Deadly Intent

Deadly Intent (The Nancy Drew Files #2) by Carolyn Keene

Background Information:

It’s been a couple of years since we reviewed one of this mysteries, so let me do a bit of background information.

So this series began in the ’80s and have some updates from the original series. Nancy Drew originally was a 16 year-old, high schooler, an amateur detective, but in this version she has been aged up to 18, and a high school graduate. She still lives in River Heights, IL and is in a long distance relationship with Ned Nickerson, who is a student at Emerson College.

Her friends are still cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne; Bess being the beautiful blonde shopaholic who is always eating and George the super athlete in every way. Instead of a blue roadster, in this book she gets a blue mustang convertible.

One of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author (as Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym), always gives great detail to what she wears. I’m totally going to add a special section at the end.

One other thing that this series does a little differently is that every book cover has a handsome guy on it, someone who appears in the book. Some people hate that, but I always think of it as a fun guessing game as we try and figure out which of the characters it is.

Hmmm…

Another thing this book series does,  as it is a “case file”, there is a little information sheet at the very beginning. Sometimes the suspects mentioned turn out to be who did it, while other times the person whodonit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

ASSIGNMENT:Find a missing rock star-Bent Fender’s lead guitarist, Barton Novak, who disappeared suddenly after telling Nancy he had something important to tell her.

CONTACT: Roger Gold, Bent Fender’s drummer, whose father is a friend of Carson Drew’s.

SUSPECTS: 

  • Ann Nordquist, the group’s agent. She may have decided that ten percent isn’t enough. Maybe she’s going for it all.
  • Harold Marshall, the producer of Fender’s hit records. Could he also be producing pirate editions of those same tunes?
  • Dave Peck, a friend of Ned Nickerson’s, with a mysterious new job, and lots of cash to flash around.
  • Alan Wales, Bess Marvin’s new boyfriend, who’d give anything to be a success in the rock world. How far is he willing to go?

COMPLICATIONS: How do you prove there has been a kidnapping when there’s no ransom note? And how do you investigate a case when all the clues lead straight to your best friend’s boyfriend? But Nancy has to hang in there. Barton’s life is in danger-and before the case is over, so is hers!

Nancy has just finished her last case Secrets Can Kill, and is ready for some fun and relaxation. Her father, Carson Drew,  was college roommates with Sy Gold, who’s son is Roger Gold-drummer for Bent Fender. Carson is working on the band’s contract and in return, Nancy: George, Bess, and Alan all get to see the concert for free.

They hang out with the band before the show, talking about music and the like. Alan gets his dream wish as he plays with the group. Barton tells Nancy that he needs to talk to her about something strange he has discovered. They have to go and get ready, but Barton tells her they will talk after the show.

Hmm…

The band bursts back into the room with the shocking news that Barton has disappeared. Was he kidnapped or did he just take off again from the stress of fame?

The rest of the band think he just took off, but Roger is convinced that it is different this time. This concert is a special one, Rock for Relief, for handicapped kids, just like his sister. Roger knows he wouldn’t back out on this one. Not to mention he’s totally been into the music, so focused on the contract as he feels they are losing out on royalties.

Alan goes on stage in Barton’s place while Nancy does a bit on investigating. She discovers that two “roadies” no one knew took off with a large box-a box big enough to hide a person. Nancy also finds a wallet that matches one of the roadies rings, with a big L-shaped dragon. She then gets knocked out.

She wakes up with the concert over and the wallet missing. But even with that that she is on the case.

The next day Bess and Alan go to the label that carries Bent Fender to see if they will pick him up too. Nancy heads over with her father to speak to Ann Nordquist, the group’s agent. She is a very nice woman, just recently returned from China. She reassures the two that there is no cutting or dipping being done on her end. She thinks that Barton just didn’t understand the process it takes for the money to get into a  musician’s pocket.

Hmm…

Nancy then goes to see Harold Marshall, the producer, who is an angry bear of a man. He claims that it was all a stunt to sell records Bent Fender, just like Abbey Road and the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. He also tells Nancy that there is no way they are signing wannabe no talent Alan.

Like that will happen.

Nancy knows that whoever attacked her was dead serious and there is a lot more to this case than meets the eye. She’s definitely not giving up. Even weirder, Alan does get signed onto the label, and Alan saw Barton in Marshall’s office with his famous paisley scarf made by his sister and he confirmed that he was hiding out.

Hmm…

Nancy is confused at what is going on but then gets a note from Carl Rutland, a security guard, at the music hall. He found Barton’s paisley scarf-which means Alan was lying. But why?

Hmmm…

Ned calls Nancy and is very concerned about everything, joining her to help keep her safe.

Yes that is Rick Springfield. He played Ned in the Christmas episode which you can check out on Netflix or youtube.

Nancy and George are worried about Bess, and try to track her down but miss her along the way. They do discover something fishy going on with Marshall’s secretary Vivian, she’s messing around with the masters of the records-the originals.

Hmm…

After this point it is cause for more research and Nancy and George go to Jefferson Market Library.

They find out more about pirating records, China of course being the country that never follows copyright laws. The same country that Ann just returned from.

Another surprising twist, Ann has been dating Carson, could her father be dining a killer?

What?!

Later that night at the club. Bess and Nancy get in a fight as Nancy questions Alan. Bess is determined to stand by her man and not Nancy.

You’ve barely been dating while have been friends forever with Nancy.

After the fight, Nancy and Ned head out and go for a walk. They run into Dave Peck, someone Ned knew from Emerson, but was expelled from stealing from the record store he worked at. He has a Chinese connection and makes a lot of cash, somehow.

Hmmm…

The next night they are at the Bent Fender concert, when the lights fizz out and Bess is kidnapped. Now the stakes are higher than ever as Nancy needs to solve this case now! Before Bess and Barton end up dead.

Outfits-

George Fayne’s concert outfit, imagine this in all black:

Thoughts After Reading:

Loved it! From beginning to end.

Nancy’s next case:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Nancy’s next case:

Nancy thinks a romantic ski vacation with Ned will solve their problems, but she’s in for a big–maybe fatal–shock! First comes a new case–matching wits with a dangerous killer. Then George falls in love with the chief suspect, a tight-lipped ski instructor with a murky, murderous past. A midnight chase down a stormy, sleet-covered slope may help Nancy put an end to the terror. Or will it become a lethal pursuit that puts an end to Nancy Drew?

Find out in MURDER ON ICE–Case #3 in The Nancy Drew Files,™ available in September.

For more Nancy Drew Files, go to Secrets Can Kill

For more disappearances, go to The Secret Adversary

For more kidnappings, go to Gates of Thread and Stone

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The Secret Adversary

Today is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI or Armistice Centurion. For this special day I felt the need to review a WWI type mystery, and chose:

The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #1) by Agatha Christie

This is one of my favorite mysteries and the second of her mystery novels to be published. It has a fantastic mystery duo team-Tommy and Tuppence.

The mystery begins with the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915. As they are moving people to the lifeboats, a man approaches Jane Finn and asks her to carry some secret papers. She questions him, but he tells her that she is a woman and American, much more likely to get on a lifeboat and out than him.

Five years pass and we pick up with old friends Lt. Thomas “Tommy” Beresford and Miss Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley who run into each other in London. It has been three years since the have last seen each other and they catch up. She worked as a nurse during WWI, then at a government office job, but was let go and on the search for a new job.

Tommy was in France, then Mesopotamia, and then in Egypt until Armistice. For ten months he too has been job searching. But they don’t just talk shop, they also just talk about all kinds of things, Tommy mentioning how he overheard two men mention a name “Jane Finn”, he remembers the name as he finds it very odd.

Tuppence wants money and adventure and comes up with the idea that the two could start their own business- The Young Adventures, Ltd.-and run this advertisement.

Two young adventurers for hire.

Willing to do anything, go anywhere.

Pay must be good.

No reasonable offer refused.

They part ways, but then Tuppence is approached by a man with a job offer. They meet the next day and he offers £100 to travel to Paris, speak in an American accent, and pretend to be Edward Whittington’s ward. Tuppence questions him some more but he deflects and compliments her.

When Tuppence brings up Tommy, Mr. Whittington doesn’t want him. But the real surprise comes when Mr. Whittington asks for Tuppence’s name. She gives him the name “Jane Finn”, and everything changes. Mr. Whittington is angry, accuses her of trying to play him, and questions who could have squealed-Rita? Tuppence “blackmails” £50 out of him, hears him talk to a “Mr. Brown” and agrees to meet him the next day. But Mr. Whittington disappears.

Tuppence won’t let this go and gets Tommy to put in a new advertisement:

WANTED:

Any information respecting Jane Finn

Apply Young Adventurers, Ltd.

They receive two replies. The first is Mr. Carter who Tommy recognizes as a member of the OSS, that he met in France. “Mr. Carter”, not his real name, relates to them how they had an operative on the Lusitania with the draft of a secret agreement, by various representatives of different countries. When the boat was sinking the operative passed the documents to a young girl-Jane Finn-and did not survive, his body washing ashore. But no one knows what happened to the girl and the documents.

The girl was listed on the survivors, was an orphan, and was headed to Paris to work in a hospital. They have tried everything but she has completely disappeared. They need the documents as if they were to be public today it would be disastrous. Agreements made in war do not always do well in times of peace. The head of unrest and Bolshevist movements is the elusive “Mr. Brown”.

Tuppence puts that together with what happened in Mr. Whittington’s office-they wanted her to be Jane Finn, that is until it seemed she knew all about their plan. The call from “Mr. Brown” was probably one of warning and that is why he disappeared.

Hmm…

He hires them and the two start investigating. They begin by meeting the second person who answered their advertisement: Julius P. Hersheimmer is Jane’s cousin and a millionaire. He’s searching for her, and came to get Scotland Yard to find her. He brought a picture to give, but it turns out “Mr. Brown” played him and took it.

The three team up together as this case takes ups and downs and twists and turns. Kidnapping, imprisonment, mistaken idea, red herrings, Bolshevisks, amnesia, spy games, etc.

Thoughts After Reading:

I LOOOOOOOVEEE this mystery!!!!! I could read it over and over a thousand times.

The characters are amazing, the mystery marvelous, I just LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVEEEEEEEEEE It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Mysterious Affair at Styles

For more World War I, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more mysteries involving a disapperance, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries with amnesia, go to C is for Corpse

For more mysteries with kidnapping, go to Gates of Thread and Stone

For more spy stories, go to The Princess Plot

Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you all who have served and are currently serving. Thank you for giving the ultimate sacrifice.

Gates of Thread and Stone

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Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone #1) by Lori M. Lee

Kai has grown up in the Labyrinth, a poor section of town. She was found at age eight, unconscious on the docks, saved by eighteen-year-old Reeve who decided to adopt her and raise her as his sister.

Life is hard in this section of the city; low pay, bad food, not the greatest surroundings, kidnappings by a shadow figure “the Black Rider”, etc. But as long as they have their family, Kai is happy.

Kai, while not sure who she is, also has something that sets her apart from others, she can control time (at least for a little bit). Not sure why or what that means, she tries not to use it and bring attention to herself, but instead live a normal life.

One day when Reeve goes missing, Kai sets off to find him and save him; not caring what obstacles and challenges she has to face.One day Reeve doesn’t return home from work, and Kai wonders what could have kept him. When he doesn’t come back the next day, she becomes worried.

She questions her friend Avan, a shopkeeper, but he hasn’t heard anything. When Reeve’s boss reveals he sold him to the Black Rider, Kai decides the only thing she can do is go after him and save him.

Avan joins her as they take a path never explored before, through the void, forbidden forest, and having to cross gargoyles.

When they manage to reach the other side, they discover that the Black Rider is an immortal, one of many, called Irra or Famine. He is not stealing people, but freeing them from being help captive by who Kai thought was a benevolent ruler of her country. Reeve is not here as Irra did not take him, but Kal Nihu or Conquest, Irra’s younger brother (and also an immortal).

Irra agrees to help them in return for Reeve’s information as an insider of the Nihu’s court. He trains Kai and Avan as the only way the two can get back in the city, would be to participate as cadets in the games, fighting to win a spot as a sentinel, one of Kahl Nihu’s elite team.

As Kai trains for battle, she discovers there is more to her than just having an ability. There is more to her than she had ever dreamed of and soon it will be revealed and she will have to make a choice.

Will Kai be able to save her brother and their family? Or has she taken on a problem much bigger than she can handle?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I loved this book. I thought it was amazingly well done and not only captured your interest, but kept you turning page after page to discover what the conclusion of the tale is.

This was fantastic, the character of Kai and the love she has for her family is so well-written and easy to connect to.

And they were amazing in this book!

The story has a little bit of everything: elements of classic fairy tales (the snow queen); overthrowing a dictator, great action/fighting scenes; magic and science fiction; a love triangle (hopefully Mason is chosen) and more-something for everyone. It was well paced and well developed. I strongly recommend it and can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

For more fantasy-mystery novels, go to Emilie and the Sky World

For more Science Fiction-mysteries, go to The Andromeda Strain

For more kidnapping, go to Capital Bride

Capital Bride

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Capital Bride (Matchmaker & Co. #1) by Cynthia Woolf

Thoughts Before Reading:

I got this book free, all I needed to do was post a review. So here we go.

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Plot Synopsis:

Sarah Johnson finds herself a homeless, unmarried, mother. Even though she is trained as a governess no one would take a mother, let alone an unmarried one.

Her cousin William, who inherits her family’s property, offers to marry her and give her a home. But she knows that that will be the kiss of death for him in society.

She decides there is only one thing left, become a mail order bride for Mr. John Atwood.

John Atwood is a widower, who’s daughter hasn’t spoken a word since his wife was murdered. Will Susan an John work things out and will their kids get along?

The murder comes back and John has to face him and his old demons. But then something more frightening occurs, someone is after Sarah and will stop at nothing to get her. Will she be kept safe, or will she finds herself kidnapped and forced to be the bride of a psychopath.

Oh no!

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Thoughts After Reading:

I received this book free and thought it was horrible. The characters are not from the right time period in manners, speech, culture, and the beliefs.

She also had the “racism” wrong. The East was much more racist than the West, as in the West biracialism, was popular. I felt as if this author did hardly any research into the time period she was writing about.

The plot line is boring and the characters act completely strange and unrealistic. She took things that would have made a great climax and resolved them too soon, realizing afterwards she was missing conflict and pulled out the dumbest and lamest one to use. It was also poorly written as everything just works out fine for the characters, no conflict, realism, or interesting things happen. Very dull and boring.

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to Alias Grace

For more mail order brides, go to Paper Roses

For more Westerns, go to Loose Screw

For more kidnapping mysteries, go to The Last Suppers

 

The Last Suppers

Takes place during Lent and ends just before Easter so I am posting on Maundy Thursday

The Last Suppers (Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery #4) by Diane Mott Davidson

So a lot has happened since the last book. Julian has been going to a community college while having applied to  Cornell and hoping to get in.

Arch has crossed off magic and swimming on his list of hobbies, but instead has an obsession with a show about UFOs and other weird/mysterious things.

And Goldy is going to marry Tom Schulz. Yes, she went from being in love with the victim of the last book, and uncertain about love; to marriage.

It is the day of the wedding and things are not going according to plan. The food isn’t ready

The minister is late

The reception house is locked and no one has spare keys, etc.

Things take an even darker turn when Tom calls to postpone the wedding. He went to pick the minister up and found him dead.

Oh no!

The police rush to the scene of the crime and find that things have gotten much worse. It appears that Tom was attacked and kidnapped or killed, living behind a cryptic note that neither the cops or Goldie can decode.

Now Goldie is involved in a race against time as she tries to find her fiancé before death tries to part them.

Goldie’s investigations turn her to her own church! One of the members killed the reverend, but why and who?

Thoughts After Reading:

I hated this book. I thought it was absolutely awful.

Al the characters were horrible and unrelatable.

The author appeared to have a lot of anger at the Episcopalian church as she is venomous against the people and the faith, which makes me wonder why Goldy didn’t just leave her “awful” church and go somewhere else.

Apparently the Author has some issues she needs to address.

Seriously!

The book was also extremely boring as it went on and on and on about the charismatic and traditional Episcopalian faith. And she uses all the terms that we as layman have no clue what they are or mean.

And the end made no real sense as to why the person was a murderer and holding Tom hostage. It felt like the author wasn’t sure how to end it and just flipped a coin to come up with a solution.

If I hadn’t already read later books in the series I would be tempted to quit the series as the last few books have been duds.

For more Goldy Bear Culinary Mysteries, go to The Cereal Murders

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

For more mysteries with missing fiancés, go to A Case of Identity

Candy from a Stranger

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Candy from a Stranger by Daryl Buckner

I received this book free from Netgalley, in return for an honest review.

