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Archived Newsletter Content


Newsletter #123 September November, 2018

Who Dunnit - Short Mystery Reviews
by Mary McKinley

        For those who come into the store, I'm the cheerful redhead sitting by the computer or shelving books Mon-Wed. I'm new to the book business, but an avid life-long reader.
        Mysteries are fun - trying to figure out who committed the crime before all is revealed in the end. Pinning your wits against the like of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Aunt Dimity, as well as so many more!
        What's up with all the "cozies"? A cozy is defined by Wikipedia as "a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. Cozies thus stand in contrast to hardboiled fiction which feature violence and sexuality more explicitly and centrally to the plot". They tend to be fun, easy reads with a lot of plot twists that engage your mind and are quick to read. Many feature animals, usually cats, but dogs are coming into their own, too! They are good airplane or bathtub books, and shouldn't give you nightmares if you read them at bed time. We have several featured around the store, so come in and visit!

        And speaking of Aunt Dimity, the recent Aunt Dimity and the Widow's Curse by Nancy Atherton ($15.00), is currently on our shelves in trade paperback. This is the 22nd book in the Aunt Dimity series, and it continues the adventures of Lori Shepherd, family, and friends. Aunt Dimity, Lori's mom's best friend from WWII, shows up only in a diary that Lori can read and use to talk with Aunt Dimity. She's a sounding board, advice giver, and voice of calm and reason in an otherwise hectic world. This story has an elderly neighbor confessing to Lori that she killed her husband many years ago. Aghast that this sweet, talented woman could do something do horrific, Lori goes on an expedition for the truth, visiting a nearby town and it's inhabitants to find the truth. The mystery is solved, the killer is found, the curse is lifted, and the quilt is finished. As with all the Aunt Dimity books, there's a mouthwatering recipe in the end. Aunt Dimity and the King's Ransom ($26.00), currently in our new hardcovers, is the most recent addition to this delightful series. Lori ends up by herself during a storm at an ancient Inn which appears to be haunted, but by what? Is it the ghosts of long dead smugglers, who used the tunnels under the Inn to bring in illicit goods? Or is it, perhaps, someone in the Inn? These are gentle stories, and there's not always a murder, but the mystery does pull you in and the addition of the eccentric neighbors as well as the compassionate voice of Aunt Dimity never fails to make me smile.

        The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes, ($16.99), by Leonard Goldberg, poses the question - what would a child of the brilliant Holmes and The Woman, Irene Adler, be like? And will she be able to outwit an old nemesis to solve a series of murders? What will happen between her and Dr. John Watson, Jr.? Dr. Watson Sr. is still with us and keeps things moving using the techniques he honed while working with Holmes. His son and Joanna Blaylock, Holmes' daughter, join forces with him to bring an old secret to conclusion, and make the streets of England a little safer. For a while... It all starts with a man falling to his death, but was it suicide or murder? And when the next one dies from poison, who gave it to him and why? Can they save the next one in time and what is the secret he holds? While this strays from the 'canon' of Holmes, his relationship with Irene does have a ring of truth to it and the wisdom of Watson, Sr. shows him for the intelligent doctor that he was. Joanna and Watson, Jr. do conveniently fall in love rather quickly, but what is life without romance? Watson, Jr. continues in his father's footsteps as a magnificent second, allowing Joanna to shine as the brains of the duo.

        As far as oldies-but-goodies, I've just finished re-reading the Fletch series by Gregory McDonald (several price points starting at $4 in both used hardcover and paperback) and still enjoy everyone of them. If all you've seen are the movies - well, Hollywood wanted a vehicle for Chevy Chase, who is as far from Irwin Maurice Fletcher as could be. Fletch, as he prefers to be known, is an investigative reporter that has a tendency to investigate stories that others would prefer to be kept under the rugs. In Fletch and the Man Who, he is invited along as the head press agent for a presidential candidate, and somehow, partially clothed dead women keep turning up. Who is responsible? The candidate's wife, a hotheaded, emotionally abusive, win-at-all-costs woman, or the candidate himself? Carioca Fletch has him in Rio, trying to discover the fate of both an American and a Brazilian widow, and someone is trying to kill Fletch. All of this takes place during Carnival, and I learned a lot about Rio, the celebrations, and the dancers, as well as some history. There are 11 books in the series with the last two following the adventures of Fletch's surprise son. I highly recommend these for their intelligence, humor, and off-the-wall characters. Forget the movies.

        If you're a fan of Phryne Fisher on TV, read the books - they go into so much more detail and are subtly nuanced so you rarely see end in advance. At last count, there are 21 in the series, starting with Cocaine Blues ($14.95). This is the Fabulous Phryne's entry into Melbourne, Australia, after WWI when her family becomes elevated to the peerage. Someone is supplying Melbourne with cocaine, causing deaths, but who and how? There's also an abortionist at large, killing young girls with botched abortions. Do these two crimes together, and if so, how? The Hon. Miss Fisher has a bit of a checkered past - artist's model, ambulance driver during the war, pretty much anything to stay alive. She also deals with the guilt of her young sister who disappeared while under Phryne's watch. And if you like Kerry Greenwood's style, I also recommend her Corinna Chapman series. Corrina is a woman who decided she was tired of the corporate world and tossed it over to become a baker. Earthly Delights ($14.95), the 1st in the series, introduces us to Corrina, a robust (nice way of saying hefty) woman who is happy baking until she finds a half-dead junkie on her outside grating. With the help of a gorgeous (of course) hunk of a private investigator and her quirky neighbors, she discovers who is threatening and attempting to kill her neighbors and why. There are currently 6 books in the series, and all take place in the present day Melbourne, Australia, with a new one coming out this October.

        Just received in paperback ($9.99) Dan Brown's latest Robert Langdon novel, Origin. As always, Langdon walks into the wrong place at the wrong time, but using his expertise and the assistance of the elegant (and beautiful) museum director who escapes with him, he is able to find the password and unlock the secret where we came from, where we're going, and whether or not there is a God. While I do enjoy Brown's writings and find his theories intriguing, his writing can be a little over the top. If you read it as pure entertainment without any deeper meaning, it can be a lot of fun and you might just learn a bit about art and history.

        Finally, for something completely different, if you're a fan of cozies, especially for the recipes, The Cozy Cookbook ($17.00) offers up several tantalizing treats from such authors as Laura Childs, Ellery Adams. Julie Hyzy, and more! The book covers the gamut from breakfast through desserts with some gluten free options and some fully loaded (Charmed Heart-Shaped White Chocolate-Raspberry Cream Two Bite Pies) to make your mouth water. So - if you're a fan of cookbooks, cozies, or both, this is a delightful, decadent, and sometimes healthy read with excerpts from the books where the recipes originated. I think it's time for a cool refreshing glass of Summer Tea Sparkler!
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