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...
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Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman

Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman

I knew nothing about Edgar Smith, or William F. Buckley, Jr. for that matter, before picking up this book. Turns out Smith was a psychopath, a manipulator, an author, and a murderer. Buckley was rich and the founder and editor-in-chief of the conservative National Review. Sophie Wilkins, the third, less-famous, piece of the triangle was a rather gullible editor at Alfred A. Knopf. The story of how Edgar Smith manipulated his friends, the legal system, and the public was interesting, but I don't understand his appeal. I can't see why they believed him, how he eventually got out of prison - only to almost kill again I should add. Weinman took us through his correspondence and conversations - it's a well-researched book. I would have liked a bit more discussion about how his experiences fit in with the larger issues regarding prison reform, race, and politics of the era. ...
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The Christmas Caper by Gigi Pandian

The Christmas Caper by Gigi Pandian

Edinburgh at Christmas sounds wonderful. In this short story, Tempest is asked by her grandmother's friend to figure out how a painting was stolen from a museum, a seemingly impossible crime. The plot is pretty straightforward, but I loved the setting. The author does a fabulous job at bringing Edinburgh and its Christmas market to life. I would really love to visit sometime. One of my favorite fictional bookstores even gets a mention. Tempest is her usual clever self and her grandparents are a joy. We don't get to know the new characters well, but they worked fine for the story. There are also a couple of recipes in the back that sound delicious. I haven't tried the yet though. ...
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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,...
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Sherlock Holmes and The Twelve Thefts of Christmas by Tim Major

Morose and uninspired as Christmas approaches, Holmes receives an unexpected invitation to a theatrical performance, thus beginning a challenge set by Irene Adler involving a series of "thefts." The idea of Holmes and Adler contriving puzzles and challenges for each other is fun. Meanwhile, a new client, an explorer, requests Holmes investigate a series of "gifts" left at his door, gifts of raw meat and animal carcasses. The mystery was well done, with a hint of the paranormal, which of course Holmes disproves. I listened to the audio which was maybe a bad choice. Holmes always sounded angry rather than slightly disdainful, mean rather than aloof. I did enjoy seeing Mrs. Hudson, even if she wasn't her usual self this holiday season. ...
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Winter Wishes by Elle Adams

Winter Wishes by Elle Adams

Carol and Mercy are owners of the Holiday Haven Inn. They have a weekend celebration planned which includes carolers, a festive food menu, a theatre production, and the use of a wishing box. The wishing box disappears soon after it is delivered and things immediately start falling apart. Carol and Mercy need to find the wishing box before the whole celebration is ruined. This is a fun series. I love Holiday Haven and all of the residents. It's also fun that the stories are written by different authors and feature different characters, but all take place in the same town - and have a touch of magic. This one was not my favorite. Carol jumps to conclusions too quickly and is kind of mean about her family, who seem eccentric but harmless. Also, I didn't quite get the magic. Mercy has magic and so does Carol's mother who is a witch, but neither seems to really do anything with it....
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