Loose Screw

Loose Screw (Dusty Deals Mystery #1) by Rae Davies

Thoughts Before Reading:

I received this book free in return for an honest review. I love Westerns and mysteries, so when I read the description I was all for it.

Plot Synopsis:

Lucy Mathews was a reporter for the Helena, Montana newspaper, but left because her editor thought she was a “wuss”. Lucy isn’t a coward, she just doesn’t like confrontation.

After leaving the newspaper, Lucy went into the antique business, having a western specialty store Dusty Deals. She leaves alone with her Alaskan Malamute, Kiska.

Recently, famous Helena pioneer Denton’s Deere’s objects have come up for auction. Lucy heads over and manages to score a box of pottery with an antique stoneware item hidden in, and a box of books she can easily resell.

The big ticket item is a Medicine Man outfit, that ends up in a bidding war. It is finally sold to an out-of-town dealer, James Crandall, for $40,000.

The next day, Crandall comes into the shop trying to buy some books on the Deere family. Lucy sells him a book and he is seen later arguing with the other bidders from the auction- a local dealer in Native American objects, Bill; and Andrew and Melaine Malone, out-of-town- dealers who are starting a Native American museum in Washington D.C.

Later that evening, Lucy is heading home with Kiska when she discovers a dead body by the dumpster, and not just any body-James Crandall.

Lucy calls the police and the newspaper (hey, once a reporter always a reporter). And finds herself caught up in the middle of a murder mystery with the Medicine Man suit missing except for a dried weasel.

To further complicate things, her old editor has asked her to come back and write a series of stories on the murder. Lucy finds herself investigating friends and prominent people in the community.

To make things evem harder on her, she has to try to work with Detective Peter Blake. Blake hates Lucy and never aids her in anything, always having made her life as a reporter tough. Things have gotten even more strained as Blake flits between making things hard and making a move on Lucy.

So now Lucy has to balance Dusty Deals, reporting, investigating, a police detective, her dog, a jazz festival, and someone coming after her.

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was a good story. I liked the characters and the concept.

At times I did wish Lucy was a bit more assertive, such as when her editor who is paying her nothing yells at her. I would have told him, heck no, I am not being paid you deal with it.

And it was pretty obvious at times who the villains were.

Otherwise, it was good and fun.

For more antique shop mysteries, go to Larceny and Old Lace

For more mysteries featuring a reporter, go to For Whom the Bluebell Tolls

For more Western mysteries, go to Paper Roses

For more mysteries, go to The Night Sister

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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?.”

200_s

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

The Alchemy of Murder

The Alchemy of Murder

The Alchemy of Murder (Nellie Bly #1) by Carol McCleary

So this is a historical fiction mystery, with the main character being based on the real life reporter Nellie Bly.

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The year is 1889. The place, Paris France;  the capital of Europe. Paris is hosting the World’s Fair, having unveiled the Eiffel Tower, (at the time thought ugly but then became a permanent part of the skyline and one of the biggest tourist destinations.)

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But while people are celebrating man’s accomplishments, a serial killer stalks the area and a plague is striking Parisians by the thousands.

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Nellie Bly is convinced that both the killings and the epidemic are connected. She travels down to Paris to hunt this killer, “The Alchemist” as she calls him.

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Along her search, she enlists the help of Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, and Louis Pasteur.

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Thoughts after Reading:

I bought this book a couple of years ago as the synopsis intrigued me. Historical fiction, mystery, some of my favorite literary writers. I thought it would be like Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder: A Mystery, but this book was horrible.

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I know it is supposed to be in the Victorian era, but having your main character be cold and emotionless isn’t endearing to the reader. It was horrible to get into and boring. I need my character to have character.

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Not only was Nelly bland, but she seemed so out of tune with her time period, not that she was from the future or past, but just as if she didn’t belong.

Not-Good

For me it fell flat.

horrible

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For more historical fiction mysteries, go to The Harlot’s Tale

For more books featuring investigative reporters, go to A Change of Fortune

The Saint Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Yes I don’t usually post on Sundays, but as I just had the perfect book for this holiday I decided that I would post early.

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The Saint Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre (A Hatter’s Cove Gazette #1) by Elisabeth Crabtree

So I got this book off BookBub for free, and as anyone knows who uses the site, it’s kinda hit ot miss. Sometimes the free books you get are fantastic, and others rotters. I really loved this character and the story. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.

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The Review:

Kat Archer is an investigative reporter.

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She was working in Miami at a newspaper, but after ten years began to get nostalgic. She decided to move back to her hometown of Hatter’s Cove, FL.

When she was 16 she interned at the Hatter’s Cove Gazette and had a major crush on one of the reporters, Hayden. Of course, as he was five years older, nothing happened between them.

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When Kat returned, she discovered that Hayden now owns the Gazette, but sadly it is in dire straits. It appears that someone else has opened up a newspaper in the town, and took almost all the reporters that worked ay the Gazette.

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While Kat was luckily able to get a job on the paper right away, she was unluckily given the Lifestyles section instead of the hard-hitting, investigative work she really wants. In the last three months she has covered every dog show, cat stories, bird expos, and reviewing the town’s restaurants.

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Sounds kind if sweet, huh? The cushy restaurant reviewer’s job? Well, Kat hates it. Apparently no one in her town that owns a restaurant can cook, causing her to get food poisoning, stale food, etc.

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The rest of the team is Rosie, sports extraordinaire and sports writer; Beatrice, cantankerous and a grumpity grump that does the crossword puzzle and other stories; and Simon, the new intern.

