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Mark Baker (Santa Clarita, CA United States)

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Wouldn't It Be Deadly (Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery)
Wouldn't It Be Deadly (Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery)
by E.
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Promising and Imaginative New Series Debuts, 25 Mar. 2015
Have you ever wondered what happened to Eliza Doolittle, Henry Higgins, and the rest of the characters from My Fair Lady after the play ended? Then this book is for you. It opens in 1913, two months after the events we already know. We find Eliza working for Emil Nepommuck, Henry Higgins’s chief rival, teaching proper English to anyone who needs to blend in with the upper classes. Higgins is incensed, not only about Eliza working there but also because Nepommuck is taking credit for her transformation.

And so Higgins digs up some dirt on Nepommuck and shares it with the newspapers. The day the dirt hits the paper, Eliza finds Nepommuck dead in the hallway outside their offices with a knife in the back. Scotland Yard thinks that Higgins makes the best suspect, but Eliza is sure he couldn’t have done it. Together, Eliza and Higgins begin searching for other suspects. What they learn is that many of Mepommuck’s students had reasons to kill him. But did any of them actually do it?

While I’m not a super fan of My Fair Lady (I hate, hate, hate the ending), I do like playwright George Bernard Shaw’s original ending with these characters in Pygmalion, the play on which My Fair Lady was based. That’s the ending that the duo writing as D. E. Ireland has used here. So if you are just familiar with the ending of the musical, just pretend the final scene of that version never happened, and you’ll be fine.

I must say, I had more fun than I expected to while revisiting these characters. They made a great detective duo, and we get scenes told from both of their third person points of view. The returning characters from the play are perfectly in character, and the new cast are great as well. The plot moves forward at a steady pace, gives us clues, red herrings, and suspects with great secrets. Add in a dash of humor and you’ve got a winner. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next.

I’m already looking forward to the next outing with this duo. This promises to be a long and fun series, and I can’t wait to see where detecting takes this unlikely duo next.

Mystery of the Velvet Gown
Mystery of the Velvet Gown
by Julie Campbell
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Freshman Play Lead to Mystery, 24 Mar. 2015
Every year, the freshman class at Sleepyside Junior-Senior High School comes together to put on a play. This year’s play, under the direction of Miss Darcy, is Romeo and Juliette, and Trixie’s friend Diana Lynch has landed the part of Juliette. Everyone is thrilled for her – well almost everyone. There’s Jane Morgan, who wanted the part and seems to have a grudge against the Bob-Whites in general.

However, Trixie’s focus is on Miss Darcy. Just as rehearsals are getting under way, Miss Darcy learns that her father, a diplomat, has been kidnapped in London. Naturally, she’s upset, however, her actions still seem a bit odd. Even odder is her fiancée, Peter Ashbury. Can Trixie figure out what is really happening?

I’m so torn on this entry in the series. In many ways, it’s not a bad book with an interesting mystery that moves forward at a steady pace. And yet, the plot is overly complicated once everything is revealed. I just find it hard to believe the criminals would do that. The characters are mostly spot on, however Dan is completely written out of the book (and in a way I don’t buy) and Diana is mostly sidelined even though it seems like she could have been an active part of this story. Then there’s the sub-plot with Reddy that actually adds very little but length to things.

So in the end, this book is average. It’s not bad, but it’s not all that great either.

The Gods of Guilt (Mickey Haller 5)
The Gods of Guilt (Mickey Haller 5)
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Clearing a Pimp, 24 Mar. 2015
Things have been slow for Michael Haller and Associates, and they desperately need a big case to keep the firm afloat. That’s why Mickey is immediately interested when Lorna texts him about a potential new client arrest for murder. The catch? The victim is prostitute Gloria Dayton, a former client that Mickey thought he turned around and got of the life eight years ago. That’s not the case since Mickey’s client is Gloria’s pimp.

Despite his emotional attachment to the case, Mickey takes it on. Or maybe because of it, since he wants to learn what really happened to the woman. A little digging into Gloria’s background begins to turn up the makings of a great alternate theory to feed the jury that might get his client off. But then Mickey uncovers some facts that just might turn that alternate theory into the truth. Can he and his team pull the evidence together to prove their client is truly innocent?

I’m disappointed that this is currently the last of the Mickey Haller series because it was another wonderful read. The pace is strong with plenty of great twists and turns. Yet we still have time for development on Mickey and where he currently is in his personal life. I love the rest of the characters, and it is nice to see them all again as well. All told, this made for a riveting read I could hardly bare to stop when real life got in the way of my reading time.

