Add this cozy debut to your TBR list:

Address to Die For

Recommended by MiddleSisterReviews.com

Address to Die For by Mary Feliz, published by Lyrical Underground, a digital imprint of Kensington Books, release date Tuesday, 19 July 2016; list price $3.99 (USD) for Kindle ebook, $15.00 (USD) paperback.
Address to Die For by Mary Feliz, published by Lyrical Underground, a digital imprint of Kensington Books, release date Tuesday, 19 July 2016; list price $3.99 (USD) for Kindle ebook, $15.00 (USD) paperback.

Description:  For professional organizer Maggie McDonald, moving her family into a new home should be the perfect organizational challenge. But murder was definitely not on the to-do list. Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that isn’t confined to her clients’ closets, kitchens, and sock drawers. As she lays out her plan to transfer her family to the century-old house her husband, Max, has inherited in the hills above Silicon Valley, she expects their new life to fall neatly into place. But as the family bounces up the driveway of their new home, she’s shocked to discover the house’s dilapidated condition. When her husband finds the caretaker face-down in their new basement, it’s the detectives who end up moving in. While the investigation unravels and the family camps out in a barn, a killer remains at large—exactly the sort of loose end Maggie can’t help but clean up.

Mary Feliz picked the perfect location for her debut cozy mystery, a $15 million Craftsman home with barn in a village above the hills of California’s characteristically quirky Silicon Valley.

The setting is delightful. The story opens on Maggie McDonald, a professional organizer, and her family as they arrive at the house on moving day. Family and friends live, or have lived, in this part of California, and of course one reads about Google and its headquarters, yet I never saw this locale as clearly as I did in reading Address to Die For.

Each chapter of the mystery is decorated with a “quotation” from Maggie’s notebooks, and these insights and tips add considerable curb appeal to the story.  Maggie herself, in my opinion, is a major selling point for this new series, aside from the added value of her organizational advice.  She’s smart and strong, not one of the silly (and sometimes stupid) sleuths that have become all too common in today’s cozies, quite likeable and definitely good company.

The supporting cast, for the most part, provides a good foundation, too, with lots of loveable dogs and the family’s pair of cats, Holmes and Watson. Feliz keeps faith with cozy fans, avoiding both bad language and bedroom scenes.  At times, the mystery seems to get away from both Maggie and Feliz, but it is an enjoyable read and a good first effort – and well worth the list price of $3.99 (USD). The few flaws are forgivable, and I’ve added Feliz to my list of authors to follow. Scheduled to Death is scheduled for release in January 2017, and the third in the series, not yet titled, is expected in July 2017.

NOTE:  Lyrical Underground, an imprint of Kensington Books, allowed Sis to preview this debut cozy with  a complimentary advanced reading copy provided via NetGalley.  Sis is grateful for the opportunity and happy to report that her review reflects her own, independent opinions . . . as always.

About the author:  Mary Feliz has lived in five states and two countries but calls Silicon Valley home. Traveling to other areas of the United States, she’s frequently reminded that what seems normal in the high-tech heartland can seem decidedly odd to the rest of the country. A big fan of irony, serendipity, diversity, and quirky intelligence tempered with gentle humor, she strives to bring these elements into her writing, although her characters tend to take these elements to a whole new level. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the Authors Guild where she feels at home among those plot to kill. She’s also a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers, who seem less blood-thirsty and more interested in the skeletons in the closet.

Visit the author’s website at http://www.maryfeliz.com/


Roadkill (Double Barrel Mysteries Book 1)

A clean, comic mystery hits all its targets

RoadkillRecommended without reservations:  Roadkill (Double Barrel Mysteries Book 1) by Barbara Ellen Brink, 294 pp, ebook edition discounted to $0.99 (USD) for a limited time, in celebration of the release of Much Ado about Murder (Double Barrel Mysteries Book 2); list price, $4.99 (USD).  Tradeback edition, list $14.99 (USD).

