FROZEN STIFF DRINK by James J. Cudney: A Review

one of the best cozy mysteries I’ve read

Book 6 of the Braxton College Mysteries, written by blogging friend and author J Cudney is a fast-paced, exciting, and cool (pun intended) mystery. It is more than a “cozy;” it has depth, ingenious plot twists and turns, and characters we care about.

I have read Book 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 in the series, and have enjoyed them all. The only reason I haven’t read them all is I have been burned out on mysteries for a while now. Jay has sharpened his funny bone/gift since I last read one of his books. One scene in a cafe where Kellan is asking one of Nana D’s ancient friends if she has seen Nana D (turns out Kellan’s grandmother is missing, and a blizzard approaches the town), and the old lady shouts her answer, propelling her false teeth across the table and a furious dance of Kelllan, the waitress, the old lady begins , all trying to catch the fly ball (or rather teeth). Kellan succeeds in landing the dentures beore they hit the floor, and the whole cafe clientele applauds. It made me chuckle.

But where is Nana D?, and as a body is found, is Nana D a suspect?

A sub plot involving Kellan’s brother and Emma, Kellan’s daughter’s angst round out a delightful mystery. I failed to figure out who dun’ it.

THE HAUNTED BOOKSTORE, A CLASSIC by Christopher Morely: Review

In attempting to read about books, bookstores, libraries, and all things “bookish” between January 2019 and December 2019, I came across a book considered a classic, which fits my definition of a cozy mystery. Just in time for Halloween, Christopher Morely’s The Haunted Bookstore continues the saga of Parnassus on Wheels. It describes the bookstore of Roger Mifflin, proprietor, whose sign in the window welcomes booklovers, but warns, “This shop is haunted.”

The story is set in 1915 Brooklyn, NY. Enter Titania Chapman, enlightened daughter of a business magnate father who asks Mifflin if he will hire his daughter as an assistant. A budding career girl, something new to Mifflin and his wife, Titania is full of “new views” and ways to improve the comfortable old bookstore. Meeting a young ad salesman who tries to get Mifflin to advertise, Titania puts him through the paces and hoops of earning a young girl’s affections. There is mystery; there is romance; there is humor–all told in a charming style of writing that endears these characters and this novel to the reader. “Lively spirits” seem to be the cause of the things that go bump in the night, and the mysterious shadow men who appear are obviously up to no good.

All is revealed and satisfyingly resolved at the end, something modern readers seldom get enough of. I highly recommend this novel.

A COZY MYSTERY, MURDER PAST DUE: A Review

In 2010, Miranda James (pseudonym) wrote a cozy mystery* which became the first in a series. Titled Murder Past Due, this novel featured Charlie Harris, librarian for a small college in Athena, Mississippi. It also features his cat, Diesel (so named because his purr sounds like a diesel engine) who is a Maine Coon that walks on a leash! He is so large, that people’s reaction to him is, “What is that? A cat?”

The character murdered is Godfrey Priest, best-selling author and “a most manipulative jerk.” According to his many acquaintances in Athena, he has always been one since his junior high days. As Charlie tries to solve the mystery on his own, although being warned to “stay out of things” by local police, he finds that “every last one of [his] friends and co-workers had a score to settle with the nasty novelist.” Prime suspects are Charlie’s college-student boarder, Justin Wardlaw and his mother, Julia.   “…[A]s if the murder were not purr-plexing enough,” Godfrey has offered his works, letters, and personal papers to the library’s collection, and Charlie has access to evidence the police need very badly. Will Charlie obstruct justice by tampering with evidence in his search to find clues?

The book is described on the cover as full of “southern charm” and a “great beginning to a promising new series.” It was strictly an escape read, and therein lay its charm. It was an engaging read, fast paced, and kept me turning pages.

 

* A cozy mystery is one where the person killed is done so without graphic descriptions of the deed or the condition of the body when it is discovered, and the victim is someone the reader “loves to hate.” There is almost always a cat, books, and a library, bookstore, or cafe in the story. (my personal definition)

ANOTHER COZY MYSTERY: A Review

A cozy mystery, defined, is: someone gets killed, but it’s a really bad person anyway, and there’s minimum graphic and gore, and is the perfect read to cozy up to on a cold day.  Cozies are pure escape reading, and some of them are quite good–entertaining anyway. I have just finished the third of a mail package sent by my husbands cousin who lives in California.  I can’t wait to tell her that the author lives in Friendswood, Texas, not ten miles away from where I live.  According to a stamp in the front of the book, the cousin purchased it at a used paperback shop in Grover Beach, CA.  Lends a whole new meaning to the phrase, “small world” hmmmmm?”

