Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor

murder-in-an-irish-villageMurder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor
Series: Unknown (but I hope so!)
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Setting: Kilbane, County Cork, Ireland
Published by Kensington, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: Feb 23)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
304 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: In the small village of Kilbane, County Cork, Ireland, Natalie’s Bistro has always been a warm and welcoming spot to visit with neighbors, enjoy some brown bread and tea, and get the local gossip. Nowadays twenty-two-year-old Siobhán O’Sullivan runs the family bistro named for her mother, along with her five siblings, after the death of their parents in a car crash almost a year ago.

It’s been a rough year for the O’Sullivans, but it’s about to get rougher. One morning, as they’re opening the bistro, they discover a man seated at a table, dressed in a suit as if for his own funeral, a pair of hot pink barber scissors protruding from his chest.

With the local garda suspecting the O’Sullivans, and their business in danger of being shunned–murder tends to spoil the appetite–it’s up to feisty redheaded Siobhán to solve the crime and save her beloved brood.

Initial impressions

  • A very good mystery as well as a great setting in County Cork, Ireland.

The story

  • The O’Sullivan children–James (24), Siobhán (22), Gráinne (16), Ann (13), Eoin (15), Ciarán (10)–are continuing to run Natalie’s Bistro a year after their parents were killed in a traffic accident. The driver of the other car was drunk and is now in prison.
  • The siblings have all given up a lot to keep their family together–especially James and Siobhán. She gave up her dream to attend Trinity College in Dublin with her best friends. James has given up drink (a good thing) and has been sober for six months as the book opens. However, Siobhán still worries about him and realizes she has the responsibility for Natalie’s Bistro as well as for her siblings. The others all help out in the restaurant–cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, serving.
  • The driver’s brother, Niall Murphy, is back in town and claims he has evidence his brother is innocent. The O’Sullivans respond with resentment and anger.
  • When Niall is murdered James is the main suspect. Siobhán decides she better figure out who really murdered Niall.


  • The mystery is very good in this story.
  • I love the Irish setting.
  • I also enjoyed the descriptions of the Irish village and the various people living in the village.
  • Ms. O’Connor included a Pronunciation and Glossary Guide at the front of the e-Arc I read. I hope that’s in the finished copy because it is great to know how to pronounce words and know what they mean. I had heard about craic (pronounced crack) when we were in Ireland last year! (It means having a good time!) But others I had no idea about.
  • The book was craic reading for me!
  • The O’Sullivans really came alive for me as well as many of the other characters.
  • This had some laugh-out-loud moments. My favorite is at a wake when the body is nearly set on fire and the priest tells one of the O’Sullivans (after she nervously recites Psalm 23) that the psalm isn’t part of the Roman Catholic Mass!
  • The book is told from Siobhán‘s viewpoint and she is a well-rounded character–not perfect, but someone I would like to know. She also is not a very subtle investigator!
  • There is a bit of romance that could become more in future books.
  • I’m really impressed that this is Ms. O’Connor’s first book.


  • I don’t really have problems with this book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I’d love for Carlene O’Connor to write more about the O’Sullivans and Kilbane.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Carlene O’Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she’s wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle.

Reading Challenges

Mystery Reviews


I have a few books I read in 2015, but didn’t get reviewed. I’ve decided to group them together in three or four posts. Mysteries come first!

A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondsona-man-of-some-repute-by elizabeth-edmondson

  • A Very English Mystery #1
  • Published 2015, 306 pages
  • Historical Mystery–England, 1953
  • I really enjoyed this mystery. I haven’t read too many books written in this time period.
  • Real events are the background for this historical mystery. Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess defected to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1951. They were both part of what later became known as the Cambridge Spy Ring because they were recruited in the 1930’s when they were at Cambridge. More people were ultimately accused as more evidence came to light. Kim Philby defected to the USSR in the early 1960’s. It still isn’t known (publicly at least) how many spies there might have been–but at least five.
  • The main character in this historical fiction mystery–intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth–wounded on a secret mission and now assigned to desk duty. His job is to read through personnel files and see if he finds anyone else besides Maclean and Burgess who might be Russian spies. He isn’t very happy with this assignment, but has little choice because of his injury.
  • He is the guardian of his teenage sister and together they are staying at a castle in the country near where he is working. The Earl who owns the castle disappeared one night during a snowstorm seven years earlier. Soon after Hugo arrives the Earl’s bones are found under the flagstones of the castle chapel. Hugo (and his sister) and the Earl’s niece begin investigating the case.
  • There’s a hint of romance and the characters are interesting. The mystery is well-done and I recommend this book especially is you like historical mysteries set in an unusual time period.
  • Grade: B+

Murder Fir Christmas by Joyce & Jim Lavenemurder-fir-christmas-joyce-and-jim-lavene

  • Christmas Tree Valley Mysteries #1
  • Published 2015, 202 pages
  • Contemporary Mystery–small Tennessee town
  • I enjoyed this mystery a lot, too. When I picked it up I was afraid it might be a little “cutesy.” But it wasn’t. I thought it was well-written and I especially liked the main character–Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle.
  • She arrives in Tennessee where she grew up to take over from another wildlife agent who is retiring. As soon as she arrives she and the agent she will replace are called out to an island fire to help rescue animals. While on the island the retiring agent is murdered.
  • Bonnie must juggle the new job, new people to work and interact with while investigating a murder, helping her mother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and helping run the family Christmas tree farm. She has a special gift with animals, too! And she has to deal with the reasons she left home in the first place. It all sounds like a muddled mess! But it works!
  • A lot to deal with, but even though this is a short book, it didn’t feel too short. I do hope to read another book in the series. I want to find out more about Bonnie and the people in this book. The mystery is pretty good, too. There’s a hint of romance in this book, too. I like the Christmas aspects of the book, too.
  • Grade: B

Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N.A. Grangerdeath-in-a-red-canvas-chair

  • Rhe Brewster Mystery #1
  • Published 2013, 216 pages
  • Contemporary Mystery–small Maine coastal town
  • I liked this mystery, but it’s not my favorite of the three.
  • Rhe Brewster is a nurse in this small town and she finds a dead body at the end of her son’s soccer game. Her brother-in-law is the sheriff and he asks her to help investigate. Rhe’s husband is quite unhappy about this and I didn’t find him very likable. I also didn’t find it likely that a sheriff would ask a nurse to help in an investigation. By the end of the book they made it more formal, but I still don’t find it very likely. I did find the mystery interesting.
  • Grade–B-

2015 Reading Challenges

  • Goodreads
  • Cloak and Dagger Challenge
  • New Author Challenge
  • TBR Pile Challenge

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them?

Death & the Redheaded Woman by Loretta Ross

death-and-the-redheaded-woman-by-Loretta-RossDeath & the Redheaded Woman by Loretta Ross
Narrated by Amanda Ronconi
Series: An Auction Block Mystery #1
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Setting: Missouri
Published by Midnight Ink, 2015
Audiobook, purchased
264 pages
7 hours, 15 minutes
Grade: B+
Narrator grade: B+
Synopsis: A strange death calls on Wren to be a jewel-seeking sleuth

As someone who appraises and prepares houses for auction, Wren Morgan has seen her share of fixer-uppers. But when she arrives at her newest project, Wren is unprepared to find something she can’t easily fix–a naked, dead man.

Soon after her disturbing discovery, Wren meets Death Bogart, a private investigator and surety recovery agent who’s looking for the famous missing jewels of the Campbell family. When it becomes clear that there are actually two sets of lost family jewels, Wren and Death team up to solve not only the mystery of the jewels, but also the naked man’s murder. With their case growing more and more complex, though, will they be able to catch the killer and bring home the loot?

Initial impression

  • Immediately drew me in from the very first sentence!


  • Wren works for an auction house and as the book opens she is at a house she is preparing for auction. She discovers a body in the house and when she goes to the police station to fill out a statement she sees Death (pronounced Deeth) Bogart for the first time. (A great name for a private detective!)
  • The narrator–Amanda Ronconi–is great in this book. Wren sometimes is the auctioneer during an auction and I love listening to that narration. She did a good job with the other voices, too.
  • I like that Wren has such an interesting job and that she’s surrounded by people who know her and like her.
  • Death Bogart is an interesting character. He’s a former soldier, was wounded and carries seen and unseen scars. As a disabled veteran whose family have all died he’s trying to make his way in the world, but having a tough time. At the beginning of the book he’s living in his car, trying to get an appointment with the Veterans Administration (sadly realistic) and working as a private detective and surety recovery agent.
  • Death is searching for jewels for an insurance company. They may be hidden in the house where Wren found the dead guy. He may have links to the jewels so Death and Wren team up to search the house. Coincidentally, there are a second set of jewels which disappeared during the Civil War. So quite a treasure hunt!
  • However, they realize someone doesn’t want either Death or Wren to find the jewels after they’re shot at.
  • The details make this sound like it could be a bleak story, but it’s lots of fun. I think that’s because of Wren and Death. I really enjoyed reading about them.
  • I really like this type of cover for a mystery.


  • I don’t think the epilogue was necessary.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This is Ms. Ross’ debut book. She’s an author to watch. I’m looking forward to the next book–Death and the Brewmaster’s Widow–which comes out February 8, 2016.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Loretta Ross is a writer and historian who lives and works in rural Missouri. She is an alumna of Cottey College and holds a BA in archaeology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She has loved mysteries since she first learned to read. Death and the Redheaded Woman is  her first published novel.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog

October books on my list . . .



October books on my list . . . each month I write about the books I’ve noticed and think might be good. Sometimes they’re from favorite authors and sometimes a new author strikes my fancy.

I don’t buy all the books (not during the month they’re released at least)–since I already have way too many books to read. I’m trying to limit the new books I buy each month to the ones I’m going to read soon.

But the list I make each month helps me not forget books. The Goodreads links help me keep track of these books.

And I hope people reading my post may find some new books, too! I also hope they will point me toward books I missed.

Oct 6

Tanya Huff is one of my favorite authors. And I love that we get to read more about Torin Kerr again (from the Confederation series).


An Ancient Peace

by Tanya Huff

Series: Peacekeeper #1 (Confederation #6)

Published by DAW

Genre: Military Science Fiction

336 pages

Synopsis: The first book of a thrilling new military science fiction spin-off of Tanya Huff’s Confederation series.

Susanna Kearsley is another of my favorite authors. And this book takes place in Wales!

named-of-the-dragon-by-susanna-kearsleyNamed of the Dragon

by Susanna Kearsley

Series: None

Published by Sourcebooks (reprint; first published 1998)

Genre: Historical Fiction

336 pages

Synopsis: The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift – conveniently in search of an agent – is the deciding factor.  On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen’s baby arouses painful memories of Lyn’s own dead child/ and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping.

Who is the father of Elen’s baby? What is the eerie, monstrous creature of Elen’s dreams that tries to ensnare her son, and what makes her so sure that Lyn has been sent to protect him?  As she begins to untangle the truth behind the stories, the secret she discovers leads Lyn to an encounter with the past that will change her life forever.

I haven’t read the first book in this series, but it sounds very good and several people whose reviews I read and trust have given the first book great ratings.

the-flux-by-ferrett-steinmetzThe Flux

by Ferrett Steinmetz

Series: ‘Mancer #2

Published by Angry Robot

Genre: Urban Fantasy

400 pages

Synopsis: Love something enough, and your obsession will punch holes through the laws of physics. That devotion creates unique magics: videogamemancers. Origamimancers. Culinomancers.

But when ‘mancers battle, cities tremble…

ALIYAH TSABO-DAWSON: The world’s most dangerous eight-year-old girl. Burned by a terrorist’s magic, gifted strange powers beyond measure. She’s furious that she has to hide her abilities from her friends, her teachers, even her mother – and her temper tantrums can kill.

PAUL TSABO: Bureaucromancer. Magical drug-dealer. Desperate father. He’s gone toe-to-toe with the government’s conscription squads of brain-burned Unimancers, and he’ll lie to anyone to keep Aliyah out of their hands – whether Aliyah likes it or not.

THE KING OF NEW YORK: The mysterious power player hell-bent on capturing the two of them. A man packing a private army of illegal ‘mancers.

Paul’s family is the key to keep the King’s crumbling empire afloat. But offering them paradise is the catalyst that inflames Aliyah’s deadly rebellious streak…

Oct 13

I haven’t kept up-to-date with this series, but I want to read the ones I’ve missed as well as this book.  

the-adventuress-by-tasha-alexanderThe Adventuress

by Tasha Alexander

Series: Lady Emily #10

Published by Minotaur Books

Genre: Historical Mystery

304 pages

Synopsis: Emily and husband Colin have come to the French Riviera for what should be a joyous occasion – the engagement party of her lifelong friend Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, and Amity Wells, an American heiress. But the merrymaking is cut short with the shocking death of one of the party in an apparent suicide. Not convinced by the coroner’s verdict, Emily must employ all of her investigative skills to discover the truth and avert another tragedy.

I’ve read the first two books in this trilogy and they’re so good. I really want to see how this ends.

the-immortal-heights-by-sherry-thomasThe Immortal Heights

by Sherry Thomas

Series: The Elemental Trilogy #3

Published by Balzer + Bray

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

432 pages

Synopsis: In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort….

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

I haven’t read the first book–Murder at the Brightwell–but both these books sound really good. And I love the covers.

death-wears-a-mask-by-ashley-weaverDeath Wears a Mask

by Ashley Weaver

Series: Amory Ames Mystery #2

Published by Minotaur Books

Genre: Historical Mystery

336 pages

Synopsis: Amory Ames and her rakish husband Milo take on a murder at a masked ball in this Christie-esque traditional mystery set in 1930s England

Ashley Weaver established herself as a bright new voice in the tradition of Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander with the first in her witty and stylish Amory and Milo Ames mystery series, Murder at the Brightwell.

Following the murderous events at the Brightwell Hotel, Amory Ames is looking forward to a tranquil period of reconnecting with reformed playboy husband Milo. Amory hopes a quiet stay at their London flat will help mend their dysfunctional relationship after their unexpected reconciliation. However, she soon finds herself drawn into another investigation when Serena Barrington asks her to look into the disappearance of valuable jewelry snatched at a dinner party.

Amory agrees to help lay a trap to catch the culprit at a lavish masked ball hosted by the notorious Viscount Dunmore. But when one of the illustrious party guests is murdered, Amory is pulled back into the world of detection, enlisted by old ally Detective Inspector Jones. As she works through the suspect list, she struggles to fend off the advances of the very persistent viscount even as rumors swirl about Milo and a French film star.

Once again, Amory and Milo must work together to solve a mystery where nothing is as it seems, set in the heart of 1930s society London.

I read the first book in this series and really liked it.

guaranteed-to-bleed-by-julie-mulhernGuaranteed to Bleed

by Julie Mulhern

Series: The Country Club Murders #2

Published by Henery Press

Genre: Historical Mystery (1970’s, Kansas City)

268 pages

Synopsis: With his dying breath, Bobby Lowell begs Ellison Russell, “Tell her I love her.”

Unable to refuse, Ellison struggles to find the girl the murdered boy loved. Too bad an epically bad blind date, a vindictive graffiti artist, and multiple trips to the emergency room keep getting in the way.

