As a teenaged star in Hollywood Summer had a squeaky clean image. But after a scandal she lost her job, was all but unemployable, and to top things off her mother emptied her bank accounts and ran off to live the high life on her money. Without a dollar to her name and debts due she has little choice but to accept a role in a reality TV show where she is a private investigator in her home town of Sweet Briar. But she quickly discovers she’s been set up to fail. The director and the crew all hate her and the cases are all contrived to make her look like a washed up failure.
Determined to save herself, protect her family and save the farm, she starts investigating the disappearance of the town drunk. And as she investigates she discovers plots and intrigue and murder.
Denise Grover Swank can be a little hit and miss. I honestly struggle with her short stories, I’d be surprised if I’ve rated any of them more than 3 Stars. I gave up on the Chosen series and found The Curse Keepers tough going. But when she gets it right she hits that ball right out of the park. And Deadly Summer is that book. It’s Denise Grover Swank being as great as she can be. I loved this book.
Many thanks to Montlake Romance and Netgalley for providing me with this Review Copy.
1. Death by Didgeridoo
When Jamie’s cousin who has Asperger’s Syndrome is accused of murder, his mother begs her to represent him. Divorces and custody battles are a long way from criminal law but Jamie knows her cousin is innocent and is determined to protect him –– and with the police adamant that they have their man it’s up to Jamie (with the help of a womanising PI) to find the real killer.
2. The Case of the Killer Divorce
In the middle of a bitter custody battle the former husband winds up dead and the former wife is the prime suspect. Jamie enlists the help of her friend and PI Duke to get to the bottom of the mystery.
3. Peril in the Park
Vandals have been targeting the public parks and Jamie’s boyfriend Kip is determined to find the culprits. But when someone is murdered the harmless pranks take on a very sinister edge. With office politics, property developers and disgruntled former employees there are plenty of suspects. Jamie and Duke step in to help out and catch the killer.
Novellas by nature are a curse wrapped up in a blessing. The blessing is that the shorter format doesn’t allow the story to drag. The writer has to hit the ground running and there isn’t any room for unnecessary details. The curse is that because of that character and story development are generally quite sparse.
So calling a spade a spade there is all of that, both the blessings and the curses but when taken as a package these three novellas manage to pack in the character development and back story quite well and the author even manages to introduce characters I want to learn more about as the series progresses.
All in all, a very enjoyable mystery series.
Many thanks to Barbara Venkataraman who provided me with review copies.
Orange, Red, Yellow. What it means: YOR-Guide
When Julia, a newspaper astrologer, implies in her column that a church might be swindling an old woman out of her home she becomes the latest target for their vitriol. As the church’s attacks increase in ferocity, San Francisco’s police turn a blind eye. But Julia isn’t one to go quietly into the night and she decides to fight back.
Then an older woman, the aunt of her closest friend becomes entangled with the church, and Julia discovers just how far the church will go to protect their secrets.
I quite like a good cozy mystery, and truthfully I requested this from Netgalley based entirely on the cover. After reading a few pages, I was thinking to myself that perhaps it was going to be a miss for me. I’m a hippie at heart, but I don’t believe in astrology –– I don’t believe the stars guide us, any more than I believe tea leaves or coffee grounds can predict the future.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Astrology is a part of the story, but this book is about much more than that. I can’t help but be reminded of the way some from the christian right bully and intimidate health care providers at organisations like Planned Parenthood. So a good cozy mystery that is made great because the author isn’t afraid to toss a few hand grenades at some of the less christian christians. The ones who have long since forgotten the bits in the bible that say, “judge not or you will be judged” and “love your neighbour as yourself”.
Many thanks to Midnight Ink and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC
Orange, Red, Yellow. What it means: YOR-Guide
South Cove is in the middle of a drought and as the sun continues to beat down tempers are beginning to fray. Jill has somehow offended her best friend Amy, her Aunt Jackie has her telling lies for her, and the newly formed Water Conservation Committee is gunning for her.
Then Kacey, a new arrival in South Cove is found dead on the beach. When Jill’s last remaining friend becomes a suspect Jill steps in and begins to investigate determined to find the real killer and clear her friend’s name.
Cozy mysteries are one of my ‘go to’ comfort reads. I just love them, well usually I love the first couple of books in a series before the novelty starts to wear off. As a genre they really are a hard field to hoe. I mean they’re generally set in a small quaint town, the sort of place you’d want to retire or raise your kids….except for the murder rate that’s higher than Caracas.
So I read the first couple in this series and as I tend to do moved on. When I saw this book at Netgalley I wondered how the series was going and requested it.
And it’s great.
Lynn Cahoon seems to be that very rare author who can keep a series like this alive and interesting even after six books. I’m thinking I need to climb back on this horse and read some of the books I’ve missed.
Many thanks to Kensington & Netgalley for providing me with this ARC
Orange, Red, Yellow. What it means: YOR-Guide
Kelsey is the director of Barton Farm, a Living History Museum with a focus on life in the 19th century and the civil war.
When the arrogant nephew of the museum’s main benefactor is murdered on the grounds there is no shortage of suspects and considering Kelsey was seen arguing with him just hours earlier she is right at the top of the list.
With the help of a reluctant civil war re-enactor she sets about finding the killer and saving the farm.
There is a fair bit to like about this book. As far as cozy mysteries go it was unique enough to hold my interest. It didn’t redefine the genre but it’s the first book I’ve read with this particular setting. That said, it feels a little like a draft copy of a great book. I have a fairly high tolerance for spelling and grammatical errors (people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones), but it really got to the point where I was thinking the book needs a good editor. And the ending could have been much better.
So it’s a promising start to a new series but there were a few shaky moments.
Orange, Red. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide
Cozy Mystery / Ghosts
After being rendered unconscious by a large plastic Santa Claus, Emma finds she has the ability to see dead people. Specifically people who have been murdered. Unfortunately for her now she is the only person in town who can see the town’s number one busybody, Ruthie, and it’s up to her to solve the crime before anyone else falls victim.
Along the way she enlists the help of Jack Henry, the town’s policeman but with her grandma the number one suspect she has to walk a fine line between helping to track down the killer and protecting her family.
A Ghostly Undertaking is a quick and fun cozy mystery set around a family run funeral home. It’s not perfect, there are a few things that didn’t quite work, some things I would have liked the author to spend a little more time with, but there is enough good in there for me to say this is a good book and a promising start to a new series.
Many thanks to Witness and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC
Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: red-orange-yellow-guide
Jackie, her husband Luke and his brother Logan are partners in a property management team in Miami. When a renter is smelling up the place or not paying rent, the landlord hires them to sort it out. Unfortunately for them on their very first job they stumble across a brutally murdered young woman.
When the police fail to find a suspect after a few days they put the case on the back-burner and Jackie decides if she doesn’t step in the case will join the thousands of other unsolved murders.
Jennifer L. Hart is a favorite author. She writes snarky and intelligent cozy mysteries that are high on fun and low on angst (despite the obvious triangle that’s bubbling away in the background of this one). I love every single character in this book –– honestly, they pretty much all deserve to be the star and I can’t wait till the next instalment.
Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: red-orange-yellow-guide-pdf