🔎Vintage Cosy #Mystery. @OlgaNM7 Reviews Murder At Buckskin Joe by @jvlbell, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Olga.

Olga blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Olga has been reading Murder At Buckskin Joe by JVL Bell

Book cover for cosy mystery Murder At Buckskin Joe by JVL Bell, set againsta a background of a scene with a pond, green fields and snowy mountains from a free photo from Pixabay
Murder At Buckskin Joe by JVL Bell

Cozy mysteries can be a bit hit-and-miss for me, but this one, with the added attraction of the historical gold-mining background setting and the fabulous cast of characters worked wonderfully for me, and I loved it. Even though this is the third book in a series, it can be read and enjoyed in its own right, as it does provide readers with all the relevant details needed to follow the story, although I confess I wouldn’t mind reading the two previous ones.

The description of the book is quite apt, although it can’t reflect the full catalogue of adventures and characters included in the novel. We have the fabulous background of the gold mining town (already running out of gold at the time of the story), with plentiful but well-integrated historical detail; we have the day-to-day drudgery of living in an outpost of “civilization” (a term I use fairly loosely here); we have the animals (I love Buttercup, the fainting goat, and don’t ask me to explain, but I am also fond of the burros [donkeys in Spanish], and even the bear… No, I’m not explaining that either); we have a sheriff who is a gifted baker (the characters aren’t the only ones drooling over his confectionery); we have secret and newly found relatives all around; we have ill-fated love stories, and others that seemed impossible but work out; we have Dom and Millie’s children, Rachel (oh, she is infuriating but such a fabulously realistic character, and I love her to bits), and Hosa (who wouldn’t worry about a Navajo boy who lost his family but only wants to go back and fight against the white men?)… And, of course, we have Dom and Minnie. Minnie is the main character, and although the story is told in the third-person, we see everything from her point of view, and it is impossible not to like her. I particularly enjoyed the fact that she is not a modern heroin transplanted to the past. Although she has her own ideas, she also hesitates, tries her hardest to conform to the norms (down to using etiquette books and all), feels conflicted about her desire to investigate and what she feels is her duty towards her husband and children, and she is not perfect. She is daring and determined, rushed at times, but she can also be frightened and even phobic about certain situations. She doubts her own skills as a mother and questions herself, and that made her a true character rather than a caricature for me. Dom, her husband, is again not perfect. He supports her, is patient with her and understands her, but he is not beyond making mistakes, trusting people he shouldn’t, and even turning on her when he gets anxious or scared. Yes, they do fight, and yes, they do love each other. It feels like a real marriage, with two people trying their hardest to make everything work in their highly unconventional family.

I have already mentioned some of the things I really liked about this novel. I enjoyed the way the characters are created, because even those who don’t play big parts are not simple cut-outs. They all have their personalities, their distinctive features, and they all keep us guessing. I also like the historical note the author includes at the beginning of the novel. I have read historical novels where I spent most of the time wondering how much of what I was reading was based in fact and how much was creative license. Here, the author covers that at the very beginning, before we start reading, and although in her acknowledgments she talks about her sources and her process of creation in more detail, we are in no doubt as to what we are reading.

I also enjoyed that, despite the many things going on throughout the novel, the actual investigation is never too far away from the centre of the action, and although, evidently, this is not a police procedural novel where everything is highly scientific and all the details are accounted for, if we take into account the era and where the action takes place, the murder mystery works well, and I loved the slightly bittersweet ending as well.

The writing is dynamic, flows well, and it combines inner reflection and observation on the part of Millie with plenty of action scenes, which keep us turning the pages. There are many amusing moments, some scary ones as well, and the dialogues bring the characters to life and make them jump out of the page truly realised. We also learn about gold mining and about the era, its social mores and the way daily life was organised, and the knowledge and research the author has done and her talent in combining a cozy murder mystery with a historical novel portraying the life in the second half of the XIX century in the Territory of Colorado shines through. It’s a winner.

I don’t really dislike anything about the book; I can only say that I hope there will be further adventures, and we’ll get to know what happened to some of the other characters we’ve met here. I am happy there are previous novels I can catch up on as well.