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Ben Cain has his Phd in psychology and teaches at the community college in a town where he can do the teaching he loves, but take off and go fishing on the weekends. Him and his family live an ideal life.

That all changes when his eight-year old boy disappears on his way to the park. Being unable to cope without having the answers, without having his son; Cain sets off to find the person who took him and make him pay.

Sadly, the police have no leads. After investigating whether or not Cain actually murdered his own child they have come up empty.

Cain will not let it go, even though his wife has left him and returned to Washington to her parents. Cain instead launches his own investigation, believing that this is a serial kidnapper/killer and starts searching to see what other children fit this profile.

He starts tracking down families and going out to question them; when he ends up being in the places as the abductions happen. And the number one suspect for the Police and FBI.

Cain has a suspect based on the food wrappers, and starts searching for the guy, trying to follow him and find more information on him.

But this doesn’t deter Cain as he finds a boy that fits the profile and moves next door watching and stalking him, in order to protect him and catch the killer, along with hoping to discover the truth about what happened to his son.

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I liked the idea of the tale of the missing child being told from a father’s point of view as that is not something really seen. However, I did not enjoy this book.

I felt the character was hard to connect to as they appeared so distraught that they had behavior that was really out there. From a character view it was well-done, from being the narrator of the story it made it difficult to read.

I also dislike that the author reveals who the kidnapper is so early on in the book, along with the way they portray police.

For more mysteries featuring disappearances, go to The Turquoise Trail Mystery

For more mysteries featuring kidnapping, go to Iced

For more serial killers, go to Psycho

For more not-in-a-series-mysteries, go to The Disappearance of Edwin Drood

In other news this is my 300th post

To go to the 200th post, go to The Murders in Rue Morgue

Iced

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Iced (Regan Reilly Mysteries #3) by Carol Higgins Clark

So I read Laced and thought it was okay, but then I read this one and thought it was bad.

I didn’t want to keep reading the series, but knew I had to before I could post this one. I read Decked and Snagged; and loved them.

So what went wrong?

Plot Synopsis:

P.I. Regan Reilly is invited to join her family and their friends on an Aspen vacation. But when they arrive things are not as they expected.

The place is a total mess and Eben Bean, the caretaker is missing!

He’s not the only thing missing, the family’s priceless artwork have been stolen.

Eben has a record, could he have decided the straight and narrow is too boring and returned to his life of crime.

Thoughts After Reading:

This was boring.

They give the whole mystery away in the beginning when they show that Eben is kidnapped by art thieves.

That’s it?

Eben and the maid Bessie interactions were dumb as well.

And they turn out to be long lost twins. Really? Where you running out of ideas?

Boring, boring, boring, Not worth your time-I’d skip it.

For more Regan Reilly Mysteries, go to Snagged

For more by Carol Higgins Clark, go to Decked

For more mysteries with private detectives, go to This Doesn’t Happen in the Movies

For more mysteries with female private investigators, go to Secrets Can Kill

For more kidnapping mysteries, go to Run Run As Fast As You Can

For more mysteries that take place in Aspen, go to Catering to Nobody

Run Run As Fast As You Can

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Run Run As Fast As You Can (Emma Frost Mystery #3) by Willow Rose

Thoughts Before Reading:

So a quick note for those who have never read Willow Rose’s work. In her Emma Frost mysteries, she likes to switch between modern day (2013) and something that occurred in the past; in the end the two winding together to resolution. To help with the confusion, I will put this:

In the post whenever we change times.

She also goes way out there. So these mysteries are not for the faint of heart.

Plot Synopsis:

Run, run, run as fast as you can.
You’ll never catch me, I’m the gingerbread man.
I ran from the baker and his wife too.
You’ll never catch me, not any of you.

So this novel begins in 2013 when Simone Beaumont, mother of nine month old baby is heading out to her mother’s group. She is about to take her baby out of the car for the event they are doing, when she is kidnapped.

Ten years earlier, Thomas lives across the street from his love, Ellen. She doesn’t know he exists as he is a stalker, but of course in his mind every look, motion, thing she does is a symbol for their growing love. He sends her notes and flowers; but one day things change. A man comes to the door and kisses Ellen.

Emma has just returned from Eastern Europe and barely recovered from her recent escapade: girls being sold into the sex trade, a TV show host being a crazed psychopath, and a woman making dolls out of human flesh to fill the loss of her daughter’s disappearance. She has been helping Officer Morton search for the surviving girls from the sex ring in the hopes of reuniting them with their parents. On these trips, she has gotten very close to Officer Morton, the two deciding to to date when they have a free moment.

Smirkity smirk smirk

Lisa, is also a member of Simone’s mother group. She is a germophobe, control freak, and sociopath. She’s been having a lot of anger problems, and when a plumber doesn’t follow her plan and makes her furious, she kills him, cuts him up, and serves him for dinner.

Meanwhile, Simone has woken up, but finds herself trapped in a room full of bats. Her captor let’s her out, but warns her to run as fast as she can; chasing after her with a shotgun.

Back in 2003, Ellen has become very serious about the man she is dating, the two about to be married. But this won’t stop Thomas, he has decided to up his game in hopes of winning his love back.

Sophia, Emma’s friend and neighbor, stops by Emma’s house to let her know the news about Simone. She wants Emma to use her investigative skills to find out what is going on. Sophia thinks that Simone’s husband might be behind the disappearance as they recently fought. He is a police officer, so Sophia thinks that if he did do it the cops won’t do anything about it.

In 2005, Ellen is married and having a baby, but Thomas has not given up. He watches her, sends flowers, gifts, etc.

Always watching

In modern times, they find Simone’s body in her car, shot in the back several times.

What?!

Meanwhile, Lisa has decided she will run for mayor of Fanø Island. Even though others laugh and such at her, it only makes her more angry and determined.

In 2009, Thomas is watching Ellen and her husband fight over the gifts and flowers sent by Thomas. They don’t notice the kids playing outside and when their daughter’s jump rope gets stuck on a tree and starts to choke her; Thomas sees it and runs across the street to help her. When he does Ellen and her husband are grateful…until they realize he is the stalker.

Lisa goes to see Simone’s husband Tim and bring him some food to comfort him. Tim lets out that they were fighting because one of the secretaries at work kissed him. Lisa figures out which one did it and sets out to get rid if her as she enjoys the thrill of killing.

Susanne is taken next and found in the same predicament. Stuck with bats, released and told to run as fast as she can.

Back in 2009, Ellen and her husband call the police. They detain Thomas as the family move away, forever lost to Thomas.

See ya!

One more of the women in the mothers group is killed and they start putting the pieces together. Who is killing them and why?

How does Thomas connect to the whole thing?

Hmm…

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t like this.

The two stories didn’t really connect well.

This doesn’t really make sense.

I also thought the Lisa character was weird and her story also made zero sense. Didn’t they match up the fork she used to kill the mayor with the one she killed Thomas with? I mean there would be blood from both murders on it.

I know seriously.

This one is one that I would definitely not waste your time on. The next one is worse (to be, ugh, reviewed in the future)

For more Emma Frost mysteries, go to Miss Polly Had a Dolly

For more kidnapping, go to Death Threads

For more mysteries featuring stalkers, go to The Shadow Hunter

For more mystery reviews, go to Secrets Can Kill

The Falling Machine

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The Falling Machine (The Society of Steam #1) by Andrew P. Mayer

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I was recommended this book by a friend. She loved it as it was steam punk, historical fiction, and involved superheroes.

What?

Yes, superheroes. It seemed like a sure winner…yet I…oops! Getting ahead of myself.

Plot Summary:

The time is 1880. The place, New York City. The girl? Nineteen-year-old socialite, Sarah Stanton.

Sarah is the only child of Alexander Stanton, a leading industrialist (and his superhero name) and founding member of Paragon, the steam punk version of the Avengers or the Justice League.

Also in the Paragon is Sir Dennis Darby, the leader of the Paragons and inventor who builds and improves the costumes of each. He is Sarah’s favorite person and mentor.

The Submersible, a German officer who was disgraced and came to America. He is named for his aquatic equipment.

Sleuth; a tall, Brit and highly intelligent in solving mysteries.

Iron-Clad, once able to destroy things with his iron fists and armor, but now stuck in a wheelchair.

And the newest member being Nathaniel as Turbine, a Rocketeer type guy, and Sarah’s old childhood friend.

