For the Birds (by Denise Grover Swank)

Mystery 

When Skeeter Malcolm’s brother disappears, he is convinced it is the work of his main rival in Fenton County’s criminal underworld. But Rose is not convinced. With help from her partner Nelly Kate they set about finding Scooter and hunting down the real kidnappers.


Denise Grover Swank is a favorite author but I’m the first to admit that not all of her books are winners.  When she hits, she hits that ball right out of the park, but she’s also written one or two books that haven’t really worked.

For the Birds is well and truly out of the park. It’s over the freeway and in the river on the other side. I’ve read pretty much everything Denise Grover Swank has written and I think this book has taken the top spot.  I loved it. 5 Stars.

Position in Series: Book 3
Note: Rose Gardner Investigations and Neely Kate Mysteries should be read together.

Book 1 –– Family Jewels (Rose Gardner Investigations #1)
Book 2 –– Trailer Trash (Neely Kate Mystery #1)
Book 3 –– For the Birds (Rose Gardner Investigations #2)

 

Officer Elvis (by Gary Gusick)

Crime Fiction

When she accepted a job with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Darla thought that would be the last she ever saw of Tommy Reylander.  But when a car bomb takes out Reylander’s pink cadillac with him inside, she finds herself back in Jackson, looking for his killer and hopefully bringing him to justice.

As she investigates she discovers other Elvis impersonators have met untimely ends and she is forced to consider that they may have a serial killer on their hands.


These aren’t chiseled in stone but I have a few rules I tend to follow when I pick up a book.

  1. I don’t often read male authors.
  2. I don’t like it when authors write about cultures other than their own.
  3. I avoid true crime, thrillers and other books with strong violence.

Well, Gary Gusick has well and truly sent that list down in flames.  I love this book. Darla Cavannah joins my favorite heroines and Gary Gusick joins my favorite authors.  He writes books that are occasionally gutsy.  His first book was about a woman’s health clinic in Mississippi that provided abortions.  His third book which I will review next week is about the lynching of a young African American woman. So he’s an author who bravely goes places that are guaranteed to get half of any audience he has storming out in anger.

But setting all that aside his books are in the end well crafted and entertaining crime fiction and I’m completely addicted.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 6.44.49 PMOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means: YOR-Guide

Look Both Ways (by Carol J. Perry)

Mystery / Paranormal

After buying an antique bureau, Lee finds herself embroiled in two murders that occurred years apart. Hours after buying the bureau she discovers the antique dealer who sold it to her dead and a priceless pink diamond missing.

It becomes apparent that the killer will do anything to get the diamond but with so many suspects the police don’t know where to look. Lee begins investigating, using her unique witch powers to puzzle out the crime, but the killer remains at large and knows exactly where she lives.


 

Look Both Ways is a bit of a mixed bag. There were things which were driving me to distraction. Things like the heroine would do something, then she would go home and explain to a friend what she had done in detail. Then she would explain exactly the same thing again to her boyfriend. Take out all those repeated explanations of the same thing and I’m pretty sure this book would be a third shorter.

cat

But then there is the ending. How the killer got his comeuppance was beautiful and creepy and perfect. And everything witchy about this book is superb. In some ways it’s like two different books. The cozy mystery part of it wasn’t great, but the paranormal parts were amazing.

I think the author needs to really forget about the mystery and just focus on the witchery because that’s where her writing moves from mundane to sublime. So, it’s a 3 Star book with some 5 Star moments.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.26.54 PMMany thanks to Kensington & Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Orange, Red, Yellow. What it means:  YOR-Guide

Murder at Redwood Cove (by Janet Finsilver)

Cozy Mystery

When the manager of Redwood Cove Bed & Breakfast dies suddenly, Kelly is sent to fill in for him and keep the hotel running. But she quickly comes to realise that all is not as it seems and it’s possible he was murdered. With a little help from a group of elderly amateur sleuths she starts her own investigation, and as she digs she finds herself the target of a desperate criminal.


 

It’s difficult to review and rate cozy mysteries. They all follow a set of rules and authors break them at their peril. Murder at Redwood Cove is fairly typical in that sense. There is nothing in this book I found particularly surprising –– except the villain. I have to be honest, nine times out of ten, I pick the bad guy very early in the book, but not here. I was completely blind-sided.

So an entertaining cozy mystery which would normally rate 3 stars gets an extra star for keeping me guessing to the end.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 8.51.33 pmMany thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley for proving me with this ARC.

Orange, Red, Yellow. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

Killer Jam (by Karen MacInerney)

Cozy Mystery

After years as a journalist in Houston, Lucy cashes in her retirement and buys the farm which once belonged to her grandmother. Her plans are to make jams and other homestyle items to sell at farmers’ markets. So when she discovers that the Nettie who sold her the farm kept the mineral rights to the land and before the ink had even dried on the contract sent an oil exploration truck out to her land she was anything but happy.

Then Nettie shows up dead and the town’s sheriff, Nettie’s nephew is determined to put Lucy away for the crime. With the police more interested arresting her than catching the real killer it’s left up to Lucy to investigate the crime and catch the killer.


 
Cozy mysteries have always been a fun way to kill time for me. I know they’re formula. I know they all follow basically the same pattern and I know that I’ll probably forget even the best of them after a few days. I don’t really care. They’re fluff but they’re entertaining fluff.

So no, Killer Jam isn’t the greatest book ever written. It’s not even the greatest book I’ve read this month, but it’s good fun and honestly it’s not pretending to be anything else.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 8.51.33 pmOrange, Red, Yellow. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments (by Denise Grover Swank)

Mystery 

(part of a series)

Two decades earlier, Rose’s mother died in a car crash. The police at the time decided it was an accident and the case was closed, but Rose has good reason to believe her mother was murdered. As she investigates she uncovers a web of lies and corruption that stretch all the way to the present day and the people who are closest to her.

 

 


 

Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments is a stand out as one of the best in the series. I’ve enjoyed them all, they’re entertaining fun reads but apart from book 1, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes I wouldn’t say any of them are brilliant. Until now. This book is breathtakingly good right up to the conclusion which left me speechless.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.12.41 pmOrange, Red. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

The Husband’s Secret (by Liane Moriarty)

Mystery

In the dusty attic, amongst a pile of tax forms, Cecilia discovers a letter from her husband ‘to be opened in the event of my death’. What is in that letter will change her life forever.


 

That’s all you get from me…

…to be honest, the secret is alluded to quite early in the book and it’s fully revealed before the half-way mark, but this book isn’t about the secret. It’s about the repercussions which are still reverberating decades later.

It’s a cleverly crafted, almost noir book about families, kindergarten, parents and children and yes, a very dark secret that affects the lives of three women.  A great book that I can’t fault.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 6.07.24 pmYellow, Orange, Red. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide