Best Selling Mysteries, Suspense, Thrillers, & Horror

General Mystery

Coven at Collington by Shereen Vedam

Coven at Callington*

Witch Wars, Intrigue, and Romance in Fantastical Regency England

Fresh from fending off an attack by hellhounds, Guard of the Green Cross–a secret arm of the Anglican Church meant to handle evil forces and entities if they rise from darkness–the Earl of Braden gets new orders from the Archbishop that are directly opposed to a central tenet of the guard’s code: do not interfere in disputes between witches and warlocks. Centuries ago witch hunts blackened the name of guards (then known as knights), so meddling is now forbidden. Braden has been tasked with retrieving the son of a warlock, who was supposedly taken by a demon, as well as destroy the coven in the area. More is happening at Callington than Braden imagined, and he is more than tempted to enlist the aid of the coven protectress, Merryn, to help figure it all out. Merryn believes that the same warlock who killed her younger brother has taken the boy.

Will Braden succeed in rescuing the boy? What exactly is going on between the warlocks and witches in Callington? Will Braden risk his position to follow what he knows is right? Will he fall for the coven protectress?

The author has done a fantastic job of creating a magical version of Regency England. I love how the first scene in Regency times a flame in a streetlight is talking! I literally did a double take to see if I was reading correctly! There are other magical elements as well, some of which are not truly explained until later. I thought the idea of having this secret group of guards under direct orders of the Archbishop of Canterbury was inspired. Braden is a complicated, fascinating hero to watch wrestle with right and wrong, on both personal and professional levels.

With elements of fantasy, the paranormal, intrigue, and romance . . . what’s not to like!

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

A Bottle Full of Djinn by Paula Lester

A Bottle Full of Djinn*

Mysterious Happenings at Witches’ Retirement Community

Zoey is the head of staff for a magical retirement community. Her town of Sunnyside, California, is full of witches and warlocks, though normals do occasionally pass through town. People aren’t supposed to use magic in public, but they are often lax about it. Strange events that Zoey can’t explain start happening at the retirement community, a kitchen covered in chocolate cake batter, farm animals in the common room, and a ghost. Will Zoey figure out what’s going on? Will she lose staff and residents because of this? If you read the prequel to The Sunnyside Retired Witches Community series, you are familiar with the quirky world and cast characters that make up the greater and smaller communities of Sunnyside. The author does a fantastic job of integrating magic into the story, often in a humorous fashion. It’s an engaging read that makes you wonder what funny, offbeat thing will happen next, whether it is magical or not. The book is a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

Poetic Poison by VS Vale

Poetic Poison

Delightful–and Deadly–Return to Swansneck Village

What a delightful second visit to Swansneck Village! I read the first book of the series a few weeks back. While you don’t have to have read the first book to understand the second–as the author does an excellent job of giving bits and pieces of backstory throughout the first part of the book–you will have a greater appreciation of the diverse cast of characters and what brought Jenny Bradshaw back to Swansneck if you do.

Jenny is well ensconced in village life now, her vintage hat store turning into a vintage clothing store. In a handbag from a box of items purchased for the store, she finds a crumpled poem with a murder threat. It turns out that the woman who owned the handbag died some months earlier. This makes Jenny question whether there was murder involved in some way.

Jenny and her grandmother sort through some of her grandfather’s things at the house she inherited from him. When Jenny first moved in, she simply boxed up her grandfather’s things to make room for her stuff. Now it appears that her grandfather’s stamp collection is missing. So now Jenny has two things to solve. Was there a foul play involved with the woman’s death? What happened to her grandfather stamps?

Along the way, Jenny gets involved in village happenings, like the Founders Day Fete. Also, it seems that a group of older ladies in town see her as a spinster now!

I enjoyed this book so much! The author has a way of drawing you in that is subtle and endearing. As someone who reads other cozies and thrillers, I enjoy the slow pace of her writing. I often get annoyed at books where the pacing is too slow, but surprisingly, I appreciate it here in a way that I don’t in other books. I particularly love the small moments of interactions between friends and family because they seem organic and realistic. For instance, before Jenny goes through her grandfather’s things with her grandmother, the two women just to talk about the past. It reminded me of discussions I’ve had with my mother as we readied old Christmas ornaments and discussed the history of how certain ones came into the family. That sort of intimate writing is rare in any genre of modern book and especially mysteries. Its unexpectedness makes it more special.

