Murder by Death: The book that was based on the movie that inspired the blog name

Murder by DeathMurder by Death
by H.R.F. Keating, Neil Simon
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 0352397276
Publication Date: January 1, 1976
Pages: 176
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Star Books

Novelization of the screen play by Neil Simon. Various "famous sleuths" (or their somewhat thinly disguised copies) are invited by a mysterious millionaire to stay at his house and solve a who-dun-it, with the winner getting millions.


 

I re-read this almost perfectly brilliant book, based on the absolutely brilliant movie, for Halloween bingo’s Dark and Stormy Night square.

If you haven’t seen the movie, written by Neil Simon and released in the 1970’s, and you’re a fan of classic mysteries and oddball humor, you’re missing out on a classic.  It’s brilliantly written and brilliantly casted.  It’s an homage and a spoof, so if spoof’s aren’t your thing, skip it, you’ll be disappointed.  It’s the original Clue! only the characters are based on Nick and Nora, Miss Marple, Sam Spade, Hercule Poirot, and Charlie Chan.

The book was written to be a faithful reproduction of the movie, though H.R.F. Keating uses the opportunity of the written word to name drop additional authors like Conan Doyle and Sayers.  And it is an exact, faithful reproduction of the movie – until the last 5 short paragraphs where Keating, apparently, couldn’t help himself and changed the ending.  It’s a small thing, but it sets my teeth on edge because it’s a sop.

Still, I cherish this book as I do the movie.  I just need to stop at the fifth to last paragraph.

Ink & Sigil (Sigil Agents, #1)

Ink & SigilInk & Sigil
by Kevin Hearne
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9781984821256
Series: From the World of the Iron Druid Chronicles #1
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Pages: 336
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Del Ray Books

Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an extraordinary white moustache, an appreciation for craft cocktails—and a most unique magical talent. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.

But he is also cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the written word or speech apps. And his apprentices keep dying in peculiar freak accidents. As his personal life crumbles around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while trying to crack the secret of his curse.

But when his latest apprentice, Gordie, turns up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is forced to play detective—while avoiding actual detectives who are wondering why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentice’s death will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld, and he’ll need the help of a mischievous hobgoblin if he’s to survive.


The first book in a new series that takes place in the same world as the Iron Druid Chronicles, I’d heard two completely opposite views on it before I picked it up: one saying it was great, and hilarious, and the other calling it woefully juvenile.

Having read the book myself I can say: yes.   Maybe not woefully juvenile, but the humor is heavily scatalogical in places and it’s clear the author prefers his jokes to be of the earthier, less-sophisticated variety.  They weren’t my definition of funny, but I didn’t find them offensive either.

The story itself was enjoyable, though a little heavy handed thematically.  It’s a credit to the author that he uses his story space to confront a problem that gets very little serious time: the trafficking of humans, using both the fae-trafficking plot line, as well as the sub-plot of Al learning more about the human side, and doing his part to stop it and advocate for its victims.  But it, like the humor in the book, isn’t subtle.  He has a point, and a message, and he’s going to make sure his readers don’t miss it.

There’s a lot of story-building in this first book, with a couple of chapters devoted just to how Al met his business manager/battle seer, Nadia, and the flow is a bit wandering.  It works, but I noticed it; I was never actively bored while reading it, but I had mind space to notice that the story wasn’t very linear or fast-moving.

I have this 4 stars because the sum is greater than its parts.  The things I spoke about above, taken by themselves, would be turn-offs, but as a whole, the story was enjoyable.  I don’t regret buying a hardcover copy, and I’ll happily read the next one.  Though I will also hope the humor that the humor, along with the whiskey Al so dearly loves, matures.

I read this for Halloween Bingo 2020, to fulfil the Spellbound square, which is not on my card, but I used my transfiguration spell card to change from American Horror Story.

The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I laughed so hard I shook in several places.

 

I’m not quite sure what I expected this book to be – funny, I knew – but I think I was expecting more of a piss-take; Jen would try some specific Martha project, mayhem would ensue and she’d write about it. While some of that took place (Easter Eggs – which make me laugh so hard I almost fell off the bed), I was delightfully surprised that this was a year-long project that she took seriously and with the sincere hope that seeing the project through would improve her life in some tangible way.

 

I loved her conversational style of writing and as I am within a year or so of her age-wise and our lifestyles are similar, I could relate to a lot of what she was writing about. I was really angry when I realized what was happening to Maisie, as I don’t read books that make me cry. I’ve been where they were with our cats and have gone to extraordinary lengths to see them well. I’ll just leave off by saying that was truly the only low point of the book and I give her props for being able to write about the whole thing with grace and sincerity without being overly maudlin.

