Reading Challenge 2021, Part Four

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This month, I managed to read four mysteries, plus a non-fiction work. Three of these were print books, to give my eyes a rest, and to make progress through my never-ending TBR pile.

Murder on the Dance Floor by Helena Dixon
Miss Underhay Mystery, Book Four

This installment of Kitty Underhay’s adventures was, as the advertisement says, “completely gripping.” Kitty has been sent to represent the Dolphin Hotel at a formal dinner and dance of area hoteliers, accompanied by Matthew. Just after the dancing begins, one of the diners at their table suddenly collapses and dies. Of course, Inspector Greville is on the job, and Kitty and Matthew can’t resist lending a hand.

Matt and Kitty’s relationship has now progressed to the point where he visits his wife’s grave to tell her about his feelings for Kitty, and admitting that he’s ready to love again. Also, one of the story arcs through the series, the mystery of what happened to Kitty’s mother, is partially solved. 

When I read books by British authors, I’m always learning more about nuances between our languages. To an American, a sachet is a fabric pouch filled with potpourri. So when Mr. Davenport takes a sachet from his wife, empties the contents into his water and drinks it, I’m not at all surprised when he dies. But what the author calls a sachet is simply a small bag or pouch containing a small amount of something, such as a single dose of medication.

A Literary Scandal by Libby Howard
A Locust Point Mystery, Book 5

I purchased a paperback copy of this book from my writing group’s book sale. 

Kay Carerra is a widow who works as a skip tracer for a PI, and apparently she sees and communicates with ghosts. She’s also involved with the local women’s society and their guest speaker series has arranged for best-selling author Luanne Trainor to come to town. Kay is assigned the task of carting the guest speaker from the airport to her small-town bed and breakfast, and she quickly discovers the celebrity has a nasty personality. When the author is found dead just after the main event, it appears that she fell while walking on her too-high heels, but there are too many inconsistencies, and Kay uncovers them with the help of a ghost – apparently the victim in Book 4. It’s a cute cozy mystery, and if I come across any more in the series I’d read them, but I wasn’t impressed enough to go out and look for the next installment.

Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs
Tea Shop Mystery, Book 6

I purchased a hardcover copy of this book at a neighbor’s garage sale, and I discovered that there are currently twenty-three books in this series centered in a Charleston tea shop owned and run by Theodosia Browning. Theo, a former advertising executive, supplies the business savvy, her friend Drayton Conneley provides the tea expertise as well as the classy southern charm, and Hayley Parker is a whiz in the kitchen at the Indigo Tea Shop. While the three of them are catering an event for the Heritage Society, the member who’s working the lights from the lighting booth is shot to death and lands in the middle of the cake. The shooter escapes, and local law enforcement is focused on a Gracie, a milliner who’s rumored to have had an inappropriate relationship with the victim. But Theodosia and Hayley are convinced they’re after the wrong person. Along with her business and her investigating, Theodosia has to decide whether to follow her boyfriend to New York or stay where she is. I enjoyed the story, but I’m not sure I’m eager to search out the other twenty-some books in the series. We’ll see.

Hearts West by Chris Enns

When I mentioned to my daughter that I was working on a story that included a mail-order bride, she told me about (and loaned to me) this book she’d picked up on a trip out west. She’d only read a little of it before she’d lost interest, but she thought perhaps I might like it for research. It’s a rather short book (108 pages) and has several anecdotes about people who advertised for and traveled to meet prospective spouses. Some of these stories had happy endings, others resulted in disappointment, and a few end tragically. There are several photos of actual ads placed, as well as photos of (mostly unidentified) women hoping to find mates this way. All in all, it’s a nice collection of true-life stories, but compared to the number of actual brides who made their way west, the book is quite short and lacks the details one would look for in a historical research source. 

Felines and Fatalities by Ruth J Hartman
Kitty Beret Cafe Mystery, Book Two

Ruth Hartman continues to come up with quirky characters completely surrounded by cats. In this sequel to Hairballs and Homicide, Ellie is coerced into putting on a cat show for rescue cats. Somehow, in a short amount of time, she manages to put together an event covering several days, with several zany contestants and three judges. But just before the first competition starts, Ellie discovers one of the judges in a storeroom, murdered. The handsome Simon Dare and the grumpy Detective Lingstrome are immediately on the case, but Ellie and her cat Templeton aren’t about to leave all the work to the pros. A few things puzzled me. First, I wondered how the show was allowed to go on as scheduled, with very little delay, considering the murder had just taken place and everyone there would have been a suspect. Second, I wondered how all these rescue cat owners would have been able to get four days off from work for an event like this. There were lots of names – besides the main characters, there were all the contestants and their cats, plus all the workers and customers at Ellie’s cafe – so I often had to scroll back to recall who was who. 


About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page:
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8 Responses to Reading Challenge 2021, Part Four

  1. Again, your list impresses me.
    As much as I love cats, I would have said that there are waaaay too many cat books out there, but this one got my attention.
    As for mail-order brides, gee, even arranged marriages is mind-blowing to me. I could not imagine this except that I learned that many of these women were not only in dire straits, but desperate to escape abuse, figuring that whatever she gets into can’t be worse that what she was facing then. God bless them all.


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I’m not a cat person, so there were waaay too many cats in this story. And the idea of a cafe where cats roam around freely among the guests is something I can’t understand. I agree that the thought of being a mail order bride is terrifying, and that whatever they were leaving behind had to be unbearable. According to the stories, these brides often felt they had no other choice, since having a career wasn’t an option.


  2. Jeff Salter says:

    Glad to see another title from our friend, Ruth Hartman. I’ve read at least one of hers and have at least a couple more in my TBR stack.
    Speaking of authors we know… that name Helena Dixon seems awfully familiar. Do I know her from Clean Reads?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I was a little disappointed in this cat story. Lots of errors. Helena Dixon, as I mentioned when I reviewed the first few books in this historical series, is a pen name for our mutual friend Nell Dixon.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    You do find some of the best sounding books.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think my daughter, Jessica would enjoy these cozy mysteries. She is starting to get into them now. I’ll have to pick up a few of them for her. I think she would really enjoy Murder of the Dance Floor.


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      That really is a fun series. They’re all set during the 1930s in southwest England. It was interesting that the Great Depression was happening here in the US, but not there.


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