Gretchen Archer // Double Deck The Halls

One of my great-granddaughters—I couldn’t tell them  apart for love nor money; I called them both Sugar—pulled  her halo off her head and was trying to put it on Davis’s.  Davis peeked around it. “Granny, Bianca’s not here yet.” 


Title: Double Deck The Halls
Author:  Gretchen Archer
Publisher: Henery Press, November 02, 2017
Format/Source: ebook, Scribd
ISBN: 9781635113129    Series: Davis Way


Granny Dee provides the hilarious voice for this holiday short. She’s visiting Davis at the Bellissimo Casino for Christmas (and planning to win big at the casino’s Winter Wonderland Senior Slot Tournament). Instead, she finds herself in a “pickle” when she goes searching for an elf and finds Bianca, the wife of the casino owner, tied up in a chair with a bomb in her lap. Double Deck The Halls is a sweet and delightful mystery story full of humor and heart. It’s the small details that make Archer’s characters so vivid, such as the twins saying “ho ho ho” every time someone says the word Santa or Granny Dee’s touching memories of her first husband, Quinton. Archer’s writing is energetic and the story moves along swiftly. If you are looking for a quick burst of holiday cheer this season, you can’t go wrong with this one.



Lynn Cahoon // A Deadly Brew

The planchette started to move on the board. Darla called out the letters as Esmerelda paused. Her arms felt loose and unresponsive under my hand. I would have sworn she wasn’t moving at all, yet I watched the letters being chosen. One by one.


Title: A Deadly Brew 
Author:  Lynn Cahoon
Publisher: Lyrical Press, September 04, 2018
Format/Source: ebook, Scribd
ISBN:  9781516108206   Series: Tourist Trap


This one is a novella, so it is a short and sweet way to start off the Halloween season. As part of a charity fund-raising event, Jill and her friends are spending a weekend locked in an abandoned house that is scheduled to be demolished after Halloween. The home’s previous owner disappeared decades earlier, so the story goes, but her spirit may have never left. This mystery packs a lot into a little space: ghosts, a missing woman, murder, and witchcraft. The plot is very layered and is possibly better suited for a full length novel; there are so many developments which beg to be explored further but are only summarized. However, I still enjoyed stumbling along with the characters as they explored the house and worked to decipher the clues they found. I do wish there had been a bit more spooky suspense in the story. The supernatural elements were alright, but considering this was a story about a haunted house, I expected more goosebumps than I got. Other than those complaints, I found reading A Deadly Brew to be a nice way to spend a chilly October afternoon.

Anthony Horowitz // The Word Is Murder


Diana Cowper had planned her own funeral and she was going to need it. She was murdered about six hours later that same day.


Title: The Word is Murder
Author:  Anthony Horowitz
Publisher: Century, August 24, 2017
Format/Source: Hardcover, Bookstore
ISBN:  9781780896847   


After reading Magpie Murders, I had very high hopes for this novel. Perhaps a teensy bit too high.

The Word is Murder is an unusual novel because Anthony Horowitz has written himself into it as the story’s narrator. His character is roped into playing a sort of Watson to freelance PI Daniel Hawthorne’s Holmes as they investigate the death of a wealthy widow. The insertion of Horowitz into the story as a main character is clever gimmick, but not really much more. Still, it is entertaining to be given access into Horowitz’s world; it would be interesting to know how much of it is fact and how much is fiction. Passages regarding his work on projects like Rin Tin Tin and Foyle’s War are especially engaging.

I really only have one problem with this novel: Hawthorne. Every time he sulks onto a page, I instinctively bristle. He is sullen and boorish, as well as manipulative. He gets some scraps of character development at the story’s end, but overall Hawthorne lacks any charisma. It’s not that I need to like his character, but cringing every time he barges into a room or flippantly disregards anyone else’s observations is, at least for me, problematic.

Luckily, I can overlook Hawthorne’s eccentricities because Horowitz provides a bevy of suspects with juicy motives and a tightly plotted mystery which kept me happily puzzled until (almost) the end. Those high hopes of mine weren’t reached, but I still enjoyed reading The Word is Murder. If this does become a series, as I believe Horowitz has said he plans it to be, I will definitely be picking up the next novel when it is released. You hear that, Hawthorne? You might have one more chance to grow on me.


Kate White // Even If It Kills Her

I replaced the cover and was about to press it back into a locked position when I heard what I thought were footsteps, the scuff of shoes on gravel. I cocked my head toward the sidewall, trying to listen. Was someone out there? 


Title: Even If It Kills Her
Author:  Kate White
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks, October 31, 2017
Format/Source: ebook, Scribd
ISBN:  9780062448880  Series: Bailey Weggins


This most recent entry into the Bailey Weggins series is full of family secrets. It’s part of a series, but this could have easily been a stand-alone novel. No need to read the first six in order to enjoy this one. Even If It Kills Her reminds me of a good tv movie: A few inconsistencies in the writing and a lack of depth in the characters, but still a fun escape from the real world. I guessed whodunnit well before Bailey did, but the why had me stumped. Mainly, I suppose, because the solution to this mystery is slightly out there; not implausible, but not something I would have ever considered. I was more confused by the big twist near the end of the novel than I was shocked. This isn’t the most thrilling or suspenseful entry into the series, but it is entertaining. The suspects are aplenty and the mystery is baffling. Not a page turner, but not a mystery to be dismissed either.





Marty Wingate // The Rhyme of the Magpie

I stood at the door, locking up at the end of the day, and in the window’s reflection I caught a glimpse of something—a sight across the road that froze my blood. There, just beside the red post box at the corner—was it someone in a wide-brimmed field hat? I whipped around, but saw no one.


Title: The Rhyme of the Magpie
Author:  Marty Wingate
Publisher: Alibi, June 2, 2015
Format/Source: ebook, iBooks
ISBN:  9781101883389  Series: Birds of a Feather


Mystery lovers with an interest in ornithology will be especially entertained with The Rhyme of the Magpie, the first book in Marty Wingate’s Birds of a Feather series. Readers looking for a well-plotted mystery with taut twists and a charming setting will not be disappointed, either. As a protagonist, Julia Lanchester is a believable character who is sometimes rash in her decisions but relatable. Her reluctance to accept her father’s marriage to her deceased mother’s best friend is understandable, as is her sister’s stance to just live and let live. The story moves along at a pleasant pace as Julia searches for both her missing father and his connection to the murdered man, and the ending is very unexpected. Readers looking for a new series to lose themselves in should give this one a try. The fourth book in this series is out next month.