Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Just Jennifer

Mystery and Mayhem in April...

Killer Takeout by Lucy Burdette

It’s October in Key West and that means Halloween, Fantasy Fest and hurricane season; Key Zest magazine food critic Hayley Snow is on hand to bring all the festivities and good eats, to her loyal readers.  Adding to the already crowded week, Hayley’s mother Janet and her fiancĂ© Sam have arrived to put the finishing touches on their wedding plays.  Hayley’s co-worker Danielle has been elected queen of Fantasy Fest but is unable to enjoy her reign as the runner up, Caryn, is a sore loser and gets into altercations with Danielle as often as possible.  During the Zombie Bicycle Parade Caryn collapses and later dies, suspicion falling upon Danielle of doing something to hasten the otherwise healthy young woman’s death.  Danielle turns to Hayley to suss out a killer; Hayley agrees, though her plate is full enough: her current article features the food trucks and take-out foods available at casual dining places on the island; a hurricane is bearing down on the island and Hayley’s friends are headed inland, save her stubborn octogenarian houseboat mate Miss Gloria who refuses to leave and Janet and Sam putting the final touches on a wedding that may be blown out to sea.
A vivid setting and vibrant colors add to the festive feel of this cozy mystery.  Hayley, a transplant from New Jersey has found a place for herself in Key West, including a new love interest in Detective Nathan Bransford.  Full of good food (recipes included), a quirky and energizing setting in Key West, much like Hayley, this series continues to be a strong and entertaining one.

Breach of Crust by Ellery Adams 

Ella Mae might no longer be the Clover Queen and though her magical abilities were lost when Ella Mae saved her community, she still makes some of the best pies in George and is flattered when Bea Burbank, president of the Camellia Club of Sweet Briar invites Ella Mae to be one of three celebrity bakers at their August retreat.  Ella Mae’s pleasure at being asked is short-lived when she finds Mrs. Burbank floating in the pond behind Ella Mae’s home.  The police rule Mrs. Burbank’s death an accident, but the more Ella Mae learns about the Camellias, the less certain she is that the death was an accident.  Still struggling with the events that led to her loss of power, Ella Mae is surprised when Opal Gaynor, the mother of her enemy Loralyn summons Ella Mae to her house.  Mrs. Gaynor is terminally ill and wishes to be reconciled with her daughter before her death.  Loralyn vanished at the same time Ella Mae’s powers disappeared but Ella Mae agrees and is startled where she finds Loralyn, though she’s not all that surprised to learn that Loralyn is up to no good…again.  With her waitress and longtime family friend Reba at her side, Ella Mae finds herself involved in circumstances and situations that even she doesn’t understand, but that will put many people in danger…and maybe…just maybe, Ella Mae’s powers have not vanished forever.  With the love and support of her mother and her longtime first, and only love, Hugh, Ella Mae realizes she’s up to facing anything that comes her way.  An enchanting series that will bring a bit of magic to everyone’s life who reads it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Just Jennifer

The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse

Constantina, Connie, Gifford gathers with other members of the Fishboune community on a cold, rainy night in April of 1912, St. Mark's Eve, when it is said that the spirits of those who are to die in the coming year will walk through the graveyard.  Twenty-two year old Connie lives with her father Cowley, a taxidermist who has passed on the love of his trade to his daughter who has become obsessed with birds, alive, dead and stuffed.  Cowley is very secretive, a bit reclusive, and an alcoholic; Connie suffered a bout of amnesia over a decade ago and only has vague memories and recall of her life before then.  The body of a young woman who Connie saw in the graveyard that rainy night turns up dead near a stream on the Gifford’s estate and sets off a series of events that will finally reveal to Connie the events she has kept suppressed and will either drive her to madness or allow her to recall, heal and live a more traditional life than the one she has been leading.  The cover of this book is gorgeous, and though the details of the taxidermy are not for the faint of heart, there is a traditional gothic atmosphere that will draw readers in and keep their interest as Connie, and Crowly’s stories unfold with no easy solutions.

The Other Widow by Susan Crawford
Dorrie Keating has been sleeping with her married boss and makes a split second decision to walk away from a car accident on a snowy, icy night in Boston that kills Joe Lindsay, a decision that will haunt her and send Joe’s wife Karen, and an insurance adjuster Maggie, on the trail of the truth, putting lives in danger and revealing secrets and obsessions that might have otherwise stayed hidden.  Maggie is certain there was someone else in the car with Joe the night he died and becomes determined to track that person down.  Karen was just beginning to suspect Joe of an affair when he died and would like to put the entire thing to rest except there seem to be some irregularities in the business that Karen should now own half of, and she is beginning to get the feeling she is being stalked.  Dorrie, who is struggling with her marriage, the guilt from her affair and not owning up to being in the accident, is also worried because Joe’s last words to her were a warning that she was in danger.  Now she receives a call from the burner phone Joe used to communicate with Dorrie and she too feels as if she is being followed.  On edge and seeing danger around every turn, Dorrie relies on the memory of her mother to help her through difficult times, the memory of whom presents in a scene that is oddly out of character for the rest of this tightly written thriller.  As Maggie, Karen and Dorrie’s paths cross and lives begin to intersect, each is suspicious of the other, but together, a clear picture emerges, a picture that may be more dangerous than any one of the three realizes.