Catering to Nobody

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $49.00
Paperback $7.19
Hardback $12.97
Kindle $3.99
Associated ISBNs 9780553584707
9780449220467 — Paperback
9781574902044 — Hardcover
9780312042776 — Hardcover
9781575110202

Rating (VOYA)

3Q, 3P

As a cozy mystery, this one wasn’t bad but it wasn’t super well written. I had some issues with the plot and characters.

I think this one is a little dark for most cozy readers, and not dark enough for mainstream thriller/mystery readers.

Readers Annotation

 

Summary

After her son’s teacher commits suicide, Goldy must cater the wake. However her ex father-in-law, Fritz, is poisoned and her catering business is shut down. Goldy decides to investigate the poisoning and the teacher’s suicide in order to get her business running again. She works with Shultz, the policeman she starts dating, to solve the crime while trying to reach out to her son Arch who was close to the teacher.

Goldy looks through the teacher’s house under the pretense of looking at it to buy. She breaks into the teacher’s locker at the gym and looks at the teacher’s medical file at Fritz’s office.

In the meantime she struggles to pay the bills by cleaning other people’s homes. Arch is acting out despite Goldy’s attempts to reach out to him and her roommate Patty Sue is acting strange. She meets up with her friend and fellow ex-wife Marla.

Arch discovers a bloody knife in a car Goldy borrows from Fritz. Goldy’s ex mother-in-law over self medicates and dies. Goldy figures out it was Fritz who killed the teacher, his wife, and was manipulating a now pregnant Patty Sue into having sex with him. Fritz tries to take Goldy  out but Arch and Pomeroy (another teacher) take Fritz out. It turns out that Pomeroy was the one poisoning Fritz because he hold Fritz responsible for his wife’s death.

Evaluation

This wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t earth moving. I had a lot of issues with Goldy’s relationship with Shultz and its believability. I also had some issues with Arch, but he’s a teenage boy so that might just be why. The plot was a little unbelievable, in that there’s no way she would have had tacit police acceptance of her investigating, and the whole idea of her “investigation” was pretty crazy. Goldy and Arch were the only characters that were really three dimensional. All the other characters were pretty glossed over. I don’t think I really believed the setting or action. It was a small town, but I’ve read better depictions of small towns (Agatha Raisin).

I think this might not entirely work for its intended audience. Its a little dark for a cozy mystery, and the casual mentions of spousal abuse are really off-putting. Its not as fun as most other cozy mysteries.

Genre

Cozy mystery, Gentle Read

Readalikes

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

A Taste for Murder by Claudia Bishop

Significance

One of the first cozy mysteries.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What do you think about Goldy’s relationship with Shultz?

How believable is it that Goldy was able to conduct her own investigation?

Was this an acurate depiction of small town life?

Author’s website

Diane Mott Davidson’s Facebook page

Awards

 

Reviews

PW

Kirkus

Why I Chose It

Another required read. However, I’ve secretly been wanting to see if these were any good because I appreciate a good punny title.

Other Information

Advertisements

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $24.09
Paperback $7.00
Hardback $10.92
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9780804111638
9780783803463 — Paperback
9780312081539 — Hardcover
9781845290801 — Paperback
9781849011341 — Paperback
9781429901536
9780754074977

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

This is a pretty well written book, with unique characters.

Cozy mysteries are quite popular, and this is a great example.

Readers Annotation

Newly retired PR manager Agatha Raisin moves to a small town and is accused of murder.

Summary

Newly retired from her PR job, Agatha Raisin has moved to a small cottage in the country in the village of Carsley. She decides to embrace small town life in her own way, entering a quiche contest with a quiche bought from a London shop. She loses the competition and is a little bitter about it. However, the quiche judge Cummings-Brown dies of poisoning that night apparently after eating her quiche.

Forced to reveal that she bought the quiche from a store, Agatha decides to clear her name. So she starts investigating on her own. She talks to the ladies in the quilting circle and the woman that the judge was having an affair with. She makes friends with Detective Wong who foists a kitten on her. She organizes a charity auction and sells a lot of her own items while making it very successful thanks to her former position in PR.

She eventually discovers that the widow Cummings-Brown keeps her food in a refrigerator and that she poisoned her husband.

Evaluation

I kind of loved this cozy mystery. Just enough snark and “big city to small town” to make this a completely enjoyable read. Agatha’s voice is really unique and she is trying to fit in, but just doesn’t fit the small town model.

I thought that the plot, while silly, was just great. The characters are really cute, and there’s a clear difference between the “big city” people and the small townies. You knew their frustrations and quirks. It was really cute.

I thought this was really enjoyable. I loved the tone and the idea. Its a great cozy mystery, and spawn a lot sequels so there’s plenty more where this one came from. I think its perfect for cozy mystery readers. They get an amateur sleuth with a unique voice in a quaint English village.

Genre

Cozy Mystery

Readalikes

Antiques Bizarre by Barbara Allan

The Body in the Big Apple by Caroline Graham

Significance

A great example of someone going from a big city to a small town and how hard it can be to adjust.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What did you think of Agatha’s personality?

Was it believable that judge Cummings-Brown didn’t choose Agatha’s quiche?

Why do you think Agatha kept the kitten?

Author’s website

M.C. Beaton

Awards

 

Reviews

PW

Kirkus

Why I Chose It

I wanted to try another cozy mystery, and this series kept catching my eye at the library and in the Genreflecting book.

Other Information


 

One Shot

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $59.99, $23.95
Paperback $7.49
Hardback $15.00
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780385336680
9780440241027
9780440246077 — Paperback
9780345538192 — Paperback
9780375433382 — Hardcover
9780307990792 — Paperback
9780440423010 — Paperback
9781442093362 — Glued Binding
9780440335474
9780593051832
9780345540867 — Paperback
9780553815863 — Paperback
9780440808022 — Paperback
9781405611213

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

This is a pretty well written book. There aren’t any major plot or character flaws.

This is an intensely popular series which has been made into two movies so far. A lot of people may have read this book which is why its only a 4P.

Readers Annotation

Jack Reacher confronts a man from his past after a deadly shooting.

Summary

A man, James Barr, has shot and killed five people. He left all the evidence needed to track him down and build a air tight case. His only request after being captured is to find Jack Reacher and proclaims his innocence.

Jack Reacher comes up from Florida to come to put away Barr because he had done something like this before in the army. The defense recruits him to look over the evidence. It becomes apparent that someone may have set Barr up to be the fall guy.

Reacher starts investigating but is soon set up as the fall guy for the murder of a woman he met at a bar by the Russian mob. He goes on the lamb to solve the case, culminating in an exciting action sequence.

Evaluation

Pretty good man read. Very easy read, fast-paced and appealing. Not a lot of substance, but easy to pick up and put down. It features Child’s titular Jack Reacher, manly former army guy, and a compelling plot.

The plot was pretty intriguing and kept the reader guessing as to what what going on. There were a lot of moving pieces that all came together. The characters weren’t bad, but they weren’t completely fleshed out other than Reacher himself. Barr was a compelling character even if he was a mystery himself.

The setting was pretty good, Child captured the city feel pretty well. The action was the star of this book.

I found myself truly enjoying this book. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but it was quite compelling. It wasn’t emotionally charged, but it was entertaining. I think the intended audience would eat this up. Its just what they want: an action movie in book form. It doesn’t really slow down, but steadily speeds up to the climactic fight.

I don’t really have a flaw for this book. It was well done.

Genre

Thriller, Suspense

Readalikes

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly

Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey

Significance

This was the book that the first Reacher movie was based on.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Discuss Reacher and Barr’s relationship.

Was the action believable?

What did you think of the ending?

Author’s website

Lee Child

Awards

Library Journal Best Thriller

Reviews

Kirkus

PW

Why I Chose It

Thought I’d try a Jack Reacher thriller to get a handle on fiction that would appeal more to male readers.

Other Information


 

Last Days

last-days

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $9.99
Paperback $11.52
Hardback
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780980226003
9781566894166 — Paperback
9781448715893 — Prebind
9780980226065

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 3P

This is a really well written book. There are some disjointed parts, but its pretty great otherwise.

This is a really hard read, and really disturbing material so it will be hard to get too popular.

Readers Annotation

Kline has been abducted by a cult of mutilation and must escape.

Summary

Kline has recently lost his hand. He cut it off himself to escape the Man with the Hatchet and then self-cauterized. He starts getting calls from 2 mysterious men saying he should come to them. When he doesn’t come, they take him.

At the compound, Kline is told that he needs to asked to solve the murder of a limbless saint who might not actually be dead. All of the residents hold him in high regard because he self-cauterized his amputation. The cult of mutilation believes that the more amputations you have, the closer to God you are. He starts to suspect that something is wrong with the story he’s been told. He tries to talk to the high ranking members but can’t. So the leader drugs him and cuts off three toes so he can talk to them.

He talks to the ranking members and discovers they’ve been told a different reason why he’s there. He tries to find thesaint who’s death he was supposed to solve and finds him alive.  He wakes framed for the murder of the saint and tries to kill the leader to escape.

He comes to in a hospital missing his arm. The police question him but he gives no answers. The cult tries to murder him in his sleep and proclaims they will hunt him down. He is rescued by another mutilation cult full of Pauls. The Pauls nurse him to health and let him leave. Kline goes back to his apartment, gets assaulted by the police and re-abducted by the cult of mutilation. One of his abductors is actually a spy for the Pauls and admits that the cult will never leave him alone.

He goes back to the cult alone and slaughters the high ranking members, and then heads back to the Pauls, baricades the door and sets the place on fire.

Evaluation

Wtf did I just read? AKA the most disturbing book I’ve read. Truth be told, this is the single most disturbing book I’ve read. Now, it wasn’t bad, but I don’t want to say it was good because that implies I enjoyed it but I don’t like the idea that I actually liked it. … Its disturbing, and disturbingly good. I don’t want to like this book, but I couldn’t stop reading it. This book is rough to read. Its disturbing in a completely non-paranormal way.

