Single Malt Murder (Whisky Business Mystery #1) by Melinda Mullet

Abigail Logan never expected to inherit a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands. But in the first novel of an engaging new series blending fine spirits with chilling mystery, Abi finds that there are secrets lurking in the misty glens that some will go to any lengths to protect . . . even murder.
When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter.When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.
Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.

So, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a rut with my reading lately – especially with my review requests. Not that I needed to add anything to my TBR shelf, but I do like variety 😉 That’s how I stumbled upon Single Malt Murder and I am so glad that I did. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Abi, Liam, her best friend Patrick and the close knit group of people in the community her Uncle Ben had called home.

There was so much to love about Single Malt Murder, that I’m not sure where to start. I obviously loved the characters. The writing was great and the dialogue between the characters flowed nicely (clipped, unnatural conversations between characters drive me nuts!) The mystery had me trying to figure out ‘who-done-it’ almost to the very end. I had my suspicions, but just like Abi, I talked myself out of most of them. There was a hint of romance, which in this story, was just enough. There was an elderly character that was spry, witty and respected by pretty much everyone and her common sense observations were helpful to Abi. Liam was a great addition to the story and a true champion (I love it when a dog is as much of a supporting character as the humans they interact with.) What’s not to love about this perfect combination?

Of course, there was a lot more to Single Malt Murder, but I don’t want to give anything away. There were parts of the story and the way the author handled them that were refreshing. Needless to say, I can’t wait until Death Distilled, the second book in Ms. Mullet’s Whisky Business Mystery is released.

On a side note, have you ever had someone bring something to your attention and not be able to get it out of your head? I got so engrossed in Single Malt Murder that I didn’t even give the spelling of Whisky a second thought… until I noticed that one reviewer said that it bugged her. That’s all it took for me to do a little research. Turns out there’s a reason for it and Straight Up Cocktails and Spirits does a wonderful job of explaining it in their 2009 post – Whiskey vs. Whisky: What’s the Difference?. I love learning new things, don’t you?

 

The Mystery of Nevermore (Snow & Winter #1) by C.S. Poe

mysteryofnevermoreIt’s Christmas, and all antique dealer Sebastian Snow wants is for his business to make money and to save his floundering relationship with closeted CSU detective, Neil Millett. When Snow’s Antique Emporium is broken into and a heart is found under the floorboards, Sebastian can’t let the mystery rest.
He soon finds himself caught up in murder investigations that echo the macabre stories of Edgar Allan Poe. To make matters worse, Sebastian’s sleuthing is causing his relationship with Neil to crumble, while at the same time he’s falling hard for the lead detective on the case, Calvin Winter. Sebastian and Calvin must work together to unravel the mystery behind the killings, despite the mounting danger and sexual tension, before Sebastian becomes the next victim. 
In the end, Sebastian only wants to get out of this mess alive, and live happily ever after with Calvin.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Okay, I admit it. I’m a sucker when it comes to any modern prose that even hints at Edgar Allan Poe. I don’t go in search of it, but when it shows up, it most definitely makes me pay attention. That in itself was enough to make me love The Mystery of Nevermore. The mystery, romance and endearing characters were a welcome bonus. 😉

Sebastian was adorable, plain and simple. He had a great personality, he was just a little quirky and he had a love of mystery novels that had a tendency to get him in trouble when he played sleuth in real life situations. He also had a boyfriend who was enough of a jerk that made Sebastian cheating on him almost forgivable. Almost.

Then there was Calvin. I mentioned when I finished The Mystery of Nevermore that one little thing bothered me enough to keep me from giving this one a full 5 stars and Calvin was a big part of that. He was a big, bad, borderline scary detective showed absolutely no interest in Sebastian whatsoever and then Wham! Trust me, it took Sebastian by surprise too. That doesn’t mean that Sebastian was complaining, neither was I really, it just seemed like there should have been a little bit more build up, or at least a hint, or something? Other than that… and the cheating – which both Sebastian and Calvin knew was wrong, but that doesn’t make it any better – the rest of the story was great.

I loved the mystery, which turned into a pretty good who-dun-it, at least for me. The supporting characters were great and added a lot to the story. The Poe references didn’t stop with the hidden heart and most definitely kept things interesting. I kind of wish there would have been more to the story, but once I realized this is the first in a series I was fine with how things ended. This was also my first C.S. Poe read, but even without know that there’s more to come between Calvin and Sebastian, it won’t be my last.

DragonFlyGreen4-5

Jury of One (Lindenshaw Mysteries #2) by Charlie Cochrane

JuryOfOneInspector Robin Bright is enjoying a quiet Saturday with his lover, Adam Matthews, when murder strikes in nearby Abbotson, and he’s called in to investigate. He hopes for a quick resolution, but as the case builds, he’s drawn into a tangled web of crimes, new and old, that threatens to ensnare him and destroy his fledgling relationship.
Adam is enjoying his final term teaching at Lindenshaw School, and is also delighted to be settling down with Robin at last. Only Robin doesn’t seem so thrilled. Then an old crush of Adam’s shows up in the murder investigation, and suddenly Adam is yet again fighting to stay out of one of Robin’s cases, to say nothing of trying to keep their relationship from falling apart.
Between murder, stabbings, robberies, and a suspect with a charming smile, the case threatens to ruin everything both Robin and Adam hold dear. What does it take to realise where your heart really lies, and can a big, black dog hold the key?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I absolutely loved the first book in the Lindenshaw Mysteries, The Best Corpse for the Job. I was such a fun, quirky read. I was even more excited when I got to the end and found out that it was going to be part of a series. When Jury of One was offered for review, I requested it immediately.

So, first, I need to say that if you haven’t read The Best Corpse for the Job, you don’t need to worry. It works great as a stand alone. Second, if you’ve read The Best Corpse for the Job, Jury of One isn’t quite as quirky. Was I disappointed? Not in the slightest. It was still a sweet little romance with more than a couple of mysteries to solve along the way. The characters were still well developed and likable. Once again I found myself enjoying my time spent with Adam and Robin. What more could I ask for in a sequel?

Robin and Adam have settled into a semi-comfortable relationship, but they still have some wrinkles to iron out. Any problems that crop up in Jury of One stem from the fact that neither one of these charming, witty men believe they deserve the other. Honestly, seeing them stumble just a little makes me love them even more.

Once again, their canine friend steals the show by saving the day. Adam does something without thinking about the consequences and the bad guy isn’t who anyone really expected. I’m really hoping that there’s more to come because I’m really enjoying my time with Adam and Robin 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Death Without Company (Walt Longmire #2) by Craig Johnson – Bout-of-Books 15 Review

DeathWithoutCompanyWhen Mari Baroja is found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Sheriff Longmire is drawn into an investigation that reaches fifty years into the mysterious woman’s past.  Her connections to Wyoming’s Basque community, the lucrative coal-bed methane industry, and the personal life of the previous sheriff, Lucian Connally, lead to a complex web of half-truths and assumed alliances. Aided by his friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria, Sheriff Longmire must connect the specter of the past to the present to find the killer.

“A life without friends means death without company.” –Basque Proverb.

I have to admit that if it weren’t for the Longmire television show, I never would have considered picking up this series. Although there are some similarities between the two, I’m enjoying the differences. I’m almost caught up with the television series and even though I’m only two books into the written series, I can honestly say that I’m now a huge fan of both.

Not surprisingly, the relationship between Henry and Walt is still my favorite part of this series. Getting to know Lucian Connally a little better was an added bonus. There were a few new characters thrown into the mix and some unexpected twists that kept things interesting.

There’s a spiritual aspect to this series that I really enjoy. Johnson’s prose is flowing and descriptive. The characters are witty and aren’t afraid to put Walt in his place. Walt’s inner dialogue makes me smile.  All of that combined with the mysteries included in each book so far make this series one I can’t wait to continue.

DragonFlyRating5

Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) by Karina Halle

RedFoxIn the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, New Mex­ico, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shape shift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

I’m not ashamed to say that this book scared the crap out of me. I had to keep reminding myself that there are 9 books in the Experiment in Terror series, so Dex and Perry were reasonably safe. The more I read, the more I had to keep reminding myself of that fact.

Red Fox begins just a little while after Darkhouse ends. Their first webcast has broadcast and they can’t let any grass grow under their feet before they start the next one. Perry has even more riding on its success now than ever and her only ally in her new career path is Dex. Trust is kind of tough when both parties keep things hidden from each other. That just adds to the tension built in this story.

I love stores based on mythology and Native American legends are some of my favorites. That aspect of this story totally drew me in and didn’t let go even when things got seriously dark. From the time they entered Red Fox, Dex and Perry were in danger. The biggest problem they faced, other than trying to survive, was that they had no idea who they could and couldn’t trust. No one was exactly what they seemed, so they had no idea where the real danger was coming from. Then, it got worse.

