April 21, 2008

Murder Melts in Your Mouth by Nancy Martin

I love Nancy Martin's Blackbird Sisters mysteries. The Blackbird ladies are a trio of Philadelphia society women who find themselves in a series of and funny and sometimes dangerous situations. The lead sister, Nora, is a reporter and she winds up acting as a detective, too. Murder Melts in Your Mouth is Martin's latest book (isn't that a great title?) and I really liked it.

Nora has to help out her best friend whose business partner has just fallen to his death from his balcony. It turns out that the partner was a crook who was ripping off everyone in town, including Nora's own parents! So she's got a list of suspects as long as her arm. (One of the other Blackbird sisters, Libby, meets a new guy -- the man who ran her over in his car - and the youngest sister is pregnant! There's all kinds of funny stuff going on in this book.)

Murder Melts in Your Mouth is what I've seen called a "chick lit" mystery. I think that means a book that is more about relationships and humor and the how women live their lives (both fun things like shopping and dating and serious things like work and family). It's not a book that is really about a serious mystery or suspense.

I'm not sure I like that term - I'm old enough that I think calling women "chicks" is not very respectful - but I sure did like this book!

April 14, 2008

A new book award

A friend sent me a link to a website with a new book award, but I'm not sure how I feel about this one. It seems like a nice idea, a bunch of high profile people from publishing getting together to give awards for the best books. (The committee has best-selling writers, editors, agents and other people like that.)

They're called the Mystery and Thriller Book Awards or maybe The Only Real Book Awards. (I'm not sure which.)

The reason I'm not sure about it is because of the first award they're giving. They award is for Laura Lippman, which is nice. I like Laura's books, even though they're not cozies. (Yes, I do read books other than cozies!) But the part I don't like is that they say they're giving it to her because she's the only woman writer "with ba**s."

As you probably know by now, I don't really like language like that. I think it's demeaning when people have to resort to four letter words to express themselves. (Call me old fashioned, but that's how I believe.) I also think it's wrong to say that Laura Lippman is the only woman author who can write great books. That's nonsense!

There are so many wonderful women out there writing books today. People like Julia Spencer-Fleming, Janet Evanovich, Marcia Muller, Margaret Maron, Donna Andrews, Denise Swanson and Rhys Bown. And there are many others, too.

I don't think it's right to try to build up one writer by tearing down others, even if that writer is really good like Laura Lippman is. Anyway, let me know what YOU think by leaving a comment.

April 11, 2008

Deadly Vintage by Elaine Flinn

This is a hard book for me to review. I really liked Flinn's first three books featuring Molly Doyle, the antiques dealer who lives in Carmel, California. Molly had an exciting life in New York before her husband left her and destroyed her reputation. Now she's trying to start a new life in California, building up her own business and raising her niece Emma.

The reason it's hard for me to review is because I'm not sure this is a cozy mystery. Molly is a good character and I usually like her a lot -- even if she does smoke and swear, two things that I don't really like to see in a book. This book seemed to have more violence than the others and just a harder edge overall. That's why I'm not sure if Flinn is still writing in the cozy genre. It seems like she's trying to be more hardboiled. And I think that's fine, but I'm not sure if that's what her fans will be expecting when they pick up Deadly Vintage.

In this book Molly is helping redecorate one of the local wineries. The owner of the winery is married to a real jerk, an abusive husband who Molly hates right away. (I hated him, too! I don't like seeing characters like him too much.) Things get really bad when Molly is at a party at the winery and the husband is shot dead right in front of her! That was an unexpected scene of violence, that's for sure.

Molly is a suspect in the murder for a while and...Well, I don't want to give away any of the story! (Like I said before I hate spoilers.) But I will say that Molly does her usual smart job of helping the police chief solve the crime.

I like Molly (even if she does smoke) and I like her niece Emma, a real cute kid. The police chief is okay, too, but he shouldn't always be cussing. (People don't have to cuss to be tough in books.) So while I liked the book, and it's a good story, I wasn't sure if Flinn was trying to write a cozy or something else. If it's something else, I think she should tell her fans that so we know what to expect.

Zapped by Carol Higgins Clark

Carol is the daughter of Mary Higgins Clark and she writes some really good books of her own. Her new one is called Zapped and its the new book in the series about detective Regan Reilly. Regan and her new husband have just returned from their honeymoon and started their new life together.

They decide to renovate their apartment but this leads to complications when Regan uncovers a clue to a possible crime. Regan's husband Jack, an NYPD detective, is investigating a case of his own. Is it possible that the two cases are connected? As if that weren't enough, they uncover a third case together, which they have to investigate. (That ones a little scary, about a crazy woman who likes to brand men.)

I like Carol's books because they're lighthearted but still have good mysteries in them. Zapped is no different. Regan is a character you can really like and it's so fun to watch her new life as a married woman! Whether or not you've read this series before, Zapped is a book I think you will like.

April 9, 2008

I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark has written so many wonderful novels over the years. A lot of them have been real favorites of mine. (I especially liked Loves Music, Loves to Dance.) One of her latest books is I Heard That Song Before and it's another good one.

Kay Lansing grew up living literally in the shadow of the Carrington Family's mansion. Now as an adult, she has reconnected with Peter Carrington, the family's scion, and fallen in love. It looks like they might have a wonderful life together. But he's got a dark secret from his past that threatens everything.

Mary has a great way in all her books of creating characters you can't help but like and stories that keep you up all night. They feel like ordinary people, the kind of people you could really know and like. I think that makes her stories that much more scary.

Mary proves that you don't have to have a lot of sex or language in a book that make it interesting and very suspenseful! I recommend you try her books today.

April 8, 2008

What is a cozy mystery?

My younger daughter Karen emailed me last night and wrote, "Okay, Mom I like the blog. But now you've got to tell me. What's a cozy??" That's a good question, isn't it! Especially since this blog is called Cozy Crime.

I'm not real good at stuff like this, but I'll take a stab at it. (No pun intended.) A cozy mystery (some people call them traditional mysteries, but I think the term cozy is...well, cozier) is a type of mystery novel that doesn't have a lot of violence, sex or bad language. They usually have a little violence (after all it's a mystery novel, and somebody usually ends up dead) but the violence isn't real bloody and the author doesn't go into much detail in describing it.

Cozies usually have detectives trying to solve a crime. (The ones I like do, anyway.) Almost always they have a happy ending and you finish the book feeling good about things. They aren't real dark or depressing, but that doesn't mean they're not serious. Although some of them are more lighthearted or even funny, they can be serious, too. The authors just don't feel the need to put in a bunch of stuff about sex or gory violence.

Some of the great writers of cozy mysteries were people like Agatha Christie, Mignon Eberhart and Dorothy L. Sayers. Some of the authors who write them today are Julia Spencer-Fleming, Rhys Bowen and Margaret Maron. (Obviously there are a lot more. Those are just a few that I like.)

Maybe some of you can do a better job of explaining it than I can. What's your definition of a cozy mystery?

April 7, 2008

Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb

Although I don't read a lot of romances, I love Nora Roberts. She has a way with characters that really makes you want to read her books. The books she writes under the name J.D. Robb are favorites of mine, too. They're mysteries set in the future, usually with a good love story thrown in as well.

Eve Dallas is a homicide investigation in New York City in the year 2060. When a rich businessman is murdered while having kinky sex, Eve is in charge of solving the case. I won't give away any more of the plot -- I hate spoilers! But it's an interesting mystery, even though I figured it out before Eve did! (The story is a lot like the movie Strangers on a Train and even the title is similar.)

I love the characters in the Robb books, especially Eve and her wealthy husband Roarke. She creates such suspense and you just want to keep reading, even after it's time to go to bed. I don't know how Roberts writes so many books but keeps them all good! I guess that's why she's one of my favorite writers.

April 5, 2008

Lee Child

I know he doesn't write cozies, but I"m sure you folks (especially the ladies) will forgive me if I mention Lee Child. His Jack Reacher books are some of my favorites and I don't usually like thrillers. (We used to fight over them in the library when the new book came in.)

Lee always seems like one of those old fashioned gentlemen, like Cary Grant. I've never met him, but if I did, I'd probably faint!

But that's not why I'm posting this. I wanted to let you know about an interview that Lee did with Elaine Flinn:


You might recognize Elaine's name because she writes the series about antiques dealer Mary Doyle. The series stopped for a while, but I think she's writing them again. Anyway, Elaine always does funny interviews and the new one with Lee is a hoot!

(P.S. I meant to say this before, but many thanks to my daughter Susan for helping me with this blog. She set it up so that even a computer novice like me can do it. Thanks, hon!)

April 2, 2008

Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich

How can you not love Stephanie Plum and Janet Evanovich? These books were consistently favorites with so many readers at our library and they're favorites of mine as well. They have a little more sex and foul language than most cozies. (I've heard some people call these "medium boiled.") But they're so much fun and do darn funny that I love them anyway.

This is either the second or third of the "Between the Numbers" books in the Stephanie Plum series. These books are a little bit different than the ones with numbers in the title. They all feature Diesel, who is sort of a naughty angel or maybe just a wizard. Anyway he has magic powers, although they don't come in handy most of the time.

In Plum Lucky Grandma Mazur finds a big bag of money (it's St. Paddy's Day!) and that lands her in a whole heap of trouble. Stephanie has to help her out, along with help from her friends Lulu and, of course, Diesel.

All of Janet's books are funny and the ones with Stephanie are my favorites. If you like to laugh, then these books are for you.