This month I read a few books written by good friends, in addition to continuations of series I can’t seem to put down.
Hairballs and Homicide by Ruth J. Hartman
Kitty Beret Cafe Mystery, Book 1
Fellow sweet romance author Ruth J. Hartman is expanding her repertoire with this foray into cozy mystery. As usual with Ruth’s stories, the plot involves a heroine surrounded by cats: in this case, she runs a cafe that doubles as a cat shelter. Ellie supplements the cafe’s income by making and selling cat costumes as well as hosting special events like yoga and knitting classes, and she travels to other events with her charges to find homes for them. The cafe has loyal fans as well as detractors, and the cat-haters come out in full force when one of them is found murdered behind the cafe, shortly after posting a hateful blog about Ellie and her activities. Enter handsome police investigator Simon, who just happens to be a cat lover. Like all good heroes, he’s present whenever Ellie is threatened, which happens so often I’m amazed she wasn’t more concerned for her own safety. In the first half of the story, Ellie’s apartment is broken into and there is hateful graffiti painted on the walls. Simon decides she shouldn’t be alone and the two of them spend the night in the cafe. I couldn’t figure out why they decided that after only one night it would be safe for her to return to her apartment, and I couldn’t find the answer to who did the break-in. But the rest of the questions were answered.
Showdown in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon
Ghost-in-law, Book Three
Helena Henry continues to provide laughs as a crusty ghost who helps to solve mysteries in exchange for food. This time, psychic Raissa Bordeaux is stunned to learn that a young girl who had frequented her shop has been abducted, and the MO matches the cases she investigated during her time as an undercover FBI agent. Her attempts to warn the New Orleans police meet with disdain, except one detective who senses there’s more to the zany woman that meets the eye. The story takes all sorts of twists and turns, involving mobsters, doctors, and politicians, but the action and romance kept me turning the pages. I can’t wait to dive into Book Four!
Resurrection in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon
Ghost-in-Law, Book Four
Maryse (the heroine in Book One) welcomes her cousin Jayden to Mudbug. Jayden St James has been hired as the new game warden. She took the job in the sleepy Louisiana town expecting her position to be filled with minor infractions, but on her first day she’s called to a grisly scene that stuns the sheriff and causes even the coroner to pass out. Soon after that, she’s called to investigate some poachers, but the call turns out to be a ruse for a shooter to make an attempt on her life. Sheriff Colt Bertrand is at first frustrated to be saddled with an inexperienced game warden who looks like a cover model, but soon learns to look past her appearance, and they both learn lessons in trust. I noted a few typos in this book – more than with the others in this series – but the story is so fast-paced and fascinating I’d still recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery.
The Zeppelin Deception by Colleen Gleason
Stoker and Holmes, Book Five
Evaline is engaged to marry Ned Oligary, the younger brother of the wealthiest man in London. She’s quite unhappy about the thought of giving up her life as a vampire hunter, so when Mina is suddenly accused of murder, she springs into action to find out who is framing her friend. Inspector Grayling is also on the job, as other mysterious things happen. Miss Adler, the girls’ mentor, and Dylan, their friend from the future, have both gone missing. And a mysterious zeppelin hovers over the home of the woman both Evaline and Mina suspect of being the mysterious villain known as the Ankh. Once again, the young ladies, along with their various friends, manage to discover the answers to their questions, fighting off vampires as well as other enemies, while learning more about themselves. Though this brings the series to a satisfying conclusion, I’ll miss their banter and cleverness.
Schnoztopia by Noel Cash
Noel is a pen name for a member of one of my local writing groups until she and her husband left for warmer climates, not as snowbirds, but permanently. Her stories are full of quirky characters, in everyday settings. Schnoztopia is set in West Michigan, so even though names are changed, places are familiar for those of us who live here. This time is a fun read, even though it begins with a gruesome murder. Rory, the main character, is “part elf, part human, part anything else” who is blessed with an extraordinary sense of smell, and he’s employed as a human bloodhound at Myth, Inc, home of all things mythical – elves, werewolves, pixies, among others. The mystery takes us through several twists and red herrings, and I spent some time wondering which characters were the good guys and which were bad. Since I don’t read a lot of fantasy, getting to know the characters was a unique experience for me, but one I’m looking forward to continuing, as this is book one of a series.