Regardless of how scary these books are, I know that I won’t be able to stay away. Beyond the danger that Dex and Perry put themselves in, there’s also the romantic tension between them. Since the books are told from Perry’s POV readers know exactly where her feelings lie, but Dex is a mystery. He’s unstable, mentally and emotionally. One minute he acts like he cares about Perry as much as she does for him and the next he’s distant and professional. It’s driving me nuts, and I totally love it.

Dead Sky Morning is up next and it’s already ready and waiting for me. 😉

DragonFlyRating5

The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1) by Craig Johnson

ColdDishWalt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces one of the more volatile and challenging cases in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.

I admit that this series probably never would have made it on my reading radar if I hadn’t first watched the series on TV. I also have to admit that I never would have considered watching the series if a group of people I follow on line hadn’t talked about NF picking up the series after A&E network dropped it. The fact that I immediately searched out the Walt Longmire series by Craig Johnson after I ran out of episodes to watch should tell you something. 😉 I’m going to mention the similarities and differences between the two later in the review, don’t worry.

Walt Longmire is not your average literary hero… well, actually, he is average. He’s handsome in a rugged way. He’s over 50 and he’s described more than once as being out of shape. He’s been mourning the loss of his wife long enough in his friends’ opinion, which reinforces the fact that he’s surrounded by people who care about him as much as he cares about them. He’s honest, loyal, well educated, has a strong sense of honor… basically he’s one of the most ‘real’ characters I’ve read in a long time. One of my favorite parts of reading this book was his inner dialogue. I loved it. His thoughts are easy and honest and yes, he tends to ramble, but that keeps it entertaining.

The Cold Dish takes Walt back to a case that has haunted him for a couple of years. Sometimes justice isn’t exactly fair and the punishment comes no where near fitting the crime. That was how most people felt about the boys involved in the rape case. That fact made finding a likely suspect in the death of one of the defendants almost impossible to narrow down. There were a lot of people who could have decided to become a vigilante and not blink an eye. That also meant that Walt probably knew the killer, which made his job even harder.

With the help of his best friend Henry and his staff he goes about the task of finding the killer before the next boy is killed. The story has lots of twists and turns and seems to take them a couple of steps back with every new clue they find. I can honestly say that I had no clue who the killer was until it was revealed. It might have been because I was so caught up in the story, but I think it had more to do with the writing being so good.

Beyond the good story there was a lot of witty dialogue. There are a lot of conversations between Henry and Walt. Some serious, some comical. This one was one of my favorites…

I looked past Henry in disbelief as he turned to hand me the rifle. “If you do not shoot him, I will.”
“We don’t have any bullets, or I would seriously consider it.” He laughed and pulled a gleaming .45-70 from his shirt pocket and held it up. “Where did you get that?”
“Off your desk, where do you think?”
I pulled the handle and opened my door. “We’re trying to keep somebody from shooting him.”
He stated out the other side. “I am beginning to question the logic in that.”

Which brings me to my comparison between the books and the TV series. Honestly, I love them both. There are characters that are in both. Some are similar and some have been changed slightly to fit the TV series. The descriptions of the characters aren’t quite the same in some instances, but that didn’t bother me at all. I will admit that even though I liked Craig Johnson’s descriptions, I found myself picturing the TV characters in my head as I read the book. What can I say, I was introduced to them first. 🙂 One thing that bothers me in reading written dialogue on a regular basis is the lack of contractions. It just seems so formal in normal conversation to not use them. In a strange way Henry’s lack of contraction use made me smile. Not only did Walt mention the fact but that’s exactly how the character on the TV series talks as well. There’s also a strong spiritual aspect that I enjoy in both the book and the TV series. Sometimes familiarity is a good thing. As far as the story line goes, at least for the first book, you may think you know how the story’s going to pan out if you’ve watched the series, but the book takes a totally different slant, which I enjoyed. It kept me on my toes and it allows me to watch and read and not have either outcome spoiled. It’s the little things really. 😉

So, my obvious advice to those of you who have either watched or read about Walt Longmire, treat yourself to both. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I find a show I like, I have no problem telling people about it. Reading the book is a no brainer. I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the series.

DragonFlyRating5

The Two Gentlemen of Altona (Playing the Fool #1) by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock

TwoGentlemenOfAltonaMischief, thou art afoot.

