DYING TO READ by Lorena McCourtney

A pleasant cozy mystery featuring a gormless young woman who can’t seem to get a job, whose P.I. uncle has offered her a pity hire as his assistant while she continues to job hunt.

Uncle falls off a ladder while cleaning gutters, and has to spend some time in the hospital and rehab, and sends his young assistant off on a couple of small errands for his business.  One was to deliver a message to another young woman who was a live-in assistant for an older wealthy woman.  When our gal arrives, she is met by the members of a book club devoted to mysteries, who are not able to rouse the older woman to open the door, and are worried.  Our gal, having few brains and apparently no scruples, uses one of their keys which they had been given, to enter the house, and after searching the house, finds the woman dead at the foot of a set of outside stairs.

Of course, after being repeatedly told not to involve herself in this business, she involves herself in the business, gets herself kidnapped, and later locked in a closet while the house is set on fire.

Yeah, I know.  Like I said, it was a pleasant read, not the best cozy I have ever read, yet, not the worst either.  Not sure why it was titled as it was, because really the book club were so peripheral to the story, but hey, ya gotta call them something, right?

McCourtney’s bio says she is  the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of 48 Christian mysteries and romances.  OK.  Who knew?  Prolific, that’s for sure.





Another Dekker cozy mystery.  This series is pretty lightweight, perfect for gentle reading right before falling asleep.  It features the two tubbies, Lt. Decker and Sgt. Lou somebody or other.  Food obsessed, and semi retired, these two guys are the only homicide detectives on the Hillsdale force, so are retired until a dead body shows up.

However, now, Lou has a Wii, and is losing weight by the minute, much to Lt. Cy’s dismay, who is afraid he will lose his eating partner. Will Lou finally convince Cy to shed an ounce or two?  Stay tuned.

This murder occurs at an upscale apartment building, which offers meals either in the communal dining room or via dumb waiter, on a tray in their apartments.  Pretty nifty, right?

Well, an elderly resident is found with her face in her Cheerios, and the investigation is on to find out what happened.  It is not clear at first that she was murdered;  possibly it was poisoning, but how, at what point, could that have happened?

As with the other books in the series, not terribly hard on the mind, (although once again I had no idea of the murderer, but I plead inattention rather than lack of brain power.  That’s my story and I am sticking to it.)  These stories in the series are all easy-peasy, bright and breezy, with no bad words, sex scenes or even blood.  So don’t expect anything too heavy.  Just sweet bedtime reading.

If you want some idea of the other books in the series, just enter Steve Demaree in the search box on this blog to get a list of the other titles in the series which I have read and babbled on about.

SOME DEGREE OF MURDER by Frank Zafiro and Colin Conway

Very nice police procedural.  Does ‘very nice’ sound like damning with faint praise?  Maybe a little.  No, really, it was fine.  Not spectacular, but not awful, either.   It is the fifth in a series, and I have noticed that by the time you get to the fourth or fifth of a series,  you begin to lose some of the color of the initial volumes,  the back story has been told so many times the authors seem to get tired of reiterating it in condensed form, so what we have here is the mystery without much of the lives of the detectives.

Homicide detective John Tower has a couple of murders he is investigating.  Young teen girls, who don’t seem to have a connection, but with admirable digging, Detective John is able to come up with something to connect them, which makes it a serial murder, which he doesn’t want to reveal because that would bring in a team and he would lose control of the investigation.  It’s all about the micromanaging, kids.

Meanwhile, a … OK, let’s call a spade a shovel, here … a thug arrives in town to investigate one of the murders.  Turns out she is his daughter from a one night stand, a child he has never met, but knows only through photos her mother sends him.  He makes periodic payments for the girl.   Since he is a thug, a criminal, whose name maybe is Virgil, maybe not,  he will have no problems avenging the death of his daughter outside of the law.  When Detective Tower learns this man is in town and on the hunt, the race is on for Tower to find the killer first, so he can arrest him, and thus bring justice also for the other girl murdered.  Virgil doesn’t give a kreploch.  You know, Honey Badger don’t care.  Honey Badger don’t give a ……

Who will reach the killer first?  Who will kill who?  Whom?


Young secretary Tori Van Camp wakes one morning on a luxurious ocean liner where she is offered whatever a person might desire: food, clothes, recreation, and the companionship of congenial people. But Tori has no memory of booking a cruise. What she does have is a vivid recollection of being shot point blank in the chest.

I am rather taken by the idea of death being on a luxury cruise.  Just think, you can eat all you want and never gain weight.  New clothes for every meal and activity.  I could get used to that.   But drat, it is really just an interim place, to give the newly dead a chance to regain their equilibrium before moving on to whatever is next.  Gradually, the memories of the person’s life fade and become unimportant, allowing them the ability to boogie on down the road.

But Tori can’t let go of her old life and her memories, because she has no idea why someone would kill her.  She is determined to go back and find out.  It’s not against the rules, going back.  But you have to get permission.  And it is better if you go with an experienced traveler.  She is assigned a detective, a man who refuses to let go of his old life, and has returned many times to do some detective work for people who want answers to various questions concerning their lives.  Tori insists on going with him, and together they set off to find the reason she bit the Big One.

Not the most rigorous of mysteries, but lots of fun, because, really, how often do you come across a dead detective, hopping from person to person in order to get from place to place?  Kind of like Uber for the Formerly Alive.  One time, our detective, having run out of human taxis, had to take a cockroach.  Talk about cramped.

BLACK TIDE by Peter Temple

This is the second in the Jack Irish  series, and is an excellent Australian conspiracy-theory thriller with well-written characters and a genuine sense of place. This is the second Peter Temple novel to star slightly shady lawyer Jack Irish.   The first in the series is Bad Debts, which I rattled on about here.  The book is slightly overstuffed with an A-plot involving a disappeared ne’er-do-well son, a B-plot involving Irish’s gangsterish racetrack buddies, a C-plot involving his longtime pub group picking a new team to follow after their old one moved and even a D-plot with Irish finding love again after his reporter girlfriend from the first book moves away (much like the football team).

OK, so I stole that precis from a review on Goodreads.  I have to admit to getting tired of coming up with my own plot descriptions.

Irish is a likable fellow, who decides to look for the disappeared son of an old friend of his deceased father.  The guy lent his feckless son $65,000.  ha.  Yeah, parents can be so clueless.  He needs the money or will lose his house.  Well, now the son has disappeared, without a trace as they say.  Irish wants to help the older man because he knew and was friends with his father.

OK, the usual.  Bodies.  Complications.  Slightly on the gravel edge of legal activities.  All the good stuff.  Great read.  Definitely one of my favorite authors.


A cutesy cozy, small collection of murder mysteries,  using the vehicle of an old, irascible retired cop,   Chief Superintendent Williams (the semi-legendary “Williams Of The Yard”) who has sold the serialization rights to his memoirs, and is dictating them to a reporter from a leading national newspaper.

It is humorous, a little precious at times, but entertaining, and the mysteries are not bad at all.  I am not much of a fan of short stories, so although I enjoyed this book, I do prefer one longer novel-length story, so that colored my over-all appreciation.

But really, it is just the thing for when you want something light an non-taxing to the brain right before you fall asleep.

BAD DEBTS by Peter Temple

This is the first in the Jack Irish series.   Set mainly in Melbourne, once a criminal lawyer, John (Jack) Irish is now making his way out of a dark period of life that he drifted into after the death of his second wife who died at the hands of an unhappy client. Trying to deal with his pain, Jack drowned his sorrows in alcohol and became a collector of “serious debts,” as well as a gambler betting on the ponies. He does some odd work for a couple of men in the horse racing business. (I lifted that plot description in its entirety from a review on Goodreads.  I have no shame.)

I am becoming fascinated with the current trend for damaged yet lovable protagonist detective types.  Ain’t nobody mentally healthy anymore?  If you read enough crime fiction, you will be convinced that everyone in the murder-solving business is flawed, impaired and just generally messed up.  Well, OK, this isn’t exactly a recent book, it was written in 1996,  but you know what I mean.

It is a wonderfully crafted typical crime fiction piece.  The protagonist, said ex-criminal lawyer who is now learning cabinet making,  is drawn into an investigation involving high-level corruption, dark sexual secrets, hinky property deals and murder. We have  hit men after him, shady ex-policemen at every turn, and a rising body count.  And a possible romantic relationship.  What’s not to like?

The bad debt of the title refers to a former client who was convicted for a hit and run death, nothing Irish could do to keep him out of jail as he confessed to it, served time in prison, and when he got out, tried to contact Irish and when our boy finally got back to him, he was found murdered.  That made Irish start to poke into the old investigation of the matter to find that his now deceased client may have been set up for the hit, and he feels he owes his client a full investigation to exonerate him.

Good start.  I plan on reading the next in the series very soon.