I have been reading a lot of Historical Fiction that tends to be very serious and often leaves me feeling drained and sad. To offset this, I have also been listening to some cozy mysteries. They are light, fun and take my mind off the seriousness of the real world. The narrators of these books, Caroline Shaffer, Helen Lloyd, Susan Boyce, and Kim Hicks all did a nice job with their performance. All but Susan Boyce were new to me. I especially enjoyed Kim Hicks. She did a great job with the various accents and both male and female voices. I enjoyed all of these audiobooks, some more than the others.
The Hour of Death (Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery #2) by Jane Willan, Helen Lloyd (Narrator)
This is the second book in the Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery series, but I had no problem reading it as a standalone. It is the holiday season and they are preparing for the Christmas Art Show. When Tiffany Reese, president of the Village Art Society, is found dead on the floor of the parish hall. When the death is ruled a natural death, Sister Agatha starts poking around, as she is sure it was murder by poison, not a natural heart attack.
I liked the characters of Sister Agatha and her friend Father Selwyn, as well as the other nuns. They were very up to date using cell phones and texting each other. This story is about a group of Anglican nuns and abbey. Father is an Anglican priest, so a bit different than what I was expecting. Gwenafwy Abbey is a rural Welsh convent, which actually takes in tenants to help make ends meet. They have a young American artist staying during this story. Sister Agatha was a hoot. She was constantly considering what some of her favourite detectives would do such as Stephanie Plum, Agatha Christie or even Jessica Fletcher. The other nuns helped where they could and even had an incident room set up in a Sunday School classroom. The mystery was well-written and developed. There were plenty of suspects, even family members. Throw in some twists and red herrings and I did not figure out who the killer was until the final clues were presented. My one complaint is that it tended to be overly descriptive and at times repetitive. I have only read a few books set in Wales, so I enjoyed the setting and learning a bit about the countryside. Overall a good cozy mystery with likable characters and an interesting mystery.
Death by Dostoevsky (Crime With the Classics #4) by Katherine Bolger Hyde, Caroline Shaffer (Reading)
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is the fourth book in the Crime with the Classics series, but the first one I have read. I do wish I had read the others as I know I missed a lot of background, but still enjoyed the story. Professor Emily Cavanaugh is on sabbatical from Bede College, prior to her soon to be retirement. She has recently inherited a large sum of money as well as a huge Victorian Mansion that she wants to turn into a writer’s retreat. She heads to the library to do some research on her book she hopes to publish. She meets up with a favourite student, Daniel Razumov and his girlfriend in the library working on his thesis on Dostoevsky. During a conversation it is revealed that Daniel is a target of sexual harassment by one of his professors and in turn, she is also failing his girlfriend. Emily and some of the other professors are trying to get her sanctioned or even fired and begin a clandestine investigation. During this time, they hear some information that implicates her and others in some other questionable activities. When she ends up dead, Daniel is the main suspect and is arrested. Emily is adamant that Daniel is innocent and she plans on proving it with the help of some of her friends.
This was an enjoyable mystery, that was well-plotted and paced. I enjoyed the characters, both MCs and secondary ones. The characters were well-developed, even though I am sure there was a lot more development in the books I missed. This crime had several suspects and I enjoyed the way Emily put the clues together. She worked with a junior detective, who wanted to continue the investigation, even though his superior was sure they were wasting time and resources. I thought I had it figured out, but near the end realized I was on the wrong track. There were enough clues to be able to figure out the murder, just before the final reveal. I will definitely be going back and reading the previous books in this series.
Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut (Death by Chocolate Mystery #3) by Sarah Graves, Susan Boyce (Reader)
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I have enjoyed the previous two books in this series and this one was even better. Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree and her best friend Ellie White are quite happy with how their shop, The Chocolate Moose, is finally becoming a successful business. Eastport, Maine is in the midst of the annual Pirate Festival and they are ready to welcome customers to the store. When Henry Hadlyme, a blogger and somewhat celebrity foodie, wants to film in their shop, Jake blocks his entrance and refuses his request. Their argument is heard by many and when he ends up dead in their basement, no less, she is the prime suspect. While not arrested yet, it gives her and Emily the time and opportunity to ask questions and follow up on leads they get.
This was an action packed story. From a rescue in the harbour, to a mysterious boat that has gun ports, a shot up store, and eventual kidnapping, these ladies seem to attract trouble. There are a few suspects, but many of the clues lead them into a cold case. Does it have anything to do with the recent murder? I really enjoy Jake and Ellie as the protagonists in these stories. They both seem to be down to earth, well accepted in the community, but put them together and they get into some pretty crazy situations. There is also some humour that had me giggling, especially when there are snakes involved. I am going to say, that you will have to suspend belief with this one, because some of the stuff that happens in this one is a bit over the top, even for a cozy mystery. The clues were there, but there was not a straight line to follow. I did figure out what was happening before the final reveal, but it was a lot of fun getting to the final climax of this one. If you enjoy a cozy mystery that is fun, adventurous and a bit hard to believe, then you will love this one.
There’s a Murder Afoot (Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #5) by Vicki Delaney, Kim Hicks (Narrator)
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
In this fifth book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery, we find Gemma Doyle, her partner Jayne, boyfriend Ryan and friends Garth and Donald have headed off to England for a Sherlock Holmes Convention. While there, they meet up with Gemma’s family, her father a retired Scotland Yard Detective, her mother a defense attorney and her sister, Pippa who does something secret for the government. While at the convention she runs into her mother’s estranged brother, Randall (Randy), that she didn’t even know existed. When someone tries to intimidate her into passing messages to Randall, she is intrigued, but not sure what to do. While looking for things to purchase for her shop, she finds out that Randy is an accomplished artist and has been in prison for art forgery. When Randy ends up dead during the banquet for the convention, and her father is attacked at the same time, he is arrested for the crime. Of course, Gemma and Jayne are ready to step up and help find the real killer.
Even though this story is not set in West London on Cape Cod, the whole gang was here and it fit in nicely with the rest of the series. Gemma is a character that may readers have a hard time connecting with. She is very analytical in all areas of her life and seems to be rather prickly. She is the epitome of a staid British aristocrat, although she is not one of them. I love the way she puts clues together and her powers of observation are amazing. Meeting her family was entertaining and trying to figure out what Pippa does was fun. There was a lot of humour in this story, most coming from phone calls home to find out what was happening at the emporium in her absence. Once again, there are twists, red herrings, clues and several characters that are suspicious. I had no idea what who the culprit was, or why Randy was killed. This one kept me turning the pages until I reached a very satisfying conclusion. I am enjoying how the various relationships between the characters have grown and changed. It looks like Gemma and Ryan might finally be in a relationship that works for them. I definitely recommend not only this book, but the whole series.