I still have many of the author’s other books to read, but I hope he revisits Mickey and friends soon because I know I will need another fix of these legal thrillers soon.

Buried in a Bog (County Cork Mysteries)
Buried in a Bog (County Cork Mysteries)
by Sheila Connolly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.37

2.0 out of 5 stars I Think There’s a Mystery in Here Somewhere, 20 Mar. 2015
Maura Donovan is fulfilling a promise to her Gran to visit the part of Ireland where Gran lived before she immigrated to Boston. Maura has never been outside of the Boston area, so this is a very new experience for her. She quickly connects with a couple of Gran’s friends from before Gran immigrated to America and begins to enjoy learning about Gran’s early life. She even manages to get a job at the local pub.

However, the first morning she is there, a body is found in a local bog. Just after Maura potentially stumbles on a clue to the dead man’s identity, a much more modern corpse appears. What is happening in this corner of Ireland?

I’ve heard great things about the author, and have been meaning to try her for years. Sadly, this wasn’t a good book to start with. I felt like I was there in Ireland, and I like Maura and many of the new friends she was making. However, this was more a coming of age tale of Maura deciding what to do with herself at this point in her life. The mystery was a sub-plot at best to Maura learning about her family history and this corner of Ireland. I began skimming parts of the book until I found something that actually moved the story forward.

Since I already have the first books in the author’s other two series, I will give them a try at some point, but I won’t be rushing back to visit Maura again any time soon.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin Big Book (If You Give... Books)
If You Give a Moose a Muffin Big Book (If You Give... Books)
by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Where Will Giving a Moose a Muffin Lead?, 15 Mar. 2015
When you see a moose out your kitchen window, you might be tempted to give him a muffin. That is, of course, a nice gesture. But can you really eat a muffin without jam? And that jam might make a mess, and then who knows where that might lead. Somehow, I think it will be a fun tale (or is that tail).

Once again, this imaginative author has written a good that is fun. The progression is pretty wild, but it also seems logical as you are going along. The illustrations are wonderful as well and really help tell the story, which is told in just a couple of sentences on a page.

The wild imagination is great for all ages, but kids especially will enjoy seeing where things lead. Pick this up today and see just what feeding a moose might get you into.

Puzzled Indemnity (Puzzle Lady Mysteries)
Puzzled Indemnity (Puzzle Lady Mysteries)
by Parnell Hall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Killing the Wife?, 15 Mar. 2015
The winter blues have definitely hit Cora Felton, and she is anxious to find anything she can to get her out of the house. Unfortunately, the town of Bakerhaven is having an unusually quiet spell when it comes to crime. The only crime is a robbery of the local liquor store by someone in an Iron Man mask.

Then lawyer Becky Baldwin gets a new client who wants her husband followed to see if he is having an affair. Even worse, this client thinks that her husband has taken out a life insurance policy on her with a healthy double indemnity clause. Naturally, Becky turns to Cora to conduct the surveillance. Almost immediately, Cora finds the proof she’s looking for. However, the wife hesitates when confronted with the truth. And then things really explode.

The books in the series can be hit or miss, but I really enjoyed this one. Yes, the book does feature the word play and banter I love, but that also served to advance the story and wasn’t just the characters showing off. The story took some interesting twists and turns along the way to the climax, which was a bit rushed, but that’s often the case in the series. The characters have never been super developed, but they are developed enough to be fun, and there is an interesting new development for Cora in the book.

Fans of the series will delight in this fun and, dare I say it, puzzling mystery.

Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates (Chocolate Covered Mystery)
Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates (Chocolate Covered Mystery)
by Kathy Aarons
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.34

4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Debut, 13 Mar. 2015
Michelle Serrano and Erica Russell are celebrating the first anniversary of their combined bookstore and chocolate shop, Chocolate and Chapters. As part of that celebration, they are hosting a fudge cook off. The mayor of their town has turned it into the kickoff of a Memorial Day event designed to bring tourists into the town and give a boost to the local economy.

However, two weeks before the event, Michelle walks into her chocolate part of the store and finds their neighbor, Denise, sitting in a chair dead. Worse yet, she was poisoned with one of Michelle’s chocolate truffles. With the locals looking at Michelle with suspicion, she needs to find out how poison got into one of her chocolates and then into Denise. Meanwhile, the potential tourists are starting to cancel their plans to come to town. Can Michelle find the killer and save her own reputation before the upcoming holiday weekend is ruined?

I really wasn’t looking to start a new series, but this one sounded like fun and I couldn’t resist. (That’s just how I am with chocolate, too.) I’m glad I read this because it was a fun debut. It started out a little slowly, but once the story gets going, it really gets good with several good twists to the story. Things slowed down a little again at the end, but it wasn’t too bad. The characters really grew on me, and I really am looking forward to visiting them again soon.

