We Last Saw Jane – Stacy M Jones

A Riley Sullivan Mystery, Book Four

Five stars

We Last Saw Jane is the first Riley Sullivan Mystery I’ve read.  That’s not a caveat.  This book stands alone amazingly, but the characters are endearing, and the writing intriguing to the point that you’ll want to catch up with the previous volumes.

But enough about that.

In Book Four of the series, Riley is about to get married so she’s come home to prepare.  She’s supposed to be relaxing and tending to the last-minute details of her big day.

Except that a girl has gone missing from the boarding school that just happens to be down the road from her mother’s house.  So of course, being familiar with the property from having played with friends there as a child, it only makes sense that she help out her mom’s beau when he’s hired by the girl’s father to investigate.

Nothing is as it seems though, and instead of relaxing and thinking about her wedding, Riley inevitably finds herself determined to resolve this mystery, no matter where it leads.  Especially when it leads to dead bodies.  Packed with twists and turns, We Last Saw Jane really tests your mettle as an armchair sleuth.  I knew there was something nasty afoot, but the source totally threw me!

A great read, Jones’ characters draw you into their lives and you quickly find yourself turning pages with bated breath.  Highly recommend!

[I received an ARC copy of the book from the author, with no obligation to review.  The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.]

Deep Dish Pizza Disaster – Jodi Rath

Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries, Book Five

Five of five stars

Lydia is pregnant.  And goes into labour at the Fall Festival.  There are a LOT of rumours and suppositions about who the father is.  She’s not telling.

But that’s not all.  There are engagements announced.  Meiser is in a wheelchair and not talking about it.  The citizens are on different sides of an important issue.  AND there’s a dead body at the Festival!!!

While Jolie and Ava tangle with the clues, suspects, and evidence, Meiser’s family makes an unwelcome appearance.  And shows no interest in leaving, in fact, they seem to have decided to make it a permanent thing!  What can Rath possibly be thinking???

Can Jolie put all the clues together in the right order while trying to keep her relationship with the secretive detective from floundering?

As we’ve come to expect from this series, Rath has given us another entertaining read.  Many of the usual loveable cast of characters is on deck for Deep Dish Pizza Disaster; but she’s also included some nogoodniks you’re not sure may not just become part of the Leavensport landscape.

And that’s what makes Deep Dish Pizza Disaster a page turner.  You aren’t putting that book down till it’s finished.  I promise!

Although Deep Dish is the newest entry in the Cast Iron Skillet franchise, it makes a great stand-alone read.  But trust me, you’ll want to binge read the back issues too.

Go get it here: https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Pizza-Disaster-Skillet-Mystery-ebook/dp/B084L6HWLL/

[I was fortunate to have received a pre-publication copy of this book from the author.  However, I was not required to write a review.  The opinions herein are entirely my own.]

The Framed Father – J R Mathis

The Father Tom Mysteries, Book Two

Five of five stars

Father Tom finds himself back in Myerton.  Temporarily according to the Archbishop.  Which is a good thing since Tom really is happy serving the pastoral needs of Our Lady of the Mount Monastery.  But when the Archbishop says “immediately” he MIGHT mean you can stop to pack a bag.  Though he’d only left four months prior, Tom dutifully heads back to St Clare’s Parish.

Mathis has done it again.  With some of the characters we came to know and love in Penitent Priest, he begins another tale of misdirection, subterfuge, and long-held revenge.  While Detective Parr is hell-bent on wrapping it up quickly, Father Greer has entirely other ideas.

The Framed Father takes you on a heart-tugging journey.  An unjustly accused cleric.  A young woman whose reputation is in tatters because of wagging tongues.  Father Tom knows there’s more to all of this than what that anonymous complaint alluded to.  Will he get to the bottom of it before someone innocent pays the ultimate price?

Based on how engrossing Book One was, I didn’t hesitate to pre-order Framed FatherMathis has a talent for twists, turns, subplots, and surprises and I didn’t want to miss a single paragraph of Father Tom’s newest investigation.  As we’ve already come to expect from this new-to-me author, Framed was another unputdownable read delivering totally unexpected sucker punches.