Today is Valentines Day, and Kat’s old family friend, Miss Dolly, has just switched from catering to opening up her own store: Dolly’s Cookie Jar and Sweets Emporium. She especially asked for Kat, and how can she refuse.

Aw, how cute.

Aw, how cute.

She heads out, taking Simon along with her.

At the opening, Kat and Simon run into Evan, a reporter that jumped from the Gazette to the new newspaper, The Herald. He thinks he is God’s gift to women, and wants to date Kat. She is definitely a no on that.

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Then Benny comes, Simon’s nemesis, and starts taunting him again. This opening is raring to go.

Not-Good

Dolly kicks Benny out as she can’t stand him after he messed up her catering business.

See ya!

See ya!

Dolly opens and the whole town seems to come, including Tiffany Wallace. Tiffany is a convicted killer.

What?

Six years ago on her 18th birthday, she killed her father, and she’s out now because her charge was knocked down from murder to manslaughter. Apparently she killed her father because he didn’t approve of her wanting to marry Benny Yates. He threatened to cut her off. It sucks for her, as she killed her father, she didn’t inherit any of his money.

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Vivian Wallace, Tiffany’s stepmother, is also there. She and Dolly had been in the catering business together, but Vivian made a mess of the fiance and the business closed, along with their friendship. Dolly went on and continued to thrive as she had talent, she also married Rich Fairchild, ex golf pro. Vivian’s business was utterly destroyed, but she managed to bag the wealthiest man in town.

Later that night Kat is planning on spending Valentine’s Day alone; but gets a call about some great information. Kat decides to follow the instructions and meet. When she arrives on the scene she finds Benny’s dead body…

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Right next to a bag of Dolly’s Cookie Jar and Sweets Emporium bag. Later to be revealed as full of poisoned cookies.

Why was Benny calling Kat? What information did he have? And who killed him? Kat is on the case!

gotthis

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Thoughts after reading:

I loved it.

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The mystery was great! I I thought I knew what was coming, but then that twist got right in there and showed me that there was still a bit I did not catch.

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I also really, really want Officer Luke and Kat to get together.

Please!

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For more mysteries featuring investigative reporters, go to the Thorns of Rosewood

For more reviews, go to A Dark and Stormy Knit

Thorns of Rosewood

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Thorns of Rosewood (The Rosewood Series #1) by G. M. Barlean

In the Thorns of Rosewood, by G. M. Barlean, Gloria Larsen is an intelligent and talented reporter, and she’s out to find her birth mother.

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She only knows three things about her mother: she grew up in Rosewood, Nebraska; was over forty when she had her, and gave her up when she was accused of murder in 1974.

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Gloria loves her adopted parents, but has always wondered about what really happened with her family. When Gloria comes across the information that Rosewood is looking for a new editor of their newspaper, she jumps at the chance and heads to the small town, eager to find her “real mom”.

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However it won’t be that easy, as four women were accused of murdering the judge’s wife, Naomi Waterman Talbot. Which one is her mother? Betty? Debbie? Tanya? Josie?

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She’s read numerous reports on the women, but they all seem one-sided and eager to paint the women as villains. But were they? Or were they innocents vilified?

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Gloria is eager to find out.

As she looks into whether the women are alive and where they might be, she discovers that they are all still alive and living in a rest home in Lincoln, Nebraska. One hour away.

fantastic

She journeys out to talk to them.

When she gets there she blows the whole thing. She demands to know their story behind the accusations and gets tossed out.

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A few weeks later Gloria calls the rest home back and apologizes telling them the real reason she wants the story, she wants to know her mother. A week later, she gets a call back inviting her to tea.

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The women agree to give Gloria a full confession, but only if she promises to publish after their deaths.

What?

Gloria isn’t happy, but agrees.

It turns out that the women were all in the same class together with Naomi and their friend Mari. Each woman tells a portion of their story, starting in 1950 when they first met Naomi.

Their friend Mari used to date Doug Talbot, who was the son of the most influential man in town. Naomi came to town with her red hair, curvy body, low cut tight fitting clothes, and promiscuous ways. She was with Doug, got pregnant, and married him netting her spot on the top of the social circle.

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Naomi had multiple run-ins with the girls as she hated that they wouldn’t play by her rules. She was a master manipulator, inviting Debbie to her reception and then getting her thrown in jail for “assault”.

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Naomi is given a position at the bank as Chief Lending Officer even though she knows zip. She also ends up being Tanya’s boss.  Tanya is very intelligent and has worked hard to have a good position, but Naomi makes everyday at work horrifying. She ends up being demoted to teller.

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Josie is a teacher, in fact the one who is instructing Naomi’s child. She notices that Doug Junior is very lonely and having some issues. She believes that Naomi is the root of it all. When she tries to talk to her about it, Naomi almost gets Josie fired.

Hate her that's so raven

The more time that Gloria spends with the women the more she enjoys their company an who they are. She loves them all, but doesn’t know which she would want as a mother. And she can’t help but wonder if they really did kill Naomi.

HMMM

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Thoughts after reading:

This is a very different mystery as instead of having something happen and you try to solve it, we instead get the whole story piece by piece. It is almost more of a regular fiction story than mystery.

And it was a truly compelling read and near impossible to put down.

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You should definitely read it for yourself.

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For more Midwestern mysteries, go to Strawberry Shortcake Murder

For more stand alone mysteries, go to The Missing Mah Jong Player

For more book reviews, go to Grime and Punishment