The Cat, The Quilt, and the Corpse by Leann Sweeney, an award winning mystery writer, is in her “Cats in Trouble Series”. She has a line on the cover which says, “When cats are in trouble, their nine lives come in handy.”  The corpse in question is the lowest of the low, a catnapper! And the quilts?  Quilts made for cats, of course.

Widowed ten months ago, and  having moved to a small (really small) town in South Carolina from Texas, Jillian returns from an overnight quilt show to find her house broken into and one of her three cats (Katrina rescues, pure bloods) missing. How she tracks down her missing cat, discovers the corpse of the catnapper (making her and several prospective cat-loving friends ,suspects) is the gist of this story. Small town characters abound and if Jillian learns nothing else, it’s not to rely on first impressions.

This is an interesting story of making friends, being the outsider and the speculation of much gossip, and the important relationships we can forge with our pet-friends.  It is worth a read.  It is cozy.

TUESDAY TEASER

Ok, PWR members and friends thereof, it’s time for your Tuesday Teaser.  Let us know what you’re currently reading by randomly opening your book and copying two or so lines to tease us into adding your current read into our TBR (To Be Read) List. Be careful not to include any spoilers.   Here’s mine from The Cat, The Quilt, and The Corpse, a cozy mystery by Leann Sweeney from her “Cats in Trouble” series:

Several crates of cats which had been rescued from the dead cat-stealer’s house have just arrived at the cat-quilter’s home for temporary fostering.  “The Siamese  began wailing its head off, and my three [cats] ventured into the foyer to check out the noise.  Merlot (one of her cats) took one look at those crates (full of rescued cats), hissed and hightailed it back to wherever he’d been hiding.  But apparently Syrah (her second cat) wasn’t bothered, and Chablis (her third cat) was too drugged to care about possible unwelcome visitors.”

Who was this derelict dead man who had stolen her precious cat? And more important, who had stabbed him to death?  If only the cat could talk.

 

ANOTHER COZY MYSTERY: A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP by Fran Stewart

I love being in on the first of a series, and this book is the first in “A Scotshop Mystery Series”.  The heroine/amateur sleuth, Peggy, is a protagonist I want to follow through many adventures solving murders.

At first, I kept thinking, when are we going to find a dead body? as Peggy goes on a buying trip to Scotland to purchase authentic scotch tartan kilts, scarves, and ties for her wee shop, the Scotshop, in the states.  Her trip is as much an escape (from  finding her “almost fiancee” in her bed with her best friend) as it is her annually scheduled buying trip.

Staying at the bed and breakfast she always uses, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair, the elderly grandparent-like proprietors who don’t ask nosy questions nor for explanations for her low spirits, the three go on a hike to enjoy the Scottish air and countryside.  This is where Peggy meets Macbeth Donleavy Freusach Finlay Macearachar MacPheidiran of Clan Farquharson, who claims his friends call him “Mock-bey-ath” or at least that’s what it sounds like to Peggy.  He is one brawny, handsome Scotsman; unfortunately he has been dead since the thirteen hundreds.  Only Peggy can see him because she has purchased in a wee shop (which she mysteriously is unable to re-locate) a shawl that belonged to Macbeth’s true love, Peigi.  With the assistance of the author’s creative spellings, one can hear the accents and drawn out syllables which are part of our hero’s charm (who is ONE of the book’s heroes and “love interests”; the other is the investigating Captain  Harper, new to the local police force and very much alive.)

It is when the Scotsman and Peggy return to the States that they finally (page 89!) find the dead body–Mason, Peggy’s ex (in more ways than one, now) boyfriend…in her shop! (Have you ever noticed that in cozy mysteries, the person who ends up dead is always someone you love to hate?)

This mystery is funny, has a cast of characters you care about, and the solution to the murder is totally unpredictable (but not out of “left field”). There are so many funny moments explaining printed books,  why things are called certain words when it doesn’t make any sense at all, automobiles, etc. to Macbeth, whom by now Peggy refers to by a pet name “Dirk” in honor of the  huge dagger he carries in his sock/sheath under his kilt (yes, the innuendo is there–one of many clever, sophisticated ones).

The author is a quirky, original, fluid writer who keeps the reader WANTING to read further, not just to solve the murder, but to enjoy the next little cleverly phrased statement or twist in the plot.

I highly recommend this book and the coming series.