Station Eternity, by Mur Lafferty

My family still cracks jokes about why on earth anyone would want to invite Jessica Fletcher or Hercule Poirot or any of those other detectives anywhere. People die almost as soon as they arrive! That’s certainly the problem for talented but reluctant detective Mallory Viridian in Mur Lafferty’s highly entertaining novel, Station Eternity. From a young age, murders just seem to happen wherever Mallory goes. It’s so bad that Mallory actually moves onto an alien space station to get away from the chaos. Life is good there, until she gets word that a delegation of humans are on their way to the station.

We meet Mallory when she’s in a bit of a tizzy. As soon as she hears the gossip about the humans on their way, Mallory starts beating down doors to argue against letting more humans aboard the Eternity. Told no, she starts asking friends for rides off the station. As Mallory races hither and thither on the Eternity, we not only find out why she is so very terrified of having any more humans aboard (really, just about everywhere she goes, someone dies) but also about the fantastical galaxy of aliens who live and work on Eternity.

The mystery in Station Eternity is of the kind I particularly like. Seemingly unconnected events slowly coalesce over the course of the novel into an ending that ties up every loose end. Everything that happens in this book happens for a reason, to the extent that re-reading it would be a treat. Since you’d know the ending, you can slow down to savor all of those important events and details, like a great in-joke. What I loved most about Station Eternity, however, was the thought that Lafferty must have put into creating a space station that initially wasn’t designed for humans and inhabited by species who think that humans are volatile and primitive (we are). For example, Mallory had to spend some time when she first came aboard Eternity to find out which of the foods served at the various cafes wouldn’t kill her or make her sick. She had to make do with furniture that wasn’t built to her scale. Most of all, Mallory constantly has to answer questions about why humans do the things we do. We are a weird species, biologically, socially, and psychologically, when you start to think about it.

Station Eternity isn’t a perfect book. Mallory’s fretting got on my nerves more than once and some plot threads were dropped a little too long before being picked up to wrap into the conclusion. (Why is no one concerned when the ambassador disappears near the beginning of the book?) But these quibbles are minor when considered against the elaborate mystery and Lafferty’s imagination. Lafferty also brings a lot of humor to this book, causing me to chuckle more than once as I read about Mallory and her friends misadventures on Eternity.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

Notes on an Execution, by Danya Kukafka

The first pages of Danya Kukafka’s unsettling novel, Notes on an Execution, set the stage for a very uncomfortable read. Not only does Kukafka put us into a death row cell along with one of the primary narrators of the novel, she also writes these chapters in the second person. Having “You” tell their own story forces us into the experience of a very bad person, waiting to receive the ultimate penalty. The other narrators—the detective who hunts down You and the evidence to put You away, the sister of one of You’s victims, You’s mother—are a step removed by having their chapters written in the third person. Kukafka flips the perspective on us, a choice that raises a lot of questions about justice, guilt, and retribution. This book is an incredible feat of writing.

You is Ansel Packer, and all of his chapters count down the hours of his last day on earth. We readers will have little doubt that Ansel is an evil person. We know what he did. We even see how he plans to manipulate the people around him to try and make a break from death row. The mystery in Notes on an Execution is how Ansel came to be caught in the first place. We learn those details through the perspectives of Saffy Singh, a detective; Hazel, the sister of one of Ansel’s victims; and Lavender, the woman who gave birth to Ansel and his brother before fleeing her abusive husband.

Each of the female narrators in Notes on an Execution is a complicated person. None of them follow a predictable path. Their chapters just add more dimension to their characters. Lavender, for example, is a mother who abandons her young family because she can’t think of any way to make them all safe except to run away and leave her boys to the foster system. Hazel, whose sister is Ansel’s final victim, is no saint who speaks for her sister. Instead, she has a jealous relationship with her twin. Saffy Singh might be the closest to an archetype from the lot. She obsessively tries to solve the murders of three women who she knows Ansel killed when he was still a teenager. We’ve seen obsessive detectives before, except that Saffy’s goals are a lot harder to satisfy than just seeing a bad person locked away. And, unlike other righteous law enforcement officers, Saffy harbors a dark desire for her own punishment.

The plot evolves as each of the four characters spills their guts on the pages of Notes on an Execution. Small clues become definitive evidence of Ansel’s guilt, strong enough to make sure that he will never hurt anyone ever again. This book is one of the deftest explorations of crime and the death penalty that I’ve ever read. It never gets preachy and its complications preclude any kind of easy answer. I seek out these kinds of books because, the other I get, the more unsure I am about how criminal justice works in the United States. I’ve seen how much of court proceedings are simple theatre, and how the make-up of a jury can skew verdicts and sentences. And when it comes to sentences, the more I think that there are no good answers. Nothing will ever make up for the losses caused by the guilty; victims will never come back to us. Locking people up or, in some cases, subjecting some criminals to the death penalty doesn’t satisfy those of us outside. How do these sentences force criminals to make amends or “pay” for their deeds? Or is prison, like critics say, just a form of throwing people away? As for the death penalty, the efforts of the Innocence Project should terrify all of us because of how many people they find who are in fact innocent. Even if the person with the death sentence is guilty, punishing a murderer with death strongly reminds me of Old Testament, eye-for-an-eye justice.

Books like Notes on an Execution bring all these questions into the spotlight, leaving us to meditate on the emotional morass of dissatisfaction, grief, anger, and more that’s left in the wake of brutal crimes and the ineffectual sentences meted out by judges and juries. I strongly recommend Notes on an Execution to book groups and readers who like to wrestle with impossible dilemmas.

A Dreadful Splendor, by B.R. Myers

Life is hard for a medium. It’s even harder when the medium’s landlady is blackmailing said medium in order to get her to steal from her wealthy clients. Although Genevieve Timmons is a natural at cold-reading and getting clients to believe that she can communicate with the dead, she is not at all talented in theft. In the opening pages of B.R. Myers’s delightful A Dreadful Splendor, Genevieve is caught red-handed and thrown in a London jail. The only way out comes in the form of a curious offer from an elderly lawyer. He can get her out, he says, but only if she can use her mediumistic skills to help his employer get over the grief of losing a fiancee.

It’s a lot to take in but Myers barely gives us or Genevieve a chance to catch our breaths before whisking us away to an estate in northern England that could almost challenge Manderley, Thrushcross Grange, or Thornfield Hall for moody dampness. (If you recognize those place names, you’ll probably also pick up on hints of Rebecca, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre scattered around A Dreadful Splendor. Thankfully, those references and vibes are merely seasonings in this entertaining and original story.) Genevieve meets the master of the house under inauspicious circumstances on her very first night at Somerset Park and is dragooned into yet another plot. Gareth Pemberton still wants Genevieve to hold a seance but, this time, he wants her to use her cold-reading skills to get his fiancee’s killer to confess.

Genevieve is a wonderful amateur detective. Normally I get annoyed at these kinds of characters because they’re often written to be instant experts at forensics or interrogation or something; I don’t find it believable when a chef or a bookstore owner suddenly becomes a master detective. Genevieve I can believe. She was brought up to notice things and use her observations to manipulate her target’s emotions. She’s also learned to hide what she can do under the cover of the supernatural—which turns out to be very effective against the superstitious or those with guilty consciences. Because Genevieve is under orders from both her lawyer-rescuer, Mr. Lockhart, and Pemberton, she has to dance as fast as she can to keep her secrets.

The pace set in the first chapters never slackens. In fact, the twists start coming hard and heavy after Genevieve is pushed into detective duty. And there are definite signs that nefarious things are afoot at Somerset Park, from the hints about the terrifying family history to the voices in the walls to the creepy housekeeper. A Dreadful Splendor isn’t all mystery and horror, however. Genevieve and Mr. Pemberton start to spark almost immediately. Watching these two verbally spar with each other was as much fun as trying to figure out what on earth is going on at Somerset Park and what really happened to the lamented fiancee. This book was an absolute pleasure to read.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

Death and the Conjuror, by Tom Mead

When a wealthy psychiatrist is murdered in his locked study, who do the detectives call when they’re stumped? In another series, they’d call Sherlock Holmes. In Tom Mead’s Death and the Conjuror, Detective George Flint calls Joseph Spector, a semi-retired magician, to help him figure out how the hell someone managed to brutally murder someone and escape from a locked room without anyone seeing or hearing anything. This quick read will be a delight for fans of fair-play mysteries who like to pick apart seemingly impossible cases.

