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Ari owns a knitting shop, ‘Ariadne’s Web’, and this is where the first body is discovered strangled with some handspun yarn, spun by her best friend Diane. Eventually Josh the new detective clears her as a suspect and reluctantly concedes to work together to find the murderer.
As the dead bodies pile up, she discovers that her patterns have been sold online, but is it connected with the deaths? Her life is also made a little more difficult thanks to her irritating ex husband and issues with her young daughter.

This was a well written book that had consistent and swift pacing, making it an enjoyable page turner. There is a large cast of characters which helped the mystery bed to down and hid the murderer. I also liked the connection between Ari, Joel and Diane. As a knitter, I enjoyed the knitting and spinning references too, as well as the descriptions of the shop and contents. I did have an inkling of who the murderer was, which was a little disappointing.

From what I understand, the author has primarily written romance books and it was clear that murder mysteries were a departure. I wasn’t entirely sure that she knew much about knitting and in particular online pattern sharing and selling, as there seemed to be some inconsistencies. All in all, this was a fun cozy mystery which also had the bonus of some knitting patterns as an added extra. All in all this was a great book and an interesting start to a series, which I will look forward to reading.

Geared for the GraveThis is the first in  the Cycle Path Mystery series. Evie, an ad exec, finds herself on Mackinac Island after volunteering to help Rudy’s ailing bike hire business (who was also laid low with a broken leg) with the hope that as Rudy is her boss’s Dad, she might finally get her hands on her long awaited promotion.  Not on the Island for 12 hours, she finds herself face to face with her first bead body – Bunny the local Grande Dame. With Rudy framed for the murder and her promotion speeding away from her, Evie decides to channel Miss Marple and figure out who the murderer is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, you were taken on a romp around the island, complete with bikes, horses, hit men, and lock picking.  Not only that, but like every small community, it was rife with scandal, internal squabbles and infighting, as well as committees and festivals to promote the tourist industry.  In short, Mackinac is a law unto itself, so when Evie, the Pied Piper of trouble turns up – the residents of Mackinac Island are happy to join in and fan the flames.

I thought that the map of Mackinac Island was a stroke of genius –  there was a lot of rushing about to different parts of the island, and it was useful to pin point where everyone was. In fact, it would have been great if it also contained where the main characters resided/worked.

One of the things I love about murder mysteries is that you can pick up clues and play along, and with this book, the cornerstone clue was lobbed in just after the murderer was revealed, so it would have been fun if there was a sniff of it earlier instead of when it was all over and done with, but that is only the tiniest of criticism and better than figuring out who the murderer was three chapters in!

All in all, this was a great book, it definitely seemed to be laying the ground for more adventures on the island and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Duffy very kindly sent me a copy of this book for a fair and unbiased review – thank you!

http://www.duffybrown.com/

Maggie For Hire by Kate Danley

A great book to start off the new year! Amazon descriptions can often be a hit and miss affair but when I saw “WARNING: This book contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed with caution.”
Well, sign me up!

Maggie is a magical tracker, now going it alone after her Dad disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She can easily travel between our world and The Other Side, where every fairy tale and mythical creature you’ve ever thought of are hanging out. Her job is to track the reprobates and general baddies who have illegally skipped over to our world for nefarious reasons, and bring them back – usually kicking and screaming.
From the first sentence, you are immediately immersed into a fight between Maggie and a vampire. It’s only when he seems to get the upper hand that Killian the elf appears – to whom Maggie becomes begrudgingly indebted to. To clear the debt, she has to agree to save the world from vampires. Simple.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book (and have re-read it several times since I bought it in March).   Maggie is a brilliant, well rounded, character who kicks ass on a daily basis, and swears like a sailor on leave. As well as being kick ass, Maggie has a vulnerable side; she is wracked with guilt about her Dad and the consequences that led to her family moving to the Other Side. What’s more, she is standalone character – there isn’t a male romantic interest or some kind of romantic triangle; she stands on her own merits.
I feel that this is a particularly important feature, as so many urban fantasy books have lead female characters who are not only ‘incomplete’ without a male partner, but almost lacking because of it. All of a sudden a man comes along and automatically completes her, becoming the key to fulfilling her as a woman and the story. Maggie is her own woman. She is fulfilled, powerful and while she does have flaws and weaknesses, they are hers – and hers to fix and grow in spite of them. She doesn’t need to rely on a man’s presence to erase them.

The other thing that I really liked was that Danley covers things that are often overlooked in traditional urban fantasy books. For example, Maggie wears a neck protector which makes perfect sense. How many books with vamps in them have you read and thought ‘why the hell isn’t there some kind of neck guard for vampire hunters ?’ if you have a predator that keeps on going for your neck, of course you’d protect it, leaving it out just seems to be inviting trouble.

The other characters are equally as interesting. Killian is as ‘Other side’ as Maggie is ‘normal’ with peculiar turns of phrase and working for an elf Queen. I loved little details, like how he took ‘human dialects 401’ at University.  It’s these touches that I really enjoy. Maggie’s family are packed full of awesome too. Her Mum is a psychic and lives on the Other Side, where she reads tea leaves; while her twin sister is Maggie’s polar opposite, living in this world with no magical talents. Most mothers have their own brand of psychic ability when it comes to their children, but one who can read tea leaves must bring its own special chaos – and it does!

This book was an absolute joy to read. I found it very well written, with lots of little details which means you can still find fresh things to enjoy when re-reading it.   The characters are a delight too. I loved Maggie’s irreverent attitude, especially when it came to Killian – who is clearly God’s gift to ladies and used to it. I have been reading a lot of books recently and this has stood head and shoulders above them. Of course I ended up reading the whole series (reviews to come) and wasn’t disappointed. So, go ahead and get a copy – at the moment it is free too!

So here is something new – an excerpt from the book Front Page Fatality by LynDee Walker front page fatality.  Are you sitting comfortably, then I shall begin.

Jenna was still giggling twenty minutes later when we climbed out of the car by the river side a few miles south of the city. She was positively giddy from being forced to accompany me to an accident scene. Well that, and tequila.

I tried to look severe as I ordered her to do her best to appear sober and avoid making me laugh when I was supposed be working, but her twinkling eyes and eager grin reminded me of a little kid with a Toys “R” Us gift card, and it was damn near impossible to maintain decorum while I was looking at that.

“Yes, ma’am.” she slurred, proving my point as she offered me a weak salute and then winced when I giggled. “Oops. Sorry. I’ll try to be less funny. Damn you, Jack Daniels.”

“You were drinking margaritas, honey. Wrong label.” I chuckled as I tucked her arm into mine so at least she wouldn’t fall. I knew I had no chance of getting her to stay in the car.

All the emergency vehicles had made it difficult to get the car within field-goal range of the crash site, and the flashing red and blue lights made the natural beauty of the riverbank unnaturally eerie. The shredded boats still burning on the black water in the distance didn’t look promising for a happy ending.

I canvassed the fringe of the emergency personnel for Aaron, but it was hard to even distinguish the policemen from the firefighters in the strange half-darkness so far from the accident scene.

The blond head bobbing just above most of the crowd, however, I knew instantly.

“It can’t be,” I muttered, even as I recognized the butter-colored polo I’d seen twice that day already.

“There you are!” Parker said when I caught up to him. “This is a madhouse. How do you ever get any work done at one of these things?”

“Hey, Parker.” I stared, still unable to come up with a single logical reason for his presence. “I’ve never been to anything like this before. Boats don’t usually blow up on the James. But I’m about to find a cop and see what’s going on. Forgive my manners, but what are you doing here?”

“I know a little about what happened.” He grimaced. “The coach got a call during my interview after the Generals game. The little speedboat belonged to Nate DeLuca, one of our pitchers. I don’t know the details, but it hit a Richmond PD boat. Like you said, there was an explosion. The fire department is searching the river and the banks on both sides, but they don’t think anyone survived. After I called in my sto- ry, I came to see for myself what happened to DeLuca. I’m going to write a feature on him for Sunday. He should’ve been at the ballpark tonight, but he had friends in town, and since he wasn’t pitching, the coach gave him the night off.”

“Sweet cartwheeling Jesus. Let’s go see what else we can find out,” I said. “Kiss your Saturday goodbye, Mr. Columnist. You’re going to be at the office tomorrow.” And so was I. So much for my leisurely weekend.

I turned to dive back into the crowd in search of Aaron and mid-whirl, I noticed Jenna standing there, still and surprised. Her eyes were doing that white-all-around thing again.

“People died out there?” she squeaked.

I patted her hand. “You want to go back to the car?” “No.” She squared her small shoulders and gripped my arm a little tighter. “I want to go to work with you.”

I turned back to Parker. “Grant Parker, this is my friend Jenna Rowe. This wreck crashed girls’ night. She drank too much tequila, but she’s very excited to see the glamorous world of journalism up close.”

“The best way to do that is after too much tequila,” he said.

**************************************************************************************************

So, what do you think?   If your interest has been piqued by our crime reporter, pop along to Amazon and find out what has happened!

Find out more at LynDee’s website http://lyndeewalker.com

This is a new series and a spin off from the Chanse MacLeod detective books.  Paige isn’t your normal cozy mystery heroine; she drinks, gets lairy, swears like a trooper and is ready to kick some ass which was refreshing.  I like a character who can drop the f-bomb without wanting to star it out.  The only element that I wasn’t too keen on the fact that she likes to smoke pot, commenting on how it helped her with her creative process and writing her articles.  Maybe I am too conservative, but it didn’t really add anything to her as a character 😦

Paige is working for the Crescent City Magazine in New Orleans and is suffering from a stonking hangover after a particularly boring fashion event.  Unfortunately the person who she was supposed to interview, Marigny Mercereau, had been killed and now instead of conducting a fluffy interview, she has to find another angle for her story and can’t resist investigating.

It turns out that Marigny was short of cash and decided to write her memoirs and blackmail those who might not want to see their antics in print.  So, Paige sets out to interview members of the New Orleans fashion scene to dig up some secrets.  However the main clues to the murder came from a copy of Marigny’s book which she had emailed to Paige before her death.  The culmination of the mystery happened within a couple of pages; annoyingly there weren’t that many candidates for the murderer so it was fairly obvious who the perpetrators were.

As this is a spin off book from the Chanse MacLeod series, I did wonder if I was missing some of the elements by coming to this book cold.  We were introduced to a handful of her friends, most of whom seem to be from the previous series, as well as a long running plot about Paige’s past which will be interesting to find out more about.

This book was a pleasant read and I think that I’ll add the first Chanse MacLeod book to my ‘to-read’ list too.

I was sent this book as part of the CLP Blog tour

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