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Cozy Mysteries
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Cozy Mysteries

By 49thShelf
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There is usually some argument about the confines of the "cozy mystery" subgenre—Louise Penny's Three Pines mysteries have the village setting, but the world creeps in, and someone ends up stabbed in the boulangerie. But we're playing fast and loose with genre today, and coming up with great books that seem to fall within the range. The perfect kind of reading for a winter's night!
It Begins In Betrayal

It Begins In Betrayal

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

The fourth book in what the Globe and Mail has proclaimed “a terrific series” by “a writer to watch.”

Summer descends over the picturesque King’s Cove as Darling and Lane’s mutual affection blossoms. But their respite from solving crime is cut short when a British government official arrives in Nelson to compel Darling to return to England for questioning about the death of a rear gunner under his command in 1943.

In Darling’s absence, Ames oversees the investigation into the suspici …

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Safe as Houses

Safe as Houses

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Liz Ryerson believes that Hillcrest Village, her Toronto neighbourhood, is quaint and quiet, but stumbling over a corpse while walking her dog dissolves that illusion for good. When she realizes that she actually knew the dead man, a real estate broker who appraised the building she coowns with her philandering ex-husband, she becomes obsessed with solving the crime. The more instability is revealed in her life, the more she needs to find out who killed James Scott — and why.

 

Retired Classics …

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Body on Baker Street

Body on Baker Street

A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
edition:Hardcover

Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room in anticipation of the store’s upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series. But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock’s legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author tri …

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The Grave's a Fine and Private Place

The Grave's a Fine and Private Place

A Flavia de Luce Novel
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

"The world's greatest adolescent British chemist/busybody/sleuth" (The Seattle Times), Flavia de Luce, returns in a twisty new mystery novel from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.

In the wake of an unthinkable family tragedy, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is struggling to fill her empty days. For a needed escape, Dogger, the loyal family servant, suggests a boating trip for Flavia and her two older sisters. As their punt drifts past the church where a notorious vi …

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Excerpt

•One•

I am on my deathbed.

Again.

Although I have done everything in my power to survive, it has not been enough. A human being can only bear so much.

I turn my face to the wall in bitter remembrance.

Father had died suddenly at Christmas, leaving a colossal vacuum which we quickly realized would never—­could never—­be filled. In some strange way, he had been the secret glue which held us all together, and with his passing my sisters and I, never friends at the best of times, had now—­and quite inexplicably—­become the most deadly of mortal enemies. Each of us, wanting desperately to be in charge—­to gain some control over her shattered life—­found herself at odds with the others at every turn. Words and crockery were thrown with equal carelessness. It didn’t seem to matter much who was hit.

With our family on the verge of breaking up, Aunt Felicity had come down from London to sort us out.

Or so she claimed.

In case we had forgotten it, we were quickly reminded of the fact that our dear auntie was—­as the Book of Common Prayer so charitably puts it—­a woman who followed the devices and desires of her own heart.

In short, she was at best a stubborn old woman and at worst a bully and a tyrant.

Buckshaw was to be sold at once, Aunt Felicity insisted, even though in law it was mine to do with as I pleased. Feely was to be married off to her fiancé, Dieter Schrantz, with all haste—­or at least as quickly as possible—­as soon as a respectable period of mourning had been observed.

Daffy would be sent up to Oxford to read English.

“Who knows but that, given time, you might even become a gifted teacher,” Aunt Felicity had said, upon which Daffy had thrown her teacup and saucer into the fireplace and stormed out of the room.

Tantrums were useless, Aunt Felicity had told us icily. Tantrums solve no problems, but only create new ones.

As for me, I was to be taken up to London, along with my cousin Undine, to live with Aunt Felicity until she could decide what to do with us. In my case, I knew that meant sending me somewhere to continue those studies which had been interrupted when I was chucked out of Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, in Canada.

But what of Dogger and Mrs. Mullet? What would become of them?

“They shall be paid off and each given a small pension in proportion to their years of service,” Aunt Felicity had decreed. “And I’m sure they will both be very grateful.”

Dogger fobbed off with a pension? It was unthinkable. Dogger had given us almost his entire life: first to my father, then to my mother, and later to my sisters and myself.

I pictured him sitting on a quaint wooden bench by a river somewhere, dressed in a rough-­spun pensioner’s jacket, forced to beg bread from the passing tourists, who took occasional snapshots of him to send home to their cretinous relatives.

Dogger deserved better than that.

And Mrs. Mullet?

Left to cook for total strangers, she would languish and die, and we would be responsible.

Our lives were looking exceedingly grim.

Then, at the beginning of February, to make matters worse, King George had died: King George VI, that lovely man who once sat and chatted so happily with me in our drawing room as if I were his own daughter; and with his passing, the entire nation—­indeed all of the Commonwealth countries, perhaps even the whole world—­joined in the shock and sadness of our own recent bereavement.

And what of me? What of Flavia de Luce?

I would perish, I decided.

Rather than submit to a lifetime locked in some dismal pigeon-­infested London square with an aunt who valued the Union Jack more than her own blood, I would simply do away with myself.

And as an authority on poisons, I knew precisely how to accomplish it.

No cyanide for me, thank you!

I knew the symptoms all too well: the vertigo, the dizziness, the burning in the throat and stomach and, as the vagus nerve becomes paralyzed, the difficulty in breathing, the cold sweat, the feeble pulse, the muscular paralysis, the crushing heaviness of the heart, the slobbering .?.?.

I think it was the slobbering, more than anything, that put me off the cyanide. What self-­respecting young woman would want to be found dead in her bedroom drowned in her own drool?

There were easier ways of joining the Heavenly Choir.

And so, here I am on my deathbed, all warm and cozy, my half-­closed eyes moving slowly for the last time across that ghastly red-­clotted mustard-­yellow wallpaper.

I shall simply fall asleep and they will never find so much as a trace of what it was that did me in. How clever of me to have hit upon it!

They’ll be sorry, I thought. They’ll all be sorry.

But no! I mustn’t let it end like that. Mustn’t let it end with such a commonplace expression. That was the kind of platitude milkmaids died with—­or match girls.

The death of Flavia de Luce demanded something greater: some great and noble words to hold in my mind as I stepped across the threshold of the universe.

But what were they to be?

Religion had been done to death.

Perhaps I could conjure up some great insight into the peculiar electron bonding of diborane (B2H6), for instance, or the as yet unsolved atomic valences of Zeise’s salt.

Yes, that was it!

Paradise would welcome me. “Well done, de Luce,” the vast crystal angels would say, flickering with frozen fire as I set foot upon their doorstep.

I hugged myself, cuddling in my own warmth.

How comfortable death was when properly done.

“Miss Flavia,” Dogger said, breaking in upon my pleasant thoughts. He had stopped rowing the skiff for a few moments and was pointing.

I snapped out of my reverie in a split second. If it had been anyone but Dogger, I’d have taken my sweet time about it.

“That’s Volesthorpe over there,” he said, pointing. “St. Mildred’s is just to the left of the tallest elm.”

He knew I wouldn’t want to miss it: St.-­Mildred’s-­in-­the-­Marsh, where Canon Whitbread, the notorious “Poisoning Parson,” had just two years ago dispatched several of his female parishioners by lacing their Communion wine with cyanide.

It had been done for love, of course. Poison and Passion, I have discovered, are as closely connected as Laurel and Hardy.

“Looks a harmless enough place,” I said. “Like something from the pages of Picturesque England.”

“Yes,” Dogger said. “Such places often do. Horrific crimes can sometimes bleed a location of all feeling.”

He fell into silence as he gazed across the water and I knew he was thinking of the Japanese prisoner-­of-­war camp in which he and Father had been so badly abused.

As I have said, Father’s death, six months ago, was the reason we were now adrift on the river: my sisters, Ophelia and Daphne, and, of course, me, Flavia.

Undine, as originally planned, had already gone up to London with Aunt Felicity.

In the bow, her face damp with mosquito repellent, Feely lay languishing on a couple of striped pillows, staring down at her own reflection in the still water just ahead of our punt. She had not spoken since we set out this morning. The fingers of her right hand hammered out a tune on the gunwales—­one of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words: I recognized it by the rhythm—­but her face was a perfect blank.

On the raised wicker seat, Daffy sat hunched over a book—­Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy—­oblivious to the glorious English landscape sliding slowly by on either side.

Father’s sudden and unexpected death had knocked our family into a kind of coma, brought on, I believe, by the fact that we de Luces are constitutionally incapable of expressing our grief.

Only Dogger had broken down, howling like a dog in the night, then silent and impassive in the long and tortured days that followed.

It was pitiful.

The funeral had been a shambles. Denwyn Richardson, the vicar and one of Father’s oldest and dearest friends, had been seized at the outset by uncontrollable sobbing, unable to continue, and the service had to be halted until a stopgap clergyman could be found. In the end, poor old Canon Walpole was located in the next village, dragged from his sickbed, and rushed to St. Tancred’s, where he finished what his colleague had begun, barking from a rattling chest cold at the graveside like a hundred hounds.

It was a nightmare.

Bent on taking charge, Aunt Felicity had (as I have said) swooped down from London, the death of her only—­and younger—­brother having driven her into a frenzy, during which she treated us all like particularly dim-­witted galley slaves, slinging orders about like a grill cook:

“Straighten those magazines, Flavia. Put them in alphabetical and then in chronological order, right side up, in the cupboard. This is a drawing room, not a jackdaw’s nest. Ophelia, fetch a mop and pull down those spider’s webs. The place is like a tomb.”

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Glass Houses

Glass Houses

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover Paperback

An instantNew York Times Bestsellerand August 2017 LibraryReads pick!
“Penny’s absorbing, intricately plotted 13th Gamache novel proves she only gets better at pursuing dark truths with compassion and grace.” —PEOPLE
“Louise Penny wrote the book on escapist mysteries.” —The New York Times Book Review
“You won't want Louise Penny's latest to end….Any plot summary of Penny’s novels inevitably falls short of conveying the dark magic of this series.... It takes nerve and skill — …

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Another Margaret

Another Margaret

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Anxiety is the watchword at most school reunions, with side-eye comparisons of greying hair and extra pounds around the belly. Not our Randy Craig. She's more concerned with resolving a 20 year old CanLit scandal and catching a ruthless killer. While helping her best friend Denise organize their 20 year reunion at the University of Alberta, Randy's tumultuous past as a graduate student comes rushing into the present as she faces off against old ghosts and imminent death.

Another Margaret is both …

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A Tiding of Magpies

A Tiding of Magpies

A Birder Murder Mystery
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

It is in the silent spaces between the facts that the truth often lies.

When his most celebrated case is suddenly reopened, Detective Chief Inspector Jejeune‘s long-buried secrets threaten to come to light. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Lindy, faces an unseen threat of her own, one from which even Jejeune may not be able to protect her. Between fending off inquiries from the internal review and an open murder case that brings more questions than answers, Jejeune will have to rely on the help of th …

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Excerpt

The hunter was closing in. It had pursued them relentlessly, silently stalking them as they ran, splashing water all around them in their panic. Now it was here; a menacing grey curtain, hovering over the surface of the water, ready to take her. To add her to the victory it had already claimed.
She didn’t know how long she had been standing out here, hunched against the dampness and the cold. She had stopped moving when Monte left, just as he told her she should. I’ll check ahead. Better you wait here. Now, she was frozen in this place. She couldn’t go back, she knew that. But her mind wouldn’t allow her to take even one step forward. The hunter was waiting. The hunter that had taken Monte.
The inexorable approach of the fog had gradually shut down her senses. First, the horizon had dimmed to nothingness, then the waters around her had faded from her sight. Now, even the air itself seemed to have gone. Only this deep, impenetrable greyness remained, surrounding her, filling her world. The sounds had disappeared, too, sucked up into this void until there was nothing. No foghorns, no bird calls, not even the soft lapping of the waves around her feet. It was as if all the voices of the world had ceased. Only the echo of silence surrounded her now. And the terror that came with it.
She felt the life slowly ebbing from her body. She could sense the wet patches on her skin where the thin dress was sticking to it; feel the dampness in her hair and on her bare arms and legs. There were water droplets beneath her eyes, too, and on her cheeks. But those were different. Those had been for Monte, when she could still weep. Now she couldn’t even raise a single sob for him. She had no tears left.
The waves washed over her shoes. The water was deeper than before, cold and cruel. Tide’s coming in fast. We got to keep moving. But she couldn’t. She could only stand here, with the fog and the sea all around her.
It was time. She would sit down and let the rising sea gather her in. It would be a relief, from the terror, the sorrow, the uncertainty. She wondered where she would be found when the fog lifted and the light returned to this place. Perhaps someone would discover her on the distant shore, lying peacefully on her side, looking like she was only sleeping. Perhaps she would drift with the tide and be found miles away, days from now. Perhaps her body would never be found at all. Her poor parents; they would never know what had happened to the daughter they loved so much and who had never really loved them enough in return. The thought pierced her heart with sadness. And it made her stay standing. Not to fight — there was no longer any point — but just to stave off the inevitable, to hold back the insidious creeping advance of death for a few moments more.
The water was at her ankles now. Her feet were aching and the dampness seemed to be seeping inside her. The air was getting colder, but she had stopped shivering. Her body had nothing more to give. Now it was just a matter of time. I’m sorry, Monte. I can’t do this anymore. For it to end like this, after all she had gone through, all they had both gone through, in the past few days. Once, she had believed it would all end well. Monte’s notes had said so. Hold on. Be brave. We’ll make it.
But they hadn’t. You didn’t make it, Monte. And you left me out here alone, far from the shore, with the sea all around me, coming in to claim me, while the fog hides its sins.
Perhaps it would have been better to end it the way Monte had, pushing on into the unknown, the unknowable. But she knew she didn’t possess that kind of courage. So she would wait. It would be over soon. Like him, she would simply disappear into the fog. Or the water. She had heard splashing once, before the swirling grey blanket had stolen the sounds from her. But there had been no calls. Monte had gone without crying out. It was his way. Be brave.
She didn’t know why she looked up. For so long her eyes had been cast down, toward the water she could only feel, toward her feet that had gone numb inside her shoes. But when she stared ahead, a shape coalesced in the fog, slightly darker than the surrounding greyness, almost human in form. And then she saw the arm, extended in her direction as the shape advanced toward her, through the fog, across the water. Sounds were coming from the form, but she couldn’t make them out. She was frightened, confused. It seemed so lifelike, this apparition, she wanted to believe it. The cruelty of her hope stung her. The arm had almost reached her now. It looked real; flesh and blood she could grasp onto. The sounds, too, started to distill into meaning, penetrating the awful silence of the fog.
“Are you alone?”
She nodded, still unsure if this spectre was real.
“There’s no one we should wait for?”
She shook her head dumbly. It was a real voice. She knew that now. But it sounded strange, the words odd and distorted. “We have to start moving. We don’t have much time.”
And then she realized what it was about the voice, and tears started to roll down her cheeks. “It’s you. Monte said you would come for us. He knew you would.”
“Take my hand,” said the voice. “I’m here to take you home.”
She reached to take the outstretched hand.

 

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Last Lullaby

Last Lullaby

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Set in the fictional town of Paddy's Arm, Newfoundland, Alice Walsh's debut mystery novel is at once harrowing and homey, equal parts police procedural and diner gossip. When Claire and Bram's only child dies suddenly, it at first appears to be a case of crib death. But when the real cause of death indicates homicide and Claire is arrested as the number-one suspect, her friend, lawyer Lauren LaVallee, promises she'll do everything she can to prove Claire's innocence.

As Lauren combs Paddy's Arm …

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