An Unwanted Guest

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

Thoughts Before Reading:

So when this book was published, I saw it constantly on Goodreads. They had a ton of book trailers, and every time I went on the site, the page would “load” and then play it.

So when I saw it at the Library, I was stoked to read it!

It sort of is a play on And Then There Were Nonestrangers all stuck, snowed in at a resort, and then they start dropping like flies. Which one is the killer-or is there a stranger in the resort?

Hmm…

Plot Synopsis:

Our mystery is set at the Catskills, a beautiful, remote resort.

Gwen Delaney is in Communications. She has never been able to move forward from witnessing a rape in college, and the guilt of doing nothing about it. She studied journalism, but as she could not tell truth, went a different route. Her idea was to bring her friend Riley, to the secluded resort, but now isn’t sure it is such a great idea. Could there be more to her than a sweet, innocent girl-could she have a dark side?

Hmm…

Riley Shuter was always the confident, brash, drop dead gorgeous girl who people loved/hated-but since she has been overseas in Iraq-she is not the same woman. She has severe PTSD, drinks far too much, and is acting strange. Could she have finally cracked?

David Paley is a defense attorney, who is taking a leave of absence. His wife was murdered, with many believing him to have done it. He was acquitted, but is he a murderer? Could someone have known something and he had to silence them?

Lauren Day and Ian Beeton are traveling for a romantic getaway. At first the two corroborate each other’s stories, but then it turns out that they aren’t each other’s perfect alibi. In fact, there are a lot that the two don’t know about each other-could one have a secret they’d kill for?

Beverly Sullivan had planned this romantic getaway for her and her husband Henry only to find out that he has a mistress. He wants the relationship to be over, but Beverly doesn’t. Could this have been a plot to stay together? To further separate? Or could this news have caused one to crack?

Dana Hart is from a poor family, but did all she could to catch a wealthy man. Matthew Hutchinson is that man, except he won’t marry her. The two have a fight-could it have been the last straw-could one have killed?

Candice White is a writer, escaping her duties of taking care of her elderly mother, to work on her book. She is very observant, watching everyone. Could she have seen something, or could there be more to her as well?

Hmmm…?

Which one, which one-or is there an unknown, “unwanted”, guest killing. Will they find out before they are all dead.

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was very well written. WE only know bits and pieces of each character-essentially having no clue as to who could possibly be the killer. It was so well written, but as we neared the end I began to get worried.

Everything was great up until the end. The characters, the tension, the buildup, the suspense-but then the cops finally come, are there for a little bit, and all is solved.

I know, right?

The only problem with giving us so little about the characters it felt as if in the end it was too quickly sewn up.

The last few pages she wrapped everything up very quickly which threw off the pacing and, in my opinion, weakened it.

Very distressing as the rest if the book was fantastic.

For more mysteries not in a series, go to Pieces of Her

For more romantic getaways that turn to murder, go to Murder on Ice

 

Death by Cashmere

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Death by Cashmere (Seaside Knitters Mystery #1) by Sally Goldenbaum

Thoughts Before Reading:

This was recommended by Goodreads as I enjoyed The Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series.

At the time this post was being written, Anne Canadeo has yet to write any more mysteries, so I figured, hey what the heck! Let’s try it out.

As this book features the 4th of July, I’m posting it the Tuesday before and will post again on next Wednesday, the real 4th of July.

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Plot Synopsis:

Isabel “Izzy” Chambers has returned to Sea Harbor, Massachusetts the town she used to visit every summer.

Izzy had tried being a lawyer, but after a case went bad she left and decided to open her own knitting shop. She, her Aunt Nell, their young friend and lobster fisher woman, Cassie; and older woman rolling in dough, Birdie, finish the group.

The shop does extremely well but both Izzy and her aunt Nell have come in agreement that they would like someone to rent the above apartment and keep an eye out. Enter Angie Archer, an old friend who has just moved back as well.

Angie ran a bit wild after her father died in a quarry accident, but her life at school achieving her B.A. and Masters has calmed her down. Currently she is assisting the Historical Society in putting together an exhibit on the quarry.

One night Angie prepares to go out with Peter, Cassie’s brother; but the night takes unexpected turns as Nell and Izzy spot her fighting with the town matriarch Margarethe’s son Tony.

