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 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: The Sign of Four Spirits

 

The Sign of Four Spirits

A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #9
by Vicki Delany

Summary is here
My Thoughts

The Sign of Four Spirits is a locked room mystery. During a raging thunderstorm, medium is murdered in the library of a prominent citizen’s home. The only way into or out of the library is through the door, but Gemma Doyle, asked to leave the séance by the medium, sat outside the door. For anyone to enter the library after the séance started, he or she needed to slip past Gemma to get inside. The murderer had to be one of the attendees of the séance, but which one? Gemma needs all her skill to solve this case, but she may not succeed in time to stop a murderer.

4/5 stars

Publishing Information
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: ISBN 9781639105397
Pub Date: Jan 09, 2024

Thanks to #Netgally and #CrookedLaneBooks for providing me a copy in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Book Notes Review-Stalking Around the Christmas Tree

Stalking Around the Christmas Tree
Book Four in the Christmas Tree Farm Mystery Series
by Jacqueline Frost

Publisher’s Summary

Tis the season to solve a murder—and innkeeper Holly White knows she’ll have to make her list and check it twice if she wants to catch the killer in the 4th Christmas Tree Farm mystery from bestselling author Jacqueline Frost.

For inn keeper Holly White, Christmas time in Mistletoe, Maine, is the ultimate holiday gift. Business at the Reindeer Games Inn is booming, her wedding to Sheriff Evan Gray is nearly here, and the annual parade is about to begin. The town is lucky to have another gift this year with the state’s ballet company staying for several performances of The Nutcracker. But disaster strikes when Tiffany, the lead ballerina, shows up dead on a float during the parade, the Rat King’s mask nearby. Holly will have to spruce up her sleuthing skills if she wants to catch the killer before Christmas—and her wedding day.

Immediately, Holly discovers that Tiffany had more than a few secrets. She finds out that the star of the show had a super fan that no one knows anything about. And the show’s understudy slips some other intriguing information Holly’s way: not only was Tiffany secretly seeing someone romantically, but there seems to be more than one rat in this company. When Holly discovers a secret passage leading to Tiffany’s dressing room, with footprints leading out; she wonders if this is evidence of a secret lover—or a stalking killer.

With an impending snowstorm and the ballet company on the way out of town, Holly must act quickly if she wants to find the person responsible for this terrible murder. Will she be able to save Christmas—or will her investigation turn cold like the weather?

My thoughts on Stalking Around the Christmas Tree


I’ll say it up front-this is one of my favorite series, even though the murders occur around Christmas. Reindeer Games is a Christmas tree farm Holly White’s family owns and they put their all into the business. There’s the café, Hearth, which Holly’s mom keeps stocked with all sorts of Christmas-y goodies. It’s a life-sized gingerbread house and popular with the locals and the visitors. The farm also has games-reindeer games-in the twelve days leading up to Christmas. Some are indoors, some are outdoors, but all are fun. There is also an inn on the property. Holly is the inn keeper and in this week before Christmas the inn is hosting a ballet troupe from Maine’s capitol. The ballet troupe going to perform The Nutcracker for several nights before returning to the capitol for a final performance on Christmas Eve. It’s all set for a perfect Christmas. But of course, this is Mistletoe and for the last three years a murder has occurred close to Christmas and this year is no exception.

What I like about Stalking Around the Christmas Tree


The setting. Mistletoe, Maine, and especially Reindeer Games Tree Farm, are places I’d want to visit. Frost does an excellent job immersing the reader into the fictional town and tree farm.
The characters. Over the series characters have broadened Holly’s circle of trusted friends. She has a solid relationship with her parents. She’s found a keeper in the sheriff. Her circle of friends includes old and new friends, and those friendships also cross generations.

The mystery in Stalking Around the Christmas Tree


There’s mystery upon mystery in this book. The super fan with the large online following and influence, that no one has ever seen. The dead ballerina-why would anyone kill her? The sheriff’s sister, Libby, has become withdrawn and no one knows why. All were well-written, with plenty of red herrings to throw a reader off. Solving one mystery doesn’t necessarily make solving the mystery of the killer’s identity or motive any easier.

Some of the tropes present in Stalking Around the Christmas Tree


Happily ever after
Enticing village
Close relationships.

My thoughts

Stalking Around the Christmas Tree is a tightly written cozy mystery that will keep

you guessing up until the reveal. Recommended.

Thanks to #NetGalley and #CrookedLaneBooks for giving me a copy of #StalkingAroundTheChristmasTree in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.