Friday, October 15, 2010

Dru's Cozy Report: October Reading List

Welcome to Dru's Cozy Report. I will be sharing, on a monthly basis, my views on current cozy mysteries. This month I'm at the PTA quilting numbers and tattoos.

Murder at the PTA by Laura Alden is the first book in the new "PTA" mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, October 2010

As the owner of a children's bookshop in the quaint town of Rynwood, Wisconsin, and a mother of two, Beth Kennedy has a full plate. So when her best friend, Marina, asks her to become the secretary for Tarver Elementary School's PTA, Beth can think of better ways to occupy what little free time she has. But after some arm-twisting (Marina's favorite activity), Beth agrees to come on board. The course of PTA meetings never has run smoothly, but when Tarver's unpopular principal turns up dead, Beth realizes that making bake sales wheat-free and funding class trips weren't the only things on the agenda. Then the local gossip blogs, WisconSINS, starts fanning the flames of speculation, and it seems like everyone is a suspect—especially certain members of the PTA. Beth knows she must race to find the killer before he teaches another fatal lesson.
What a great debut novel. Meet Beth Kennedy, divorced mother of two who is lovingly coerced into running for PTA secretary by her best friend Marina. Immediately upon taking over the role as secretary, the controversial principal of her children's school is found dead, murdered. Leaving the investigation up to the police seems like a good idea, until Marina is threatened. This light-hearted murder mystery will have you chuckling as straight-laced and honest Beth snoops while being prodded by Marina and when her family is threatened, Beth springs into action and a killer is caught. The witty conversations, the friendship and support and a little romance with the new guy in town made this an enjoyable and delightful read. This is a great start to a wonderful series and I can’t wait to read the next one because the PTA will never be the same again.

Visit Laura Alden's website at

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of "Murder at the PTA"

The Double Cross by Clare O’Donohue is the third book in the "Someday Quilts" mystery series. Publisher: Plume, September 2010

Nell Fitzgerald is thrilled to be able to take a break from her complicated romantic life in Archers Rest as she helps the women of Someday Quilts ladies teach a quilting class at a new bed-and-breakfast in upstate New York. Her hopes for an idyllic escape disappear, however, when the inn's proprietor is found shot through the heart—and one of the members of the quilting group is named as the chief suspect. With smart, spirited Nell leading the charge to clear her friend's name, the ladies must rely on their craftiest thinking as they embark on their most personal case yet.
They say the third time is a charm and that is what The Double Cross brings to the table. Nell and friends head up to an upstate B&B for a quilter's retreat to help one of their own lead a class. When the owner is found dead, Nell is worried that her friend Bernie will be the primary suspect, so she begins an investigation and this time with the blessing of Jesse, who is becoming more than just a friend. What a great read! The mystery kept me turning the pages as I tried to guess the killer's identity along with Nell. Nell's curiosity about the inn's guest’s peaked when hushed words were whispered; items disappeared and reappeared, and hidden secrets were exposed. While paying attention to the clues along with Nell, another mystery popped up that I didn’t see coming. The author’s tone is nicely paced where you are wrapped in the warmth of the characters and the feel of the setting. This was an enjoyable read that was pieced together nicely. I'm especially looking forward to the next book in this series.

Visit Clare O'Donohue's website at

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of "The Double Cross"

A Deadly Row by Casey Mayes is the first in the new "Mystery By The Numbers" mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, September 2010

Savannah is happily churning out some tricky puzzles in the rural beauty of North Carolina when a call comes for her husband, Zach—a retired police chief who now does consulting work. The Charlotte police need his help, and Savannah goes along for the ride—to support her loving hubby. Mayor Grady Winslow has been receiving sinister threats from a killer. The clues show that Winslow is intended to be the next victim in a twisted game. Savannah gets bumped from supporting role to key player as this is one puzzle she might be able to solve—before the next box to be filled is the mayor's coffin.
This was a great read. We are introduced to Zach Stone, medically retired from the police and his wife Savannah who creates puzzles for newspapers. Zach, now consultant for the police, is asked to come back to Charlotte to help solve a murder, especially since the mayor may be the next victim. I liked how the plot was played out as each turn of the page revealed more clues as to the identity of the killer. I had my suspect and enjoyed watching the author put several red herrings to throw me off. It was fun meeting Savannah's uncle and figuring out the mystery of the hotel owner who was very gracious towards the Stones. A good plot and likable characters made this a fun read. I'm looking forward to solving more adventures with Zach and Savannah.

Visit Casey Mayes' website at

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of "A Deadly Row"

Driven to Ink by Karen E. Olson is the third book in the "Tattoo Shop" mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, September 2010

Las Vegas is a rocking place where impersonators of the legendary Rat Pack—Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.—are alive and well and performing nightly at clubs all over town. Except they're not all. Alive, that is. When Brett lends her car to Sylvia Coleman and Bernie Applebaum for a drive-through wedding, she's not expecting to get it back with a dead body in the trunk—much less one who looks like Dean Martin and sports a clip cord from a tattoo machine around his neck. As for the newlyweds, they vanish before they can start their honeymoon, so Brett and Jeff, Sylvia's son, go undercover as bride and groom to sniff out the rat who seems to be targeting the impersonators. Whatever's going on, it's not amore.
Brett finds a body in the trunk of her car after she loans it to Sylvia. When Jeff is concerned about his mother's whereabouts, and despite her brother's request, Brett once again gets involved in a police investigation. The more Brett gets closer, the more the killer is determined to stop her. I like the growing friendship between Jeff and Brett and her relationship with her brother and friends as they helped with her investigation. The plot, the cast of characters and the non-stop action kept me turning the pages until the killer was revealed with some surprising twists. You don’t have to know anything about tattooing to enjoy this colorful story. This was a good read that left me wanting more.

Visit Karen E. Olson's website at

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of "Driven to Ink"

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