Minka’s Thanksgiving Special: Murder She Wrote: Fatal Feast!

Isn’t Minka cute?! She’s up for adoption at Austin Pets Alive! http://bit.ly/2hRuiEH

I’m a day late and a dollar short, but since we’re all still digesting our double and triple helpings of pie, Thanksgiving is the gift that keeps on giving…at least until the Pepto kicks in. So put down those Black Friday ads (seriously, Cyber Monday is the way to go) and indulge yourself in a good book. Since Minka’s a big snorting fan of turkey, she says you should read this one!

The gist: It’s another tranquil Thanksgiving weekend in Cabot Cove. Love is in the air as Jessica Fletcher prepares for the big feast with her international houseguest George Southerfield. Of course, he’s staying at Seth Hazlet’s house because Jessica is a lady and we don’t want her reputation to be sullied!  Turns out, there’s a bit of a jealous rivalry going on, thus proving that this ol’ gal’s still got it. You go, Miss Thang! While taking a romantic post-turkey stroll, what do they find? Come on, take a stab at it. Yep, that’s right—a dead body! Even worse—the killer used Seth’s prized antique carving knife. Now that’s just plain rude. It’s up to Jessica and her boy toys to figure out who killed the socially awkward homeless man—and why he (or she?) wanted his goose to be cooked. Aren’t food puns such fun?

What worked: You can’t beat the comfy, cozy town of Cabot Cove, Jessica’s lovely little Northeastern nook in the world! If this book doesn’t get you into the turkey-eating spirit, nothing will. It felt like I was right there with Jessica and all the movers and shakers of Cabot Cove at the Thanksgiving feast. As luck would have it, one of her dinner guests gets skewered at the end of the night. You’d think they’d catch on to her track record and stay home, but how could they refuse the hostess with the mostest?

What didn’t work: I love all these Murder She Wrote books but some are slower than others. This one is, by far, the slowest! Halfway into the book, I kept asking myself when the dead body would pop up. I re-read the dust cover just to make sure I did, in fact, pick up a murder mystery. I mean, it’s called “Fatal Feast,” so let’s get to it already!!! If I wasn’t so charmed by my favorite bike-riding sleuth, I’d be much more annoyed. But how can I stay mad at JB Fletcher? It’s impossible, I tell you!

Overall: Not the best book in the series, but still mildly amusing for us hard core MSW fans!

The Clue is in the Pudding by Kate Kingsbury

13542759It isn’t Christmas without a Kate Kingsbury mystery! And at the Pennyfoot Hotel, the holiday shenanigans don’t begin until someone gets bludgeoned with a nutcracker or incinerated by a flaming Christmas tree. Nestled in a quaint little coastal English hamlet, the Pennyfoot may look like something straight out of Dickens’ Village, but if you plan to spend the holidays there, you’re goose might just get cooked!

When the guests start streaming into the hotel for the Christmas holidays, Cecily Sinclair Baxter worries about the inevitable Christmas curse. Like clockwork, her loyal crew of housemaids will stumble upon a dead body, and she will have to take it upon herself to hunt down the murderer.

You see, in this tranquil seaside village, the police force leaves much to be desired. Oh and you can forget about her milquetoast of a husband helping her out. While she’s out in snowstorms chasing down murderous fiends, he’d much prefer to settle down by the fireplace with his newspaper. For once, I would love to see him take the initiative and tag-team these murder mysteries with his wife instead of constantly lecturing her to stay out of harm’s way. Hello! The cops are useless, so do you prefer to be a sitting duck?

Wow, that was quite the tirade. Sorry, Kate. I love your mysteries, I really do. But can you please make Baxter man up in the next book? Aside from my minor gripes, these mysteries are perfect holiday reads. There’s nothing I’d rather do on a cold winter’s night than nestle down into my comfy couch with some fireball whiskey, a tubby gray housecat and a Pennyfoot Hotel mystery. The author does a fine job unraveling just bits and pieces about the eclectic cast of hotel staff and dangling that carrot as their love stories develop. In this book, I finally got to see some sparks fly between Gertie and the enigmatic groundskeeper, Clyde. I promise to not give anything away, but I will say that there was a moment between them that was so incredibly sweet, I had to re-read it several times!

This is how I picture The Pennyfoot.

This is how I picture The Pennyfoot.

So this year, the Christmas curse comes in the form of a dead actor named Archibald Armitage. Seriously, what mother would name her kid Archibald? Well, I guess you could nickname him Archie like that cute freckled redhead dude in the comics…but I digress. So when the maid stumbles upon Archie’s dead body, it appears he was poisoned by a lethal dose of arsenic-laced plum pudding. All eyes point to the temporary head housemaid Beatrice Tucker (aka Tucker the Terrible), who personally served him the plum pudding up in his suite. She may be a tyrant, but is she capable of murder?

