By Kaitlyn Dunnett
Published by Kensington Publishing
Copyright © 2011
Liss MacCrimmon and the Moosetookalook crew are back in another deadly tale. Moosetookalook is hosting the first annual Maine-ly Cozey Con, a mystery writer’s conference, and murder is the Maine event.
The Maine-ly Cozy Con was lured to Moosetookalook by Liss’ aunt Margaret who knows the producer of the event. This mystery conference is the brainchild of a former town resident, Nola Ventress. Nola has a disreputable past in town, but she agreed to bring the event to The Spruces Hotel as a favor to Margaret and because The Spruces has the unusual distinction of being the site of a real life murder. Nola makes one big mistake though, in an effort to get some publicity she sends program information to a well known mystery book blogger. While the idea is well intentioned, she didn’t stop to realize that this blogger was mostly well known for her scathing book reviews; she rarely had anything good too say.
When this blogger shows up in person and begins to snoop around and hassle various writers and residents of Moosetookalook, it isn’t long until Nola realizes her mistake and Liss has more murders to investigate. This time however, Liss goes barking up the wrong tree when she is looking for a suspect. This mistake might just save her life in the end though.
While it is slightly far-fetched for such a small town to have so many murders, the reader must let themselves be taken by the fantasy to enjoy the Dunnett’s stories. Dunnett of course alludes to this in “Scotched” when she draws a parallel between Moosetookalook, Maine and Cabot Cove, Maine of “Murder She Wrote” fame. If one can allow this to pass they are in for an enjoyable murder mystery. While one would never mistake the Liss MacCrimmon series as being hard core, suspenseful murder mysteries, it can be said that she writes a solid story that has you guessing till the very end.
I have to say, I don’t know how many more murder mysteries you can squeeze a 27 year old former Scottish dancer, current Scottish Emporium owner, bride to be, and resident of small town Moosetookalook into. If I could, I would recommend a Scottish Wedding Murder for Liss and Dan. If Dunnett wishes to continue writing about Liss’ meddling, Liss is going to have to travel much more. Portland would be nice. How about Aroostook County?! I hear they grow great potatoes up there, and who knows maybe she could dig up a Skeleton while she’s digging in the dirt.
By Kaitlyn Dunnett
Published by Kensington Publishing
Copyright © 2010
The Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mysteries continue with “The Corpse Wore Tartan.” In an effort to help her boyfriend Dan Ruskin, and boost business in her Scottish specialty shop, Liss has been helping coordinate the visit of the SHAS (Scottish Heritage Appreciation Society). The SHAS holds an annual celebration of Scotland’s beloved poet Robert Burns in a different location every year, and this year they have chosen a grand hotel called “The Spruces” which was recently opened by Joe Ruskin, Dan’s father. A Successful event like this could do wonders for the Spruces reputation and financial outlook.
The arrival of the SHAS brings with it many cantankerous members with old grudges and financial problems. As expected the occasion begins to unravel quickly with a stolen brooch, a barbed and insinuation filled speech, and the death of a high ranking SHAS member. To top this all off Maine does not have the nicest weather in late January, and this proves to be no exception as Moosetookalook is hit with a double header blizzard knocking out power and anyway out of the hotel. The thief and murderer are trapped, and in addition all the SHAS members and other guests staying in the hotel will have to be lodged and fed without hope of compensation. This could spell disaster for Liss and the Spruces on so many different levels.
I really enjoyed Dunnett’s endeavor on this go round. I read the Second book in the series “Scone Cold Dead,” and while I liked it I didn’t really care for the love triangle that she introduces. I thought why does love have to be so hard? I also wondered: why does Liss have to be so hard headed and independent. Kaitlyn really handled each of those things very well in this installment, though I won’t give anything away. And as with the second novel I found the mystery easy enough to follow, although if she added one more character I think I would have needed to start taking notes just like Sherri Willett. Also, the twist in the identity of the killer at the end of this book, while so very simple, took me completely by surprise because among the many scenarios I considered I never thought of the one Dunnett concocted. Once again, this is a first rate mystery series for those, like me, who aren’t into gore, serial killers, or psychomaniacs.
As an aside, the Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mysteries always remind me of the SNL “All things Scottish” skit and the line “If it’s not Scottish, It’s Crrrraaaap!” not that they are in any way similarly hilarious, but rather it is this whole celebration of how cool it is to be a Scottish. Kaitlyn Dunnett seems to have a love for “all things Scottish” and it spills out in her Liss MacCrimmon books. While I’m not Scottish (I’m Welsh/English) her books make me wish I was on occasion.
The Original Freddie Ackerman
By Hadley Irwin
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Copyright © 1992
Trevor Frederick Ackerman is lost in a sea of humanity. His mom seems to love to get married and she has done it again. The current father, Charlie, is number three, and Trevor isn’t real sure about how this one is going to turn out. Charlie has so many step-… moms, dads, brothers, and sisters that it is hard to keep track of them.
Charlie and Trevor’s mom are going away for the summer for a work assignment combined with an extended vacation in Bermuda and Trevor has to go stay with one of his extended families’, But who? It turns out that he will be flying off to Maine to stay with two of his great aunts on a little island called Blue Isle. Trevor is not too enthused about spending the summer with two old ladies, and it gets even worse when he realizes that the only form of entertainment they have is books. There is not a television to be found in their house.
It doesn’t take long for Trevor to realize that he is going to have to make some money to buy a ticket off this island if he is going to have any fun this summer. After a little searching and dumb luck Trevor comes up with the perfect way to make some money but it involves a little planning, a little research, and a whole lot of sneaking around. It turns out Trevor’s summer is going to be better than he expected.
“The Original Freddie Ackerman” is an enjoyable book about a boy dealing with step-families, girls, and boredom. It touches on the confusion and resentment that ultimately occurs in children in mixed families while not hammering the subject painfully. The occasional lapses into alter ego “Freddie Ackerman World War II flying ace” do not add anything to the story and seem to distract the reader mainly because of the infrequency in which they occur. Outside of those lapses this is a great book that is sure to be appreciated by children 10-14.
Eternal on the Water
By Joseph Monninger
Published by Center Point
Copyright © 2010
Cobb is a teacher at a swank private school in New Hampshire. He is on a little sabbatical to follow Henry David Thoreau’s path along the Allagash River in Maine so that he can write a book about it. Before he even gets to the river he meets Mary. She is a University of New Hampshire Biologist who studies crows; she is also kayaking on the Allagash to meet up with the Chungamunga girls. Cobb is quiet and gentlemanly and Mary is forward and a bit eccentric, but they both fall in love instantly.
If only life was fair though. Mary and Cobb must make a decision that will inevitably end in heartbreak either way. They have to decide how much is love worth when you know the outcome? While their meeting was a coincidence the very reason for their having met are what make this love story so tragic and moving at the same time.
Jeff Monninger has created a wonderfully timeless love story that is as tragic, yet meaningful, as they come. He takes the reader to beautiful locales such as Wilderness New England, Yellowstone, and Indonesia. He has written around Cobb and Mary such an extraordinary supporting cast that you wish you could delve into their stories as well.
While not terribly graphic, there did seem to be a love scene overload in the first half of the book. I don’t read love stories often, and when I do, I read them because they were recommended as good stories not for the sex. In this book, however, the story and the writing are so good that it is easy to skip most of that and not miss a beat.
Stories from the Old Squire’s Farm
By C.A. Stephens
Compiled and Edited by C.G. Waugh & E.J. Waugh
Published by Rutledge Hill Press
Copyright © 1995
“Stories from the Old Squire’s Farm” is a compilation of stories originally written for the magazine “the Youth’s Companion” in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
This compilation tells the stories of six children, orphaned by the civil war, that have been sent to live with their grandparents at their farm in Western Maine which they call the old squires farm. Though these stories are works of fiction they are based on C.A. Stephens own childhood, and it is his voice that plays the part of the narrator.
These stories take the reader back to a simpler time, not necessarily an easier time, but a simpler time in America’s past that some today might still remember. These tales reflect the closeness of family and community, the value of hard work, and the importance of education and high moral standards. The fun these children have and even the trouble they get into is irrepressibly innocent. These stories are extremely enjoyable and are quite soothing to read as we are surrounded by such a stress inducing society.
For the fan of literature like the Avonlea series, or literature that harkens back to our small community, agrarian past this is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.