Sunday, January 31, 2010

Barbara Fradkin - Inspector Green Series

I'm a bit partial when it comes to these books. You see they take place in Ottawa, the place where I grew up and the place I have forever been homesick for since I moved away in 1973. When she speaks of areas of the city, the police station on Elgin Street, the Glebe, LeBreton Flats... I can see them in my mind. There have been a lot of changes in Ottawa in the last 36 years but so much has remained the same that when she talks about Inspector Green heading out the Queensway I am headed out the Queensway myself.

But aside from that Barbara Fradkin is a good author. I wasn't so sure when reading her first book, the story line didn't interest me too much, and yet her writing was so good that it kept me reading. The mystery part of her books are good.. she gives just enough information to make you keep reading, but not enough that you can put your finger on who the possible villan could be. And she will sometimes lead you off thinking that you positively have no doubt "whodunit" and then find out that the one you thought was guilty of the murder is acting guilty for some other reason and isn't the murderer at all. I found her subsequent books much more intriquing and difficult to put down. They aren't what I'd term cozy mysteries but they are good mysteries that any mystery lover will enjoy.

Through all of the books Inspector Green's life and internal struggles and questions evolve. He is a police inspector with all the unexpected overtime things that need doing that any inspector would have. His wife is a psychiatric nurse who has her own schedule, which means that when he doesn't come home from work to look after their son she has to scramble to find someone to take him until either she or his father arrive home. This gives her books a humaness that we can relate to.

#1  Do or Die - 2000
#2  Once Upon a Time - 2002
#3  Mist Walker - 2003
#4  Fifth Son - 2004
#5  Honour Among Men - 2006
#6  Dream Chasers - Sept - 2007

The next book in the Series is

#7  This Thing of Darkness - 2009

which I haven't read yet.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sarah Graves - Home Repair Is Homicide Series

They call this series Dianne Mott Davidson with a Hammer.

Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree divorced her neurologist surgeon husband, who had a penchant for young nurses, and moved with her teenaged son to Eastport, Maine where she bought an 1823 Federal style house and is restoring it. Her life now is a long way from her days as a Wallstreet Banker working mostly with the criminal element, helping them to invest their money in a legal manner. Her best friend is a life-long Eastport resident and together they get themselves into a lot of sticky situations.

I love this series too. I love the descriptions of small town Maine life. I think I like it too because living in Canada it's nice to see the Maine/Nova Scotia connection. Sarah Graves really does live in an 1823 Federal style home which she is currently repairing so when she talks about window frames and repairing or replacing sagging porches she's speaking from experience.

Along with new experiences and mysteries to solve there is a continuous story line and mysteries relating to Jake's life and the history of her home which makes the urge to move on to the next book impossible to ignore. I'm really enjoying this series.

They are:

#1   The Dead Cat Bounce (Sept 1998)
#2   Triple Witch (June 1999)
#3   Wicked Fix (April 2000)
#4   Repair to Her Grave (July 2001)
#5   Wreck The Halls (Oct 2002)
#6   Unhinged (Nov 2003)
#7   Mallets Aforethought (Oct 2004)
#8   Nail Biter (Oct 2006)
#9   Tool & Die ( (Nov 2007)
#10 Trap Door (Nov 2007)
#11 Book of Old Houses (Nov 2008)

There are now two more in the series that I haven't read

#12 A face at the Window (Dec 2008)
#13 Crawl Space (Dec 2009)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nancy Atherton - Aunt Dimity series

This series needs to be read in order. I was given one of the books in the middle of the series to read first and while I really liked the story and the writing I couldn't relate to what was going on and I couldn't figure out why our heroine, Lori Shepherd, was turning to a journal and it was writing to her instead of her writing in it. Then I bought the first book in the series and after just a couple of chapters was online ordering the rest in the series so I wouldn't have to wait for the next one to arrive once I finished the first one.

Lori is a lonely, and broke, divorcee when she recieves a letter telling her that a relative in England who she thought was simply a story book figure in stories told by her late mother, has died and left her a cottage in the Cotswolds in England and a large amount of money. There are stipulations of course, but Lori meets the challenge. Aunt Dimity is still wandering the rooms of her cottage and Lori soon discovers is in contact with her through a journal she finds in the cottage's library. Of course there is romance involved and Lori marries the also US born executor of Dimity's estate. They decide to settle in the delightful cottage in England rather than live in the States. The first few books give us more of an insight into who Aunt Dimity really was.

I love all the characters in the village, including the 90 something twins who finish each other's sentences. While most of the stories take place in or near the Cotswolds, there are also journeys to Oxford, Scotland, the midwest and now even Australia.

If you are looking for a ghastly ghost story, realism, life struggles, don't bother reading this series. If you are looking for a cozy mystery you can curl up with on the couch under a quilt for an afternoon and get lost in then you can't do much better than this series. I'm looking forward to reading the next two installments.

# 1 Aunt Dimity's Death (©1992)
# 2 Aunt Dimity and the Duke (©1994)
# 3 Aunt Dimity's Good Deed (©1996)
# 4 Aunt Dimity Digs In (©1998)
# 5 Aunt Dimity's Christmas (©1999)
# 6 Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil (©2000)
# 7 Aunt Dimity: Detective (©2002)
# 8 Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday (©2003)
# 9 Aunt Dimity: Snowbound (©2004)
# 10 Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin (©2005)
# 11 Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea (©2006)
# 12 Aunt Dimity Goes West (©2007)
# 13 Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter (©2008)

Next on my list are:
# 14 Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon (©2009)
# 15 Aunt Dimity Down Under (©2010)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Joanne Fluke - Hannah Swenson Series

More books involving food. I started reading these books in 2003. I know I did cause I was in a bidding war for a copy of Lemon Meringue Pie murder on eBay and in my stubborness to get it I paid more than I'd wanted to.
I have to admit I started to read these books because of the titles and the cute pictures on the book jackets. I decided to read them in order and was a bit iffy after reading her first book. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. It seemed kind of blah and amatuerish. Then I read Strawberry Shortcake Murder cause the Chocolate Chip one was good enough to look at giving the books another try and I haven't looked back since. I'm totally addicted to them now.

Hannah Swenson is a 30's something single woman who owns and runs The Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minnesota. There are lots of recipes for dessert lovers and hints on how to change existing recipes to give them a new twist.

Her cat, Moishe, is a big yellow ball of flying fur that she found abandoned and took in. He's an affectionate and friendly cat unless Hannah's mother comes over. He shows his displeasure of her by tearing her expensive silk stockings to shreds. He also can sense when it is her mother calling her. He puffs up and his fur stands on end. Hannah never has to wonder who's on the phone when she calls.

Hannah has a bad habit of tripping over dead bodies, which usually are in the midst of eating one of her creations... thus the titles. This embarrasses her mother no end because she's afraid that men won't be attracted to a woman with that habit. Quite the contrary. Hannah has two men in her life vying for her affection. I know who'd I choose for her - who would you choose?

1. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (2000)
2. Strawberry Shortcake Murder (2001)
3. Blueberry Muffin Murder (2002)
4. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (2003)
5. Fudge Cupcake Murder (2004)
6. Sugar Cookie Murder (2004)
7. Peach Cobbler Murder (2005)
8. Cherry Cheesecake Murder (2006)
9. Key Lime Pie Murder (2007)
10. Carrot Cake Murder (2008)
11. Candy Cane Murder (2008) (with other stories)
12. Cream Puff Murder (2009)
13. Plum Pudding Murder (2009)

Apple Turnover Murder (2010) is the next book in the series and I'll be getting to it also when I finish my other books I have stocked up.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Diane Mott Davidson - Goldilock's Catering Series

I'm enjoying this series of books. Again I was given one by a friend to read and ended up buying all of the series to date at that time. I've read all but her latest one which was published in 2009.

Goldy Korman is a single parent of an 11 year old son Archie, the result of an abusive marriage, making her living as a small time caterer. I love these books. If you like to cook then these books are for you. Recipes for all of the dishes mentioned in the stories are included in the book and are to die for (no pun intended). Again these are cozy mysteries each one having a murder to solve. Some of Goldy's adventures and risks she takes will have you sitting on the edge of your seat.

There is lots of humor involved which makes reading a delight. Goldy's best friend is her ex-husband's first ex-wife. Their comments about their former husband, who they dub "The Jerk" bring a smile to my face.

Goldie meets a policeman, Tom Schultz, early on in the series. Tom likes to cook (and eat) as much as Goldy does. They are a match made in heaven.

Part of what I enjoy about these books is that Goldy is portrayed as a regular parent with regular concerns (and sometimes not so regular due to her investigations). It's something that any mother can relate to.

In order the books are:

1. Catering to Nobody (1990)
2. Dying for Chocolate (1992)
3. The Cereal Murders (1993)
4. The Last Suppers (1994)
5. Killer Pancake (1995
6. The Main Corpse (1996)
7. The Grilling Season (1997)
8. Prime Cut ((1998)
9. Tough Cookie (2000)
10. Sticks and Scones (2001)
11. Chopping Spree (2002)
12. Double Shot (2004)
13. Dark Tort (2006)
14. Sweet Revenge (2007)

The next book in the series is Fatally Flaky which was released in 2009. I will be reading it as soon as I catch up on some of my other reading.

The Cat Who Series by Lilian Braun Jackson

These books are a very easy and quick read and I savoured every moment of them. Each book was like visiting with a friend. A friend of mine gave me one of the books, I can't remember which one, and I was hooked. I had have the whole series. I've since given those books to friends so that they too can enjoy them.

The first book introduces us to Jim Qwilleran, a former prize winning reporter who has come on hard times and is ekeing out a living working as a feature writer for the Daily Fluxion. In this first book he, along with his neighbour's siamese cat Koko, solve the murder of KoKo's owner and Jim finds himself the new room mate of one very intelligent cat. The second book introduces a second cat, Yum Yum, into Jim Qwilleran's household and the stage is set for another totally enjoyable 27 books, 29 books in all. Each book is 250-300 pages long.

By the fifth book in the series "Qwill" finds himself the recipient of a fortune but must move to Pickax in Moose County, "400 miles north of everywhere" and live there for 5 years in order to qualify for his inheritance. His 5 years stretches into forever in a town filled with colourful loveable characters (most of them). Each book includes a murder, of course, which Qwill solves only with the help of his quirky cat KoKo and his sidekick YumYum.

Lillian Jackson Braun had written the first 3 books of the series in the 1960s. In the 1990's she decided to pick up where she left off and wrote another 26 novels.

I was sorry when the series ended, I could have gone on reading forever. The series in order is:

1. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966)
2. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (1967)
3. The Cat Who Turned on and Off (1968)
4. The Cat Who Saw Red (1986)
5. The Cat Who Played Brahms (1987)
6. The Cat Who Played Post Office (1987)
7. The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare (1988)
8. The Cat Who Sniffed Glue (1988)
9. The Cat Who Went Underground (1989)
10. The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts (1990)
11. The Cat Who Lived High (1990)
12. The Cat Who Knew A Cardinal (1991)
13. The Cat Who Moved A Mountain (1992)
14. The Cat Who Wasn't There (1992)
15. The Cat Who Went Into the Closet (1993)
16. The Cat Who Came to Breakfast (1994)
17. The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (1995)
18. The Cat Who Said Cheese (1996)
19. The Cat Who Tailed A Thief (1997)
20. The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (1998)
21. The Cat Who Saw Stars (1999)
22. The Cat Who Robbed A Bank (2000)
23. The Cat Who Smelled A Rat (2001)
24. The Cat Who Went Up The Creek (2002)
25. The Cat Who Brought Down The House (2003)
26. The Cat Who Talked Turkey (2004)
27. The Cat Who Went Bananas (2004)
28. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell (2006)
29. The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers (2007)