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: 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