More Cozy Series

I started to call this “Two New Cozies,” but actually only one, from Zara Keane, is a new series. The other, by Alice Duncan, I discovered thanks to (I think) Bookbub (I get far too many ebook sales emails every morning!). Just for fun, I’ve added the second book in Nancy Cole Silverman’s series about a Hollywood radio reporter.

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I have enjoyed all of Zara Keane’s Movie Club Mystery stories, and she starts a new Irish-set cozy mystery series with Deadline With Death, throwing in a touch of the paranormal with a bit of time travel. Dee Flanagan performs a daily balancing act, juggling her ill-paying job as a reporter for the Dunleagh Chronicle, her non-paying work on her history blog, and her irrepressible grandmother. When she finds herself caught in the middle of some very odd happenings at Dunleagh Castle, her knowledge of Irish history makes her wonder about the man, dressed in a century-old Royal Irish Constabulary uniform, who falls at her feet, wounded by gunfire. Is he a stray from some sort of historical reenactment? Why didn’t anyone else hear the gunfire, and who shot the clown? Dee tries hard to separate herself from her family’s reputation for eccentricity (all that woo-woo stuff), but with both her grandmother and her mother drawn into the mayhem surrounding the castle, Dee doesn’t know what to think.

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As in her Movie Club Mystery series, Keane fills her tale with the inhabitants and circumstances of life in a small Irish town. Her Time-Slip Mystery series promises to be just as full of humor, eccentric characters, and, of course, mystery. Thoroughly entertaining.

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Lost Among the Angels is the first in Alice Duncan’s Mercy Allcutt cozy mystery series, new to me but published several years ago. I picked it up because it’s set in Los Angeles in 1926, a setting and time period that I always find entertaining. Mercy, the naive but enthusiastic narrator, has moved from her sheltered (and wealthy) life in Boston to live with her sister (married to a movie executive), experience Real Life, get a job, and someday write a novel. She manages to land a position as secretary to a private investigator named Ernie Templeton (her big adventures back in Boston involved taking typing and shorthand classes, a secret from her family).

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Secretary, heck, Mercy wants to be an apprentice P.I., and she throws herself into helping her boss with his cases. And help she does, although sometimes it’s more by accident than intent.

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Lost Among the Angels gets off to a bit of a slow start, with Mercy trying to figure out Los Angeles, perhaps a bit too silly and naive, but she grew on me, the cases piled up, and Ernie turned out to be a peach of an employer (and perhaps something more in the following volumes?), alternately amused and aggravated by Mercy’s impulsive behavior, and Mercy’s East Coast elite upbringing actually stands her in good stead from time to time. A fun book, and I’ve downloaded the next one, Angels Flight.

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And here’s the second book in a series I’ve been enjoying, also spotted on a sale. In Nancy Cole Silverman’s Beyond a Doubt, Los Angeles radio reporter Carol Childs investigates a body dropped from a helicopter, meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator named Holly Wood, and sees someone who just might be the ghost of Clark Gable. Her investigations lead to a string of missing girls, some prominently reported and some barely noticed, and then to the possibility of a human trafficking ring. With her prime suspect seemingly untouchable, and her station management shying away from hard news, Carol may be on her own, but she’s determined to get the story—and find the missing girls. This is another series from the Henery Press cozy stable.

Mysteries: Three Firsts and a Third

Diane Kelly begins a new series with Dead as a Door Knocker, featuring apprentice house flipper Whitney Whitaker and her cat Sawdust. Whitney is an experienced carpenter and property manager, but the house on Sweetbriar is her first attempt at rehabbing a house. With the help of her cousin Buck, she dives into the project, dealing with one disaster after another. But a corpse in the flower bed might just be too much—especially since Nashville police detective Collin Flynn thinks Whitney just might have her own motives for putting that corpse under the topsoil. Every bit as enjoyable as Kelly’s previous series: the Death and Taxes series featuring the hilarious misadventures of IRA special agent Tara Hollway and the Paw and Order series featuring accidental K9 officer Megan Luz and her furry partner Sergeant Brigit. I’ll be looking forward to the next installment.

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Nancy Cole Silverman’s Shadow of Doubt is the first in a series of mysteries featuring Carol Childs, a radio station news reporter in Los Angeles. When her neighbor, a talent agent, is accused of murdering the head of her agency (who is also her rather controlling aunt), Carol jumps to her defense, while balancing her relatively new job, her young teenage son, and her FBI agent lover. The “Hollywood Bathtub Murders” soon become a sensation; the case involves agents, actors, scandal, bath salts, and more than a touch of Hollywood noir. An entertaining beginning to another series from Henery Press.

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The Crossword Murder is the first in a long-running series by Nero Blanc (a husband-and-wife writing team). I downloaded it because (a) I love crossword puzzles, (b) it was the first installment, and (c) it was on sale. I’m not sure it lived up to my expectations. The story was a reasonably engaging mystery, and I particularly enjoyed the budding (but very low key) romance between the two protagonists, private detective Rosco Polycrates and crossword editor Belle Graham. The book includes several crossword puzzles (which can be downloaded and printed from the OpenRoad Media site, but beware—some of the answers on the site are in error, although they are correct in the back of the book), but I found those too much tied into the narrative to be entertaining as independent puzzles.

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I enjoyed the book enough to finish it, and if I run across another in the series on sale I may download it, but I’m in no rush to do so. (There’s a Hallmark Mystery Movie with this title on the horizon, but it doesn’t appear to be related to this book.)

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The Big Chihuahua is the third outing for apprentice private investigator Geri Sullivan and her talking (but only to her) Chihuahua Pepe, stars of Waverly Curtis’ Barking Detective series. This time around, Geri and Pepe go undercover among the followers of Dogawanda, a cult devoted to the Way of the Dog, with a leader, as you might expect, devoted largely to herself.

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The object of Geri’s investigation turns up dead, and someone from her past turns up very much alive. Geri’s boss, Jimmy G (who only refers to himself in the third person) comes along, hoping to score enough moolah to avoid eviction from his office.

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A talking Chihuahua assistant private investigator is a pretty silly premise, but Pepe is such a charmer (and mostly level-headed Geri is a lot of fun, too) that I enjoy the series. It runs to five books, and I have two more stashed on my Kindle.