There is one other member, a robot built by Sir Darby; Automaton or Tom for short. The other members don’t particularly like him, but put up with him for Darby.

Sarah, unfortunateky, will never be able to join Paragon because of her sex. She has wanted to be like her father, but their relationship has gone incredibly downhill since the death of her mother.

When Sarah was a child she was snooping in places she shouldn’t have been and revealed her father’s secret identity to the wrong person. She and her mother were kidnapped, her father only being able to save her. Since the death of her mother her father has been more closed and concentrated on stopping evil, not open to any new ideas like Sarah joining their ranks.

This day Sarah was out with Sir Darby, Tom, and Nathaniel to check out the new Brooklyn Bridge. They are at the top, when the foreman reveals that he is no such thing. He is Bomb Lance.

Haha, Bomb Lance. That makes me think of Bomb Voyage from The Incredibles.

Anyways, he turns out to be a member of the Brotherhood…whoops I mean the Children of Eschaton. He was hired to kill Sir Darby, of which he accomplishes; along with wounding Nathaniel.

Before he can finish him and Tom off, he is stopped by Tom and the warning shot he had fired. Bomb Lance steals a key from Sir Darby that he was after and takes off in a getaway hot air balloon.

The Paragons and Sarah find themselves at a loss and uproar over Sir Darby’s death. Sarah and Sleuth are both heartbroken at the loss of their friend and eager to find out who tried to kill him and why.

Meanwhile, the others are saddened by his death but also at odds over what he left behind. In his will he left the leadership of Paragon to Tom!

All argue over it: Sleuth wants to honor Sir Darby’s wishes while Nathaniel, Alexander, and the rest agree that having a machine be in charge is not the best idea. Yes he will be logical, but he isn’t human and doesn’t have the same heart. Alexander gets voted in instead.

Meanwhile, the Paragons don’t want Tom repairing himself after the Bridge incident as they want him to not gain any power or fall under the wrong control, as Darby is no longer leading him. They have all meet horrible machines who tried to destroy innocent people.

However, the Sleuth needs his help to investigate, especially as the Sleuth believes that someone in Paragon is either the leader of the Children of Eschaton or working with them. He confides in Sarah, who then takes it upon herself to aid in the investigation; believing it might be her father.

Seriously?

The Sleuth goes undercover to try and discover more about the Children of Eschaton but ends up having his cover blown by the inside man. He is almost killed, but is aided by a member of the CoE, Anubis, and he manages to get away.

Hmm…

Who killed Sir Darby? Who is the leader of the Children of Eschaton? Who is this mysterious Anubis? With every page the Sleuth and Sarah encounter more and more questions as they hunt for the truth.

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Thoughts After Reading:

Usually the books my friend recommends I love but I actually couldn’t stand this one.

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It had a lot of plot holes, its characters weren’t all that endearing, and I thought it was just bad.

My first problem was Sarah Stanton. Our main character that we are supposed to love because she wants to be a superhero and do more than marry and pick out clothes; she should be relatable but is just annoying.

Seriously!

For the first two thirds of the book she goes on and on about how horrible her father is. He won’t support her dreams. He never spends time with her. He hardly talks to her or looks at her, etc. We start thinking that her father is a horrible guy until she reveals what happened with her mother. All I can think is well Duh! Sarah. Your mistake cost your mother’s life! He probably can’t stand being with your because you look like your mother and it hurts him to se you knowing he didn’t protect her. Or maybe he blames himself for the whole situation as he just had to be a superhero. or maybe he blames Sarah. He’s not an ogre, he’s just grieving; after all he lost the love if his life.

And that explains why he never wants you involved. Part of it is the society views of where women should be but also he already lost one important woman in his life, I’m sure he doesn’t want to lose a second.

The Sarah-Tom relationship was weird too. Tom was just his plain old robotic self, but Sarah had the hots for him. She kept going on about describing his body’s six-pack or naked form. She tried to protect him and believed in him more than her “real human” friends. I don’t know if the author will continue that but a human and a cyborg getting together is just weird.

The Nathaniel relationship was weird too. Nathaniel goes on and on about how Sarah’s views of women’s roles is wrong, making them constantly at odds. But then the author is trying to plan a romance between them?

And then they suddenly reveal that they are step siblings!

Yeah, when did that happen? They talk of Sarah’s mother as being only Sarah’s mother. And Alexander never mentions being married before and says that after her death he could never remarry. Sarah and Nathaniel are close in age and said they grew up together. How could he have been a stepbrother? It doesn’t fit at all and was just weird.

I hated how Sarah thought everyone was crazy because they were unsure about Tom. Tom would never hurt anyone, Tom is our friend, blah, blah, blah…uh Sarah Tom is a machine. And a machine does what it is programmed to. It has no heart or soul. I agreed whole0heartedly with Nathaniel, the opposite of the author’s intention I’m sure.

I also thought the storyline was BORING. Sarah kept talking about when her dad was younger and the first superhero, and all the villains they fought at the beginning of Paragon and I thought that would be a much more interesting story. I would love to read that more than the sequel to this book. Please make a prequel!

And the thing I hated the most about this book? They leave you hanging at the end.

WHAT!

Yes, the Sleuth figures out who the leader is but is killed. At the very end Sarah finds his book of notes, running away, leaving you to have to read the next book to figure out the ending. I hate when authors do that. I think it is a cheap ploy to ensure that you will sell more copies as people are willing to plunk down their money to answer question. Bad move.

I actually don’t care about finding out who the leader is as I didn’t even care for this book that much. But as I started, I promise to finish the series, the same way I am doing it for everything else. It’s a hard job, but I will try.

For more steam punk books, go to Ticker

For more books recommended by friend, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more historical fiction, go to Whistling in the Dark

For more book reviews, go to The Madwoman Upstairs

Binky Brothers, Detectives

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Binky Brothers, Detectives by James Lawrence

Norbert “Dinky” Binky and his older brother, Albert “Pinky” Binky have started their own detective agency.

On the case!

Dinky thinks that as partners they should be equal, but big brother Pinky decides that being older means he gets more benefits and more of the money gained from their detecting.

While in between cases, the two brothers are selling cups of lemonade for 2¢. While selling, Chub Doolin, catcher, comes along. He hires the brothers as his mitt was stolen, and the team will be unable to beat the Wildcats without it.

Chub hands over the ransom note he was given:

Ha Ha! I have your mitt. Now the wildcats will beat you. Guess who? [Skull & crossbones]

Soon Wildcat players, Spike Brown and Joe Parker stop by. They have information they shouldn’t about the missing glove.

When Spike gets his money to pay, a pink note comes falling out. It is the same type as the one that Chub was given. It has a different message.

Tell the team we can win easy now. I hid you-know-what in the house. Those dopes will never look high enough to find it unless one of them is a monkey. Mel. [Skull & Crossbones]

Pinky figures out that Mel must be Melvin Krantz, the wildcat shortstop. Pinky thinks on the note and decides that the house in the note must be the team treehouse.

When he gets to the house it is too easy. And good reason to be, as it was all a trap to get rid of the Cubs best pitcher, Pinky. Pinky doesn’t know what to do.

Dinky comes along as he has found the glove, having figured out that the second note was a trap. He blackmails his brother into letting him be in the game and get equal share in the detective agency.

Thoughts After Readig:

This was not a good mystery.

I mean it didn’t even explain how Dinky figured everything out, he just did.

For more children’s books, go to The Chocolate Chip Mystery

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to C is for Corpse

For more mystery reviews, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

Death Threads

So I know today is Pi/Pie day

I was going to make one and post it and switch with Friday’s post, but Friday is Saint Patrick’s day and I wanted to post a Saint Patrick’s day recipe. I went back and forth on this…

Then I finally decided, book review today and recipe Friday, a pie recipe to tie in with this day & Saint Patrick’s Day. So here we go with our book review:

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Death Threads (Southern Sewing Circle #2) by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

So I read this book and was planning on reviewing it, but then I couldn’t remember what happened other than I didn’t like it.

So I had to reread it in order to review it. Let’s see if my views changed.

So after a disastrous discovery of her fiancé cheating on her, Tori decides to move to Sweet Briar, South Carolina. There she found herself the victim of horrible pranks, a ton of residents upset with her replacing their favorite librarian, and a suspect in a murder.

But that’s all in the past. Now Tori is doing well at the library, has been accepted as a member of the town, dating a handsome teacher, and working hard on her sewing-grateful for her new friends and community.

