Design for Murder

Design for Murder (Death on Demand #2) by Carolyn G. Hart

It has been a while since we reviewed a Death on Demand, so let’s do a quick review. Annie Laurence, from Texas, tried to be an actress in New York, but when she didn’t ht it big she headed to Broward’s Rock of South Carolina where her beloved uncle lived. When he died, she inherited his mystery bookstore, Death on Demand.

She was followed by the wealthy billionaire, Max Darling, who she met in New York and fell in love with. She left him as she felt they were too different, but Max won’t let true love get away. He opens up a private investigators business on the island. Meanwhile, in the last book, Elliot Morgan was murdered and a whole list of suspects were involved-with Annie being number one. She and Max solved the case and since then life has been good.

Until…Annie is hired to do a Mystery Night for historic Chastain’s garden and historic house show. The Historic board is championed by tyrant Corinne Pritchard Webster who likes everything her way. She didn’t want to add this mystery night, but was outvoted, the board hiring Annie to plan it.

Corinne is a snake, but Annie is thrilled to create her own murder mystery play with clues! This is perfect as it takes her mind off her fight with Max about wedding plans.

Annie receives a note from Cordelia with her outline for the murder mystery, which infuriates Annie as she spent hours planning something else. But when she presents it to the board she discovers it wasn’t sent by Cordelia, but that someone pretended and sent a mystery to embarrass Cordelia.

After that Annie works extra hard on an English style murder mystery that has no resemblance to anyone whatsoever and her booth for the night. Before you know it, the day has come and it is time to stage it all. As Annie does a once-over of the grounds she spots the body in the wrong place. When she goes to move it-it turns out to not be a mannequin but a real body. Cordelia! But which of the many people who hated her murdered her?

Could it have been Lucy Gaines, the once fiancé of Corrine’s brother, the relationship Corrine broke up. Soon after Corrine’s brother died and Lucy never married or had children. She also was stuck working and dealing with Cordelia everyday. Did it finally get to her and she killed her to get back at the life that could never be?

Mayor Webster, Corinne’s husband, has been alienated from her for years. In fact he developed a relationship with one of the local teachers. Could he have murdered her to get his money, freedom, and a new girl?

Or her…

Corinne bought off her niece, Gail’s, “unsuitable” boyfriend and has been crushing her spirit. Could she had snapped and finally stopped her aunt from being involved?

She has taken all paintings and works made by local and museum artist Tim Bond. She has a contract that they are owned by the museum and selling them not to Tim’s New York show, but loaning them out to other museums. This will ruin his career. Did he kill her to get everything back? Or was it his girlfriend Sybil Giacamo who hates Corinne and wants to help Tim, her lover?

You know artists have artistic temperament

Roscoe Merrill got drunk when out of town on business. He slipped up on his marriage and Corinne just happened to see him. She holds that over him and threatens to ruin his perfect marriage. Did he kill her to end the blackmail? Or was it his wife who killed Corinne  to ensure no one sees their marriage as anything less than ideal?

Dr. Sanford has been practicing on that area to work exclusively with a doctor in his specialized field. He has plans to increase the hospital and increase his work. Corinne wouldn’t let him change anything in the hospital. Could he have done it, so that he continue his love?

Is it?

Edith Ferrier gives so much to the community and wanted to have the position of president of the historical society as it is her favorite thing. Corinne wouldn’t give up her power, even though Edith would do a better job. Was this the last straw after constantly being crushed? Did she snap and kill her?

Unfortunately, the only one who the police are focusing on IS Annie! Will she be able to solve the case or be sipping her future mint juleps in jail.

Thoughts After Reading:

It’s so good, and always get me.

A real page turner!

