Archive for Mystery Books

SHOT IN THE DARK BY CLEO COYLE

Cleo CoyleShot In The Dark by Cleo Coyle

Shot in the Dark, by Cleo Coyle is the 17th book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series. I have been in love with this series since it started back in 2003. This is one of those I don’t want to end. Let me tell you why.

The Setting Description

The descriptions in the books are very well written. There is enough detail to where you feel the energy of the city, and think you can see what is going on. And yet there isn’t so much that you was to jump paragraphs to get back to the story.

The Characters

The characters have been developed over the series. They are growing, not just being the same in each book. My favorites?

Matteo Allegro is one jerk that you hate and love at the same time. He’s protective of his family, but a bit smothering. 

Detective Franco of the police force is coming into his own. He’s in love with Claire and Matteo’s daughter. Matteo wants nothing to do with that! He is trying to do the right thing, but sometimes people just get in the way.

The baristas Dante and Esther are the best. They are recurring characters that are creative, alive, fun, and you want to be their friends.

And let’s not forget the stars, Claire and Mike. Anyone who has read a single episode of this series can see they belong together. But Cleo Coyle is not pushing them together right away, she’s dragging out the tension in the romance.

The Dialogue

The dialogue for each character is unique. No two talk the same. No two are mirror images. Even without dialogue tags, you can usually tell who is speaking, because of the quirks and such of the characters. They sounded like real people from all walks of life.

The Plot

What I liked about this plot is that it isn’t a rehash of the other plots. The backstory is not the same in each of the books either. So you aren’t hearing the same story over and over again. 

The one thing I liked about this plot, is Mike (Claire’s fiancé) kind of took a back seat in the story. Most cozies you have the amateur sleuth and the police hooking up together all the time. But Cleo Coyle did this one different. The amateur sleuth took control of the situation. Most of the cops were taking a back seat to her sleuthing. Which makes you want to root for the sleuth more. Come on, girl, you can solve this on your own!

The plot had serious depth to it. It wasn’t just 5 people, one dog and a cat as suspects. The story, and its subplots were well thought out, were interconnected, and made for some serious thinking of what was going on.

The red herrings and clues were on the money. There were enough of each to make me keep changing my mind about who the killer was. The killer was a surprise to me, but as soon as things started getting explained, I had the “ah ha” moment. There was no, ‘what do you mean?’ or ‘that doesn’t sound right!’ questions.

The one thing I gritted my teeth at was the subplot between Franco and Joy. The man is a police detective. I automatically thought he was undercover, but both Joy and Claire thought he might be cheating. No!!!!

Cleo Coyle

Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones with Vanilla Lemon Glaze

Bonus Recipes

FYI, each of Cleo Coyle’s books have recipes. And we aren’t talking just desserts. Simple, fancy, main course, dessert, even drinks! 

And yes, I did test one of the recipes in this book, as I try to in all culinary mysteries. I made the Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones with Vanilla Lemon Glaze. Yum!

More Information

You can read my post that show the list of all the novels in the series, as well as some basic background here.

And check out Cleo’s website here.

The Verdict

I have never had one of these books I didn’t like. I’m pretty tough on giving 5 stars, but this one definitely earned a 5 star review from me! 

Libby Klein – Class Reunions Are Murder 

Libby Klein

Bear with me diyhomegoddesses while you read this review about Libby Klein and the first Poppy McAllister book. The book came out a few months ago. I picked it up because of the title. I mean, come on! How many of us think this about our class reunions?

The Gist of the Story

The story is set in Jersey; New Jersey for those of you not in the know. That’s what people in that region call it. At least they used to. It’s about Poppy McAllister, a recent widow who is avoiding life, and her mother-in-law Georgina, who wants control of her son’s widow even after he’s dead. That’s normal, right? She is kind of pushed into going to the reunion by the few friends she had in school. That happens, right?

Poppy is someone I relate to. The gal is big, redheaded, and beautiful (paraphrasing Queen Latifah in Hairspray)! She goes to the reunion, and it’s like she’s back in high school again, with the allegedly cool kids making fun of her. She finds a dead body at the reunion, the body of the most popular girl in school, Barbie. Barbie? Really? Now if that isn’t the name of the queen of the class who pushed everyone around, I don’t know what is. 

Amber (!), the local cop and member of the class, is insistent on proving Poppy guilty of murder. Hmm, another popular girl here. Something snaps in Poppy, and she wakes up to fight for her freedom. Yay, Poppy! She spends the book trying to question people, sneaking around, getting into trouble (typical cozy), and generally being a woman who just woke up from a long sleep to find out she has life left in her.

Meanwhile, she meets up with her high school love, a cute Italian coffee shop owner, and is trying to keep her Aunt Ginny from being sent to a nursing home because she’s “too old to be by herself”.