The book had some of the common issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage, and I do understand and appreciate the difference between American and British English. But some rules–like the one that should be between independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence–stand in either form of English. I actually do enjoy the use of British spelling, words, and phrases, as they lend authenticity to this tale that takes place in a small town in the north of England. I even learned a few terms that I didn’t know, like dab-hand, and I consider myself an Anglophile.

If you enjoy cozy British mysteries with a large cast of realistic and fascinating quirky characters, you will enjoy this book and the previous one in the Swansneck Village series.

Murder Most Fowl by VS Vale

Murder Most Fowl*

Slow-Paced Cozy Mystery Also a Character Study of a Village

If you’re accustomed to frenetic-paced thrillers or even get-to-the-point-fast cozy mystery novellas, this book requires you to slow down and take in the scenery. On a cold winter’s day, pour yourself a cup of your favorite hot beverage and dig in.  Jenny Bradshaw is returning home to Swansneck, a small English village, after her grandfather dies and leaves her a home that she cannot sell or rent for three years. Leaving London and her stressful personal assistant job is not something she is in favor of it first, but her pending divorce doesn’t make it wholly a bad choice either. In her first days back, she resumes working in her family bakery, but in discussion with a good friend, she realizes that she needs to carve her own path in the village if she is to maintain her sanity. Her friend suggests buying a hat-renting business, which she does.

The book meanders for a while. As Jenny gets accustomed to the changes to her hometown, we learn about its past as well as the changes seen through Jenny’s eyes. Jenny keeps busy, opening her new business, relaunching a village newsletter, and taking part in the biggest wedding the community has seen. The murder doesn’t actually take place until well into the book. Much time is spent in setting the scene for the entirety of the community, gaining an understanding of Jenny’s quirky neighbors as well as getting glimpses of her new life. When the murder occurs, Jenny is drawn in, hoping to assist a friend who can be considered a suspect. Strange notes are left, and Jenny is drawn deeper into the world around her, learning more about her neighbors and the strange happenings, which only seem to give her more questions.

The book is refreshingly free of grammar, punctuation, and usage issues. If you enjoy slow-paced cozy mysteries with offbeat but intriguing characters and a strong sense of place, you will most likely enjoy this story. I am looking forward to the next book of the series.

New Kindle Unlimited Mystery Jan 27

Here are some Kindle Unlimited mysteries coming out this week! Remember, you don’t need to have a KU subscription to read these books; they are also available via direct purchase!

New Kindle Unlimited Mystery Jan 19

Here are some mystery titles coming out this week that are available for free through a Kindle Unlimited subscription as well as by direct purchase. Even a box set this week!

New Quirky Mysteries Jan 19

Now…Amazon doesn’t have a category called “Quirky,” but sometimes I see a cover, title, or concept that just screams QUIRKY. Here’s an eclectic bunch!

The Foreign Desk by Alexander Clifford

The Foreign Desk

Gentlemanly Wit…But Not a Lot of Substance

I’m not quite sure how to categorize this book; it has elements of mystery, suspense, crime…but has the feel of a stream-of-consciousness buddy road trip. The tone is meant to be funny…and it is at the beginning with this rather droll 1st person narrator but doesn’t quite sustain through the novel. It is definitely meant to take place in the past, as the journalist protagonist works on a typewriter and the newsroom is smoke filled (and lots of legroom in a plane!), yet anachronistic things like a mention of snowboarding sneak in. The plot meanders…first the protagnist is on the hunt for a weather machine for his next story and then gets accused of murder that wasn’t really hinted at as a possibility.

The novel also suffered from lack of copyediting…or even proofreading. Inconsistent formatting (sometimes letters/articles are italicized, sometimes not), lack of or wrong punctuation (sometimes no period at ends of sentences), and odd style (starting a piece of dialog with a numeral, not a written-out number) sometimes made this a hard read. I downgraded the Amazon and Goodreads reviews by 1 star because of these issues.

If you like to read journalistic mystery that is written with humor and don’t mind that there isn’t much substance to it, you might enjoy this quick-read book.

I received an advance review copy for free, but it is currently available at Amazon for free.

New Mysteries Jan 13

Here are some mystery books that are releasing this week. Some cozy mystery, witches, a historical, and detective driven All currently have no reviews. All books are available by direct purchase as well as through Kindle Unlimited. Make your mark…and review a new book!

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    The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

    One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or from the author.

    Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

    Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

    All Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I get a tiny percentage if you decide to buy one of the books.

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