You will love Father Tom – Father Brown he’s not . . . he’s better!!!

Tracks & Flashbacks – Trixie Silvertale

Mitzy Moon Mysteries, Book Nine

Five of five stars

When we left Mitzy and crew at the end of Book Eight, we were given a bit of a teaser for what was to come in Book Nine.  Well played Ms Silvertale, well played!  I was literally left with bated breath in anticipation of “what comes next”.

You’ll recall Sheriff Too-Hot-to-Handle had just uncovered that Coraline Moon – Mitzy’s mom – had been murdered.  AND he’d offered to go back to Phoenix with Mitzy to get to the bottom of that cold case.

Heading to what ostensibly was her home for many years, Mitzy plans to return in style.  That involves a First-Class Suite for the flight from Almost-Canada, and topnotch accommodations in a luxury hotel once they arrive in Phoenix.  They’re off to a great start.

Well friends, let me tell you that along with the temptations that “rooming with the Sheriff” will foist on Mitzy, Tracks & Flashbacks hits our heroine with painful memories, amazing insights, and a cold case that has tentacles reaching through intrigue, deception, and corruption.  Far more than they had bargained for.  Not knowing who – if anyone – they can trust, Erick and Mitzy find themselves running for cover.  Though Ghost-Ma, Pyewacket, and Silas aren’t nearby physically, the wonders of technology make their invaluable input and advice almost as easily reached. 

In this episode, Erick is getting dangerously close to figuring out that Mitzy’s insights on their cases are more than just hunches.  While Mitzy is still determined that he shouldn’t be told, I have a feeling that coming clean won’t wait for our heroine to be “ready”.

Silvertale’s characters have long since found their way to being among my favourites.  Tracks & Flashbacks is a stellar entry into this series, with a great back story and – finally – some closure for Ms Moon as far as her mother and her death are concerned.  I believe we’ll see a slightly different Mitzy now that some deep-seated questions have been laid to rest.

A fast paced, nonstop read, Tracks was another Moon tale that I simply kept reading to the end.  I loved this one – caveat, have tissues ready – and settle in, you won’t stop till it’s done.

Mitzy Moon Book Nine releases on 8th September.  The link below will lead you to the preorder page.  Trust me, you’ll want this one as soon as it drops.

[I was fortunate to have received an Advance Reader Copy of this book.  I was not, however, required to write a review.  The opinions expressed herein are freely given and entirely my own.]

The Watchman of Rothenberg Dies: A German Cozy Mystery – Adriana Licio

The Homeswappers Mysteries, Book One

Five of five stars

After the prequel piqued my interest in this new series, I waited with great anticipation for Book One!  The Watchman of Rothenberg Dies did not disappoint!

We catch up with Etta and Dora – now sharing Etta’s family home back in Italy, and Dora’s car for their travels – as they are on the last leg of their journey to Rothenberg Germany and their FIRST Homeswappers Holiday.  Etta, as is her nature, is still unsure what her friend Dora has got her into.  Dora, on the other hand also true to her nature, is unstintingly optimistic, convinced this will be a brilliant holiday.

Except.  The first evening in their temporary home, while taking the Night Watchman’s Tour of the city, brings them face to face with a dead body.  As if that weren’t enough, circumstances would have it that the ladies are now responsible for the poor dead man’s basset hound, called Napoleon.

The neighbour’s son becomes the Police Chief’s prime – only – suspect.  Which of course compels the retired teachers once again to investigate a murder that the police will otherwise wrap up far too quickly.  As they “stick their noses” where the Chief doesn’t want them, they do find an accomplice of sorts in the police sergeant.  The officer is all too aware of the Chief’s haste to close the case.

Licio once again does what she does best in this new series.  With her vivid descriptions, endearing characters, and several red herrings, this narrative keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Unlike her Italian Village Mysteries where you have many recurring characters, The Homeswappers will tour all over Europe in their little FIAT.  Each new adventure will find them in some other part of Europe, with a whole new cast of intriguing, perhaps even suspicious characters.  I’m not sure if I look forward to her scenic descriptions or the mysteries this duo will uncover more.  The affable Dora, the ostensibly dour Etta; then add Leon???  Oh my!

An entertaining read from a favourite author, I thoroughly enjoyed Watchman of Rothenberg and look forward to the travelers’ next adventure – a wedding in Mecklenberg.  What could possibly go wrong?

The Watchman of Rothenberg Dies releases on 1st September, but preorders are open now.

[I was fortunate to receive an Advanced Reader Copy of the book from the author but was not required to write a review.  The opinions expressed herein are given freely and are entirely my own.]

The Penitent Priest – J R Mathis

The Father Tom Mysteries, Book One

Five of five stars

In the style of The Father Brown Mysteries – a long time favourite of mine – we meet Father Tom Greer.  Different and a touch more modern than the old British Village vicar, Father Tom is a Catholic priest, come to his calling later in life.  He’s spent most of the handful of years since his ordination in the Chancery offices as head – only – archivist, when the Archbishop sees fit to press him into service in a parish that is suddenly without a priest.  The very parish he used to live in.  Where is wife was murdered, her murderer never found.

And so begins the unraveling of many long-held secrets.  Some of which Tom himself was hiding.  Others of which even he had no clue.  As Tom comes to realize that some of these secrets may well destroy him, someone else is murdered; Tom himself high on the list of suspects.

Mathis’ intricate plot spans ten years into the past.  And before it’s done, some of the secrets that come unraveled have roots in events even further back.

A fast-paced narrative, The Penitent Priest is a long though compelling read.  Mathis’ characters are engaging.  You won’t like all of them, but you’ll be invested in their story – in finding out the secrets and the truth – and that investment will pull you along.

When the resolution inevitably comes, you will find yourself needing to know more about what life has yet in store for Father Tom.  And like me, you’ll wait anxiously for the second instalment. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this first-in-a-series and look forward to more. Full disclosure: I’ve already pre-ordered the next in the series – due to be released 1st September. You can do the same at this link:

[I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the author, though was in no way required to write a review.  The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and are given freely.]

Thorn – Fiona Quinn

Uncommon Enemies, Book Four

Five of five stars

Can I just start off by saying, I have yet to meet a Fiona Quinn book that does not keep me up all night reading to the very last word!  Since I first discovered her with a freebie of Open Secret – the first in the FBI Joint Task Force trilogy – I have been an avid fan.

Thorn was no different.  Well, yes, it WAS different in story, narrative, challenges encountered – as it should be – but the attention that Quinn pays every little detail of her work constantly manages to blow me away.  I often find myself wondering what it must be like in the mind of such an author.  How does one keep all the details straight, the research needed, the new things that need to be learned?

But enough about that, on to the story itself.

Not unlike some of Quinn’s other heroes, Thorn is tough, all business, always thinking, always ready, and determined that matters of the heart are not for him!  Until something happens to him the moment he sees a photograph. And still he refuses to acknowledge it.

Enough intrigue to keep you on the edge of your seat.  Enough intimate moments to keep this old woman fanning herself; Quinn is a master storyteller.  Espionage meets deception, meets cunning, meets romance, in a seamless tapestry you cannot help but fall into.  Thorn’s story will stay with you.

Book Four in this series, but don’t let that stop you.  While all of Quinn’s works weave into the Iniquus World she has created and populated with engaging characters and their gripping stories; each one of these can and does stand alone extremely well.  I thoroughly this book and can highly recommend!

Sam the Speedy Sloth – Children’s Book

Matthew Ralph Author, Illustrated by Khansa

Five stars

In what is a real departure for this reader, I was invited to read a children’s book and leave a review, if I felt inclined. When Matthew Ralph approached me for this, I’ll admit I was a bit leery, it’s been years since I was even near a children’s book! But then again, that’s probably a good vantage point to view this work from as well. So let’s get to it!

Let me just start by saying that I loved Sam!  He’s a young sloth, but he’s also a different sloth.  He’s speedy when all his fellow sloths are slow and sleepy.  The life lessons start quickly in this story, but they don’t hammer at you, they simply are.

Sam is tired of the sloths he lives with all being too sleepy to play with him, so he sets out to find others that will play with him.  In his journey through the rainforest, he encounters several other young animals with whom he would like to play.  At each meeting, he discovers that they each play differently, but the heartwarming thing throughout the story is that though they all play differently, they still all play together.  Would that some adults would learn this.

Children’s books are also about the pictures, and Sam the Speedy Sloth is no different. I wouldn’t be doing the book justice if I didn’t mention that the illustrator here is outstanding.  Great vignettes that are colourful and eye-catching, perfect for any little to enjoy along with a great tale that has much to teach.

Sam’s story is told in rhyme, but it’s not a complicated meter, I think most children will really enjoy this – in fact my grands will be getting Sam’s story in their stockings! 

Additionally, Ralph has included several great activities at the end of this book, which I think will be a great boost to learning.  Overall a good story, well written, with engaging characters and language; well worth picking up for your littles – maybe even for yourself!

[I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book from the author.  However, I was not required to write a review, the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.]

Pineapple Upside Down Murder – Jodi Rath

Cast Iron Skillet Mysteries, Book One

Five of five stars

Meet Jolie Tucker. She and her lifelong bestie Ava own Cast Iron Creations, a small cozy restaurant that uses Jolie’s family cast iron pan recipes to keep her clientele fed and happy.

Leavensport is a great town filled with people who have known each other forever. But someone has stolen Jolie’s recipe box. Straight out of the “secret” hiding place! On the heels of that discovery, she rushes out her back door to discover Ellie Siler dead. In the dumpster!

When Jolie’s grandma – and Ellie’s best friend – becomes the prime suspect, the girls get to sleuthing. After all, when the police have shut down your place of business while THEY investigate, what else are you going to do? Rath has given us two mysteries to solve here, but somehow you just know the two events are linked.

Pineapple Upside Murder is a well written, entertaining read. Rath has created a whole village of characters that take no time at all to make you their friends. All through the book, I found myself hoping that none of these great people I’d just met turned out to be a murderer!

Book One of a series that already has several volumes – all the better for binge-reading – I know that Jolie and Ave, and all the residents of Leavensport will soon be among my favourite cozy characters!

Death at High Tide – Hannah Dennison

Island Sisters Mystery, Book One

Four of five stars

Evie Mead is suddenly dealing with several revelations at the unexpected death of her husband.  That he died of a heart attack – a here-to-fore unknown condition – is merely the overture.  He died virtually penniless.  She will most likely lose her home.  It seems, however, that she does have ownership of an old hotel on some remote island off the coast of Cornwall.

Thanks to the intervention of her sister, Evie finds herself making the somewhat dubious trek to Tregarrick Rock, to find out more about what her sister Margot thinks is an exclusive spa resort.

What the sisters find instead is a far cry from Margot’s vision.  An owner that insists he’d repaid the loan that would have lost him the hotel.  A village that claims they know nothing.  And more questions than they could possibly find answers for.  But answer them they must as the discovered of two murders in succession has the fingers of suspicion pointing directly at Margot and Evie.

Dennison’s talent at weaving mystery into the storyline is clear from the start.  There are many secrets on Tregarrick for the sisters to uncover, even though most of the island’s inhabitants would do everything in their power to keep them hidden. 

Death at High Tide is the perfect story to begin a new cozy series.  While Evie isn’t entirely likeable – her way of acquiescing to those around her quite grated on me right from the start – she is still an engaging type, and her story impels the reader to persevere.  I found her sister to be almost a caricature – which isn’t all bad – but I also knew early on that all was not as it seemed.  As we meet others of the residents of Tregarrick, we become further invested, questioning each character’s involvement as Dennison pulls you along to the conclusion.  Unexpected, yet at the same time there is a feeling of “of course!” as she lays out the trajectory of the narrative.  It’s a totally fitting ending however, and I look forward to the next entry in this series.

[I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and the author, though I was not required to write a review.  The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.]