The chocolate book bandit : a Chocoholic mystery

From  Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  JoAnna Carl
Title:  The chocolate book bandit : a Chocoholic mystery
I started a series backwards. I try not to do that, in general, but the title and the jacket intrigued me enough that I broke my rule. What book could entice me to do that? Well, the book is entitled The Chocolate Book Bandit: a Chocoholic mystery by JoAnna Carl and it centered around an accountant to a chocolatier. The accountant, Lee Woodyard, is offered an opportunity to sit on Warner Pier’s Library Board. She attends the Library Board meeting and, after the discovery of a body, becomes embroiled in the subsequent murder investigation. Lee Woodyard, the accountant, works for her aunt at TenHuis Chocolates, and she intrigued me enough that I am now reading the Chocoholic mysteries from the beginning and thoroughly enjoying them. Another interesting part of this series is the chocolate facts that the author includes in her Chocolate Chat pages within the novels. The backstory to Lee Woodyard is intriguing and I hope you, too, will enjoy your visit to Warner Pier and TenHuis Chocolates, hopefully, with a small selection of prime chocolate by your side.

Light in the Ruins

From Eileen Effrat
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Title: Light in the Ruins
Shifting in time between the German occupation of Italy (1943-1944) and the year 1955, this is an historical mystery that focuses on the Rosati family, a Tuscan family of noble lineage. The story begins in 1955 with the brutal murder of Francesca Rosati, daughter-in-law of the marchese. When the marchese meets a similar fate, it becomes clear someone bears a great deal of hatred for the family. Is this a vendetta for past or present deeds? I enjoyed this as much as Bohjalian’s earlier book, Skeleton’s at the Feast, that also explores events from World War II.

Blue Lightning

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  Ann Cleeves
Blue Lightning
This is the fourth book in Cleeves’ crime series set in the Shetland Islands.  Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez returns to Fair Isle to introduce his fiancée to family and friends.  Shortly after their arrival,  the well  known director of the island’s bird observatory is found murdered. Within a day the cook is found dead.  As a storm rages across the island, no one can get on or off the island.  When forensic help finally arrives, it is of little help. This is a mystery where motive is crucial.  I would recommend beginning with the first in the series, Raven Black, followed by White Nights, and Red Bones.

The Book Case

From Rosemarie Jerome
Author:  Nelson De Mille
The Book Case
Otis Parker owns the Dead End Bookstore in Manhattan.  An employee finds him dead in his shop.  He was killed by a fallen bookcase.  Was it a bizarre accident or premeditated murder?  Detective John Corey must solve this puzzle, a clever locked room mystery, with an unusual choice for a murder weapon.  This exclusive Kindle eBook is available on our circulating Paperwhite Kindle.


What Darkness Brings: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery

From Rosemarie Jerome
Author:  C.S.  Harris
What Darkness Brings: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery
A wealthy gem merchant, Benjamin Eisler, is found dead in his decrepit home filled with priceless works of art. Russell Yates, a pirate, is found standing over his body. The case is solved, the trial is pending and his execution is a sure thing. Sebastian St. Cyr is asked to investigate the murder, the accused is the husband of his former lover and Yates claims to be innocent. Sebastian soon discovers that the victim was a vile swindler and blackmailer and the list of suspects rapidly increases as well as the danger. People are lying, others are dying and the clock ticks towards Yate’s demise. This is the eighth book in the suspense series that takes place in Regency England. I look forward to the 9th; the drama between the main characters and their secrets are so compelling.

A Small Death in the Great Glen

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  A.D. Scott
A Small Death in the Great Glen
For an atmospheric portrayal of 1950’s Scotland, this is a good pick. As Scotland struggles to adjust to a post World War II world, a young boy is found murdered in a canal. Suspicion automatically falls on the town’s “outsiders” —refugee Poles, an Italian restaurant owner, and a band of Gaelic tinkers. As the investigation proceeds, it begins to reveal some very unpleasant secrets concealed by the very “pillars of the town”. Scott’s sequel, A Double Death in the Black Isle, is just as enjoyable.

Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Mark Fuhrman
Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?
This is the true crime account of the murder of 15 year old Martha Moxley on her own property in the exclusive area of Belle Haven, Greenwich, CT. on October 30, 1975. Her neighbors were the Skakels, who are related to the Kennedys. From the beginning, many people suspected that someone from the Skakel household must have committed the crime, as the murder weapon was a golf club matching a set found in the house. Thomas Skakel, the 17 year old son of the widowed Rushton Skakel, emerged early as a suspect, since he was the last known person to see her alive. Ken Littleton, the 23 year old tutor who moved in that day, was a suspect for many years. Not only was the police investigation incompetent, but they tiptoed around the wealthy Skakels. It seemed the only way the crime would be solved would be a confession, because the police weren’t about to uncover anything useful themselves! Not until the existence of “the Sutton file” (a report by a private investigation firm, paid for by Rushton to clear Thomas’s name) became known did Michael Skakel (15 y/o at the time of the murder) become a suspect.

I like how Fuhrman explained how a murder investigation is supposed to be conducted, as he is a former detective with LAPD, most notable for being associated w/ the O.J. Simpson trial. A cast of characters would have been useful.

The other side of suffering : the father of JonBenet Ramsey tells the story of his journey from grief to grace

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  John Ramsey 
The other side of suffering : the father of JonBenet Ramsey tells the story of his journey from grief to grace
John Ramsey has suffered more loss in his life than most could bear.  You may know him as the father of the murdered child, JonBenet Ramsey. You may not know that he also lost his oldest daughter from his first marriage, Beth, in a car accident.  He also lost JonBenet’s mother, Patsy, to cancer in 2006. He shares the real story of the aftermath of JonBenet’s murder and why he “lawyered up” quickly. He tells of the nightmare of living under suspicion by the Boulder, CO police and of the paparazzi chasing him, his son Burke, and his wife. He also found kindness in unlikely places, when strangers would approach him with comforting words. He also had a supporter in the detective Lou Smit, who posited the intruder theory, and later became friends with John.

 This is a heartbreaking memoir as well as a spiritual biography.  John regrets that he had practically no relationship with God when his life was going well. He went to India recently as part of his spiritual quest, which was life-changing. He shares the mistakes he has made: “Our ability to make good decisions is damaged after tragedy, because we are not thinking clearly. The best thing I could have done was to put my life in park for a while. I was eager to start climbing again and didn’t realize I hadn’t stopped the fall yet. Here are some suggestions for stopping the fall, the first being, and if you get no other point of advice from this book, please hear this one: After you have suffered a tragic circumstance in your life, press the pause button and put your life on hold. Do not make any big decisions or moves. Focus on stopping the fall first. Realize also that this ‘life hold’ will be necessary for longer than you think.”

 A friend of John’s told him that “Hope is the belief that your best days lie ahead of you”. After grieving for 15 years, John finally has hope.

Plain fear : forsaken

From Rosemarie Jerome
Author:  Leanna Ellis
Plain fear : forsaken 
Vampires and the Amish, sounds bizarre and I was skeptical at first but the story slowly lured me in until I was hooked.  It begins with a young man running for his life and evolves into a young Amish woman haunted by her dead boyfriend and an ex-cop from New Orleans hunting for his wife’s killer.  It is a dark story of secrets, love, faith and a battle to save a woman’s life and her immortal soul.

Man overboard : inside the honeymoon cruise murder

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Joan Lownds
Man overboard : inside the honeymoon cruise murder 
This is based on the 2005 still-unsolved murder of George Smith IV during his Mediterranean honeymoon cruise with his wife Jennifer Hagel  Smith. They were a Connecticut couple who had it all: good looks, money, lots of friends, and a seemingly good relationship.  After a night of heavy drinking and gambling in the casino of the Brilliance of the Seas ship, Jennifer ended up passed out on one end of the ship, while George was in his stateroom with 3 or 4 male acquaintances.  Reports differ as to what may have occurred in the room, but we do know a loud thud was heard by “ear-witnesses” and then George went missing, and was presumed overboard. The next morning, passengers saw a bloodied awning below the Smith cabin.  There was a cursory investigation conducted by the Turkish authorities. George’s parents and sister feel that Royal Caribbean was negligent in their investigation and that the evidence was compromised. The book follows the actions and lawsuits that the Smith family pursued to find out the truth about what happened to their son, and to find the perpetrators.  There are also summaries of other cases where passengers were killed, raped or went missing. The book serves as an indictment of not only the Royal Caribbean cruise line, but the entire cruising industry. Overall, I felt the author overly relied on secondary sources, such as transcripts from TV programs and quotes from websites and newspapers. To my knowledge, she did not interview anyone close to the case. The author does not give her opinion as to who she thinks may have murdered George Smith. This is a cautionary tale for would-be cruisers.