The weather up here in Western Michigan has been fluctuating quite a bit, so I never know how to dress when I go out. But for a few hours each evening I’m always ready for a seat in my recliner, a cup of tea or cocoa, and a good book. Sometimes I’m reading, and sometimes I’m listening, but I love to end my day in another person’s story. Here’s my list for this month:
Murder at the Charity Ball by Helena Dixon
A Miss Underhay Mystery, Book 11
I am an avid fan of the Miss Underhay Mysteries! It’s December, 1934, and Kitty and Matt are to be married on Christmas Eve. Amidst the preparations, they attend a charity ball hosted by Lady Foxley, who has recently returned from a trip to America. Kitty’s father Edgar is also in attendance, having met and befriended the countess during the long trip across the Atlantic. But trouble seems to follow Edgar everywhere, and not long after the ball starts, Lady Foxley is found dead in her room with Edgar standing over her. Kitty and Matt have to solve the murder quickly so that Edgar can walk Kitty down the aisle.
Murder With a View by Diane Kelly
A House Flipper Mystery, Book 3
Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck have managed to purchase a run-down motel in a prime area of Nashville. They plan to transform the twelve units into six upscale condos, but soon after they start renovations, a body is found in one of the rooms. The body happens to belong to a rising star in the country music world, and soon there are bereaved fans, police, and news personnel swarming the place. Fortunately, the lead investigator is Whitney’s boyfriend, Collin Flynn. Together, they sort through the many suspects and leads while continuing their building project, and avoiding the wrath of the killer.
Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle
A Coffeehouse Mystery, Book 2
Clare’s college daughter is on the rebound from a failed relationship, and decides to sign up with an online dating site. Worried about the types of men her daughter might meet this way, Clare signs up for it, too, and meets a handsome, wealthy charmer. But suddenly, several of Clare’s customers die in gruesome ways, and Detective Quinn is on the case. Unfortunately, his prime suspect is Clare’s new boyfriend.
As in the first book, the story is great, but the author goes on and on with detail that I find bothersome. In the first book it was all about the various coffee beans and how to prepare them. This time it was architecture details of the various areas of New York City. I was able to get through the story despite these long-winded descriptions, but it will probably be some time before I’m ready to tackle Book 3.
Agatha Raisin and The Walkers of Dembley by MC Beaton
Agatha Raisin Mystery, Book 4
Agatha has spent the last six months back in London, having agreed to a temporary job in PR. She returns to her cottage in the Cotswolds, and promptly joins a walking club that her handsome neighbor has started. But a walking club in a neighboring village is stunned when their leader, a niece of one of Agatha’s neighbors, is found dead in a field, and Agatha is asked to investigate. She and James are both drawn into the puzzle and infiltrate the neighboring club by posing as a married couple. They find a quirky mix of characters, several of whom were at odds with the dead woman, and not many having firm alibis. I love listening to Penelope Keith’s reading of these books – she makes even the raunchiest scenes sound so dignified! The book ends with a real cliff hanger – I’ll definitely be listening to Book 5 soon!
Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by MC Beaton
Agatha Raisin Mystery, Book 5
I seem to have used up my credits on Audible, but fortunately my local library system has the rest of the series ready and available for me to sign out. The cliffhanger I’d referred to in the previous book was that James Lacey, the handsome next door neighbor, had actually proposed to Agatha and she’d accepted! So as this book opens, the village of Carsley is preparing for the wedding. Unfortunately, Agatha wants absolutely nothing to stand in the way of the nuptials, and avoids investigating the whereabouts of Jimmy Raisin, the drunken husband she’d left years earlier. A disgruntled former coworker decides to exact revenge by hiring a private detective who finds Jimmy and tells him about Agatha’s upcoming wedding. Jimmy crashes the wedding, James leaves in a huff, and Agatha is distraught. The next day, Jimmy is discovered in a ditch, having been murdered. Somehow, James and Agatha uncover a long list of suspects, while forging a new sort of relationship. I’ve already got Book 6 queued up to find out what happens next!
Good to see another successful title by acquaintance Helena Dixon. I own a title or two of hers, but they’re still on my TBR pile.
I really like the concept (as you noted it) in the “Through the Grinder” novel. But, like you, I have little patience for a story in which the author feels compelled to show off all the knowledge they possess (or acquired during research for their story). I like enough detail to comprehend what’s what, and to confirm (in my mind) that the author actually knows that territory — but I don’t want to drown endless “filler”. A few years ago, I reviewed / highlighted a novel with that handicap…
As for Agatha Raisin’s “doings,” you’ve just about convinced me to dip my toe in those waters… though I would not be LISTENING, I’d have to read it on a page.
The Helena Dixon books are delightful, and I hope you make time to read them. Agatha is a unique character, so I’d be interested to see what you make of her.
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My first introduction to Agatha Raisin was on audiobooks that I got from my library. She is quite the character. The series on Acorn TV presents an unusual take on Agatha. She is not as I pictured her. Still it’s a fun series. You always introduce new authors for me to check out. Thanks.
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I have gone into this here about Agatha and other stories and characters. Once a property has been ‘optioned’ by a production company, they can, and do, change anything they want. Few writers have the clout to retain any say in what happens to a character. Beaton’s “Hamish Macbeth” is another series of books that I like, but I could not watch any of what they did to him and the “Locals” in the TV series.
Glad you’re finding new authors and books to try out, Diane! It’s always fun to discover a new series. Thanks so much for checking in!
I’m always up to a good mystery and the first two also sound good. I would LOVE to renovate a building.
I need to get my hands on the rest of the Agathas! I am glad that you enjoy them as much as I did.
I’m enjoying the Underhay mysteries as well as the house flipper series! Diane Kelly is an author who’s also an attorney and an accountant, and she spoke to our writers group about authors and taxes – I had to check out her books after that workshop!
I think that much extra detail can put a lot of people off when reading a book, despite those long winded descriptions you must have enjoyed it some if you plan to read the third book even if waiting some time before you do.
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It was an interesting story, but I think there were more detours than I would have liked.
I think I’d like Murder at the Charity Ball. For one thing the setting appeals to me, and of course the time period too.
The entire series is fun to read. The author often posts pictures of places and items that appear in her stories.
That surely adds to the story.