Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen

Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen

Lavender House was a satisfying mystery, but the characters and setting made it outstanding. San Francisco, 1952. Andy was a police detective until he was caught in a raid with his pants down at a gay bar. Fired, disgraced, and shunned, he is contemplating throwing himself into the Bay. Then he is approached by Pearl, who asks him to investigate the murder of her wife, Irene Lamontaine, the head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene was killed at Lavender House, the family estate which is also a haven for the queer Lamontaine family and their staff. The mystery is fairly straightforward, although there are reasons to suspect most of the members of the household. The author does a good job with the historical part of the mystery, really setting it in its time and place, And the characters are fabulous - loving, hopeful, damaged, afraid, confident. I listened to the audiobook and while the narrator was sometimes a little...
Read More
A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny

The Paston Treasure, commissioned by either Sir Robert Paston or his father Sir William Paston in the early 1670s A painting, a copy of The Paston Treasure, is found in a bricked-up attic room, but it contains hidden messages and puzzles. During the graduation ceremony at the École Polytechnique, the women who were killed and injured during the Montreal massacre in '89 are remembered. Fiona, a woman found guilty of murder when she was 14, has been paroled, thanks in part to Gamache, and is staying along with her brother in Three Pines after her graduation from that same school. Harriet, the niece of Myrna, the bookstore owner, is also graduating and spending time in Three Pines. A local woman has been murdered, staged as a suicide. Penny takes so many threads and pulls them all together in a complex, tension-filled story. Gamache knows he and his family are under threat, but the damage could come from any of several directions. Sam,...
Read More
Murder at the Mill by M.B. Shaw

Murder at the Mill by M.B. Shaw

You have to feel bad for Iris. Her marriage is falling apart so she's rented Mill Cottage to escape to. Just as she's settling in and getting to know the neighboring Wetherby family, Dom Wetherby ends up dead, murdered. She's drawn into the case almost as a distraction from what's going on in her own life. The Wetherbys are far from the perfect family they present to the world. There are secrets and jealousies and entanglements. The characters are well drawn, each with strengths and weaknesses. There are several people with motives to kill Dom and enough red herrings to keep me guessing. The book was maybe a little long and Shaw really loves similes, but it kept my attention throughout. Iris is intelligent and observant but I do wish she had better taste in men. I also appreciated the Christmassy touches. ...
Read More
The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

I don't know where to start with The Villa. We have two storylines and the narrative jumps back and forth. In 1974, five people stayed at the villa. Two women came out of it with career-defining works. One man was killed. In the present day, Chess and Emily are spending the summer at the villa, each working on her next book. Emily becomes interested in the events from 1974 and starts researching and piecing together that story. The parallels between the 70s and the present day become clearer as the novel progresses. Friendships are tested. Tempers boil over. Secrets are revealed. Both storylines grabbed my attention. The book slowly leads up to the defining moments, moments that are both inevitable and shocking. I honestly didn't like any of the characters though, in either time. While the women especially, were strong and bold, they were also manipulative and did more damage to each other than the men in their lives did. I...
Read More
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

The setting of Daisy Darker is amazing. The family is gathered at Seaglass, a lovely (spooky) old Victorian on a tidal island, to celebrate Nana's birthday. The house is isolated at high tide and there is no cell phone service. It's a dark, stormy night, of course, and when the 80 clocks in the hall strike midnight, Nana is found dead in the kitchen, with a creepy poem written in chalk on the wall. The reader is sure it's murder, even if the family isn't. The setting was the high point though. The family, while definitely eccentric, is not likeable. The story is narrated by granddaughter, Daisy Darker, Nana’s favorite, who was born with a heart condition. The narrator does a great job of telling us the story through Daisy's voice. Events unfold hour by hour, in the wee hours of Halloween morning, with chapters from Daisy’s childhood interspersed throughout. The Darker family is hiding secrets and they are all...
Read More
Santa’s Little Yelpers by David Rosenfelt

Santa’s Little Yelpers by David Rosenfelt

Andy Carpenter is a reluctant lawyer who keeps getting drawn back into the courtroom. Andy and his wife also run the Tara Foundation, an organization dedicated to rescuing dogs, so dogs are always at least tangential to the story (and the covers are adorable). The Tara Foundation has just received a mother Golden Retriever, and her eight puppies. Chris Myers, their newest worker, offers to foster them. Chris is a former lawyer who lost his practice when he was jailed for manslaughter. He claims to be innocent, but a witness lied. Now the witness wants to recant his false testimony, and Andy volunteers to help clear Chris's name. Of course, nothing is ever that easy and when the witness ends up dead, Chris is once again on trial. Grover Gardner is the narrator of this audiobook and he is perfect. Andy has a dry sense of humor, is self-deprecating and sarcastic, and Gardner captures his personality perfectly. The characters surrounding Andy...
Read More