Crooked Lane Books

Book Review – Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery) by Allison Brook.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books for providing me with an electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, this is a new series and – for me – a new author. These can be rather hit and miss for me but guess what? It was a hit! Now don’t get too eye rolling about how I seem to say that about everything, there are a few quibbles I am going to make about ‘Death Overdue’. Plus, you guys only see the reviews on the books I actually FINISH! Unless I feel it is so terribly bad that the world needs to be warned, I don’t air my “Did Not Finish” dirty laundry. That is between me and the author.

But back to ‘Death Overdue’. It starts a little shaky because of how flighty the main character is. Add to that the amount of info being crammed into the first few chapters to make the book enticing enough to read and… well, the start was a little rushed and shaky. But I put that down to “first of the series jitters” and didn’t let it stop me from reading on and enjoying the story.

The characters were well written, easy to tell apart, not simply cardboard cut outs of “small town America” and the story became very well-paced after that shaky start.

My biggest quibble is the ghost… I mean, the whole idea of a helpful sidekick ghost isn’t new and can be done quite well – see Angie Fox’s ‘Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries’ – but I found the ghost librarian in ‘Death Overdue’ rather redundant and pointless as a ghost. The character could have easily been alive and a snoopy old lady and the plot would not have been affected in anyway.

Perhaps in the next book there will be more supernatural happenings with this character to help justify it being a ghost… but for me, it was rather a letdown to an otherwise highly enjoyable story. Sort of like “hey, let’s cover the supernatural mystery genre while writing and say she’s a ghost!” and then not go anywhere truly that ghostly with her.

But please, please, PLEASE don’t think me providing this constructive criticism is me bagging the book. As I said, I really enjoyed it for the rest and found it an excellent first book of a cosy/ mystery series. Just, right now, I don’t see the need for a ghost. Maybe it’s just me?

Other than that, I was captured quickly by the tale, wanted to learn more and, despite figuring it out (as usual), enjoyed the ride it took to have my suspicions confirmed. A really fun and entertaining read with the right balance of padding, red herrings, intrigue, mystery and romance.

Formatting and usual boring appearance side of things – it was an ARC, there were hiccups but the general layout and the like was fine… Can you tell I wasn’t really that upset with the layout to see a need to actually mention it out of more than just habit? 😉

Death Overdue

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Look, there were some person – MINOR – issues with the book but I really enjoyed it overall. It is also the first in a series that looks like a promising and highly entertaining cosy crime/ mystery series… so yes, yes I would recommend it.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Actually I think I would. I really did like it that much. It skips past the “library book” level of knowing it, straight into being something I would own. I’ve also started following Ms Brook on Amazon just so I can find out when the next book in the series comes out. I liked it that much, despite my issues with the ghost. 😀

In summary: A well written, well-paced first book in a potentially good new series. A little shaky at the start, but overall a great read.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Bad Housekeeping (An Agnes and Effie Mystery) by Maia Chance.

Bad Housekeeping

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, open and honest bit… I was introduced to Ms Chance’s writing via an anthology of Christmas themed short stories. Due to liking that book I was approached and asked to read her 1920’s cosy crime/ mystery series and loved it. To the point I started fan following Ms Chance on social media. And a fan I did become. So when I saw another story by her on Netgalley, I wanted to see what else she could do… and I was once more not disappointed by Ms Chance’s skill to write in another era, style and tone. No cookie cut outs from this author! Yet another new world, new characters and new ways things got done. Simply her great level of humour – similar to my own – and her talented ability to weave a good story linked this book to previous works I have read.

Fine, enough fan-girling from me, on to the review of the actual book… In two words – loved it. It reminded me of Sharyn McCrumb’s Elizabeth MacPherson series, without it being in any way a rip off. There were no actual similarities… it was more a feel. And as I have been a fan of Ms McCrumb’s for decades… this is a big compliment.

It also had that small town America cosy crime/ mystery feel I enjoy and ticked all the right boxes for an entertaining read – our self-doubting, sarcastic protagonist, erratically eccentric side kick, a town of its own colourful characters, the dud ex, the cute new guy, some red herrings and entertaining padding out of the tale and a crime to solve. And it did have me thinking whodunit until near the end and then finished it off with a good bit of drama and a neat wrap up. All in all – the perfect cosy crime/ mystery and something fans of this genre will delight in adding to their summer/ winter reading lists.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Um, I think I just did. 😉 But yes, cosy crime/ mystery fans – you will love ‘Bad Housekeeping’. Better yet, it’s the first book in a rather promising new series so you’re getting in at the beginning and will no doubt enjoy the tales as they are brought to us.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would, as an eBook – my virtual shelves are far bigger than my real ones. When a story reminds you of one of your other favourite authors, without being in any way a rip off of their work… you know you’re onto a good thing and so yes, a book – and series – for me.

In summary: Great first book to a potentially highly entertaining new cosy crime/ mystery series. Highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.