Search Results for: Majerus

The Ayes Have It by Janet Majerus

AYES
The Ayes Have It by Janet Majerus
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (136 Pages pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Jessie’s stuck in the middle again.

Since Jessie Schroeder moved back to Riverport, a small town overlooking the Mississippi River, it seems every time she turns around she trips over a body or uncovers some act of malfeasance. Sheriff Gil Keller said it best, “Jessie attracts trouble like a magnet attracts iron filings.”

In The Ayes Have It, history repeats itself. All Jessie is trying to do is her civic duty as a member of the Library Board and co-chairperson of the library bond issue campaign. Then a representative of an organization calling itself GOCLAP (Guarding Our Children from the Lewd and Pornographic) turns up to picket the library. He claims that Jessie’s prizing-winning children’s book, The Sunburnt Ghost, should be banned.

After a fellow member of the Library Board decides to oppose the bond issue, Jessie discovers he has a checkered past and a long-time relationship with the picketer. The affair rapidly gets complicated when the picketer turns up murdered and Jessie becomes a suspect.

Jessie Schroeder is a successful author of a children’s book series, and she becomes understandably upset when someone from out of town starts picketing the town’s library saying that a number of children’s books, including Jessie’s latest, should be banned. Things really heat up though when the picketer is found murdered.

This is a delightful cozy mystery and I really like Jessie. She is determined to solve the crime not only to help the town sheriff, who is her current boyfriend, but because both the picketing and then the murder are turning people away from supporting the much needed library bond. Jessie is the co-chairperson of the library bond campaign and she feels very strongly that the bond must pass.

The story takes place in a small town where everyone knows everyone else and rumors spread at the speed of light. However, it also seems as if some things which should have been common knowledge are not. Jessie has just moved back to Riverport after her divorce so I understand why she has to ferret out information, but I thought some of the information should have been known by the long term residents. The result is that Jessie is led astray and while the path she takes is most exciting and interesting, I was a bit disappointed that I figured out the murderer half way through the novel. There were times when I wanted to shake Jessie to get her to wake up, but even though I spotted the murderer early on, the final scene was very tense and exciting.

However, enjoyment of this novel is not dependent on the solution of the mystery. The interactions between the characters is engaging. I liked a number of the secondary characters, especially Judge Roberts, who co-chairs the library bond committee with Jessie. And Genevieve, the cat Jessie inherited from her mother, steals a few scenes.

Readers of the cozy mystery who want a pleasant read about life in a small town without worrying overly about the mystery will certainly enjoy The Ayes Have It.

Thicker Than Water by Janet Majerus

WATER

Thicker Than Water by Janet Majerus
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (138 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

After nearly losing her life because of her unsolicited involvement in a recent murder case, Jessie vows to mind her own business this time. However, in Thicker Than Water, Jessie again fails and finds herself in the middle of a web of family intrigue that stretches back four generations.

When Fred Kroner died, he left his millions to a long-lost niece, Johanna Kroner, that no one knew existed. This ignites a fierce family battle. The bequest includes a reward to the person who locates the niece. In case she cannot be found or is proven dead, Fred’s nephew and a televangelist will split the spoils.

A badly charred body of a female with a bullet hole through her forehead is found in the ashes of the old homestead after it had been deliberately torched. A driver’s license issued in the name of Johanna Kroner is found at the scene.

Is the body really Johanna? If so, why was she in the supposedly empty house? If not, who is the dead woman, and why was she shot? And why the deception? Could it be the work of one of the backup legatees, the nephew or the reverend. The questions continue to multiply. Jessie’s work is cut out for her.

Jessie is a successful children’s author who has returned to her home town after a marriage break up. Gil is the local sheriff and they find they have a lot in common. A mysterious fire at the home of Fred Kroner, a deceased resident, sets off a train of events which neither could have imagined.

Every time Jessie feels she has solved one mystery, another appears to cloud the final answer. She and Gil try to get a quiet weekend together but even this is shattered when another fire drags them home before the weekend is over.

This story is funny, mysterious and at times scary. Gil always has a rational explanation for everything. Jessie’s imagination is forever running wild. Well, she is an author. The quiet Spencer County has never before experienced such criminal activities in their community. Jessie believes it all hinges on Fred Kroner’s last will and testament. She tries to find a connection between the inheritors and people she suspects might benefit from the fires and accidents, but Gil tries to dissuade her from getting involved.

Definitely a mystery with suspense thrown in, plus a smattering of romance. I enjoyed reading this as I felt I was there with Jessie, experiencing things when she did, feeling the love of Gil, working through the mystery and feeling scared by the information she uncovers. This is definitely a book I’d read again. The intrigue brings it to life and the characters are true to life people like the next door neighbor. Like everyone, the neighbors have their own secrets, some of which are uncovered by Jessie.

Ms Majerus has definitely worked hard on “Thicker Than Water” to make it the best book possible.

The Untreed Detectives by J. Alan Hartman

DETECTIVES
The Untreed Detectives by J. Alan Hartman
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Historical, Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (118 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Sleuth…private investigator…detective. Many names for the same job, but the role itself comes in all shapes and sizes.

Presenting a variety of detectives, culled from the various novels both published and distributed by Untreed Reads. Whether it’s a gritty clown or a children’s book author, a pig or an investigator of crimes in the nursery rhyme universe, you’ll discover a wide variety of short mysteries here from both best-selling authors and fresh voices.

This anthology contains the first new Amanda Pepper mystery in nearly a decade from award-winning mystery author Gillian Roberts, as well as original stories from Kara L. Barney, Amber Rochelle Gillet, Janet Majerus, Lesley A. Diehl, Neil Plakcy, Kaye George, Whit Howland, Albert Tucher, Herschel Cozine, Rodolfo Peña and Wade J. McMahan.

Not every mystery begins or ends with a murder. From playful to serious, this collection showcases the wide range of puzzles that a good sleuth can tackle.

In the introduction J. Alan Hartman describes this anthology as a “tasty set of appetizers.” As someone who was only familiar with about half of these authors I was intrigued by his description and couldn’t wait to try the rest of them. The one-paragraph character introductions before each short story are incredibly helpful. They explain personality quirks and provide very basic background sketches without giving away spoilers. I would have been confused by a many tales without this type of aid, and I’m very glad that it was included.

I’d heard of the Amanda Pepper series before, but “Faint Heart” was my first introduction to this universe. Halloween is an easy time of year to conceal one’s identity, but when an elderly woman dies suddenly Amanda wishes that the prime suspect wasn’t dressed in a gorilla suit so he or she would be easier to identify. The concept tickled my funny bone from the very first scene, and I was surprised to be just as intrigued by the secondary characters as I was with the primary ones.

Certain tales were hard to settle into even with the character introductions. In “Breathing Under Water,” Jessica Schroeder meets an incredibly talented storyteller while temporarily taking over a friend’s writing workshop. The first few paragraphs of this piece are mesmerizing, but when Jessica discovers the writer’s dark secret I found myself wishing I knew more about both of them. I knew almost nothing about Jessica’s personality in particular and had a hard time gauging what she was thinking as she attempts to help her new student.

This pattern repeated itself several other times. As I was reading I briefly wondered if I would have enjoyed those adventures more had I already been familiar with the quirks of the protagonists ahead of time. There weren’t any pacing issues and the mysteries themselves were compelling, I simply had trouble getting to know the characters as individuals.

“Angus Wants a Peanut” was by far my favorite short story in this book. Paula and Mixeti’s newest client, Ryan, recently learned that his old, sick parrot has been sent to the Farm. He’d do anything to get his bird back and hopes that all of the allowance and birthday money he’s saved up will be enough to get someone to help. I was immediately intrigued by the dilemma Mixeti and Paula face as they decide whether to take this kid on as a client, and the ending was just as novel as the original concept.

It was a little difficult to pick the right labels this collection because so many of the authors dabble with other genres. Every one of them is a mystery of some sort, though, and when they do wander into other genres it is only for a short period of time.

The Untreed Detectives is an intriguing introduction to a dozen mystery writers. The variety of topics and writing styles gives this book something that will appeal to many different types of readers. It’s a good choice for anyone in the mood to discover a new favorite author.

:)