Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Once a Thief by Suzann Ledbetter

This is a first installment(I hope!) in a new series by this author, whose work I have not read before. Ramey Burke has lost both of her parents and her husband in the last three years. But, she is getting her life back together. She has found a job she likes--she is a home-stager, finding homes that have been on the market for a while and coming in to do a quick fix-up to try to sell, sort of like HGTV's Curb Appeal. She is living in her mother's childhood home, built by her Grandfather Dillinger, who made most of his money running liquor during Prohibition. And she and her older sister, Portia, have an ongoing battle over the house. Portia, a real estate agent, wants to sell it and Ramey wants to live in it.

Ramey's life changes when she opens the door one morning, expecting to find the UPS man, but instead is greeted by her two geriatric uncles and aunt-in-law, who had supposedly been incarcerated for life for a series of bank robberies during the 1930's. Uncle Ed and Uncle Archie and Aunt Melba Jane had been known as the "other Dillinger gang" and had been released early due to good behavior and prison overcrowding. Reluctantly, she takes them in, but when a dead body, with ties to the Dillingers' former career, shows up floating in her street one rainy morning, things start looking like her uncle is not only a thief but maybe a murderer. And Detective Mike Constantine makes it hard for Ramey to remember why she really doesn't want to date cops...

I really enjoyed this cozy, and hope she writes more about these characters. She has told us more information in this one than we needed to know--the kind of stuff that frequently comes out in subsequent installments!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Drowning Man by Margaret Coel

The twelfth title in the series finds the Wind River Reservation without another one of its sacred petroglyphs. The Red Cliff canyon has been home to these sacred petroglyphs, and their accompanying sacred spirits, for a few thousand years. Seven years ago, however, one was pried out of the canyon and stolen. Travis Birdsong sits in prison for killing his partner in the crime. Yet, he has always maintained his innocence in the death and has never been tried for stealing the petroglyph. Attorney Vicki Holden decides to take the case, much to the chagrin of her law partner and lover Adam Lone Eagle and the Wind River Reservation tribes.

Vicki is convinced that Travis must be innocent because another petroglyph has been stolen out of the canyon. She is even more convinced after the thieves contact the mission priest, Father John O'Malley, in order to get the tribes to buy the artifact back. As Father John tries to get the petroglyph back and Vicki tries to prove Travis is innocent, the two situations collide.

In a side story, Father John agrees to let an ailing priest stay in the guest house at the bequest of John's boss. Soon, however, he discovers that the Church is trying to hide the priest. I thought this storyline was a detraction from the main action and wondered why it was even part of the story, until the aged priest played a small but critical role in the culminating scene of the novel, which felt a little too pat.

Overall, the book is a good addition to the series and certainly furthers the characters and relationships that have grown over the life of the series.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Deadly Yarn, by Maggie Sefton

In this most recent offering in this knitting mystery, Kelly Flynn's friend is going to be joining a New York designer's studio but she is discovered dead on the day of her move. The police have concluded it is suicide but Kelly and her fellow knitting friends know she must have been murdered. While struggling to figure out how to stay in Colorado instead of moving back east to resume her accounting career, Kelly takes to sleuthing to discover who killed her friend--her violent ex-boyfriend, a jealous fellow-designer, a former mentor....

This is a light, easy and comfortable read--"cozy." Even if you aren't a knitter, you'll enjoy the references to yarns and colors and designs. Curl up with a cuppa, and enjoy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Amelia Peabody's Egpyt: a Compendium

I have been looking for an excuse to buy this book for some time, and when I was invited to do a "Lunch and Learn" on the Amelia mysteries for two of our libraries, I had it! This is a fascinating and delightful companion to the Amelia Peabody mysteries, which started with "Crocodile on the Sandbank." It is a mix of fiction and fact and I wish I had had the volume during my reading of the mysteries over the past 30 years. (They were perfectly delightful reading, anyway, however!) There are glossaries, excerpts from Emerson's journal (perfectly in keeping with Emerson), histories of the British in Egpyt, Victorian times, archaeology in Egypt, Egyptian history, biographical information about Egyptians of ancient and more modern times, archaeologists, the places of Egpyt....a helpful compantion to the Amelia mysteries.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Murder Most Frothy, by Cleo Coyle

I'm finishing up the latest in the coffeehouse series by Cleo Coyle. Our heroine is working on contract, setting the up the coffee and dessert pairings and the coffee blends for an upscale restaurant in the Hamptons. Murder happens--no surprise there--and sleuthing ensues. Claire Cosi is joined (to her dismay) in the sleuthing by her ex-husband (who is her partner in the coffeehouse in New York City), her mother-in-law (who owns the coffeehouse in New York City), her daughter, and various and sundry characters. I'm no longer a coffee drinker, but I enjoy the coffee lore and facts, descriptions of the coffees (I can almost smell the coffee--and I do still like the aroma!), along with the easy writing style. The characters are quirkly but charming, and I find the series to be "a good read" in the cozy style.

For Lovers of Mystery

I Read Mysteries is the place to come to find good mysteries to read--or listen to. Librarians in Iowa are always on the lookout for good books, always reading, always ready to connect readers with the right book.