Murder With Puffins

Murder With Puffins

By Donna Andrews

615410

Winner of the St. Martin’s Malice Domestic Award in 1997 for her first work Murder With Peacocks, Donna Andrews brings back her zany characters and disastrous events.

In an attempt to get away from her family, Meg Langslow and her boyfriend go to a tiny island off the coast of Maine. What could have been a romantic getaway slowly turns into disaster.

Once there, they are marooned by a hurricane and that is only the beginning of their problems. Meg and her boyfriend arrive at the house only to discover that Meg’s parents and siblings, along with their spouses are all there. When a murder takes place, Meg realizes that she and her boyfriend can no longer sit by a cozy fireplace, but must instead tramp around the muddy island to keep try and clear her father who is the chief suspect.

Murder with Puffins is the perfect quickly cozy mystery for reading on cold overcast days. I am a fan of Donna Andrews, so feel free to check out my Review Page for reviews of her other novels.

Murder with Puffins is the second book in the Meg Langslow Mystery series. Meg is back and is in need of some quality alone-time with her hunky sweetheart, Michael. She decides that a winter weekend spent at her Aunt Phoebe’s summer home is the perfect romantic getaway, but it quickly turns in to a typical Meg adventure. They arrive on the island to a house full of family, a looming hurricane, and the murder of a man no one is mourning. Meg and her crazy family keep me coming back to these books. I am always guaranteed a laugh and a happy ending when I read a Donna Andrews cozy mystery, which are definitely good reasons to keep reading! I love Meg’s stubborn and blunt personality and the awkward interactions with her family members. They are all so quirky that their antics leave me giggling. The Murder with Puffins mystery is fun, the setting is dreary and wet, and the murder is an interesting one.

Andrews’ pacing is always a little scattered but the pacing of Murder with Puffins is downright frantic. This is because of how Meg handles the entire situation. She is upset at her family’s intrusion, angry at being shot at, irked at the miserable weather, and ashamed of her mother’s scandalous past. All of these points left me feeling mentally tired by the end of the story, but I was impressed by this feeling instead of discouraged. Feeling just as tired as the main character means I was immersed in the story. Plus, I was really happy a certain person is murdered in the story!

My only real complaint is how law enforcement is treated by the characters. (Y’all may have noticed that this is a pet peeve of mine) I am ok with the local volunteer force being completely clueless but I prefer the official force be treated with respect because that is one tough unappreciative job. I was not too keen on Meg covering up part of the evidence. Yes, I know she did it to protect her family but it was still a little irksome. I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s a cozy mystery!

I do recommend Murder with Puffins. It isn’t my favorite Meg Langslow mystery but it is the perfect read for a cold rainy day! Are you a fan of Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow mysteries? Tell me all about your favorite!

Lindsay

Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming

Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming

by Kathleen Bacus

19220600

WHAT DO YOU CALL A BLONDE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET?

LAST YEAR’S HIDE ‘N’ SEEK CHAMP

It’s autumn in the heartland, when football rules and homecoming royalty reigns–and full moons don’t just mean a passing high school varsity bus. But this year, Tressa Jayne Turner can’t seem to get into the ‘spirit’ of the season. Our intrepid young reporter is trying to recover from a ten day run at the State Fair. After being stalked by a psycho dunk-tank clown, all she wants is a slower pace, some candy corn, popcorn balls, and caramel apples–and a serious story she can sniff out on her own.

And guess what. She’s in luck! Eccentric and reclusive bestselling writer Elizabeth Courtney Howard is coming to little ol’ Grandville to conduct some family business and finish her latest book. So, what’s stopping Tressa from getting the goods on the mysterious mystery author–besides a blackmailing six-foot-two-inch homecoming queen candidate with all the charm of Frankenstien in taffeta, a rival reporter out to scoop the competition, a seance-hosting roommate who happens to be her grandmother, and a Natural Resources Ranger-type who could make a nun reconsider her vows? Only the fact that the skeletons to uncover are all in a closet in Haunted Holloway Hall–a house only Norman Bates could love.

I found Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun for my Nook for super cheap a few years back. I didn’t get around to reading it, which is unfortunately an all too common occurrence, until this year. When looking at Bacus’ website I realized the story had been republished under a new name and with new cover art. I am not a fan of the current cover art because it leaves the novel feeling super low budget. But I do like the new name! Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming just fits.

I’m glad I finally read Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming because I absolutely loved the quirky characters. Tressa Jayne and I share a similar smart a#* sense of humor and love for all things snack food. I love the relationship she shares with her hellion of a grandma and the reluctant friendship she develops with the towering Shelby Lynn. The characters are well developed and the storyline is intriguing. Yes, I figured out what was happening with reclusive writer Elizabeth Courtney Howard early on but I’m ok with that when reading a cozy mystery. The characters, humor, and small town setting are what make this book worth the read!

Now the characters might be a miss for you because they are all pretty quirky. I definitely do no recommend Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming for those wanting a serious read. This is not the book for you. Each character can be a little over the top and most people will quickly tire of Tressa Jayne’s obsession with food. Plus, the alliterating nicknames can get old…Hellion Hannah, Jolting Joe, etc. I even got a little sick of it. My only real complaint is the novel needed one good last edit before being published. There were a number of sentences that were poorly structured and characters repeated themselves multiple times. Shelby Lynn threatening to take her story to the other newspaper every few pages was annoying. 

There were a number of grammatical and format errors. Words appeared twice or were sometimes missing all together. The formatting was all off. Of course this was just my copy, so hopefully the glitches have been fixed with the republication. I have a number of self published friends and I’ve heard how frustrating it is to format for ebook. So just know there may be formatting errors.

Calamity Jayne and the Haunted Homecoming made me laugh and that’s what I needed! It is book 3 in the series but you do not have to read the first two to enjoy this one. However, I’ll probably read the rest of the series because I loved the characters so much! Have you read anything by Kathleen Bacus? Share your thoughts!

Lindsay

Bad Monkey

Bad Monkey

by Carl Hiaasen

Bad Monkey

Carl Hiaasen is back doing what he does best: spinning a wickedly funny, fiercely pointed tale in which the greedy, the corrupt, and the degraders of pristine land in Florida–now, in the Bahamas too–get their comeuppance in mordantly ingenious, diabolically entertaining fashion.

Andrew Yancy–late of the Miami Police, soon-to-be-late of the Key West Police–has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, his commander might relieve him of Health Inspector duties, aka Roach Patrol. But first Yancy will negotiate an ever-surprising course of events–from the Keys to Miami to a Bahamian out island–with a crew of equally ever-surprising characters, including: the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; an avariciously idiotic real estate developer; a voodoo witch whose lovers are blinded-unto-death by her particularly peculiar charms; Yancy’s new love, a kinky medical examiner; and the eponymous Bad Monkey, who earns his place among Hiaasen’s greatest characters with hilariously wicked aplomb.

I haven’t felt up to reading or writing the last two weeks…stupid grown up problems.  The good thing is that I am totally hooked on listening to an audiobook when running errands so I still managed to read a book.  I needed something funny, summery, and mysterious and the local library delivered with a borrowed copy of Carl Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey.  My friend Jen has recommended Hiaasen in the past and I’m glad I finally took her advice!

First: never turn down a chance to listen to Arte Johnson read a book.  His voice reminds me of a toned down Lewis Black, which means he’s perfect for the job!  His snappy tone and constantly changing inflections just emphasized Hiaasen’s blunt sense of humor.  I am a fan, Arte, and I will be begging you to read my books when I get published!

Life is not going as planned for Detective Andrew Yancy.  First he loses his job, then his girlfriend, and now he is saddled with an arm in his freezer next to his popsicles.   He is demoted to health inspector and all he wants to do is get off roach patrol.  He knows the owner of that arm was murdered and he’s determined to figure out who-dunnit so he can get his job back.  Its a wild adventure that involves a half bald monkey who starred in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, a motorized wheelchair insurance scam, and a hurricane named Francois.

The characters and story are completely over the top, so you probably wont enjoy Bad Monkey if outlandish antics leave your eyes rolling.  I thought it was hilarious, and it was the perfect read for my current mood.  I liked Yancy.; he is blunt, odd, determined, and I developed a surprising soft spot for the opinionated screw-up.  All the characters where eccentric and just fun to keep up with.  I particularly like how the story is laid out and was equally invested in both the mystery and the numerous subplots.  The subplot involving the spec house constructed next to Andrew’s bungalow left me laughing so darn hard that I often couldn’t breathe!  I suggest reading Bad Monkey just for this subplot.

The female characters left much to be desired.  Rosa was the only almost redeemable woman in the entire story.  The rest included a gold-digger, a sex crazed voodoo priestess, a former heroine addict, and a insane pedophile…yeah, I have a feeling Hiaasen isn’t too fond of women.  It didn’t do anything to lessen my enjoyment of the story but I’m sure it will bother other readers, so you are now forewarned!

Bad Monkey is the perfect hilarious beach read to get you ready for the summer.  Are you a Carl Hiaasen fan?  Which novel is your favorite?

Lindsay