Dead Until Dark—The Dead, the Undead, and a Serial Killer

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris book cover
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris, is a paranormal cozy mystery romance. It’s told from the first-person perspective of Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress and mind reader in the little southern town of Bon Temps, and her first encounter with a vampire—who she falls in love with. Of course, said vampire is a suspect in some local murders, as is Sookie’s brother.

1—Sookie

Sookie thinks of her mind reading ability as a disability. It makes it difficult to interact normally with people, difficult to concentrate on anything much more than just keeping other people out of her head. She’s careful not to invade people’s privacy, especially her boss Sam’s. She likes her job as a waitress at Merlotte’s and doesn’t want to have to give it up. So when Bill comes in and she can’t read his mind, Sookie immediately takes to him. Continue reading “Dead Until Dark—The Dead, the Undead, and a Serial Killer”

Shedunnit Podcast—The Stories Behind the Golden Age of Mystery

Shedunnit podcast by Caroline Crampton
Shedunnit by Caroline Crampton

Shedunnit, by Caroline Crampton, is a podcast about the stories behind the Golden Age of mystery stories and detective novels, which took place in the Interwar period . The podcast goes into the lives and histories of the authors themselves, as well as surrounding events, social climates, themes, etc. that shaped the Cozy Mystery .

With each episode coming in at around twenty minutes, and a list of books mentioned, each topic gets a nice introduction and some exploration while still leaving plenty to suss out if a particular topic takes your fancy.

Black Cat Crossing—Bad Luck For A Killer

Black Cat Crossing by Kay Finch book cover
Black Cat Crossing by Kay Finch

Black Cat Crossing, by Kay Finch, is a cozy mystery that is told from the first-person perspective of would-be author Sabrina Tate as she tries to clear her aunt’s name of murder, as well as save a so-called “bad luck cat” from her aunt’s handyman.

1—Death on the River

When Bobby Joe Flowers comes back to town claiming to be Aunt Rowe’s half sister—and entitled to half of everything she inherited, including her rental cottage business—he shortly thereafter gets himself killed. Aunt Rowe is the prime suspect and Sabrina isn’t about to let her aunt go to jail, so she starts investigating on her own. There’s no shortage of suspects but a dearth of clues. Was it one of the many women Bobby Joe scammed, pretending to love them when he only wanted their money? Or was it the local Game Warden, who’s mother was Bobby Joe’s latest broken-hearted victim? And is there a connection between Bobby Joe’s death and the cold case of a young woman killed on the very same river behind Sabrina’s cottage? Continue reading “Black Cat Crossing—Bad Luck For A Killer”

Caught Dead Handed—Psychics, Witches, and Murder in Salem

Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry A Witch City Mystery book cover
Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry

Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry is the first in the Witch City Mystery series. Told from the first person point of view of Lee Barrett, we follow her as she returns home to Salem, Massachusetts and becomes a TV psychic—and finds out she just might by psychic for real.

1—The Mystery

Lee gets her new job at WHICH-TV as host of Nightshades, where she introduces old movies and tv shows and takes calls from viewers, after the previous host, Ariel Constellation, gets killed. There’s another murder in town too and Lee is convinced they’re connected. What’s more, she’s started to see visions in Ariel’s obsidian ball. She’s also adopted Ariel’s cat—and witch’s familiar—O’Ryan. Continue reading “Caught Dead Handed—Psychics, Witches, and Murder in Salem”

Murder on the Orient Express, the Movie (2017)—A Well-Done Version of a Classic

Murder on the Orient Express movie 2017
Murder on the Orient Express

Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as the inimical detective, Hercule Poirot, Murder on the Orient Express is adapted from one of murder mystery maven Agatha Christie’s best known books.

