Two cozy mysteries and one contemporary fiction title on the review docket today! Thanks to the kind folks at Crooked Lane Books/Penguin Random House Canada I will be talking about Tara Lush’s second Coffee Lover’s Mystery book, Cold Brew Corpse, as well as Kitt Crowe’s Sweet Fiction Bookshop series opener Digging Up Trouble. Last but definitely not least, thanks to kind friends at Thomas Allen & Son, I will be talking about bestselling author Kelly Harm’s fantastic novel The Seven Day Switch. Happy reading to you all!
Cold Brew Corpse is the second title in Tara Lush’s contemporary cozy mystery series that opened with the wickedly fun and clever Grounds for Murder. As the novel opens, former Miami crime journalist Lana Lewis is still buzzing from winning a barista competition with her Perkatory coffee shop employee and friend Erica. Preparing for a much-anticipated date night with the gorgeous and kind police chief Noah Garcia, Lana feels things turning around for the better. With her parents’ coffee shop Perkatory now safely running in her capable hands, Lana feels more settled and relaxed back in her childhood neighbourhood of Devil’s Beach, Florida. Happily divorced from her journalist ex-husband, Lana feels that focusing on making Perkatory a huge success, possibly- hopefully- dating Noah, maybe getting to write some assignments for the local Devil’s Beach paper, and spending time with her widowed dad and adorable pup Stanley will round our her life. But, as with Grounds for Murder, Lana finds herself back in the not-so-welcome spotlight while investigating and researching another homicide in her small yet bustling town. When a popular yoga teacher with a large social media following is found deceased in a swamp, Lana and Noah both find themselves tracking leads and clues…and rounding up a number of possible suspects who might have had ample of reason to want the beautiful, manipulative yoga teacher out of the picture. Sharply written, with a well-done mystery hook, enticing supporting characters, fantastic touches of humour and smatterings of great romantic moments between Noah and Lana, Lush’s Coffee Lover’s Mystery series continues to be a standout in the cozy mystery genre. Kitt Crowe’s Digging Up Trouble is the debut novel in the author’s Sweet Fiction Bookshop cozy mystery series. Set in the gardening-obsessed town of Confection, Oregon, bookshop owner (and aspiring novelist) Lexi Jones finds herself in the midst of a town scandal and murder when her rambunctious yet brilliant pup Cookie quite literally unearths a bloodied weapon- as well her deceased neighbour Gil Cloutier. Twenty-seven year old Lexi Jones has already been on Detective Chad Berg’s radar since returning to her hometown of Confection. Mainly due to the fact that Lexi’s dog Cookie has a terrible knack for running away, escaping her leash…and digging up much of the townsfolks’ prize gardens. In a small town like Confection, where adorable Craftsman homes, perfectly coiffed gardens, cool microbreweries and niche markets draw tourists in, folks don’t get wound up about much: but flower competitions are fierce, prizes are hot, and Lexi and Cookie are suspect. When word rips through town that Lexi and her pup might have had something to do with their (universally disliked) grumpy neighbour’s death, Lexi and Cookie, and her bookstore, are in deep trouble. Adding to the increasingly complicated familial situations surrounding Gil’s death, Lexi is also on the receiving end of some mixed messages coming in from the handsome yet seemingly stringent Detective Berg and a friend’s gorgeous brother. Lexi’s two best friends Cat and Teri, Uncles Elvis and Jimmy, and members of her Sweet Fiction bookshop bookclub join forces to try and help Lexi solve Gil’s murder before more chaos and danger hits the town- and Lexi. While there were perhaps too many red herrings and sideways storylines- and secondary characters introduced- that took away from the flow of Lexi’s story and the core of the central murder mystery, Digging Up Trouble is overall a genuinely enjoyable mystery. Lexi and Cookie, as well the main supporting characters in the town of Confection have a lot to offer readers in future mysteries, and the sparks between Lexi and Detective Berg also hold promise for possible romantic entanglements in upcoming books! Readers who titles by mystery authors such as Victoria Gilbert, Joanne Fluke, Tracy Gardner, or Tara Lush (discussed earlier!), may especially delight in the small-town quirks and mysteries in Digging Up Trouble.
“…of course, now I realize I just sounded smug. She can’t possibly know that my days are exactly the same as hers…All she sees in Celeste is a Pinterest mom with all the time in the world and none of the cares. Someone who makes the rest of us look incompetent, with her perfect sack lunches, perfect birthday parties, perfect educational craft projects…In other words, she sees Celeste exactly as I do: a personal indictment of my best attempts at motherhood.” Kelly Harms, who you may recognize as the bestselling author of The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, returns with the incisive and funny contemporary novel The Seven Day Switch. A fascinating read that takes on elements of Freaky Friday, The Seven Day Switch introduces readers to neighbours Celeste Mason and Wendy Charles and takes us on unforgettable, sometimes wonderful, always eye-opening body-switch tale. On the face of it, stay-at-home Celeste Mason appears to be winning mom of the year- and a few moms in her neighbourhood are annoyed. Seemingly relaxed, always prepared with healthy snacks, and adorable children in adorable handmade clothes, Celeste has an adoring, kind husband and an overall picturesque life. Productivity consultant and harried mom to two Wendy Charles is one of the neighbourhood moms who cannot help but really resent Celeste. With her own husband not so much adoring as annoying and useless in the parenting department (but really handsome), Wendy kind of despises while simultaneously envying Celeste’s picture-perfect life. But what happens when an unusually strong batch of sangria at a neighbourhood gathering causes Celeste and Wendy to swap bodies and lives with the other? The Seven Day Switch is a strongly written, deeply riveting novel that carefully and thoughtfully takes apart motherhood and concepts of motherhood, parenting, and the loaded preconceptions and heavy assumptions that moms make about themselves, their bodies, how they raise their kids, how they make time for themselves and their significant others- and the dangerous slopes that moms can fall down when making judgements about other mothers. The body switch concept is executed in pretty brilliant fashion here, and Harms excels in how she portrays both Celeste (as Wendy) and Wendy (as Celeste) as they are simply tossed into the whirlwinds of each others’ lives- and into the eyes of their respective husbands and children. Memorable, insightful, and rich with moments of poignancy and reveal, Kelly Harms’ The Seven Day Switch is highly recommended reading.
I received copies of Cold Brew Corpse and Digging Up Trouble courtesy of Crooked Lane Books/Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for honest reviews; I received a copu of The Seven Day Switch courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.