Nobody is sure what happened next, but the next day Cassie goes out to check her lobster traps and finds Angie’s dead body.

While the cops originally rule it as an accident, it turns out that it is murder.

The knitters start investigating and discover that Angie had a major chip against the town’s bigwigs, was researching into the town’s deeds for more than just the quarry exhibit, and may have had more than a few upset at her.

While they hunt for the truth, someone wants their secret buried and is willing to kill again and again to protect themselves.

Which person in their “no crime” town is secretly a killer?

Hmm…

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Thoughts After Reading:

In a lot of ways this is like The Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries.  You have a person who used to vacation there moving back to live their full time: Lucy Binger/Izzy Chambers. In the knitting group there is an older woman who looks out for everybody and mothers them: Maggie Messina/Aunt Nell. There is young girl to round the group out: Phoebe Meyer/Cassie.  They both take place in a little town near Boston.

However, this book was a bit lacking, to me at least. It took a looong time to get the characters backstories, I’m not sure if the author just wanted to build suspense or what.

The other thing I disliked was the author took a loong time to get to the mystery, I’m not sure if she was floundering, just trying to build tension, or wanted to round out her story?

And the mystery was extremely solvable. It took barely any pages for me to have it figured out yet these “detectives” never even thought to look at the most obvious clue or what else Angie was interested in; instead going after red herrings.

But besides that the book wasn’t bad, but promising that it could be better in later novels. I’ll keep reading to see if the book excel or if they flop.

For more 4th of July mysteries, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more knitting mysteries, go to The Postman Always Purls Twice

For more mystery reviews, go to Death by Divorce

 

The Shadow Hunter

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The Shadow Hunter (Abby Sinclair and Tess McCallum Series) by Michael Prescott

So I was first introduced to this series when I picked up a copy of Next Victim at a library book sale.

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It’s been a while since I read and before I look at it again I decided it was time that I started the series from the beginning.

Read it today!

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So the first thing that surprised me about this book is that it is all about freelance security consultant, Abby Sinclair.

What?

There is no FBI Agent Tess McCallum, the protagonist from Next Victim.

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Looking at Goodreads, it looks as if the two meet up in later books so maybe the first two are introductory novels to the characters? Or two books that were combined to create a series. I guess I’ll have to do some research.

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So the book starts out with a flashback. Abby’s firm has a different way of going about protecting their client from stalkers and other potential threats. Instead of being around the client, she instead places herself in the perpetrator’s world: befriending the stalker/threat, living next to them, discovering their secrets, and judging whether they are actually going to act on their fantasy or whether it is just bluster.

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Abby has been assisting a case on a case of a famous rock singer. To her chagrin, he won’t listen and remain in seclusion, but insists on going to a club.

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Of course his stalker followed and were she goes Abby does too.

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After many drinks, Abby leaves to conduct standard protocol and notify her team that they should come in, the stalker is nearing red light warning status. But as she is making the call, the stalker kills the client.

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It’s been a year later and that incident has caused trouble for many. Abby left the firm, and the firm has suffered from bad press. The once flourishing company has been culled back to the barest of bones.

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But Paul Travis, head of the company, is a forgiving guy and calls Abby back in to help with a new case. Abby is eager to help as she feels horrible and guilty for not only being unable to save the rock star, but for damaging her boss/”boyfriend”‘s business.

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The new client is the beautiful news anchor, Kris Barwood. Kris was the only one to not blame the company for the death of the rock star, so Travis and Abby are in some real pressure to do right on this. If they succeed in stopping her stalker, it could set everything right. But if they fail, completely demolish them both.

I wonder...

Kris’ husband doesn’t believe in Travis’ company and thinks they should finds someone else to assist them. Kris, however, chooses to ignore him as she no longer trusts her husband, knowing that he is out cheating on her with younger women.

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Kris has been stalked by Raymond Hickle. Everyday he grows more and more intent on reaching Kris and killing her. While he starts planning, a new neighbor moves in: Abby Sinclair.

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Abby begins working on Raymond and his apartment, getting closer and closer to him. Just as she has made incredible progress, Raymond receives a note from his partner. Yes, it seems that someone anonymous wants Kris dead and is using Hickle to get rid of her.

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This partner has just let Raymond know the truth about Abby, and put her life in danger.