Death and the Conjuror opens in Agatha Christie fashion by introducing us to all the players just before the crimes start to happen. We meet two actresses at a not-so-high-class London theatre who hate each other and get a glimpse of Spector as the curtain is about to go up on the theatre’s latest Gothic horror. In another part of London is an author of gruesome stories who seems to be losing a battle against his paranoia. In yet another part of London is the study of a very exclusive emigre psychiatrist (soon to be murder victim), who we meet as he is listening to one of his three patients talk about his haunting nightmares. Meanwhile, the psychiatrist’s daughter is preparing to go to the theatre with her rich, obnoxious fiance. By the next day, the psychiatrist is dead, a valuable painting is missing, and a whole lot of people are under investigation by Scotland Yard. Unfortunately, Scotland Yard—in the form of Detective Flint—is stumped. There’s no possible way for the murder to have occurred without something to point to the murderer, motive, and means.

I enjoyed every chapter of Death and the Conjuror: racing the detective and magician as they try to figure out what happened and whodunnit, evaluating the motives and characterizations of the various suspects, watching everyone race around either investigating or incriminating each other, and the brilliant reveal at the end. Everything in this book is perfect, especially the vibrant portraits of the very believable cast of characters. I could actually see this book playing out in my head. This book is a great way to, ahem, kill an afternoon.

This review is shorter than what I usually write but that’s only because I don’t want to ruin anything for any of you readers out there who want to pick it up. No hints or spoilers from me; you’ll have to read it to figure out what happened and why.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss and NetGalley, for review consideration.

Quantum Girl Theory, by Erin Kate Ryan

Erin Kate Ryan’s complicated novel, Quantum Girl Theory, begins with a preface that explains the eponymous theory in a stuttering series of images that offer possible endings to a story that begins with a girl putting on a red parka. In some of the endings, she lives. In most, however, she meets a frightening death because the world is full of people looking to take advantage of those they consider weaker. Our protagonist, once a missing girl herself, unfortunately gets flashes of these endings as she drifts across America in the early 1960s trying to save at least some of them.

We don’t know much about the woman who introduces herself as Mary Garrett when she arrives in rural North Carolina town other than that she has visions of missing girls, has very little money to her name, and that that name is not her real one. She’s come to this town because there’s a reward on offer for a girl who went missing while riding her horse. That money will go a long way in 1960 if she can claim it. Mary has a lot of tricks up her clairvoyant sleeves to try and get her visions going. All she needs to do is talk the parents into letting her spend some time in the missing girls’ room, with her things. The strange thing (after a whole bunch of other strange things) is that no one seems to be trying very hard to find the missing girl. Her father is willing to let Mary try, but everyone hints or outright tells Mary to go away.

Between chapters that show Mary scrounging for room and board along with searching for the missing girl, other chapters take us into Mary’s past. At least, it seems like they do. The stuttering iterations from the preface play out in different times and places. We’re whisked to various years from the late 1940s up to the mid-1990s, and from New England to Baltimore to Utah and Arizona. These stories share some common elements. The girl Mary used to be loved another girl named Wise, until they were caught and Mary lied about even knowing Wise. Wise disappeared. Then Mary did. After that, anything and everything happens and it’s hard to tell how many missing girls are real and how many are just possibilities.

Quantum Girl Theory is an unsettling book, but I relished the questions it raised about what we choose to pay attention to and what we choose to ignore. One of the people who (reluctantly) helps Mary is Martha, a Black maid at a motel where Mary scams a place to stay, pointedly asks Mary if she ever gets visions of missing Black girls. Mary says no, in a moment that should remind every reader about how much attention is paid to missing white girls compared to every other person who disappears only to be ignored or dismissed as “probably a runaway.” Also, the way that all the missing girls’ stories blend into Mary’s got me thinking about the glut of true crime books, shows, and podcasts. Consuming all of that content can make it feel like we’re surrounded by crimes and injustice. Maybe we are. And if we can’t find the missing, maybe we—like Mary—can witness and tell their stories. If we tell their stories, even if we never really know what the ending is, they won’t be forgotten.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

The Maid, by Nita Prose

Even if everything else in her life is not great—recently deceased grandmother, no boyfriend, behind on rent—Molly Gray loves her job as a maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. As a maid, Molly returns rooms and suites to a “state of perfection.” Putting rooms to rights is deeply satisfying to this neurodivergent protagonist of The Maid, by Nita Prose. She muddles along at the Regency until the morning that she walks into one of the priciest suites to discover a wealthy guest dead in his bed.

