Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

On Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, pretty, young law student, Becca Eckersley, died. Why did somebody take her life in such a passionate way? And why are the state police tight-lipped about any details surrounding Becca’s Murder?

Kelsey Castle, True Crime book author and journalist for Events Magazine, has just returned to work prematurely after a six-week leave-of-absence, having survived her own, as yet undisclosed, traumatic life event. Her boss informs her that he’s sending her to Summit Lake, a small town in the foothills of the beautiful blue ridge mountains of NC, to formulate a story about what might have happened to Becca.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Rewind fourteen months and we are introduced to Becca’s three best friends, and then we’re given a sequential account of Becca’s daily activities which consequently led to her demise. At the same time, Kelsey Castle is tracing Becca’s steps in Summit Lake; questioning her acquaintances, friends and significant others in an attempt to learn more about the girl that she’s becoming psychologically attached to. As she digs deeper into Becca’s life, she unmasks secrets, coverups and deceptions that just might explain what caused Becca’s death.

This book was perfect for me. It had just the right amount of mystery and suspense, and a more subtle thriller factor which I personally prefer. I really appreciate it when an author can create an amazing story without having to resort to needless shock value content in the way of excessive foul language, gratuitous violence or explicit sex scenes. Charlie Donlea accomplished this in a skillful way. There were a couple of unexpected twists that had me like …

Yup, I couldn’t believe it. Totally caught me off guard. I love it when an author can pull that off successfully.

This book was excellent. I was impressed, kept in anxious anticipation of what would happen next, and would jump at the chance to read another mystery/suspense book by Charlie Donlea. Highly recommended.

And finally, below is a trailer for Summit Lake.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by Cozynookbks.  Have a great week.

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Killer Jam by Karen MacInerney – **TOP PICK**

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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I chose this cozy mystery to listen to on a whim, having downloaded it a while back from Amazon Prime Reading (audiobook version). What a pleasant surprise it was! I looked forward to my morning walks so that I could get caught up on what was happening with Lucy Resnick and Dewberry Farm. Here’s my synopsis of what it’s about….

Lucy Resnick, former Austin, Texas reporter turned homesteader, has purchased her grandparents’ farm in Buttercup, Texas. It had been sold 15 years prior after Lucy’s grandfather died. The new owner, Nettie Kocurek, has recently sold it to Lucy. But unbeknownst to Lucy, she was only sold the surface rights (what’s on top of the soil), and not the mineral rights (what’s beneath the soil). Nettie Kocurek wants to perform an oil exploration in the middle of Lucy’s pastureland with future plans to install an oil well if any oil is found there. Nettie is nursing a grudge against Lucy’s family because she was dumped by Lucy’s grandfather over 60 years ago. When Nettie turns up dead at the Founders’ Day festival and Jam-off, Lucy becomes a prime suspect. But with so few sympathetic reactions to the old woman’s plight from the Buttercup community, how will Lucy ever uncover the true killer and clear her name?

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I loved so many things about this book. The perfect country setting, Dewberry Farm in Buttercup, Texas, with residents that have names like Ursula, Opal, Rooster, Bessie Mae and Tobias. Lucy’s cow, Blossom, formerly known as Heifer #82, and her overweight, bald poodle, Chuck. The ongoing rivalry between the citizens of Czech and German descent, and laugh-out-loud moments reading about things like Lick Skillet Day, a bus that runs on fry grease, the real estate agent with the license plate that says BUY BUTT on it, and the mention of lots of kolaches. The murder mysteries were on point, and the colorful, quirky characters were amusing to say the least.

Kolaches

I LOVED Killer Jam. Karen MacInerney is a new favorite cozy author. Extremely highly recommended.

Have you ever read a cozy mystery by Karen MacInerney?  I’d love to hear what you thought about it.

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Muffins and Mourning Tea by H.Y. Hanna

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My synopsis: It’s May Day, first day of Spring in England, and Gemma regretfully agrees to celebrate it with her best friend, Cassie. The Oxford University tradition is to gather on Magdelan bridge (pronounced Maudlin) and listen to choristers sing from the Bell Tower above Magdalen College during the wee hours of the morning. When a young man hurls himself off of the bridge into the river Cherwell below Gemma isn’t initially alarmed since that is somewhat the custom. But until now everyone has succeeded in emerging from the river unscathed. Charlie Foxton was not as fortunate. A likeable young man by all accounts, Charlie didn’t seem the sort to participate in such foolish antics. It’s no wonder that what was initially deemed an accident quickly turned to a suspicion of murder.

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Kids jumping off of Magdelan Bridge into the river Cherwell below

My Thoughts:  HY Hanna delivers another stellar, clever mystery with international characters that add intrigue and spice to the story. (Her audible narrator, Pearl Hewitt, does an exquisite job at imitating the accents for the various Russian characters in the story.) I can depend on a solid mystery and some laugh-out-loud moments whenever the “old biddies” interfere in the murder investigation. Their practical, albeit unconventional sleuthing methods, are hilarious. The luscious tidbits about Oxford University and the surrounding area are always a plus in this series.  I liked Gemma’s transition from normally mild-mannered girl to imposing figure at times in this installment. There’s an inkling of trouble in paradise with Gemma’s boyfriend, Devlin O’Connor, and the suspicion still lingers beyond the conclusion of the book. Overall, I absolutely loved this cozy mystery (I think it’s my new favorite one of the series), and I look forward to the next book in the series, Four Puddings and a Funeral.  Extremely highly recommended.

Have you ever read, or listened to, any books in the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series?  If so, what did you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Bell Tower at Magdelan College – Oxford University