In summary, this is a fantastic novel. It is funny, it is informative, it is full to the brim with unforgettable characters, it has plenty of adventures, it contains historical information about gold mining that never impedes the flow of the story, and it includes adventures and action scenes to satisfy those who prefer stories that keep moving along at a good pace. And a fairly solid, if cozy, mystery. There are threats, scary moments, and even violence, although not extreme, and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys a good yarn. It’s solid gold.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Territory of Colorado, 1865

Millie knows the raucous mining town of Buckskin Joe is no place for children, but when Dom’s Uncle George shows up needing help, the whole family reluctantly heads to South Park. George has been accused of murdering his mining partner, Wandering Will, and although Millie questions his innocence, she finds there are many suspects who wanted Will dead.

There’s fancy-girl Queeny, Will’s ex-wife, and dancehall-girl Kate, who wanted to be Will’s next wife—until he dumped her. Mountain man Kootenay despised Will enough to have dispatched him and the Odd Fellows have seized George and Will’s mine, claiming the gold inside for themselves.

Millie’s investigation heats up when Dom volunteers to visit the local saloon for some hands-on investigating of Queeny and Kate. Interruptions from hostile Utes, the children’s devilment, and the local schoolmistress chasing after Dom make this Millie’s most difficult investigation—especially when the killer decides she is getting too close.

Murder at Buckskin Joe weaves a cozy murder mystery with fascinating South Park mining history and lovable, unforgettable historic characters.

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‘A highly enjoyable read of the ‘feel-good’ category.’ @okiewashere reviews cosy #Mystery Bells, Tails and Murder by @KathyManosPenn

Today’s team review is from Karen. She blogs here https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Karen has been reading Bells, Tails And Murder by Kathy Manos Penn.

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A little more than a year after her husband’s tragic bicycle accident, Leta needs a change of scenery. She and her husband have always liked the Cotswolds – so retiring there with her furry family would certainly find his approval.

With Bells, Tails & Murder”, Kathy Manos Penn has created a nicely woven plot, an intriguing story of Leta, Dickens, Christie, and their new-found friends who need to deal with a murder in their midst. “Bells, Tails & Murder” comprises authentic main characters with sufficient depth, nice turns, and room for ‘sleuthing along’. I had a great time reading – this is a very entertaining compelling read; I was drawn into the story right away, close to Leta and her canine and feline friends. I liked Leta’s stubbornness, the teamwork, the warm-hearted characters, and the knowledge that there are more books in this series. I consider “Bells, Tails & Murder” a highly enjoyable read of the ‘feel-good’ category

This is for you if you like cosy mysteries, real communication between humans and animals, and authentic characters.

Highly recommended.

Desc 1

A Cotswolds village . . . a grieving heroine . . . two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!

Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.

When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie. 

Picture her driving a refurbished London taxi to the bookshop and the tearoom, enjoying leisurely walks with Dickens the dog, and sipping coffee in the garden with Christie, her sassy cat.

When Leta stumbles across the dead body of a new acquaintance, her inner Nancy Drew comes out. Before you know it, she’s enlisted the help of Wendy, a retired English teacher friend—and even Wendy’s elderly mum.

Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case!

Who better to unearth clues from their friends in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends and pointing out the obvious to Leta.

What do authors A. A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. M. Barrie have to do with all this?

Is their connection with the Cotswolds merely an interesting bit of trivia, or is it more? Will Leta and Wendy let their literary noses lead them astray?

You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team chases clues and ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud.  No matter the clues uncovered by Dickens and Christie, you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the villain is unless, like Leta, you’re able to “talk to the animals.” 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.’ @CathyRy reviews Bells, Tails & Murder by @KathyManosPenn, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Bells, Tails & Murder by Kathy Manos Penn

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Leta Parker’s life changed irrevocably when her husband was killed in an accident while they were out biking. Eighteen months later she had fulfilled her dream of retiring to England and has a pretty, restored and cosy cottage in the Cotswolds. All she needs now is to pick up Dickens, a dwarf Pyrenees and Christie the black cat, from the airport. They both have a moan (literally) and Christie particularly has plenty to say about being crated for the journey. Leta is a female Dr Doolittle and can actually communicate with animals. It’s a fun twist, I’ve often thought it would be perfect I could understand ‘dog speak’. I’m glad, however, that the animals were portrayed and treated as pets and not given human traits (apart from the obvious)

‘How life has changed for the three of us. A new home, a new country … and a new life … without Henry. I wondered whether the animals missed him as much as I did.’

