Hounds of the Basket Stitch By Anne Canadeo

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Hounds of the Basket Stitch combines two of my favorite things…dogs and knitting. Rose suffers brain damage from a car accident when she was younger, but she copes well with her sister Holly’s care and her emotional support dogs. She has developed a dog rescue operation and continues her therapy with psychologists. The Black Sheep Knitters provide a lesson in finger knitting, but quickly become more deeply involved with the sisters. When their greenhouse is burned down and Holly is badly injured, the knitting friends dive in to help…and to solve the mystery. Who is the mysterious older man who worked a few days at the nursery? Why has Todd, the ne’er do well half-brother suddenly shown up after ten years? And who burned down the greenhouse and almost killed Holly? This was an excellent mystery that kept me guessing to the end! Though this is part of a series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. But do yourself a favor and read the rest of the series, too!

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Tracking Game By Margaret Mizushima

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In Tracking Game, Mattie and Robo (her K9 partner) are hunting for the murderer of a local man who was pulled from a burning van, but died of two gunshot wounds to the chest. During the investigation, one of the main suspects if found murdered and there is an even bigger surprise when they realize there is a Siberian tiger loose in the woods of their small Colorado town. Mattie is also coming to terms with her abusive childhood and moving forward in her relationship with Cole, the local veterinarian. I love the close bond between Mattie and Robo and the respect given to all animals in this book. The mystery is well-written and fast-paced. This is another winner in a great series.

The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street By Karen White

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Don’t let the title fool you…the story is set during the Christmas season, but there’s no warm Christmas feelings in the book and the spirits have nothing to do with Christmas. Melanie and her husband Jack are once again being sabotaged by Marc (who stole Jack’s book idea in an earlier story). I really enjoyed the earlier books in this series, so I was excited to see this new addition. The mystery is very good, but I disliked Melanie in this book. She has gone beyond eccentric to self-centered and blind to anyone else’s needs. Yes, she apparently has OCD, but she doesn’t seek any help because it’s always everyone else’s fault that they don’t appreciate her way of controlling everything. By the end of the book, I was tired of her immaturity and amazed at the patience of her family and friends. I felt Mellie’s problems overshadowed the mystery (and the ghosts).

Shot Through the Hearth By Kate Carlisle

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Shannon and her crew are renovating an old farmhouse for millionaire Rafe and Shannon’s good friend, Marigold. Rafe has retired from his tech empire and is happily working on inventions to help the environment. Shannon is working on a tight deadline because Rafe is sponsoring an eco conference and everything must be ready. Not only is the house being remodeled, but they are building an ecosphere (a plant-filled tower) and prepping for a barn-raising. Everything is finished and the conference has begun when things begin to go wrong. First, Rafe’s old partner (a completely unlikable character) turns up and insults Marigold and argues with Rafe. The conference is full of zany characters, egotistical snobs, and just plain crazies. Shannon and her boyfriend, Max, get involved in the investigation. Quick-paced and warm-hearted, this is a good cozy mystery to read on an autumn day with a glass of apple cider.

A Very Mummy Holiday By Lynn Cahoon

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A Very Mummy Holiday is a Thanksgiving novella of the Tourist Trap Mystery series. Jill and Greg have gone to the central Oregon coast with their friends for the holiday and to ride the sand dunes. When their friend Kathi finds a mummy in the dunes, they find out the son of the resort owners is the primary suspect in his girlfriend’s disappearance. There are also a group of creepy tough guys that hang out and cause trouble. Jill and Greg look into the murder and help to bring it to a close. Because it was a novella, the reader doesn’t find out what motivated the murderer, but it’s a quick-moving story in a terrific setting.

Dachshund Through the Snow By David Rosenfelt

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Andy Carpenter, reluctant lawyer, takes on a case for a police dog. Simon’s handler is ready to retire, but the force says Simon must work for another year, even though he has arthritis in his hips. Andy sues for species discrimination and Simon is retired with his partner. Meanwhile, Laurie is starting her three-month long Christmas celebration by choosing from an angel tree wish list. The little boy wishes his daddy could come home, and Laurie is determined to grant his wish. His father, Noah, has been arrested for a murder committed fourteen years earlier. The dachshund in the title is their dog (though he actually has a very limited part in the story). Andy gets the team together and begins digging into the case. I enjoy Andy’s snarky attitude and humor, the dogs, and the characters on their team. The mystery was well-done and this was another great addition to the Andy Carpenter series!

The Last Widow By Karin Slaughter

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This is the ninth book in this series, but it is easily read as a stand-alone. A doctor from the CDC is kidnapped outside a shopping center. A month later, bombs are exploded at Emory University and a Sara (a doctor) is taken to treat the injured bombers and Will, a Georgia Bureau Of Investigation officer and her boyfriend) is unable to save her. Are the events connected? During Sara’s captivity, she sees the hatred, intolerance, and ignorance of the hate group and their very real danger. The love of Sara and her family and Will was the perfect antidote to the poison the villain spewed. This story hits the ground running, and I couldn’t put it down! This story is very current, reflecting what is seen on the news all too often. I will be going back and reading the first eight books in this series.

The Shape of Night By Tess Gerritsen

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The Shape of Night features Ava, a food writer,who is retreating to a sea captain’s mansion on the Maine coast to finish her latest book and to escape from her guilt. I was drawn immediately into the atmosphere and the story. Ava loves the house, right on the cliff, with its own private beach, but she finds she is sharing the house with the captain’s ghost. She drinks way too much, so is she imagining the ghost? The previous renter left in a hurry, but Ava begins to suspect that she didn’t leave alive. Is Ava in danger from the ghost or from a living resident of the small town? This is an eerie, captivating story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Cup of Holiday Fear By Ellie Alexander

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A Cup Of Holiday Fear is a warm, cozy Christmas story…with a dash of murder to spice it up. Jules is busy in her family’s bakery, baking delicious-sounding pastries and breads for the holiday season. It’s her first year back home in several years, and Jules is enjoying the town’s many Christmas events. During a Dickens dinner, things go awry and an unpleasant person is found stabbed. The more Jules hears, the more the circle of suspects grows. She is also missing her husband, who hasn’t come home with her. If you’re looking for a cozy mystery to read while sipping peppermint cocoa, be sure to read this one. As a bonus, some of the recipes are included at the end.

Christmas Cow Bells By Mollie Cox Bryan

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Brynn has moved to a small farm in the Blue Ridge mountains to begin her life as a cheese maker. The plans had been made before she broke up with her cheating fiancé, but Brynn goes ahead and is settling in with her three Devon Red cows and getting to know the members of the community. Many are welcoming, but a few don’t like the newcomers. She is becoming friends with her neighbor when she awakens one night to a fire next door and her friend dies. Then she becomes the brunt of harassment and she and her friends are determined to figure out what is happening. They manage to stir things up and bring about the conclusion. This was a good mystery, but unbalanced in its portrayal of the characters. The men were nearly all condescending or antagonistic and, though they solved the mystery, given very little attention. When a better side was shown to the men, it was generally due to the influence of a wife. The women were portrayed as welcoming and open to new ways and intelligent. Just a little heavy-handed for me, but the basic story was well-written and I loved the cows!