Yes, just like chocolate, this series is addictive, and I am already planning my next visit to Michelle and Erica’s store.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library
by Chris Grabenstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Escape, 8 Mar. 2015
Kyle Keeley loves games, especially those created by Mr. Lemoncello. He’s less excited by books and the new library that is opening in town even though his town has been without a library for 12 years. In fact, he’s completely blown off the contest that allows 12 twelve-year-olds early access to the library – until he learns that Mr. Lemoncello has put up the funds for the new library.

When Kyle and a couple of friends make the final cut for the preview, he is thrilled. However, their overnight lock in takes an unexpected twist when they learn the next morning they are still locked in to the library. If they can figure out clues hidden all over the library, they will win this unexpected contest. But will they find the escape route the clues lead them to before the deadline?

I’d heard nothing but great things about this book, and the praise was right. The set up took a bit more time than I would have liked, but once the contest started, the book was hard to put down. We are given the clues as Kyle and the other kids are, so we can possibly solve the riddles along with them. Personally, I didn’t spend much time trying and just let the characters solve it. Have I mentioned how bad I am with puzzles like that? Even so, I enjoyed watching how everything unfolded. The characters are fun as well, and make the entire book so enjoyable.

If you’ve missed this book, don’t continue making my mistake. Pick up the book and enjoy the fun escape now.

Double Fudge Brownie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries)
Double Fudge Brownie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries)
by Joanne Fluke
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fudged Plot, 8 Mar. 2015
Doc has a surprise for Hannah’s mother Delores. He’s decided that they should elope to Vegas for their wedding with Hannah, Andrea, and Michelle along for the vacation. The only other addition to the party is Doc’s best man. It’s a wonderful vacation that gives Hannah the room to face what is coming.

Because when Hannah returns to Lake Eden, it’s time for her trial for vehicular manslaughter. Despite the fact that her lawyer is still telling her that she has nothing to worry about, she can’t help but be nervous, especially when Judge Colfax asks for a pre-trial meeting. While waiting for that meeting, Hannah hears a thump from his chambers and goes in to find the judge dead next to one of her double fudge brownies. Since she was about to stand trial in his court, the police consider Hannah a suspect. Can she find the real killer and clear her name?

This has long been a favorite series, but I must admit I was disappointed with this latest entry. Every so often, there is a book where the cooking overwhelms the mystery, and this is such a book. Add to that the trip to Vegas at the beginning, and you’ve got a book that moves more slowly than I would like. On the other hand, I love the characters, and I do enjoy spending time with them. There is some forward movement on the love triangle as well, which will please longtime fans. I definitely think it is going in the right direction. As always, the recipes will leave you drooling as you read.

Longtime fans of the series will definitely want to read this book to find out what happens next to Hannah and company. However, if you are new to the series, don’t start here. There are better books to introduce you to these characters.

The Edge of Dreams (Molly Murphy Mysteries)
The Edge of Dreams (Molly Murphy Mysteries)
by Rhys Bowen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.91

5.0 out of 5 stars Could a Girl’s Dreams Hold a Clue?, 4 Mar. 2015
Life is coming back together for Molly. Her husband Daniel has been working hard on rebuilding their home which was burned in a fire in the spring. They are almost ready to move back in, and Molly is heading there one day with their son Liam when the elevated train they are riding on has an accident and derails. Worse yet, Daniel thinks it ties in to a case he’s been working on stretching back months. This case involves a series of unrelated murders, and he fears that Molly might have been the target of what the killer is claiming wasn’t really an accident.

Meanwhile, Molly’s friends and neighbors Sid and Gus have returned from Vienna where Gus was studying with Dr. Freud and learning his radical new interpretation of dreams. As a result, Gus is asked to help with a young girl who survived a fire that destroyed her family’s home and killed her parents. Naturally, Gus asks Molly to get involved as well. Can Gus figure out what the girl’s dreams mean? Can Molly help Daniel on his case behind the scenes while also helping Gus with this girl?

Once again, we are transported back to 1905 New York City in full detail. I always feel like I am walking down the street with Molly, and I love it. But the details only add to another interesting story, never getting in the way of it. The plot is engrossing from the beginning, and I couldn’t read fast enough to see how Molly would solve everything. I truly love spending time with these characters and it was wonderful to see them again. The new characters are just as interesting and help carry the story.

If you are looking for a great historical mystery, this series is for you. It’s a very entertaining time machine to another time and place.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of the book in exchange for my honest review.

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