The Perfect Poison–Amanda Quick


I love these books. Amanda Quick does, in my opinion, the best historical romances with a touch of mystery. I appreciate the mysteries because it gives the story some bite, beyond just plain romance.

In this one, we enter into a bit of a crossover situation. The author has a series under the name Jayne Castle, which are futuristic and paranormal. This book is a historical romance but part of a series with paranormal aspects.

In this case, Lucinda Bromley is a gifted (psychically gifted) botantist and has recognized a rare fern that was stolen from her conservatory in a deadly poison. She teams up with Caleb Jones, who runs the detective agency for the psychical society and they track the poisoner, who is well known to the psychical society for various other unpleasant crimes.

It appears as though he is trying to create the “founder’s formula” which is a potion that should enhance and increase the psychical abilities of the person who takes it. Unfortunately the problem is that the founders formula, in every iteration, works briefly and then works as a poison, driving people crazy before killing them.

So it’s a bit of a race against time. The poison creator is working for some richer men, who are using their psychic powers to kill people and as they get more crazy from the formula, they will become exponentially more dangerous.

Meanwhile, sparks are flying between Lucinda and Caleb.

This is an enjoyable book. I recommend it.


How to Murder Your Mother-in-Law–Dorothy Cannell


I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed any of the Dorothy Cannell books yet.

The first book in this series is called “The Thin Woman” and is, in my opinion, a classic in the cozy mystery genre.

This is a later book.

These books are centered on Ellie Haskell, a young wife and mother. Her life is filled with absurdity. The books are clever and witty and charming.

In this book, she has the idea to invite her in-laws for a formal dinner. Her mother-in-law is a devout Catholic. Her father-in-law is a devout Jew, and so she thinks it would be nice to celebrate their anniversary. She cooks a reasonable good dinner (although I always wonder why she cooks at all, since her husband is a professional chef) except for the chocolate pudding, which she inadvertently made with chocolate flavored laxatives.

But the biggest issue is that she invited a local woman who had been a friend of her in-laws when they were young and that they haven’t spoken to in forty years. As it happens, they had stopped talking because the mother-in-law thought her friend Tricks was trying to seduce her husband.

There’s a terrible fight and the husband takes Tricks home, only to be returned by the cops because they decided to skinny dip in the ocean and lost their clothes. At that point, the Magdalene (the mother-in-law) kicks him out.

As it happens, there’s a rash of problematic mothers-in-law in town. Trick’s daughter-in-law suffers from her mom’s cavalier attitude towards life. The local member of the aristocracy, Lady Kitty, dominates and tortures her husband and daughter-in-law. The local vicar’s mother-in-law smokes in the house and is cheeky to the bishop.

They all complain and try to find a way to solve their problem, but when Lady Kitty is killed when the brake lines on her bike are cut, they start to suspect each other. And then Tricks is poisoned.

They have to find out who is bumping off the mothers-in-law before they are all killed and ideally also get the women out of their houses before they lose their minds.


The Whole Enchilada–Diane Mott Davidson


If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’m not so much a fan of Diane Mott Davidson as a person but I feel a weird compulsion to complete the series that I started before I knew that I didn’t like her.

The excellent news about this particular book is that it’s got to be the last in the series. *fingers crossed*

This book is nonsense. Pure, complete nonsense.

Yet another “dear, close, personal friend” of Goldy’s that has never been mentioned previously has died and it’s up to Goldy to investigate.

Over the course of the series Goldy has become less likable and more abrasive and aggressive and nosy. She’s not someone I would socialize with. Nor would I socialize with her friends or compatriots.

And if her law enforcement husband existed in real life he’d have been fired years ago for the liberties he takes with the investigations and which he allows her to take.

Anyway, the question is who of the many people who might have wanted to kill this lovely human being (who, FYI, cheated on her husband, blackmailed her lover, and passed someone else’s work off as her own on a regular basis) actually did poison her dinner.

Her ex-husband who had recently discovered he was not the father of her child, his mom, his new wife? The artist she was stealing from? The person she was blackmailing?

Pray to the Gods of publishing that this really is the last of this series. I don’t know if I can do this again. And the recipes are, I SWEAR TO GOD, duplicates. At least some of them were in previous books, I’m sure of it.

Dragonwell Dead–Laura Childs


This is yet another from the “catch up on previously abandoned book series” list.

In this series, based on teas (if you didn’t know Dragonwell was the name of a green tea, you do now) with the protagonist being the owner of a tea shop in Charleston.

These books are very much cozy mysteries. Very very much so. In fact, they’re so cozy they’re the literary equivalent of a petit four.

There’s hardly any mystery here. There’s not much in the way of danger or suspense. This is mostly just a gentle stroll through a minor adventure.

In this book, a friend of the protagonist drops dead after drinking a glass of sweet tea. His widow asks her to help get his stuff from the office, etc.

Obviously, he was murdered. But by whom? His widow? His secretary who was harboring a crush on him? His co-worker/competitor? The orchid collector that wanted his collection?

The book includes tea time tips and a handful of recipes that I wasn’t inclined to try, although I considered the mini pecan muffins.

For what it is, it’s perfectly lovely. If you like your mysteries extremely gentle and sweet, this is the one for you.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles–Agatha Christie


The one that started it all.

I think, later, she had regrets about Poirot. It’s an open secret that Ariadne Oliver is her alter ego and Oliver is always complaining about the idiosyncrasies of her fictional foreign detective.

Regardless, this is the first of her mystery novels. It introduces Poirot and his sidekick. Full disclosure: I don’t like Hastings. He’s just so SLOW. I expect him to be slower than Poirot, but I’d like to see some intelligence somewhere. *sigh*

Moving on.

Hastings is visiting some friends in the country to recover from a wound he took in the war–this is World War 1, mind you–and whilst there, the lady of the house is murdered.

Poirot, whom Hastings had met somewhere previously, is nearby as a Belgian refugee and is happy to help.

There are lots of suspects, but really only one motive: money. They all lived off her, and they all got rich when she died. This includes two sons and their wives, her husband, and to a lesser extent, her companion. The only one not making out like a bandit is some random girl that’s staying with them that the old lady had liked but not yet put in her will.

The house is big, the servants abundant and everyone is complaining about how they’ve had to cut back since the war. Rich people, they’re different than the rest of us.

Poirot solves it, of course. Hastings is astonished and amazed, of course.

Trivia time! The book again offers no assistance so I’ll give you one of my own, off the top of my head because I’m talented like that. Poirot spent a lot of time talking about a scrap of dark green fabric that he found caught in the dead woman’s doorway. Where did that fabric come from?