Review: Tagged for Death

Tagged for Death
Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 Sarah Winston, 38, is devoid of a social life since divorcing her husband, CJ Hooker, former Air Force Base Security Forces squadron commander. Forced to retire for “misconduct” after having had an affair with a 19 year old airman, Tiffany Lopez. Sarah does, however, enjoy frequenting garage sales, and recently she’s snagged a great buy at one in particular, even managing to collect various free items for charity. Back at her small apartment, while sorting out the charitable items to be taken to the military base thrift shop, she finds a bloodstained shirt with her ex-husband’s initials on the monogrammed cuff, along with another piece of bloodied clothing, a maternity top, that belonged to his dismissed lover, Tiffany Lopez. Flabbergasted as to how either of the items wound up with her other collectibles, and in a panic, Sarah frantically tries to locate CJ. When he finally contacts her she shares what she found and he assures her he’ll figure out what’s going on. But when blood is found on Tiffany’s dorm room floor, and Sarah soon finds a skull and bones on the thrift store grounds where she volunteers, will she be able to prove that her ex-husband didn’t have a motive for murder?

I really enjoyed Tagged for death. The mystery of what happened to Tiffany Lopez unfolds gradually while we simultaneously gain a window into Sarah’s life as an ex-military wife, and how she is forced to redefine herself after losing much of her identity after moving off the military base. While Sarah has to learn to adapt to life as an ordinary civilian and divorcee, she’s savvy when it comes to using her wits to investigate the murder of her ex-husband’s lover. The struggle to rid herself of the love she still has deep down for her cheating husband, while endeavoring to make a little money to sustain herself by setting up garage sales for friends and acquaintances, endeared me to her character. She’s a fighter, determined to overcome adversity, and I admired that quality. Tagged for Death is not a whimsical cozy. It has a mature theme that held my attention as much as the mystery aspect. There are a few twists that I didn’t expect, and that makes me curious and eager to move on in the series, as these twists warrant further development. A great story. I am definitely interested to see how Sarah gets on with her life. Recommended.

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Review: When the Grits Hit the Fan

When the Grits Hit the Fan
When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ It was nice to be back in touch with the folks of South Lick, Indiana. And let me just say that When the Grits Hit The Fan, the third instalment in the Country Store Mystery series, is one of the best cozies I’ve ever read to date! I mean, seriously, I couldn’t wait to pick up where I’d left off each and every time! I got not just a few, but ALL of the elements that I appreciate in a good mystery; suspense, a great setting, intriguing and quirky characters, a learning experience, a little bit of romance and a climactic, edge of your seat ending. There’s no fluff in this story. It’s a solid mystery with characters that are so distinctly original and amusing it’s hard to believe they’re fictitious. My favorites are the police officers, both men and women, who are investigating the crime. One in particular, Octavia Slade, has a no-nonsense quality that I never tired of. Lieutenant Buck Bird, the tall, lanky officer with the hearty appetite and thick Indiana accent was another favorite. And Danna, the teenaged restaurant assistant with the dreadlocks, piercings, and sassy personality snagged my complete attention each time she was mentioned. I liked the diverse backgrounds and ages, along with the appropriate dialects and jargon. It’s clear that the characters were well thought out and carefully constructed, and for that reason they are not easily forgotten.

And now, what it’s about….

Robbie Jordan, proprietor of country store and restaurant, Pans ‘N Pancakes, is grateful for the increased business she receives from hosting the Indiana University group of Sociology grad students and professors that meet there on a bimonthly basis. The conversation is typically peaceful, but during one Friday session graduate student and friend, Louise “Lou” Perlman, and Lou’s professor, Charles Stilton, are engaged in a quarrel. Lou has accused him of stealing the material from her research project and presenting it as his own. He smugly dismisses her accusation and regards her as inconsequential as compared to his superior rank. Furious, she removes herself from the table and storms off to the restroom to blow off steam. Charles Stilton doesn’t seem the least bit affected by the incident and resumes his conversation with the others. But before long he insults the chair of the department, Zenobia Brown, and shortly thereafter the group disbands for the evening. The next day while Robbie and Lou are snowshoeing, Robbie discovers Charles Stilton’s body through a hole in the frozen lake, and before long many of Robbie’s acquaintances, including her good friend Lou, are on the suspect list. Further investigation reveals that almost no one cared for the arrogant man, including his mistreated wife, their son, and his mother-in-law. So who’s the culprit? Robbie might not know who murdered Charles Stilton, but she’s sure it wasn’t her friend Lou, and she’s determined to use her sleuthing skills to have her friend exonerated.

