Monday, April 6, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week.

Here's what I got ~

Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder (An Ellie Avery Mystery) by Sara Rosett ~ Settling her family - Air Force pilot Mitch, baby Nathan, and daughter Livvy - into their new home in Georgia, Ellie Avery is busier than ever. With two children under four, a party to plan for Mitch's promotion, and new contacts to develop for her organizing business, Ellie's eager to relax by taking Rex, the family Rottweiler, for a peaceful stroll. But what they find is anything but tranquil. As evening's shadows fall, Ellie stumbles into an abandoned graveyard disturbed by flooding from a recent storm. It's a chilling enough setting without the shocking spectre of two dead bodies...unearthed from the same grave. The skeleton that belongs in the washed-out gravesite is that of a young casualty of World War I. The probable identity of the fresher corpse leads Ellie into a missing-person case centred around Jodi Lockworth, a vibrant young woman who once lived in the house the Averys are now renting. Although Jodi was a beloved member of the community, her part-time gig as a newspaper reporter may have put her on the wrong side of a few prominent citizens. When Ellie discovers a vital clue in her very own home, she becomes the next target of a sinister schemer who'll stop at nothing to protect a deadly secret. Now, with a double mystery brewing and dozens of guests about to arrive in her back yard, Ellie's agenda is once again packed. The only thing she hasn't pencilled in is one killer of a party crasher who intends to make this celebration Ellie's last.
The Book of Matthew: A Macabre Novel of Suspense by Thomas White ~ Winning lead characters and smooth prose more than offset the standard thriller plot, a cat-and-mouse duel between a San Francisco police inspector and a sadistic serial killer, in White's promising debut. Insp. Clemson Yao of the SFPD pursues a killer responsible for such gruesome murders as that of a 32-year-old Chevron gas station manager, whose body is found torn in half at the waist by a system of counter weights in the Salinas Valley. One cop observes that the MO resembles the way some criminals were executed in 18th-century India. Yao is aided in his quest by Angie Strackan, an ex-cop turned realtor, who stumbles on another instance of the killer's handiwork. The inspector comes to believe that the main suspect, who's identified fairly early on, is increasing the pace of his butchery because he's terminally ill. Yao and company have enough quirks and humanity to make the prospect of a series a welcome one.

The Bright Side of Disaster: A Novel by Katherine Center ~ First-time novelist Center nails ornery and opinionated Texas women in this uneven tale of survival of the hardly fit. "It's not how you wanted it, but it's how it is," jilted and pregnant Jenny Harris is advised by her long-divorced mom. "Much of mothering is that way." Jenny's rock and roll wannabe fiancé Dean Murphy ditches her for a woman who died before he had the chance to sleep with her. ("I don't feel the same about you anymore. It's not my fault," he writes in his I'm-outta-here note.) Jenny has little time to nurse the heartbreak; baby Maxie is born the next day, and all Jenny's plans implode. What pulls Jenny through new mom hell is a network of bright, fearless women who thrive despite the bumbling men around them: Jenny's feisty mom with the "big Texas personality," blunt best friend Meredith and single-mom Claudia prove single women needn't be lonely, pathetic or poor. Yet this gaggle of sharp and funny supergals mostly falls apart when it comes to men. There's a rogue's gallery of thinly drawn louts, and from the rabble rises Jenny's dreamboat neighbor John Gardner, a pediatric nephrologist on sabbatical. Dean, of course, reappears, presenting Jenny with a not-difficult dilemma. Center's debut is fast-moving and pleasantly diverting, thanks to sharp dialogue and a narrative that's heavier on the sass than the diaper rash.
Photo Finished (A Scrapbooking Mystery) by Laura Childs ~ New Orleans scrapbooking shop owner Carmela Bertrand is hosting a late-night "Crop Till You Drop" session-when a neighboring antique-shop owner winds up murdered in the alley. Now, the scrapbooking expert must rearrange the jumble of clues and pick out the killer.

Scene of The Grime: A Grime Solvers Mystery by Suzanne Price ~ In her mid-30s and recently widowed, Sky Taylor left the big city for Pigeon Cove, a hamlet off the Massachusetts coast. Sky is re-adapting to single life-with a newspaper column and her knack for creative cleaning increasingly in demand. Then she discovers a patron of the Millwood Inn permanently checked-out. Now Sky's juggling the police chief's questions with advances from the newest-and handsomest-crime reporter in town. But if she wants to clear her name, she has some scouring to do.
The Flaming Luau of Death: A Madeline Bean Culinary Mystery (Madeline Bean Mysteries) by Jerrilyn Farmer ~ Magnum PI meets The Bachelorette in Farmer's zany eighth adventure (after 2004's Perfect Sax) starring Madeleine Bean, the L.A. party-organizing whiz who attracts murder and mayhem as much as she does glamorous clients. Maddie is planning a surprise, all-expenses-paid bridal shower at the Four Heavens Resort on Hawaii's big island for her friend and assistant, Holly Nichols. Only problem is, Holly, who's "a magnet for weird males," confesses before departure that she might still be Holly Dubinsky, the wife of geeky Marvin Dubinsky, whom she married while drunk in Vegas after their high school prom. Of course, that's no reason to cancel a party—so Maddie and business partner Wesley Wescott decide to grab Holly, her sisters, best friend and go, even if Holly has also begun receiving ominous e-mails (e.g., "Give us Marvin and we'll leave you alone"). And sure enough, upon arrival, Holly's accosted by a mysterious Hawaiian male who later turns up dead, and the bridesmaids' beauty weekend begins to spin out of control with dangerous luaus, weird dolphin connections, scary Japanese mobsters and hot wasabi moments. Fans of lighter mystery fare will be in heaven.

Death of the Party (Death on Demand Mysteries, No. 16) by Carolyn Hart ~ Britt Barlow is certain her media mogul brother-in-law Jeremiah Addison's fatal tumble a year ago was no accident -- especially since she herself discovered, and disposed of, the trip wire someone had strung across the stairs. Now she's bringing all who were in attendance that weekend back to Golden Silk -- Addison's luxurious secluded island estate -- and inviting two extra guests, Annie and Max Darling, to help uncover a killer. Annie Darling wouldn't miss this party for the world! And there certainly is no lack of suspects among the guests, each of whom had a substantial motive for doing in the insufferable tycoon. But the party turns deadly when a houseman mysteriously vanishes, along with the boats which are the only escape off Addison's island -- leaving the Darlings stranded on a floating rock in the middle of nowhere, too close to a solution for comfort, and stalked by a crafty murderer.
Yankee Doodle Dead (Death on Demand Mysteries, No. 10) by Carolyn Hart ~ This ninth in the Death on Demand series (after Mint Julep Murder, 1995) finds mystery-bookstore owner Annie Darling in top form: polite, considerate, cheerful and relentlessly investigative. Retired Brigadier General Charlton "Bud" Hatch is a newcomer to the tiny resort community of Broward's Rock, S.C., where his arrogance, power and extreme right-wing views have quickly antagonized many of the genteel yet clannish residents. When Hatch is shot to death at the island's annual Fourth of July festival, Annie and her relaxed but shrewd husband, Max, utilize their connections and gentle diplomacy to interview some of the many idiosyncratic natives who loathed the general. Was he murdered by a cuckolded husband? What about the young, sweet do-gooder whom Hatch had terrified? Or the gay library director whose job had been threatened by the moralistic library trustee? Annie and Max tap into the best source of information anywhere?rampant gossip?and, aided by society doyenne Miss Dora, find out more than they want to know. Might Max's flaky and much-married mother be another suspect? Rich in Southern atmosphere (lots of live oak, Spanish moss and the ever-present smell of the salt marsh), populated by a diverse and engaging cast, including the fallible, endearing leads, and following a deftly constructed plot line, this tale is charming?and gripping.

Sugarplum Dead (Death on Demand Mysteries, No. 12) by Carolyn Hart ~ The catalytic agent in Hart's latest series addition (White Elephant Dead) is "Pudge" Laurence, the long-lost father of bookstore-owner and village sleuth Annie Laurence Darling. At the behest of a famous actress, Pudge is visiting Broward's Island, SC, where a financially slippery purveyor of crystals and otherworldly contacts creates problems for both families; the actress and Annie's mother-in-law seem enamored of his ways. Annie must tread a fine line, then: she tries to help her mother-in-law while circumventing her unwanted father. An charismatic characterization, the familiar island, and an excellent plot that is nicely knit together make this an essential purchase.
Engaged to Die (Death on Demand Mysteries, No. 14) by Carolyn, Hart ~ Hart supplies superior cozy fare in her 14th mystery (after 2002's April Fool Dead) to feature amateur sleuth Annie Darling and her husband, Max. Everyone in the Low Country island of Broward's Rock, S.C., has been looking forward to the gala opening of a new art collection at the Neville Gallery, owned by heiress Virginia Neville, who intends to use the evening not only to dispel the foggy gloom of January on the island but also to announce her engagement to much younger artist Jake O'Neill. However, the party quickly ends when Jake turns up murdered. Max, deputized immediately to help, finds himself at cross-purposes with Annie, owner of the Death on Demand bookstore, who seeks to vindicate her friend who's the prime suspect. A fast-paced plot and a skillfully integrated sub-plot will keep the reader involved and guessing until the very end. Hart expertly handles numerous characters, notably Max's quirky, but lovable mother and Henny, Death on Demand's best customer and mystery expert, who plays a clever mind game with Annie. The interplay between Annie and Max enhances the plot, where in lesser hands it would become the focus. Those who appreciate crime fiction in the Agatha Christie Mousetrap mold will also go for this superb whodunit.
April Fool Dead (Death on Demand Mysteries, No. 13) by Carolyn Hart ~ Annie Darling, owner of Death on Demand Mystery Bookstore, Broward's Rock Island, South Carolina, is planning a book signing for mystery writer Emma Clyde, but several of her promotions are sabotaged by a prankster. Then a teacher and one of her students are murdered, and the boneheaded police chief considers Annie a suspect. To clear herself, Annie sets out to solve the crimes, with help from her husband, Max. This thirteenth Death on Demand mystery starts slowly, but Hart picks up the pace quickly and does a good job of combining multiple plot strands into a tantalizing mystery. Annie, Max, and Laurel (Max's eccentric mother) are all appealing characters in the cozy mold, and there is an entire village of amiable supporting players. The presence of Rachel, Annie's teenage sister, makes possible a side trip into the world of high-school angst. Throughout, Hart includes a wealth of mystery genre trivia that will appeal to the cozy crowd.


Literary Feline said...

It looks like you have some good reading ahead of you, Lori! Several there I wouldn't mind reading someday. :-)

LuAnn said...

You got some great reading material!

Kelly said...

The Book of Matthew is really bad guy since Hannibal Lechter. I exchanged some emails with the author...really great guy, he's planning a sequel!