Auntie M decided to do a huge review of the best books she’s read this year for summer reading that all contain humor. Whether wry or ironic dialogue, funny situations or downright laugh-out-loud absurd situations, these all contain elements guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
Tonya Kappes has a wild series in her ‘Ghostly Southern Mysteries,” starting with A Ghostly Undertaking. She introduces Emma Lee Raines in the paranormal series, an undertaker who can suddenly see and talk to dead people after being bopped in the head by a falling plastic Santa–“funeral trauma.”
In the first outing, Emma Lee’s own grandmother’s nemesis, Ruthie Sue Payne, keeps insisting that the fall down stairs that killed her wasn’t an accident–she was pushed. And she can’t find her eternal rest until she knows who wanted her dead.
Enter Sheriff Jack Henry Ross–(everyone her Kappes’ books has three names!), Emma Lee’s high-school crush who vows to figure out how foul the play has been. It doesn’t help his case with Emma Lee that her grandmother, the widow of Ruthie Sue’s ex-husband, is the prime suspect.
There are enough laughs to wake up the dead, and Kappes keeps them coming in the sequel, A Ghostly Grave.
With Granny Raines running for Mayor of the town and big festival on the horizon, Emma Lee knows digging up a four year-old grave is more than just bad for business. Yet she can’t quiet Chicken Teater, who insists she figure out who killed him.
Sheriff Jack Henry works on forensic details, while Emma Lee takes a good hard look at the prime suspects, notably Chicken’s wife, a former Miss Kentucky who just may have had her fill of sharing his affections with his favorite hen, Lady Cluckington. Yup, that’s her name.
The covers alone on this series are enough to make you smile.
Susan Sundwall’s The Red Shoelace Killer brings readers to armchair sleuth Minnie Markwood. Working with the lovely Rashawna Jones for Chapel Marketing, the ladies newest gig is working at an Albany Mall doing market surveys.
But Minnie’s attention is drawn to the unsolved two year-old case of the Red Shoelace Killer. The victim’s mother has just died, not knowing the identity of her daughter’s killer. With the crime unsolved, police warned women with long, dark hair to be especially aware of their surroundings. Jennifer Landis’ body had been found with a red shoelace tied around her ankle–the same shoelace that had been used to strangle the young woman before her body was found in the woods near a local high school.
It’s a kind of boring day at the mall until a young man appears in Minnie’s cubicle and starts to confess that he thinks he knows who the shoelace killer is–but before Minnie can get his name or any details, he’s bounded away. It turns out that he’s Rashawna’s newest boyfriend, Joel, who works at the Dollar Tree, a potential source of those red shoelaces. As soon as work is over, that’s exactly where Minnie heads. But not before Rashawna is pushed into the trunk of Minnie’s car, and Minnie has a gun held to her head.
Caught up in reading Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d, Minnie swings into action to hunt for the killer with often disastrous results as Detective Dan Horowitz gets involved and her sidekicks are often more of a hindrance than a help.
Tim Dorsey’s Shark Skin Suite is an over-the-top farce of the best kind. Bringing back his highly unusual protagonist, Serge Storms dispenses Florida information like a twisted tour guide as he tries to practice law with bothering with the usual education or degrees, after a binge of legal movies set in Florida convince him he can do it.
With his former girlfriend an attorney, the courtroom action provide some of the more hilarious scenes.
Brook Campanella’s big case revolves around a class action suit against a mortgage company. No one is exempt from skewering, from lawyers to jury consultants, and the subjects don’t stop there. Internet security companies, those huge multiplex movie complexes, even Florida’s mosquitoes come under the gun.
With its climactic scene taking place at the courthouse in Key West during the height of its Fantasy Fest street carnival, the dialogue snaps and sizzles and readers will be grinning from ear to ear.
Hannah Dennison introduced Kat Standford and her mother, Iris, in last year’s Murder at Honeychurch Hall. She’s back with a sequel in Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall, bringing much of the “Upstairs, Downstairs” humor again within this cozy mystery in its lovely Devon setting.
There may a plan afoot to run a high-speed train line through the grounds at Honeychurch Hall. it stalls when the body of the transport minister is found on the grounds, just as Kat is looking for an environmental effort to counteract this scheme, while still collecting antiques for her shop.
Trudy Wynne is Kat’s deepest enemy and a tabloid journalist who embodies everything bad readers think of when they hear her job. Being the ex-wife of Kat’s former lover adds to her plot for revenge as Wynne sets out to humiliate Kat and expose her mother as the bestselling romance author Krystalle Storm. And she’s not above using friends to infiltrate Kat’s circle.
With his father-in-law finally dying, David makes a bid for Kat’s affections again. But will she bite?
With all of this going on, it doesn’t help that the husband of a prize-winner of Krystalle Storm’s story contest had begun selling off his dead wife’s things, along with auctioning off her prize trip. There will be Uncle Alfred and a little dog named Mr. Chips. And a body in the mire. Delightful fun.
Carolyn Haines southern series features Sarah Booth Delaney and her spirit friend Jitty, and last year’s Booty Bones is now in paperback if you missed it. The newest entry is Bone to be Wild, with a distraught Sarah Booth trying to get over the defection to Hollywood of her fiancé Graf Milieu. What’s a heartbroken girl to do?
Sarah heads to lick her wounds, where old friends are hosting a Black and Orange Halloween Ball. The band is even going to be that of an old flame, Scott Hampton’s blues band. Sarah’s friends are named Tinkle and Nandy, and there are others who are far from friends who think the devil lives at that club.
When Scott gets a message that clearly threatens his life and those of his band members, Sarah is ready to swing into action to investigate. Then the bartender from Scott’s club is gunned down in a drive-by shooting and Sarah finds herself racing alongside Sheriff Coleman Peters to find a killing cult as the club nearly goes up in flames, leaving Sarah with an interesting new look.
Despite the humorous dialogue, the book ends with a sense of jeopardy for Sarah Booth that will likely propel the action in the next installment.
Katherine Hall Page’s newest Faith Fairchild mystery is The Body in the Birches., and yes, you’ll find her great recipes at the back. Auntie M is making her Summer Corn Chowder with Bacon for her Grands when they visit in a few weeks.
One of the nice things about this series is the inclusion of Faith’s children as they’ve grown and the issues they face. Ben’s job as a dishwasher has its own problems, and daughter Amy is tied up with her friend, Daisy, whose mother may have a shot at inheriting The Birches, a lovely cottage whose disposal is to be revealed at the 4th of July festivities on the small island of Little Sanpere, Maine.
The charming location is another of Page’s niceties, and she gets her descriptions of the Maine area just right. This Fourth is hotter than Faith can remember on Sanpere Island, and with Faith and Tom having a large family room addition added to their house, they will stay at The Pines temporarily. Tom’s out fishing when Faith takes a call from her father-in-law that Tom’s mother had had a heart attack. While stable and expected to survive, she’s in ICU and his frazzled father needs his chaplain son at his side.
So Tom heads to Massachusetts and Faith stays with the teens for the moment. The fireworks are over and Faith takes a call from Tom, then heads for a brief walk in the woods, and finds Sophie Maxwell has just discovered a body in the woods. It’s Bev, the housekeeper for The Birches, wearing her regular shoes but clothes in her nightgown and robe. But why would someone need the housekeeper to die?
That’s the first incongruity that sets Faith’s detecting antenna stirring. With the family gathered at The Birches awaiting the disposition of the property, each of the potential members to inherit come under scrutiny. And then suspicious things start happening to some family members, which would certainly make the pool of possible inheritors dwindle–until another death occurs and this time it’s clearly murder.
You won’t be disappointed in this staple from Page in her long-running series. A classic.
We head across the pond for two more for your reading pleasure:
Celebrated non-fiction author Judith Flanders brings her past experience as an editor for publishing houses to the forefront in her hilarious and smart mystery A Murder of Magpies, exposing and describing the industry as only an insider can manage, while maintaing a darn good mystery.
Londoner Samantha Clair is doing the routine jobs her editing job at Timmons and Ross requires while trying to figure out how best to explain to her star client that her new novel is basically unpublishable. She has lunch to look forward to with a favorite author, Kit Lowell, whose gossipy new book skewers the fashion industry and its recent scandal of the murder of a prominent Spanish designer. Sam insists their legal team go over the book for libel but believes Kit has done his homework and thoroughly researched the case he’s written about.
Sam’s surprised when her morning is interrupted by a visit from DI Jacob Field, whose first question is to ask Sam if she’s failed to receive any expected parcels. He explains he’s investigating a car accident, a rather unusual hit-and-run. Unusual because the victim was a courier, and his parcels and list of stops has vanished with the car that hit him.
And we’re off and running, as Sam unwittingly finds herself involved in Field’s investigation. Someone really doesn’t want Kit Lowell’s manuscript to be published, and is willing to kill to prevent it.
Along the way there will be colleagues Sam must tolerate, like Oxford-lad Ben, who suffers from “major-league Big Dick Syndrome.” And we meet Sam’s neighbors who live above her ground-floor Camden flat– and who describe the workmen they had to let into her flat. Only Sam hadn’t scheduled any workmen. When she speaks with Kit, he tells her he knows someone has been in his flat, too.
Absorbed in questions of liberal hovering around Kit’s book, and unable to reach him when he doesn’t turn up for their lunch, Sam turns to DI Field and finds her company’s computer system has been hacked. And then her flat is broken into and strange men knock her down the stairs …
A delightful tale, with Sam’s voice a grand character to star in this wickedly funny yet absorbing mystery.
Elizabeth Duncan’s Penny Brannigan series brings readers to North Wales in Slated for Death.
A concert is planned for St. David’s Day down in the Llyn Du–“Black Lake”– mine and everyone is involved in some way. There will be a special guest singer with ties to the area and an after party, too. Most of the residents have either had relatives who worked the mine or know people who did.
Glenda Roberts with her imperious air is heading the committee to set things up and shows up at Penny’s spa with music for spa owner Victoria, who will be accompanying the singers at the concert o her harp, along with other musicians. When a group of regular tourists to the mine discover Glenda’s body a few hours later, Penny and DCI Gareth Davies join forces to figure out who would have wanted the woman dead.
Penny is certain the murder has ties to the past, instead of the supposed suspect the police favor. It’s not the only thing Penny and Gareth disagree about, as his attraction to her has not gone unnoticed but she doesn’t feel she can reciprocate his interest.
With the idea that she can unearth the real murderer, it will be up to Penny Brannigan to get to the bottom of the secrets that would cause Glenda’s murder.
Duncan’s research into the mines and her descriptions add texture to the feeling of being deep under the earth, and bring to life the horrid conditions that the men who used to work there faced on a daily basis. An intriguing setting to an mystery that has humor while not overlooking the emotional side.
Auntie M hopes you’ll check out some of these when you’re in the mood for a mystery with a hint–or sometimes more than a hint– of humor!