Book Review: Ruso and the Root of all Evils by R.S. Downie

Ruso and the Root of all Evils is the third book in this Roman mystery series by R.S.Downie.

Summary (from Goodreads)

At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home—to Gaul. Having received a note consisting only of the words “COME HOME!” Ruso has (reluctantly, of course) pulled up stakes and brought Tilla to meet his family.

But the reception there is not what Ruso has hoped for: no one will admit to sending for him, and his brother Lucius is hoping he’ll leave. With Tilla getting icy greetings from his relatives, Lucius’s brother-in-law mysteriously drowned at sea, and the whole Ruso family teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, it’s hard to imagine an unhappier reunion. That is, until Severus, the family’s chief creditor, winds up dead, and the real trouble begins…

Engrossing, intricate, and—as always—wonderfully comic, Ruth Downie’s latest is a brilliant new instalment in this irresistible series. This is everything we’ve come to expect from our charming, luckless hero.

Favourite Quote

“Anyway,” continued Cass, “I can’t pray to Christos.  You’ll have to do it.  You’re not married.”

“Does that matter?”

“Christos’ followers are supposed to obey their husbands.”

Review

This book was enjoyable to read and well-written, full of engaging characters and entertaining storylines.  My favourite character has to be Tilla.  She is simply fantastic: brave, unrepentant, compassionate, and independent. And poor Ruso – he has so much to put up with, and things just keep getting worse for him.

I guessed the culprit but not the ending.  Indeed, towards the latter part of the book, I was driven to keep reading by a need to find out just how the story would conclude.

I liked the author’s style of writing; fairly short chapters that mostly end with a new twist or turn in the plot.  This gave the story a good pace and instilled in me an insatiable desire to read just one more chapter, then another, then another…more or less until I finished the book.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy their historical fiction set in the ancient Roman world, and, if you love Lindsey Davis’ Falco series, I think you will love this one too.

Rating

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Book Review: The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton

The Case of the Bygone Brother is the first book in the Alex O’Hara series by Diane Burton

Summary (from Goodreads)

After taking over O’Hara Palzetti, Confidential Investigations from her dad and his partner, Alex O’Hara’s bottom line has taken a plunge. So when a femme fatale offers her the case of a lifetime along with a huge advance, Alex sees her finances on a definite upswing. But someone doesn’t want her to find the long-lost brother. Complicating matters is the return of Alex’s old heartthrob, Nick Palzetti. Is he really there just to see her or does he have an ulterior motive? The Lake Michigan resort town of Fair Haven is abuzz with the news that O’Hara Palzetti are together again.

Favourite Quote

While my cheeks burned at the memory of that unwanted kiss, I silently cursed my fair Irish complexion.  Genetics betrayed me every time.  “Knuckle-dragger is right,” I said.  “I guess you didn’t stay long enough to see me deck him.”

Review

This is an entertaining little read; romance, suspense, humour, danger…it has everything an interesting cosy mystery needs.

I liked both Alex O’Hara and Nick Palzetti.  She’s determined to make it on her own and is a right little miss independent, while he just wants to protect her and keep her safe.  So, of course, this creates a great deal of tension between the main characters.

The pace felt a little off (too fast) towards the end but throughout the rest of the book, the story moved along at a good pace.  There were enough plot twists and turns to keep me wondering what was going to happen next.  Fair Haven was the perfect setting for this story, with it’s small shops and people who know everyone else (and everyone else’s business).  There were a number of references, especially close to the beginning that were reminiscent of old-school detective novels, which I found charming.

The second book in the series is The Case of the Fabulous Fiance, which sounds just as entertaining as the first.

Rating

I read The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton via Wattpad

Book Review: Raining Men and Corpses by Anne. R. Tan

Raining Men and Corpses is the first book in the Raina Sun Mysteries by Anne R Tan.

Summary (from Smashwords)

When it rains, it pours … and this amateur sleuth may be in over her head.

Graduate student Raina Sun is trying to keep her head above water as the bills roll in when her dashing college adviser cons her out of several months of rent. Her quest to retrieve the money sets in motion a streak of even worse luck.

First, she stumbles on her advisor’s dead body and becomes a suspect in his murder. Next, the only man she’s ever loved reappears as the lead detective to the case. Raina’s having trouble interpreting his signals–does he want to reignite their passion, or just stay close to his prime suspect?

Her life careens further out of control when her grandma shows up at Raina’s postage-stamp-sized apartment, dragging a red suitcase and trouble of her own. As Raina summons her sleuthing skills, she discovers that when it comes to murder, there may be no place for an amateur.

Favourite Quote

Who wouldn’t want to spend time with the human embodiment of milk and cookies?