Leta has settled into her new life and made some good friends, including fellow ex-pat, Wendy. One morning, on a walk with Dickens, she is shocked and distressed to discover a body in suspicious circumstances. After speaking to the police, Leta feels the need for Wendy’s company and the discussion makes them, and Wendy’s mum Belle, aware they don’t really know the victim, although most people in the village see her in one capacity or another.

‘After Wendy helped her mum into the kitchen, she asked me to tell the story again. Every time I repeated it, I found the telling got a bit easier. I almost made it through this time without tears. Belle braced herself on her cane and leaned over to give me a hug.’

Leta and Wendy discover there are multiple potential suspects, even as they shy away from the awful thought of one of their friends being the culprit.

A steady initial build up allows the reader to get acquainted with the characters and form mental images. I enjoyed how J.M. Barrie and his works were written into the story, with a plot line that wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility. And, as always, I love being familiar with the places mentioned in the story. They brought back lots of memories. A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.

Desc 1

A Cotswolds village . . . a grieving heroine . . . two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!

Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.

When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie. 

Picture her driving a refurbished London taxi to the bookshop and the tearoom, enjoying leisurely walks with Dickens the dog, and sipping coffee in the garden with Christie, her sassy cat.

When Leta stumbles across the dead body of a new acquaintance, her inner Nancy Drew comes out. Before you know it, she’s enlisted the help of Wendy, a retired English teacher friend—and even Wendy’s elderly mum.

Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case!

Who better to unearth clues from their friends in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends and pointing out the obvious to Leta.

What do authors A. A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. M. Barrie have to do with all this?

Is their connection with the Cotswolds merely an interesting bit of trivia, or is it more? Will Leta and Wendy let their literary noses lead them astray?

You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team chases clues and ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud.  No matter the clues uncovered by Dickens and Christie, you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the villain is unless, like Leta, you’re able to “talk to the animals.” 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A fun cosy crime’. @em_banks reviews Dead Letters by @sheila_lowe for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Elanor.

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Elanor has been reading Dead Letters by Sheila Lowe

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This is the 8th book in a series about hand-writing analyst Claudia Rose, the various crimes she helps investigate and the escapades she gets caught up in on the way. I haven’t read any other books in the series, but Dead Letters works as a standalone novel. Lowe makes reference to characters and events from previous books, but I never felt that I missed out on important context.

Dead Letters is a romp that takes Claudia across the Middle East and Europe in pursuit of her niece, always one step behind her, unravelling details of the terrorist cell who have apparently taken her. It builds to a dramatic “will they get there in time” finish – no spoilers here! It’s a quick and engaging read with lots of short chapters.

Claudia is like a snarky, modern-day Miss Marple, frequently acting outside the law and stubbornly getting herself into awkward and dangerous situations as she goes after the truth. She gets several opportunities throughout the chase to use her specialist expertise in handwriting and move the investigation forward.

Lowe works in some interesting history about the countries and sites the novel visits, and particularly about Egypt and archaeology in the first part of the story, before the action ramps up. She takes you on a journey through several cultures, and if some of the characters’ accents and idioms are a little exaggerated at times, each location has a sense of place that feels well-observed.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fun cosy crime with just the right amount of grit and danger! 4 stars.

Desc 1

A heart-pounding hunt begins when Claudia Rose’s young niece goes missing with an archaeologist whose shady past spills into the present. The frantic search takes Claudia to Egypt, Gibraltar, and the UK, where her skills as a forensic handwriting expert of international renown are needed to help foil a deadly terrorist plot—if only she can find Monica before she becomes a casualty.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cozy #Mystery SAINT VANDAL’S DAY by D. E. Haggerty

Today’s team review comes from Sherry. She blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Sherry has been reading Saint Vandal’s Day by D. E. Haggerty

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I read this book in about an hour and a half. There was a breeziness about it that was appealing. It had a lot of fun parts and I definitely loved the recipes in the back. The cupcakes all sounded really, really good. 

