Everyone wants a piece of millionaire Bennett Marshfield, owner of Marshfield Manor, but now it's up to new curator Grace Wheaton and handsome groundskeeper Jack Embers to protect dear old Marshfield. But to do this, they'll have to investigate a botched Ponzi scheme, some torrid Wheaton family secrets-and sour grapes out for revenge.
In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store - Coffee, Books, and More - open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder? When Jill's elderly friend Miss Emily calls in a fit of pique, she already knows that the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily's gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill, along with all of her problems...and her enemies.
In the seaside town of Lighthouse Cove, everyone knows the best man for the job is actually a woman - contractor Shannon Hammer. But while Shannon can do wonders with a power drill and a little elbow grease, her love life needs work. On a blind date with real estate agent Jerry Saxton, she has to whip out a pair of pliers to keep Jerry from getting too hands on.Shannon is happy to put her rotten date behind her, but when Jerry's found dead in a run-down Victorian home that she's been hired to restore, the town's attractive new police chief suspects that her threats may have laid the foundation for murder.
When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia.
A twister, a kidnapping, and a murder - oh my! Scumble River may never be the same. For school psychologist Skye Denison, there's certainly no place like home. When a violent tornado devastates her small hometown of Scumble River, she can't see how the community will ever recover - especially since town councilman Zeke Lyons appears to have perished in the twister. But things get even worse for Skye when her police chief husband, Wally, disappears in the midst of investigating Zeke's death, and evidence arises pointing to foul play.
Former English professor Cat Latimer is back in Colorado, hosting writers' retreats in the big blue Victorian she's inherited, much to her surprise, from none other than her carousing ex-husband. Now it's an authors' getaway, but Cat won't let anyone get away with murder. The bed-and-breakfast is open for business, and best-selling author Tom Cook is among its first guests. Cat doesn't know why he came all the way from New York, but she's glad to have him among the quirkier - and far less famous - attendees.
Holly Miller's life has gone to the dogs. She has no job, her boyfriend's former flame is sniffing around, and a scruffy but lovable Jack Russell terrier is scattering crumbs all over her borrowed car. Just when she thought things couldn't get worse, a troubling phone call about her grandmother sends her rushing home to the family inn on Wagtail Mountain.
If it weren't for the fact that she's replacing a dead man, Kelly Jackson would love her new job managing the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast on the coast of Northern California. But Bob Phillips did plunge off the cliff to his death, and Kelly's starting to think it may not have been an accident. Bob's retired friends - The "Silver Sentinels" - are also on the case, especially when Kelly is attacked...and another body turns up.
Olivia Limoges is the subject of constant gossip. Ever since her mysterious return to the small coastal town of Oyster Bay, North Carolina, Olivia has kept to herself, her dog, and her unfinished novel. With a little cajoling from charming writer Camden Ford, she agrees to join the Bayside Book Writers to break her writer's block and even make a few friends. But when townspeople start turning up dead with haiku poems left by the bodies, anyone with a flair for language is suddenly suspect.
The streets of San Francisco would be lined with hardcovers if rare book expert Brooklyn Wainwright had her way. And her mentor wouldn't be lying in a pool of his own blood on the eve of a celebration for his latest book restoration. With his final breath he leaves Brooklyn a cryptic message, and gives her a priceless - and supposedly cursed - copy of Goethe's Faust for safekeeping.
Lindsey is getting into her groove as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library when a New York editor visits town, creating quite a buzz. Lindsey's friend, Beth, wants to sell the editor her children's book. But Beth's boyfriend, a famous author, gets in the way. When they go to confront him, he's found murdered - and Beth is the prime suspect. Lindsey has to act fast before they throw the book at the wrong person.
There's a cat in the stacks...and he makes the purr-fect partner for a librarian-turned-sleuth. Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows librarian Charlie Harris - and his Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash. They also know his former classmate-turned-famous best-selling novelist, Godfrey Priest. But someone in Athena took Godfrey off the best seller lists - permanently, and with extreme prejudice. Now, Charlie and Diesel must browse through the history section of the town's past to find a killer.
When Marley McKinney's aging cousin, Jimmy, is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers. With its rustic interior and syrupy scent, the Flip Side Pancake House is just as she pictured it - and the surly chef is a wizard with crêpes. Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, the quaint, coastal community where she used to spend her summers, but then Cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath a nearby cliff.
Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. But when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated.
Miracle Springs is a place of healing. Strangers flock there hoping that the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. And, if none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked scone from the Gingerbread House bakery, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That's Nora's special talent: prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person's deepest pain and lighten their heaviest burden.
James Henry, a kind-hearted professor of English literature, is forced to move back home to Quincy's Gap, a tiny town in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, to care for his aging father. Shortly after moving into a house that hasn't changed since his childhood, the overweight, divorced, book-loving cheese puff addict accepts a position as head librarian and joins a supper club for dieters who call themselves the "Flab Five". Avoiding carbs is almost impossible in this deep-fried, all-you-can-eat Southern town.
In a charming cozy mystery series debut, Leslie Nagel's irrepressible small-town heroine finds that her fellow book club members may be taking their Agatha Christie a bit too literally - and murder a bit too lightly.
Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura are finally living out their dream as the proud owners of the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery. But their first big client is a nightmare. She's a bridezilla who wants 500 custom cupcakes for her wedding. When Mel stumbles upon the bride-to-be dead - by cupcake - Mel becomes the prime suspect. To save themselves and their business, the ladies need to find the real murderer, before the cupcake killer ices someone else.
When Grace Wheaton and her boss, Bennett Marshfield, turn up at the Italian villa of one of his oldest friends, they're troubled to discover that most of his friend's impressive art collection - including a prized bronze skull crafted by Picasso - is fake. Someone has been selling the real deals and replacing them with skilled forgeries.
Unfortunately, Grace and Bennett have to fly home the next day, so there's no time to investigate. But their troubles are hardly over. On the plane, Grace catches a woman trying to poison Bennett. The woman, of course, isn't talking, but by the end of the flight, there are two dead bodies. Now Grace has to wing it to find a mile-high murderer - especially since she suspects Bennett is still in danger.
In Grace Takes Off by Julie Hyzy, Grace Wheaton is visiting Italy with her rich collector employer, Bennett Marshfield, on a trip to locate art for Bennett's house-turned-into-museum. On their last day they stay with Bennett's childhood friend, Nico, a fellow collector. But Bennett is disturbed to discover that a bronze skull created by Picasso that the men discovered when they were young is a fake. Then, Bennett's and Grace's chartered flight back to America, where Bennett must be the next day for a crucial meeting, gets cancelled when the pilot gets arrested. They manage to join up with a musical band on their chartered flight, but things turn ugly when Grace catches one of the passengers trying to poison Bennett's meal. Things escalate into a very intense situation that ends with two dead. Grace returns with foreboding about the safety of her boss, who also is likely her uncle.
The book follows an intricate passage through the lives of various people as the case gets more and more raveled before it can get unraveled. I was really pleased with this book, as it rivals the details and quality of the first book in the series, Grace under Pressure. I appreciate the way the many details do not feel too convoluted to follow but rather kept me glued to the book as I listened to it in one 9-hour sitting (or rather lying in bed with my migraine). I listen to my audiobooks to distract myself from my pain, but when the pain gets especially bad, I need something light and essy to follow. The fact that I was able to enjoy this detailed book during a severe bout with my pain is a testament to the quality of this fantastic book.
The characters in this book really come alive and develop through the series. We see Grace becoming wiser while more cautious about the men in her life. We also really get to enjoy our time with Grace's secretary, Frances. Abrasive on the outside and downright hostile to Grace at the beginning of the series, Frances begins to show more heart while trying to disguise that from the world. But the character who develops the most is Hillary, the step-daughter of Bennett Marshfield. We've always seen her as a selfish snob, but here she begins to show a real person underneath that facade.
Emily Durante performs the audio edition of this book very ably. Her development of the characters' voices suits them well. In addition, she does a good job of creating accents, and in the penultimate scene the speakers change rapidly, which Durante handles adroitly.
I really love the writing of Julie Hyzy and found Grace Takes Off to be a great book by her. The writing style is very strong, while the plot is intriguing. I give this book five stars.