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Who is this mysterious person? Which of the people in Kris’ life are trying to kill her? And will Abby make it out?

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this book was pretty good.

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It was a tough crime novel that gave an interesting perspective into stalkers’ minds.

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I liked the character of Abby, although at times she was a little dense at judging people. Choosing to trust the untrusty over the worthy, but then again that’s is pretty realistic.

MeanGirls I know right!

I thought the the twist ending of who Hickle’s partner was, was done excellently.

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It is obvious who it is, but Prescott did a wonderful job at smoke screening it so that you thought it was another or doubted you judgement.

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I give it three out of five stars

***Spoiler Warning***

 

The only thing I really didn’t like was how Abby could not see that Paul was the bad guy. The way he acted so closed off, his emotions/personality; how could she not tell that he hated her and wanted him gone.

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I knew it was him.

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I didn’t put the pieces together why he wanted Kris dead and thought that was a great twist. And the way he set the husband up? Excellently planned for his character.

goodgood

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For more stalkers, go to The Postman Always Purls Twice

For more undercover tales, go to A Change of Fortune

For more mysteries, go to Bake Until Golden

 

The Girl on the Train

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Thoughts Before Reading:

Goodreads has been pushing this book on me non-stop since it was published. It kept recommending it, had all these ads I would accidentally click on (I think Goodreads did it on purpose), I think they might have even run a contest for it.

I mean they wouldn’t leave me alone.

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So I added it to my to-read list, but we all know what that is like; am I right?

Agatha Christie, surrounded by some of her 80-plus crime novels.

Times a million

But then I saw the movie is coming out Friday and decided I should read it before I watch it. Here goes, but don’t worry I won’t reveal any spoilers.

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Plot Synopsis:

So the book is told by three different female narrators, through a series of flashbacks and present time. It can get rather confusing, but that’s the tool Hawkin’s chooses to fog over the book and leave you guessing.

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1) Rachel

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Rachel Watson was married to her husband Tom for five years. He had an affair with a younger woman, Anna, got her pregnant and divorced Rachel. Rachel is still incredibly in love with him and hasn’t gotten over him, wishing they were together still.

Every day she rides the train from the house she is renting a room from to her work in a public relations firm in London. As she looks out the window she watches this couple she thinks is absolutely perfect; one she calls Jack and Jessie.

I wish I had that.

I wish I had that.

It reminds her of how she and her ex-husband Tom used to be.

Aw...

Aw…

Speaking of Tom, every day she passes their house, her old house! Tom moved his new wife in there, and they have a little girl. Everything about it upsets her and makes her so furious how he left her.

It's not fair.

It’s not fair.

Rachel is also an alcoholic, and when she drinks she completely black out losing that time and never recovering it or knowing exactly what took place.

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She continues to drink and ends up losing her job. She tries going into London to the library to find another, but instead spends more of her time just riding the train back and forth and watching “Jack and Jessie”. Wanting that life.

Aw, how cute.

Aw, how cute.

But on one Friday she looks out and Jessie isn’t with her husband. Instead she is kissing another man.

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Already thick with drink, Rachel continues on and becomes more and more angry. So furious at Jessie’s betrayal as it is so:

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It reminds her of her own betrayal and she starts thinking about how she would like to go over there and hit her or tell her to stop, like she should have done to Anna at the time. Instead of continuing on to her destination, she gets off on that stop and…

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The next day Rachel wakes up bloody and vomiting. She has a giant bump on her head and some of the blood on her is not her own. And she can’t remember anything.

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It turns out that late that night Jessie, who is really Megan, has vanished. No one knows where she went. Of course the police are looking at her husband (the one Rachel named Jack but is really Scott). Rachel can’t believe Scott would do such a thing and injects herself into the investigation and Scott’s life.

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She tries to tell them about the affair and what she saw, but soon she is thrust out, her alcoholism labeling her unstable and her obsession with the couple making her a person of interest. Maybe she killed Megan because of her anger? Maybe she thought she was Anna, they do look similar, especially at night and in a drunken state?

I wonder...

I wonder…

Rachel realizes that she doesn’t really know Scott or Megan, just the people she made them up to be; and that she has nothing helpful about that night. She starts going to therapy to help her figure out her life and maybe shed light on what happened. But does she really want to know?