 

This was the first book I’ve read by Jen Lancaster, but it certainly won’t be the last.

Nearly Departed in Deadwood (Deadwood Mystery, #1)

Nearly Departed in DeadwoodNearly Departed in Deadwood
by Ann Charles
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780983256809
Series: Deadwood #4
Publication Date: January 8, 2011
Pages: 376
Publisher: Corvallis Press

This is going on my cozy-mystery shelf, even though it really doesn’t belong there, but I’m not sure where else this genre jumping book (and series) should go.

What I do know is that this book is a really fun read! Humour, a good mystery, lots of creepy, and oh wow the sexual chemistry going on! This little voice in the back of my head nailed the bad guy early on, but I was certain I was wrong. The author makes some very bold moves for a book that comes close to cozy. I have a mental picture of the ending that I’d dearly pay a bit extra to get rid of – I suspect it will stick with me awhile.

Great characters and a great setting. For those who dislike language – it’s here in all it’s glorious colours. So is the sexual chemistry – no graphic scenes, but nothing prim and proper either.

I read the Kindle edition because it was a freebie, but I’ve since ordered the paperback of all the books available in the series.

Wicked Business (Lizzy and Diesel Series #2)

This book is the equivalent of a funnel cake – it has no redeeming nutritional value, but it tastes so good and is so fun to eat!  

 

Diesel and Lizzy are on the hunt for 7 stones – each embodying a deadly sin. In this book, it’s the stone for Lust. So it’s a treasure hunt, complete with puzzles, clues and required objects. I love this kind of stuff – pure Goonies.  I like Lizzy; she’s no Lara Croft, but she’s got moxie.

 

I found the comedy to be laugh-out-loud as only Janet Evanovich can write – she can make me laugh at the rudest boy humour! A bit of danger, a bit of frustrated romance. Great supporting characters who are all interesting and likeable – Glo and her spells are always good for a chuckle.  

 

Many will find this series to be silly beyond the pale, but I knew going into this series exactly what I was in for – I’d read the Plum between-the-numbers books starring Diesel and I enjoyed them for the light, fun reads they were designed to be. If you enjoyed those, you’ll have the right expectations for this series. I just loved reading this book and I had an absolute blast until the end, and unlike the funnel cake, it’s calorie free. I sincerely look forward to the next Diesel and Lizzy adventure.

Trail of the Spellmans (Spellman Files Series #5)

I can’t say anything except this is an excellent book. Funny, endearing, interesting. As with all the previous ‘documents’ there are quite a few plot lines and Izzy Spellman does her usual excellent job at getting to the bottom of all of them. The evolution of character development throughout all the books has been interesting, humorous and at times painful to witness and bittersweet.

 

I’d have given this book 5 stars, but was personally disappointed with the resolution of one of the story lines.

 

A definite recommendation for anyone who enjoys some hilarity with their sincerity.

Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte (Tara Holloway Series #2)

I took a break from reading this book after about 6 chapters because it wasn’t holding my attention. I picked it back up after a few days and found myself much more interested in the rest of the book.

 

Slow start or short attention span, the book picked up quickly afterwards and while you pretty much always know who the bad guy is, I found myself looking forward to finding out how they catch him in the end. Lots of action, a few slapstick moments and great characters. I’ll be on the lookout for the third book.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs (Jane Jameson Series #1)

I had so much fun reading this book! The author’s wit and humour clicked with me and I absolutely loved the dialogue.

 

The mystery was, while not the main focus of the story, well thought out and not obvious. The only part of this story I didn’t like was just how nasty the women in her family are to her but at least the author allowed the main character, Jane, to have a spine and she didn’t take being treated like crap as though she deserved it. Jane gives as good as she gets and I love reading about her. I’m really looking forward to reading the next book.

The Spellmans Strike Again (Izzy Spellman Mysteries)

This is my review after reading this book for the second time.

 

This is a great series and this one might be my favourite of the four so far. As funny as the family is, it’s nice to see a few of them get put in their place, and it’s great to see Izzy evolve. I love the footnotes, and there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments.

 

This is not a typical mystery, with one major plot, but rather has many smaller plots running in parallel and I thought they were all handled really well. I’m really looking forward to the 5th Spellman case.

Smokin’ Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum Novel (Stephanie Plum Novels)

Ok – I figured out the bad guy right off the bat – but I still really enjoyed this entry in the series – probably because there was more quality Ranger time. I don’t care, really, who she ends up with – or even if she should make a choice – I just know I do like her encounters with Ranger!  Eighteen should be interesting and at least we don’t have to wait a whole year for it.