For more Death on Demand, go to Death on Demand

For more Design for Murder, go to So Many Books to Review, So Little Time

For more Historical Socities, go to Death by Cashmere

For more Southern mysteries, go to For Whom the Bluebell Tolls

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

 

Blueberry Muffin Murder

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Blueberry Muffin Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #3) by Joanne Fluke

This is the third book in the series following Hannah Swenson, ex-English Literature major and now owner of cookie shop, The Cookie Jar, in Lake Eden, Minnesota. She accidentally runs into dead bodies, or people ask her to investigate, causing her to solve crimes before the police even have a smidgen of a clue.

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It’s late February and things are pretty slow. Christmas and News Years? Parties galore and business is booming. With Valentine’s Day, another flurry of activity. But once that’s over it’s dead. Snow, cold, and nothing until Easter.

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So this year, the city decided to do something different to bring in tourist and boost the economy. This year marked the first annual Lake Eden Winter Carnival.

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The Jordan High School shop class redid old sleighs to give sleigh rides. Hannah’s mother Delores helped the Historical Society create a full-scale replica of the first mayor’s house, Ezekiel Jordan. And of course Hannah, is one of the many people who has a booth for her business.

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As she is heading out to her shop, a guy attacks her from behind warning her to get against the wall or else she will be killed!!!!

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It turns out to be an old friend, Greg Canfield. Greg had moved back a few years ago and opened an import store at the Tri-County Mall. His store closed down recently, and after he sold his house he moved in with his grandmother (who lives in the same condo building as Hannah). He was out that morning and thought he’d pull a prank on his old pal. Greg leaves to get back to his stock trading, he’s making a bundle on the company Redlines and Hannah heads over to her shop.

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Hannah’s friend Lisa, has recently become her partner, and has been busy at work baking and dressing the window for the Winter Carnival.

It turns out that the Winter Carnival is going to bring much more to town. Connie MacIntyre, the star of the hit cooking show Cooking With Connie Mac, has come to town. She has numerous books, a string of kitchen boutique stores, a monthly magazine, etc.

With Connie Mac, comes Janie Burkholtz, Connie’s personal assistant, and Hannah’s sister Andrea’s very best friend. Looks like the Winter Carnival is going to be loads of fun.

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The Mayor asks Hannah to drive Connie Mac around town and Hannah agrees as she figures it will be fun.

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Andrea comes over to speak to Hannah and when she hears all about Hannah giving the tour, and of course invites herself along. Hannah agrees as she thinks it will make a boring situation more interesting.

The girls reach the inn where Connie Mac is staying and meet a grade-A jerk.

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She is rude, cruel and picky about how everything has to be. From her salad to pressing of her clothes, nothing is ever quite right and must have a thousand details done to it.

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The first stop is the library, where Connie will be signing her cookbooks, along with raising awareness for the library and the programs offered there. However, Connie doesn’t care about the library, all she wants is the money and publicity and she sure doesn’t want to be at the back of the building, but in the lobby.

Then she decides the best sleigh shouldn’t be used for the Winter Royalty, but what she should ride in on.

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I guess that is correct, as she is a royal pain.

Sorry, had to do it.

Sorry, had to do it.

After they iron out that detail they go on to the school kitchen to talk about the big banquet they are going to have. Connie manipulates people to get what she wants, and succeeds every time. She wants her cake to be on the pedestals reserved for the crown of the Winter Prince & Princess. Edna, the school cook, is very against it, until Connie promises to gift them a dinner set for 200, including glassware, silver, and tablecloths.

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Hannah can see right through everything and thinks Connie is just plan rude. She also thinks that her show is nothing special, as it seems presentation heavy over tasty.

Hannah leaves Andrea with Connie and heads back to the The Cookie Jar. There she makes some blueberry muffins, using frozen berries instead of real ones as Minnesota in February, there is no way she is getting fresh. That’s one great thing about living on the West Coast, fresh fruit all year long.

That afternoon Hannah receives a frantic call from Janie. It turns out that the van carrying Connie Mac’s Winter Carnival Cake was ruined when the car went into a ditch. And she needs a place to to cook a replacement. They want to use The Cookie Jar.

