Monday, January 21, 2008

STATE OF THE ONION by Julie Hyzy (Berkley)

Ok, it IS another culinary mystery—but this one is something more. Olivia "Ollie" Paras is an assistant chef at the White House, and in the running for executive chef. Along with Ollie, the reader meets the president and first lady, members of the Secret Service, and international terrorists. The story is current, edgy, and laden with calories—the kitchen staff is preparing for a state dinner. Did I mention that Ollie's competition for the new position is a cooking show star? Onion is a worthy entry to the ranks of engrossing cozies.

Friday, January 18, 2008

CONSEQUENCES OF SIN by Clare Langley-Hawthorne (Penguin)

All modern women need to be reminded now and again of the women who came before us--those who lobbied for women's rights. Ursula Marlow is a daughter of privilege in 1910 London, but she's also Oxford educated and a member of the Women's Social and Political Union. When she gets a middle-of-the-night phone call from a WSPU friend, she knows it's trouble. Finding the naked body of one's lover in one's bed is indeed trouble. Ursula does the only thing she can think of that will help Freddie--she calls in her father's business advisor and King's Counsel Lord Oliver Wrotham. Just getting an attorney doesn't help Freddie because Ursula is the only one who believes her friend is innocent. Ursula's fight to free Freddie takes her on an arduous adventure which brings to light wrongs from long ago and twisted relationships that continue over time. Overlaying the contorted mystery is the enormous struggle for women's rights.

Readers who enjoyed Miriam Grace Monfredo's series tracing the US women's rights movement from the Senecca Falls conference will relish Langley-Hawthorne's work.

PEPPERMINT TWISTED by Sammi Carter (Berkley Prime Crime)

Of all people, I should know better than to judge a book by its cover. Sometimes, though, I have to be reminded. Seeing a wagon made of candy, filled with candy, and the words "recipes inclulded" on the front, I thought this one would be mostly fluff. Instead I found a solid cozy mystery that was well written and thoroughly enjoyable.

Anyone who's ever been involved with a volunteer event will empathize with Paradise, Colorado's local artist guild when wealthy Felicity Asbury manages to get herself named director of the annual arts festival, replacing a dedicated, well-organized volunteer. As expected, Felicity throws her weight around and chaos ensues, followed by murder. Candy shop owner Abby Shaw finds herself not only more involved with the festival than she'd planned, but also a prime murder suspect.

Bonus: The recipes appear to be simple and tasty.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

MURDER IN GOTHAM by Isidore Haiblum

This fun, fast-paced PI mystery is a throwback to the hardboilded thrillers I devoured from the 1950s.Haiblum puts in his own twists--Weiss, his likeable PI is Jewish, and his characters' speech patterns are straight from Damon Runyon. The mystery is clever, the people likeable, and the chapter headings from "The Casebooks of Morris Weiss" are not to be skipped. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Gotham!