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Series-ously Good Mysteries – February 2015

Have the winter doldrums got you down? Why not check out the titles being published this month in your favorite mystery series.

Jenn McKinlay has book number three of the Hat Shop mystery series, entitled At the Drop of a Hat coming out this month, and it follows Death of a Mad Hatter.

Cousins Scarlett Parker and Vivian Tremont’s fashionable London hat shop, Mim’s Whims, is visited by a new customer bearing an old hat box. Ariana Jackson is getting married and wants to restore her mother’s bridal hat and veil for the occasion. The elegant item was made by Scarlett and Vivian’s grandmother over thirty years ago, so Viv is delighted to take the job. When Scarlett goes to Ariana’s office to consult about the restoration cost, she finds her outside, standing over her boss’s dead body. Though Ariana claims to know nothing about his demise, the investigation unveils a motive for murder. Now, with the bride-to-be in custody and the wedding on hold, Scarlett and Viv must find the real killer.

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King is the thirteenth title in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery series following Garment of Shadows. After a lengthy case that had the couple traipsing all over India, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are on their way to California to deal with some family business that Russell has been neglecting for far too long. Along the way, they plan to break up the long voyage with a sojourn in southern Japan. The cruising steamer Thomas Carlyle is leaving Bombay, bound for Kobe. Though they’re not the vacationing types, Russell is looking forward to a change of focus—not to mention a chance to travel to a location Holmes has not visited before. The idea of the pair being on equal footing is enticing to a woman who often must race to catch up with her older, highly skilled husband. Aboard the ship, intrigue stirs almost immediately. Holmes recognizes the famous clubman the Earl of Darley, whom he suspects of being an occasional blackmailer: not an unlikely career choice for a man richer in social connections than in pounds sterling. And then there’s the lithe, surprisingly fluent young Japanese woman who befriends Russell and quotes haiku. She agrees to tutor the couple in Japanese language and customs, but Russell can’t shake the feeling that Haruki Sato is not who she claims to be. Once in Japan, Russell’s suspicions are confirmed in a most surprising way. From the glorious city of Tokyo to the cavernous library at Oxford, Russell and Holmes race to solve a mystery involving international extortion, espionage, and the shocking secrets that, if revealed, could spark revolution—and topple an empire.

On of my favorite authors, M.C. Beaton is publishing Death of a Liar this month. It is the thirtieth titles in the Hamish Macbeth series and follows Death of a Policeman. Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is alarmed to receive a report from a woman in the small village of Cronish in the Scottish Highlands. She has been brutally attacked and the criminal is on the loose. But upon further investigation, Hamish discovers that she was lying about the crime. So when the same woman calls him back about an intruder, he simply marvels at her compulsion to lie. This time, though, she is telling the truth. Her body is found in her home and Hamish must sort through all of her lies to solve the crime.

The third title in the County Cork mystery series is An Early Wake by Sheila Connolly. It follows Scandal in Skibbereen. Summer is ending in County Cork, Ireland, and with it the tourist season. Expat Maura Donovan is determined to keep Sullivan’s Pub in the black as the days grow shorter—but how? When she hears that the place was once a hot spot for Irish musicians who’d come play in the back room, she wonders if bringing back live music might be Sullivan’s salvation. As word gets out, legendary musicians begin to appear at the pub, and the first impromptu jam session brings in scores of music lovers. But things hit a sour note when Maura finds a dead musician in the back room the next morning. With a slew of potential suspects, it’s going to take more than a pint and a good think to force a murderer to face the music.

Town in a Sweet Pickle by B.B. Haywood is the sixth title in the Candy Holliday mystery series. It follows Town in a Strawberry Swirl. When Candy Holiday, a local farmer in the quiet coastal community of Cape Willington, Maine, organizes a cooking event for her local newspaper, the town’s most prominent citizens turn out to witness the popular cookbook author Julia von Fleming serve as a guest judge. But when Julia comes close to consuming a poisoned pickle, she begins to suspect someone in Cape Willington is trying to kill her—and Candy is completely jarred to be among the suspects.  But the first taste was just a sample, and soon more jars of poisoned pickles begin to pop up around town. In the face of a pickled poisoning spree, Candy will have to track down the culprit to clear her own name.

The sixteenth title in Kate Collins’ Flower Shop Mystery series is A Root Awakening. It follows Throw in the Trowel. Now that they’ve tied the knot, flower shop owner Abby Knight and her husband, Marco, want to put down roots. When it comes to picking a house, Marco can’t wait to get his hands dirty, while Abby isn’t ready for a fixer-upper. But conflict really sprouts when they’re checking out a dilapidated Victorian and watch a construction worker take a life-threatening tumble. Since witnesses claim the man shouted for help, suggesting that the fall was no accident, the victim’s flamboyant wife hires Marco to find the person responsible. Meanwhile, Abby keeps secret from Marco her own investigation into the home’s inhabitants, a family whose off-kilter behavior has aroused her suspicions. If only Abby’s very pregnant cousin, Jillian, will stop distracting Abby with false labor pains, she can conclude her own inquiries before Marco finds out…and her case blossoms into a disaster. 

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