Monday, November 20, 2006

MRS. HUDSON AND THE MALABAR ROSE by Martin Davies (Berkley)

When someone messes around with Sherlock Holmes, they'd better do a good job for me to finish the book. Although Mrs. Hudson is the detective in this pastiche, the narrator is her young protege Flotsam, an effective "Watson." All of London is talking about two events: the unveiling of a gift to the nation, a rare jewel known as the Malabar Rose, and the debut performance of the Great Salmanazar, a reknown magician. When the Home Secretary requests Holmes to ensure the safety of the stone, the great detective naturally doesn't have time to investigate the disappearance of a young husband, so Mrs. Hudson takes on the case. Although I didn't like the portrayal of Holmes, and Mrs. Hudson seems a bit condescending, the puzzles are first-rate and worthy of Doyle himself.

DOLLED UP FOR MURDER by Deb Baker (Berkley)

Gretchen Birch's life is in a downward spin: she'll soon turn 30, her seven-year relationship with Steve is cooling rapidly, and she's just lost her job to downsizing. Now, her mother is missing in Arizona and Aunt Nina has been calling every hour on the hour urging her to come to Phoenix--in July. Seems a member of the local doll club has fallen to her death from a mountin behind Caroline Birch's home. Caroline is not only a doll collector, she runs a highly successful doll repair business. By the time Gretchen arrives in Phoenix, Caroline is not only missing but suspected of murder. Like any other hobby, doll collecting has its dark side. Nina's business of training purse dogs injects an element of humor to the stories and the facts about dolls elevate the book to educational. What more can one ask? Good humorous, educational mystery is enough for me!

THE DOCTOR ROCKS THE BOAT by Robin Hathaway (Thomas Dunne Books)

Hathaway won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Contest and the Agatha for the first book in this series and she hasn't slowed down yet. In this outing Dr. Fennimore succombs to spring fever and renews his membership in a rowing club on Philadelphia's Schuylkill River. The first person he sees at his old club is a medical school classmate who had to quit rowing because of a heart defect. Fennimore is dismayed to learn that his old friend is living his own thwarted ambitions in his son's success. A death on the river and a nearly successful attempt on Fennimore's life combined with an effort to pull down the historic boat houses for a new marina make for a very successful who-done-it. Enjoy your cruise!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

WREATH OF DECEPTION by Mary Ellen Hughes (Berkley)

Jo McAllister hopes a new craft store will help change her life after the sudden death of her husband. A jewelry designer with a degree in art, she feels qualified to teach all manner of craft workshops, especially with the help of long-time friend Carrie who's a needlework whiz. After the highly successful grand opening, complete with clown and circus music, Jo's celebration pales when she discovers a body in the store room. The police, quite naturally, look at Jo as the most obvious suspect. Over the next several days, Jo, aided and abetted by her workshop students, realizes she'll have to find an alternate suspect on her own. Another death only ups the ante. I suspect this light cozy will make its way into many craft bags.