I have four more cozy mysteries and a historical romance anthology to tell you about today. These bring my 2021 total to 49, which is one below my yearly goal of reading 50 books per year. That means I need to find one VERY short book to read this week! Wish me luck.
Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews
Meg Langslow Mysteries, Book 16
It’s Christmas time, and the churches in the town of Caerphilly are busy preparing for all their holiday events. But a series of pranks makes it difficult for rehearsals and stuff to go on. First, a cage full of skunks arrives in the loft of one of the local churches, just before an important rehearsal. Then, a snake makes an entrance during a service. And finally, the church where Meg works is overrun by ducks. Who’s responsible? Meg is put in charge of juggling the schedules of all the town’s churches and finding alternate places for things to happen. In the middle of all this, there’s a murder. Had the victim discovered the person responsible? As always, Meg manages to do her work, take care of her twin boys (although her awesome husband Michael and her cousin Rose Noire help a lot), AND discovers all the answers.
A Witness to Murder by Verity Bright
Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery, Book 3
A popular Member of Parliament is poisoned during a dinner party, and since the victim had been a champion of women’s rights, a suitable candidate is needed to run for his open seat. The Women’s League approaches Lady Swift, who accepts the challenge, though her mind is more on helping the poor cook who was blamed for serving a peanut-filled fudge when it was known that the dead man had been highly allergic to them. Lady Swift manages to gain the support of the locals, despite initial antagonism toward the very idea of a woman standing for a seat in Parliament. But then another candidate for the open seat is killed, and Lady Swift is a suspect, making her investigation even more difficult and dangerous. This was another page turner, and I’ll definitely read Book 4 soon.
Crewel World by Monica Ferris
Needlecraft Mysteries, Book 1
When I happened to mention my love of cozy mysteries to a fellow member of one of my local writing groups, she recommended this series to me. I managed to find a paperback containing the first three, and reading it relieved the eye strain from grading final exams and working on my various electronic devices. This introduction to the series introduces us to sisters Margot and Betsy. Margot is the sensible, settled sister. She’s a widow who’s built a thriving high end needlecraft shop in a small Minnesota town. Betsy is a free spirit who needs to recover from a nasty divorce, so she travels from sunny California to stay with Margot. But then Margot is murdered, and investigators believe it’s the result of an interrupted burglary. Betsy isn’t convinced, and doesn’t rest until she uncovers the truth. There are plenty of suspects, and I enjoyed discovering the true culprit as well as learning more about the rest of the characters.
Framed in Lace by Monica Ferris
Needlecraft Mysteries, Book 2
Since this volume contained the first three stories in the series, I decided to jump right into the second one. Former Californian Betsy has decided to stay in Minnesota and work at the Crewel World needlepoint shop, at least until her sister’s estate is settled. She’s learning a lot about various types of needlework, and making friends among the Monday Bunch, a group of needlepoint experts who meet at the shop. One of the members happens to be a detective who invites her to go along on what’s supposed to be a routine assignment, but the routine is derailed when a body is discovered. A lace edge scrap of fabric is found with the victim, and the Monday Bunch is called upon to help. Betsy is pulled into the investigation due to her success in finding her sister’s killer. One thing I’m enjoying about this cozy series is that the protagonist is someone I can, for the most part, identify with. She’s a little younger than I am, and she doesn’t make ridiculously dangerous choices. I’ve already started reading book 3!
Nine Ladies Dancing: Christmas Miracles by Jenna Jaxon, Kay Springsteen, Sherry Gloag, Vivian Roycroft, Ruth J. Hartman, Nicole Zoltack, Patricia Kiyono, Nadine Millard, and Felicia Rogers
Most of the stories in this historical romance anthology have been previously published. I’d already read the contributions from Ruth J. Hartman (Romancing the Dustman’s Daughter) and Sherry Gloag (The Respectable Charades), and am enjoying the rest. Of course, I’ve read my story: Five Gold Rings is the fifth book in my Partridge Christmas series, and it will be available as a stand alone story next spring. The heroine, Grace Montgomery, made an appearance in Four Calling Bards, and I loved her so much I had to give her a happy ending! She’s a widow in her forties, and she’s made a name for herself as a champion for those without a voice. Her current cause is the new railroad that’s threatening to tear up a historical area of her beloved city of Cambridge. Her nemesis is a man from her past, and he happens to be the father of her godson. I had a lot of run with these characters, and I hope readers will, too!
Of this group, “A Witness to Murder” sounds the most appealing to me.
But it was a different title, about which you wrote a phrase that caught my eye: “she doesn’t make ridiculously dangerous choices.”
That’s a pet peeve I have about MOST of the Hollywood movies and too many of the action-filled fiction titles I’ve read. I find myself thinking, “Dude, you’ll never be able to save the [ girl / dog / child / community / world ] if you DIE during the first reel when you fly a crippled helicopter into the active volcano to [ retrieve / rescue / challenge / kill ] that [ whoever / whatever ].”
I continually see the protagonists (male & female) make impulsive, incredibly dangerous choices that have maybe 1 % chance of actually succeeding… and yet — of course — that same protagonist emerges with just a few more scrapes and bruises.
Can we have a sliver of reality here, please?
Exactly! You know they’re going to survive somehow, but you wonder what makes them think that taking these chances are a good idea. I mean, someday, their capable assistant or significant other WON’T be there to save them. Then what?
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Thanks to your previous recommendation, I read the 1st 2 Lady Eleanor Swift mysteries. Very entertaining. The one you recommend here sounds great. I love the Goodreads Reading Challenge–mostly because I’m curious how many books I read in a year. Always surprising. Happy New Year and Happy Reading.
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Happy Reading to you, too Diane! Thanks so much for stopping in. Hope the new year is good to you and your family!
“Duck the Halls”! Gotta love it.
As for “Crewel World”, well,I named one of Monica Ferris’ books and that may have been on my list as it seems very familiar. Oh, well, she never gave me credit in the acknowledgments anyway, just in my autographed copy, but there it is.
I bet you make that 50 mark yet! Happy New Year to you. I hope it is better than last year for all of your family.
Thanks for sharing. I don’t know how many books I’ve read this year, but I’m going to count them to see.