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: 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: Of Mystery and Manners by Anastashia Hastings

Of Hoaxes and Homicide
A Dear Miss Hermione Mystery Book 2
by Anastasia Hastings

Summary here

My Thoughts

Violet Manville is the person behind Miss Hermione, the most popular agony aunt in Britain. It is a role that has also led to a side career in solving murders. This time, Violet receives a letter from a troubled mother. Her daughter has gotten caught up in a cult, the Children of Aed. This case will also draw in Violet’s half-sister, Sephora.

Sephora is the opposite of Violet, and this relationship kept me reading even after deducing the murderer’s identity fairly early in the book.

Sephora, unlike Violet, is an heiress. (Violet and Sephora had the same father.) The important things in her life are fashion, penny dreadfuls, and the boredom she’s fighting because the social season hasn’t started yet. Sephora’s character embodies society’s expectations of young woman born to wealth and class—to marry well.
Violet, however, hasn’t inherited a fortune from her mother, and she must work for a living. Thanks to her Aunt Adelia, Violet is now England’s most popular agony aunt, (Sephora is a huge fan) Miss Hermione. Adelia, the original Miss Hermione, dropped the job on Violet when Adelia left England for the Continent with her latest paramour. Compared to the exhilaration at solving a murder, the letters are driving Violet to distraction. Until the letter from the distraught mother, her daughter in a cult, and Violet is on another case.
This time, though, Violet isn’t on her own. Sephora is determined to help Violet, even if Violet doesn’t want her help. As the case unfolds, each character learns something new about the other. The growth of each character and the unfolding of their relationship is really what kept me engaged in Of Hoaxes and Homicide.

I enjoyed reading and following the changes in Violet, Sephora, and their relationship.

Recommended.

Thanks to #NetGalley and #Minotaurbooks for providing a copy of #OfHoaxesandHomicide in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Publishing Info
Imprint: Minotaur Books
ISBN: 9781250848581
Page Count: 304
Genre: Mystery
On Sale:01/30/2024

Book Notes: Lost Hours by Paige Shelton

Lost Hours
Book Five in the Alaska Wild series
by Paige Shelton

Beth’s past collides with her present when a kidnap victim arrives in Benedict.

Summary

In this fifth book in Paige Shelton’s Alaska Wild series, readers return to Benedict, Alaska, an isolated town on the edge of the Alaskan wilderness. Beth Rivers has made Benedict her home to recover from a violent kidnapping months earlier. She’s decided to take a boat tour to see glaciers, but before she and her “man-friend” Tex can reach their destination the tour is diverted by a woman in distress on the shore of one of the islands in the area. She’s covered in blood and it’s obvious she needs help. Once she’s brought aboard, Beth finds out Sadie Milbourn, the rescued woman, is a kidnap victim. Her story is similar to Beth’s and it’s through that similar experience the two women establish common ground. Sadie reveals to Beth that Sadie is in witness protection and has lived in Juneau for the last six years. As the investigation into Sadie’s case continues, more questions than answers arise. Another kidnapping takes place. Beth suspects the two cases are connected but can’t find the answers she needs.

Lost Hours-Likes

The characters. Benedict is a small, isolated town on the edge of the Alaskan wilderness. The only ways in or out are either plane or ferry. Internet is spotty at best and any emergency help is hours, if not days, away. Because of the isolation, the people in and around Benedict are self-sufficient, but also ready to help anyone needing it. Beth’s estranged father has also moved to Benedict, and she’s still trying to figure out what kind of relationship to have with him. The relationships are complicated, changing, and greatly influenced by the setting.
The setting. The Alaskan wilderness. It’s beautiful but potentially deadly. Alaska is one of my favorite places, ever. (At least in the summer. I haven’t experienced winter. Yet.)

The mystery. The twists and turns in Lost Hours kept me on my toes and the ending was one I didn’t see coming. Well-done.

Lost Hours-dislike

The plot line that has been running through the series took a predicable turn. As I read the book, my hope was that particular plot point wouldn’t come into play, but it did, and I was disappointed.

Recommendation

I’ve read all the books in the series, usually ordering them as soon the pre-orders are available. The mysteries keep me guessing, the Alaskan setting and characters draw me into the books, the covers are gorgeous, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
If you haven’t read any of the other books in the series (Thin Ice, Cold Wind, Dark Night, and Winter’s End) you can read this as a stand-alone, but I would recommend starting with Thin Ice and working your way through the series.
4/5 stars.

 

Publishing Info

Imprint: Minotaur Books
Pub date: 12/5/2023
ISBN: 9781250846617
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 288

Thanks to #NetGalley and #StMartinsPress for a copy of #LostHours. All opinions are my own.