The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

I am a sucker for a country house Christmas murder mystery. Lily and her cousins have come to Endhouse for the annual Christmas game, but this time the grand prize is Endhouse itself. But Lily is there to find out the truth about what happened to her mom years ago. The Christmas Murder is a fun book. The riddles are given in the form of sonnets and they are rather clever. Of course, the group is snowed in and when the first person is killed, they can't reach the police by phone (the lines are down), by care (there is a tree down across the driveway), or by cellphone (they were confiscated at the beginning of the game so no one could cheat). It's a claustrophobic atmosphere where you can't trust anyone. Yes, the premise is a bit unrealistic and the killer obvious, but it kept me entertained throughout. It would make a good seasonal read. ...
Read More
Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman

Last Call at the Nightingale by Katharine Schellman

For Vivian, dancing at the Nightingale, and the occasional free drink, is a way to escape the dullness and monotony of her life. She and her sister, Florence, barely make enough to live on as seamstresses. They live in a crowded tenement building and life is tough. This is not a glitzy, sparkling 1920s setting. The bobbed hair, bootleg liquor, and dance halls are there, but so are the poverty, racial oppression, and police raids. We see Vivian's squalid building, but also the opulent homes of the rich. Vivian and her best friend, Bea, a waitress at the club, find a dead man in the alley outside the back door. Vivian becomes our amateur sleuth, with a gentle nudge from Honor Huxley, the club's owner. Honor knows how important, and deadly, information can be. The mystery has several twists and turns and the ending surprised me. I liked the diversity in the characters and that the Nightingale was a place that allowed...
Read More
Peril at the Exposition by Nev March

Peril at the Exposition by Nev March

One of the strengths of Murder in Old Bombay, the first in the series, was the setting, 1890s India. In Peril at the Exposition, Chicago and the World's Fair are richly drawn and vividly described, but didn't have quite the same draw for me. It made sense for Diana and Jim to emigrate to America, but it lost some of the charm of the first. This book, told mostly from Diana's point of view, does give us her memories of places and people in India, but at times they feel forced. Jim, now working as a private investigator, is missing in Chicago. Diana heads off to find him. Diana is determined and strong in her own way, but definitely in over her head. She can be melodramatic and puts herself and others in dangerous situations. As Diana digs deeper into the case Jim was working on, she realizes there's a plot involving anarchists, labor union disputes, and maybe a bomb. There...
Read More
The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

For me, The Woman in the Library cared a bit too much about its concept than its characters or plot. I'm not a giant fan of metafiction and didn't realize from the blurb what I was getting into. That being said, even though it's not exactly up my aisle, I do think the author did a decent job with it. I guess there are three stories here. Australian author Hannah is writing a murder mystery feature Winifred, the woman in the library from the blurb who becomes embroiled in a murder mystery. Winifred is also writing a book inspired by the three people she meets in the library. Hannah's beta reader is Leo and most of the book alternates between Hannah's chapters featuring Winifred and Leo's e-mail responses. Once you get into the rhythm, it works well, but the structure did keep me off balance and at a distance from any of the characters. We've got two plots here. (Winifred's...
Read More
Movieland by Lee Goldberg

Movieland by Lee Goldberg

As series fans will know, Eve Ronin has been through a lot. She has struggled to defend her position in the LASD. Her workload has been tough, which isn't helped by her inability to occasionally leave work at the office. Movieland does work well as a stand-alone though. Goldberg gives us enough background to know where Eve stands and what led her there. This time around, Eve and her partner, Duncan Pavone, are investigating the shooting of two campers, one of whom was killed. It turns out that this was just the latest shooting in a string of them, some of which were reported to the police and some of which the park rangers kept to themselves. When another person is killed the question becomes are all seemingly random shootings related? Are there copycats taking advantage of the situation? Because there are so many incidents, we have multiple suspects and a variety of witnesses. Goldberg does a good job keeping all...
Read More
Mai Tais for the Lost by Mia V. Moss

Mai Tais for the Lost by Mia V. Moss

I absolutely love the world Moss created in Mai Tais for the Lost. All those who could, mostly the rich, have left the surface of Earth for underwater habitats. Life, at least for the lucky, is full of parties, designer drugs, and alcohol. Of course, they also brought with them security/ law enforcement and people to do the menial tasks of life, like cleaning. Marrow Nightingale was once one of the lower classes, but through a quirk of fate, was adopted by the rich and famous Nightingales. She drinks and parties with the upper classes, but isn't at heart one of them. She is, however, the only private detective in Electric Blue Moon and her brother has been murdered. Marrow is a tough young woman, both overly trusting and cynical. She's definitely an alcoholic and one of those detectives who rub those in authority the wrong way. Mai Tais for the Lost is basically noir with a sci-fi backdrop and...
Read More