We'll start with my top pick:
SHOT IN THE DARK
Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Berkley Prime Crime
ON SALE: 4/17/18
As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi attempts to finalize a date for her wedding, her ex-husband becomes addicted to making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these quickie matchups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one dark night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find.
The corpse is a successful entrepreneur who became notorious for his "hit it and quit it" behavior: prowling for women on dating apps, then devastating his conquests with morning-after insults. Though the NYPD quickly arrests one of his recent victims, Clare finds reason to believe she's been framed.
Now, with the help of her ex and crew of quirky baristas, Clare starts "swiping" through suspects in her own shop, determined to find the real killer before another shot rings out.
ROCCO sez: The 17th instalment of this popular series does not disappoint! jam packed with action and well crafted. Fans of the series will love it, and new converts can easily catch up on background. A sure fire hit! Five Paws!
WEDDING CAKE CRUMBLE
Cupcake Bakery Mysteries
On Sale: 4/3/18
Four and one half paws!
With Angie and Tate's wedding just around the corner, it's a happy time for Melanie Cooper and the bakery crew. Not only are they finessing the last minute details of the big day, but their bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, has just been hired to bake cupcakes for the blockbuster book signing of a controversial author who wrote a steamy bestseller filled with juicy local gossip.
But one by one, the people Angie has hired to work at the wedding begin turning up dead. As the body count rises, the bestselling author is the next to bite the dust. Mel quickly realizes she needs to figure out how the murders are connected and why--before the killer brings the entire cupcake crew crumbling down. After all, Angie and Tate deserve their sweet happily ever after.
Book 10 in this engaging series does not disappoint! Mystery is well crafted and it's a treat to be back with Melanie and her bakery crew! One by one the hired workers crumble in a story reminiscent of Ten Little Indians. Do Angle and Tate get their sweet ending? Read the book to find out! four and a half paws.
CINCO DE MURDER
"Taste of Texas" Mysteries
On sale: 4/3/18
It's fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklórico dances for Saturday's big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot's First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.
But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life--before another cook kicks the bucket.
Book 3 in the Taste of Texas series. We're back in Broken Boot Texas where Josie Callahan is getting ready for the First Annual Charity Chili Cook-Off. When an ornery cook is found dead and Josie's uncle is accused of negligence, she and her spunky Chichihua Lenny must discover the culprit before another cook bites the chili dust! A solid entry in this series. I enjoyed it very much and I'm not a big chili fan LOL. Four paws!
QUEEN ANNE'S LACE
Susan Wittig Albert
China Bayles Mysteries
ON SALE: 4/3/18
A present day ghost leads China Bayles to a secret from Pecan Springs's past in this haunting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert.
While helping Ruby Wilcox clean up the loft above their shops, China comes upon a box of antique handcrafted lace and old photographs. Following the discovery, she hears a woman humming an old Scottish ballad and smells the delicate scent of lavender....
Soon, strange happenings start to occur in Thyme and Seasons: misplaced items, a ringing bell, and the appearance of lavender sprigs in odd places. When a customer mentions seeing a mysterious woman picking flowers nearby and then suddenly disappearing, China must finally admit what Ruby has always known--their building is haunted. But by whom?
As China investigates, the tragic story of a woman in one of the old photographs unfolds. Annie Laurie was a young widow who'd lost both her husband and her child in the same day. She manages to survive through her lace-making business and finds happiness again only to have a suspicious death overshadow her new life.
China delves into Annie's century-old mystery and realizes that solving it could have unimaginable repercussions in the here and now.
I discovered this series a few volumes ago and am in the process of catching up on background. I particularly liked this volume because I'm a sucker for anything with a supernatural tie-in. Like all of Albert's stories, the mystery is well plotted and satisfying. China is rapidly becoming one of my favorite sleuths. Four Paws!
MURDER IN THE BOWERY
Gaslight Mystery Series
On Sale: April 3, 2018
The latest Gaslight Mystery from the bestselling author of Murder in Morningside Heights finds Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy searching for a connection between a murdered newsie and a high society woman with dangerous habits.Frank Malloy’s latest client is the well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie, so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie, but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards.
When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off—only to be found dead a short time later. Suspicious, Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman, Estelle Longacre, also recently deceased. Frank can’t be sure if Estelle’s risky behavior and the company she kept was to blame, or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.
Frank will need Sarah’s help to unearth the dark secrets of the wealthy Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie’s death. Together they must navigate a perilous underground web of treachery to find the truth.
A solid entry in a long running series. Well plotted and characters come right off the page. Recommended! Four stars!
A MAGICAL MATCH
Four and a half Stars
On sale: 4/3/18
Witch and vintage store owner Lily Ivory faces her most difficult mystery to date with a case of mistaken identity that hits close to home...
Lily Ivory and her friends are planning a 1950s-themed brunch to benefit the local women's shelter. When a figure from her past shows up unannounced, threatening her unless she returns something that belonged to him, Lily's fiancé, Sailor, steps in to defend her. After the same man is found dead later that day, Sailor is the primary suspect. He swears he's innocent, but multiple witnesses ID him as the perpetrator of the assault. Lily vows to clear his name...only she's not sure where to start with the mounting evidence against him.
When she sees Sailor in the neighborhood despite knowing he's in jail, Lily starts to wonder if there could be a doppelganger in San Francisco. When she's not busy helping customers find matching outfits for the upcoming event, searching for a vintage wedding dress for her own nuptials, and dealing with an ill-timed magical cold, Lily begins to suspect one of her magical foes is targeting her loved ones in an attempt to weaken her.
This is Book Nine in this series. Once again, I'm a sucker for anything that combines mystery and supernatural. Throw in vintage clothing (any clothing, really) and I'm hooked! Lily Ivory brings her own special blend of sassy as she fights to clear her fiance Sailor of suspicion of murder. Plenty of witchcraft, dopplegangers and suspense to satisfy everyone! And come on, who doesn't love a magical pig??????
Love all the books in this series. Just keeps getting better and better. Would love to see a Hallmark movie of this series, Juliet Blackwell!!!!! four and a half stars!
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