HAUNTED HOMICIDE by Lucy Ness


Series: A Haunted Mansion Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★


Avery Morgan has been hired to breathe new life into the Portage Path Women’s Club, but first she’ll have to deal with a dead body and a meddling ghost.

Avery Morgan has had a harrowing first week on the job as manager of the Portage Path Woman’s Club. Not only is she in charge of a grand old home with a mountain of maintenance problems and scheduling nightmares–thanks to a recent fire in the Marigold meeting room–but she’s also got Muriel Sadler to deal with. Muriel is the current president of the club, the one “nay” vote when the rest of the board voted “aye” to hiring Avery.

After a morning of dealing with another one of Muriel’s snits and a meeting with the delicious and delightfully unsettling Ben Harkness, who will be handling renovations in the fire-damaged portions of the house, the last thing Avery needs is for one of the fuses to blow. Again.

She grabs her handy flashlight and heads into the basement, where she stumbles across Muriel’s body. She also stumbles across an unexpected helper, Clemmie Bow, the ghost of a young woman who was accidentally killed in the building almost a hundred years ago.

Together Clemmie and Avery are determined to solve Muriel’s murder before the killer sends Avery to join Clemmie on the other side.


What a fun beginning to a promising paranormal cozy mystery series! Main character Avery has landed a new job as manager of Portage Path Woman’s Club, though she’s off to a rocky start when she finds the body of the current club president in the basement, along with a ghost from the 1920s.

Clever and determined, Avery had grand plans to modernize the club, but first she must use her smarts to catch Muriel’s killer. I enjoyed the club setting in the old mansion, and I especially liked Clemmie, the flapper ghost helping Avery with her investigation. The cast of quirky characters was interesting and likable, though the author kept me guessing as to whom would want Muriel dead.

HAUNTED HOMICIDE is an intriguing murder mystery with just the right amount of paranormal. I hope to learn more about Clemmie in future books!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Now in Paperback: THE VANISHED BRIDE by Bella Ellis [Re-Post Review]


Series: A Brontë Sisters Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


Before they became legendary writers, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë were detectors in this charming historical mystery…

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…


Hello! I’m re-posting my review of THE VANISHED BRIDE from last year to celebrate the paperback release with a brand new cover (which I love!). I’m also including the cover and blurb for the next book in the series, THE DIABOLICAL BONES, coming in November…♥


THE VANISHED BRIDE is a unique historical mystery that casts the famous Brontë sisters as amateur sleuths who set out to solve a local missing persons case. It’s 1845, and Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are once again living at home with their father Patrick and brother Branwell, before they became published authors. The sisters are struggling to find their place in the world as unmarried women who would prefer to set their own course in life. When they hear a young wife has disappeared under gruesome circumstances, the Brontës become “lady detectors” and use their smarts & daring to find out what happened.

I enjoyed this book very much! Not only was I intrigued by the twisty mystery, I absolutely loved being able to live in the world of the Brontës for a little while. From what I’ve previously learned about them, I think the author did a fantastic job capturing the sisters’ personalities, conflicts, and closeness to one another. Though the mystery was fictional, it had many elements that would have influenced this Charlotte to write Jane Eyre. THE VANISHED BRIDE is a must read for Brontë fans — intriguing, well-written, and great fun.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

…and coming November 10, 2020, THE DIABOLICAL BONES:


Haworth Parsonage, February 1846: The Brontë sisters — Anne, Emily, and Charlotte — are busy with their literary pursuits. As they query publishers for their poetry, each sister hopes to write a full-length novel that will thrill the reading public. They’re also hoping for a new case for their fledgling detecting enterprise, Bell Brothers and Company solicitors. On a bitterly cold February evening, their housekeeper Tabby tells them of a grim discovery at Scar Top House, an old farmhouse belonging to the Bradshaw family. A set of bones has been found bricked up in a chimney breast inside the ancient home.

Tabby says it’s bad doings, and dark omens for all of them. The rattled housekeeper gives them a warning, telling the sisters of a chilling rumour attached to the family. The villagers believe that, on the verge of bankruptcy, Clifton Bradshaw sold his soul to the devil in return for great riches. Does this have anything to do with the bones found in the Bradshaw house? The sisters are intrigued by the story and feel compelled to investigate. But Anne, Emily, and Charlotte soon learn that true evil has set a murderous trap and they’ve been lured right into it…


 

DEATH OF A WANDERING WOLF by Julia Buckley

Series: A Hungarian Tea House Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★


Hana Keller is enjoying a day off from serving up tea and delicious pastries at her family’s Hungarian Tea House when her downtime turns deadly.

The only thing Hana loves more than a good cuppa is finding a delicate porcelain treasure to add to her collection. She’s usually on the hunt for teacups but when she spots a rare wolf figurine at a local yard sale, she knows it’s her lucky day. Hana also knows the wolf is valuable and tells the seller that he’s charging too little for it. His reaction is peculiar–he says he received the wolf from someone he doesn’t trust and he just wants it out of his life.

Hana is inspecting her new prize when she finds a tiny microchip attached to the bottom of the porcelain wolf. When she shows the figure to her police detective boyfriend, Erik, Hana is shocked to learn that the chip is actually a tracking device. They decide to confront the seller about the sneaky sale but when they arrive at his house, they find him dead. Erik and Hana now must hunt a calculating killer who has no intentions of crying wolf when it comes to murder…


DEATH OF A WANDERING WOLF is the second book in the delightful Hungarian Tea House Mystery series. Hana Keller gets more than she bargained for at a yard sale, when the seller, a local artist, is murdered shortly after Hana scores some too good to be true deals. Hana uses her developing psychic ability and smarts to unlock the secrets in his paintings. Will his art reveal the identity of his killer?

I enjoyed this complex murder mystery that combines intriguing Hungarian culture and folklore, mysterious paintings, and a touch of the paranormal. It was great seeing Hana and Detective Erik Wolf’s relationship grow closer, and the introduction of Erik’s sisters was a lot of fun. I hope they make an appearance in future books. Hana and her family are wonderful characters who make this an engaging cozy mystery series. Highly recommended!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

KILLER CHARDONNAY by Kate Lansing


Series: A Colorado Wine Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


A young winery owner won’t let one sour grape ruin the bunch in the first installment of this exciting cozy mystery series.

Parker Valentine has always dreamed of opening her own winery in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. But she gets more than she bargained for when a food and wine critic unexpectedly shows up at Vino Valentine on opening day. A negative review could be fatal for her business, and not only does he seem to hate her chardonnay, he also collapses and dies shortly after drinking it.

Although Parker hoped that the attendees would put a cork in it, soon her winery is at the center of a social media firestorm. With #killerchardonnay trending online, Parker’s business is in danger of closing, and she has no choice but to investigate the murder herself.

To restore her reputation, catch a killer, and keep her struggling business open, Parker needs only one thing: some good proof.


KILLER CHARDONNAY is a smart and juicy beginning to the Colorado Wine Mystery series set in downtown Boulder. The opening day of Vino Valentine turns into a disaster for owner Parker Valentine when a local wine & food critic dies after sampling her chardonnay. Of course Parker is horrified that this means the end of all her hard work, unless she can prove that her wine had nothing to do with his death.

This is the first cozy mystery I’ve read that centers around a winery, and it was a lovely change of pace. The rich descriptions of gourmet food and wine were delightful. Parker and the supporting cast of characters were well-developed and relatable, and their interpersonal challenges added to the enjoyment of the story.

Parker is a clever and determined amateur sleuth, and I enjoyed the intriguing mystery she was faced with solving. KILLER CHARDONNAY is a fresh and modern cozy mystery that will appeal to foodies and wine lovers. Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A SPELL FOR TROUBLE by Esme Addison


Series: An Enchanted Bay Mystery, #1
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★½


Aleksandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.

Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.

Alex’s investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex’s own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.


A SPELL FOR TROUBLE kicks off the new Enchanted Bay Mystery series featuring former risk assessor, Alex Daniels. After some trouble at her New York office, Alex accepts an offer to visit her Bellamy Bay relatives whom she hasn’t seen in many years. There is much she didn’t know about her long lost aunt and cousins and their enchanted apothecary shop, and all the family secrets start bubbling to the top when Aunt Lidia is arrested for murder.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The good: I loved the charming setting of Bellamy Bay and the Polish folklore that was woven into Alex’s family history. The world-building set a solid foundation for the series going forward. What I struggled with: Alex did some silly things that put the case and herself in jeopardy, especially since she has a career in risk management. I also thought the mystery itself wasn’t that interesting once the “whys” starting being revealed. However there was a nifty twist regarding the culprit that I enjoyed.

With its magical roots I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes in future books.

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.