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”

The 5th Gender—Love and Death Among the Stars

The 5th Gender by G. L. Carriger book cover
The 5th Gender by G. L. Carriger

The 5th Gender, by G. L. Carriger (the pen name Gail Carriger writes under when she does spicy stuff), is a wonderful romance-cozy-mystery-scifi story. The lavender Galoi alien Tristol Zyga and the human security officer Detective Drey Hastion are just starting their courtship when a Galoi spaceship contacts the space station with an odd request—the Galoi, who have no word for murder, have a non-accidental death on board and need of a detective. It’s up to Detective Hastion and Tris—who, as an exile, no longer exists to his people—to find out what happened.

Also, for those of delicate sensibilities, there’s a lot of sex in this book, fully described, male on male.

1—Wonderful Worldbuilding

We get alternating points of view from Tris and Drey, and each’s observations on the other and and how they interact with the people and space station around them forms the basis of some excellent worldbuilding. I love Tris’s take on human customs and idioms. And Drey is always willing to answer Tris’s questions and explain things, as well as ask questions of his own. Between the two of them, we learn a lot about Galoi and humans both. In particular, the Galoi’s five genders and anatomy were interesting to learn about. Continue reading “The 5th Gender—Love and Death Among the Stars”

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.

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone—The Beginning of the End of the World

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning book cover
Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G. S. Denning

Warlock Homes: A Study in Brimstone, by G. S. Denning, is a fantastic, comedic take on Sherlock Homes, and is just as ludicrously fun as it sounds. Being the journal of one Dr. John Watson, it chronicles his first cases with the bumbling but powerful Warlock Holmes, and starts with John’s apology for ending the world.

1—The Characters

I loved the characters in this book. There is, of course, Dr. Watson, who narrates. Watson is observant and sarcastic—not to most of the people he speaks with, but to his reader, and, once comfortable with him, to Warlock. Next there’s Warlock Holmes himself, who is less than observant, and yet endearingly so. There’s Vladislav Lestrade, a nihilistic vampire and Scotland Yard detective, as is Torg Grogsson, an honorable ogre with a love of ballet dancers. There’s also a host of characters that don’t repeat from story to story, each with their own individual quirks. Continue reading “Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone—The Beginning of the End of the World”

In a Witch’s Wardrobe—The Woman in the Mirror

In a Witch's Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell book cover
In a Witch’s Wardrobe by Juliet Blackwell

In a Witch’s Wardrobe, by Juliet Blackwell, is a cozy mystery set in San Francisco, told from the first-person perspective of Lilly Ivory, a witch and owner of a vintage clothing store. This time out, she’s helping a young woman under a sleeping curse.

I have also reviewed previous entries in this series.

1—Sleeping Beauties

We start out at a costume ball, where everyone is dressed up like from the 1920s. Lilly has gone with Aiden, the witch “Godfather” of the Bay Area, but when she runs into a young woman, Lilly gets a vision of the woman reaching out to her but covered in vines. Aiden tells her to leave it alone. Later, that same young woman falls into a coma in the ladies’ bathroom, and Lilly sees her spirit trapped in a bathroom mirror. Again Aiden tells Lilly to leave it alone. But Lilly is never one to shrink when she can help, and soon Lilly finds out that another young woman has died from this same curse. Continue reading “In a Witch’s Wardrobe—The Woman in the Mirror”

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”