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Hannah does not want Connie Mac in her kitchen, and suggests other places; but it turns out none are available, the only place it can happen in is Hannah’s.

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Against her better judgement, Hannah agrees.

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Besides cooking there, Norman will be taking Connie Mac’s picture as well. So it can be immortalized forever that Connie Mac cooked at the Cookie Jar.

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That night as everyone is bringing stuff in for Connie Mac, Hannah tells Lisa to take the morning off. Before Hannah leaves, she lets Janie know that there are blueberry muffins in the pantry. Janie wants some, but Connie Mac has forbidden her to have sweets as she “needs to lose 20 pounds”. She doesn’t really need to, but Connie is rude and a jerk.

Norman and Hannah both leave and Norman is just as angry at Connie as Hannah. Connie is clearly super at making enemies. You all know what that means.

Murder

Norman invites Hannah to dinner, but she refuses, wanting to rest. Unfortunately, Bill is working late, and since Janie can no longer meet her and with Andrea all alone; Hannah is convinced to go out. It turns out Bill does come and brings Mike. The perfect set-up.

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The next day Hannah goes to her shop and finds it a huge mess.

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The door is open. Flour is everywhere! Mixing bowls are filled with dry batter. Sticky spoons, beaters, and other utensils spatter the kitchen. Burning cake in the oven!

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Her shop is a total mess and could have burnt to the ground!!!! What is Connie Mac’s deal? How could she have done this?!!!

As Hannah begins cleaning, she spots Connie’s handbag. Along with her coat. Janie was gone, her car, coat, etc. So….

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Connie must never have left. As Hannah looks in the store she finds her. Dead by a blow to the head, mid muffin bite.

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And a blow on the back of a head means only one thing:

Murder

Mike and Bill come and close off Hannah’s shop. Indefinitely, until the murderer is caught. This becomes a huge part of the storyline as Hannah is angry with Mike for being so stubborn and not letting her come back. Now this really bothers me, as can the police really do that? It seems in shows that they don’t keep a place of business or residence forever.

So I looked it up, and it turns out that the police can keep a place as long as they want, however they choose to revert it back to the owner as soon as possible. So there you go, Mike is just a big ol’ jerk and I hate him.

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Moving on. Not only is Hannah locked out from her own kitchen, but she is forbidden to speak to any Connie Mac employee as Mike doesn’t want her meddling. They suspect Janie as being the murderer, but Mike knows that Hannah will refuse to accept that and try to find who she believes the “real murderer is.”

And of course Hannah does not listen.

See ya Mike

See ya Mike

She goes to the Inn and talks to Sally. There she finds out that EVERYONE hated Connie and all have reasons to kill her. All the maids at the Inn hate her; Connie fired the delivery truck driver;  she threatened to fire her long-time lawyer, Alan Carpenter; Paul, her husband, was cheating on her; he keeps postponing her book, and Kurt Howe, her publisher, is looking at getting fired if he can get her to commit; etc. Plus there is always money, the Connie Mac empire is enormous, and whoever inherits will be getting a lot of moolah.

WhoDoneIt?

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Thoughts after reading:

This was an okay book. I thought the mystery was so-so and the investigation kind of blah.

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At one point Mike is convinced Norman killed Connie because she made a difficult photo shoot. Really? Really?

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This was dumb. Come on, Mike. Get your head out of your butt. Dumb. Why are the two cops so stupid in this series? I mean really. Come on son.

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And they spend a long time talking about ice fishing. Really? Really?

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And it turns out the reason Paul, Connie’s husband, was trying to get close to Janie is that he is secretly her biological father. It was pretty obvious and overdramatic.

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So not horrible, but not fantastic. Just okay.

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Strawberry Shortcake Murder

For more Midwestern Mysteries, go to Thorns of Rosewood

For more reviews, go to The Barter