Worse, a killer has Ellison in his sights, her newly-rebellious daughter is missing, and there’s yet another body in her hostas. Mother won’t be pleased.

Now Ellison must track down not one but two runaway teenagers, keep her promise to Bobby and elude the killer—all before her next charity gala committee meeting.

Oct 20

I don’t read a lot of young adult books, but I’m looking for more science fiction to read and this sounds interesting. I like the idea of different documents being used to tell the story.


by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

608 pages

Synopsis: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

This sounds very original–decopunk pulp alt-history space opera mystery?? Wow!


by Catherynne M. Valente

Series: Unknown

Published by Tor Books

Genre: Science Fiction (also described as “decopunk pulp alt-history space opera mystery”)

432 pages

Synopsis: Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own, from the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony’s last survivor, Severin will never return.

Aesthetically recalling A Trip to the Moon and House of Leaves, and told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.

Oct 27

Ilona Andrews is another of my favorite authors. I loved the first book in this series and want to read this book soon.

white-hot-by-ilona-andrewsWhite Hot

by Ilona Andrews

Series: Hidden Legacy #2

Published by Avon

Genre: Urban Fantasy

384 pages

Synopsis: Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice . . .

An interesting sounding fantasy.

wake-of-vultures-by-lila=bowenWake of Vultures

by Lila Bowen

Series: The Shadow #1

Published by Orbit

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

352 pages

Synopsis: A rich, dark fantasy of destiny, death, and the supernatural world hiding beneath the surface.

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding — at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin… if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.

An interesting sounding science fiction.

our-lady-of-the-ice-by-cassandra-rose-clarkeOur Lady of the Ice

by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Series: Unknown

Published by Saga Press

Genre: Science Fiction

432 pages

Synopsis: Hope City, Antarctica. The southernmost city in the world, with only a glass dome and a faltering infrastructure to protect its citizens from the freezing, ceaseless winds of the Antarctic wilderness. Within this bell jar four people–some human, some not–will shape the future of the city forever:

Eliana Gomez, a female PI looking for a way to the mainland.

Diego Amitrano, the right-hand man to the gangster who controls the city’s food come winter.

Marianella Luna, an aristocrat with a dangerous secret.

Sofia, an android who has begun to evolve.

But the city is evolving too, and in the heart of the perilous Antarctic winter, factions will clash, dreams will shatter, and that frozen metropolis just might boil over…

I have the first book in this series and this sounds like it could be a good series.

a-question-of-inheritance-by-elizabeth-edmondsonA Question of Inheritance

by Elizabeth Edmondson

Series: A Very English Mystery #2

Published by Thomas & Mercer

Genre: Historical Mystery

286 pages

Synopsis: Hugo Hawksworth is on the tail of rogue Cold War agents at a top-secret government facility, while back home at Selchester Castle they’re awaiting the arrival of the new Earl—an American, the long-lost son of the murdered Lord Selchester.

The town of Selchester, rich in scandal and gossip, is unsure what to make of the Earl or his teenage daughters, but they know that his sharp-tongued half-sister, Lady Sonia, furious at being deprived of her inheritance, won’t be a merry guest over Christmas.

The new Lord Selchester can cope with the strangeness of English country life, but he hadn’t expected stolen paintings—or a body in the hothouse.

What’s the link between Hugo’s investigations and the suspicious goings-on in the town and at the Castle? And will he and his allies get to the heart of the mystery before the murderer gets to them?

