea and stuff themselves with fish and chips to support the struggling business of the aptly named Mrs. Chipper.

But when they arrive, a crowd is gathered in front of the closed shop: a local fisherman with a fresh cod delivery, a food critic, Mrs. Chipper’s ex-husband who’s opening a competing fish and chips shop directly across the street, and a repairman to fix the vent for the deep fryer. With Siobhán and Macdara as witnesses, a local handyman gets the locked door open, only to find the proprietor lying dead and covered in flour at the base of a ladder, its rungs coated in slippery fat. Clearly this was not an accidental tragedy . . .

Even as the local garda take over the murder investigation, Siobhán and Macdara can’t help themselves from placing their long-delayed honeymoon on hold—at least until they can help apprehend an elusive killer.

My Thoughts

It’s always good to return to Kilbane, County Cork, Ireland, and the O’Sullivan clan. This time though, the O’Sullivans are taking a vacation to Lahinch, County Clare, on Liscannor Bay. It’s unbearably hot in Kilbane, so a vacation to a resort town on the water is welcome news. Especially when they are on a mission to save Mrs. Chips, a well-known fish and chips shop, from financial ruin.

Mr. and Mrs. Chips are getting a divorce, and Mr. Chips has opened his own shop across the street. It’s the battle of the chip shops and judging by the crowd in front of Mrs. Chips, and the empty sidewalk in front of Mr. Chips, Mrs. Chips is winning. Except the line shouldn’t be there. Mrs. Chips should be open, but the door is locked. Once the door is forced open, the body of Mrs. Chips is discovered. Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan and her husband, Detective Sargeant Macdara Flannery, find themselves having to secure a crime scene until the local garda, Detective Sergeant Liam Healy arrives. That should be the end of Siobhán’s involvement with the murder, after all she is on holiday with her family. But she can’t help herself, and soon both she and Macdara find themselves on a working holiday as the bodies start to pile up.

Murder at an Irish Chipper is the tenth book in the Irish Village Mystery series. I’ve read all the books in this series, and I was thrilled when I saw there was a new book. The characters are well-written; there’s no getting the O’Sullivan clan confused with each other. Each one is distinctive, and I’ve enjoyed watching them change and grow with each book. I’ve especially enjoyed watching Siobhán grow and change from the first book, Murder in an Irish Village, to this one, Murder at an Irish Chipper. There’s also a lot of humor in the book (and throughout the series), especially in the banter between Siobhán and her siblings, and Siobhán and Macdara. This is a family that deeply loves each other and it’s easy to see in their interactions with each other. These characters are what keep me coming back to this series. I also liked that the setting in this book was in a new location. Macdera and Siobhán are in an unfamiliar town, and everyone is a stranger and a potential suspect. The murderer’s identity wasn’
Murder at an Irish Chipper is a well-written mystery with lively, engaging characters and is a great addition to the Irish Village series.
I’m already looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Publishing Information

Genre: Mystery/Fiction and Detective/Woman Sleuth/Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Cozies
Pages: 304
Pub date: 2/20/2024
ISBN: 9781496744449