There is no shortage of suspects in Mr. Black’s murder. He’s a ruthless businessman (legal and illegal) who treated both his wives poorly. Unfortunately for the police, there is very little evidence to point to the real killer. And it turns out that the murder isn’t the only crime happening at the Regency. Molly winds up enmeshed in both cases through being at the wrong place and the wrong time and through trying to do favors for people who are kind to her.

Molly has a few things going for her as an amateur detective. She grew up on reruns of Columbo and is keenly observant of her surroundings (always looking for dirt and things out of place). And there’s her job as a maid. A lot of people in Molly’s world overlook her; she’s invisible. She picks up on a lot of things that no one meant for her to see and hear. Her downfall, however, is that she’s too trusting of grifters who take enough care to mask their real thoughts and motives from Molly. (There were several parts of this book that made me cringe, as other characters mock Molly’s literalness.) Thankfully, there are people in her life who watch out for her and step in when events start to spiral out of control.

The Maid breaks a lot of the “rules” of the mystery genre. It doesn’t follow the usual structure; instead, it just races along, getting increasingly complicated, until Molly and her allies are able to turn the tables on the real villains. Molly makes mistakes (unlike many of the too-perfect amateur detectives out there). She also has an unexpectedly nuanced code of ethics, which I really enjoyed. And, lastly, the end of the book doesn’t set Molly Gray up for a series of adventures at the Regency Grand (at least, I didn’t think so). The conclusion and epilogue to the book are more like Molly’s cleaning routine than what I usually see in this genre. Rather, they set things to rights like a well-cleaned hotel room.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

Velvet Was the Night, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I used to pet sit fairly regularly for co-workers and friends. It was a fun way to meet new critters and the pocket money was always appreciated. Thankfully, none of my pet-sitting gigs ever turned into the deadly, bewildering ride protagonist Maite Jaramillo finds herself on in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Velvet Was the Night. Near the beginning of this thriller, Maite’s neighbor asks her to feed her cat while she’s away for a few days. The neighbor then disappears, landing Maite right in the middle of student protesters, menacing government officials, and a paramilitary group that specializes in cracking dissident heads.

Maite is thirty when Velvet Was the Night opens, sometime in the early 1970s and somewhere in Mexico City. She has her own apartment and a killer record collection, but those are about the only things she has going for her. She has no love life to speak of (although she makes things up for her coworkers), a dead-end job for a lawyer with unspeakably smelly feet, no friends, few hobbies, and a car being held hostage at the mechanics. Meanwhile, Elvis works for El Mago as a member of the Hawks. He goes where El Mago tells him and does whatever dirty work he’s been ordered to, although he loathes his cohorts and their machismo. Like Maite, Elvis (his pseudonym) is stuck in a dead end—neither of them has the education for anything better than what they’re doing, not the ambition to try and get out of their current situations. That said, they’re both aware enough to know that there is more in the world to want than what they have.

Shortly after Maite agrees to feed her neighbor’s cat, Elvis gets the word from El Mago to follow Maite. Since the neighbor is gone, Maite is the Hawk’s best chance to recover incriminating photos taken by the neighbor. Maite has no clue about these photos initially, at least until she learns more about the neighbor’s dissident activities and realizes that she’s being followed. Those photos are a great McGuffin. No one seems to know what’s on them; all anyone knows is that they could be explosive if they were made public. The Hawks want them. The Dirección Federal de Seguridad (Federal Security Directorate) wants them. People who have ties to the Hawks and the DFS want them. The student dissidents want them. Everyone comes out of the woodwork to get Maite and those photos.

Because we readers are tagging along with both Maite and Elvis, we get the see events in stereo. It’s only near the very end that Maite and Elvis meet properly. The dual narratives gave me the curious feeling of being the hunter and the hunted at the same time. The dual narratives also turned out to be a very clever way to dole out information about motives, conspiracies, counter-conspiracies, and all the other machinations going on in Velvet Was the Night. While Elvis is learning more about all the people after Maite and developing doubts about El Mago, Maite learns just how illusory her world of respectabilty really is—and we get a fast dive into life during what is now known as the Mexican Dirty War.

