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Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe

Los Angeles, CA United States
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  • Dead and Breakfast

  • A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery
  • By: Kate Kingsbury
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
  • Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 279
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 250
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 247

Melanie West is getting her life back on track after a messy divorce when her grandmother, Liza Harris, asks her to join her in opening a bed-and-breakfast inn. Together, Liza and Melanie purchase a purportedly haunted mansion on the Oregon coast and jump right into clearing out the cobwebs. But while attempting to remove wallpaper in an upstairs bedroom, the new B&B owners stumble upon a very real skeleton in their closet.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the best I have evet heard!!! I loved it!!

  • By Vince on 05-02-17

A skeleton and a laughing ghost

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-13-18

In <strong>Dead and Breakfast</strong> by Kate Kingsbury, Melanie West is busy preparing an old house with her grandmother, Lisa Harris, to turn it into the Merry Ghost Inn, named after the ghost who laughs at people. While working hard to renovate the house in time for their first guests, Melanie and Liza work to scrape the wallpaper off one room and discover a secret hidden door. Upon pushing it open, Liza discovers a skeleton dressed in a nightgown. Since the Oregon coastal town where they have settled is too small to have its own detective, sharing one man with several other nearby towns, Liza talks Melanie into working to solve the murder because they won't be allowed to access the upstairs until the police solve the murder. This means they won't be able to open on time.

<strong>Dead and Breakfast</strong> turned out to be a fun, lighthearted book to listen to. The characters are cute and the scenes of interest. It is not deep in its clues, but Melanie and Liza help to make up for that. There are not many other characters besides those two, and I wish we could see more people because of the life we see in this pair. There is also an element of gentle love interests between Melanie and Officer Ben Carter as well as between the widowed Liza and the man who runs the hardware store/ local restaurant in town.

Tavia Gilbert performs the audio edition of this book. Her gentle voice seems well suited to the gentle plot, and she does a good job of making the book seem real. I like the way she softens the British accent of Liza, who moved to the U.S. in the 1960s so had plenty of time to pick up elements of an American accent. The voice of the laughing ghost, whom Liza dubs Orville, also shows a lot of. Creativity. I think Gilbert does an excellent job with this narration.

In general, I enjoyed <strong>Dead and Breakfast</strong>, but I did feel that it was weak in its content. I would have liked more clues and possible suspects, as well as more characters. But the book still had a lot of fun details, so I give it four stars.

  • A Death in Duck

  • Lindsay Harding Cozy Mystery Series
  • By: Mindy Quigley
  • Narrated by: Holly Adams
  • Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 26
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 26

With the new year approaching, hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding heads for a much-needed break in the peaceful resort town of Duck on North Carolina's outer banks. Her plan to attend the wedding of her friend, Anna, runs aground when a boatload of trouble washes ashore, and as the old year ticks down, the body count goes up. Thrust into the path of an increasingly desperate killer, Lindsay must uncover a sinister secret before she winds up swimming with the fishes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Get your giggle on with this mystery!

  • By Jan on 01-30-16

Creative mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-13-18

In <strong>A Death in Duck</strong> by Mindy Quigley, hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding is getting ready for the Christmas holidays. She is going be maid of honor for Anna, her doctor friend, who plans to get married on New Year's Eve at the beach resort town of Duck, North Carolina. Thus, Lindsay intends to spend Christmas with her Aunt Patricia Harding, with whom she lived as a child during her parents' incarceration and who lives near Duck. However, when Lindsay arrives at her aunt's house, she gets a most unwelcome surprise: Her mother, who is wanted by police in connection to a recent local murder, has been living with Aunt Harding for the past two or three months. Then the next morning Kipper, her mother's doberman, leads Lindsay to a shed where she finds the body of her aunt shot dead. In a panic, her mother, Sarah Bell, takes off, leaving Lindsay to deal with the police alone.

Lindsay then goes through drama in her life as the police, led by her detective boyfriend Warren, search for the killer. The cops suspect they know the identity of the murderer: Leander Swoops. The man is Lindsay's mother's former, and possibly current, boyfriend who tried to kill Lindsay and her father in the prior book, <em>Murder in Mount Moriah</em>. In addition, Lindsay has to deal with Anna, who has suddenly turned into a bridezilla at the encouragement of her mother.

The drama turns into a farce when Lindsay's best friend, Rob, asks her to play his wife when his mother come to visit from Taiwan. He is the only one of her friends to have a committed, healthy relationship, but the only problem in his mother's eyes is that his long-term, stable partner is a man and not a woman. So in fear of his mother's rejection, Rob has told his mother that he married Lindsay six months earlier, forcing Lindsay to play the wife while dealing with all the problems going on around her.

<strong>A Death in Duck</strong> has several unique aspects to this book. For one thing, few cozy mystery feature an ordained minister as the protagonist, and I've never encountered a hospital chaplain or even other employees of a hospital in a cozy mystery. This offers the opportunity to show a different side of human nature and different approach to connecting with people. Lindsay shows herself to be a strong, resourceful woman who never lets all the chaos in her life get the better of her.

The plot has many strands, making the book a challenge to summarize but fun to listen to. Many details don't seem to be relevant to the murder case and seem just to add flavor to the book, and then they turn out to have importance in the solution. But other details simply work to make the book fun and full of the details of life.

I thought it refreshing that Quigley made one of the main characters to be a gay man. Few cozy mysteries have any gay characters, probably wanting to avoid controversy. But modern life has many gay people wherever one goes, so having gay characters reflect reality.

My one warning to potential readers is for anyone who does not believe that gay people should serve as ordained pastors. Rob is not only a gay man, but the chief chaplain at the hospital. His mother is a much more religiously conservative person who believes that homosexuality is a sin. She gets portrayed as close- minded and ignorant, though she is not shown as a bigot. So if someone feels uncomfortable with gay people as church pastors, this book might leave such a person uncomfortable. However, the book's strengths may be good enough to inspire such readers to try this book anyway.

Holly Adams performs the audiobook version of <strong>A Death in Duck</strong>. I really enjoyed the sound of her voice and the expressions she uses in her presentation of this book. She uses effective accents, including different forms of North Carolinian speech and Taiwanese. Adams' intonations serve to enliven this already adventurous book and make the experience of listening to it highly enjoyable.

I greatly appreciated getting to listen to <strong>A Death in Duck</strong>. The book was creative, with many strands of mystery to the book. It's particular strength is in the fun characters with whom we thoroughly connect. I really loved how human Lindsay seems, with her good and bad sides. I felt that Lindsay's character was uniquely described by the following prayer she gives: "God, help me to trust that you have given me all the tools I need to get through this." This woman both works hard on her own and trusts the Lord to assist her in life's challenges. I give this book five stars!

  • Doom with a View

  • A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery
  • By: Kate Kingsbury
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
  • Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 97
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83

With the arrival of six senior reading group members at the Merry Ghost Inn, the long-awaited grand opening week has finally begun for Melanie West and her grandmother Liza. All is well with the Oregon coast-side B&B until Melanie's dog, Max, finds the dead body of one of their guests.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fun mystery with a ghost

  • By Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe on 10-13-18

Fun mystery with a ghost

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-13-18

In <strong>Doom with a View</strong> by Kate Kingsbury, Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza Harris, have opened up a B&B they call the Merry Ghost Inn, named after the ghost Liza has dubbed Orville who audibly laughs from time to time. Six book club members from a senior citizen group are spending a week in her small community of Sully's Landing along the Oregon coast. On their first night, they have local handyman Nick Hazelton do a magic show, but guest Walter Dexter spends the whole show heckling Nick. The next day, Melanie takes her dog, Max, for his morning walk when she comes across the body of the unpleasant Walter lying on the driveway. Assuming that Walter died of a heart attack, Melanie is disturbed to learn that her guest has fallen from the balcony, which was sabotaged by being sawed through to make it collapse.

Realizing that if the murder isn't solved by the end of the week, the group scheduled for the next week won't be able to arrive, Melanie and Liza determine to set out to solve the murder themselves. After all, they successfully solved a cold case murder just a few months earlier. The pair soon learns that each of the guests is holding back something from the police, making them work to uncover hidden secrets, even staging a fake seance to try to scare the truth out of everyone. In ther meantime, the laughing ghost that occupies the Merry Ghost Inn seems to be taking a hand in the case as well.

I thought this book had a lot more interesting details and characters than the previous book. I enjoyed the use of the locked room mystery trope, where the murder takes place within a confined space, forcing the suspects to be limited to a set group of individuals (think of Agatha Christie's <em>Murder on the Orient Express</em>, which takes place inside a train). The characters have fun features, though the guests didn't stand out too strongly as individuals to me. However, I really enjoyed the addition of Cindy as the B&B's assistant.

Tavia Gilbert performs the audio version of this book, and in general she does a good job, but from time to time I noticed inconsistencies in the wording or names. It is possible that these issues could arise in the original text itself and not be Gilbert's responsibility, but I would think a good narrator would notice if one character is being named when another is being described.

I enjoyed <strong>Dead and Breakfast</strong>, the first book in this series, but found it light on details. <strong>Doom with a View</strong> had a stronger plot and more characters with depth, making it a better book all around. I give this four stars.

  • Scene of the Grind

  • A Killer Coffee Mystery, Book 1
  • By: Tonya Kappes
  • Narrated by: Madeline Mrozek
  • Length: 5 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39

Roxanne Bloom quit her job as a lawyer, divorced her cheating husband, and moved to the quaint town of Honey Springs, Kentucky, where she'd spent many of her teenage summers visiting her eccentric and fun-loving Aunt Maxi. Roxy follows her dream and opens The Bean Hive, Honey Springs' first coffee house on the town's newly revitalized boardwalk. It opens just in time for Honey Springs' annual Honey Festival. Roxy's life couldn't be better. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What a great listen!

  • By Dee on 06-25-18

Funny mystery with great characters

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-13-18

In <strong>Scene of the Grind</strong> by Tonya Kappes, Roxanne Bloom needs a change in her life after a bad divorce, so she has moved to Honey Springs, KY where she spent her summers growing up with Aunt Maxi. The town is getting ready to do a grand reopening of the boardwalk, and Roxy's new coffee shop, The Bean Hive, will serve as one of the new shops. The only challenge is that Roxy's young love, Patrick Cane, now owns the only construction company in town, the one in charge of the town renovations, and she can't avoid him in such a small community. But Roxy's new love is named Pepper, and he is a rescue dog Roxy's new friend Louise talks her into adopting. Pepper takes to Patrick immediately when he shows up at the cottage Roxy is using and which needs new wiring.

The next morning, Roxie goes to take some coffee and a muffin to Alexis Roarke, Aunt Maxi's enemy who owns the Crooked Cat Bookstore. But Roxy finds Alexis lying dead on the floor, with one of Roxy's doughnuts lying next to her and Alexis's "Banned" stamp inked onto her forehead. Soon the local police officer, Spencer Shepherd, has taken charge, and it appears that he suspects Roxy and her aunt. Things don't get better when Leslie Roarke arrives. This abrasive daughter of Alexis wants the attention of both Spencer and Patrick and created longstanding conflict between them when she cheated on Patrick a few years earlier with Spencer. Soon Roxy decides she needs to put to work her investigative skills because Aunt Maxi may soon need her services as a lawyer instead of as a barista.

<strong>Scene of the Grind</strong> has an interesting plot with fun characters I connected with. The book is lighthearted and not as complex as Kappes's Kenni Lowry Mystery series. The solution also seemed to have few advanced clues, making it seem to come out of the blue. I liked the way that we find ourselves questioning whether Patrick is a good guy or a bad guy and the fun interaction between Roxy and Maxi.

The audio edition of this book is performed by Madeline Mrozek. She uses effective voices for the various characters, though I found the voice used for Chrissie, Roxy's best friend in Honey Springs, to be shrill and annoying. Otherwise, I liked the accents and the way Mrozek performs the book. One detail that did get annoying was that the book takes periodic breaks in the narration to give recipes. I generally don't find recipes in audiobooks to be very effective, since I am not prepared to write down, memorize, or try out the recipes as I'm listening. But to break up the book by taking time to give recipes in the midst of the narration is distracting and not very effective.

Overall, I liked <strong>Scene of the Grind</strong>. It was a fun book to listen to, and I really appreciated the emphasis on adopting pets from the shelter to give them good homes. The book did not have the depth Kappes is capable of, but I had a good time. I give it four stars.

  • Murder on the Half Shelf

  • Booktown Mystery Series, Book 6
  • By: Lorna Barrett
  • Narrated by: Karen White
  • Length: 9 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 192
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 177
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 174

The town of Stoneham is a haven for bookstores, but it is sadly lacking in bed-and-breakfasts. Fortunately Pippa and Jon Comfort's Sheer Comfort Inn is about to open, and the couple has offered some locals a free night as a trial run. But it won't be so easy to sleep after Tricia makes two startling discoveries: Pippa's murdered body in the backyard, and the fact that Pippa's husband, Jon, is actually Harry Tyler, a man Tricia loved - and believed dead - for nearly 20 years. Though Harry is the prime suspect, Tricia doesn't believe him capable of murder, even though he's led a life of lies.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Didn't like the new narrator

  • By Amazon Customer on 11-18-15

Fabulous!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

In <strong>Murder on the Half Shelf</strong> by Lorna Barrett, Tricia Miles goes with her sister to a pre- opening weekend at the Sheer Comfort Inn with her sister, Angelica. When Angelica sneaks her terrier, Sergeant, into the B&B, Tricia ends up taking the little guy for a walk to use the bush, and Sergeant starts poking around the yard, only to discover the body of Pippa Comfort, the owner of the B&B. As Tricia's semi- boyfriend, Police Chief Grant Baker, starts to grill her about her having found her fourth body, Pippa's husband finally resurfaces after having taken off for a couple hours. Tricia is astonished to recognize a man who was supposed to be dead. Her first lover, best- selling author Harry Tyler, has come back from having disappeared in a boat wreck and being declared dead.

<strong>Murder on the Half Shelf</strong> is the sixth book in Barrett's Booktown series, and it seems that each book improves over the previous. I found myself gripped by the plot and the characters, but especially the community of Stoneham. The book kept me guessing about the identity of the murderer, and I found the solution satisfying. It also has plenty of vividly drawn scenes, such as Tricia's war with Pixie, the new ex(?)-hooker receptionist of Grace, who administers a charity. When Angelica appears in a cooking demonstration on a new local television station, I could smell the scents and hear the noises as well as see the scene.

However, what I love most about Barrett's writing, both in this series and in her Victoria Square series, published under the name of Lorraine Bartlett, is her gift for building up an entire community around the main character. Besides Tricia, we feel that we personally know such characters as Tricia's sister, Angelica; the elderly bookstore employee and his generous wife, Mr. Everett and Grace; and Angelica's sometime- boyfriend, Chamber of Commerce president Bob. The relationship between the sisters strikes us as genuine, showing real love between them but also the conflict of siblings. Stoneham feels that it has become our own hometown, a place of good as well as bad but where everyone knows each other.

The series breaks with convention for cozy mysteries in having the protagonists date unreliable men instead of creating a situation of the woman and good man being kept apart. In this book we find ourselves wanting the women to find better men, even though we don't identity the better men we want to root for.

<strong>Murder on the Half Shelf</strong> has a new narrator in the audio edition, switching from Cassandra Campbell to Karen White. There were a couple scenes with inconsistencies in some of the words, such as changing the name of Angelica to Angela and merging Tricia with Pixie to say Trixie. However, overall, I was pleased with the performance, as White brings the book to life in evoking the senses that Barrett writes so effectively.

