Bergers Book Reviews

Murder Is Chartered (A Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery)


Author: Diane Weiner
Publisher: Cozy Cat Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 9781946063120
Pages: 180
Price: $14.95

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Susan Wiles is getting sleepy as she drives home on a winding mountain road, but she’s startled awake when something hits her car. That something turns out to be someone – Melissa Chadwick, the assistant principal from the charter school – and she’s dead. Susan calls her daughter, a detective, who immediately realizes her mom didn’t kill Melissa. She was already dead when she fell from the bridge above.

Several people could have wanted Melissa dead, and Susan puts on her sleuthing cap for another case. But as she gets closer to tracking down the killer, she finds her own life being threatened. Taking chances most sensible people would probably avoid, she finds herself in precarious positions, hoping to come out alive. But her persistence pays off, and justice is served.

Murder Is Chartered is part of the Susan Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery series. Since this was the first book I’ve read in the series, I had a hard time keeping track of characters who must have been introduced in prior books, and I wasn’t able to discern much of their stories to date. Susan’s behavior at times became a bit too much for me to believe, and I had a hard time with her recklessness. But readers who are just looking for a lighthearted mystery series will most likely enjoy her wacky investigation.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 10, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Closed Casket


Author: Sophie Hannah
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-06-245882-7
Pages: 320
Price: $26.99

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Lady Athelinda Playford has just made a curious change to her last will and testament – one that will certainly infuriate her children. But although it’s highly illogical, she is determined to carry forward with her plans. Her new beneficiary, Joseph Scotcher, is terminally ill, and may die in the very near future.

On the evening of her announcement, a murder is committed – one that makes no sense at all. And someone claims to have witnessed something she can’t possibly have seen or heard. Lady Playford anticipated foul play and had on hand Detective Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool, who rush to solve the case, as several people had both motive and means to commit this murder. When the official investigator shows up, Poirot’s inquiries are halted, but the Belgian detective doesn’t let this pompous man dictate his actions, and proceeds to unveil the murderer.

Closed Casket kept me guessing, trying to unravel this perplexing case before Poirot revealed everything. However, as Agatha Christie often did, Sophie Hannah keeps some of the important clues off the page, and it’s up to the reader to do the research for themselves. This is an interesting and engaging story, but I prefer mysteries where everything is hidden in plain sight, and the reader has a chance to solve the case, also.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 7, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

When Bunnies Go Bad (Pru Marlowe Pet Noir #6)


Author: Clea Simon
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0533-0
Pages: 264
Price: $26.95

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Pru Marlowe is understandably upset when she visits a cottage to see about rabbits chewing through wires and discovers a dead body. She had observed the man the previous evening, and although he made a bad impression, she hardly wanted to see him dead. But soon she has a new concern – where is the little dog that had been barking upon her arrival?

Pru has a unique gift – she can communicate with animals. Not in complete sentences, but in thoughts and impressions she picks up from them. When she finally has the chance to meet the missing Spaniel, and attempts to find out what happened to his owner, nothing he’s telling her makes any sense. Despite the fact she didn’t know the man and doesn’t want to be involved, his family and other acquaintances all seem to want to drag Pru into their business. When she discovers another dead body, she wonders how safe she is, and if she’s doomed to be the next.

When Bunnies Go Bad diverges somewhat from a traditional whodunit. Instead we get to know Pru a bit better, as we see and feel how she intuitively talks to the animals she’s working with. As an animal lover, I found this vicarious communication delightful. I highly recommend this book and the Pru Marlowe Pet Noir series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 5, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

A Fatal Twist (A Downward Dog Mystery #4)

A Fatal Twist
Author: Tracy Weber
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Genre: Cozy Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-7387-4878-8
Pages: 312
Price: $14.99

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Kate first meets the philandering fertility doctor while assisting a doula as part of her training course. Soon after, she realizes the man is married to her yoga student, Rachel. When Kate finds his lifeless body at a hospital event, Rachel has just fled the scene. Kate has no intention of telling the police what she saw, but soon finds out they have their own agenda.

In her heart, Kate knows that Rachel is innocent, no matter what the evidence shows. So she tracks down anyone who might have been affiliated with Dr. Dick, as he was less affectionately known. Some of her methods are unorthodox, and she leaves quite a few encounters after having made a new enemy. But in the process of her investigation, she develops a grudging respect for her new assistant who intentionally smashed her car in Karma’s a Killer, and is now working off the damages.

A Fatal Twist is a laugh almost from the word go, as Kate gets into trouble with her best friend, her live-in boyfriend, her dog, and the two puppies her boyfriend has decided to rescue and bring home. And Kate’s investigative technique is hilarious, as she pokes and prods her way to one annoyed response after another. If you enjoy zany cozy mysteries, you’ll love this one.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 20, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Code Red (Faith Flores Science Mystery)

Code Red
Authot: Janie Chodosh
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1929345281
Pages: 298
Price: $10.95

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After solving her mother’s murder in Death Spiral, Faith Flores is off to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a summer internship in science, working with genetically modified chiles. She’s never met her dad, but knows he grew up in Santa Fe, and plans to look him up while she’s there. Soon after arriving, Faith learns of a dangerous teen drug on the local market called liquid gold, which has suddenly become more plentiful.

Family matters quickly get out of hand as her search for her dad takes an unexpected turn, but they’re not as complicated as Faith’s romantic life. A new boy in the internship program, Clem, rivals Jesse back home, and she needs to sort out how she feels about both of them. And when a girl Faith meets at a party dies from an overdose of liquid gold, Faith’s antenna goes up. After watching her mom battle addiction, Faith is determined to stop others from being traumatized by this deadly drug.

Faith is a tough-minded teen who’s not afraid to tangle with the bad guys. Nothing holds her back from her investigations, even when trouble is lurking all around her. But in Code Red, we also see Faith’s softer side, as she grapples with her family discoveries. I really enjoyed this book, and I can’t wait to see the next installment in this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

February 16, 2017 Posted by | mystery, teen | Leave a comment

Dying to Tell (A Gumshoe Ghost Mystery #3)

Dying to Tell
Author: TJ O’Connor
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Genre: Cozy Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-7387-4207-6
Pages: 378
Price: $14.99

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Police detective Oliver “Tuck” Tucker has been dead for two years, but he still keeps tabs on his wife, Angela. When she goes to visit William Mendelson at the bank in the wee hours of the morning, he’s understandably concerned. And when a robber nearly kills her, he wants to know why. Soon he finds out that William Mendelson wouldn’t have been able to meet with Angela anyway – he was already dead.

Investigating William’s murder leads him back in time to WW II and Cairo, Egypt. His grandfather’s ghost arrives to help him untangle the scenes he witnesses, hoping to figure out what really happened and what it means now. As the case progresses, other people at the bank begin acting suspiciously, often finding themselves in danger. Can Tuck solve the case before Angela uncovers trouble and joins him in the afterlife?

Although a ghost, Tuck can talk to his police partner and Angela. And since they are the only ones who know he’s there, he can sneak in and out of places without being seen and report back to them on what he finds out. But because he has no physical form, he can’t touch anyone, most especially Angela. As Angela’s longing to be held grows stronger, they both wonder how long they can continue their relationship as it is.

I absolutely love the Gumshoe Ghost Mystery series, and this book is even better than the previous two. I can’t wait to read the next installment!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 26, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Karma’s a Killer (A Downward Dog Mystery #3)

Karma's a Killer
Author: Tracy Weber
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Genre: Cozy Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-7387-4210-6
Pages: 288
Price: $14.99

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While working at a fundraiser for the local animal shelter, Kate overhears two animal rights protesters arguing. The following day she finds out that one of the women, Raven, has been murdered – the other, Dharma, is the prime suspect. Now Kate has no choice but to help Dharma, who claims to be her estranged mother.

What appears to have been a random protest turns out to have deeper meaning, as Kate discovers Raven had ties to the local community. Her motives for targeting the animal shelter created problems for someone, who obviously wanted her dead. Investigating the murder puts Kate in danger, as her property is vandalized and her dog, Bella, is targeted. And when her live-in boyfriend is called out of town, Kate needs to rely on her very-pregnant-with-twins best friend for assistance. Kate needs to solve this case quickly, before she becomes another victim.

In the midst of her investigation, Kate also needs to know what happened all those years ago when her mother left the family. Although she initially wants to turn her back on Dharma, she listens to her story with an open mind, hoping to find answers to some of the mysteries in her own life.

Yoga Can Be Murder is an enjoyable cozy mystery and I look forward to seeing more of this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

January 18, 2017 Posted by | mystery | 1 Comment

Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning

Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning
Author: A.J. Low
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Mystery / Children
ISBN: 978-1-4494-7788-2
Pages: 120
Price: $7.99

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After solving the mystery in Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong, Sherlock Sam is looking for another case as Singapore’s Greatest Kid Detective. In this latest mystery, Sam and his faithful robot companion, Watson, visit Fort Canning and find a previously undiscovered sally port. But when he, Watson, and his friends approach, they all hear loud, ghostly moans coming from inside.

Sam doesn’t believe in ghosts, but can he prove the strange sounds he hears aren’t ghoulish in origin? Taking his father and Watson along for another visit, he determines to crack this case. Using Watson’s superior computer skills, he will attempt to gather evidence. But will the moans chase them all off, as before?

Sherlock Sam and Watson make a terrific comic duo, as Watson’s sarcasm adds humor to this delightful mystery. Kids will love Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 13, 2016 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong

sherlock-sam-and-the-missing-heirloom-in-katong
Author: A.J. Low
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Children / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4494-7789-9
Pages: 112
Price: $7.99

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Samuel Tan Cher Lock (aka Sherlock Sam) is hungry, and Auntie Kim Lian’s heirloom cookbook is missing. If Sherlock Sam is going to enjoy ayam buah keluak for dinner, she needs to find it – and quickly! Since Auntie has no idea where she last had it, Sherlock Sam is determined to retrace her steps.

Checking all the cabinets in the kitchen fails to turn up the cookbook, so the group heads out to various places, attempting to figure out where the missing heirloom might be hiding. With the help of his sarcastic and very humorous computer and some of his friends, Sherlock Sam uses deductive reasoning and finally locates the missing cookbook.

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong is a fun mystery with a taste of Singapore. Featuring a great kid detective and his gang of helpers, this story is logical from beginning to end. Children will enjoy solving this mystery along with Sherlock Sam. But, unfortunately, they will only be able to imagine the yummy food Sam is enjoying.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 9, 2016 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Museum Mysteries: The Case of the Stolen Sculpture

the-case-of-the-stolen-sculpture
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Middle grade / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4342-9690-0
Pages: 128
Price: $6.95

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Clementine Wim is devastated when the statue of Gudea turns up missing. Luckily for the Capitol City Art Museum, the insurance policy will reimburse them well for the statue. In fact, the reimbursement is so large it will pay for a new education wing that Dr. Carbony has been wishing for. But Dr. Carbony and the others seem a bit too happy about the insurance money.

Calling on her friends Raining, Wilson, and Amal, Clementine investigates what might have happened to the statue, and who last saw it before it disappeared. When the security camera footage fails to identify the thief, they try to reason out an alternative theory. And if they’re successful, they just might return the statue to its rightful place.

The Case of the Missing Museum Archives is part of the Museum Mysteries series. The story features a diversified cast of characters that bands together to solve mysteries. Children will enjoy hunting for the missing Gudea along with Clementine and her friends.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 6, 2016 Posted by | mystery, tween | Leave a comment