Review

What really caught my attention about this series were the fun covers and the light-hearted, murder-related names for the books. They looked and sounded entertaining; other titles include Gusty Lovers and Cadavers, Breezy Friends and Bodies, Barmy Darlings and Deaths, and Sunny Mates and Murders.  There was no way I was going to miss giving the first book in the series a try.  And of course, by this point I already had high hopes for this story…

What did I like about the book?  The main character, Raina, is from an Asian American background, which is very fresh and exciting, and rather unusual for cosy mysteries.  It was nice to read something so different.

What didn’t I like so much?  I found this book a little slow going, not because of the pace, but because I just couldn’t seem to get into it and when I did, it didn’t hold my attention for too long.  That being said, I was interested in finding out who murdered Holden (I had guessed who the culprit was), so carried on reading until the end.  I wasn’t really a big fan of many of the characters, the exception being Raina’s grandmother, Po Po.  She was fantastic.

Will I be reading the second book in the Raina Sun Mysteries, Gusty Lovers and Cadavers?  I’m not sure, although looking at its reviews on Goodreads, its average rating is higher than Raining Men and Corpses so I might succumb.  Have you read this book / series?  If so, what were your thoughts?

Rating

My rating: 2.5 / 5

 

I downloaded a copy of Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R Tan for FREE via Smashwords

Book Review: A Body in the Backyard by Elizabeth Spann Craig

A Body in the Backyard is the fourth Myrtle Clover Mystery by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

Summary (from Wattpad)

It’s just an ordinary day for octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover—until her yardman discovers a dead body planted in her backyard. This death isn’t cut and dried—the victim was bashed in the head with one of Myrtle’s garden gnomes.

Myrtle’s friend Miles recognizes the body and identifies him as Charles Clayborne… reluctantly admitting he’s a cousin. Charles wasn’t the sort of relative you bragged about—he was a garden variety sleaze, which is very likely why he ended up murdered. As Myrtle starts digging up dirt to nip the killings in the bud, someone’s focused on scaring her off the case. Myrtle vows to find the murderer…before she’s pushing up daisies, herself.

Favourite Quote

This precognition was an irritating thing.  It made you feel like you were always one-step behind.

Review

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and the first in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries that I have read.  And, I can say I really enjoyed this cosy mystery.  Myrtle Clover is an entertaining sleuth.  She reminds me a little of Miss Marple as she is always popping up everywhere, but unlike Miss Marple, Myrtle is so much more proactive when it comes to finding the evidence she needs to solve the case.

Myrtle is a fantastic sleuth determined to get to the bottom of the case before her son, Bradley’s chief of police, Red does.  Red is an interesting character.  Professionally he doesn’t want his mother to interfere with a murder inquiry.  Personally he is worried about her, and thinks at her age she should be living in a retirement home.

There were other entertaining characters in this story also: Wanda the psychic and her brother, Crazy Dan, her neighbour, Miles, and Pasha the feral cat (one of my favourites).  I liked how the other characters interacted with Myrtle, their opinions varying from a nosy old lady to a vulnerable OAP, from the stern teacher who taught them over thirty years ago to the crank gnome collector.

This gentle-paced cosy mysteries was a fun, quick read.   I will definitely be reading more of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, maybe even before this month is out.

Rating

Originally I was only going to award the book 3.5 / 5 but Myrtle was so much fun I bumped it up to 4

I found “A Body in the Backyard” by Elizabeth Spann Craig on Wattpad.

Book Review: Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin

Summary (from Wattpad)

When police officer Kate Dexter runs over a man on a dark country road, the last thing she expects to discover is that he’s also been shot. Unable to get help because of the storm that caused the accident in the first place, she takes the unconscious stranger to her family’s farm, intending to alert the local authorities.

Then Jonas Burke regains consciousness, and his shocking blue eyes and incredible story give her pause. Is he the victim of the conspiracy he claims? Or is he the dirty cop-turned-murderer that’s the subject of a Canada-wide warrant?

With a manhunt underway for the fugitive she’s now harboring, Kate finds herself torn between career and instinct. Even as everything cop in her insists she turn him over, her heart tells her he’s innocent…but can she trust a heart that’s gone as rogue as the cop she may be falling for?

Favourite Quote

The gesture of familiarity twisted through Jonas with all the subtlety of a prison-made shank.

Review

This was one of those books where, on reaching the end of the chapter, I found myself saying, “Just one more”.  Again and again and again.  I just couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end.

The story, set in Canada and then the United States, is told from the perspectives of both Kate Dexter and Jonas Blake.  Their characters are so different from each other that you are pulled along by their toing-and-froing, and the tension between them was palpable throughout. I also liked Todd Jennings, Dexter’s partner.