The Review of Libby Klein – Class Reunions Are Murder

The characters are fully developed. You get descriptions, and they seem to fit their names. She must have taken a lot of time to create them. I had trouble finding flat characters. Poppy is tough, yet gentle. Aunt Ginny is a firecracker. Her friends are faithful. Figaro the cat is a drama queen! The popular crowd was shown the way we don’t see them in school; they love each other but are backbiters even amongst themselves. Her characters are unique, fun, and all around real.

The descriptions are pretty good. Libby Klein does not just breeze over them, and does not go overboard either. Most of her setting descriptions are about buildings, you get just a glimpse of the outdoors weather. Well, the bulk of the story is inside, so that’s fine.

The dialogue is snappy. There wasn’t much dialogue that was added fluff. There are lots of sayings in this book that most people have used, but few authors will add. This made the characters seem more real to me. There is attitude in this book that I don’t see in a lot of others. Not that other authors aren’t real. But Libby Klein made her characters the blue collar, Jerseyan people they are. Like Aunt Ginny’s response to the reunion dress. “I need a drink.” Some people may be off-putting by this talk, but I love it.

The story is hilarious. I read it while commuting, and people would stare at me when I laughed out loud! Snide comments, funny innuendos, descriptions. 

The clues were there. The red herrings were in abundance. Twists and turns? Absolutely! The way Poppy changed her mind about the killer’s identity is typical cozy fashion. The only thing different from the classic cozy was it was a bit longer than normal.

The Verdict

This gets 4.5 stars! If you like snarky humor, this story is for you. Libby Klein has a unique voice that needs to be heard, read, shared, and enjoyed.

Her next story, Midnight Snacks are Murder comes out the end of July. You can find out more about Libby Klein here.

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Crepe Murder – A Seagrass Sweets Cozy Mystery by Sandi Scott

Sandi ScottCrepe Murder – A Seagrass Sweets Cozy Mystery by Sandi Scott

Even though this is a prequel to the series, it is perfectly great. If you read some of the others first, this will answer some questions for you. I feel Sandi Scott did an excellent job with this prequel.

Let’s Get On With The Review

The descriptions of Paris and its neighborhoods are much better than in the series. It made me feel like I was there. Her handling of the cooking school was spot on based on what I know of them and the Parisian attitude was perfection. Sandi Scott is coming into stride with descriptions.
The character descriptions were a little lacking, as I didn’t have too much to visualize there. Maybe I missed them, maybe I didn’t pay attention, who knows. A couple of the characters I could visualize, but not all of them. The delivery driver was a perfect example of my getting him. And when she did it, she did it very well.
As for the characters, Patty seemed a bit split persona. Probably because of her NY attitude. The chef was a scream with his temper, as were all the neighboring store owners. You got right away how nasty Serge was. I hated him from page one, and understood why she dumped him, no questions asked. And I kind of got to know Ryan, even though he wasn’t actually in the story, just in backstory parts.
The dialogue was snappy. There was good tension in them when needed. And the internal thoughts really helped flush out Ashley’s attitude in the other books. Now it makes 100% sense. I liked the way her computer skills related to detective skills, and it should be mentioned in future books.
There were plenty of red herrings and authentic clues to keep you changing your mind about who did the dastardly dead, just like a cozy should. The final outcome seemed a tiny bit choppy, but it definitely made sense.

Final Verdict

Now that I understand Ashley, it encourages me to go back and reread the series, because I will get more knowledge because of the backstory.
If you haven’t read any of the Seagrass series yet, start with the prequel! Nice job.

Want to read more about the series? Check out all the titles here. And check my original review about her series here.

 

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Sandi Scott – The Seagrass Sweets Mysteries (A Cozy Mystery Series)

Sandi ScottSandi Scott – The Seagrass Sweets Mysteries

This is a new author I have been trying out. Sandi Scott seems to have a unique twist on her characters. 

Cream Puff Murder – Book #1

I would have liked more setting description. I feel like I didn’t get a sense of being in Seagrass. It does sound like an interesting place from what I gathered. I hope Sandi Scott does more descriptions in the future books so we can become immersed in the town.

But I did like the unique main characters. Could be developed a little more with background, but it works so far. None of them appear perfect, or even close to perfection. 

Ashley seems a bit of a nervous or unsure kind of gal. Which is quite a change from the amateur sleuths who just go full force and don’t look back. So seeing an amateur sleuth who seems like me is a warm feeling.

Ryan seems a bit unsure of himself as well. Geez! Characters who seem like real people, not the over the top kinds, but ones who are just normal. Who would have guessed?

And Dizzy was so much fun! 

Some reviewers didn’t like the cop distrust that happened, but there are so many cozies that have the main character falling for the cop that this is refreshing and unexpected. Read more