Sinners and Saints by Helena Marchmont

Sinners and Saints by Helena Marchmont

Sinners and Saints was a fun addition to the series. And do read them in order. They are short and you get to know the colorful cast better that way. Here we get to know a bit more about the vicar, Philip, who has been a good friend to Alfie, but has a pretty big secret. This time around the crime is a theft and vandalism, and while Philip is a suspect, Alfie and the crew can't quite believe it. I don't understand why Harold Wilson is still a police sergeant, he's worse than incompetent. Yes, cozies often need bumbling police, but Wilson is a little over the edge. Thankfully, this series relies more on characters than plot. I was disappointed that the culprit didn't show up at all until the very end. He walks into the scene, admits he did it, and Emma takes care of the situation. Sorry for the spoiler, but you knew the vicar didn't do it....
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Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North

Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North

Notes from the Burning Age takes place in a time after the world burned. The kakuy, spirits of earth, sky, water, became so enraged at our destruction of the environment that they burned and drowned us. Those who survived became more careful of how they use resources and honor and fear the kakuy. Some people, like Ven, study ancient texts, learning from them but also labeling violent and earth-damaging knowledge as heretical. But a war is coming, when some would use the secrets of the past for their own gain. Yes, this is speculative fiction, but at heart it's a spy thriller, a tightly plotted novel with memorable characters and plenty of twists and harrowing situations. The information is being gathered from the past, leading to translation issues, research espionage, and a situation where knowledge is power, and the war rests on who can control the most knowledge and use it most effectively. The relationships in the book are believable...
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Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

Family drama is not usually my cup of tea, but Last Summer at the Golden Hotel was a perfect summer read. In the 1960s, two Jewish families bought a hotel in the Catskills. Back in those early days, the hotel was the place to be seen and the Catskills was the place to vacation. Sixty years later, the hotel is run-down and the clientele is definitely slipping. The two families' children are grown and have families of their own. They decide to meet at, "The Golden" for one last summer vacation to reminisce and discuss whether it's time to sell and leave the business. I loved the mix of tension and love between and within the families. I loved the touch of nostalgia and wish I could visit The Golden in its heyday. We've got secrets and scandals, money issues and memories. And honestly I liked all the characters, well except the one who was just clearly a bad guy. And...
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Deadlier than Fiction by Helena Marchmont

Deadlier than Fiction by Helena Marchmont

This time around much of the action is center on the new Bunburry public library Alfie has helped set up. It's in the massive home of Mrs. Radford-Jones, who is a wonderful character, caring and proper and rich. A widow comes to the "Bunberry Triangle" convinced her husband was frightened to death, so scared of something that he had a heart attack. Turns out the man was the second member of a book club to die. The story is good and I love the new characters. Alfie doesn't actually do much investigating, more stumbles onto things. And really should stop worrying about Betty, who has still not come back or communicated with him. Liz and Marge have very little to do this time around either. While I loved the new characters, the plot was a bit lacking. There was too much "we just happened to be talking about this yesterday," and "I just happened to wander past her empty cottage." Really...
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Red Widow by Alma Katsu

Red Widow by Alma Katsu

I'm not sure that Red Widow is a spy thriller; it's a spy novel, definitely, but it doesn't have the excitement or suspense you expect from a thriller. It's a smart book, but it's more about reading reports, sifting through computer records, getting access to files than it is about chasing around the globe carrying a gun. I enjoyed it. It's a game of cat and mouse and seeing through others' deceptions. It's also about loyalty, ethics, and the lengths people will go to save the ones they love. We've got two intelligent women as our main characters. They are both strong and determined, but I was disappointed by how each woman's life still revolved around men, whether that man be lover, boss, or husband. The plot is engrossing. Lyndsay has to find her way through a tangle of lies and misdirections. The author does a good job at providing enough detail to make it feel real, but I think...
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Sheep Secrets by Helena Marchmont

Sheep Secrets by Helena Marchmont

In Sheep Secrets, Emma convinces Alfie to join an outdoor survival class in order to help save a friend's good name. A man who was taking the course was found dead at the bottom of a quarry, presumably an accident, but still a threat to the business. I kind of wish Alfie's love life, or lack thereof, were left out of the books. Should he date Emma? Should he hope Betty comes back? I don't really care honestly. The characters and setting are fun and quirky enough that I don't think it needs Alfie brooding about women. I know a budding romance is a feature in most cozy mysteries, but it's also the part that is most likely to annoy me. Oscar gets to help out a bit in this mystery. The dead man had co-workers in London, so Oscar does a bit of talking and digging, which makes a nice addition to the investigation in Bunburry. The mystery was...
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