But then things take a dark turn…Colby Calhoun: handsome, local author, newspaper reporter, and husband of Tori’s friend and sewing circle member–reveals that the town has been perpetuating a lie. The story is that the town was burned by Yankees in the Civil War, the Sweet Briar people coming together and rebuilding on the ashes, but Colby reveals that the town was really burned when a moonshine distillery caught fire.

Obviously Colby has never seen the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or else he would know:

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?

Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

The town becomes furious at Colby, all talking about how they would like to hurt him. His wife and kids are bullied or treated as pariahs. Even in the sewing circle Debbie isn’t accepted.

Tori is the only one who sticks up for her. Later when she checks on Debbie, the two discover the house ransacked, a threatening note, blood in the area, and a missing Colby.

Tori sets out to discover what happened to her friend’s husband and tries to catch whoever is doing this, because:

Also in this book, Tori meets an eccentric older woman who made up a boyfriend the past five years. But now it looks as if the man is real as they are getting married. Who could he be?

Thoughts after Reading:

Let’s see how did I feel?

The first one was much better. This one was boring.

It took a looooong time to get the characters moving.

And the mystery was easily solved. As soon as they brought the characters in it was clear what was up.

For more Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries, go to Sew Deadly

For more Southern Mysteries, go to Cookie Dough or Die

For more mysteries, go to The Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

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The Itsy Bitsy Spider (An Emma Frost Mystery #1) by Willow Rose

So I was first introduced to Willow Rose when I was checking out the site BookBub, and saw the book Miss Polly Had a Dolly (An Emma Frost Mystery #2) was on sale for free.

FREE!

It sounded good, although I have to admit when I read Emma Frost the first thing that popped in my head was the X-Men character. Even though this is not how Emma is described I am unable to get this image out of my head when reading.

So Willow Rose is a Danish writer, and not to rude or mean or anything (I’m part Danish myself), but I’ve noticed that Scandinavian writers tend to go real, real, dark in their writing. Something that won’t be for everyone.

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Synopsis:

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again

So the book begins with a flashback. A women, Astrid, is stuck in a bunker. She’s not mentally all there, emotionally abused by her mother, and all around disliked by everyone and herself. This makes her the perfect mark with a guy who pushes for more than just hanging out. Astrid is sixteen and has fallen for Christian, but is now pregnant and trapped underground.

Flash-forward to present day. So Emma Frost is a journalist, divorced, and mother of two. Her grandmother (father’s mother), who she has only met once has just died and left Emma her house on Fanø Island. Emma decides the change of pace will be good for them and three move, at the great displeasure of Emma’s father.

It is a cute little island that depends on tourism. A sweet and nice place to live. Emma picks up the keys to the house from the police officer Dan Toft and remarks how nice it will be to leave in a small-town place.

“You must not have much crime here on the island. Must be kind of nice, right?.”

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Famous last words

You notice that always happens. It is a nice quiet community; someone moves there or moves back and the next thing you know bodies are dropping and they are investigating.

Her daughter Maya feels the same as her grandfather, but Victor is pleased. Victor is Emma’s youngest and suffers from the doctors don’t quite know what. Some say aspergers, some autism, some say he just needs attention; all she knows is that he has some mental issues and she needs to do all she can to try to keep him on a schedule. He doesn’t like touching, not being in his room, likes trees, etc.

Meanwhile, a woman down the way has just been murdered. Attracted by the sirens, Emma tries to look into it, not receiving much; turns to a trick taught by an old boyfriend; hacking.

When she looks into the police reports, she discovers that the woman just wasn’t murdered; her heart and liver were also cut out. We are dealing with a cannibal.

Back in 1977, Astrid is pregnant but living okay in the bunker. Every so many months she runs out of the supplies and her captor delivers more. She also gives her magazines and information on being pregnant. Astrid goes through the whole 9 months and deliverers on her own. She gives birth to a boy she names Sebastian.

I have a baby!

Back in the present, Emma meets some neighbors, Sophia and Jack. She gets the lowdown on the island and discovers there is a church that controls the society on the island; once you are in you never can leave. Only a few manage to get out.

I’m scared.

Irene Justesen is the Danish Jane Fonda, known as the Queen of Fitness throughout the country. She is thought of as a success story as she started out poor but built a powerful company. However, she has lost most to her drinking; and can’t enjoy the wealth and success as she traded it for her daughter.

One night after she has been leading an exercise class, the killer comes for her. She tries to bribe the killer, but nothing works. He kills her, harvests her organs, and shoves a sweatband into her mouth after her death.

Victor is crying out in his sleep about spiders. Emma tries to calm him down, but all he will say is :

“Spider,’ he said. ‘Watch for the spider!”

Now I read up to book six in this series, before I started this blog and circled back to review. One thing I’ve noticed that they haven’t explained is that whatever Victor’s condition is, it gives him some type of ESP. He is able to give warnings and everything he says helps Emma and the police in solving this crimes.

Victor wants to sleep in Emma’s room; something strange and unlike him. When Emma asks him why, he tells her someone died in his room.

WHAT!

Meanwhile, Emma and Sophia have grown to be very good friends. They visit every week and it turns out that Sophia has a new boyfriend and is pregnant with her sixth child (all have different fathers.)

Emma continues to do research and discovers that the people who were all killed belonged to the same church.

Then something odd happens, Victor becomes really sick as it turns out he has been attacked by spiders when he was out in the backyard.

Back in the ’70s, Astrid is celebrating Sebastian’s birthday. Astrid has been careful, but it appears she went either ate too much, calculated wrong, or that the captor forgot to bring them food. They are running out, and even with Astrid giving up her meals and giving them to Sebastian there will soon be nothing. Something needs to happen or else they will be dead.

As Astrid grows weaker and weirded out by her son’s fascination with spiders, she makes Sebastian promise that if the bunker was opened at anytime; for him to run and escape.

Pastor Gotredsen, the minster of the church that controls the island, is very unhappy with the news of Irene’s death. Not because he liked her, but because he knows what this means. They are killing all involved and the minister is next. However, his ego chooses to ignore this and continues believing that he is going to only come out on top.

We also discover that this minister does not truly believe in what he is supposed to be preaching, as he is practicing every sin he is supposed to be against, and the leader of a human trafficking group.

The killer of course comes for the minister, adding one more to his nightly meals.

Emma does some more hacking and discovers that once again the organs were removed and a number two was marked on a wall. They all had numbers on the wall. Counting down to what? Or who?

Emma goes into Victor’s room and removes everything from the walls. As she looks closer at sites of the repainting, she can see that there was a five painted there. Her grandma was killed by this psychopath.

Back in the ’80s, Astrid continues to grow weaker, wondering when the food is coming. Up above she hears the sound of a siren…

Back in the present Emma’s dad is coming to visit. He has been lonely without his family, as after his wife took off for Spain with her lover, all he had was Emma and the kids.

Flashback to the ’80s, and Astrid dies from starvation. Sebastian is the only one left and has only one option left to survive. His mom.

In the present, Emma goes to dinner with Sophia and her chef boyfriend. They are having a great night until they discover what the meal is. Organs. Very fancy-schmancy; but could they possibly be the minister’s organs?

Back in the ’80s, Sebastian  has been alone and scared; his only comfort his pet spiders. One day he hears a sound from the doorway, creak. It opens up and in walks a beautiful blonde girl. She says hello and asks him to play. Sebastian refuses, remembering his mother’s words and taking off in a run. Meanwhile the little girl’s father calls to her, “Emma, where are you?”

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Thoughts After Reading

I thought this was a pretty good mystery. It was suspenseful, kept you guessing and had an intense resolution.

***Spoilers***

So a couple of things, how did Officer Dan pass his psych evaluation? He’s totally a psychopath.

Emma does one stupid thing over and over; she just goes off without telling anyone where she is going.

And how creepy that ending. Your half-brother was trying to rape his nephew, kill his sister, and kill his father. I would be utterly creeped out to see that I has an insane brother like that.

I felt so bad for the father. Impregnated a much younger girl knowing you took advantage of her age ad mental state; but then trying to do the right thing but it turns out your mom and her cronies locked her up in a bunker and lied saying she left. And then your sons tries to rape your grandson, kill his sister, and murder you! He’s gonna need a lot of therapy. That whole family will.