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2) Anna

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Anna Watson was a real estate agent when she meet Tom Watson. She instantly liked him and decided he was the one for her, not caring that he was married.

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She loved being the other woman and never cared about Rachel’s feelings. Rachel was a real witch anyway. She was abusive; always getting drunk and embarrassing, manipulating, or trying to hurt Tom. And man he was such a saint, taking care of her that long. Thank goodness they had a baby and Tom was finally able to free himself from her.

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So everything is blissful in the new Watson home; except they are living in her (Rachel) old house with all her things, the baby is driving her crazy with all it crying, and Rachel won’t leave them alone. She calls all the time, she comes by, and even at one point she got in the house and took the baby out; probably trying to kidnap her!!

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Anna wants the police involved, a restraining order, something! Anything! But no, Tom always goes and talks to Rachel promising that it will be the last time. But it never is.

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In fact, it has gotten so bad that Anna is feeling completely paranoid and unsafe. In fact she saw Rachel the night that Megan disappeared and is completely sure that she is involved, why else would she be hanging around Megan’s husband Scott.

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Anna knew Megan as she just lived down the street and used to nanny for her. Megan quit suddenly one day, saying she got another job; but where in their tiny suburban town?

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And then as people search more into Megan’s life a lot of skeletons come out of the closet. Megan wasn’t the person Anna thought she was, maybe she was lucky she quit.

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3) Megan

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Megan is a beautiful, vivacious, blonde. She looks perfect, her husband looks perfect, her life looks perfect…but this woman has an intense past.

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Megan was traumatized over the death of her brother Ben and ran away from home. She was picked up by an older boy and lived with him; drinking and getting high. Eventually she left that and moved on working at a gallery, and later managing that. She meet Scott and married him, ever since feeling lost in Suburbia. Especially after the gallery she opened closed.

Aw...

Aw…

She can’t sleep, and all she does is spend her life in her head. After her husband’s nudging, she begins to see a therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic.

After seeing him, she becomes attracted to him. The two pushing the boundaries of the doctor-patient relationship.

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This hasn’t been Megan’s first affair, (whether emotional or physical). She loves her husband but at the same time doesn’t feel as if it is enough. She has been with lots of men, always covering her tracks as to what she is doing behind her husband’s back.

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She has many, many secrets hidden inside her; but which one is the reason she has been killed? And who did the act? Rachel? Scott? Dr. Kamal Abdic? One of her lovers?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was very well written although it reminded me a lot of Gone Girl.

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In Gone Girl you had a hard time figuring out fact from fiction, because the first narrator, the husband, introduces himself  having a face that makes himself always look as if he is lying. As you read you start wondering if he is a liar, otherwise why is he so defensive? On the other hand, the second narrator, his wife, tells her story through writing a journal. But is it the truth? After all a journal is where you release your emotions. It is just a moment and selective in memory.

I wonder...

I wonder…

Hawkins does a similar thing with her narrators. First we have Rachel, who is unreliable. She drinks far too much, and a lot of her memory is broken, uncertain, fuzzy, or unknown. Besides that she has an overactive imagination and the things she has seen might not have even occurred. They could just be in her mind.

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Anna is biased against Rachel, discussing how she does feel her a threat (to her body and marriage) and is planning on doing anything necessary to hold on to Tom. Could she lie or make things up to try and get Rachel out of their life? Will she lie or hurt others to ensure Tom stays with her and her only?

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And then there is Megan. She talks a lot, but most of it is shallow things. The deep she keeps tucked away with us not knowing the whole story. Or if she does allow the reader to glimpse her innermost parts, she still keeps key things buried. How will we ever know if her account is correct or whole?

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I thought it captured your attention, kept you going, and was very enjoyable.

I did figure it out:

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I’m that good.

But was still enjoyable and recommend trying it out. The end was really good. I promised no spoilers so I’m only going to say this one thing and try to be very vague.

With each of the characters, especially Rachel, there is a label of untruthfulness or liar; due the lies they tell, giving half-truths, or withholding by keeping secrets. While I figured out which character was the killer early on, I never thought the author would take those themes of lying/liar as far as she did; giving us an interesting twist. Plus that very last part with how the killer is stopped was completely unexpected.

cluelesstravistwothumbsup!