My education was woefully lacking when it came to Mexican (and Canadian, for that matter) history, politics, literature, etc., etc. As I read about Maite’s perils—and the parallel narrative featuring one of those paramilitary thugs—I had to hop over to Wikipedia more than once to learn more about the Mexican Dirty War, Luis Echeverría, and the Tlatelolco Massacre. Funny enough, my lack of knowledge about Mexican politics matched up with Maite’s, since she never reads the news. I know that my preference for learning about the world and its history through fiction isn’t ideal (but fight me!), but books like Velvet Was the Night make history a lot more entertaining and somehow more real. When I read historical fiction, characters come to life and navigate their way through complex realities in a way that I think even the best nonfiction falls short of. The characters of Velvet Was the Night remind me that all of those people we read about (or, more likely, are glossed over) in history texts are real people, with personal failings and dumb luck, who mostly just want to grab a bit of comfort and happiness for themselves before it’s all over.

The Village of Eight Graves, by Seishi Yokomizo

Trigger warning for brief sexual violence.

It’s always a gamble when you read a twentieth-century mystery that a publisher has rescued from obscurity. I’m not sure what the odds are, but there’s a chance that the book was allowed to languish for a reason rather than tastes have changed. Pushkin Vertigo has been republishing the work of Seishi Yokomizo, who created detective Kosuke Kindaichi. Depending on which list you consult, The Village of Eight Graves is the third, first, or fourth book in the Kindaichi series. It’s also a curious choice for Pushkin Vertigo because the detective doesn’t appear on stage very much. Instead, this installment is narrated by an unfortunate man who gets involved in a conspiracy that is (seemingly coincidentally) being investigated by Kindaichi. Because our narrator, Tatsuya, and Kindaichi don’t have many reasons to spend time in each other’s company, Tatsuya isn’t a good vehicle to show us Kindaichi’s brilliance most of the time. He is, however, perfectly placed to show us a very strange village and an even stranger family.

The first hurdle to reading The Village of Eight Graves is the prologue. In this prologue we learn that the village has witnessed two scenes of mass murder, one of which gave the remote village its name. These mass murders were perpetrated by members of the Tajimi family. One instance might be excused, but two argues that there is something sinister in the Tajimi family. So when a possible heir to the Tajimi family shows up in the first chapter in the form of our narrator, everyone eyes him sideways when he comes to the village. Tatsuya is the son of a woman abused by the perpetrator of the second mass murder, who may be his father. When he gets the news that he might be a possible heir to the Tajimi fortune, he is tempted to go back to the village What really gets him there is when his grandfather is poisoned right in front of him. Tatsuya knows that the only way out through the mystery and the possible inheritance is to figure out what’s going on.

The mystery elements of The Village of Eight Graves are wild, intriguing—and I really wish that Tatsuya had a better perspective on those parts of the story. He has a ringside seat to a series of poisonings and accusations about who the murderer might be and we learn plenty about what’s going on that way. (Readers who are smarter than I am might be able to figure out whodunnit before Tatsuya and I did.) Unfortunately—at least for me and modern readers—Tatsuya and the misogyny in the narrative were so prominent in this book that I had a hard time finishing it. The attitudes about gender in this book have not aged nearly as well as the fiendish mystery. The women in this novel are either emotionally or physically fragile, scheming and old, or femmes fatales with more than their fair share of wiles. I was disgusted by the way that women are dismissed or demonized, not just by the narrator but by every character (even the female ones).

I know I missed a lot in The Village of Eight Graves, in spite of the excellent, albeit very British flavored, translation by Bryan Karetnyk. I know that mid-twentieth century Japanese fiction owes a few things to Western Golden Age mysteries, but it’s still very much a new field for me. This blog post from My Japanese Bookshelf helped explain some of those things. I wish I had found it first. That said, I doubt anything could’ve helped me weather the repellent attitudes towards women on display here. I rolled the dice on this one because I was intrigued by the idea of a mystery in Japan but, sadly, I lost this one.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.

