A Much Expected Murder

“A Much Expected Murder” by Gail Ingram, from Tales of Fatima

Basil Rathbone, yes the Basil Rathbone who played Sherlock Holmes in many movies, is getting ready after a performance when he and his secretary Lavender are warned by a brute of a man with a gun to “leave Mrs. Dawson’s case alone”.

As Rathbone is not involved with any case, he agrees. After the man leaves he receives a phone call from a Mrs. Dawson in need of help.

Hmm…

Rathbone meets with the woman who asks for his assistance as her husband has something bothering him and she can’t tell what it is. Rathbone goes to speak to the man, and discovers that he is convinced that his wife is murdering him. She had a young chemist help her with a poison that was undetectable and killed her first husband, and now she is killing him. But how does he know she murdered her first husband? Why he was the chemist.

The brute returns and attacks Rathbone for reneging his promise. Rathbone then goes to see his detective friend and he discovers that Mrs. Dawsonn never had a first husband. Then what is going on?

Wen they return to the house they discover they are too late, Mr. Dawson is dead.

Hmm…

And then to complicate things, the brute is there at the house! He is the doctor and an old friend of Mrs. Dawson, in fact her old lover.

He tells Rathbbone that Mr. Dawson told him his suspicions about poison and they are pretending he is dead to catch the killer. They made up a story of the first husband as to distract Rathbone. As they are in the house they stumble upon Mr. Dawson. They try to talk to him but he is dead-throat cut.

WHAT!

They call the police and try to figure out who did the deed? Mrs. Dawson for the money? The Doctor for Mrs. Dawson? Mr. Dawson’s crazy sister who constantly speaks of death?

Thoughts After Reading:

Great story. Loved it! And Basil Rathbone amazing!!!

For more short stories, go to The Old Plantation

For more on a husband’s murder, go to Death by Honeymoon

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Death by Darjeeling

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Death by Darjeeling (A Tea Shop Mystery #1) by Laura Childs

Thoughts Before Reading:

I came upon the book Steeped in Evil at the library and decided to check it out. After I had started it, I realized it was part of a series and of course you know what that means. We have to go back and start this mystery series from the beginning.

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Former advertising executive, now owner of a tea shop, Theodosia “Theo” Brown is busy with preparations for the Lamplighter Tour, a walking tour into the best homes and gardens of Charleston.

Theo has two shop employees Drayton Conneley, tea expert, perfect blenderer, and her right hand man; along with Haley, perennial college student, baker, and waitress; and Earl Gray, rescued mutt.

A wrench is thrown in the works when businessman Hughes Barron who is attempting to buy out historical homes and raze them for other means is murdered during the tour.

And not just murdered, poisoned! And Theo’s newly blended lamplighter mix is the vehicle the murderer choose.

Theo finds the investigation honing in on her, only to switch to Haley’s best friend Bethany as she was seen in a heated argument with the deceased, and was the one to serve him tea. Theo sets out to clear Bethany’s name and her tea; finding out that Barron is rife with enemies; from environmentalists to spurned ladies, to crooked business partners, it seems like everyone had a reason to kill him.

And Theo must watch out, she’s just been warned by the killer, back off or else she’s next.

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Thoughts After Reading:

It wasn’t very good.

I hate it

It spent a lot of time developing the characters and their many backstories, but very little time on the actual mystery. And the ending reveal was abominable.

For more mysteries featuring poison, go to The Sign of the Four

For more on tea, go to Aunt Neal’s Old-Fashioned Tea Cakes

For more Southern mysteries, go to Crazy, VA

For more mystery reviews, go to A Case of Identity

The Sign of the Four

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The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

**Contains Spoilers**

So the second book of Sherlock Holmes has us go on as equally an interesting adventure.

We begin the case with a Miss Morstan coming to Sherlock to get assistance with a problem. And immediately Watson finds himself attracted to her.

“In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature. “

Miss Mostan comes on the recommendation of her employer, a Mrs. Cecil Forrester, who Sherlock Holmes helped before. Her father was an officer in an Indian regiment, and sent her to a boarding school in Edinburgh after her mother died. She stayed there until she was seventeen, when her father took 12 months leave and planned to come home. He telegraphed her in London than he was safe and to meet him at the Langham Hotel. When she arrived she couldn’t find him, and the manager told her he was there but left.

Since then no one has seen him since and the police have been unable to discover anything.

Luggage was left at the hotel with nothing missing. Her father had only one friend lived in London, Major Sholto, but he didn’t even know that Captain Morstan had returned to the country. That was December 3rd, 1878, ten years ago.

But then six years ago, on May 4th, 1882; as advertisement appeared in the newspaper asking after a Miss Mary Morton, saying it would be to her advantage to answer.

When she did s small cardboard box came to her containing a large pearl, but no note.

Since then every year on the same day, May 4th, a similar pearl arrives. She took them to an expert and they were pronounced rare and valuable.

But this morning she received something different; a note that troubles her.

London, S.W.

July 7

Be at the third pillar from the left outside the Lyceum Theatre to-night at seven o’clock. If you are distrustful bring two friends. You are a wronged woman and shall have justice. Do not bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your unknown friend.

I wonder…

Sherlock agrees to take the case, planning for Dr. Watson and him to accompany Miss Morstan on her meeting.

Holmes looks at the note, studying it and leaves to find the answer to what pricked his mind.

While he is gone Watson can’t get Miss Morston out of his mind, but tries to move past it, Who could want an ex-army surgeon, with a weak leg, and weaker bank account?

Holmes returns much later than planned with some news. Major Sholto died on April 28, 1882. Within a week of his death a pearl arrives for Miss Morston and follows every year? A letter talks about a wrong that has happened to her. What other than her father’s disappearance could be the wrong? And why presents, unless Sholto’s heir knows something about the whole thing.

Miss Morston comes in the carriage, and they start away. She can’t believe Major Sholto would do anything, as he was her father’s best friend. However, she has a new clue to throw in the mix. A piece of paper found with his belongings that no one could quite figure out what it was. She gives it to Sherlock.

Sherlock examines it and  sees that it is from India, part of a blueprint for a large building, with a + and “3.37 from left” written in red ink. In the left hand corner, a symbol that looks like four crosses in a line with the following

++++ The sign of the four- Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, Dost Akbar.

I wonder…

Sherlock can’t see how it relates now, but asks Mary to hold onto it.

They head to Lyceum Theater where the crowds are thick. Before they even reached the destination point, they are approached  by a coachman. They are invited into a coach and travel to an unknown location, a house that appears to be the only one on the block that is occupied. They are met by an Indian servant, who lets them know that the sahib is waiting.

The sahib is Mr. Thaddeus Sholto, Major Sholto’s son. The house on the outside may look worn and neglected, but in this room are riches. After they introduce themselves Thaddeus asks Watson to examine his heart, as he worries about it.

He reveals that Miss Morston father is dead, that he died of a heart attack. (But then why wasn’t the body found?)

He wants them to help settle this matter, to be a united front against his brother Bartholomew. He then tells his story. Major John Sholto was a part of the Indian army but retired 11 years ago and moved to Pondicherry Lodge in Norwood. Thaddeus and Bartholomew lived in luxury with many Indian servants. However all was not happy. Their father was afraid to go out alone and hired ex-prize fighters as body guards. He avoided men with wooden legs, and shot at one once; who was later revealed to be a harmless tradesman. In 1882 he received a shocking letter, that nearly caused him to faint. He suffered previous medical conditions and by April was reaching the end.

Major Sholto then shared his guilt at never helping Miss Morston and asks his boys to give Mary her share of the Agra treasure, but not until he died. Morston and Sholto had come into a large treasure and brought it over from India to England.  When Morston came from India he meet with Sholto and wanted his share of the treasure. Sholto and him argued about what was fair, with Morston becoming angry and his weak heart gave out, making him fall, crack his head, and die. Major Sholto then told his son to make sure that Mary received the father’s share and that the treasure was hidden…

After asking them to promise that, Major Sholto started to yell and scream “keep him out”. The two brothers turn to look and see a bearded man with a wooden leg. They try to get him, but he escapes. The next morning the whole house was searched and one message left behind.

The sign of the four

Their father died and then the two brothers dug everywhere searching for the treasure. Bartholomew didn’t want to part with the pearls, but Thaddeus sent them as they was his father’s last wish. The two argued and Thaddeus left to set up his own home. Yesterday, Thaddeus received word that the treasure was  found, and valued at half a million.

The group sets out to talk with Bartholomew, Watson a little saddened ay he state of affairs as to how could a millionairess ever want him?

When the reach Pondicherry, they find a strange state of affairs. The servants will let Thaddeus in but no others. To make things even stranger, Bartholomew hasn’t been out of his room all day.  And even though he is in there and expecting them, there is no light in the window. Strange.

Thaddeus goes in while the rest wait outside. Mary is frightened and grabs Watson’s hand.

Inner squeal!

They don’t wait long before Thaddeus comes running back out. He knows something is wrong but not what, they all rush indoors and up the stairs to his room.

He and Watson break down the door and see Bartholomew with a hideous smile fixed upon his face. Bartholomew is dead.

Above him there was an opening large enough for a person to pass through. A piece of rope on the ground and a brown, close-grained stick, with a stone head like a hammer. Beside it a note

The sign of the four

By his ear was a long dark thorn stuck into the skin. A poisoned one according to Sherlock. Watson grows grim at them ever figuring things out.

“On the contrary,’ [Sherlock Holmes] answered, ‘it clears every instant. I only require a few missing links to have an entirely connected case.”

Meanwhile, Thaddeus has discovered that the treasure is gone. Yesterday they lowered it into the room through the ceiling and locked it up at ten last night. What happened since then? Holmes sends Thaddeus  to tell the police of the death and assures him he will figure this out.

Holmes deduces it was the one-legged man aided by another, a sailor; and they dropped one of them in through the hole in the ceiling.

The police arrive and suspect Thaddeus of killing his brother, just what Thaddeus feared. Sherlock urges the police to follow his lead. The first man was a Jonathan Small (one of the original four). He’s small, poorly educated,  with a wooden leg. The other, too little info yet to determine who he is.

Watson takes Mary home and then heads to a home near the water’s edge to pick up Toby, a dog with the best nose for hunting down criminals.

When he returns he discovers that not only has Thaddeus been arrested, but the gatekeeper, housekeeper, and Indian servant.

The two examine the house closer, seeing the path that the one-legged man took. They also find his thorns dropped in his hurry to leave. They then set Toby upon it and head out after him.

Watson is still mystified as to what happened but Sherlock sets him right. Two officers were in command of convicts and learned an important secret about where the treasure was buried. Jonathan Small drew a map, putting his name and his associates in the corner. The officers took the treasure, one bringing it over from India. Jonathan Small couldn’t get it himself as he was a convict and in jail. What had upset Major Sholto, was that he had received a frightening letter, a letter about Small’s escape. He then tries to protect himself from the one-legged man. Small tried to get the treasure, but his presence interrupted Shlolto from revealing it to the sons. He searched the whole house but found nothing.

Smalls kept watch and when the brothers finally found the treasure he and his associate broke in and killed Bartholomew, escaping with the treasure. Toby takes Watson and Sherlock down to a wharf, where they discover that the one-legged man and his associate have gone in the water.

The two head home while Holmes employs his street urchins to root out some info. He does figure out more about the assistant. He turns out to be a cannibal from the island Andamand.

Watson heads over to Mary to give her an update and stays for most of the day. When he  returns home nothing has come to pass.  That night Sherlock dresses up as a sailor and heads out to the river to try and find some answers.

It was a long day with no answers as Watson waits for Holmes’ return. Athelney Jones, the inspector joins them and soon an old man arrives, but it turns out to be Holmes himself.

That night they head out to the ship Aurora and capture Smalls. He reveals all that Sherlock Holmes surmised is true, even Tonga, the islander, having killed Bartholomew.

Watson brings the box to Mary and tells her of the good news, The two break it open but find it empty.

Where is the treasure?!

But this gives Watson the courage to tell Mary how he feels. And she responds the same.

Yay!

They return to Smalls but he won’t reveal a thing about where the treasure is, other than he has hid it where none shall find it. They never discover its whereabouts, Smalls goes off to jail, and another case closed for Sherlock.

It ends with Watson sharing how he is engaged to Mary, soon to be married. So ends this story, but many more are right around the corner.

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. I thoughts it had great action, drama, mystery, everything you could want.

I highly recommend it for any Sherlock fan.

And I’m pretty sure that this story is what The Great Mouse Detective writers took a lot from when creating their story. The peg-leg, dressing up as a sailor, Toby, missing father, etc.And I love that film so it definitely already set the foundation for how much I would enjoy this.

But whether you are  Sherlock or Basil fan, you should definitely take a look over this book. It was fantastic.

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to A Study in Scarlet

For more classic mystery novels, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more mysteries with a treasure hunt, go to Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

For more mysteries revolving around a disappearance, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more mysteries involving poisonings, go to Catering to Nobody

Catering to Nobody

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Catering to Nobody (Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery #1) by Diane Mott Davidson

So I was first introduced to this mystery series when I scored a free copy of Chopping Spree. One day I was going to eat dinner alone when I realized I forgot the book I had been reading. I searched my car for something to read when I came upon Chopping Spree. I started reading it and became hooked! I then decided it was time to start at the beginning.

So this book takes place on Halloween, making it perfect to review in October.

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Plot Synopsis:

Goldy has had a hard time of it lately.

BigBangTheoryMyliferightnow

After she and her abusive/cheating husband divorced; she discovered that even though he makes plenty of money he still hates parting with it. Instead of relying on his childcare payments (most of which never come) Goldy started her own catering business.

cookingfood

It hasn’t been easy, but Goldy has been working hard making a name for herself in Aspen, Colorado.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

However, things have gotten grimmer as her son Arch’s favorite teacher just committed suicide. And Goldy is the one in charge of catering the wake.

Aw...

Aw…

But she does have some good in her life. Pomeroy, is a good friend, and her honey supplier. And she has her best friend Marla, one of her husband’s, John Richard’s, previous wives.

friend

She’s supposed to have an assistant, who gets a free room for helping cook, but the girl, Patty Sue isn’t very smart and can’t do anything without making a mess or destroying what she is doing.

2013-11-27-bradpitt friends ugh slap face stupid

All Patty seems to do is see Goldy’s ex-father-in-law, Dr. Fritz. Supposedly she suffers from some severe medical problem and Fritz is the only one who can treat him. His wife, Goldy’s ex-mother-in-law asked if she would be willing to assist Patty. And Goldy being incredibly kind, agreed.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

So Goldie works hard catering, her business subsidized by cleaning homes, and trying to do a great job with her horrible ex-husband and family there.

From my sister blog janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com

Except she drinks espresso.

But then something happens that destroys everything. Her father-in-law drinks poisoned coffee at one of her events!

AAAAHHHHH

Because of that her catering business is shut down.

luke-noooo-o

But Goldie won’t let that go without a fight. She sets out to prove she wasn’t the one poisoning Fritz.

don'tneedsleepneedanswers

Along the way, she starts to come across some information that makes her question whether the teacher, Laura, actually committed suicide or if she was murdered.

Murder

To further heat this up, Officer Tom Shultz has taken an interest in Goldie and hopes to cook up some romance.

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it.

loveitSupernatural

I thought the characters were great and enjoyable.

ilikeyou

The mystery wonderful.

oooh 101 Dalmations

And I can’t wait to read the next one.

ReadTimeandPlaceforBooksMyhandnow

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For more caterers who start investigating a murder, go to Cherry Cheesecake Murder

For more suicides as covers for murder, go to Cookie Dough or Die

For more poisonings, go to The Postman Always Purls Twice

For more mystery reviews, go to The Girl on the Train

Cookie Dough or Die

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Cookie Dough or Die (Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #1) by Virginia Lowell

After Olivia Greyson’s divorce to a renowned surgeon, she moved home to Chatterley Heights, Maryland. While she was trying to figure out what to do next with her life Olivia was befriended by Clarisse Chamberlain, entrepreneur and businesswoman, who encourages her to buy the historic Gingerbread House and follow her dream to open a cookie shop.

cookies

Since then she and her best friend Maddie have been running the shop together. Olivia runs the numbers and planning; while Maddie is the creative one who is in charge of the baking and making fantastical creations.

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Olivia is catching up on her beauty rest when she hears something downstairs. It’s not a robber, but Maddie coming over to create something fun and wonderful for Spring. After her, the hunky Sheriff Del comes with a a sad message for Olivia; Clarisse was found dead, and it looks like suicide.

luke-noooo-o

Olivia knows that Clarisse would never kill herself and sets off to discover who murdered her.

KeepCalmSleuthOn

The suspect list is long and complicated. There are her two dueling sons; Hugh and Edward; that have always wanted to inherit the full power of the business. Could they have killed her for the inheritance? Before one was written out of the will?

HMMM

Tammy, Olivia’s old best friend from elementary school, also has a strong motive. She has been in love with Hugh for as long as she can remember. They dated at one time, but Hugh was distracted by another, Jasmine, and Clarisse was set against Tammy from that day on. Even when Jasmine left the picture, Clarisse hated any girl that wanted Hugh. Could Tammy have killed Clarisse in order to marry Hugh?

Very fishy

Hmmmmmm?

And what of Jasmine who just mysteriously disappeared? Is she somehow involved with this?

I wonder...

I wonder…

When a local postman hints that he knew Clarisse received some information from a private detective; he ends up on the hit list.

coincidenceithinknot

It turns out he was poisoned by one of Olivia and Maddie’s cookies.

You know what that means...something is about to happen

Now it is clear that they are the next target. Can Olivia solve the murder before she is killed too?

Uh-oh-dexter-9352138-275-155

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t really care for this book. I was a bit disappointed too, as I waited three months for the book to come in from a sister library to read but it wasn’t as good.

IDon'tlikeit

The mystery itself was good, but the way it was carried out was seriously lacking.

Not-Good

The story was okay except there is a lot of information about the characters that we aren’t given which make it a bit confusing. For a first book, it is best to not confuse the reader.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

I didn’t like the mom character as  felt she was far too cliché and boring.

A character like this again?!

A character like this again?!

The end wasn’t all that good either. The mystery was intriguing, but the resolution was too quickly wrapped up. It was very murky mysterious, and then all of a sudden crystal clear. I felt they need more leeway time, steps leading it up to the resolution.

seriously

It was also weird to have a mystery book that features dogs instead of cats. I’m not against dogs or anything, I like them too. But cats and mysteries just seem to go hand in hand. Having a mystery book without one and a dog instead is just so unusual. After all, cats are just so amazing.

loveofacat

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For more mysteries involving a cookie shop, go to Cream Puff Murder

For more Southern mysteries, go to Bloom and Doom

For more suicides as a cover for murder, go to Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

For more death by poison food, go to A Pinch of Poison 

For more Charles Dickens quotes, go to Gorgonzola Cream Cheese Log

For more mystery reviews, go to Sleeping Beauty

The Postman Always Purls Twice

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

Thoughts Before Reading:

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

Interesting

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

What?

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

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Plot Synopsis:

A movie crew has descended upon Plum Harbor.

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

thenannygasp

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

wow

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

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

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

Blog-Child-Support-Oh-No

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

creepyew

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

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

Very fishy

Very fishy

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

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

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

gotthis

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

twinpeaks

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

HMMM

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Thoughts After Reading:

So I did not like this book.

IDon'tlikeit

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

horrible

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

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

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

The story was kind of boring.

NO emotion = BORING!

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

Unlike the other books there was no buildup or development.

Really Anne?

Really Anne?

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

Please!

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

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

For more on poisoning, go to A Pinch of Poison

For more Nostalgia Critic, go to A Stitch Before Dying

 

A Pinch of Poison

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A Pinch of Poison (A Hemlock Falls Mystery #3) by Claudia Bishop

So we haven’t talked about the Quilliam sisters since I started the blog, so let me do a quick review.

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In the first book, A Taste for Murder, we are introduced to the Quilliam sisters. Sarah “Quill” Quilliam is an artist in New York City, known as the next Georgia O’Keefe. She is starting to hit the big time, when she is stalled and has a block on what to paint next. Her younger sister, Meg, is an amazing chef who is also living in NYC. Around the time that Quill starts having trouble with her paintings, Meg’s husband is killed in an automobile accident. Both women need a change of scene and travel up north to rural New York. While visiting the cute, country town; the two discover a historic inn for sale. They decide to buy it, run it, and take on this new path of life. But things are far from ideal, as the sisters find themselves having to battle unruly guests, deal with the town’s Historic Days festival, and complexities of trying to fit in in a small town. To make matters worse: someone is sabotaging the inn, a murder occurs, Quill’s friend flees and is accused, Meg is poisoned, and much more.

wow

Now in book two, A Dash of Death. the sisters have cemented themselves a bit more into country life. Both have recovered from near misses in their last adventure, and are looking forward to the future. Unfortunately, the inn has not quite recovered as they are in need of a boost in guests and money. The group thinks they have found their salvation in TV sensation Helena Houndswood, star and creator of the show, It’s a Beautiful Life. Sadly for them, she turns out to have a major ego and becomes a huge headache for all parties. She comes to present the prize to the winner of the contest she ran, only to discover that instead of one winner, there are five. All are blue-collar women and workers at the local paint factory. And all five are nowhere near what Helena views as classy. In fact she would rather they decline and remain anonymous than set foot on being her show. When the winners start disappearing and having “accidental” deaths, Quill starts investigating as to who could be behind it all. Is it the jealous and abusive husband of one of the women? Could one of the women be getting rid of the others in order to increase her share? Could Helena be getting rid of them so they won’t “taint” her “beautiful” show? Or is someone else behind all this? Quill starts searching for the truth, but finds herself joining the ranks of the hunted.

thenannygasp

So now for A Pinch of Poison.

pinchofpoison

Hedrick Conway has just moved to Hemlock Falls and has really started “something.”

ohnoyoudidn't

He and his family bought the newspaper in which Conway turned into a yellow tabloid, full of half truths, rumors, and what Conway feels is “news”.

Not-Good

Conway starts looking into the local mini mall that is about to sprout, the same one that the Quillam sisters and their employees sunk a bunch of their capital in.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

As Hedrick starts investigating both his sister and mother end up dead.

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

Who would want to kill them?

Very fishy

Once again the Quilliam sisters are on the case.

veronicamarsinvestigatesleuth

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I was very disappointed in this book.

IDon'tlikeit

It started out promising but became very boring.

NO emotion = BORING!

I mean there is a whole chapter on sewage!

What?

Who wants to read about that?

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I also didn’t like that the characters seemed to not learn from their past investigations and they made the same mistakes again.

seriously

I say two out of five stars.

horrible

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For more Hemlock Falls Mysteries, go to A Dash of Death

For more books on tabloids, go to The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars

For more mystery reviews, go to Cream Puff Murder

The Emperor’s Edge

Emperor'sEdge

The Emperor’s Edge (The Emperor’s Edge #1) by Lindsay Buroker

So this mystery is a little different as it is a fantasy novel. Yep, it has wizards, mystical creatures, and magic.

I-Love-Magic

Sword fights, questing, overcoming obstacles!

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Plus a mystery to boot? What more could you want?

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Anyways so the book begins with our heroine, Amaranthe Lokdon. Amaranthe is a female police officer, which is highly unusual. The empire had just recently allowed women into those positions, but unfortunately for Amaranthe they aren’t promoting them any time soon.

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Just because she’s a woman they won’t let her move on, but her slovenly and always late partner gets bumped up.

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Anyways, Amaranthe is an amazing police woman. She may be small, but manages to hold her own against criminals; whether it is with her blade or subduing them by knocking a shelf of coffee canisters on them.

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One night Amaranthe notices a lot of smoke, which means fire. Her partner wants to just hang out and leave what isn’t their beat alone, but with Amaranthe’s urging they head down to the area. There they spot a merchant being robbed, of which Amaranthe single-handedly is able to stop.

It’s only after she has gotten everything sorted out that she realizes the emperor is there.

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It turns out he was in the area for an inspection of the troops, but took refuge in the shop because of the fire. The young emperor, a boy still really, thanks the police, most ardently Amaranthe.

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He has to continue on his way, while Amaranthe and her partner head over to the place of the fire. The area held a large kiln, the whole building was set on fire with people inside it. Amaranthe finds this strange as the bodies were outside the kiln instead of placed inside, which would make more sense for destroying bodies. In fact, Amaranthe finds the whole thing suspicious.

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Her partner believes that the killer was the assassin, Sicarius. Sicarius was almost a legend with the vast numbers of people he has killed. Except for the fact that he is very real, and currently in town.

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But while everyone is eager to believe that is true, that it is Sicarius’ work, Amaranthe finds it hard to believe. Why would a trained assassin choose that way to murder people? It doesn’t seem right.

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She also finds a lot of strange broken pieces of pottery.

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But before she can investigate further, she is sent on her way as the detective team comes in.

When she gets back to headquarters she finds out that the Commander of the Armies, Hollowcrest wants to see her. He is the highest ranking official in the empire, the man in charge until the Prince is old enough to be King. This is a BIG deal.

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She goes to see him and finds out that he has read everything in her file, and most likely knows more about her life than she does. She was attending the women’s business school, but didn’t finish as her father became sick and died. She didn’t have enough to continue her final year, so instead lied about her age and joined the police force.

After Hollowcrest’s sneering at her decisions, Amaranthe tells him that she wanted more than to make money, she wants to serve the empire. In fact her dream is to become the first female chief.

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Hollowcrest offers her an assignment, that if completed would grant her the promotion she desires.

Only one problem. She has to kill Sicarius.

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Yes the famed assassin. The assassin who has killed over 300 soldiers, over 200 police officers, half a dozen patriarchs from the warrior caste, etc…the list goes on and on.

And Amaranthe has to kill him.

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In fact, Hollowcrest wants Amaranthe to seduce Sicarius and kill him.

Now there are several problems with this. 1) HE’S AN ASSASSIN! I’m sure he has been trained to ignore the wiles of women. I mean come on, that’s the stupidest way I have ever heard someone suggest to take down an assassin!

2) Amaranthe doesn’t flirt. Amaranthe is always too busy and too much of a no-nonsense girl to do that. But what else can she do? Orders are orders.

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As she is heading out and contemplating what craphole her life has just been thrown into, who does she run in to but the emperor.

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The emperor is ecstatic to see her and asks her a ton of questions about what’s she’s up to. Amaranthe tells him that she was just placed on a mission, when she is interrupted by him. The emperor gives her a bracelet for luck and then shows her his designs and plans to include art and science wings at the university. He babbles on for a while and then asks more about her mission. Before Amaranthe call say anything else, the two are interrupted by Hollowcrest.

Hollowcrest sends the emperor on his way, as they have plenty of work, and then remarks to a guard to make sure the emperor receives his “tea” as he is too “perky”.

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Emperor Sespian returns to his rooms and spends a few minutes discussing his behavior with Amaranthe with his cat. He feels a bit foolish, but you know crushes can do that to people. His ramblings are interrupted by the coming of his daily cup of tea, the only thing stopping his intense headaches and seeming to keep him alive.

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Or is it?

Back with Amaranthe, she has decided to approach one of her acquaintances from school, Misty Masters. Now Misty was the leader of the gang Panthers, owns a very prosperous casino, and had underworld contacts. Amaranthe concocts a story about having a dark, illegal business and needing protection to smuggle goods. She asks Mitsy to pass along a message to Sicarius for her, requesting him as an employee. Mitsy agrees, for the price of a favor.

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That night Amaranthe heads to the meeting spot, where Amaranthe is supposed to offer employment, but in reality murder the assassin.

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He arrives as silent as a cat, with Amaranthe being scared witless. She tells him her concocted story, but Sicarius immediately knows she is lying. Sicarius then takes off. Before Sicarius is gone, she notices the mud on his boots is the same distinctive mud from the area where the fire was. Amaranthe decides that must be where he is staying and heads out there.

Amaranthe goes to the area and starts searching for Sicarius, all the while debating the issue of murdering him in her head. On one hand the emperor has a huge bounty on Sicarius’ head and has killed a lot of people. But on the other hand, he knew she was lying and let her live. Maybe he isn’t all bad? Kill him and be a murderer? Or kill him and have gained a position she rightfully earned?

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As she is setting up a crossbow and lying in wait to kill him, somebody grabs her neck from behind. Sicarius. Amaranthe knows there is nothing she can do, but still raises her arms to protect her. But to her surprise Sicarius stops.

What?

He dumps her on the ground and questions her instead. He grills her as to who sent her and why, asking what she did to anger Hollowcrest.

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What? Why would you ask me that,? Amaranthe asks only for Sicarius to tell her how easily he could have killed her a long time ago. Amaranthe asks him why he stopped, but Sicaris refuses to answer. Amaranthe runs through what could have happened to change his mind, remembering that he stopped when she put her arm up. The arm connected to the wrist that is wearing the emperor’s bracelet.

But the emperor? Doesn’t the emperor hate him? Doesn’t Sicarius want to assassinate the emperor?

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Amaranthe asks Sicarius but he tells her he has no intention of killing the emperor. She asks him how he found her and he tells her he has been following her after their previous encounter.

Sicarius is going to leave but Amaranthe stops him. Amaranthe finds the whole exchange the night before odd, especially the remarks about tea. Could it be used to dull the mind? Poison him? Make him more easily controlled? She shares her fears with Sicarius, and her hopes to investigate. Sicarius tells her that her days are numbered. Hollowcrest wants her dead if he sent her to see him, and its only a matter of time until he murders her some other way.

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Amaranthe then does the only thing she can. She asks Sicarius for help. Sicarius pulls out his famous black dagger and hands it to her. He tells her it will be the only way she’ll get in as Hollowcrest will be surprised she accomplished her mission. He warns her that she will most likely not make it back out, but the best thing to do is find the secret passages in the dungeons that will lead her out.

Amaranthe goes to see Hollowcrest, and under much scruntity by his guards is able to make it in. While Amaranthe is waiting for Hollowcrest to join her in his office, she decides to do a little straightening as her OCD is kicking in. While fixing a book she discovers a note:

Hollowcrest, you said the emperor was under your control. Your puppet has’t made any of the changes we-

But the sound of footsteps stopping Amaranthe from reading anymore.

Hollowcrest asks her for details, but Amaranthe counters with questions of her own, as why he would send her. When he refuses to answer, Amaranthe tells him the truth, that Sicarius agreed to hand over the knife.

Hollowcrest is furious that she seduced him too. The “too” bothering Amaranthe as she has no clue what he is talking about. Apparently the emperor was smitten with her, and Hollowcrest couldn’t allow Amaranthe to have a crack at the throne.

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Amaranthe denies it and tries to get Hollowcrest to understand how insane he sounds, but Hollowcrest continues, even going as far and yelling at how unfair it is that this boy is ruling instead of him.

They are both interrupted by the emperor, Hollowcrest yelling treason and trying to have Amaranthe murdered. Amaranthe jumps out the window trying to escape.

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Unfortunately, Hollowcrest’s men find her and throw her in the dungeon, telling the prince she died in the fall. There Amaranthe discovers that Hollowcrest has ordered that all prisoners be experimented on in order to find better vaccinations to combat diseases. The guards infect her with deadly venom and leave her in her cell. Amaranthe decides to finish the note she nicked earlier from Hollowcrest’s office.

Hollowcrest, you said the emperor was under your control. Your puppet has’t made any of the changes we discussed, primarily to exempt key businesses from taxes in order to foster growth. Forge also demands a voice in the government. The empire is a defunct warrior aristocracy out of touch with the modern world. Your recalcitrance forces us to make threats. If the emperor does not pass the laws we have requested, he will be eliminated during his birthday celebration. The people will not accept you as a ruler. Since Sespian is the only Savarsin left who claims royal blood through both paternal and maternal lines, he is the only legitimate heir. His death will create civil war, giving us the opportunity to back a more amenable project. How do we go forward? The choice is yours. -Forge

Amaranthe knows she must escape and warn Sicarius or else the emperor will die. She can’t get out of her cell, but she does manage to reach the cabinet with the deadly insects, releasing them when the guards return.

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After a very long process and her infection making her delirious, she is able to get out of the dungeon, via the hidden passages, and find her way to the meeting spot. Then the world goes black.

Amaranthe wakes up and discovers Sicarius. Apparently he couldn’t understand her so he brought her to shaman to heal her, and then a warehouse. Amaranthe is astounded he found a magical healer, as it is illegal to deal with magic in the empire. Amaranthe tells Sicarius everything, along with the fact that she has a plan.

Amaranthe has decided the best way to go, in rooting out the emperor’s enemies, is create counterfeit money. With that influx in the market, Forge’s fortunes would become meaningless and Hollowcrest will have to deal with panicked citizens. It was the best way to get both parties to meet with her.

Amaranthe, to Sicarius’ doubt, sets off to gather a team. She first recruits “Books”, an ex professor and currently an alcoholic, whose son was killed by Hollowcrest. She only went to him for advice, but is able to win him over for help.

When running away from enforcers, as she now is a fugitive with a price on her head, she ducks into the nearest shop, it being one for procuring male escorts.

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While waiting them out, she spots a very handsome man, Maldynado, and comes up with the idea that by having him, he’ll be able to get the supplies needed for free. She strikes a deal with him that if her man bests him in a duel, he’ll have to give her two weeks of free service. He agrees, and with Sicarius’ win they have a new recruit.

