Today is the publication day for two of my favorite authors and series. The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King is the 14th Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes book in that long-time favorite series, and it lives up to every bit of hype that has been buzzing about it for months. Killer Takeout by Lucy Burdette is the 7th Haley Snow, Key West Food Critic mystery, and it is more fun than murder really ought to be. I was fortunate to read both of these books before publication date, so my reviews are already written and ready for readers to consider below. The Mary Russell review is much shorter than my normal reviews because I simply couldn't give anything away if I wanted the reader to have the same amazing experience I had. Haley Snow's review touches upon many aspects of the book, but there are so many more sweet surprises left. So, Happy Birthday to these two fascinating books!
The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The title of this latest Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes is enough to make long-time fans, including me, of this series wring their hands and bite their nails. Murder of Mary Russell? Has author Laurie King lost her mind? Have fans not shown how much they love Mary? Well, there was nothing to do but read the book and hope for the best.
So, what to tell those who haven’t read The Murder of Mary Russell. I can tell you that Laurie King has written a brilliant book, one of the best in the series. There is so much of the unexpected and it’s all so beautifully written that I can only conclude Laurie is a genius. The characters are all cleverly written, creating a sustained interest in the scoundrels as well as the more admired, Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes. But, it is Mrs. Hudson who steals the show in this book. It so happens that Mrs. Hudson has a past, and, what an interesting past this quiet, efficient woman has. She didn’t just appear at 221 Baker St., a grown woman with no history. Her story is quite worthy of its own telling.
And, now I have to stop short of revealing the plot of this gripping story, as that would diminish the joy for others of discovering every savory, surprising tidbit that makes this book one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The only final information that I dare impart is that there is blood, quite a substantial bit, on the floor of the parlor in the Sussex house shared by Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, and Mary Russell is missing. Ready, set, read!
Killer Takeout by Lucy Burdette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hold onto your floppy hats, fans of Lucy Burdette's Key West Food Critic mysteries. It's Fantasy Fest week on our favorite island, where the wackiest of the wacky celebrations includes events such as the Zombie Bike Ride, the Tighty Whitey Party, the Pet Masquerade, the Tutu Party, and the Duval Street Parade where body paint is often a substitute for clothing. Key West is practically bursting at the seams with wall to wall people visiting for this wildest adult extravaganza, and crowds of uninhibited revelers aren't the only ones swirling. A possible hurricane is waiting off the coast of Cuba to join the party. And, Killer Takeout gives readers a front row seat to all the festivities.
While Haley Snow, food critic for the online Key Zest magazine is currently writing a lower key piece for the magazine on takeout food, due to the impossibility of doing restaurant dining-in during Fantasy Fest, she has plenty on her plate. Her mother has decided to marry her sweetheart Sam during this craziest of weeks in Key West, which has Haley dealing with arrangements that are challenging to say the least. Miss Gloria, Haley's adorable octogenarian houseboat roomie, has signed her and Haley up for the ending Duval Street Parade as parade ambassadors. Haley's co-worker at Key Zest, Danielle, is the Fantasy Fest Queen, so there are activities to attend supporting Danielle. And, she is covering some of the events for Key Zest, including the Zombie Bike Ride. All the while, Key West televisions are set on the weather station tracking the impending storm/hurricane.
With all the churning and twirling of celebration and storm, a murder is served, and, of course, Haley has her hands in the pie. Being observant and apparently blessed with good hearing, Haley hears a strange call from behind her in the Zombie Bike Ride. "Zombie down." The downed zombie isn't just down, but dead, and the victim, Caryn Druckman, is a runner-up to the Fantasy Fest Queen crown and the person Haley's friend Danielle recently had an altercation with. Haley rushes to Caryn lying in the street, but there is nothing she can do and nothing the victim tells her that can help before the paramedics take her away. Haley's boyfriend on the Key West Police Force, Detective Nathan Bransford, focuses on Danielle as the guilty party in the demise of the unpopular Ms. Druckman, but Haley knows that there's more to the story than a beauty queen gone bad. So, Haley does what Haley does best, starts asking questions and taking notes to clear her friend and find out who really had it in for the victim. So much is up in the air and out of control, and Haley is on a deadline to find answers before they're all blown away.
Every time I read a book in this series, I think it is the best one yet. They are all so much fun and full of the most animated, interesting characters that ever graced the paradise known as Key West. The author takes great care with all of her characters, whether they be a regular or performing a guest role. The dialogue is always fresh and lively, and shows that Haley maintains a sense of humor throughout her ups and downs. The food is always to die for. Well, it is. Even in the takeout menu items, there is no dearth of drooling over the meals. Lucy Burdette has a magical way of making this beautiful island come alive to readers, and I'm convinced that she is responsible for increased tourism. It's really hard to believe that Killer Takeout is the seventh book already in this series, but time does fly when you're having fun.
I was given a copy of this book by the author for review, and I guarantee an unbiased review has been given.