Review:  Roadkill (A Double Barrel Mysteries Book 1) is a riot of a read.

It’s a sort of cozy mystery, featuring in one barrel a hotshot homicide detective who survived getting shot by a naked girl while taking down her drug-dealing boyfriend. The second barrel is the detective’s devoted wife, Shelby, a stage actress raised by an alcoholic Shakespearean.  A hit-and-run murder in the detective’s hometown, and the shooting that disables him, provide a prologue to a story that brings the couple to the fictional Port Scuttlebutt on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where they are debating whether to buy a derelict bed-and-breakfast.

It’s also sort of Christian fiction, featuring a couple of characters who are ordinary Christians and written without obscenities, profanities or voyeuristic sexual situations, though it’s never preachy nor moralistic . . . so non-Christian readers shouldn’t find anything objectionable.

Brink’s writing is pleasantly polished.  The characters are well-developed and, barring the necessary villains, quite likeable.  In fact, I look forward with pleasure to getting to know many of them better in Brink’s newly released sequel, Much Ado about Murder. The setting is delightful, too, with everything that makes a small town loved . . . and loathed.  The mystery involves a teasing tangle of threads, and Brink is adept at twisting them, then unknotting them.  You might, as I did, suspect early on that you’ve hit on the solution, but you shouldn’t be too sure of yourself.

One of the very best features is the dialogue, and, in particular the brilliant way Brink employs Shelby’s bardinage.  I, too, grew up in a household rife with Shakespearean references, and my college credits include nine hours of Shakespeare (including all the comedies and all the tragedies, as well as a large portion of poetry).  But – and this is what is so spectacular – readers don’t need to be versed in Elizabethan drama to enjoy these references because Blake generously explains them to those sensible characters who have no time for such foolishness.  It’s never condescending. Blake apologizes for his wife’s eccentricity, and Shelby, though delighting in the quotations that linger in our language, is no literary snob herself.  She simply wants to share the fun, not look down on the uninitiated.

“ . . . I’m the daughter of an alcoholic.  I say that up front because it colors everything about me. For good or bad, my past experiences have much to do with who I’ve become. I love eggrolls, big band music and Shakespeare,” Shelby tells readers in Chapter One.

A reader who wants to be truly ticky could cavil over two scenes, the absence of a crowd of cops at the hospital after Blake is shot and the brevity with which volunteer firefighters knock down a blaze and depart.  In my experience, the Thin Blue Line always thickens the moment an officer goes down, and even volunteer firefighters linger long enough to ensure a fire doesn’t reignite.  I suggest overlooking both. Brink’s choices serve to keep the story free from clutter where realism serves no particular purpose.

Finally, the discount on the digital edition should be good from all online booksellers through Monday, 6 June 2016.  Brink told me in an email that the price at Amazon will be the last to revert to the regular $4.99.

About the Author: Barbara Ellen Brink is a multi-published author of mystery, suspense, and young adult novels. Apart from writing she is a wife, mother, and dog walker. She grew up on a small farm in Washington State, but now lives in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota with her husband, their pup, and two adult children living nearby. In her spare time – when she’s not reading – she likes to ride motorcycles, visit local wineries, or catch up on the latest movies.

Much Ado about Murder (A Double Barrel Mysteries Book 2) by Barbara Ellen Brink, 260 pp, list price $4.99 ebook, $14.99 tradeback.

Blake and Shelby Gunner’s plans to renovate the old boathouse go awry when murder comes calling. Autumn in Port Scuttlebutt usually means a stormy Lake Superior, crisp temperatures, vibrant fall colors, and an invasion of deer hunters. This year, there’s also a shallow grave. Someone killed Pete Dugan’s ex-wife and planted her under his woodpile. The police consider him the obvious suspect, but the Gunners have other ideas. What does the death of a pet squirrel, the sighting of a mysterious car, a break-in at the bed & breakfast, and the reappearance of three ex-cons into the community have to do with the murder of a middle-aged legal assistant? No detective worth a grain of salt believes in coincidence. So when things start piling up that seem too quirky to be happenstance, Blake and Shelby have to decipher the clues and come up with the truth before a killer gets away with murder.

A brilliant burglar

A Brilliant Plan, Brilliant Actors
by Alex Ames
by Alex Ames

A Brilliant Plan and its sequel, Brilliant Actors, are a pair of brilliantly plotted and wickedly funny cozy mysteries, featuring Calendar Moonstone, the daughter of middle-aged hippies and a talented designer of beautiful jewelry . . . who just so happens to moonlight as a cat burglar!

In her debut, Calendar plans to combine a Thanksgiving visit to her parents’ home in San Diego with an unacknowledgeable visit to a swanky art gallery with a small collection of very large diamonds. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only one with plans, not to mention designs on another treasure, and Cal finds the body of the night watchman before she can exit with the diamonds.  If that isn’t bad enough, the police are waiting for her at her parents’ home, House of Moon, full of suspicion.  Nor are they alone with those suspicions.

The only way to hold the plan together is to find the killer, along with the missing jewelry.  Cal does just that, though it’s not easy – of course!

Ames writes that he decided to become a writer because he didn’t have the courage to become a cat burglar.  So, he set out to create a character worthy of Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, but I’ll take Calendar over Stephanie any day — especially if we could have her and Cary Grant.

She may be a thief, but she’s got scruples.  She’s also smart – and she needs to be because the cops are merely a few among many who’d like to pin the crimes on her!  My only real complaint is how long it is taking Ames to write a third one in this series.  He does have a day job, plus another series in print, but I’m absolutely smitten with this one and I want more.

This set of clever, cozy mysteries is likely to appeal to fans of Marian Babson, M.C. Beaton, Kate Carlisle, Kate Collins, Janet Evanovich, Joan Hess, Elizabeth Peters and others who combine mirth and mystery. It should appeal to those who don’t like Evanovich, too.  Oh, and did you note what a bargain they are?  You could buy both in Kindle format for less than four bucks, and I thought the first one was worth at least that.

A Brilliant Plan:  Meet Calendar Moonstone, acclaimed creator of jewelry for the rich, the royals and the famous. And compulsive part-time cat burglar whenever there are rare diamonds whispering her name. It was planned as a routine Thanksgiving part-time job: get in, crack the safe, fetch the diamonds. Instead Calendar finds the dead body of a night watchman and by sheer chance becomes involved to find the murderer and the stolen jewels. She gets teamed up with a cute police detective and a not so cute insurance investigator who sees Calendar behind almost every jewelry heist ever committed. To stay out of jail, Calendar has to use all her wits, skills and charm. And must solve a century old jewelry mystery.

by Alex Ames
by Alex Ames

Brilliant Actors:  What could be more exciting than attending the Academy Awards ceremony, joining the hottest after-show party, and have an A-movie star wearing your jewelry? All of the above, plus spending the rest of the night in jail! Acclaimed jewelry maker and part-time cat burglar Calendar Moonstone finds a stolen necklace in her purse, an enigmatic, unemployed actor with a cheesy name working against her, full-time insurance nemesis Fowler Wynn hard on her trail, and an intriguing chief of police asking for a date. The only catch is she has just thirty days to clear her name or go to jail—permanently. With the help of her trusted friend Mundy Millar, good ties in the movie business, and her uncle Bernie’s biker gang, Calendar sets out to make sure that the right person is caught and her own name cleared again. Even if it means she has to cut some corners, pick some locks, and break some hearts—Calendar style. 

About the Author:  Alex Ames always dreamed but never dared to become a famous jewel thief or computer hacker or super spy. After some considerations, his only morally feasible option was to become a writer. Alex is the author of the Brilliant – Calendar Moonstone cat burglar adventures and the Troubleshooter corporate thrillers. Find his books in print exclusively on Amazon and electronically at most eBook-sellers.

Available in print from Amazon.com and in e-book from Amazon.com and other sources: