Cates has included an almost overwhelming array of cozy mystery elements— magic, baking, a cute animal (the main character carries her dog familiar in her purse), a book club, and the ultimate romantic ingredient—a wedding. The good news is that she manages to blend them all deliciously.
The book begins with the nuptial preparations for series heroine Katie Lightfoot. As she crosses the last item off her checklist for a perfect wedding, thinking herself in the clear, things inevitably start to go off the rails. The officiant cancels. When she goes to an Airbnb to meet her fiancé’s family, the ex of his youngest sister shows up, obviously unwelcome and desperate to win her back by any means necessary. He ends up dead, with Katie’s future sisters-in-law as the prime suspects. When they plead with her to clear them, Katie agrees to investigate against her better judgement.
Much seems to hinge on the hideous music box the dead man offered his ex to make up. Nobody can figure out how this unappealing object could possibly be of value, and Katie must penetrate a phalanx of estate sales and antique appraisers in her search for the truth.
This is a gently told story, interspersed with wedding planning and cooking, much of the latter infused with the magical nature of the various herbs Katie uses in her preparations. Author Cates describes herself as a “master herbalist,” and provides fascinating details about her area of expertise.
Katie is a “kitchen witch” and a member of a local coven composed of ladies with varying powers. With her supernatural know-how, Katie discovers that the dead man had been using a “glamour” to make himself more powerful and attractive, with possibly fatal results. Because the powers and spells described are fairly mild and just a step away from the ordinary, the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief is greatly enhanced, which adds to the pleasures of the book. And who doesn’t love the inclusion of some good recipes at the end of the tale?
Sometimes a cozy writer makes a book memorable through the use of character. Cheryl Hollon’s Still Knife Painting (Kensington, $7.99) opens with the main character’s anxiety upon discovering a dead body. This angst is described so credibly and vividly that before you know it, you are transported completely inside her head. It’s not an easy thing for an author to create and summon such insight—it’s a bit of magic a little different from that described by Bates in her books because in this case, the magic is of the real.
This new series features Miranda Trent, who has returned to her roots (and her uncle’s old farmhouse) in Wolfe County, Kentucky, to start a business. Paint & Shine consists of Miranda leading tourists on a nature hike, where they settle en plein air to create a painting under her guidance, then return to her farmhouse for a down-home meal accompanied by moonshine pairings.
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THE MANY FACES OF MORIARTY
By 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle was a worldwide literary sensation. But he was also a man dogged by an unlikely enemy, and that enemy’s name was Sherlock Holmes. Frankenstein-like, the fictional detective haunted his creator, tormenting him, and would not leave him alone. For it must be said that Conan Doyle was a man of high literary aspirations, with a yearning to write books of both “serious” literature and psychical research. But the demand for new Holmes stories prevented him from realising this ambition. Speaking of this period in his career, Conan Doyle observed in an interview for Tit-Bits in December 1900 that “My low work was obscuring my higher.”
From an isolated cabin in a boggy Swedish forest, Will Dean conjures a fascinating series and now an intense standalone full of claustrophobia and creepiness.
STEPHEN MACK JONES
If the meaning of life is a puzzle awaiting assembly, then writers are purveyors of its pieces.
Madness on Campus
Helen Eustis’ The Horizontal Man
What About Murder?
Reference Books Reviewed
Sometimes, an idea needs time to incubate until it’s ready to grow. That was the case with Sujata Massey’s series about Perveen Mistry, a woman attorney practicing in India during the 1920s.
TIME TRAVEL, CATS, AND AN OLD MANUSCRIPT
Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and change something in your past or visit the future and find out what it has in store for you? Have you questioned what would happen if time travel was available to everyone? Could 9/11 have been prevented? Could the spread of COVID-19 have been eradicated before it ended so many lives?
I said my first words in a bar—“orange sody.” I eventually outgrew my love of Whistle orange soda, but I have a lifelong interest in bars.
JOHN COLLIER Fact & Fancy
Every generation or so, John Collier (1901-1980) is rediscovered. A poet, screenwriter, and novelist, Collier is best remembered for his short stories. His collection Fancies and Goodnights won an Edgar Award in 1952 for Best Story (which in MWA’s early years was occasionally awarded to a volume of stories).
It’s more than a book title. It’s an uncomfortable truth that pop culture’s most flawed yet-fascinating (and highly literate) serial predators seem to understand about their appeal, whether Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter or Caroline Kepnes’ Joe Goldberg.
Billionaire Bill Admits Cheating!
Bares fling with employee who wrote open letter to wife Melinda
KATIE'S CHEF IS TOAST!
Fears revenge if she gets him out of her life
BILL & MELINDA MANSION WARS!
$146B divorce bogs down over real estate
5 Things You Need to Know About Skin Cancer
Skin cancer rates are on the climb, and th sun is the major culprit. Now that summer is here, it’s time to get sun savvy to protect your body’s largest organ.
COLD VIRUS CLOBBERS SKIN CANCER!
EXCITING NEW RESEARCH!
Miranda's Baby Dreams: PUT ON ICE
The couple pause their plans to have children as the country singer gets back to work.
Y&R: VICTOR ISSUES A NEW THREAT TO CHELSEA
Meanwhile, back in Genoa City, Chelsea and Chloe return to the penthouse after dining at Society, and they’re caught off-guard by an uninvited guest.
Katie Corio – Amazing, Energetic & Body-Confident
She is a social media influencer and fitness Instructor. She graduated with a BS in Kinesiology and from there she received her certification as a NASN Certified Expert-Level Personal Trainer and a NASN Licensed Sports Nutritionist.
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Share amazing moments with wildlife in destinations around the world.
Food Blessings In A Box
Leave what you can…take what you need.