Action Adventure, Mystery, Suspense, Women

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn


Description

Older women often feel invisible, but sometimes that’s their secret weapon.

They’ve spent their lives as the deadliest assassins in a clandestine international organization, but now that they’re sixty years old, four women friends can’t just retire – it’s kill or be killed in this action-packed thriller by New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills.

When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death.

Now to get out alive they have to turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman—and a killer—of a certain age.

My Thoughts

Red meets Kill Bill in this delicious romp featuring four of the most entertaining but deadly female characters ever put to page. This is such a different type of story from Raybourn and proves she’s one of her generation’s most accomplished writers.

Fans of her 19th century series may not appreciate the departure, but I sincerely hope they give this a chance. Every character is drawn tautly but with warmth and wit, and the story is flawless.

If you’re looking for a purely entertaining, action-packed adventure, this is your book. I will be astonished if this doesn’t get adapted to film.

Detective, Mystery, Non Fiction

The Life of Crime by Martin Edwards


Description

In the first major history of crime fiction in fifty years, The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and their Creators traces the evolution of the genre from the eighteenth century to the present, offering brand-new perspective on the world’s most popular form of fiction.

The Life of Crime is the result of a lifetime of reading and enjoying all types of crime fiction, old and new, from around the world. In what will surely be regarded as his magnum opus, Martin Edwards has thrown himself undaunted into the breadth and complexity of the genre to write an authoritative – and readable – study of its development and evolution. With crime fiction being read more widely than ever around the world, and with individual authors increasingly the subject of extensive academic study, his expert distillation of more than two centuries of extraordinary books and authors – from the tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann to the novels of Patricia Cornwell – into one coherent history is an extraordinary feat and makes for compelling reading.

My Thoughts

This is a crime-lover’s dream – a comprehensive treatment of crime fiction by a master of the genre, presented in a readable and fascinating way. It took me awhile to finish this as this is the kind of book I dip in and out of, reading a chapter here and there. And reading a chapter isn’t as easy as it sounds, because I found I had to keep a notebook handy to write down all the authors and books I haven’t read, but which Edwards presents in various forms.

This will appeal to readers of crime fiction and probably not many others, so it’s a niche buy. I’d recommend for large library collections.

Cozy, Mystery

Murder Up to Bat by Elizabeth McKenna


Description

After falling in love with the quiet lake life and a certain police detective, former Chicago Tribune reporter Emma Moore trades interviewing jocks for chasing champion cows at the county fair. As a small-town newspaper reporter, she covers local topics both big and small, but when her friend Luke is arrested for the murder of the head coach of his club softball team, she’ll need to hone her investigative skills to clear his name. Emma calls up best friend Grace for help, and together the women go up against cutthroat parents willing to kill for a chance to get their daughters onto a premier college sports team.

The game is tied with bases loaded, and murder is up to bat. Can Emma and her friends bring the heat and win the game?

My Thoughts

This second in a fun series featuring Emma Moore and her chic friend Grace is another winner. Back in 2019, I wrote about McKenna’s first Emma Moore novel – The Great Jewel Robbery – and described it as “Nancy Drew for the 21st century.” Murder Up to Bat further solidifies that statement.

Emma and Grace are two very likable, intelligent, and clever heroines matching wits with a couple of affable, good-looking men as they all chase down the clues to solve a murder. All very improbable compared to real-life murder investigations, meaning there’s very little mess here and a lot of human interaction.

There are tons of cozy mysteries on the market right now. Some of them work, some don’t. What works here is McKenna’s writing, which is colorful, informal, and very, very relatable. The reader is meant to connect with Emma – she could be us! – and McKenna does an excellent job of making that connection.

Recommended for fans of cozy mysteries.

Author Bio

Elizabeth McKenna’s love of books reaches back to her childhood, where her tastes ranged from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Stephen King’s horror stories. She had never read a romance novel until her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

Her novels reflect her mercurial temperament and include historical romances, contemporary romances, cozy mysteries, and dark mysteries. With some being “clean” and some being “naughty,” she has a book for your every mood.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband and Sidney, the rescue dog from Tennessee. When she isn’t writing, reading, editing, or walking the dog that never tires, she’s sleeping.

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Cozy, Mystery, Romance

Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney


Description

In Elizabeth Penney’s Chapter and Curse, Molly Kimball is used to cracking open books . . . but when a poetry reading ends in murder she must use her skills to crack the case.

“With its bucolic British setting, engaging heroine, and unsolved murder dating back decades, Elizabeth Penney has penned the perfect cozy.”–Ellen Byron, USA Today Bestselling Author

Librarian Molly Kimball and her mother, Nina, need a change. So when a letter arrives from Nina’s Aunt Violet in Cambridge, England requesting their help running the family bookshop, they jump at the chance.

Thomas Marlowe—Manuscripts and Folios, is one of the oldest bookshops in Cambridge, and—unfortunately—customers can tell. When Molly and Nina arrive, spring has come to Cambridge and the famed Cambridge Literary Festival is underway. Determined to bring much-needed revenue to the bookstore, Molly invites Aunt Violet’s college classmate and famed poet Persephone Brightwell to hold a poetry reading in the shop. But the event ends in disaster when a guest is found dead—with Molly’s great-aunt’s knitting needle used as the murder weapon. While trying to clear Violet and keep the struggling shop afloat, Molly sifts through secrets past and present, untangling a web of blackmail, deceit, and murder.

Review

One of my favorite cozy mystery series is the Scottish Bookshop series by Paige Shelton, and I was reminded a great deal of that as I read this new series debut. While somewhat similar in basic structure (American girl working in UK book shop), the setting here is Cambridge England and the shop the 400 year old Thomas Marlowe Books. Our heroines are a trio of family members – Aunt, Mother, and Daughter – who all are finely written cozy characters.

The writing here is the thing – Elizabeth Penney has delivered a decent plot, supported by interesting and appealing characters, and communicated through skillful description and dialog. It’s not often you find all three of these boxes ticked in cozy mysteries. There’s a great balance of serious mystery and typical cozy silliness, making this a pleasant afternoon read.

This is a fun, quick read that is perfect for a lazy fall afternoon spent lounging somewhere with a nice cup of tea at your elbow. I look forward to more from this author.

Publication Date: September 28, 2021
Published By: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Uncategorized

Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling


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