Mystery Reviews

A Reliable Wife

9781565129771

Rating: ★★★★☆

He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for a “reliable wife.” She responded, saying that she was “a simple, honest woman.” She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving herself a wealthy widow. What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own.

Whatever you think this book is about when you pick it up, prepare to have your expectations totally blown out of the water. In A Reliable Wife three characters get tangled in a web of lies, deceit and shame as they all struggle with difficult life situations, hidden and open desires, and bitter and terrible pasts. These are not good people, and yet each in their own way beg for redemption even while believing they deserve none. It is a riveting book about the pain people can inflict on one another and themselves, the bitterness that grows out of that, the helplessness of some people to continue the cycle and the ultimate despair from the belief that the long cold winter will never end.

In The Bleak Midwinter

0312288476

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s a cold, snowy December in the upstate New York town of Millers Kill, and newly ordained Clare Fergusson is on thin ice as the first female priest of its small Episcopal church. The ancient regime running the parish covertly demands that she prove herself as a leader. However, her blunt manner, honed by years as an Army pilot, is meeting with a chilly reception from some members of her congregation, and Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne, in particular, doesn’t know what to make of her or how to address, “a lady priest,” for that matter.

The last thing she needs is trouble, but that is exactly what she finds. When a newborn baby is abandoned on the church stairs and a young mother is brutally murdered, Clare has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow the town like the ever-present Adirondack mountains. As the days dwindle down and the attraction between the avowed priest and the married police chief grows, Clare will need all her faith, tenacity, and courage to stand fast against a killer’s icy heart.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved how the storyline pulled me in and didn’t let me go until the last page was turned. It had unique characters, well researched back story, and of course a killer on the loose to help spice things up as the death toll keeps climbing. Between the mystery and suspense surrounding this small baby abandoned on a church door step, to the believable relationship and build up between Reverend Clare and Chief Alystyne (will they? won’t they?) it ended up being quite a page turner and I was up late into the night on several occasions because I could not put this book down.

A Play of Knaves

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

In the pages of Margaret Frazer’s national bestselling Dame Frevisse series, the player Joliffe has assumed many roles on stage, to the delight of those he entertains. Now, in the company of a troupe of traveling performers, he finds himself cast in the role of sleuth…

In the spring of 1435, Joliffe and his fellow players are sent to the village of Ashewell not only to stage plays, but to uncover some dark secrets about the town’s three wealthy families: the Ashewells, the Medcotes, and the Gosyns. A rivalry has been brewing among the families, entangling the entire town in a web of seduction, deception, and blackmail.

Matters go beyond the breaking point when someone turns to murder to settle their grievances. And if one murder is good, why not another? If all the world is a stage, then it’s up to Joliffe to bring the curtain down on this tragedy – before another man takes his final curtain call…

The book A Play of Knaves is one of a series of historical mysteries that follow the player Joliffe as he ends up in a variety of situations that require some serious sleuthing to stay out of trouble.

The Quiet Gentleman

quiet-gentleman

Rating: ★★★★½

Gervase Frant returns from fighting in the Napoleonic wars to inherit his seat as the Earl of Stanyon. His family is not at all happy to find that he is still alive as they all assumed he would die a horrible death and leave his half brother to inherit the estate. As his step mother says, in droll English fashion, serving at the front lines of a war is, to her mind, “most unhealthy” and it really was a pity that he didn’t die doing it. But, he is alive and his family now has to deal with a step brother heading the household and no one is happy about it. In fact someone is so unhappy that “accidents” begin to befall the new Earl and he soon realizes that not only does someone not want him at Stanyon, someone wants him dead.

I have seen before that Georgette Heyer writes mysteries as well as historical novels and regency romances. I never thought to branch in that direction though because her regency novels were so wonderful I couldn’t picture her being able to do anything better. She can! This novel was a delightful mix of mystery, historical and regency romance all twirled into one with lots of intrigue, suspense, mystery and yes just a touch of romance making this a wonderful read.

Absolutely Amazing Five-Minute Mysteries

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

The byline of this novel is “40 New Cases of Murder and Mayhem for You to Solve”, which is precisely what this novel contains. My husband and I decided we wanted MOAR mystery after reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes so we decided to read Absolutely Amazing Five-Minute Mysteries together, a book that we had picked up at a brown bag book sale at a local elementary school a long time ago.

The mysteries turned out to be tough. You read the beginning of the mystery and then had to guess the end yourself. To check to see if you were right you had to flip to the back of the book to read the solution, a la the Clue books of my childhood. We got to be pretty good towards the middle and end of the novel at really reading the short stories and trying to pick up on all of the clues. There were a few things working against us though.