Kline is just enough of a mystery himself to be compelling, and his complete loss of knowledge in the first half echoes the reader’s. We’re dropped in this cult with no idea how we got here and no idea how to get out, which is exactly where Kline is. Kline’s two friends in the cult are sort of sketched out, but not fully formed. Most of the characters aside from Kline and the cult leader are pretty sketchy, but they’re not important.

The first half of the book “The Brotherhood of Mutilation” is better plotted than the second half “Last Days.” The characters aren’t really three dimensional, they’re devoted cultists. We don’t really get why, and I think that is intentional.

I think Horror fans would like this one. Its disturbing and dark, and even days after reading it, it leaves pieces with you.

Genre

Horror, Mystery

Readalikes

15 Miles by Robert Scott

Birdman by Mo Hadyer

Significance

A novella that became a book. Really atmospheric and disturbing.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What did you think about the Brotherhood of Mutilation?

Did Kline handle the police the right way in the hospital?

Should Kline have burned the Pauls but left the Brotherhood?

Author’s website

Brian Evenson

Awards

The Reading List (RUSA): 2010

Reviews (hard to find reviews for this book)

Goodreads

AV Club

Why I Chose It

It sounded like an intriguing mystery…

Other Information

State of the Onion

state-of-the-onion

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $9.99
Paperback $7.19
Hardback
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9780425218693
9781597227254 — Paperback
9781101206522

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

This is a pretty well written and put together book. Everything is pretty straight forward with no real glaring errors.

I think its a little darker than most cozy mysteries, so it might be a little off putting for cozy readers, but because its a little darker it might appeal to more mainstream mystery readers.

Readers Annotation

She became embroiled in an assassination plot, but the heat is in the kitchen.

Summary

Olivia (Ollie) Paras is an assistant chef at the White House. A man has run passed the Secret Service to get into the White House. Ollie happens to have a frying pan as he runs past her and she decks him twice. He says he needs to warn the President. He recognizes Craig, a  Secret Service man, and Craig calls him Naveen. That night, as Ollie watches the new, they say that a different man broke into the White House. This peaks Ollie’s interest.

Ollie is in the middle of battling a daytime food show host for the job of head chef at the White House and she’s dating a Secret Service man (Tom). Ollie tries to find out if Naveen is at the D.C. jail, but he isn’t there. Tom and Craig bang on her door at four in the morning to interrogate her about it. Naveen contacts her later that day and sets up a meet at noon the next day.

Ollie meets Naveen at the Mall, but they’re meeting is cut short when a very blond man shoots Naveen. Ollie runs for it and is taken into police custody for questioning. The man who shot Naveen is the assassin the Chameleon.

Ollie’s competition (Laurel Ann) shows up early, Ollie has to deal with a state dinner, and the police all in one day. Laurel Ann manages to offend all the staff during her audition.

Ollie goes to the gun range to practice and runs into Tom after a run in with the Chameleon. Ollie visits her father’s grave at Arlington and has another close encounter with the Chameleon.

Henry and Ollie go to Camp David to make food for the negotiations. When they come back they start preparing for the big state dinner. The dinner gets moved out doors. While refreshing the refreshments at the dinner, Ollie notices a suspicious man. Figuring out that its the Chameleon, she stops him from killing the prime minister, and chases him. The Chameleon turns out to be Kasim (the prince/princess’s aide). Tom shoots him.

Ollie becomes head White House chef.

Evaluation

This was a pretty nice Cozy. Its a little darker, a little more serious, than most Cozy mysteries, but it works. Its got a thrilling plot and interesting characters. I found myself enjoying this book, but not overly much. I think, for me at least, this book fell in the awkward place of “not fun enough” for Cozy, and “not dark enough” for the usual mysteries I read, which left it kind of in no man’s land where I don’t know how I feel.

I think the plot was pretty good. Hyzy juggled the two plots well (the head chef competition and the assassination plot) so that neither felt neglected. The romance plot may have been a bit much though. If there were one thing that felt a little forced and underdone it was Ollie and Tom’s relationship (and associated drama).

I thought the characters were well done. Each character had their own personalities and their own motivations, and it was all pretty clear to the reader. The setting was vibrant, and like you’d expect for a White House kitchen (I guess, I’ve never thought about it before).

I think the intended audience might feel like me: “not fun enough” and “not dark enough.” Its a fine line to straddle. I think it is still an appealing Cozy-ish mystery and definitely worth reading. It had some great action scenes that may appeal to people who read more mainstream thrillers and mysteries.

Genre

Cozy Mystery, Culinary Mystery

Readalikes

Lemon Tart by Josi S. Kilpack

Tall Tail by Rita Mae Brown

Significance

A darker Cozy mystery. Also, White House chef mystery, definitely unique.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What did you think of the reveal of the Chameleon?

Discuss Peter Everett Sargeant III.

Was it believable?

Author’s website

Julie Hyzy

Awards

Anthony Awards: Best Paperback Original

Reviews

PW

Goodreads

Why I Chose It

It sounded like a cozy mystery I would enjoy and I wanted to try another cozy mystery.

Other Information