The main character, Callie, was charming and likeable and I enjoyed her relationship with her friends and her fiancée. Most of the characters seemed to be people you’d actually meet on the street and enjoy a chat with. The mystery of the whodunit wasn’t that hard. I pegged the culprit from the first scene the character appeared in. The reason for the actions wasn’t as easy to figure out, though. I had a different motive in my mind, so credit to the author for that.

I did not care for some of the behavior of the character who owned the bakery with the main protagonist. She was the one who baked the cupcakes and she was very volatile and almost unbelievable as a character—she seemed almost like a caricature instead. She truly became annoying before the end of the story.  Out of control, having to be held back from attacking people, stalking, and threats of violence when anyone criticized her cupcakes seemed over the top to me. The parts where she was trying to help the protagonist not cheat on her pre-wedding diet seemed unkind and almost rude the way she snatched food from her friend’s hand. It may just be me, but that rubbed me the wrong way.

This was the last of the series of seven stories, and while I enjoyed the time I spent reading it, it didn’t appeal enough for me to go back and read the others in the series.  There were a number of allusions to the other stories in this short book, but the references were enough for me to guess at how they unfolded so I don’t find it necessary to read them. And sadly, I’m not sure I could handle that baker in other tales. She was the one part of this book that made me bring this rating down to a 4 rather than a 5.

Book description

St. Valentine’s Day is THE perfect day for a wedding. Unless a vandal is trying to ruin your life that is.

Callie is finally getting her dream wedding. On St. Valentine’s Day no less. Only a vandal is determined to destroy her bakery before the wedding can occur. Anna, self-proclaimed best cupcake baker this side of the Mississippi, is not letting anything happen to the cupcake bakery. No way. Barista extraordinaire Kristie jumps at the chance to help as well. Together the three women launch a mission to find the jerk who thinks it’s okay to attack the bakery.

Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes find the vandal and save the cupcake bakery before Callie’s dream wedding is ruined?

Cupcakes not included, although recipes for all the delicious cupcakes Anna bakes are. 

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Vintage #Mystery HIGH WIRE IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading High Wire In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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Returning to Nuala in 1930s Ceylon is always a pleasure. The courteous Inspector Shanti de Silva and his delightful wife Jane have an active social life in the pleasant Hill town and on this occasion, it includes a visit to a travelling Russian circus. Shanti is not looking forward to the performance of the snake charmer, but he enjoys watching the clowns and the high wire act, until there is a disaster. Shanti’s boss, Archie Clutterbuck, does not consider the death of a Russian a relevant problem to the local police force, but the detective is determined to check the circumstances.

This volume of the series involves Shanti in undercover work and his Sergeant, Prasanna, excels himself. Add in the fear of poisonous snakes, rivalry between two female performers and another case involving jewellery burglary and you have an exciting, action-packed tale. The story is further enhanced by detailed descriptions of parts of the locality.

Quote

“The vicarage’s mellow stone walls basked in the afternoon sunshine. As if to remind viewers of its inhabitants calling, the tall windows were set in pointed Gothic arches decorated with carvings that were more modest versions of those at the church. A vigorous soft-pink rose spread its branches between the windows, also scrambling over the roof of the deep entrance porch. The latter was decorated with a fleur-de-lis pattern of faded blue on a yellowish-cream glaze, well-worn by many years of footsteps; the front door was a massive piece of oak.”

The escapades of kittens, Billy and Bella, are a pleasant interlude between progress in the case and dire danger to our hero. I particularly enjoyed this novel and can see it as an episode in a cosy crime TV series similar to Death in Paradise.