For more mysteries with investigative reporters, go to The Alchemy of Murder

For more mysteries with psychics, go to The Final Seven

For more BookBub books, go to The Saint Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre

For more mysteries, go to Apple Turnover Murder

Bake Until Golden

Bake Until Golden

Bake Until Golden (The Potluck Catering Club #3) by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson

In the third installment of the Potluck caterers the women are flying high from their win; being interviewed everywhere and treated like royalty.

oooh 101 Dalmations

They also are excited about the improvements being made to the church and the anniversary that they will be catering. But as life always does, they find that things do not go as planned.

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Jack has been doing well since he had his surgery, but when Goldie returns from a TV interview, she finds him dead. Poor Goldie is heartbroken at the loss, and even more dismayed when she discovers a birth certificate stating that Jack has a son with someone else.

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Donna has decided that she needs to leave the past in the past and dumps Wade, dating David exclusively. When David shares that his friend Bobbie is coming to town, Donna is excited to meet him; that is until it turns out to be a her and David’s ex-fiancé.

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Lizzie, the high school librarian, is working with  group of kids after school to create a play for the anniversary of Founder’s Day. As they start researching the event and the minister; they also have the story of the hidden gold in mind. They start looking into it and trying their hand at solving the mystery.

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Meanwhile, Donna’s mother Doreen, who left her when she was four and returned last year, has been drinking again and caused a scene knocking Evangeline over. Evangeline goes to talk to her later and tries and convince her to go to rehab. Doreen starts yelling at first but calms down and says she will think about the idea.

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The next day Doreen is found dead

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And Evangeline is accused of the murder,

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Donna being the one anxious to strap her in chains.

Not-Good

When she is arrested and arraigned for the murder, Evangeline finds herself praying for help and proof of her innocence.

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Vonnie is horrified at what happened with the reveal of Bobbie and that such a horrible girl is after David. She tries to be there for Donna, as ever since Doreen’s leaving, Vonnnie has been a surrogate mother. But then one day Vonnie is going to market to pick up one item, and leaves her dog in the car. When she returns she finds him missing!

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Later Vonnie receives a ransom note that is actually a trap to kidnap her. Why would anyone want the dog or Vonnie?

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

Lisa Leann and Henry are still having issues, despite his proposal to renew their vows.

I felt whatever about it.

When their son-in-law is injured in Egypt, their daughter goes out of the country leaving her baby with Lisa and Henry. They care for their grand baby and try to help with everything that is going on. Then a person breaks into Lisa’s bridal shop.

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When the potluckers start looking into why, they discover that the shop is connected to the old legend of the missing gold.

WHAT!

WHAT!

Donna and the crew find themselves in the middle of a triple mystery. Who really killed Doreen? Who is trying to kidnap Vonnie? And where is the gold? And how is this all connected?

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Thoughts After Reading:

For me this is the weakest of the series all because of one person, Donna.

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I really liked Donna in the other books, but in this one I found her annoying. She was horrible to Evangeline, acting like a five-year-old girl instead of a grown woman.

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I also thought it was incredibly stupid how she instantly wanted to arrest her. Seriously, Donna why would she do it? No motive at all. She has nothing to gain from Doreen’s death and there is nothing that Doreen could do to make Evangeline be in a terrible rage; it made no sense at all.

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The gold was a little thrown out of left field, but I like the characters and enjoy reading about them.

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For more on Potluck Catering Club, go to A Taste of Fame

For more catering mysteries, go to Catering to Nobody

For more Christian books, go to The Oath

For more book reviews, go to C is for Corpse

The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

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Ready for our last Christmas mystery review? Here you go.

EdwinDrood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

*Contains Spoilers*

Background:

This book is known as the unsolvable mystery due to one reason, it is unfinished. Charles Dickens began writing this in the summer of 1869, when he was sick and ailing, dying a year later and leaving his last mystery unsolved.

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It has stumped and angered people for over a hundred years as no one knows what happened. Did something bad happen to Edwin? Did he leave of his own free will? Was he murdered? Kidnapped? If murdered who is the killer? It can be very frustrating.

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In fact many people have tried a hand at solving the “unsolvable crime”.

  • In 1870, Robert Henry Newell published his version of the story, transporting the tale to America and more a parody than anything else.
  • 1871-1872, John Jasper’s Secret: The Sequel to Charles Dicken’s Mystery of Edwin Drood, was published by Henry Morford. In this version John Jasper tries to kill Edwin, but he escapes.
  • In 1873, Thomas Jane wrote his version of the ending and was praised as the “true version” for a long period of time as many believed him when he said that he had channeled Dickins’ actual spirit in writing.

Very suspicious

  • In 1935, Universal came out with the film Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Claude Rains as John Jasper and David Manners as Edwin Drood.
  • In 1980, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was published by Leon Garfield. In his book every loose end is wrapped up by his introduction of several new characters.
  • In 1985 the musical Drood, aka The Mystery of Edwin Drood, came out. In this the audience is able to vote on who they think the killer should be. It was revived in 2012.
  • In 1992, Peter Rowland wrote The Disappearance of Edwin Drood, in which years after the incident a very old John Jasper asks Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to solve the case.

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  • In 1993 The D. Case or the Truth About the Mystery of Edwin Drood by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini was published with the most famous literary detectives attempting to solve the mystery. It features Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, and more.
  • In 1993, A&E distributed the film The Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Robert Powell as John Jasper and Jonathan Phillips as Edwin Drood.
  • In 2005, the Doctor Who episode, The Unquiet Dead, has Dickens and the Doctor fighting aliens, causing him to end the novel with the Gelth being the murderer.
  • In 2012, The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Part II, The Solution, by David Saunders was published. He believes that not only is John Jasper a red herring, but that there is another murder that has been overlooked.
  • In 2012, BBC produced a two episode mini-series that took a lot of liberties with the book in it’s portrayal. It made Ned and Helen Indian, John Jasper secretly Edwin’s brother not uncle, and Ned & Helen the half siblings of both Edwin and John Jasper.

So as you can see there is a lot of what other people wanted the book to be like, but what is the actual story? Let’s take a look.

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Now let me say before we begin, I HATED this book.

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I know!!!! I can’t believe it either. I LOVE Charles Dickens. I LOVE everything he has written. It pains to to even think about writing these words, but this book sucked. Really sucked. So what went wrong? Let’s review what made this Dickens’ fan upset.

Hate this.

Hate this.

Synopsis:

So the first problem I have with this particular edition, not with Dickens’ actual book, is the introduction by , who tells the reader that the killer is John Jasper.

What?

Hello this is A MYSTERY!!! You just don’t tell someone the end unless you say spoilers ahead. I mean HOW COULD YOU!!!

That be like if in Bones, they decided that instead of you trying to use the hour to figure out which of the people is the killer, they just told you in the beginning. Heck no. You do not do that. That is beyond horrible. How could you!!!!

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Screw you Peter Ackroyd! And may all your writings be filled with typos for the pain you have caused!!!!!!!!!!!!

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So from now on, anything in the review will be on Dickens work. Let’s get started.

So any of you who have read a Dickens’ book, you know the basic formula. We are given a group of characters, and as they develop we end up discovering that they are somehow all more closely related than we could ever think. Lots of great scenes, memorable lines, and extremely lovable characters.

This book is not like that at all.

Not-Good

So we start of with John Jasper, choirmaster in a small Cathedral town (based on Rochester), who is at the moment residing in an opium den.

What?

Yeah, that’s some serious commentary for an opening. I didn’t see that coming, that’s for sure.

wow

Anyways, he had this vision of murdering his nephew, Edwin Drood. Edwin and Jasper are very close in age, only about five years apart. When his parents died, Edwin was sent to live with his grandparents. After their deaths, he was sent to his uncle Jasper’s. As the two were close in age, they became more of a relationship of brothers rather than uncle and nephew. Edwin is the only one to call Jasper “Jack”, and Jasper the only one to call Edwin “Ned”. And why would Jasper wish to kill his nephew/almost a brother; keep reading to find out.

suspicious Hmm

So Jasper is a huge opium addict, but no one notices. They all see his shortness of breath, sallowness of skin, tired eyes; but they all accept his explanation of not sleeping well. I think part of it is the fact they would never consider a gentleman, especially one who is employed in a church, could be on drugs.

impossible

Anyways, Edwin is now residing in London, learning the engineering trade as he inherits his father’s business at the age of 21. He will also be getting wed to his father’s best friend’s daughter, Rosa “Pussy” Bud (I know what a stupid name to give a child). He is currently visiting the town to see Jack, and visit with Rosa as it her  birthday.