As Cecily hunts down the clues, she finds that several houseguests – and even some of her staff – have a beef with Archie. While her staff prepare for the holiday festivities, and her husband continues to sit on his ass with the newspaper, she will stop at nothing to ferret out the killer before he (or she?) strikes again.

I raise my mug of spiked cider to the author for delivering a deliciously atmospheric Christmas mystery filled with loveable characters, red herrings and romance! I look forward to meeting up with my old friends at the Pennyfoot next December.

Merry Christmas to all – and be sure to not accept unsolicited puddings from frienemies.

Friday Finds: Holiday Edition

i found you!It’s probably a tad bit selfish to treat myself to goodies during the season of giving, but I just couldn’t fight the gravitational pull toward the mall bookstore. All the new titles with glossy red and green covers were too hard to resist!

Although I didn’t make much progress on the holiday shopping list, I did procure a nice little bundle of Christmassy reads!  Thanks to MizB at Should Be Reading, I get to brag about my latest literary shopping spree in this Friday Finds post.

Which one shall I read first?

 Holiday Grind: A Coffeehouse Mystery, Book 8

6296907Clare’s grown very fond of Alfred Glockner, the part-time comic and genuinely jolly charity Santa who’s been using her coffeehouse as a place to warm his mittens. When she finds him gunned down in a nearby alley, a few subtle clues convince her that Alfred’s death was something more than the tragic result of a random mugging, despite the conclusions of the police. More…

Silent Night: A Lady Julia Christmas Novella

16152023After a year of marriage – and numerous adventures – Lady Julia and Brisbane hope for a quiet, intimate Christmas together – until they find themselves at her father’s ancestral estate, Bellmont Abbey, with her eccentric family and a menagerie of animals. Nevertheless, Julia looks forward to a lively family gathering – but amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs.  More…

 A Countess by Christmas

9427063The Earl of Bridgemere is happy to encourage his reputation as a curmudgeonly recluse if it repels the grasping females who usually attend his lavish Christmas parties. Helen Forrest is like a breath of fresh air, uninterested in his wealth and not cowed by his temper.  Bridgemere’s seasonal duty suddenly becomes a pleasure as he sets about making Helen his countess—by Christmas! More…

 A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella

118219558940165422_sykPUxdi_cAll Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.  Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame. More…

Friday Finds is a weekly meme spotlighting books you’ve bought or hope to buy in the future. Hop over to Should Be Reading for more details.

Gizzy’s Pick: Decked with Folly by Kate Kingsbury

Sometimes I just want to run away screaming from our technology-obsessed world, and the madness of reality TV.  I long for the days when I could go out to lunch with a friend without being interrupted by a chirping smart phone.  Remember the good ol’ days when friends would actually pick up the phone to wish you a happy birthday rather than posting a quick and dirty greeting on your Facebook wall? Shoot – you don’t even have to remember your friends’ birthdays anymore because Facebook will do that for you!  Thanks to social media, we don’t have to stop thinking about ourselves for even a moment. 

So when I need a break from reality (which happens a lot!) I pick up one of Kate Kingsbury’s cozy Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries. Set in Edwardian England – an era devoid of all things electronic – her fun little whodunits surround a posh seaside country club filled with an eclectic mix of quirky characters. 

When Christmastime rolls around, there’s no better place to be than the Pennyfoot Hotel, where the comforting aromas of pine and cedar infuse the air and the halls are festooned with holiday cheer. But if you want to live to see the New Year, it might be a good idea to admire the resplendent hotel from afar! The dreaded “Christmas Curse” (aka somebody drops dead every December) strikes again. And this time the body of Ian Rossiter, a former employee of the Pennyfoot, is found floating in the hotel duck pond. Cecily Baxter – the hotel’s proprietress and part-time amateur sleuth – suspects foul play after she connects a missing candlestick to the bludgeoned dent in Ian’s head. 

All fingers point to the hotel’s head housemaid, Gertie, who threatened Ian with a kitchen knife after he tried to kidnap her twins in the middle of the night. But when Cecily discovers plenty of others wanted Ian dead, she makes it her mission to clear Gertie’s name and nab the killer before another dead body shows up under the tree. 

In true Agatha Christie style, our cunning sleuth investigates a slew of suspects and stumbles upon clues when their stories don’t add up. What really happened the night of Ian’s death when two gallant suitors came to Gerty’s rescue? Let’s take a look at our suspects, shall we!

Gertie: If anyone has motive to kill that wormy Ian, it’s Gertie! Not only did he dupe her into a false marriage, he skipped town right after the birth of their twins. What scum! 

Clyde: The hotel’s head groundskeeper. Tall, dark and mysterious, there seems to be a lot more to this guy than a toolbox and a strong pair of arms. Did anger get the best of him that fateful night when he protected Gertie from Ian’s attack?  

Dan: Gertie’s flakey boyfriend. Handsome, successful and emotionally stable, Dan is a real catch. Too bad he doesn’t seem interested in popping the question.  When Gertie finds out he had a row with Ian that ill-fated night,  she begins to wonder if he could be capable of murder. 

Mabel: A very unpopular housemaid who just can’t seem to do her job right. For some inexplicable reason, this melancholy lonewolf seems to be hiding something. Why is she so depressed? And why is she always caught wandering into guests’ rooms for no reason? 

Gloria: Ian’s other wife. With nowhere to go after her husband’s untimely death, she  has no other option but to live on the streets and beg for money. Overwhelmed by the widow’s desperation, Cecily offers to let her stay at the Pennyfoot until she can get back on her feet. She soon regrets her generous offer when she realizes that Gloria could make trouble for Gertie. Is this all an elaborate plan to get back at her no-good husband and his true love? And why did she lie about her whereabouts the night Ian was murdered? 

Sid: The Pennyfoot’s newest stable-boy.  This shady fellow has a way with the ladies, and boy does he have designs on Gertie. Although he may seem charming to the hotel’s chambermaids, Gertie’s onto his games. When his flirtations escalate to harassment, Gertie begins to wonder if he’s the one who’s trying to frame her for murder.

Archibald:  A very shady hotel guest who seems to show up at the most inopportune times.  This troublemaker, who claims to be an herbal-remedy specialist, seems to be dead-set on spreading hysteria by gossiping about the murder.  Who is he really – and why does he seem to be lurking around every dark corner? 

If you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned mystery that’ll get you in the mood for Christmas – take a little trip to the Pennyfoot Hotel! This book is best paired with a steaming mug of spiked eggnog and your silliest pair of fluffy slippers.  And don’t forget to turn off those incessant chirping gadgets!

A Cornucopia of Cozies!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner – and there’s no better way to get in the turkey-eating spirit than by curling up with a good fall-themed cozy! Lucky for me, my husband is the Turkey master, so I get to spend my blissful day off from work devouring a good mystery. While searching for the perfect Thanksgiving-themed book, I narrowed it down to these fun little cozies. Which one should I choose?

A Catered Thanksgiving by Isis Crawford

Synopsis:Sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons have handled plenty of catering challenges with grace and aplomb. But this Thanksgiving, they’re cooking a feast for felons. Whipping up Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings can be stressful for anyone, but that goes double for the Field family. They know that every family get-together has to be picture perfect, or they risk getting cut out of dominating patriarch Monty’s extremely lucrative will.

That’s where A Little Taste of Heaven, Bernie and Libby’s catering company, comes in. Surely with their lumpless mashed potatoes and to-die-for gravy on the table, even the super-dysfunctional Fields can pretend to get along for one meal. But no one can dress up the disaster when the cover-worthy turkey goes boom right in Monty Field’s scowling face, sending him to that great dining room in the sky.

A Killer Crop by Sheila Connolly

Synopsis: After an English professor-and old friend of her mother-is found dead in a cider house, orchard owner Meg Corey starts to wonder: Could her own mother have committed murder?

 

 

Fatal Feast by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

Synopsis: The newest novel in the USA Today bestselling series finds Jessica Fletcher cooking up a heartwarming holiday dinner-and a fresh serving of trouble…Jessica Fletcher would like nothing more than to sit back and relax as Thanksgiving comes to Cabot Cove. But this year, she’s already got more on her plate than she can handle. Jessica is suffering from a rare case of writer’s block, and the deadline for her new novel is fast approaching.

 

Death of a Turkey by Kate Grilley Borden

Synopsis: It’s Thanksgiving–and it’s not just the turkey who’s in danger. As tourists arrive at Cobb’s Landing to enjoy an authentic Colonial-style Thanksgiving, mayor Peggy Turner would be thankful for nothing more than a clue as to who killed her neighbor–a clue that didn’t point to her. 

 
 

Thanksgiving by Janet Evonovich

Synopsis: When Megan Murphy discovers a floppy-eared rabbit gnawing on the hem of her skirt, she means to give its careless owner a piece of her mind, but Dr. Patrick Hunter is too attractive to stay mad at for long. As for Patrick, he wants nothing more than to play house with Maggie—and make Thanksgiving dinner for their families. But Megan has wept over one failed love, and she’s afraid to risk her heart again. Can the good doctor help heal her heart?