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Later she spots a boy reciving a public flogging for having been practicing magic. She offers him Sicarius’ protection for his employment.

With the crew in place Amaranthe sets off to put her plan into motion, but there is still so much she doesn’t know. Can she trust all these men? Will she be able to save the emperor? Will she ever find out Sicarius backstory? What is his connection to Sespian? And many more.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I got this book on BookBub for free and wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but when I read it I LOVED it!!

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The characters were great and the dialogue hilarious. It was a like a magical Oceans 11 or something. I say you should check it out.

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For more book reviews, go to Knit, Purl, Die.

A Dash of Death

Dash of Death

Dash of Death (A Hemlock Falls Mystery #2) by Claudia Bishop

The is the second book in the Hemlock Falls Mysteries. In the first book, A Taste for Murder, we are introduced to the Quilliam sisters. Sarah “Quill” Quilliam is an artist in New York City, known as the next Georgia O’Keefe. She is starting to hit the big time, when she is stalled and has a block on what to paint next. Her younger sister, Meg, is an amazing chef also living in NYC. Around the time that Quill starts having trouble with her paintings, Meg’s husband is killed in an automobile accident.

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Both women need a change of scene and travel up north to rural New York. While visiting the cute, country town; the two discover a historic inn for sale. They decide to buy it, run it, and take on this new path of life.

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In the first book, the sisters find themselves having to battle unruly guests, deal with the town’s Historic Days festival, and complexities of trying to fit in in a small town. To make matters worse: someone is sabotaging the inn, a murder occurs, Quill’s friend flees and is accused, Meg is poisoned, and much more.

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Now in book two, A Dash of Death. the sisters have cemented themselves a bit more into country life. Both have recovered from near misses in their last adventure, and are looking forward to the future. Unfortunately, the inn has not quite recovered as they are in need of a boost in guests and money. The group thinks they have found their salvation in TV sensation Helena Houndswood, star and creator of the show, It’s a Beautiful Life. Sadly for them, she turns out to have a major ego and becomes a huge headache for all parties.

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But she is good for business. Her show has just run a million dollar prize competition, a china plate design, of which the winner is from Hemlock Falls. She decides to hold the whole show at the Quilliam’s inn. When news of this spreads, business starts booming for the sisters with all kinds of calls coming in.

But all is not rosy. It turns out that instead of one winner, there are five. All are blue-collar women and workers at the local paint factory. And all five are nowhere near what Helena views as classy. In fact she would rather they decline and remain anonymous than set foot on being her show.

When the winners start disappearing and having “accidental” deaths, Quill starts investigating as to who could be behind it all. Is it the jealous and abusive husband of one of the women? Could one of the women be getting rid of the others in order to increase her share? Could Helena be getting rid of them so they won’t “taint” her “beautiful” show? Or is someone else behind all this?

Quill starts searching for the truth, but finds herself joining the ranks of the hunted.

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So I really enjoyed this book. It is better than the original as that one moved a tad slow, (it had more introductions to the characters and such). This one is the complete opposite as it is constantly moving, with ever-occuring action. It is an amazing mystery with so many twists and turns that you find it impossible to put down, the need to know the answer consuming you. And the end result it worth every bit. I highly encourage any mystery lover to check this out!!!

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For more Hemlock Falls, go to A Taste for Murder

A Taste for Murder

A taste for murder

A Taste for Murder (A Hemlock Falls Mystery #1) by Claudia Bishop

We are introduced to the Quilliam sisters: Sarah “Quill” Quilliam is an artist in New York City, known as the next Georgia O’Keefe. She is starting to hit the big time, when she is stalled and has a block on what to paint next. Her younger sister, Meg, is an amazing chef also living in NYC. Around the time that Quill starts having trouble with her paintings, Meg’s husband is killed in an automobile accident.

thenannygasp

Both women need a change of scene and travel up north to rural New York. While visiting the cute, country town; the two discover a historic inn for sale. They decide to buy it, run it, and take on this new path in life.

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In the first book, to town is getting ready for it’s Historic Days. Quill and Meg already have enough trouble trying to fit in a town where everyone knows each other practically from the womb, and now are trying to work with and around the committee members.

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They also discover they have quite a lot of unruly guests, including an older woman and her companion, whom trouble just seems to follow.

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A local businessowner is murdered, followed by the companion participating in an Historic Days event.

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It’s up to Quill to investigate!

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To make things worse, someone is trying to sabotage the inn by canceling reservations, poisoning food, etc.

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Quill’s friend flees and is accused

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And much more.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

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Thoughts after reading:

Well I really enjoyed this book. At first I found it a bit hard to get through as the author’s style is old-fashioned and a bit flowery. But it surprised me midway with a few twists and an unexpected villain.

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For more on Hemlock Falls, go to A Dash of Death