Now Rosa is not only the fiancé of Edwin, but is also being given music lessons by Jasper. He keeps a sketch Edwin made of her over the mantle, leaving me to guess that there is more than singing that Jasper wants from Rosa.

Smirkity smirk smirk

Smirkity smirk smirk

I know in Emma, Mr. Elton took the picture of Harriet Smith because he liked Emma, and she painted it; but in this case I don’t think the reason he hangs Rosa in a place of honor has anything to do with Edwin being the artist.

Edwin is being kind of sarcastic about his upcoming nuptials with Rosa as he doesn’t want to marry her and he doesn’t really want to become an engineer. When his father wrote the will, he put in it about the business and getting married to Rosa, of which Rosa’s father did the same in his will. Edwin doesn’t hate Rosa or engineering, he just hates the fact that his life has been written out for him.

Hate this.

Hate this.

Jasper gets very angry at him treating Rosa that way, that she is too good for him. Edwin apologizes and agrees.

We then meet Rosa.

Hate her that's so raven

I have disliked a few literary characters in my time but none as much as Rosa Bud. Ugh. She is just so horrible and infuriating. I dislike her more than words can describe.

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So Rosa lives in a school for young ladies, residing there ever since the death of her parents. She very much does not want to get married to Edwin, and because she’s not adult enough to talk to him about her feelings, she just whines the whole time and tries to hurt Edwin in every way she can. Instead of acting like the 18 years she is, she acts like a five-year old having a tantrum.

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She goes on about how absurd the whole engagement is, calls Edwin ugly, that she never wants to dance with him, and tells him that she’s tired of him. Now what about this character is so charming that everyone would fall in love with her.

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She’s just jerk to me.

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Now this character would work if she was innocent and naive in not knowing how this hurts or affects him, in a sense having no filter but just saying anything she thinks of feels. But that is not how the character is written. In this she is upset and unhappy and is purposely striking out against him. She knows what she is doing. I mean think of Brave. Merida was someone you loved because she was just being herself. She didn’t understand, until the end of the film, that being an adult means you have responsibilities and that every choice you make will have an outcome that you have to be ready for. When she shoots the arrow at the bullseye, “winning her own hand in marriage”, she’s not doing it on purpose to snub her family, culture, and say that her suitors are unworthy; she just is thinking as a child. A type of ” I want this so I’m going to do this”. Rosa knows she is purposely being cruel to Edwin, and instead of being an adult and either accepting the marriage, making the best out of it: or choosing to say no to her fortune an not marry Edwin; she decides to make his life Hell.

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So they go for a walk and Rosa tells Edwin they are going to play a game. In this game Edwin is engaged to someone else and she is engaged to no one. Edwin doesn’t really want to play, but she constantly pushes him, until he gives in. He starts describing his “fake fiancé” making her appearance the opposite of Rosa. The “girl” is nice, charming, has a big nose, likes engineering, and is happy to have to move to Egypt with Edwin when he inherits the company. And Rosa gets Jealous.

really?

I can’t be- I mean seriously, seriously. She gets SUPER JEALOUS of a IMAGINARY FIANCE of a guy SHE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE. Like what is wrong with her? She is incredibly crazy. As Edwin goes on to describe “the fake girl” Rosa says the most horrible things. That his “dream girl” is gawky, with gigantic nose that is incredibly red, so ugly skinned she has to use powder, that is supremely stupid, etc. She then goes on to make fun of engineering and Egypt.

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Like what is her deal? Why does everyone fall in love with her? I mean this is a common character in Dickens’ work, there is always a female that every guy is crazy about. But in his other books, they actually have an appeal about them. In Great Expectations, Estella was cruel and cold, yes, but not all the time. As she was trained to be a heartbreaker, her adoptive mother’s weapon upon men, she at first made the men fall for her, only to after crush every bit of them afterwards. In A Tale of Two Cities, Lucy was loved by all, as her father was the only male character not interested in marrying her, but she was sweet, kind, and caring. Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist; sweet, kind, gentle, and pure. I could go on, but I think you get the point that Rose sucks.

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So I was kind of done with this novel at this point. The plot was extremely boring thus far. Jasper is a jerk trying to scam on his nephew’s fiancé and a tad deranged by opium. Rosie is obnoxious, cruel, and extremely annoying. The only character I care  for is Edwin, but even he can’t carry the whole book.

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But I didn’t give up. I continued on, and you want to know why? Why I bothered to continue reading something I knew I would not love no matter what? All because I purchased the book The Disappearance of Edwin Drood by Peter Rowland at a library book sale, and knew I could not read it until I had finished the original. So I pushed on.

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So Edwin and Rosa argue some more, Rosa stupidly with Edwin not winning no matter what he says. However, this whole time Jasper is spying on them (further proof he is in love with Rosa) and Rosa tells Edwin to take her back to the house.

Durdles, the stonemason for the crypts & graveyards, is talking with the Mayor about his late wife’s tombstone. Jasper runs into to them, and goes off with the mayor. He returns that night to speak to Durdles about the “mysteries of the crypts”.

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Reverend Septimus, the minor canon, is taking in twin orphans, Neville and Helena Landless. Neville will stay with the Reverand, while Helena will move into the school that Rosa resides. The twins’ ages are not stated but they are around the ages of Rosa and Edwin (18-21).

The two are from Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka, island off the coast of India) but it is not stated whether they are of that descent of if their family was British. It describes them as dark, but do they mean tanned “dark”, dark coloring as in hair, or dark as in Indian? I guess it doesn’t matter that much.

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Their mother remarried when they were young, and died when they were still children. They had been living with a cruel stepfather who used to starve them, not give them any clothes, beat them, etc. He’s lucky he died before Neville decided to kill him.

Because of this upbringing, Neville has a quick temper, sees faults and injustice in almost everything, and can be sullen and rude.

Hate this.

Hate this.

So the Landlesses join the Reverend and his mother for their Wednesday get togethers; with Edwin, Rose, and Jasper joining them like always. Ned sees Rosa and falls for her instantly, ( I can’t imagine why). Jasper sets out to play while Rosa sings like usual. This time, Rosa can’t be in Jasper’s presence and completely freaks out, throwing another tantrum. Helena recognizes that Rose is five-year-old in a woman’s body and carries her away to lie down on the sofa.

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Edwin tells everyone that Rosa was nervous in such a large crowd (two extra people). He kids with Jasper about him scaring her, and Jasper leaves. The Rev. decides that the night is late and the party ends. Rosa and Helena go home in which Helena asks about her and Edwin. Rosa complains about it to Helena. And all I can think is Helena is a saint. If I had been through all she had been through (plus if she is Indian, then she has not only experienced emotional and physical abuse but also prejudice), and then heard the sob story of rich Rosa being so upset because she has to get married to a nice guy; I’d be like girl please. Shut up and come back to me when you have a real problem.

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But Helena says nothing of the sort, just asks Rosa to be her friend.

Helena then shares her observation that Jasper is in love with Rosa. Rosa is utterly disgusted by Jasper as he scares her, haunting her thoughts; proclaiming his words of love not in words but in the melody he plays, etc. Now this part confused me. I mean WE the reader know Jasper is bad. He is an opium addict and contemplating killing his nephew; but why does Rosa think so? We aren’t presented with anything he has done to scare her. It just doesn’t make sense. Why is he so villainous?

What?

Anyways, the boys have done their duty of escorting the girls home. Edwin finds himself attracted to Helena, and I have to admit for a moment I thought “maybe he and Helena will get together instead of him and Rose”. Then I realized that was a stupid thought as the book is called The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He must die or disappear.

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Neville tries to congratulate Edwin on his upcoming marriage, but Edwin is not that excited. This makes Neville angry as he doesn’t know the way Rosa treats Edwin. The two get into a fight with Jasper coming along and breaking it up. He brings them in for a drink to smooth things over, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help. Neville is jealous of all he thinks Edwin has and remarks that he would be better of he had experienced hardships in his life instead of having things “easy”. Now I know Edwin has money and his life mapped out, but things haven’t been exactly easy. He’s had to go through the death of his parents and grandparents; both being people who have raised him. That’s a hard loss. He also has a shrew of a fiancé. It may not be the same as Neville’s experiences, but it is far from “easy”.

Neville and Edwin get into another fight. Neville calls Edwin common, and Edwin retorts that he “may know a black common fellow…but you are no judge of white men.” Ah, so they are most likely Indian.

Uh-oh

Oh

Sorry, back to fight. Neville is offended and flings his drink at Edwin. He is about to send the glass, but Jasper stops him and he sends him home.

