Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Pie Can Be Deadly

 Death By Chocolate #6
 Sarah Graves
 Kensington Books
 April 25, 2023

Jake (Jacobia) and Ellie are gearing up for a new season at Eastport, Maine's bakery, The Chocolate Moose. Since the opening of The Moose, they have been successful and are an institution. This year, however, they have competition from Choco's, another bakery nearby owned by Brad Fairway, a newcomer to Eastport. Fairway is not above undercutting the Moose's prices and spreading rumors about bad hygiene at The Moose. The opening of the annual arts festival brings matters to a head. Jake and Ellie confront Fairway about his business practices and get no satisfaction. Both women are suspects when Fairway is found dead later, especially Ellie, whose gun was the murder weapon. The State Police are zeroing in on Ellie, and the Eastport chief of police, Bob Arnold, can't seem to divert them. Even worse, Jake thinks she recognizes Fairway from the "bad old days" in New York. Is the other shoe about to drop finally? As the arts festival goes on, there are more murders and attacks on the artists, muddying the waters considerably. 

I have been reading Sarah Graves' books for years, beginning with her long-running Home Repair is Homicide series. All are set in Eastport and feature the same main characters, Jake and Ellie, and their extended families and friends, with others coming in and out (quite often as victims). They are remarkably full of action for cozy mysteries, but at their heart are about friendship and the ties that bind. All the books are atmospheric, presenting Eastport very much as it is, perhaps a bit busier. Eastport was once a vast shipping center with its deep harbor. Those days are long gone. 

Death by Chocolate Marshmallow Pie is another enjoyable book in the series, but in some ways has the feeling of an ending. One significant character leaves, and many plot loose ends are wrapped up. I sincerely hope not. I will miss my visits to Eastport if so. 

Thanks to NetGalley.com and Kensington Books for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING 4 Stars

Friday, April 7, 2023

Plucky Heroine and German Spies

PLAYING IT SAFE (Electra McDonnell #3)
Ashley Weaver
St. Martins Minotaur
May 9, 2023

The previous book in the Electra Mac Donnell series ended on the night the Blitz began in London on September 7, 1940. Electra had just finished a job for His Majesty's Government. As part of a safecracking family, she has agreed to use her considerable skills at picking locks in service to the war effort. In return, the government will exonerate them from previous crimes, as long as they commit no more. However, Electra and the MacDonnell clan are patriots and would have helped without the extra incentive.

Things have been disastrous in the East End, with nightly German bombers. Much loss of life and property has not defeated the people of London, not by a long shot. She has yet to hear anything from the straitlaced and upright Major Ramsey, who is her contact in the government and supervisor. As always, he appears suddenly and sends her to Sunderland. He tells her to get a room at a particular boardinghouse, tells her he will see her there and hands her a book on birdwatching. Electra considers his close-mouthed attitude ridiculous but has learned to trust him. Electra is very good at making contacts and friends wherever she goes and soon finds herself a part of a group of young people. When one of the group drops dead in front of her in the street, she begins to think that the members are a part of whatever mission she is on. When the Major tells her the nature of it, the two are entangled in their most dangerous mission yet.

Playing It Safe is an excellent addition to this series. I enjoy the interaction among the MacDonnell family, who have looked after her since infancy. Although her mother died in prison, accused of killing her father. She has never discussed it with her uncle, who was her father's brother. But Electra needs to learn more about her mother and seems to be on the verge of doing so. Then there is the undeniable attraction between herself and the Major, which explodes into fireworks this time, despite themselves. There is plenty to look forward to in the next book, and I certainly do!

Thanks to NetGalley and St.Martins Minotaur for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4.5 Stars