The depth of the storyline surpassed my expectations. I never felt bored, and I was impressed with how the lead character subtly transitioned into amateur sleuth in a way that was believable. I didn’t have to suspend disbelief to accept the role she played in going about finding clues to solve the murder.

This is a cozy mystery series you won’t want to miss. Very, very highly recommended.

I received an ARC of this book, and in exchange I have provided an honest review. In no way has the free book influenced my opinions of it.

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Review: Twisted Threads

Twisted Threads by Lea Wait
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Twisted Threads is set in the lovely coastal town of Haven Harbor, Maine. The interspersed descriptions of the town, and its intriguing cast of characters, lent to my immense enjoyment of this book. I know I’ve loved a cozy when the story is told so well that it’s a great read on its own, even before the perpetrator is revealed. That was my experience with Twisted Threads. And now a little bit on what the book was about….

Angie “Angel” Curtis is returning to her childhood home in Haven Harbor, Maine, to bury her mother who has been found after having gone missing 19 years prior. Charlotte Curtis, Angie’s grandmother (affectionately known as “Gram”), hasn’t seen Angie much since she left Haven Harbor for Arizona about 10 years earlier, so she’s happy to welcome her back home. Angie is glad to be back in Maine with her grandmother and she notices that a couple of things have changed. Gram has become a business owner. She’s part of a group of needlepointers that call themselves Mainely Needlepoint. They are craftsmen who do beautiful work, but the business is failing now since their agent, Jacque Lattimore, hasn’t been paying them for jobs they’ve completed, and sadly he’s nowhere to be found. In fact, he owes them over $30,000! Since Angie works for a private investigator back in Arizona, she offers to do what she can to track him down. When all is said and done, Angie won’t be back in town to find out about her mother’s murder alone, but she, along with her grandmother and the other needlepointers, will be embroiled in yet another murder. Might there be a killer among them?

Wow, the final chapters of this cozy were intense, and I loved every minute of it!! I was drawn into this somewhat unconventional cozy mystery of a double murder plot. I really appreciated the passages related to needlepoint in the form of quotes, poems and interesting facts that headed up each chapter. I found those tidbits both interesting and fascinating, and I looked forward to them. The story definitely held my attention and the climactic ending was thrilling. I loved this cozy so much that I’ve already begun Threads of Evidence, book 2 in the series. Need I say more?

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Review: Silence of the Lamps

Silence of the Lamps
Silence of the Lamps by Karen Rose Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Loved this book!!  In Silence of the Lamps, book 5 of the Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery series, Caprice is determined to uncover who murdered Drew Pierson, her sister Nikki’s nemesis and catering competitor. Caprice’s tenacity in investigating the murder stems from her desire to clear her sister’s name from the suspect list. Drew Pierson’s unprofessional behavior destroyed his prospects for partnering with Nikki, a consequence he seemingly bitterly regrets. Later, when Drew shows up to one of Caprice’s home stagings where Nikki’s providing the catering, an argument ensues causing a scene in front of many onlookers.  Shortly thereafter Caprice and Nikki pay a visit to Drew’s residence, his grandmother’s house, in an effort to resolve their differences.  Instead they find Drew dead on the floor, clobbered with a Tiffany lamp base. Nikki becomes an obvious suspect, but when Caprice’s sleuthing efforts reveal that Drew was an opportunist with his share of enemies, will she be able to convince the police that there were possibly others with a motive for murder? Might one of Drew’s disgruntled associates decided they’d had enough and done away with him?
As anticipated, Karen Rose Smith delivered on another thoroughly satisfying cozy mystery. I have enjoyed every book I’ve read in her home staging mystery series and Silence of the Lamps is no exception. I appreciate how she incorporates her love for family life, friends, relationships and animals into her stories. There’s a warmth that exudes her writing, and although I was in anxious expectation of learning who the murderer was, I was so invested in all of the other fine elements of the book that I probably would have been satisfied with whoever the culprit was.  Every moment I spend reading one of Karen Rose Smith’s books is well worth the time. I loved Silence of the Lamps and look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Thank you Karen Rose Smith and Kensington books for an ARC of Silence of the Lamps in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

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