End Me a Tenor by Joelle Charbonneau – Book Review

End Me a Tenor by Joelle Charbonneau
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

End Me a Tenor is the second in the Glee Club Mystery series. I have previously reviewed the first book in the series, Murder for Choir.

After months of coaching the Prospect Glen show choir, Paige is finally starting to get the hang of things, at least a little. So when she’s told that she needs to help her students learn an entirely new number in a scarily short amount of time or risk losing her job, she understandably panics a bit. Of course, things aren’t all bad, Paige is getting an amazing career opportunity singing in a production of the Messiah with an amazing tenor, David Richard. Paige runs into David exactly three times: first, he is being punched in the face by the maestra; second, he insults her; third, he takes a sip from his water bottle and falls down dead. Now Paige needs to practice for the role of a lifetime, try to keep her day job, and do her best to solve a murder before she becomes the next victim.

The first book in this series, Murder for Choir, was very enjoyable, but with End Me a Tenor Charbonneau has really hit her stride. She’s got the cozy thing down pat, while still maintaining some of her own voice, so recognizable from the Rebecca Robbins skating series. It would be quite helpful to read Murder for Choir first, because it introduces Paige and a number of important (and vibrant) secondary characters, but if you pick up End Me a Tenor on its own you won’t get lost, by any means.

If you’re in the mood for a fun new cozy series, I highly recommend Charbonneau’s Glee Club Mystery series.

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Source: Publisher.
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A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd – Book Review

A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks

This is the third book in the Bess Crawford series. I previously reviewed the first two books, A Duty to the Dead  and An Impartial Witness.

Newly home on Christmas leave, Bess finds a woman huddled on her doorstep, a huge bruise spreading across her face. Bess is not one to ignore anyone in trouble, so she invites the woman – Lydia – in and even agrees to return home with her, to act as a buffer between Lydia and her husband. While staying with Lydia’s husband’s family, a family friend also staying at the house is found mysteriously dead after accidentally spilling a huge secret. Suddenly everyone, including Bess, is a suspect and Bess’s involvement in the case could make her a potential victim as well.

Bess always seems to get herself in these situations in a slightly improbable manner and this is no exception, but the plot of A Bitter Truth actually seemed more plausible than the first two. Certainly the appearance of Lydia on Bess’s doorstep is quite coincidental, but Bess’s actions from that point on are all completely in character and believable. Who, when under suspicion for a murder, would not look further to try to clear their own name and determine the true culprit?

The Bess Crawford series continues to be one in which I gobble down each book as I get to it and look forward to the next book. The sad thing is that after the next book, I’ll be all out of Bess for the time being.  Recommended.

Buy this book from:
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Source: Purchased.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd – Book Review

An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins

This is the second book in the Bess Crawford series. I previously reviewed the first book, A Duty to the Dead.

Transporting injured troops back to England is one way to temporarily escape some of the horrors of war, although bringing home grievously injured men has horrors of its own, particularly when the men have been disfigured. One such soldier is Meriwether Evanson. Horribly burned in a plane crash, Meriwether is on suicide watch, but seems to be buoyed by the thought of his wife, whose picture he keeps pinned to his uniform. After looking at Marjorie Evanson’s picture pinned to Meriwether’s coat for days, Bess Crawford has her face basically memorized and cannot fail to recognize the woman when she runs into her at the train station, even though Marjorie is sobbing and pleading with a man who seems completely uninterested. Bess is headed back to France and war, but before long the news reaches her that Marjorie was murdered later that same day, and Meriwether killed himself with grief. Having witnessed the teary scene at the train station, Bess feels involved, and is determined to find out who murdered Marjorie.

The Bess Crawford series is really shaping up to be a good one. In An Impartial Witness, we once again find Bess pulled into a situation in which she never intended to find herself. After A Duty to the Dead, it is not surprising that Bess can’t bear to sit on the sidelines and simply trust that everything will get sorted out. She shows herself to be strong and smart, if occasionally not as cognizant as danger to herself as she should be. The highlight of An Impartial Witness, though, may be Bess’s back and forth relationship with Simon, her father’s right hand man. Their relationship is one of mutual respect, and his support for her intelligence and skills is particularly attractive considering the book is set in 1917. He is protective of Bess without being smothering or infantalizing her. I have to say, I really, really hope there’s a romantic relationship between them in the future, because I adore their interactions  and am not sure that many other men would fully accept and support the strong woman Bess is.

If I wasn’t participating in Book Club Girl’s Book Time with Bess readalong, I probably would just read the rest of this series straight through, but I’m trying to hold off so I can participate in the discussions more fully.  Still, I’m looking forward immensely to the third book, A Bitter Truth, and the soon-to-be-released fourth book, An Unmarked Grave. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Contest run by publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd – Book Review

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd
Published by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins

This is the first book in the Bess Crawford series.

As a nurse aboard a WWI hospital ship, Bess Crawford feels a duty towards her patients. Some more than others, of course. Arthur Graham was one such patient. Well loved not only by Bess, but by the entire hospital staff, Arthur was a man Bess could have pictured herself marrying – had only he survived. But even now that he is dead, Bess still feels that she must respect his final wishes and deliver a cryptic message to Arthur’s brother Jonathan, “Tell my brother Jonathan I lied. I did it for mother’s sake, but it must be set right.” While delivering the message to the Grahams in Kent, Bess finds herself drawn first into two medical emergencies and then into the mystery of an old murder. All may not be as it seems at the Graham’s estate.

In many ways, it is difficult not to draw comparisons between the Bess Crawford and Maisie Dobbs series. Both involve women who are or were WWI nurses, and both involve the solving of mysteries. Thus far, at least, Bess stumbles into her mysteries, instead of approaching them deliberately as Maisie does. In many ways, Bess is also more self-assured. Unlike Maisie she was born into the life of relative privilege and status she currently enjoys, and thus is not forced to work through the slightly angsty class mobility issues that Maisie has.

It is, of course, not fair to A Duty to the Dead to only compare it to another series, though, it must stand on its own. It does this quite well, really. The story moves along believably; it would have been easy for Bess’s entry into the Graham family mystery to come off feeling contrived, but the events of the plot flow naturally and with the character traits that Todd establishes for Bess, it would have been less believable had she not gotten involved. The first books in long-running series occasionally suffer from too much desire on the part of the author to create the character and setting (I refer partly to Maisie Dobbs, the first book in the series of the same name, which almost failed to compel me to move ahead in a series I now adore), but Todd manages to work the setting and character development into the plot so that the story isn’t bogged down in the service of the following books.

All in all, a strong and intriguing start to a new-to-me series. I can’t wait to read the next one! Recommended.

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Source: Personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney – Audiobook Review

The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney, narrated by Dan Stevens
Published in audio by Penguin Audio, published in print by Putnam Books, both imprints of Penguin

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed. But before the accident that landed him there, he’d been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier. Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he’s been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills. Still, he’s surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven’t had an easy past. Touched by tragedy, they’re either cursed or hiding a terrible secret-whose discovery Ray can’t help suspecting is connected to Rose’s disappearance. . . .

Thoughts on the story:

With The Invisible Ones, Penney created a fascinating, twisting mystery with a level of detail about the lives of the Romany people that lends the story an air of authenticity. The characterization was very well done, particularly as the cast of characters expanded with the extended Janko family. My only real qualm is that I figured out the majority of the conclusion by about halfway through the book. Now, this may have been partially because I overheard a bit of discussion between two others who had read the book and something they said may have sparked the answer in my brain, I’m honestly not completely sure if I was looking for the answer or if it just was a bit too obvious. The good news is that even with being fairly certain of the ending I enjoyed the road Penney took me down to get there.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Let me just say a two things here. First of all, Dan Stevens has a super dreamy voice. Second, he is an extraordinarily accomplished narrator, both in imbuing the authors words with genuine life and in his ability to differentiate between characters. For more, please read my review for Audiofile Magazine.

Overall:

An absorbing mystery that is only enhanced by the absolutely amazing narration of Dan Stevens. Grab the audio!

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Audiofile Magazine.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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