08 August 2023

More great books I've read

Earlier this year, I talked about three books I'd read and enjoyed. Here are three more I highly recommend.

A Novel Disguise by Samantha Larsen 

This book set in the late 1700s in a small English town has a premise that might sound ludicrous. Tiffany, an unmarried woman, lives with her half-brother, keeping his home. He is an unlikeable person, to say the least, but she has little choice in the matter, being (as I mentioned) single and a woman. Then he dies at home. Fearing she is about to be cast out of her home, and knowing she and her brother look a lot alike, she secretly buries him, then dons a disguise, and pretends to be him, going to his work every day. (He's a librarian at the manor home in town.) The premise sounds unbelievable, like farce, but damn if the author didn't pull it off.

The murder mystery (because of course there's a murder (maybe more than one)) has a lot of fun twists that made me laugh aloud and propelled me to keep turning the pages. The characters were interesting with good voices. The book has a solid ending. I did see the solution coming, but I don't think everyone will. And I didn't mind having guessed correctly. (Oh, and if you're thinking Tiffany is a modern name, an anachronism, it's actually not. It was a popular name at the time.)

The author addresses important social issues--sexism, classism, and racism--without coming off as preachy. And if you like a little romance in your crime stories, this one has a budding one. The book, which came out in May of this year, is the author's first crime novel (she's previously written romance under another name), and I'm delighted it won't be her last. It's book one in the Lady Librarian series published by Crooked Lane. May there be many more.

Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry

Divorced mom Tess and her fourteen-year-old daughter Gertie move to Tess's late grandfather's cabin in the woods of a small Washington (state) town for the summer. They haven't even moved in when when, you guessed it, they discover a dead body. But they don't  just come across it. Nope. This body falls from the sky in the first of many humorous situations. While Tess is worried about how this murder mystery will impact Gertie (who is thrilled to land an internship at the morgue), Tess isn't exactly unhappy about getting up close and personal with this mystery herself. You see, she's a successful thriller author, and she loves using things from her real life (be it research she conducts or bodies that fall from the sky) in her books. Less thrilled is the town police chief, who strongly resembles Tess's series hero, Detective Gonzalez, and who wishes she would keep her nose out of his business--and stop comparing him to Detective Gonzalez.

We encounter a lot of cozy-mystery tropes in this book, but that's okay because the author's voice is delightful and witty. She made me laugh aloud. The mystery is well plotted and interesting, even if it is over the top. Heck, it's because it's over the top that it works so well. The book came out last year from Poisoned Pen Press, and this spring it won the inaugural Lilian Jackson Braun Memorial Prize. It's book one in the By the Book Mysteries series.

Books two and three have come out already, but, sigh, the publisher will not be continuing the series beyond there. I know some of you may not want to pick this book up because there are only three books in the series, but I'd reconsider. Don't deprive yourself of the happiness reading this book will bring you. It's plain old fun.

Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes

Imagine a secret college where you can go to learn not only to kill the person you hate (if they deserve it) but how to get away with it--or die trying. Set in 1950, the dean of this college (in an undisclosed location, of course) has penned a book about his school and three of its students, and the book you're reading is the book the dean has written. (Meta? Oh, yes.)

This book is incredibly witty and clever. It has a strong plot with interesting details baked in, complex characters, and a setting readers who love college towns will wish they could see. The book's concept is so good, I wish I'd thought of it. Overall, it's a delightful read. 

The book came out in February of this year from Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, and of all the books I've read this year that have been published this year, it's my favorite. If you like audio books, then definitely listen, because the readers (Simon Vance and Neil Patrick Harris) are great. Oh, and if you're thinking, Rupert Holmes, Rupert Holmes, where do I know this author from? Well, he's written a lot before--he's even won the Edgar Award--but you might have recognized his name from "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)." Is that song now in your head? You're welcome. (Hey, I'm not going to feel bad. I like that song.)


  1. I will second your recommendation of the first two books. They are both delightful. So I will have to go check out the third book. Maybe on audio since that sounds like a winner.

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Mark.

  2. Super! I love your suggestions, Barb - usually they fit my taste to a tee! Thanks for these, and I'll garner some of my own soon for a post.

  3. I have GOT to read "A Novel Disguise" ASAP. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome, Eve. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  4. Adding the Tamara Berry book to my TBR. You have yet to steer me wrong!


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