Dishing on Cozy Mysteries and One of my Faves: THE MAGGIE HOPE SERIES by Susan Elia MacNeal

Today I was ask to do a guest post for BOOK BLOGGERS INTERNATIONAL, so I’m thrilled to be here to write about one of my very favorite genres: cozy mysteries!

I’m a huge fan of cozy mysteries — those fun reads that catch you and draw you in, but are never too scary or violent or cruel. I’m also a big fan of mysteries that take place long ago. The MAGGIE HOPE series by Susan Elia MacNeal is a wonderful series of novels, following the adventures of Maggie Hope, a WWII code breaker and British government worker. Maggie has all sorts of interesting things happen to her, all the while dealing with blossoming (and withering) romances, friends and relationships with interesting people, a unique family situation that could call for a flow chart while reading, and her own beloved cat.

The first book in the series is called MR. CHURCHILL’S SECRETARY. Here’s the overview from Penguin Books:

HFVB Tour of THE SCHOOL OF NIGHT by Colin Falconer

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So happy today to be part of THE SCHOOL OF NIGHT blog tour to review Colin Falconer’s first book in the “William Shakespeare Detective Agency” series.

William Shakespeare is not that William Shakespeare; he is his cousin from the countryside, come to London to visit cousin Will and find something worthwhile to do as he escapes drudgery as a glovemaker. William has a bit of penchant for attracting trouble and he is hardly in town long before he’s disgruntled his cousin (with whom he is staying) and been requested to find a lovely young woman’s missing husband. Peril exists at every corner and William must use his strengths (both physical and mental) to figure out the mystery and set things right.

I really enjoyed this book – the start of a series. William has a dry wit and makes little asides to the reader throughout that are quite humorous – I particularly like his takes on the people and conditions of London back in the day.

Mr. Falconer is a fairly prolific historical fiction author. Here’s some info on him from HFVB tours:

Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.

He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.

He currently lives in Barcelona.

I look forward to reading the next installment in this series. Thank you for my review copy!

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QUICK REVIEW: Berried to the Hilt by Karen Mac Inerney

I’ve enjoyed other “Grey Whale Inn” mysteries, so I was thrilled to find this one in the Kindle shop. These stories take place on Cranberry Island, off the coast of Maine, and center on a B&B owner, Natalie Barnes, who just so happens to run into murders/dead bodies/etc. In this installment, a sunken ship is located off the coast of the island and it’s a race to see who can claim it: a university team or a private treasure hunters’ group. Then one of the searchers is found dead. They’ve all been staying at the Grey Whale Inn, so Natalie has plenty of opportunity to sleuth around and establish motives and means (of which there are many!). However, will Natalie find she’s the next victim?

I do enjoy this cozy mystery series which comes with recipes at the back of the book (they are featured in the story). Natalie is a far nosier innkeeper than I would ever be, but it keeps the plot moving. I could see these stories being made into a BBC series.


Rhys Bowen recently came out with a new Molly Murphy mystery. If you read me, you know I’ve read them all. I really enjoy historical cozies and Molly is one of my favorite female sleuths (though I have to admit to an even greater fondness for Georgie of Bowen’s Royal Spyness mysteries!).

In this installment, Molly is headed to Paris to stay with friends Sid and Gus after a horrible bombing of her home in New York by an Italian gang. She and Daniel and the baby weren’t hurt, but sadly their young maid was killed. Molly has barely gotten her feet on solid ground when she’s landed in to the middle of a murder mystery. Where are Gus and Sid and why did they leave so suddenly? Who murdered the painter Reynold Bryce? And will Molly ever find her friends or have to go back to NYC?

Once again, Ms. Bowen has written a lively and well-crafted mystery, this time in a unique location. Paris at the turn of the century was a vibrant and beautiful place (it still is, but you know what I mean!). The art culture is explored here, and I was delighted to see many well-known real characters brought to life: Picasso, Degas, Monet, Mary Cassatt, Gertrude Stein. Molly interacts with all parts of the city, but especially the Montmartre district in her quest to find and then help her friends. I did not guess the murderer (kudos to Ms. Bowen!) and enjoyed reading this right up to the last page. This might be my favorite Molly mystery yet.

Another home run for the Molly Murphy series!

I got mine on Amazon.

Quick Review: The Revenge of Kali-Ra by K.K. Beck

During the 1990’s, I read several cozy mysteries by the female writer K. K. Beck. I particularly liked her novels set in the 20’s with alliterative titles (e.g. “Death in a Deckchair”; “Peril under the Palms”). I hadn’t seen anything by her at the library in a long while and was pleased to come across this novel in a library in a nearby town (yes, I frequent several different libraries!).

“The Revenge of Kali-Ra” is a bit of a parody of pulp fiction. A beautiful but somewhat witless Hollywood actress, Nadia Wentworth, has discovered the Kali-Ra novels by Valerian Ricardo from the 1920’s. She wants to turn them into a movie with herself as the star. A copyright battle ensues, Ricardo’s wacky widow gets into the middle of things, his estranged great nephew becomes involved, and a strange and ethereal young woman links herself to this unlikely group. Antics ensue at Nadia’s Hollywood manor, where a few more memorable characters are included (including a binge-drinking British writer and a wanna-be mafioso).
All ends happily in this light and enjoyable read

While I enjoyed this quick read, I do enjoy some of K. K. Beck’s other cozy mysteries (set in the 1920’s) more.

This one was published in 1999. I’ll continue to look for more by her!