I really enjoyed listening to <strong>Murder on the Half Shelf</strong> and visiting Stoneham again with Tricia and all the residents. The book seems very genuine and is full of lively incidents, some of which relate to the mystery, but others of which serve the purpose of making us connect to Stoneham. I heartily enjoyed this book and look forward to listening to the next one. I give this book five stars.

<strong>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this book for free for review purposes, but that had no effect on the content of my review.

  • Premeditated Peppermint

  • Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series, Book 3
  • By: Amanda Flower
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Mitchell
  • Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

Christmas is Bailey King's favorite time of year. For her first Yuletide in Harvest, Ohio, the former big-city chocolatier is recreating a cherished holiday treat. But her sugar high plummets when her former boyfriend walks into the candy shop she now runs with her Amish grandmother. New York celebrity chef Eric Sharp and his TV crew have arrived to film an authentic Amish Christmas. Unfortunately, she gets more publicity than she bargained for when Eric's executive producer is found strangled to death - and Eric's the prime suspect.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sweet Story

  • By Beatrice on 10-22-18

A Delightful Christmas Amish Mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

In <strong>Premeditated Peppermint</strong> by Amanda Flower, Bailey King has gotten settled in at Swissman Sweets with her Amish grandmother in Harvest, Ohio. Then one day she gets alarmed when Eric Sharp, her ex-boyfriend whose relationship with Bailey caused a major scandal in the food world earlier, walks in to the family candy shop. Eric now has his own cooking television show and has decided that the perfect Christmas special would be to feature an Amish village and show him rekindling his relationship with Bailey.

Refusing to participate in such a plot, Bailey finally agrees to meet the next morning with the executive producer, Rocky Rivers, to discuss appearing in the show without any romantic themes. But when Bailey shows up to see Rocky, she finds Eric bending over the body of Rocky with a string of lights wound tightly around her neck. Believing that Eric is too focused on his career to have murdered his producer, Bailey decides to help him as she participates in the Harvest Christmas Market, for which Swissman Sweets has been busily making all sorts of peppermint candies. Happily for Bailey, she gets surprised by the arrival of her best friend, Cass, who has arrived to help her cope with Eric but who now eagerly jumps into the investigation.

<strong>Premeditated Peppermint</strong> is a delightful book with a great mystery and a lot of fun characters. The mystery plot kept me changing my guess as to the identity of the murderer. The creativity of the plot kept me fascinated throughout the whole book.

The characters in this book and details of the local community get shown vividly and are the particular draw of this book. Bailey has many adventures that show her human side. The potential love triangle among Bailey, Eric, and Deputy Aiden Brody has interest, and we find ourselves rooting for Aiden to succeed. Cass is a fun, vivacious character, as are even Jethro, the pet pig, and Melchior, a camel in the nativity scene. Further, we get a good feel for the Amish community, both the good and the bad.

Rebecca Mitchell narrates the audio edition of <strong>Premeditated Peppermint</strong> and gives an effective performance. With good accents for the Amish, the New Yorkers, and Bailey, the audiobook makes each seem real. As the first person narrator of Bailey, Mitchell makes the book an extra delight to listen to.

I highly enjoyed listening to <strong>Premeditated Peppermint</strong>. I have never been disappointed by anything by Amanda Flower, and this book is no exception. I appreciated it greatly and give the book five stars.

  • The Legendary Detectives: 9 Classic Novelettes Starring the World's Greatest Super-Sleuths

  • By: Jean Marie Stine - editor, J. L. "Frankie" Hill - editor
  • Narrated by: Addison Barnes
  • Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

There are hours of listening pleasure in The Legendary Detectives: 9 Classic Novelettes Starring the World's Greatest Super-Sleuths. You'll find gathered together a clutch of classic mysteries starring nine of the world's most famous fictional sleuths: The Thinking Machine, the Old Man in the Corner, Max Carrados, Morris Klaw, Sanders of the River, Reggie Fortune, Father Brown, Craig Kennedy, and, of course, the greatest and most famous of them all - Sherlock Holmes.   