I’ve never read this series though I did watch the TV series and really liked that so I’ve thought of starting this series.

a-banquet-of-consequences-by-elizabeth-georgeA Banquet of Consequences

by Elizabeth George

Series: Inspector Lynley #19

Published by Viking

Genre: Contemporary Mystery

592 pages

Synopsis: Elizabeth George first claimed a spot on the New York Times bestseller list in 1994. Two decades later her Lynley novels are still at the top of national bestseller lists, proving how vast and loyal her audience is. Critics and fans alike cherish Inspector Lynley, eighth Earl of Asherton, and Sergeant Havers, his working-class partner, for their believably irascible relationship as much as for their uncanny ability to solve the most challenging cases. And in her nineteenth Inspector Lynley novel, A Banquet of Consequences, George delivers another winner as Lynley and Havers are drawn from Cambridge to London to the windswept town of Shaftesbury during one of their most complex cases yet.


The books I plan to get (and hopefully read) soon:

  • An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff
  • Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
  • The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
  • Guaranteed to Bleed by Julie Mulhern
  • White Hot by Ilona Andrews

What books are you excited about this month?

Review: The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

the-cruelest-monthThe Cruelest Month
by Louise Penny
Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #3
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Setting: Quebec, Canada
Published by Minotaur Books, 2008
E-book, purchased
311 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.

It’s spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life. . .

When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a seance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil — until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?

Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the SQ (Sûreté du Québec) is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.

She pointed to the eggs.

“Since when do rabbits have eggs?’ Ruth persisted, looking at the bewildered villagers. ‘Never thought of that, eh? Where did it get them? Presumably from chocolate chickens. The bunny must have stolen the eggs from candy chickens who’re searching for their babies. Frantic.”


“I prefer T. S. Eliot. The cruellest month.”

“Why do you say that?”

“All those spring flowers slaughtered. Happens almost every year. They’re tricked into blooming, into coming out, opening up. And not just the spring bulbs, but the buds on the trees. The rose bushes, everything. All out and happy. And then boom, a freak snowstorm kills them all.”

Gamache had the feeling they weren’t talking about flowers any more.


He reflected on T. S. Eliot and thought the poet had called April the cruellest month not because it killed flowers and buds on the trees, but because sometimes it didn’t. How difficult it was for those who didn’t bloom when all about was new life and hope.


  • One of my favorite mystery series.
  • Ruth Zardo, the curmudgeonly poet, continues to be one of my favorite characters in this series.
  • I really like Clara, but I’m not sure what to think about Peter. He seems very jealous.
  • I like that the characters all have their weaknesses and strengths.
  • The idea that the cruelest month is April–is it because one moment it’s sunny and warm and the next it might snow and kill all the new growth? Or is it because some don’t bloom because they’re afraid to?
  • Chief Inspector Gamache is such an interesting investigator. He has such a profound belief in right and wrong and what justice is. He talks and listens to people, to what they’re really saying and thinking. To so many his methods seem foolish, but he gets results.
  • Gamache’s second-in-command, Beauvoir respects and loves Gamache, but he doesn’t always understand him.
  • The fallout from the Arnot case (which happened before this series started) continues to plague Gamache. Though it does seem to end in this book…maybe.
  • In these books it feels like the journey is more important than the result. And I do enjoy the journey!


  • I thought the séance at the Hadley House was stupid for these people to do. Kind of like a horror movie where you know the characters are going to go into the basement . . . .

And a few thoughts . . .

  • So glad I’m reading this series. Really enjoying Chief Inspector Gamache and his team and the village of Three Pines. Though for such an idyllic village it has a high murder rate!
  • I read the fourth book first so now I’m ready to go to the fifth book which I already own!


  • Agatha Award for Best Novel (2008)
  • Barry Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009)
  • Macavity Award Nominee for Best Mystery Novel (2009)
  • Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009)
  • Arthur Ellis Award Nominee for Best Novel (2008)

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Louise Penny is the author of the Inspector Armand Gamache series. The first book was published in 2005 and a new book, the eleventh in the series, is due out at the end of August 2015. She lives in Canada in a small village south of Montreal with her husband and a golden retriever.
  • I was excited to see she is going to be in Washington, DC during her book tour, but when I checked I discovered that it’s already sold out! I’m sad not to get to go to this, but also am happy for her that she is popular and successful.

Reading Challenges