Book description

Much to the delight of the locals, a colourful Russian circus rolls into Nuala, but the fun ends abruptly when, on the opening night, a tragic accident takes place.
Shanti de Silva and his wife, Jane are among the crowd to witness the accident. Or was it an accident? Inspector de Silva senses murder, and soon, he’s juggling with the evidence. Will the trail lead to the circus’s dashing stunt rider and master of horse, Alexei Goncharov, or to Alexei’s brother Boris, its boisterous ringmaster? Throw a string of jewel thefts and some deadly snakes into the mix and the list of suspects grows.
De Silva will need to keep his wits about him to unravel yet another absorbing puzzle in this charming and addictive mystery series set in the 1930s in exotic Ceylon.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Paranormal #Thriller Madam Tulip And The Serpent’s Tree by @DaveAhernWriter #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Madam Tulip And The Serpent’s Tree by Dave Ahern

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Derry O’ Donnell, a talented but at the moment jobless actress, along with her friends, rising TV star Bella and ex Navy SEAL Bruce, have secured a three week run for their fledgling theatre company. Pat Kelly, pub owner and band manager, has offered a room above the pub as a venue. But first Derry was required to grant a favour and become her alter ego, Madam Tulip, for a party. Pat Kelly manages pop group Maramar and is hosting a birthday bash for the lead singer, Aileen.

Madam Tulip was born as a means for Derry to make some cash when jobs were scarce. Not that she was a fraud, she was the daughter of a seventh son of a seventh son and was a skilled tarot and palm reader which she practices withy integrity. However, all too often her other persona had lead her into situations she would rather have avoided. But it seems without Madam Tulip the theatre company would be a no-go.

Almost as soon as she arrives at the retreat in the Dublin mountains, Derry is made aware Pat Kelly wants her to compromise her moral principles.

“Gloom settled on Derry like a cold fog. She felt the energy drain from her body. Why did people always want something you weren’t selling and shouldn’t sell? Predictable. Tedious. Wearying. Too depressing to be merely a bore.”

During the weekend Derry finds herself an unwitting confidante for Aileen’s insecurities which lead her further into the dramas and obsessions that seem inherent with the level of success achieved by Maramar. More problems and suspicions arise when Aileen’s shaman and therapist Kira, who is distrusted and disliked by most, disappears.

Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree is told mainly from Derry’s third person perspective. It’s to David Ahern’s credit that the writing, engaging and enjoyable in itself, is also extremely visual and witty, with a smoothly flowing narrative. Diverse and colourful characters are fabulously realised. My favourites, Derry who is feeling conflicting emotions about her role as Madam Tulip and Bruce…who wouldn’t want a friend like Bruce.

“The sensation of becoming Madam Tulip was familiar but more intense than Derry had ever experienced. She had the strangest feeling that Derry O’Donnell, actress—the person whose body and brain she had inhabited all her life—had evaporated.”

Derry and Bruce are drawn into intrigue and much danger with a very atmospheric and dramatic conclusion that included two of my worst nightmares, fear of heights and claustrophobia, rising to to the surface. Those scenes might just have been described a little too vividly.  Offsetting the drama and adding a comedic element are Derry’s parents, Jacko and Venessa, who are in opposition over the book Jacko is supposedly writing.

An excellent addition to a series that includes mystery and suspense with a touch of romance, and one which I hope will carry on.

Book description

Actress Derry O’Donnell, moonlighting as fortune-teller Madam Tulip, finds herself in a famous pop singer’s entourage. But at the star’s glittering birthday party in the Dublin mountains, Derry finds a band riven by rivalries and feuds. Behind the trouble is a mysterious Russian guru, a shaman hated by everyone but the singer whose life she dominates.

When the shaman mysteriously disappears, suspicion threatens to tear the band apart. Was she victim or poisoner? Guilty or innocent? Dead or alive?

Two brilliant and beautiful musicians; an ambitious band manager with a shady past; a sax player entranced by Vikings–each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Paranormal #Thriller Madam Tulip And The Serpent’s Tree by @DaveAhernWriter

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here https://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Madam Tulip And The Serpent’s Tree by David Ahern

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My Review: 5 stars out of 5

She’s baaaack! I can’t binge on the absolutely bingeworthy Madam Tulip series because I obsessively grab each new book the second I can get my hands on it. Then I make a bowl of popcorn, pour my annual Guinness, and head back to Ireland with some of my favorite fiction friends. As I said in my review of Book 3, they include the (attractive of course) young actress, Derry O’Donnell—permanently broke and scratching for the next job in the Dublin theater scene, consistently dating the wrong flavor-of-the-week, while waiting for The Big Break—and her alter ego Madam Tulip, celebrity psychic and fortune-teller. (*That’s Madam without an “e”, because she’s not married to Monsieur Tulip.)

Derry’s supporting cast includes her mother Vanessa—successful American art gallery owner, artist’s agent, and force of nature. Vanessa is divorced from (but still agent to) Derry’s father, Jacko—famous Irish artist whose painting skills are second only to his ability to gamble (and lose) money. Then there are Derry’s acting friends, Bella (black, Belfast-born actress with catch-phrase ‘Say No to Negativity!’), and Bruce (gay ex-Navy Seal, actor, computer expert, and total eye-candy). [note: and in case you didn’t get the gay part, his remarkably prescient parents did, in fact, name him “Bruce”.]

In the team’s latest adventure, Derry is (as usual) caught between her ever-competing parents as her father Jacko prepares his tell-all, career-destroying autobiography while her mother Vanessa bemoans the inevitable loss of his career (and, of course, all those lovely commissions).

But Derry has bigger problems. Her uncomfortable relationship with alter ego Madam Tulip doesn’t stand a chance against her even more troubled bank balance when she accepts a gig as member of a rock star’s entourage. As usual, Madam Tulip has barely started telling her first fortune when murder attempts and accusations begin to pile up.

“Derry wondered if the source of her inspiration wasn’t her years spent in Ireland, where believing anybody’s motives are anything but self-serving, dishonest, and probably criminal was universally viewed as the sign of a half-wit.”

But two things are different this time. First, this is a darker adventure in every way. Events are already set in motion, but Madam Tulip’s very real gift is quick to shed light on a cauldron of seething motives. And second, unlike the past events where Derry was always aware that Madam Tulip was just another character she’s playing as an actor, this time she finds the character taking over. ‘This time, Madam Tulip felt more real than I did. As if she were acting me, like she was the one truly alive. Am I crazy?’

Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree has all the pieces I’ve loved so far. Derry and her friends’ backstory and characters continue to become more complex and rounded. Her parents continue to provide comic relief. The affectionate yet honest descriptions of Dublin and surrounding countryside are beautifully written.

New characters are introduced with author David Ahern’s usual brilliant descriptions, such as Pat Kelly, band manager and aspiring nightclub developer, “He was short and overweight, his pudgy face strongly tanned, like he spent long hours on a sunbed or had just returned from a winter vacation. His hair was black and curly, longer than fashionable. His clothes were youthful, obviously designer, though his socks were white and his shoes were black slip-ons, cheap-looking and too shiny. His shirt gaped over his belly, straining the buttons.” We probably know everything we need from just those white socks and too-shiny shoes.

As Derry has already discovered, interpreting Madam Tulip’s intuition isn’t an exact science. Take the serpent symbol, for example. Is it a warning, as it seems when Derry first sees a mysterious bracelet? Is it a symbol of the end of the world, as her Viking-loving new friend Nils tells her? Perhaps it’s part of the message from the tarot cards, or even an incomprehensible vision beckoning her to safety in her single moment of greatest danger? Derry never decides, and maybe we won’t know either.

For anyone who enjoys plenty of wisecracking banter, a cast of offbeat characters willing to risk their lives for each other—even if not in ways I could have predicted, as when Bruce brings Derry back from brink of hysteria by insisting she recite Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy—and a rollercoaster thriller plot, I can’t recommend this series enough.

And for you lucky ones who are not (yet) addicted, Madam Tulip predicts a treat in store for you: the first three books in her series are now available as a box set at special savings. What could you possibly be waiting for?

Book description

Actress Derry O’Donnell, moonlighting as fortune-teller Madam Tulip, finds herself in a famous pop singer’s entourage. But at the star’s glittering birthday party in the Dublin mountains, Derry finds a band riven by rivalries and feuds. Behind the trouble is a mysterious Russian guru, a shaman hated by everyone but the singer whose life she dominates.

When the shaman mysteriously disappears, suspicion threatens to tear the band apart. Was she victim or poisoner? Guilty or innocent? Dead or alive?

Two brilliant and beautiful musicians; an ambitious band manager with a shady past; a sax player entranced by Vikings–each has a secret to share and a request for Madam Tulip.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery DEATH ON THE DANUBE by @JSAauthor

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Death On The Danube by Jennifer S. Alderson

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In Death on the Danube, Jennifer S Alderson has turned away from the dangerous adventures of Art Historian Zelda Richardson and turned to cozy mystery with newly divorced Lana Hansen as she takes up a new life as a tour guide with Wanderlust Tours.  I soon adapted to this style of murder mystery as Lana uses her skill with people to take care of a disparate group of wealthy tourists threatened by murder within their midst.  An intelligent former journalist, Lana puts the “Fabulous Five” group of mature women at ease while trying to solve the case.

The book includes vivid descriptions of places of interest in Budapest as settings to the interactions of suspicious characters such as Helen and Tom who own a yacht rental company and Carl, a fellow tour guide, who seems to prefer gambling.  I was kept guessing about the guilt of those guests who seemed most unpleasant or of more likeable old friend, Sally who has been betrayed so badly by the first victim.  I am certainly tempted to visit Budapest myself, now and I am looking forward to following Lana’s investigations next year in A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris.

Book description

Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…

Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.

Dotty Thompson, her landlord and the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is also in a tight spot after one of her tour guides ends up in the hospital, leaving her a guide short on Christmas Day.

When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!

What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.

But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube…

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES & A CAPER by @dehaggerty

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Christmas Cupcakes & A Caper by D.E. Haggerty

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Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper is another humorous adventure in the cozy mystery series starring Callie, Anna and Kristie from Callie’s Cakes. As Kristie went to open the shop she found an elf sat on the floor, leaning against the door. As the door opened the elf fell inside. Assuming he was drunk, Callie tried to wake him up, but to no avail. There was no pulse, so Callie called 911. It turns out the three ladies recognised the man. He’s a student at the university where Callie teaches and they all have a tenuous connection to him. So begins another entertaining edition in the Death by Cupcake series.

Anna is convinced it wasn’t an accidental death and persuades Callie and Kristie that they need to investigate. Callie has her own worries though, about her boyfriend Ben and his secretive behaviour.

‘“You might as well tell her. You know the pink-haired pixie won’t let up until you spill the coffee beans.”

I know Kristie’s right, but I still sigh and take a moment before opening my mouth. “Ben’s acting strange.”’

So now the girls have two mysteries to solve, much to Callie’s dismay. She has her work cut out to restrain Anna in her hunt for the supposed killer, especially when Kristie feels the need to join in. And how did she get roped into shadowing Ben? The murdered student is apparently morally disreputable according an overheard conversation and that is big no-no for Kristie after a date rape case she was involved in previously.

Although Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper is a light, fun read with the three girls and their hunky, (sometimes over) protective other halves, there’s a serious undertone. Each book is told from the differing first person perspectives of each of the likeable and well meaning ladies—it’s Callie’s turn in this one.

I do enjoy a cupcake now and again and, if I was into baking, I’d be trying out all the delicious sounding recipes at the end of the book…but then I’d have to eat them!

Book description

It’s all candy cane cupcakes and peppermint coffee until you find a dead elf on your doorstep.

Only the elf wasn’t a real elf, because elves don’t actually exist – not even at Christmas time. A college student dressed like an elf decided taking a nap on the stoop of Callie’s Cakes in sub-zero winter temps was a good idea. It wasn’t. Anna, the pink-haired baker extraordinaire, is convinced the student’s death was not an accident. She drags Callie and Kristie along with her as she attempts to discover who killed the elf … um… student.

Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes find the killer before Christmas is ruined?

Cupcakes not included, although you’ll find recipes for all the delicious Christmas cupcakes Anna bakes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

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