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Great Intro to GAD Stories

  • By Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe on 10-05-18

A Great Intro to GAD Stories

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-18

<strong>The Legendary Detectives</strong>, edited by Jean Marie Stine and J.L. "Frankie" Hill gives listeners nine stories from the Golden Age of Detection, written mostly by British authors, but also by Americans too. All were well- known in their day, though only some are commonly read today. These stories serve as a good introduction to readers who may want to look up the authors for further reading. Each story begins with a brief biography of the author and the methods of detection used in her or his works.

"The Fenchurch Street Mystery" by Baroness Orcsy. <em>Detective: The Old Man in the Corner</em> -- Journalist Polly Burton listens to the Old Man in the Corner as he relates his solution to a mystery that has eluded the police.

"The Long Barrow" by H.C. Bailey. <em>Detective: Reggie Fortune</em> -- Isabelle Woodhall approaches Mr. Fortune because someone has been following her, and she finds the bodies of dead animals wherever she goes.

"The Scarlet Thread" by Jacques Futrelle. <em>Detective: The Thinking Machine</em> -- Reporter Hutchinson Hatch recounts a situation to The Thinking Machine in which broker Weldon Henley keeps finding the gas lights in his home blown out, but with the gas still going, almost murdering him.

"The Magic of Fear" by Edgar Wallace. <em>Detective: Sanders of the River</em> -- A British ship going to Africa encounters local magic that reveals evil.

"The Ghost at Massingham Mansions" by Ernest Bramah. <em>Detective: Max Carrados</em> -- Lewis Carlisle has been hired to investigate a ghost and invites his friend, the blind detective Max Carrados, to join him.

"The Eye of Apollo" by G. K. Chesterton. <em>Detective: Father Brown</em> -- Pauline Stacy fell to her death after writing a will giving her fortune to a cult leader, who was on top of the roof at the time of her death. Father Brown gets to the bottom of the case.

"The Ghouls" by Arthur B. Reeve. <em>Detective: Craig Kennedy</em> -- Detective Craig Kennedy gets involved in a case where Montague Phelps dies with a high life insurance under suspicious circumstances. Kennedy uses the greatest science available at his time to solve the case.

"The Ivory Statue" by Sax Rohmer. <em>Detective: Moris Klaw</em> -- Detective Moris Klaw investigates the disappearance of a sculpture made of an ancient Egyptian girdle full of valuable gems.

"The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" by Arthur Conan Doyle. <em>Detective: Sherlock Holmes</em> -- Sherlock Holmes narrates this story in which the detective reaches a man on the beach whose dying words are "the lion's mane."

Addison Barnes performs the audio edition of this anthology. She does a strong job of handling the works of both British and American writers and ably uses the accents of British, American, African, and French speakers. Her male voices come across especially convincingly.

The nine stories in <strong>The Legendary Detectives</strong> have interest both in themselves and for their historical context. The science used in some of the stories may seem strange to us now, but it was accepted as legitimate by researchers of the times when the stories were written. I especially found ridiculous the methods used by Sax Rohmer's Moris Klaw, who sleeps where the crime took place and is given a mental image of the action that took place there. However, the introduction states that scientists believed in such so- called science when the story was written. I recommend this collection for those interested in the Golden Age of Detection and give it five stars.

<strong>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this book for free for review purposes, but that had no influence on the content of my review.

  • The Rhyme of the Magpie

  • Birds of a Feather Mystery Series, Book 1
  • By: Marty Wingate
  • Narrated by: Beverley A. Crick
  • Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 27

With her personal life in disarray, Julia Lanchester feels she has no option but to quit her job on her father's hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand. Accepting a tourist management position in Smeaton-under-Lyme, a quaint village in the English countryside, Julia throws herself into her new life, delighting sightseers (and a local member of the gentry) with tales of ancient Romans and pillaging Vikings. But the past is front and center when her father Rupert tracks her down in a moment of desperation.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A missing birder

  • By Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe on 09-25-18

A missing birder

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-25-18

In <strong>The Rhyme of the Magpie</strong> by Marty Wingate, Julia Lanchester is the daughter of Rupert Lanchester, the famous ornithologist with a popular television show called <em>A Bird in the Hand</em>. Three months ago, she suddenly quit her job as her father's chief production assistant when he married Beryl, her mother's best friend, less than six months after becoming widowed. Instead she got a job as a tourist manager in Smeaton-under-Lyme, promoting the castle of Lord Fatheringale. Now her father comes to her because he is in trouble, but Julia brushes brushes him off. However, the next day Beryl calls Julia in a panic because Rupert has disappeared. She saw him receive a letter that upset him but which he didn't show to her or anyone.

Julia ends up seeking out her father, with the assistance of the charming Michael Sedgwick, who has replaced her as production assistant in the show. Together the pair goes to Rupert's cabin in the woods, but though the electricity is uncharacteristically turned on, they find no sign of Julia's father. Then going into the woods, Julia trips over a body. It is not that of her father, but rather of Kenneth Kursey, who, as communications director of the wind farm group Power to the People, is the enemy of Rupert for not being environmentally friendly in his arrangement of his turbines. Julia fears that Rupert is likely to be blamed for the murder, but where has he gone? And what was the letter that upset Rupert so much? Julia looks into the case, directed by sightings of magpies, using a child's counting rhyme that she and her father have always seen as guiding them.

<strong>The Rhyme of the Magpie</strong> is an enjoyable mystery, though not highly memorable. I appreciated the setting of birds and birders, with all the information about the world of birds and environmental issues. The use of the magpie rhyme (see below) came across a little oddly, though. For example, because she sees four magpies, Julia realizes that her sister is pregnant and that she will have a boy. There were also a lot of minor characters who made the book confusing at times. In addition, Julia inexplicably switches between calling her father Dad and Rupert. Without any explanation for this strange usage, it seems very strange.

Beverly A. Crick performs the audio edition of this book. She does a good job of making Julia, the first- person narrator of the book, seem realistic. With a gentle voice, Crick adds flavor to the audiobook and makes it enjoyable.

<strong>The Rhyme of the Magpie</strong> was a pleasurable audiobook. I didn't find it particularly exciting, but it kept me listening happily. I give this book four stars.

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told
Eight for a wish
Nine for a kiss
Ten for a bird that's best to miss.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Six Feet Under

  • A Kenni Lowry Mystery, Book 4
  • By: Tonya Kappes
  • Narrated by: Hillary Huber
  • Length: 7 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16

The residents of Cottonwood, Kentucky are sent into a tizzy when the Culinary Channel comes to town to film an episode of Southern Home Cookin' with celebrity chef Frank Von Lee. Especially Sheriff Kenni Lowry. Her mama's award-winning chicken pot pie is what brought Frank to town, and they don't make hair in the South bigger than her mama's ego is after hearing the news. When Frank Von Lee is found dead from food poisoning and the most likely culprit is Mama's chicken pot pie, Kenni's poppa, the former sheriff, comes back from the Great Beyond to assist in the investigation. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Death of a cooking critic

  • By Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe on 09-25-18

Death of a cooking critic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-25-18

In <strong>Six Feet Under</strong> by Tonya Kappes, things have been going smoothly for Kenni Lowry, sheriff of Cottonwood, Kentucky, when the ghost of her poppa, the previous sheriff, makes an appearance. This suggests trouble, as Poppa only shows up when a murder has happened. But Kenni has no time to worry about this event because famous television chef Frank Von Lee is about to come to town and feature Kenni's momma and her winning chicken pot pie on his show Southern Home Cookin'. Momma is so excited yet stressed about this that she has clearly gotten botox and other work done on her face and is highly on edge. Then Kenni gets a call that Frank Von Lee has been found dead in his hotel room. He has been poisoned, which caused a heart attack.

On his side table is the start of a scathing critique of Mama's chicken pot pie, despite the fact that Mama wasn't scheduled to make the pie for Frank until the next day. And with Mama's having been seen in the hotel around the time that Frank would have ingested the poison, she is the chief suspect. Kenni must rush to find evidence to clear her mama before she gets removed from the case for being the daughter of the chief suspect. She gets ably assisted by Finn, her deputy and boyfriend, as well as her bloodhound, Duke. Poppa helps out as well, but not as directly as he did in previous books. He seems to cede some of his roles to Finn, and in this book, Kenni goes against the advice of Poppa in clever strategies that work effectively.

I have enjoyed the Kenni Lowry series, and <strong>Six Feet Under</strong>, the fourth book in the series, is another good addition to it. The concern about Kenni's mama adds an extra layer of intrigue to the book. Besides the murder, Kenni has to deal with a rash of fake pink handicapped placards, and even her mama is sporting one. Kenni's manner of addressing the fraud, along with a fake botox ring, is a highlight of the book.

The book is full of local flavor and fun depictions of small town life in Kentucky. Kenni points out the fact that in Kentucky, you can find Northern standards and accents and then drive two hours to find Southern values. Kenni's town is clearly on the Southern side of the culture, which we see in Kenni's interaction with the Northerner Finn.

Hillary Huber performs the audiobook of <strong>Six Feet Under</strong>. Using a gentle Southern accent for her narration, she sounds perfectly natural as if that is her native accent. I have heard Huber perform other books without a Southern accent, yet I cannot tell which is her normal way of talking. She does a delightful job of making the book realistic.

I had a good time listening to <strong>Six Feet Under</strong>. The book was full of interesting details, with a creative plot and fun personal developments between Kenni and Finn. I give this book five stars!

  • The Nightingale Before Christmas

  • A Meg Langslow Christmas Mystery
  • By: Donna Andrews
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 109
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 100
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 100

As the holidays draw near in Caerphilly, Mother volunteers to take part in a big Christmas-themed decorator show house - each room of a temporarily untenanted house is decorated to the hilt by a different decorator for the public to tour. Of course, Mother insists that Meg pitch in with the organization, and she finds herself surrounded by flamboyant personalities with massive egos clashing and feeling their professional reputations are at stake.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • We want MORE MEG! We want MORE MEG!

  • By Diane M. on 09-27-16

Murder in a decorator show house

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-25-18

In <strong>The Nightingale before Christmas</strong> by Donna Andrews, Meg Langslow is being kept busy in a decorative showhouse. Twelve different local interior decorators have been given different rooms of a house to decorate in their own styles, which range from classic to goth to chintz. But all does not go well in this house. A citizen divas working in the same building leads to a lot of friction, especially the designer Clay Spottiswood, who has the master bedroom. Then things get even crazier as packages go missing and Clay drips red paint all over other people's rooms and tries to remove a load bearing wall against direct orders, causing a flood beneath him. So it comes as no surprise to the reader when Clay ends up being the one murdered, but someone has heavily vandalized his room. Meg gets involved in trying to track down the murderer, complete with plenty of danger.

<strong>The Nightingale before Christmas</strong> is a fun addition to the Meg Langslow series, with another great plot and strong characters. We see Meg's twins, Josh and Jamie, as they are growing up and busy trying to come up with presents for their mother, who, for some strange reason, doesn't want hamsters or a nerf gun or an ant farm. This book is darker than most in the series, but it has a strong plot and enough fun details to make it as much a delight as the other books in the series.

Bernadette Dunne once again proves why she is one of my very favorite audiobook narrators and why this series is the one I recommend to people wanting to get into listening to audiobooks. With unique voices for each character and a smile in her voice, she takes one of Andrews's darker books and makes it enjoyable for all.

I really appreciated <strong>The Nightingale before Christmas</strong> for its clever plot, vivid characters, and unique setting. The writing is very strong and the book delightful. I give it five stars.