Pruning the Dead–review

This is the first book in a brand new series called Garden Squad Mysteries by Julia Henry. She writes under some other names, but one of her books I’ve read recently as J. A. Hennrikus was A Christmas Peril .

I quickly grew to love the friends who made up the Garden Squad, a fairly diverse little group, but they all shared the same love of gardening…and adventure when it came to solving the murder at hand.

My Goodreads review:

Pruning the Dead (A Garden Squad Mystery #1)Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a well-written and well-plotted starter for a new series and I really enjoyed my trip to Goosebush, Massachusetts. I may not be a fan of gardening as an activity, but I sure felt like the friends who made up the Garden Squad were good friends of mine by the end of the book.

There were a lot of secrets in the town not to mention the murder, but with the help of Lilly’s Garden Squad friends, they all played a big part in bringing down the killer. I especially loved the showdown where Lilly had gathered all the suspects a la Agatha Christie. I liked how the current police chief and the retired chief both worked together and how Lilly took the new chief under her wing and helped him any way she could. I hadn’t guessed the killer, so I just went along for the ride and discovered it as it unfolded.

Lilly was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and generous characters I’ve read about in a cozy mystery, but what I loved was that she was realistic too. It was cool that she and her friends are a little older, but these folks are no strangers to tech, since they all have their smartphones and texting network. I’m anxious to see what the next Garden Squad adventure will be!

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A Scandal in Scarlet–review

This was the fourth in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mysteries by Vicki Delany and it’s definitely become one of my favorite newer series. I love how Gemma uses her sharp powers of observation to know things about people, to the point that some think she’s psychic. It was interesting that there was an older case that involved one of the murder victims that Gemma simply couldn’t let go. The case did get some closure.

I always enjoy these characters and am anxious to return to West London, Massachusetts when the next book comes out.

My Goodreads review:

A Scandal in Scarlet (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery, #4)A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a fire destroyed the Scarlet House that was part of the West London Museum, Gemma and Jayne agreed to hold a fundraiser tea in the teashop along with an auction featuring items donated from the town businesses and individual. When Gemma found Kathy, the museum board’s chairman dead in the storage room for the teashop, she agreed to look into things because the annoying business neighbor Maureen claimed she was being blamed for the crime. After another seemingly unrelated murder (yep, Gemma found that body too) Gemma continued to investigate with her trusty sidekick Jayne (sometimes alone though) and must have struck a nerve when she, or rather the cat Moriarty, scared off an intruder after she’d closed one night.

This case had me baffled for sure! I really had no idea who the killer was, but it wasn’t shocked when I found out who it was. The showdown and subsequent boat chase was pretty awesome and exciting. I liked how Gemma and her friends had a little wrap-up session at the very end of the book in the form of a summer picnic. Gemma and Ryan are in a very good place now, so I hope that continues because even Jayne noticed how happy Gemma had been. It was fun that Uncle Arthur was actually somewhat present in this book instead of being just a text. It reminds me of Charlie from Charlie’s Angels how he was never seen. Uncle Arthur was actually not seen in the book, but he was on land and back at his home at one point.

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Elementary, She Read–review

This is the first book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series by Vicki Delany. Vicki is also known for her Year Round Christmas cozy mystery series, the first two of which I had read of her work until this past March when I read the third book in the Sherlock series. I had been wanting to get back to this first book which did help me to know and appreciate the main character, Gemma Doyle, so much better. I’ll be moving on to the second book sometime this summer or fall because the fourth one comes out in November.

Vicki also writes as Eva Gates and will have a new Lighthouse Library coming out soon. I’ve been chosen by an online review club to receive a hardback to review.

My Goodreads review:

Elementary, She Read (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #1)Elementary, She Read by Vicki Delany

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had only read the 3rd in this series so I definitely had to go to the beginning and see how it all started. Gemma is really very impressive with her observation skills, something that not a lot of people possess and I wish that the one police officer, Louise Estrada, would be nicer to her or at least I wish she’d treat her with a little more dignity than she does. Estrada’s partner, Ryan Ashburton, used to be involved with Gemma (would be interesting to read a prequel about that and when she very first came to the US) and I always figure Estrada is either jealous of that or that he got lead detective over her.

In this first case, Gemma found an old and valuable-looking Sherlock magazine in her store but when she and Jayne, her best friend, tried to return it to the woman, they found she was dead in her hotel room. Gemma of course is looked at as the prime and only suspect, especially in Estrada’s eyes. With her keen observation skills, Gemma is well suited for investigating and she figures if she’s going to prove herself innocent she’d better get started. Another body was found, Gemma felt like she was being followed and never mind that her house was broken into early on. Along with her sidekick Jayne and her date Robbie, Gemma managed to crack this case.

I definitely didn’t see the killer coming, what a good plot twist. Gemma is a little bit different than the usual sleuths in cozies seeing how she’s more formal and not really humorous but I still like her. She’s a fiercely loyal friend to have and she’s very intelligent. Jayne is really lucky to have a friend like that–and Gemma is lucky to have Jayne, her business partner and tea shop owner, for a friend as well. Some things weren’t always as they seemed in this book and I really enjoyed following the story and finding out how all the pieces fit together.

I’m hoping that in the future, Gemma and Ryan might be able to get back together and that Estrada will get over her not-very-niceness to Gemma. I’ll be moving along to the next book in the series in hopes of finishing before the 4th one comes out.

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