1—Well Paced and Characterized

Murder on the Orient Express has a lot to set up in little time, lots of clues and characters to introduce, but neither pacing nor characterization feels cheated. Everything flows naturally, including the gradual shift in tone from the lighthearted beginning to the emotional struggles of the climax. Continue reading “Murder on the Orient Express, the Movie (2017)—A Well-Done Version of a Classic”

The Doctor Blake Mysteries Season One—Not Bad

The Doctor Blake Mysteries
The Doctor Blake Mysteries

Available on Netflix, The Doctor Blake Mysteries is a little dark but not gruesome. It follows war veteran Dr Lucien Blake as he returns to his home town of Ballarat in Australia and takes up his father’s practice and his place as police surgeon.

1—Dr Blake

Lucien likes to stir things up. Our introduction to him is when he takes a nude painting into his stuffy men’s club and hangs it above the bar. Taking place in what I think is the ‘50s, Lucien has some rather liberal attitudes that don’t always go down well with his colleagues and fellow townsmen. Continue reading “The Doctor Blake Mysteries Season One—Not Bad”

Hexes and Hemlines—Things Start Getting Complicated

Hexes and Hemlines book cover
Hexes and Hemlines

Hexes and Hemlines, by Juliet Blackwell, is a cozy mystery told in the first-person perspective of a witch who acts as the detective. Not part of the San Francisco Police Department—though she was asked to unofficially consult on this case, Lilly Ivory owns and operates a vintage clothing store.

1—Accidentally Breaking Things

When Lilly is called to weigh in on a murder victim surrounded by bad luck symbols—a broken mirror, a ladder in front of a doorway, black cat, etc—it sets off a series of events in the magical community. Apparently she’s broken some decades old pact between witches and Satanists not to get into each others’ business. As the murder victim was the son of the head of the Church of Satan, Lilly finds herself in deep trouble, trouble that will extend out to her friends. Continue reading “Hexes and Hemlines—Things Start Getting Complicated”

A Cast-Off Coven—Demons, Ghosts, and Art School

A Cast Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell book cover
A Cast Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell

A Cast-Off Coven, by Juliet Blackwell, is the second in the Witchcraft Mystery series (I’ve read but not reviewed the first in the series, Secondhand Spirits—I liked it). It’s a cozy mystery set in San Francisco starring Lilly Ivory, witch and vintage-clothing store owner.

1—Murder in the Bell Tower

Lilly is called in to kick the ghost out of the school’s haunted bell tower—at least that’s her job until finding rich scumbag and patron of the art school Jerry Becker dead at the base of said bell tower. Now in addition to the ghost, Lilly has to deal with a murder. And then she finds out there’s a demon in the third-floor closet. Continue reading “A Cast-Off Coven—Demons, Ghosts, and Art School”

The UnBook Reporter’s Favorite Mystery/Crime Shows to Relax To

You may have noticed I’ve been on a bit of a murder mystery novel kick lately, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite tv shows too.

1—Midsommer Murders

A British series, Midsommer Murders follows Chief Inspector Barnaby and his Sergeant as they solve murders in the idyllic little villages of Midsommer.

2—Agatha Christie’s Poirot

Based on the character created by Agatha Christie, the titular Hercule Poirot is a Belgian private detective in 1930s England, and sometimes abroad. The show has a distinctly Art Deco look, with beautiful sets and costume. The mysteries are fun too.

3—Columbo

A classic from the ‘70s. Each episode follows the murderer from before the murder through being caught. The through line is Lieutenant Columbo from LA Homicide, who catches them. Known for its tight plotting and intriguing filming techniques, Columbo is still a unique shows decades later.

4—Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods follows a family of cops, from Police Commissioner down to Rookie, and with an ADA on the side. The show neither sugar coats nor delves into the truly gruesome, and it’s one of the few modern police dramas I’ve found to be in this middle ground. Bad things happen but I never leave an episode feeling depressed, and I like that.

5—Murder She Wrote

Running from the m’id-80s through the mid-‘90s, Murder She Wrote stars Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a novelist from Maine who just keeps running into corpses. Light and fun, this series sometimes catches flack for not always showing all the clues needed for the audience to solve the case, but if you’re like me and don’t care then it’s still a good romp.