There is plenty of action in this story, and so many twists and turns to keep you wondering where the next threat is going to come from.  After all, the odds are stacked against them from the start. The pace of the story was just right; fast enough to keep the reader engage but not so fast that they got lost.

As I read, I could clearly envisage each place Dexter and Blake visited.  From the country road where the story began, to the dark alleys, diners and motels that they called into.  The ending wasn’t unexpected, but I was kept guessing as to how the story was going to get there, which made for a fresh and captivating read.

This is one of the best books I’ve read on Wattpad, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially to those who like their crime novels to have a romantic suspense element to them.  I will certainly be reading more by this author, without a doubt.

Rating

4.5 / 5

I found Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin on Wattpad.

Book Review: Requiem for a Mezzo by Carola Dunn

Requiem for a Mezzo is the third book in the Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries by Carola Dunn.

Summary

When Daisy’s next door neighbour gives her tickets to the opera at the Albert Hall, she has her fingers crossed for a quiet evening out with the dashing Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard.  Things are going swimmingly until after the interval when one of the soloists drops dead on the stage.  And it quickly transpires that the victim, Bettina Westlea, made many enemies in the musical circle she moved in, the majority of which were with her on stage at the time of her death…

Favourite Quote

(2 favourites this time as I couldn’t choose between them!)

Tall and sleek, she wouldn’t have been caught dead in last year’s calf length hems, though her budget was as limited as Daisy’s; she made her own clothes and spent on materials and trimmings the equivalent of what Daisy put into books and gramophone records.

*

‘Daisy!  Don’t tell me you’ve fallen over another dead body?’

Review

I am a big fan of Daisy Dalrymple.  I like the way perfect strangers just walk over to her and unburden themselves of all they know about whatever crime the Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher is working on, much her to bemusement and his annoyance.  How can he keep her safe if she finds herself right in the middle of everything?  It’s also nice to see how much Alec recognises and respects Daisy’s intelligence and independence.

There is such an interesting list of characters in this instalment, hailing from all corners of Europe.  This adds flavour and colour to the story, and as the majority of the cast are all singers, they have entertaining artistic temperaments too.

Light and easy to read, these books are full of the charm of the era in which they are set, though you will find mention of some of the main events that had a tremendous effect on people at the time: the First World War, the influenza epidemic and the Russian Revolution.

If you like cosy mysteries set in 1920s England, I think you will enjoy these books, as you will if you enjoy Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Phryne Fisher stories or pretty much anything written by Agatha Christie.

Rating

Book Review: Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith

morality-for-beautiful-girls-front-cover

Morality for Beautiful Girls is the third book in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

Summary:

Things are all-change for Mma Ramotswe.  First, she has decided to move her detective agency into the office of her fiance’s garage, but something’s not right with Mr J.L.B. Matekoni.  As she tries to work out what is wrong with him, as well as care for the two orphans they have decided to foster, she must also find a way to ensure that both of their businesses keep ticking over.

Then an important client who works for the government sends her on a case out of Gaboronne, leaving Mma Makutsi to not only run the detective agency, but step in as Acting Manager for Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors.  While Precious Ramotswe is investigating a possible case of poisoning, Grace Makutsi must help the organiser and chief judge of the Miss Glamorous Botswana beauty competition seek out the most deserving of the finalists.  If she can do that, she will earn the detective agency a generous fee.  The problem is, she only has three days in which to do it…

Favourite Quote:

What was too big, anyway? Who was to tell another person what size they should be?

It was a form of dictatorship, by the thin, and she was not having any of it.

Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this read, or rather, re-read, but it has been a few years since I have read from this series.  A point worth noting is that these books are always as good as I remember them and never fail to entertain.  They are nicely paced and easy to read, thanks to the writing style of the author.

It’s very easy to connect to the characters in these books, and as the characters themselves are concerned about the welfare of others, (indeed a theme of the book is that Africa can teach the world how to care for other people), when they are going through a rough patch, as a reader I feel concerned for them.  There is so much colour and vibrancy to the story, and the descriptions of Botswana, especially the descriptions of how the people feel connected to their land, is engaging and uplifting to read.

Grace Makutsi really comes into her own in this instalment, as she takes on the role of Acting Manager for Mr J.L.B. Matekoni’s Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors as well as trying to fulfil her job as assistant detective.

The next book in the series is The Kalahari Typing School for Men.  And I can’t wait to reread it, so I’ve added it to next month’s reading list.  I highly recommend this book series for those who enjoy a gentle ramble through a heartwarming cosy mystery alongside some wonderful characters.

Rating:

five-stars