The Artist Colony, by Joanna FitzPatrick

Library conferences rarely take me to beautiful places. The American Library Association, for example, has a reputation for booking places in the off-season to keep down costs. So I’ve frozen my face off in Chicago in January and melted into a puddle in Las Vegas in July. One conference, Internet Librarian, however, is always in Monterey, California, in October. The California coast is always visually stunning. Between sessions, I would always walk through parks and down piers. Every plant is strange and fascinating; the air always smells like the sea. It’s a pity the conference only lasts three days. I mention all this because Joanna FitzPatrick’s novel, The Artist Colony, is set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is very close to Monterey. As I read this book, I had memories of the unforgettable scenery to accompany the plot. I do love to read books set in places I’ve actually been. FitzPatrick liberally borrows from the history of Carmel-by-the-Sea and its artist colony to ground her mystery plot. If you’re not familiar with that history—or with the landscape of coastal California—you might want to read this book with an internet-enabled device nearby so that you can look things up.

Sarah Cunningham never wanted to go to Carmel-by-the-Sea. She has a life as an up-and-coming artist in post-World War I Paris. Unfortunately for Sarah, she has to make the journey because her sister, Ada, has suddenly died. We meet her on the train to Carmel…and we’re not the only ones. Sarah has the bad luck to share a compartment with a man who is clearly not used to women saying no to him. That unpleasant encounter gives way to something even worse. As soon as Sarah debarks, she spots a newspaper headline announcing that Ada died by suicide. In the fashion of many sisters in genre fiction, Sarah immediately starts to investigate what really happened to Ada. It doesn’t take her long to start uncovering secrets and lining up suspects, much to the annoyance of Carmel’s caricature of a marshal.

Carmel Bay, in an 1898 photocrom print
(Image via Wikicommons)

The marshal notwithstanding, Sarah has plenty of help from Ada’s friends and colleagues—many of whom have Wikipedia articles of their own. She gets advice and clues from poet Robinson Jeffers and writer Mary Austin. There are times when I thought FitzPatrick laid it on a bit thick with the name dropping, but I was entertained enough by the characters and the plot to forgive this and the occasionally clumsy dialogue. (Some of the characters, including the protagonist, are suspiciously woke for 1924.) I was actually a little disappointed that Ada Davenport and Sarah Cunningham weren’t real, as far as I can tell. Their fictional works are described with such verve that I wish I could look them up.

The Artist Colony is a diverting read. It’s not perfect, but there is enough originality to make it worth a quick read. Funny enough, this book is just my kind of beach read: an interesting mystery, worked by intriguing characters, in an exotic location. The book is a vacation, and is ideal for times when we can’t always safely take a trip to a California beach. Bon bookish voyage, readers!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.

The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart, by Nancy Campbell Allen

Not everything I choose to read is an intellectual puzzle or a heartbreaking exploration of human pain. Sometimes I read fun, sweet books like Nancy Campbell Allen’s The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart. In this book, idealistic Amelie Hampton wrangles her way into gruff detective Michael Baker’s investigation of a possible wife-killer. I realize this doesn’t sound very fun or sweet when I summarize the book that way but, as in so many cozy mysteries, the investigation gives our protagonists something to do while they slowly open their hearts to one another.

Amelie and Michael don’t have the most auspicious meet-cute. Michael catches Amelie spying on the man he is also spying on: Harold Radcliffe. Amelie is hovering outside the cafe where Radcliffe is dining with a young woman Amelie advised from her desk at the Marriage Gazette, where she works for her aunt. She’s there to see if the meeting is going well. Michael is there to learn more about his quarry, who he believes murdered his young wife scant months earlier. When Amelie starts to leave, Michael chases her down. (Amelie frequently describes this as “running to ground” to tease the detective.) Before he quite knows what has happened—he merely intended to find out what Amelie knows about Radcliffe—Amelie has volunteered herself as Michael’s deputy. She’s going to help get Michael closer to Radcliffe by inviting him along to her book club, where Radcliffe is also a member.

The mystery and the romance plots are brisk but not forced. There are enough twists in the mystery to keep things interesting, while the romance plot is punctuated with moments between the protagonists that had me smiling widely at the pair. I won’t say much more about this book; I don’t want to ruin either plot. So I’ll conclude by saying that if you want something that’s a delight to read, you should pick up The Matchmaker’s Lonely Heart.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration.