Review: Distant Shadows by Jayne-Marie Barker

Distant ShadowsTitle: Distant Shadows
Author: Jayne-Marie Barker
Publisher:Austin & Macauley
ISBN: 978-1-84963-176-1
Reviewed by: DelAnne Frazee
Purchase from Amazon.

In 1935 three men meet late at night. One, Richard Burkett, betrays the other two and kills one and takes the money after setting up the third man, Lewis, to take the fall if he talks. This event is what affects the the lives of everyone through out the book.

In 1957 you have Stephen Adams and Cathy Redwell, two lovers reunited after 5 years. Cathy’s mother makes a confession to her that forces her to break up with Stephen. Fate has brought her back into his life when she applies for the position of secretary and he talks her into accepting with the hope of rekindling their romance. Cathy still feels the fire of desire for Stephen, but morality makes her hesitate.

Present day brings us to Zoe Peterson whose grandparents are being interviewed by the police over a murder that took place in 1935. When she asks her grandfather what is going on he tells her that she was almost never born because of the murder. Zoe, trying to rid her self of Dean a self absorbed alcoholic ex-boyfriend that refuses to let go, meets and is quickly drawn to James Clark, the junior DC who comes to question her grandparents. It seems the interest is mutual when he asks her to meet with him. When Zoe invites him to join her and her co-worker, Charles and his fiance Anne, for drinks he quickly agrees. Surprisingly he is Anne’s brother.

Zoe questions him for information on the investigation and he tells her what little he is able and asks her for tips in how to look for facts from something that happened where there are few if any witnesses still alive. As a historian he feels Zoe may be able to tell him what to look for in journals, infonews clippings and diaries. Zoe wonders if she should ask him with Dean’s threats about his never letting her go.

An unusual cozy mystery in that it flashes between 1957 and the present. Although usually confusing it works very well here. You will need to keep your attention on what is going on, but mostly because you do not want to miss anything Jayne Marie Barker has written. A delightful story to be enjoyed by those looking for mystery mixed with a bonus of romance.

Review: The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott

The Christie CurseTitle: The Christie Curse
Author: Victoria Abbot
Series: Book 1 of A Book Collector Mystery
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 978-0425255285
Reviewed by: Bella McGuire
Purchase from Amazon.

Jordan Bingham is determined to keep on the straight and narrow and avoid her Kelly Uncles lives of “not so legal” activities. Needing to find a job desperately she answers a ad to help Vera Van Alst research books for her vast personal collection. What starts as a job to pay off her debts turns into a dangerous game of cat and mouse as she tries to lay her hands on a unpublished play by Agatha Christie and find out what happened to Alex Fine, previous employee who had a tragic accident during the course of his research.

I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan girl so it was inevitable that I would pick up The Christie Curse. The Christie Curse is written by Victoria Abbott, mother and daughter team Mary Jane Maffini and Victoria Maffini, and they are clearly onto a winner with this unique new series. With my love of mysteries, Agatha Christie and books, I enjoyed every single page of this book.

The mystery was first class, the plotting flawless, but it was the Kelly’s that completely won me over!!! Jordan is the only niece, and has a fantastic group of Uncles that have raised her. With my own Irish background, I loved the Kelly’s with all their charm and willingness to help Jordan do what what was necessary.

With so many new series popping up every month, it’s hard to pick oh which ones to continue on with. The Book Collector Mysteries is one that I intend to continue with. In fact I’m off to pre-order book two now!!

Interview with Victoria Hamilton

bowled over - book coverLet’s meet Victoria Hamilton, author of A Deadly Grind & Bowled Over.

Q – Tell us about the Hoosier talked about in A Deadly Grind.

A – I modeled the Hoosier that Jaymie buys in A Deadly Grind (May 2012) after the one in my kitchen right now! Though it is not a Hoosier-brand cabinet, it is the same idea. I have to say that I think the cabinet was a genius of utility. They were first marketed in a time before kitchen cabinet built-ins were the norm. Back then, folks used furniture in the kitchen just like you do in your bedroom, for storage. So the Hoosier and its ilk became the must-have for every homemaker. Mine has top cabinets that I use to store serving pieces and extra dishes. The tambor roll top section holds all of my cookbooks and the antique grinder in its original box. The drawers hold plastic wrap, etc, as well as baggies and serving utensils, like my vintage serving forks and spoons. The big section at the bottom has my silver cabinet and pots and pans. It also has an enameled countertop that pulls out to make more space. I don’t know what I’d do without it!

Q – Are you a vintage collector of cookware/cookbooks yourself? If so, what are some of your items? (Or specific time you collect)

A – I collect mostly mid-century kitchenware, meaning forties, fifties and sixties. For some reason I also have a collection of odd knives and interesting utensils. I collect specifically serving pieces that have a black melamine handle; they were giveaways in the fifties and sixties in boxes of laundry detergent!

Q – In your research of vintage cookware, what is the strangest (or favorite) item you’ve discovered?

A – Sometimes I collect stuff even though I don’t know what it is, I just like it! For example, I have the cutest little milk glass chicken sitting on a basket nest… it’s actually a dish, and the chicken is the cover. I never did know what that was, but recently came across the info that it is a salt cellar! So it is kind of the strangest and new favorite!

Q – In your research of vintage cookbooks, what is the strangest(or best/favorite) recipe you’ve found?

A – Oh, there is no doubt the strangest… I think Roasted Badger has to be it, from a cookbook that was first published in the thirties. How desperate would you have to be to first catch, then roast a badger?

Q – Have you cooked from vintage cookbooks or with vintage cookware? If so, what and how did it turn out?

A – I actually made the Queen Elizabeth Cake from A Deadly Grind to photograph for my blog, and to just try the recipe before presenting it to the world – using my Primary Colors Bowls (which are on the cover of Bowled Over, on the shelf in the window!) of course – but then, I use those bowls every single time I bake! However… though I use vintage bowls and utensils for baking and cooking, I don’t use vintage glass bakeware in the oven and certainly not in the microwave. I don’t think you can guarantee that it will be all right in those conditions, when you don’t know how old it is or if there are any hairline cracks.


VictoriaHamilton-WebMeet the author:
Victoria Hamilton writes the bestselling Vintage Kitchen Mystery series (Book 1 – A Deadly Grind – May 2012) and the upcoming Merry Muffin Mysteries, also from Berkley (Book 1 – Bran New Death – September 3rd, 2013) Victoria loves cooking and collecting vintage kitchen utensils, as well as reading and writing mysteries. Check out her webpage for all the latest: and find her on Facebook at: