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Victoria J. Mejia-Gewe

Los Angeles, CA United States
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  • Murder at the Brightwell

  • By: Ashley Weaver
  • Narrated by: Billie Fulford-Brown
  • Length: 11 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 97
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 98

Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who questions her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband Milo. Looking for a change, she accepts a request for help from her former fiance, Gil Trent. Amory accompanies Gil to the luxurious Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister Emmeline to Rupert Howe, a disreputable ladies' man. Amory sees in the situation a grim reflection of her own floundering marriage.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Horrible Narration

  • By Maribee7 on 05-04-15

Good plot but weak characters

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

Reviewed: 09-18-18

In <strong>Murder at the Brightwell</strong> by Ashley Weaver, Amory Ames has suffered through a tedious marriage filled with her husband's infidelities for five years. Then one day, Gil Trent, Amory's ex-fiance, comes to see her because his sister, Emmeline, is engaged to a man Gil fears is corrupt. He wants to enlist Amory to join his group of friends at the Brightwell Hotel by the seaside and get Amory to help discourage Emmeline from going through with the marriage. The day after they arrive, however, Amory goes to meet Emmeline and Rupert for tea, but Rupert fails to join them, and, leaning over the railing, Amory spots Rupert's body at the bottom of the landing. What is worse, however, is that the local Criminal Investigation Division (CID) believes Rupert to have been murdered.

As Amory starts to wonder about finding the truth, she is both surprised and annoyed to discover that Milo has followed her to the seaside. She finds him chasing her, especially in the presence of Gil, who gets arrested for the murder due to his antipathy towards Rupert's plans to marry his sister. As Amory works to clear Gil's name, she finds that Milo always has her back whenever she gets into trouble, sending mixed signals to her about his personal intentions.

<strong>Murder at the Brightwell</strong> proved to be a perfectly fine book, with decent writing and quality twists to the plot. However, despite its fitting all the essential characteristics of a good historical mystery, a genre that strongly draws me, I just could not connect with this book. It is hard to determine the reason, but I can pinpoint a couple issues. First, I never became fully invested in the characters. In fact, with the exception of Amory, Milo, Gil, Emmeline, and Rupert, I had a hard time keeping straight the rest of the rather large cast list. And I never truly felt connected to these people, never rooting for them to succeed. Second, I did not appreciate the author's attempt to make us want to emphasize with Amory's cheating, lying, and frequently disappearing husband. Milo does come across as a charming rogue, but I did not like being encouraged by the content to support the idea that Amory's should not only put up with her husband but should take him back.

The audio edition of this book is performed by Billy Fulford-Brown. I found it interesting to see that she got such poor reviews on Audible that Alison Larkin took over the role for her in the rest of the series. I, however, was not bothered by the narration and do not actually see what people complained about. The performance did not stand out especially memorably, but I saw nothing to complain about.

<strong>Murder at the Brightwell</strong> was a perfectly reasonable book with a clever plot. The storyline had creative elements, with an interesting placement in history. However, the characters just did not draw me to them or make me support them. I give the book three stars.

  • A Killer Keepsake

  • Antiques & Collectibles Mysteries Series, Book 6
  • By: Ellery Adams, Parker Riggs
  • Narrated by: Andi Arndt
  • Length: 6 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36

When star reporter Molly Appleby exchanged vows with her new husband, she also made a promise to give up sleuthing. But given her knack for stumbling onto murders, and murderers, she's realizing she never should have made a promise she couldn't keep. Molly's just finished an article on the Forget Me Not Doll Club for Collector's Weekly, but before the magazine even hits the newsstands, one of the club members is found murdered, and a stolen antique doll - purportedly haunted - is found in the victim's house. Police enlist Molly's help to solve this very odd case.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An enjoyable addition!

  • By Christina on 09-15-18

A haunted doll and murder

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

Reviewed: 09-05-18

In <strong>A Killer Keepsake</strong>, the sixth book in the Antiques & Collectibles Mystery Series by Ellery Adams and Parker Riggs, Molly Appleby has interviewed the members of the Forget Me Not Doll Club for an article in <em>Collector's Weekly</em>, where she serves as the star reporter. Each member of the club collects a different type of doll, for example haunted dolls by Sierra, Barbie dolls by Miranda, and lifelike baby dolls by Eliza, Miranda's personal assistant. Sierra owns a 1930s' German doll named Emma that is particularly special to her, and Miranda has it in her head that Emma is another of Sierra's haunted dolls and has the ability to put curses on others. Miranda has been harassing Sierra to sell her the doll for weeks with the hopes that it will help her force her husband to give her a more than generous divorce settlement. The meeting soon breaks up when Miranda feels sick and insists on leaving. The next morning, Molly and Sierra find Miranda dead in her bed, and sitting in the chair next to her is Sierra's doll Emma.

Because of the involvement of the collector's doll, Lombardi, Molly's police detective friend, asks Molly to sit in on interviews with members of the Forget Me Not Doll Club, but soon that escalates to her involvement in the full- fledged investigation, even conducting the first official interview with Miranda's estranged husband in his bikini club. Things get scary as another member of the club gets shot, with further ensuing danger and drama.

Each book in this series begins each new chapter with a tale tracing an artifact that eventually gets tied into the main plot of the book featuring Molly; her mother, Clara; and Molly's new husband, Matt. In the case of <strong>A Killer Keepsake</strong>, we follow the journey of the doll Emma from Germany and to the U.S. on the Hindenburg on its fateful 1937 journey. This plot was fascinating and added deeply to the strength of this book as a whole.

I greatly enjoyed listening to <strong>A Killer Keepsake</strong>, which is a good addition to the series. I liked the plot and characters, and I found myself clearly disliking the members of the Forget Me Not Doll Club. I loved getting to travel back in time to 1937 with Emma, a setting that came alive more strongly than that of the modern- day characters.

I do have two qualms about the book, though neither is significant enough to change my rating of its quality. Over the course of the series, Molly has made for herself a reputation as a snoop, even to the extent that part of her promise to Matt upon getting married was to stop putting herself in the midst of investigations and subsequent danger. However, it seems unrealistic for the police to ask Molly to help with interviewing suspects, even just collectors. After all, the fact that Emma is in Miranda's room does not seem reasonable enough justification to involve a civilian in a case. Further, it is especially strange for Molly to interview others not in the doll club. I can't imagine the police having a civilian interview a suspect alone.

The second thing I would have preferred is to have gotten to see more collectibles and artifacts as in the previous books. Adams has such a genius for turning these inanimate objects into genuine characters that I was disappointed not to get to see more of in this book.

The audio edition is performed by Andi Arndt, who, as usual, does an outstanding job in her portrayal of the book. She brings out the already- existing life in the book, taking us to Maine to be with Molly and her friends and family. She does an excellent job of dealing with the accents of the Maine residents, the Southern Molly and Clara, and the Germans in the 1937 flashbacks. I appreciate the excellent performance of this book.

<strong>A Killer Keepsake</strong> was a fun addition to the Antiques & Collectibles Mystery Series, which is highly creative in its concept. I especially appreciated the flashbacks to 1937 Germany and later the Hindenburg, which made me emotionally invested in the case. I give this book five stars!

  • Chapter & Hearse

  • By: Lorna Barrett
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 198
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 162
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 161

Mystery bookstore owner Tricia Miles has been spending more time solving whodunits than reading them. Now a nearby gas explosion has injured Tricia's sister's boyfriend, Bob Kelly, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, and killed the owner of the town's history bookstore. Tricia's never been a fan of Bob, but when she reads that he's being tight-lipped about the "accident", it's time to take action.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Hope it gets better

  • By Word Nerd on 01-09-11

More drama in Booktown!

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

Reviewed: 09-05-18

In <strong>Chapter and Hearse</strong> by Lorna Barrett, the day has finally arrived for Angelica Miles's cookbook release party, but her boyfriend, Bob Kelly, the local big property owner, has failed to make an appearance. Finally in frustration with Bob, Tricia, Angelica's younger sister, goes across the street to the History Repeats Itself bookstore where Bob was due to collect his rent. Just as Tricia opens the door, she gets blown back in an explosion of the building. Bob is hurt but alive. But Jim Roth, owner of the bookstore, is nowhere to be found, likely disintegrated in the explosion. Police assume that someone let gas into the building, which Jim set off by lighting his cigarette.

As the locals try to respond to the explosion, Frannie Armstrong, the assistant in Angelica's cooking store, loses control in wailing. It becomes apparent that she had a secret relationship with Jim. But she tells Tricia that Jim's mother, with whom the 50- something man lived, prevented them from being together. The community ends up pulling together to save the books that could be salvaged from the store and support each other, while trying to locate the murderer.

<strong>Chapter and Hearse</strong> was an enjoyable addition to the Booktown Mystery Series. It has a fun plot, with creative twists and turns that keep us listening avidly. One special gift of Barrett's is her ability to draw a community in which her mysteries are set. We feel that we get to know a wide range of people, which gives us plenty of suspects and people to interact with the main characters.

One theme of this book is the way people have their sense of pride in doing things for themselves. For example, Mr. Everett married Grace eight months earlier and is unhappy at the imbalance in their financial conditions, especially since Grace paid off his remaining debts. He feels it is accepting charity to take her money, even if she is his new wife. Deborah, another store owner, is overwhelmed by new motherhood and running her store all by herself, but she can't bend her pride to allow Tricia to help help her by lending her Mr. Everett as an assistant. Further, Ginnie turns down Tricia's offer to purchase Ginnie's mortgage to allow her to keep her home.

One detail I enjoyed was the depiction by Angelica of the challenges of going on a book tour. She complains about the hardships of driving all over and staying in a different hotel bed each night. She even makes a point to stop at home in Stoneham for one night to avoid the discomforts of a hotel. This seems to be a fun commentary by the author, who has probably undergone many such book tours.

The audio edition of this book is performed by Cassandra Campbell, who does a strong job of narrating this book and taking us to Stoneham, NH with her. She uses effective accents, including for an Italian man coming to develop the property where the building exploded.

I appreciated the experience of listening to <strong>Chapter and Hearse</strong>, a book that starts dramatically and continues this way throughout. It has plenty of great moments and great characters that entertain throughout. I give this book 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.

  • A Murder in Mount Moriah

  • A Reverend Lindsay Harding Mystery
  • By: Mindy Quigley
  • Narrated by: Holly Adams
  • Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 56
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 52

For hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding, facing death is part of the job. After all she spends her working days comforting sick and dying patients. But when the annual Civil War reenactment in her hometown of Mount Moriah, North Carolina, produces a real casualty, the Grim Reaper suddenly gets a little too close for comfort. With the clock ticking, the police struggle to unravel how and why a beloved local reenactor was shot in front of hundreds of onlookers.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it

  • By Tracet on 12-26-15

A creative mystery featuring a hospital chaplain

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

Reviewed: 09-04-18

In <strong>A Murder in Mount Moriah</strong> by Mindy Quigley, Lindsay Harding, chaplain at the local hospital, goes to a Civil War reenactment in Mount Moriah, NC with her best friend, the chief chaplain at the hospital, Rob. While there, they see an ambulance rush to the field. Vernon Young, an African American reenactor posing as the freed slave- turned-Confederate soldier Samuel Wilcox, has been shot. While comforting Kimberly Young and helping to plan the funeral service, Lindsay talks to an old friend from high school, Warren Satterwite, the local cop dealing with the case. She then learns that a few days before being shot, Sam went to the police with a racist letter demanding that he avoid the reenactment. Vernon's marriage to a white woman further adds fuel to the threats.

While performing her chaplain duties, Lindsay does her best to help Warren in his investigation, particularly in helping him to research the journals of Samuel Wilcox to figure out what Vernon discovered there before getting murdered. A succession of criminal events takes place, embroiling Lindsay in the case even more deeply.

I thought that <strong>A Murder in Mount Moriah</strong> had a lot of creativity in its plot, characters, and setting. Using a hospital chaplain as the main character was a unique touch. Lindsay comes across as a very real individual, someone who tries to trust in God and do her best to show his love to the hurting without preaching.

Holly Adams performs the audio edition of this book. With a gentle voice, Adams uses unique expressions and timing to heighten the tension even with her soft voice. She then adds even greater depth with added strength and makes a creative performance that suits this book in particular.

<strong>A Murder in Mount Moriah</strong> was a fascinating book that I appreciated a lot. The attitude of Lindsay is described well in the following quote that resonated with me: "Church can't save us from bad things, but God can be there when bad things happen." I give this five stars.

  • Bookplate Special

  • A Booktown Mystery
  • By: Lorna Barrett
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 206
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 176
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 175

Bookstore owner Tricia Miles has put up - and put up with - her uninvited college roommate for weeks. In return, Pammy has stolen $100. But the day she's kicked out, Pammy's found dead in a dumpster, leaving loads of questions unanswered.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • surprises till the very end.<br />

  • By Vickie Oehring on 09-04-17

Death of Tricia's college roommate

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

Reviewed: 09-03-18

In <strong>Bookplate Special</strong> by Lorna Barrett, Tricia Miles has had to deal with a houseguest who overstayed her welcome by two weeks. Pamela "Pammy" Fredericks was Tricia's roommate her first year at Dartmouth, and she came to visit ostensibly for just a weekend but in reality for at least two weeks. After Pammy caused problems in Tricia's mystery bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue, and got caught stealing a check from the store, Tricia asks her to leave. That day Pammy tries to find work in Tricia's small town of Stoneham, ultimately getting hired to wait tables by Tricia's sister, Angelica, in her restaurant, Booked for Lunch. That afternoon Tricia goes to take out the trash at her sister's restaurant and discovers the body of Pammy face down in the dumpster.

Meeting Captain Baker of the sheriff's department, Tricia inserts herself into the investigation. However, she finds herself clashing with Captain Baker over her withholding evidence as she uncovers signs of Pammy's having committed blackmail. But a break-up with Russ leads to more than just angry sparks flying between them.

<strong>Bookplate Special</strong> was a good book that I enjoyed listening to. I liked the elements of the plot, with all the details of life going on around Tricia during the investigation. We get to see Mr. Everett and Grace, senior citizens, get engaged and plan a wedding in the span of a week. We also learn about a group of people calling themselves fregans, ones who try to avoid food waste by climbing in dumpsters behind grocery stores and taking anything they can salvage. The organized group does this for environmental purposes, but Pammy got involved because she wanted to save money in order to avoid having to work. This desire for free money led Pammy to practice blackmail.

I was disturbed by the way that Tricia treats the police investigation with unprofessionalism, especially given her love of all kinds of mystery books. She should know better than to hold back evidence and then be offended when Captain Baker is upset at this. For example, Tricia gives a box of books left by Pammy to the Friends of the Public Library sale, spluttering that these were just books, when she of all people should know that anything related to the victim of a crime might be evidence. Her repeat of such behavior several times became not just annoying, but disturbing.

Cassandra Campbell performs the audio edition of <strong>Bookplate Special</strong>, using good voices for the characters and making the energy flow between Tricia and Captain Baker.

I had a good time listening to <strong>Bookplate Special</strong> and appreciated the story. One of Barrett's strengths is the way she weaves everyday life into the midst of the plot of her books, giving us a whole village to connect with. I give this book five stars.

  • A Matter of Policy

  • An Amy Brewster Mystery
  • By: Sam Merwin Jr.
  • Narrated by: Janelle Bigham
  • Length: 4 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2

 A Matter of Policy is an enthralling listen that begins when a young friend of Amy Brewster finds his life in jeopardy when an unknown mastermind insures it for one million dollars. When a private detective hired to protect the young man is the first victim, Amy Brewster must think fast and act faster if she is to learn who is behind the plot on the young man’s life in time to save him.  

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fun Mystery

  • By Virginia on 09-04-18

A GAD Adventure Book Rather Than Mystery

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

Reviewed: 09-02-18

In 1947's <strong>A Matter of Policy</strong> by Sam Merwin, Jr., Jim Leavitt has been hiding from life ever since his father committed suicide four years earlier, making people suspect him of embezzlement. Then Jim's boss, "Old Batwing," calls him into his office because the newspaper has listed Jim as among the ones with the largest life insurance policies in the city. Visiting the insurance agency, Jim discovers that someone else has taken out a $500,000 life insurance policy, posing as himself. In concern over the possibility that someone may have insured Jim with the plan to kill him, the agency sends a private detective to accompany the potential victim home, only for the detective to be killed when Jim's stairs collapse.

With the death, the police detective takes Jim to the nightclub where the beneficiary stars. But Tosta Kaaren, known as the Canarsie Swede, indicates that the Jim Leavitt she knows is a different man. While waiting for Tosta to perform again, Jim spies Juliana Stuyvesant, his former love and "Old Batwing's" daughter, who has the great detective, Amy Brewster, with her. Together everyone works together to find the fraudster and murderer of the insurance detective.

What follows is a madcap series of events that lead to all manner of craziness. The characters encounter villain after villain, dealing with each one in a unique manner. However, for a book that purports to center on Amy Brewster, it devotes only a small portion of the book to her. Instead, it spends most of its time on Jim and secondarily on Tosta. Further, Amy does not show herself to be the great mind that solves the case, as Jim actually does more thinking than Amy.

The characters in <strong>A Matter of Policy</strong> also did not come across as very realistic to me, especially the women. At one point, Jim knocks out Juliana by hitting her, and that is what makes her decide that she truly does love Jim because he will stand up to her. Even though I recognize that in 1947 people had different standards about physical abuse, the book still thoroughly turned me off by such portrayals. On the other hand, Tosta and Amy show themselves to be strong women, and even though Tosta and Juliana initially express jealousy of each other, all three women come to admire each other by the end.

The very informative introduction talks about Amy Brewster as a "Proto-feminist figure" who would be seen as another Kinsey Milhone [Sue Grafton's detective] if she were written today. While Amy does show an independent spirit and clever mind, it is her disgusting habits that truly define her. Weighing over 300 pounds and described as waddling instead of walking, Amy outeats, out-smokes, and out-swears all the men. This to me does not serve as an exemplar of feminism, just someone with bad behavior and habits.

Janelle Bigham performs the audio edition of this book and proves to be a good choice of actresses to narrate this book. Bigham takes us back to the feel of mystery movies from the Golden Age of Detection (GAD) and uses strong voices in particular for the characters of Tosta and Amy, for example giving Tosta a Brooklyn accent that makes her feel like the tough woman of the 1940s' movies.

<strong>A Matter of Policy</strong> reminded me of a wild adventure book, maybe even comic book, rather than a true mystery, though there is indeed a mystery to the story. It uses a series of crazy adventures with wild encounters with villains that move from episode to episode. As a mystery, I give this only 2.5 stars, but as a historical example of a GAD adventure book, I give it four stars.

  • Husbands and Other Sharp Objects

  • A Novel
  • By: Marilyn Simon Rothstein
  • Narrated by: Pamela Almand
  • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 58
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 51
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 52

After a lifetime of marriage, Marcy Hammer is ready to get herself unhitched - just as everyone else in her life is looking for a commitment. Her new boyfriend, Jon, wants to get serious, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Harvey, is desperate to get back together. When her headstrong daughter announces a secret engagement to Harvey’s attorney, Marcy finds herself planning her daughter’s wedding as she plans her own divorce. Now with two huge events on the horizon, the indomitable Marcy soon realizes that there’s nothing like a wedding to bring out the worst in everybody.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fun and hilarious!

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 07-26-18

A Creative Fun Tale

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

Reviewed: 09-01-18

In <strong>Husbands and Other Sharp Objects</strong> by Marilyn Simon Rothstein, Marcy Hammer is separated from her husband, Harvey, after learning that he has fathered a baby with another woman even younger than their own three children. She has just formed her own life, with a career and a serious boyfriend, Jon, an English professor at a local college. But she has not filed for divorce, determined that Harvey will file first in a move to admit his culpability in their split. But Harvey wants to get back together with Marcy and won't file.

Then one day Marcy goes to pick up her best friend, Candy, at the airport when she has a collision with an expensive car that cuts her off. Soon she learns that the man, Jake, is Harvey's lawyer and is at the airport to pick up Marcy's daughter Amanda. This is a surprise because Amanda told her mother she wasn't arriving in Connecticut to visit until a few days later. It turns out that she is seeing Jake and plans to spend several days with him before seeing her mother. Though Marcy has never even heard of Jake, she soon learns that he will become her son-in-law, as the couple have become engaged.

As Marcy struggles with the repercussions of her separation from her husband, she has to deal with a daughter who has turned into a Bridezilla of the worst sort. Further, she also has to work to try to maintain relationships with her doctor daughter, Elizabeth, and law school student son, Ben, both of whom are alienated by Amanda's wedding plans. In addition, she faces conflict with Jon about his desire to meet her children yet Amanda's refusal to invite him to her wedding or even meet him.

<strong>Husbands and Other Sharp Objects</strong> is a fun, creative book that gives a glimpse into the dramatic life of Marcy as she deals valiently with what life has thrown at her. We see the irony of Amanda's expectations of married life in contrast to Marcy's reality. Amanda has not only unrealistic ideals of marriage but a twisted sense of what a wedding signifies in relation to the reality of her married life. With a constant refrain that this is "my special day," Amanda fails to recognize that a wedding is merely the start of married life and not a performance for the rest of the world that allows her to exhibit all selfishness. The account of all Marcy's adventures is told in humor and pleasure.

Pamela Almand performs the audio edition of this book, playing the part of Marcy with tongue in cheek and a glorious sense of irony. Her characterizations of the individuals in the novel lead to their sense of being real people despite their crazy antics. With strong expression, Almand gives the book a pleasurable listening experience.

I highly enjoyed the many fun details of listening to <strong>Husbands and Other Sharp Objects</strong>. The book contains a lot of humor and great characters who seem realistic and neither all good or all bad. The storyline was a delight, and I give this book five stars.

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

  • The Gold Dragon Caper: A Damien Dickens Mystery

  • Damien Dickens Mysteries, Book 4
  • By: Phyllis Entis
  • Narrated by: Tom Lennon
  • Length: 7 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

Derek Turpin is set on revenge, and no one is safe, least of all Damien and Millie. Yet, duty and friendship call, pulling the detective duo in opposite directions. While Damien is engaged in a race against time to rescue young Artie Sutherland, Millie goes to the aid of a sister-in-law she has never met. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exciting Story!

  • By D. Sturgeon on 08-30-18

A Kidnapped Boy and Stolen Gold

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

Reviewed: 09-01-18

In <strong>The Gold Dragon Caper</strong> by Phyllis Entis, it has been three years since Damien and Millie Dickens' last encounter with Derek Turpin in <em>The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper</em>, and things have gone downhill for them dramatically. Turpin has clearly been indirectly targeting them and their business, leaving them with just a single client, Susan Sutherland, owner of a major manufacturing conglomerate. Just as Damien and Millie decide to take up Susan on her offer to hire them as full-time security consultants, they learn that Susan's nephew, Artie, her only living relative, has disappeared on a school ski trip. Soon, Susan gets a ransom demand for $10 million. The more Damien delves into the case, the more it appears that Derek Turpin may be involved.

Meanwhile, Millie gets word from the 19-year-old sister-in-law she didn't even know she has that her brother, Colin Hewitt, went missing 10 days earlier. What is worse, he has been named a person of interest in the major heist of the casino where he works. So, knowing Damien will be upset at her doing so in the midst of the kidnapping case, Millie flies to Las Vegas to try to help her brother.

<strong>The Gold Dragon Caper</strong> was an exciting ride throughout the whole book. The dual plot points run in a parallel direction and keep things moving through the course of the book. The details of the search for Artie come across as interesting and creative in their elements. I also enjoyed learning more about Millie and her family background.

The characters further made me feel invested in them. I really wanted Damien and Millie to succeed and especially enjoyed spending time with Hershey, the labradoodle whom the Dickenses adopted in the previous book. Hershey does a lot to save the day and proves heroic. In addition, I found myself really abhoring Derek Turpin as his hatred-fueled crimes build up.

The audio edition of this book is performed by Tom Lennon. Lennon's voice seems perfectly suited to the role of Damien Dickens, and he has come to embody the private investigator. Using good expressions, Lennon makes the book all the more enjoyable to listen to.

<strong>The Gold Dragon Caper</strong> is somewhat darker than the previous books, but even though I prefer cozy mysteries, I really loved this book. The plot lines kept things dramatically moving and were very exciting. I give this book 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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Death Below Stairs

  • By: Jennifer Ashley
  • Narrated by: Anne-Marie Piazza
  • Length: 9 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66

Highly sought-after cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is fine with the family's eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her assistant is murdered. Afraid for her life, Kat turns to the mysterious Daniel McAdam for help. Daniel takes a position in the house as a footman and stand-in valet so that he can investigate covertly, but Kat cooks up a suspect list of her own.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Entertaining

  • By SGAReadsalot on 01-08-18

An Exciting Victorian Mystery

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

Reviewed: 09-01-18

In <strong>Death below Stairs</strong> by Jennifer Ashley, set in 1881, Kat Holloway takes a position as cook in a high class mansion owned by Lord Rankin. She is pleased with her kitchen maid, Sinead, called by the family Ellen because hers is too fancy a name. But the second morning, Mrs. Holloway (all cooks and housekeepers were given the courtesy title of Mrs.) comes down to the kitchen to find the body of Sinead in the scullery, her head beaten to a pulp. Concerned that the murder will get written off as done by a vagabond, Mrs. Holloway summons a local man, Daniel McAdam, whom she hopes can help. The one challenge is that the man she is used to seeing as a local errand boy was with Lord Rankin in fine dress the night before. Who is Daniel really? Whatever he is, he has arranged to work in the manor and help look into the suspicious situation.

The book continues with mystery and intrigue, looking into the death of Sinead. Further, there is the mystery that has brought Daniel to the mansion of Lord Rankin in the first place. Things turn out to have national implications, perhaps even all the way to the throne of Queen Victoria.

I thoroughly enjoyed <strong>Death below Stairs</strong>, with its strong mystery, plenty of excitement, interesting historical details, and relatable characters. The plot has enough details of drama to keep us listening avidly. It is also interesting to hear about the life of a cook in a mansion in Victorian England. The bustle of the kitchen keeps Mrs. Holloway on her toes as she prepares meals for both the family and the servants. The illustrations of classes and issues of sexual morality that affect the employability of the serving class are very interesting.

I enjoyed the characters, who come across as real. Mrs. Holloway, the book's narrator, is clearly the roundest. We see her reveal herself in small bits as the book progresses. Daniel proves to be an enigma to both Mrs. Holloway and us, the listeners, as he seems to move among all classes easily, making it hard to place who he truly is. My favorite character was Lady Cynthia, a woman who refuses to allow society's dictates to control her, so she goes around in men's clothing in an era when it was unthinkable for a woman to wear pants. She proves herself to be sharp and caring as well as independent, making me appreciate her a lot.

Anne-Marie Piazza performs the audio edition of this book. It took me a little while to get used to her voice, but once I got started listening, I got more comfortable with her voice. Piazza uses accents that convey a good sense of the various classes found in the London society. She also creates distinct voices for the different characters that make them come across clearly.

I thoroughly appreciated my experience listening to <strong>Death below Stairs</strong>. The book was fascinating and had a double set of mysteries that led to a real adventure. I enjoyed the creative characters and connected with them. I highly recommend this book to fans of historical mystery and give it five stars.

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Emus

  • A Meg Langslow Mystery, Book 17
  • By: Donna Andrews
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
  • Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 105
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 89

Meg's paternal grandfather has hired Stanley Denton to find her grandmother Cordelia. Stanley has found a trail to his long-lost love in a small town a short drive away. He convinces Meg to come with him to meet her, but unfortunately, the woman they meet is Cordelia's cousin. Cordelia died several years ago, and the cousin suspects she was murdered by her long-time neighbor. Stanley and Meg agree to help track down the killer.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • E-Myoos - not E Moos!

  • By S. Williams on 04-05-17

Another strong plot, setting, and characters!

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

Reviewed: 08-28-18

In <strong>The Good, the Bad, and the Emus</strong> by Donna Andrews, Meg Langslow gets approached by PI Stanley Denton, who wants to "borrow Meg's face." He has been hired by Dr. Montgomery Blake, Meg's highly famous zoologist grandfather, who didn't realize until recently that he had a long-lost son, Dr. Langslow, Meg's father. Upon seeing Meg's photo in the newspaper learning that her father was found in a library while as a newborn, Dr. Blake realized that his grad school girlfriend must have been pregnant when he left for two years of research on the Galapagos Islands. He never found the girlfriend upon returning to the States, but now he has hired Denton to find Meg's grandmother. Denton has done so, but six months too late, as Cordelia has recently died, leaving behind a complete recluse cousin, Annabel. Since Annabelle refuses to see Denton, he wants to get Meg, who is the spitting image of her grandmother, to help him gain entrance.

With the help of Meg's face, getting into Annabelle's house is not a major problem, but getting information out of Cordelia's cousin does not prove so easy. Annabelle believes that someone murdered her cousin by causing an explosion of their generator, which was written off by the local sheriff as an accident. But Annabelle is certain that Cordelia was murdered by her enemy neighbor and refuses to divulge more information about Cordelia's life unless Denton provides the proof.

Presenting the case to Dr. Blake in front of the whole family to make it harder for him to say no to the request, Meg and Denton convince the biologist to act, and he reacts with characteristic enthusiasm and on the large scale. Dr. Blake recalls being notified earlier by Annabelle on behalf of Cordelia about a feral emu problem, created when the bank foreclosed upon an emu ranch a couple years earlier. So he summons the Blake's Brigade, which consists of environmental activists who help Dr. Blake in his crusades on behalf of endangered animals that get featured on television regularly. So the next day a few dozen volunteers descend upon Annabelle's large empty plot of land to camp out and round up the emus to take to the Wilner Animal Sanctuary, so Meg and her husband, Michael, take their 4- year- old twins, Josh and Jamie, to go camping and help look for emus, a trip fraught with danger, with a killer on the loose.

<strong>The Good, the Bad, and the Emus</strong> is another fun addition to the Meg Langslow series. As usual, I found the mystery plot, along with the book's setting, to be highly creative. The steps they take to solve the mystery are clever, with the conclusion's being especially of interest. I always find myself impressed by the way Andrews manages to incorporate a different type of bird into both the pun in her titles and the content of her books. I learned more about emus than I had ever known before the first time I listened to this book.

This book kept me laughing throughout the whole time I was listening. I especially enjoyed the scene where the horsemen and bikers who have come to help round up the emus have challenged each other to a joust. In the midst, Meg's dogs start doing crazy, alerting her to the fact that someone has opened up the door to the emu pen and let the birds loose. The solution to the problem especially made me laugh.

The characters in <strong>The Good, the Bad, and the Emus</strong> are as fun as always, and I really enjoyed getting to spend more time with Dr. Blake. I missed getting to see much of Meg's mother or her brother, though. Further, I did not find the portrayal of the 4-year-old twins to be at all realistic of boys that age, especially in their speech, which was uneven in its maturity, shifting from simple words to sentences and back.

The audio edition of this book is performed very ably by Bernadette Dunne, who makes the book seem very lively and highly enjoyable. With unique voices for each character, Dunne makes the audiobook delightful and a real pleasure to listen to.

As with all of Andrews's books, <strong>The Good, the Bad, and the Emus</strong> is a great addition to the Meg Langslow series. I liked this book more than some of the others in the series, with its great sense of humor and amusing setting. I give this book 5 stars!