After having been missing for two years, Abigail Sutton’s beloved husband is found dead, having fallen prey to a carjacking. Abigail has suffered so much that she see’s no other alternative but to hit the road in search of a new life. In the small town of Spookie she finds and buys a fixer-upper house that has been empty since the death of its previous owner, Edna Summers. For the first time in a long while Abigail begins to feel peace and make new friends. However, the old house she has chosen seems to have chosen her to solve its thirty year old mysteries. As the evidence unfolds, Abigail has to decide what is more important to her: keeping safe, or laying to rest the unhappy ghosts of the past.
Bubby: This was a creepy little story! I guess I should have seen that coming, seeing as how it’s set in a town named “Spookie.” I really feel bad for the heroine of this story, Abigail. Can you even imagine? Her husband goes out on an errand one day and never comes home. And it takes two years for him to be found and give her closure. And then, as if she hasn’t had enough, she moves into a house with a mystery attached – and that mystery turns out to be a tragedy.
Sissy: I can’t imagine going through what Abigail did. And then going to this new old house and finding scraps of paper left by two missing children would just cap it all for me. I’d probably just go check myself into the nearest loony bin. But not her! She is much braver than I and does her best to see justice done.
Bubby: I had a hard time reading the parts of the book that described the little notes left by the children. They were mistreated to such an awful extent. I have no sympathy or mercy in my soul for those who abuse children. I hope that God has a lovely little corner of hell set aside just for them. And a lovely little corner of heaven set aside for the children.
Sissy: This is a bit of a dark mystery but it also has a light romance and the small-town friendliness of a cozy mystery, which balances out the darker bits. This is the first book that I’ve read by Kathryn Meyer Griffith and in looking at her other titles, this may be the LEAST dark of her stories. Some of them look pretty scary.
Bubby: I am so going to read Don’t Look Back, Agnes – just because I love the title. And because I want to sit on my couch yelling “NO! Agnes! Don’t do it, Agnes!” just to irritate my children.
Sissy: Me too. Her latest book is a vampire story (Human No Longer) that has the tagline “sometimes a mother’s love is stronger than blood”.
Bubby: My love for my children is stronger than blood. Chocolate, maybe not. But definitely stronger than blood.
Sissy: Yes, well, I was going to say (about that title and tagline) how shuddersome is that?! But then I remembered my own plotline for the zombie novel I’m going to write and it sounds eerily familiar. Kathryn Meyer Griffith and I should chat.
Bubby: Sure. Drop her an email. I’m sure you’ll be having lunch together and swapping story ideas right away!
Sissy: So, back to our present story. You end up suspecting everyone, even the people you desperately don’t want to be guilty and the ending is completely satisfying. This is a good little mystery, probably best read on a dark and stormy day, but good enough for anytime really.
Bubby: My only issue with the ending is that the series continues. I would have loved for this to be a stand-alone novel. It was all wrapped up so nicely that I don’t really feel the need for any more books but maybe I should read the next one (All Things Slip Away) before I make a judgement. On a side note, the author tells the story of this book’s publishing history on her Amazon.com page. Really interesting .
Sissy: This book was originally published in 2003 and after going through a lot of crap from the original publisher, it is finally available for a great price as a self-published ebook at Amazon.com. Well worth a read. I give it 4 bubbles.
Bubby: A nice introduction to the work of Kathryn Meyer Griffiths. 3 3/4 bubbles from me.
Click HERE to purchase Scraps of Paper by Kathryn Meyer Griffith at Amazon.com
When veterinarian Joy Hudson returns to her hometown to help care for her aging father all the trauma of her senior year in high school also returns with a vengeance. For eighteen years she has tried to erase her painful memories of her best friend’s tragic death. Now she has to face the boy she blames, who is now the handsome doctor of her parents. Joy is even more troubled by spooky occurrences in her new home, and the fear that someone is trying to harm her. Finding answers about the past and dealing with the troubles of the present will take all the courage that Joy has.
Bubby: I wasn’t sure what to think of this book after the first few pages. It seemed like it was heading in the direction of the “I used to love him but I was young and stupid and now – oh wait! I still love him! Smooches all round!” romance novels that are a dime a dozen. Boy howdy was I wrong! In this great book by Edie Claire we have romance (naturally!), mystery, a ghost and even a big fluffy dog! What’s not to like!
Sissy: Edie Claire is a good writer, and I was so thrilled to discover her (and she has written a lot of books that I now can read!). Yes, it has all the elements Bubby mentioned, plus some danger and an attempted murder. But BEST of all, it is a STAND ALONE mystery. No repeat murders, no plethora of bodies, (a new one every 6 months!) just one death that was traumatic enough to last a whole lifetime. As it should be.
Bubby: Oh, gosh. Didn’t we just talk about your issues in the last review? I think you need to see a cozy mystery therapist. My goodness. I think that perhaps someone hit you on the head with a cozy mystery when you were small and now – now you have a pathological fear of them. At any rate, this is a wonderful story. I found myself imagining how my life would have been different had my best friend died during our senior year in high school. (She didn’t. She is alive and well and happily married with two adorable boys! Hooray!) I don’t think I would have dealt even as well as Joy did. I would have ended up in the loony bin for sure.
Sissy: I agree–we’ve barely managed to keep you out of there as it is. And please note that even though I have issues with cozy mysteries, we still read and review them. And how many gothic romances have we read and reviewed (remember, those ones you hate)? Zero. So, yes, I enjoyed the plot line, the romance, the paranormal aspect that kept me guessing, and the wonderful conclusion.
Bubby: Fine. You get to choose all the books from now on. Yep. All you. Wait! What am I saying? What, am I crazy? Ha! I really enjoy a plot that keeps me interested and guessing all the way until the end. Being the incredibly intelligent and intuitive person I am, it is often too easy for me to guess the culprit far too early in the book. One of the burdens I must live with, I guess. But Edie Claire kept me in the dark – so much so that when the perpetrator is finally revealed, I found myself yelling “NO! Don’t go with — ! — is the killer! —- is the killer!”
Sissy: To answer your second question, Bubby–yes. When Bubby was little and yelled out to herself we used to sedate her and put her in a special room. But, I must agree that the writer surprised us (although Bubby’s many hours in her special room helped her hone her intuitive skills, so she wasn’t as surprised I’m sure.) Emotionally engaging, suspenseful and spooky–Long Time Coming by Edie Claire gets 4 bubbles from me.
Bubby: You know that I’m going to haunt you when I die – just for comments like that. Oh wait – you’ll die first since you’re MUCH MUCH older. Anyway, I truly enjoyed Long Time Coming. Well written, great characters, nice dog. Can’t wait to read more by this author. 4 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy at Long Time Coming by Edie Claire at Amazon.com
Lori Shepherd has grown up with two important things: her mother’s bedtime stories of a fabulous woman named Aunt Dimity and a stuffed rabbit named Reginald. But now Lori is recently divorced, her mother has passed away and she is stuck in a dead end job. As much as she wishes Aunt Dimity was real, she knows Aunt Dimity was just a fairy tale character from her mother’s imagination. Or so she believes until she is suddenly summoned to the law firm of Willis and Willis. There she learns that Aunt Dimity was very real indeed and has just died and left Lori a grand inheritance. Unfortunately there’s a catch. Lori must go to England to Aunt Dimity’s cottage and find a secret hidden in the piles of correspondence written between Aunt Dimity and Lori’s mother over four decades of friendship. Along the way Lori realizes that Aunt Dimity’s spirit is alive, well and very ready to help Lori on her new quest. Ultimately, Lori’s entire life will change as she discovers all the secrets Aunt Dimity has left for her, as well as finding true love.
Bubby: There are a few series that I just took to heart from the moment I opened the first book. The Aunt Dimity series is one of these. This first book in the series, Aunt Dimity’s Death was named one of the best mysteries of the 20th century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. This is for good reason. It starts out as a standard cozy mystery; down on her luck girl gets mysterious letter alluding to some sort of inheritance and off she goes to England to figure it all out. The twist comes in the form of Aunt Dimity herself. She is dead but her spirit lives on as she magically writes to Lori through the pages of a blue leather journal.
Sissy: The promise of intrigue piques one’s interest as we discover clues having to do with WWII, long-lost loves, and the London Zoo. Mata Hari monkeys? Hyenas on a heist?
Bubby: Pretty sure Mata Hari was WWI, Sissy. It seems that our dear Aunt Dimity has left some task undone and Lori must fix the situation so that Dimity’s spirit will be at rest. I really enjoyed the love interest in this book – he is not your typical tall dark and perfect romantic lead – in fact he has several faults.
Sissy: Like being pudgy, bespectacled, and unfashionable? Those are the ones who have money, my dear Bubby. And I sometimes like our dear Bill better than main character Lori.
Bubby: He does seem like a very sweet man, doesn’t he. I think that his father, Mr. Willis Sr., is my favorite character – he starts off as a bit of a curmudgeon but ends up being the father Lori never had.
Sissy: Yes, and it is fun how throughout the series different ladies in the local village try to entice him romantically. Now, Bubby, would you like to know my pros and cons about this series?
Bubby: I rather think you’ll tell me whether I want you to or not, so go ahead!
Sissy: I Shall start with the cons, so you can rebut. Lori is a bit of a flibbertigibbet. She also ends up with a fairly cushy life, but still complains (“Oh, I’m so flustered with this mystery, I can’t decide what to ask cook to prepare for dinner and I might have to put off my cuticle polishing appointment”). And lastly, how many murders can one village have? I live in a village-like small town, and the last murder we had was 27 years ago.
Bubby: Actually, there are NO murders in this first book. And she doesn’t have a cook. Just saying. She does seem a bit entitled in some of the other books (and yes, she does get a nanny eventually), but let’s just focus on this one book, instead of dissing the series as a whole, shall we?
Sissy: Bubby, you try to spoil all my fun! Here are my PROs for this book (and series, neener, neener). This first book is a solidly good mystery with a unique premise. Some of the books have better plots and storylines for me than others, but they are, as a whole, enjoyable. The setting in a picturesque English village is a plus, and the villagers are idiosyncratic in the usual English villager sort of way. I would live amongst them and eat currant buns.
Bubby: Ooh, yes, currant buns. And scones or perhaps crumpets! With clotted cream! Oh, sorry, I got distracted there for a moment in my fantasies of English tea time. I do love the characterizations of the villagers – the quiet horsey couple next door, the elderly twins who finish each other’s sentences and the busybody who runs both the town and her husband!
Sissy: As I said, the villagers are very English villagery. And if you don’t know what that means, dear reader, you clearly need to watch more BBC. I give this book and subsequent series 3 stars.
Bubby: It’s a great book and a great series. I adore them all. I give the book 4 bubbles.
Click HERE to buy Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton at Amazon.com
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