The next day, Jasper comes to see the Rev. and tells him he must send Neville away, as he is crazy and fears that he might hurt Edwin. The Rev. defends Neville and says that he will stay.

Rumors start flying about the attack, each time painting Neville as eviler and eviler. It does not look good.

Not-Good

So now we switch to my least favorite character, Rosa, who is having a meeting with her lawyer Mr. Grewgious. Let me say, I love this man. Favorite character of the book. He is so awesome and adorable. Awerable. Adorsome.

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He gives Rosa a copy of her father’s will, and is planning on giving one to Jasper, as he is Edwin’s guardian. Rosa pleads to give it to Edwin instead, and Mr. Grewgious agrees to. Rosa asks him about the will and what would happen if she and Edwin were not to get married. Mr. Grewgious says, absolutely nothing.

What?

It seems as if everyone has misunderstood. Whether or not they will marry, both were inherit all of their family’s wealth. There was never any setup betrothal by the parents, they just hoped and wished the two would fall in love and marry.

wow

The Rev. speaks to Neville, telling him he must leave Rosa alone as she is engaged and not free to be anything to him. You may not like Edwin or approve of how he treats her, which to me I saw no big tuzzle, but he is her fiancé and will be her husband. So back off and back very far away.

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Jasper comes to see the Rev. and speaks more of his fears that Neville will do something. He shows him the journal entries he wrote about how scared he is and how he feels evil coming out of Neville. The Rev. convinces him to give the boys another chance to be friends. A couple days later he comes back with a note from Edwin, who agrees with the Rev. He asks Jasper to invite Neville to Christmas Eve dinner.

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Back in London, Mr. Grewgious has asked Edwin to come by so that they may clear up a few particulars. We are introduced to his paralegal, a Mr. Bazzard who does not wish to be a lawyer and is mopey and rude.

How rude

Anyways, Mr. Grewgious pulls out Rosa’s mother’s ring. Her father gave it to Mr. Grewgious for safekeeping, to be given to the man who was to be Rosa’s husband. He tells Edwin that when he places the ring on Rosa’s finger it will it an unbreakable seal that they are to be married. If Edwin has any doubts at all about the marriage, the two should break their “pre-engagement” and Edwin should return the ring to Mr. Grewgious.

Jaspar and Durdles meet up for Jasper’s tour among the tombs. They see quick-lime along the way, something used to decompose the body quickly. While they are doing that, Jasper sees the Rev. and Neville walking and spies on them. He can only hear his name, Christmas, and that this is all in confidence. It doesn’t take a genius that the Rev. is discussing the dinner, and Jasper’s fears; trying to convince Neville to be calm.

Jasper gives Durdles a bottle of liquor, which quickly knocks him out. When Durdles wakes up, his key is next to him, not in his pocket. You know what that means, Jasper purposely brought the alcohol because he knew Durdles would drink to excess, and then he could still the key and unlock a door to a crypt.

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Edwin comes to see Rosa, who is enjoying her last Christmas party at school as her and Edwin are supposed to be married soon. Edwin isn’t happy as the conversation with Mr. Grewgious has really pickled his conscience and leaves him unsure as to whether or not he should marry her. The ring hangs heavy in his pocket. The two go off together and Rosa says she doesn’t want to marry him, she wants them to be like brother and sister. Edwin is a little hurt at her words, but agrees that he doesn’t love her in any other way.

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Both are happier with the decision, but Edwin is worried about Jasper. He knows how much Jasper cares for him and how heartbroken he will hear that they won’t be getting married, as he will be hurting for Edwin.

Rosa is also worried that with her and Edwin no longer engaged, Jasper might voice his attraction. She decides the best person to tell him will be Mr. Grewgious, and Edwin agrees.

It turns out that Jasper had been spying on them. Unfortunately, he was much too far away to hear anything and assumes that by their happy faces they are eager for the wedding day.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Neville Landless is preparing to take a walking tour (hike) of his new country, not only to look at it but to separate him from his infatuation of Rosa. Before he leaves that night for Christmas Eve dinner, he packs his clothes and his brand new walking stick, which is iron shod. He is ready. The Rev doesn’t like it, thinking it is extremely heavy, but Neville says it will be good for his practice as he has never hiked before. He promises to write Helena every other day.

Edwin goes to do some errands, stopping at the jewelers to get his watch fixed. The jeweler hardly ever sees Edwin as all he wears is his watch and chain and a shirt pin. As he is heading out he runs into a women who looks tired and torn up. It is Princess Puffer, the women who runs the opium den that Jasper was visiting at the beginning of the novel. She has followed Jasper to warn the Ned Jasper was trying to kill in his opium dream, but has lost him. She is begging for money to return home, and Edwin takes pity on her giving her some. She asks what her benefactor’s name is. When he says Edwin, she asks him if he is ever called Ned, warning him that that is a dangerous name to have.

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The next day Jasper goes charging to the Rev’s house demanding to know where Edwin is. The Rev has no idea what he is talking about. He tells them that Neville came over, the boys hung out, and then Edwin and Neville went off to look at the storm and never came back.

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Neville had started early that morning, and its not long after that he is accosted by eight men. They fight with Neville, him using his walking stick to brain a few. They eventually overpower him, and it turns out they set out to get him after Jasper raised the alarm.

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Jasper sees the blood on Neville and his stick and starts pointing fingers. Neville retorts that when attacked by eight people he quickly defended himself, pointing to the men in the group that he smacked.

A group of people start checking the banks for Edwin, while Jasper spreads about town his suspicions surrounding Neville.

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Mr. Grewgious comes to see Jasper and tells him that Edwin and Rosa broke off the engagement. They were worried in how Jasper would take it, so Mr. Grewgious was elected to bring the news. Jasper faints.

When he awakes he is joyful, as he now hopes that Edwin took off for fear of upsetting Jasper, and wasn’t murdered. Mr. Grewgious is a little shocked by how quick his demeanor changed and very suspicious.

HMMM

The Rev. walks about the river weir, upon which he pots something shiny. It turns out to be Edwin’s watch, chain, and shirt pin. No doubt about it. Something bad happened to Edwin Drood.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Six months have passed, and because of the mistrust the people had against Neville, he has moved from the town to London. He has an apartment next to Lietenant Tartar, who recently inherited a massive fortune and land. As he has always lived at sea, he is slowly working his way up to bigger and bigger living places, in hopes of one day being fully comfortable in his inherited home. Tartar is the best character on this whole entire book. I just love him.

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A stranger appears in Cloisterham, who has a huge shock of white hair and goes by the name Datchery. We never find out who he is, but I always thought it was one of the characters in disguise, but which one?

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Meanwhile, after waiting six months Jasper decides now is the time to make his move. He tells Rosa that he is madly in love with her. How he has hidden his affections for the love of his nephew.  When that doesn’t work he tries to blackmail her by saying he has evidence that will prove Neville a killer, marry him or else.

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Rosa is confused as why does that affect her. Neville doesn’t like her, and never said anything. Jasper tells her that if Neville suffers, so will his sister and she doesn’t wish to hurt her best friend, does she?

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Rosa takes off. She is so worried, but manages to get down to London to see Mr. Grewgious. She tells him everything along with how Jasper frightens her so.

The Rev. comes to see Mr. Grewgious, as the headmaster was worried as to what happened to Rosa. He is told the while story and also sees Lt. Tartar, who turns out to be an old buddy of his from school. Rosa stays at Lt. Tartar’s house until they can find her other arrangements. As Helena is visiting her brother, she hears Rosa and the two girls are reunited.

They find Rosa a place, of which Miss Twinkleton, one of the Headmistresses, has promised to come and chaperone her. Rosa enjoys Lt. Tartar’s company and in my reading of it, if the book had been finished the two would have married.

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Jasper returns to the opium den. When he leaves, Princess Puffer follows him. Jasper conducts his usual singing, with Princess Puffer watching from behind a column. Datchery speaks to her, and finds out who she is. He then goes home and marks the cupboard door.

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Thoughts after reading:

I didn’t care for this mystery at all. I thought most of the characters were boring or annoying. The mystery seems to point to one conclusion, that Jasper did it, which is no real mystery at all. It just was not what I expected from Charles Dickins.

And I don’t completely blame him as he was ill, and in that state he was having a hard time making things the way he usually did. But yeah, this book was just not that good.

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For more Christmas mysteries, go to Candy Canes of Christmas Past

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Barter

For more reviews, go to Sugar Cookie Murder