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For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Winter People

For more mysteries that involve a disappearance, go to Cookie Dough or Die

For more mystery reviews, go to Sleeping Beauty

The Postman Always Purls Twice

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The Postman Always Purls Twice (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery #7) by Anne Canadeo

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I had just finished reading Murder in Mohair, but it seemed slightly weird and off like I was missing something.

Interesting

It wasn’t until I added the book to my Goodreads that I realized Murder in Mohair was book #8, not 7.

What?

Weirdly enough my library didn’t have book 7. They had all of them, except that one. I had to Inter-Library Loan it (ILL)

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Plot Synopsis:

A movie crew has descended upon Plum Harbor.

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Yes Hollywood has come a-knocking as it wants to film the newest thriller starring the famous actress Jennifer Todd, and hunky leading man, Heath O’Hara.

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The knitting group find themselves thrust into the middle as Suzanne is a location scout for the film and Maggie ends up becoming a character consultant for Jennifer.

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Thing seem to be going well as the group finds themselves invited to parties and spending time with their favorite actors.

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However, there seems to be a dark cloud looming over the production. Sabotage keeps occurring, and in one case Jennifer is almost killed by a falling light.

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The knitters start investigating what is going on when things take an even creepier turn.

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It appears someone is stalking Jennifer, as she is sent creepy flowers by a secret admirer.

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When Jennifer’s husband and the director Nick Pullman is badly poisoned, the knitters become even more suspicious and continue their investigation into what is going on in the set.

Very fishy

Very fishy

But soon things become even more serious when Heath O’Hara is found dead, his drink poisoned too.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

When Jennifer is arrested and believed to be the murderer; the knitters step up their game to clear their new friend’s name.

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But it won’t be easy. This group has more triangles and issues than Twin Peaks;  as betrayal, adultery, ambition, etc. abound.

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Will the knitters solve the case before the crew heads back to Los Angeles? Or have they met their match?

HMMM

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Thoughts After Reading:

So I did not like this book.

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I thought it was horribly written and that the mystery was lackluster.

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First the title bothered me as it didn’t connect with the mystery at all. It just seemed cheap.

Come on, guys. You didn't even clean up?

Come on, guys. You didn’t even clean up?

The story was kind of boring.

NO emotion = BORING!

Cannadeo lead you in one direction the whole book and then in the last few pages had a character become the exposition fairy giving you all the information to solve it in a minute.

Unlike the other books there was no buildup or development.

Really Anne?

Really Anne?

Definitely so bad it is on the level of A Stitch Before Dying. I hope the future books are much better.

Please!

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For more Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries, go to A Dark and Stormy Knit

For more mysteries that revolve around making a movie, go to Cherry Cheesecake Murder

For more on poisoning, go to A Pinch of Poison

For more Nostalgia Critic, go to A Stitch Before Dying

 

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars

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The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins

I first became aware of this book through a contest. You entered to win the book, the only thing required of you was to write an honest review.

I entered and couldn’t wait for my email saying they were sending the book to my kindle!

Please!

I checked my email, and I saw that they decided to not send me the book.

What?

As they felt I wasn’t suited to it, that I wasn’t the “right choice” of reader.

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I was so mad.

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But I still really wanted to read it. So I put it on my Goodreads’ list, and decided to wait until my library bought a copy, to borrow and read it.

So lo and behold, I got my hands on a copy and I LOVED IT!

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The book chronicles the discovery of chopped up body found in different sections of New York City, in 1897. All the great newspapers were sparring at the time and competing as to who could find the man’s identity and figure out the killer first. The book is divided into seven parts.

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I: The Victim

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The pieces of the body are found scattered throughout the city and surrounding, minus a head. From boys discovering the chest while taking a dip off a pier; a family going cherry picking and finding a leg; to a farmer looking at a red duck pond and realizing that not only has blood tainted the water but there is also a body part.

Which such an astounding discovery, reporters are sent out everywhere, investigating before the police even decided it was a murder case.

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II: The Suspects

Are you lying to me?

After figuring out who the mutilated corpse was, reporters discover his lover Mrs. Nack, her estranged husband, and new love interest. Which one did the killing? Who is innocent?

Each newspaper backs up a seperate person as innocent and persecutes who they believe to be a villian. It is up to the police to do actual work in investigating who has the motive, means, and of course: who actually did it not who makes the best news.

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III: The Indictment

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The police settle on who they believe the killer is, the D.A is building a case and defense attorneys are fighting for their chance to represent the case of a lifetime.

Now just because the police are preparing to prosecute someone, doesn’t mean it is all over fpor the newspapers. They are still contending with each other, and making sure everyone knows the facts and fiction.

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IV: The Trial

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Jury selection begins, a truly difficult matter as with the newspapers how they are, as practically every person is aware of what the case entails.

As the accused await trial, the newspapers continue to cover and predict what will happen next. Men and women travel from all over to watch the trial, enduring a rotten stench, extreme heat, and other issues arising from the poor construction of a courthouse.

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V: The Verdict

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The jury and judge decide whom the guilty parties are and distribute sentence. Appeals are made to the government and the newspapers.

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VI: Epilogue

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Collins concludes with not only a summarization of what happened next in our main character’s lives; but also gives a brief lesson on the newspapers rises, falls, and buyouts.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this book.

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I thought it was supremely perfect. It was informative, historical, and told everything in an amazing and interesting way. I know many historians fall victim to being dry and dull, but not this work. In fact I had the hardest time putting it down.

from janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com

from janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com

Everything about it was just amazing! I am dying to buy a copy. And I am looking forward to reading more of Collins’ work.

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For more Goodreads recommendations, go to The Dollhouse Murders

For more book reviews, go to Good, Clean, Murder

The Dollhouse Murders

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The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

So unlike most people who have read this book, I didn’t read this as a child but as an adult. This book was recommended to me on goodreads quite a few times. The first time I saw it I thought it was a book I had read as a child of a girl playing with dolls, and in essence whatever she makes the dolls do, happens in real life. In that book she continues to play rough with her dolls, making them cruel to each other, and in doing so turns the people she loves into monsters.

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She eventually realizes this and tries to destroy the dollhouse, being stopped by her mom or aunt (I don’t remember which) who gives it away to her cousin.

This was not that book.

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Yes this is a completely different book, as I discovered once I read the synopsis.

So this book was published in the early ’80s and definitely has that nostalgic feel. The girls are out wherever they want and their parents don’t care as long as they are back before dark. They listen to tapes, watch TV from the cable shows and have a sleepover that involves hanging out, telling fortunes, gossiping, etc. No internet, cellphones, snapchat, instagram, etc.

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So our main character is 12-year old Amy. Amy lives in a suburb of Chicago, (and no this is not a John Hughes movie), with her parents and her younger, mentally disabled, sister Louann. Amy is stressed and unhappy about always having to take care of Louann. It has destroyed friendships, as some girls feel uncomfortable around Louann or dislike her differences; either way Amy finds herself losing potential friends and just having to spend more time with Louann.

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She and her new friend Ellen have to take Louann with them to mall, and it doesn’t turn out well. After Louann runs away, destroys a floral arrangement, and gets the girls yelled at; coupled with Amy’s new friend Ellen canceling their plans (presumably because of Louann), Amy’s had it with her sister.

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She needs some freedom from being Louann’s keeper. When she tells her mom this, the two get in a fight and Amy runs away. She runs all the way to the edge of town where her Aunt Clare currently lives.

Aunt Clare is her father’s sister, and was living and working in Chicago. When she was fired from her job, she returned home to clean out her grandparents’ old house to sell it. She listens to Amy’s views and asks her parents if she can stay for a while and keep her company. They agree, but Louann is unhappy to lose Amy.

Amy is estatic to finally have freedom

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But discovers something unsettling about the house. It feels as if it has a dark cloud over it.

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Amy discovers a beautiful dollhouse in the attic. And when she asks Aunt Clare about it, she gets the family backstory.

When Clare was 15 and Amy’s father was 2, their parents died in a car crash. The two were sent to live with their grandparents, as they had money and lots of room. Amy’s father did all right, but Clare was constantly clashing with the grandparents. She wanted to be treated as an adult, but they wanted her to stay a child. Hence, they gave a fifteen year old a dollhouse. An exquisitely carved dollhouse that is a replica of the house, has miniature everything you could ever hope for, and has four dolls that are beautiful copies of the family members. Even still, it is a dollhouse and for Clare it was uncool. Three years later, the grandparents also died in a car accident, and the two kids were sent to live with an uncle. As soon as Clare graduated, she left for Chicago and hasn’t returned to the house since.

Amy is intrigued and wants to know more, but Clare does not want to discuss the house at all, becoming very upset over the whole thing.

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Ellen is soon invited over and loves the dollhouse as much as Amy does. The two play with it for a while, interrupted by Clare’s baking of fudge. They run down to the kitchen, with Amy realizing that she left the house open. Not wanting it to get dusty on the inside, she runs upstairs. When she gets there, she sees something shocking.

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The grandma doll isn’t where she left it, but in a entirely different room!

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She is called by Ellen and Clare, and shakes off that idea. Dolls moving? Must have been seeing things.

The three of them end up planning a pizza-birthday party for the two girls, as they turn 13 within a week of each other.

After Ellen leaves, Amy asks Clare more questions about the grandparents’ death. Clare however, becomes angry and defensive not answering anything.

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This causes Amy to decide to do some digging of her own. She and Ellen head to the library and start looking through old papers to discover what happened to her grandparents. When they are searching they find an article about them being murdered!

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Yes Clare lied! They were murdered!

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One night, Clare returned home from the movies and discovered the dead bodies of her grandfather and grandmother. Both were shot, the grandfather upstairs in his bedroom, and the grandmother in the parlor. Amy’s father was initially not found, and many believed him to have been kidnapped, until they discovered the five-year-old asleep in the closet. Valuables were stolen, so the cops believed it was a burglary gone wrong. They never caught the killer.

Another interesting tidbit Amy finds, is that Clare’s boyfriend of the time, Tom, was killed that night as well in a car accident.

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That night Amy calls Ellen and fills her in. Unfortunately, Clare hears her and becomes very angry, yelling at Amy for her insensitivity. Later Clare yells at Amy again, as she has discovered the dolls in the exact way her family members were on the night of the murder.

Amy is flabbergasted.

What?

She knows she and Ellen put the dolls in the dining room around the table. Besides, she just learned about the murders, there would have been no way she could have made it into the attic and do that. That means…

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THE DOLLS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES!

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The only question? Why.

Amy and Clare make up, but Amy is now frightened of the attic and does all she can to stay out.

Amy goes home to get a few things for the party, when it is accidentally is slipped and now Louanne wants to come too. Amy doesn’t want her to come as she wants a day focused on her, and she doesn’t want to worry about anyone. She gets into another fight with her mom.

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At Aunt Clare’s, they start getting things ready for the party. Clare sends Amy upstairs to the attic to get some bedding so Ellen can stay over. The light went out so Clare gives Amy a flashlight.

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Upstairs, Amy goes to get a blanket when she sees a light coming from the attic and hears something!

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And runs downstairs.

The next day is the day of the party. Evey thing seems to be going smoothly, until Amy finds out that her mother had to go out of town and couldn’t find a sitter, so she left Louann at Aunt Clare’s. Amy is furious, as she knows Louann will ruin the party. To her surprise everything turns out perfect. All the girls have fun, they treat Louann like any other normal person; with the party going on for hours. That night the girls go to bed, with Louann and Amy sharing a room.

Amy wakes up at 3 in the morning and discovers Louann missing!

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She runs up the attic, as she knows Louann loves the dollhouse. When she gets there she finds Louann, a weird light coming from the dollhouse, and hears someone crying. So does Louann. Amy gets scared and the two go back to their room.

The next day, all three girls go for a hike with Amy telling Ellen everything that happened. She resolves to go up to the attic this very night and watching the whole event, in the hopes that she might discover why this is happening.

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Thoughts after reading:

This was a very cute and interesting mystery. At first I wasn’t sure as young adult fiction can really be hit or miss.

I loved the character of Amy as I think the author not only accurately portrayed a preteen girl, but a preteen girl having to take care of her disabled sister. It didn’t make Amy seem evil, rude; but just a regular girl trying to figure out her identity and who she is.

The mystery was actually pretty thrilling as the author keeps you guessing until the end. When the true story was revealed about the death of the grandparents, it made me wonder…was Aunt Clare involved with the murder? Was that the real reason she hated the dollhouse? You have to read it to find out.

I highly recommend this book for preteens and even for adults if you are feeling nostalgic.

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For more reviews of mystery novels, go to Lane Changes