Special Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness is having a rough week. Not only is he on a new diet, but he’s also been tasked with keeping Henry Page—the world’s most irritating witness—alive. Which is tough when Mac’s a breath away from killing the Shakespeare-quoting, ethically-challenged, egg-obsessed Henry himself. Unless killing isn’t really what Mac wants to do to him.

Con man Henry Page prefers to keep his distance from the law . . . though he wouldn’t mind getting a little closer to uptight, handsome Agent McGuinness. As the sole witness to a mob hit, Henry’s a valuable asset to the FBI. But he’s got his own agenda, and it doesn’t involve testifying.

When evidence surfaces of a mole in the FBI office, Mac and Henry are forced to go into hiding. Holed up in a fishing cabin, they’re surprised to discover that their feelings run more than skin deep. But as the mob closes in, Henry has to make his escape. And Mac has to decide how far he’s willing to go to keep Henry by his side.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1These characters were beyond fun… that is, up until the ending… Can you say cliff hanger? Yeah, all I can say is it’s a good thing that the books run close together, otherwise I would be giving the authors a hard time. Let’s just say, the minute I finished The Two Gentlemen of Altona I immediately requested The Merchant of Death (#2) and Tempest (#3). I’ve learned my lesson and I also really, really, really don’t trust this writing duo to not leave me hanging again. 😉

Yeah, I loved these guys. Henry was a lovable con man and Mac was beyond straight-laced. Together, these two were comical. Mac wasn’t used to being made a fool of and Henry seemed to do it at every turn. It wasn’t malicious though, it was survival. The only way that Henry knew how to do it.

I loved these two together though. Henry was a real ‘people person’ and he saw right through Mac. He seemed to know things about Mac that no one did, and none that Mac was willing to admit. Henry also knew things about the people that Mac had worked with for years that he had failed to notice. He wormed his way into everyone’s heart, so it was no surprise that he would finally work his way into Mac’s. He was as irritating as he was lovable.

The Gentlemen of Altona was full of fun, just enough heat and an unlikely bad guy. I was totally entertained until the very end. The jaw-dropping, cliff-hanging end. Those evil authors will get you every time. Needless to say, I’ll be reviewing the next two books sooner rather than later.

DragonFlyRating4

 

The Best Corpse for the Job (Lindenshaw Mysteries #1) by Charlie Cochrane

BestCorpseForTheJobTea and sympathy have never been so deadly.

School teacher Adam Matthews just wants to help select a new headteacher and go home. The governors at Lindenshaw St Crispin’s have already failed miserably at finding the right candidate, so it’s make or break this second time round. But when one of the applicants is found strangled in the school, what should have been a straight forward decision turns tempestuous as a flash flood in their small English village.

Inspector Robin Bright isn’t thrilled to be back at St. Crispin’s. Memories of his days there are foul enough without tossing in a complicated murder case. And that handsome young teacher has him reminding himself not to fraternize with a witness. But it’s not long before Robin is relying on Adam for more than just his testimony.

As secrets amongst the governors emerge and a second person turns up dead, Robin needs to focus less on Adam and more on his investigation. But there are too many suspects, too many lies, and too many loose ends. Before they know it, Robin and Adam are fighting for their lives and their hearts.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Oh, I really liked this one. Just enough mystery to keep the pages turning and just the right forbidden chemistry between the two main characters to make me want them to end up together. *sigh*

The Best Corpse for the Job was a perfect mix of seriousness and lightness. Of course those light moments came when Adam and Robin could block out the world around them. Considering that Adam was a potential witness/suspect, things obviously got a little complicated. Robin didn’t want his judgement clouded, but the attraction was hard to ignore. The great thing was that Adam understood… yeah, I kinda loved these two together.

Throw in a cast of characters that had a hard time telling the truth because more than one of them had something to hide, a lovable dog that was also an amazing judge of character and not so pleasant memories from one of the main characters. The ‘who’ of the mystery I almost had figured out, but the ‘why’ was a surprise. The Best Corpse for the Job ended up being a great ‘who-dun-it’ with a sweet little romance that left me with a smile. 😉

DragonFlyRating4

 

Devil’s Bargain (Red Letter Days #1) by Rachel Caine

Jazz Callender is an ex-cop struggling to prove her partner’s innocence after he is sent to prison for murder, and she’s willing to take whatever help comes along … but she’s about to make a bargain with the devil. Approached by a mysterious, attractive stranger with a check and a business offer, she finds herself plunged deep into a world where nothing is as it seems … not James Borden, Attorney At Law, who fascinates her even as she doubts his honesty … not Lucia Garza, her beautiful, brilliant new partner with hidden depths and secrets … not The Cross Society, who seems to be able to know more about the cases she’s being sent to investigate than Jazz does herself. With each new revelation, Jazz and Lucia uncover a world of psychic predictions and unseen forces, and find themselves playing not just for keeps, but for souls … With lives at stake, Jazz finds that every choice she makes is dangerous … even the one to fall in love.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I became a fan of Rachel Caine I suppose the way that most of my fellow bloggers did and that would be through the Morganville Vampire series. That being said, the Red Letter Days is nothing like the previously mentioned series. That, my adult readers, is not a bad thing.

If you first stumbled upon this review via my GoodReads page, you may notice the lengthy time frame that it took me to actually read this book. That time frame (Sept. 20 – Nov. 5) is no indication of how much I enjoyed this book. It has more to do with the way I had to read it, which was on my computer. *sigh* I know that it took me a while to read it, but even with the awkwardness of reading Devil’s Bargain on my computer instead of my Kindle, I was still determined to finish. It was simply too good to abandon.

I really liked Jazz as a female lead. She had spunk and her loyalty to her ex-partner was admirable. James and Lucia were interesting characters too. They all fit well together and the combination of personalities worked along with the rest of the supporting characters that were featured.

Even with the great characters and story line, Devil’s Bargain honestly did start slow for me. I can’t tell you exactly when it picked up, but when it did, there was no stopping it. I reached a point where I just had to know what happened next. That combined with the ease of Rachel Caine’s writing and the wit that she infuses her characters with made this a very entertaining read. Don’t expect sexy vamps or teenage angst because this series isn’t paranormal (not exactly anyway) or YA. However, it is an entertaining read with a touch of romance and plenty of action, danger and mystery thrown into the mix.

Ghost College (The Ghost Files #1) by Scott Nicholson and J.R. Rain

First in a new series featuring paranormal investigators Ellen and Monty Drew. Ellen claims to possess a sixth sense but Monty, a former P.I., only believes what he can see. She views their work as a sacred mission while Monty just wants a happy wife and a paycheck.

Then the Drews are summoned to a Southern California bible college after workers report hearing mysterious voices at night. When they encounter the unhappy ghost of a young girl, Monty’s skepticism is shaken, but he resolves to help his wife free the trapped spirit. Their search uncovers the Latin phrase “Non omnis moriar”-not all of me shall die-and they learn more about the site’s history as a Catholic school destroyed by an earthquake. But a mysterious presence has plans of its own for the young ghost, and Monty and Ellen must go head to head with a Dark Master that’s had more than a century of practice in demonic deeds.

Now Monty must leave his body to do battle with the Dark Master, and he’s not sure Ellen will be able to bring him back in one piece. He’s not even sure what’s happening is real. All he knows is that all hell is breaking loose and he’s taking a crash course where an “F” means eternal damnation.

From bestselling authors J.R. Rain (Moon Dance, Jim Knighthorse series) and Scott Nicholson (The Red Church, Disintegration). Includes bonus chapters of The Body Departed, Elvis Has Not Left the Building, Transparent Lovers, Speed Dating with the Dead, and Cursed!

Ghost College was a great haunted mystery. It had the quick witted humor and inner monologue that I’ve come to expect from J.R. Rain’s lead characters and gave me even more reason to check out more of Scott Nicholson’s books.

Monty is an interesting ghost hunter, mainly because he isn’t a believer. He is, however, totally devoted to his wife and will do whatever he can to support her. It’s her that he believes in and that’s enough to keep him searching for ghosts. That all changes when they visit the Bible college in Southern California. Monty finds himself up close and personal with a entity that gives him a whole new perspective.

Ghost College is the first book in The Ghost Files Series and the remainder of the books should prove to be interesting. Each of the three current books in the series adds a different contributing author. I don’t think I’ve ever read a series that is centered around the same characters but written by different authors. I might just have to check out Ghost Soldier (Book #2) with Evelyn Klebert and Ghost Fire (Book #3) with Eva Paludan if for no other reason but to see how the story continues to flow.

I actually have more than one copy of this book on my kindle. One is alone and the other is from the 4-Book Dark Spells set of stories by J.R. Rain and Scott Nicholson. I actually read this one as the stand alone before I started the Dark Spells books.

I received Ghost College as a free download from Amazon on June 19, 2012.