Posted in 2021 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Alphabet Soup A -Z Author Edition Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Literary Escapes New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Hope, Faith, and a Corpse: A Faith Chapel Mystery by Laura Jensen Walker #Review @LauraJensenWal1


Hope, Faith, and a Corpse: A Faith Chapel Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (January 12, 2021)
Hardcover: 298 pages
ISBN-10: 1643855042
ISBN-13: 978-1643855042
Kindle ASIN: B0871KRPKG

In the tradition of M. C. Beaton, Hope Taylor, pastor of a small-town California church, tries to find out who sent a church elder to Heaven.

Hope Taylor arrives in Apple Springs to start her new life as the first female pastor of Faith Chapel Episcopal Church. The northern California town’s quaint cottages, bungalows, and shops promise a fresh start for the 42-year-old widow and Bogie, her scruffy black Labrador. But where is Father Christopher? The kindly old rector who hired Pastor Hope was supposed to meet her upon her arrival, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Hope’s faith springs eternal, so she explores the little white church hoping to find Father Christopher. But when she enters the columbarium, she instead finds church elder Stanley King–his skull crushed by a fallen burial urn.

Hope had made Stanley’s acquaintance before and had struggled to take a charitable view of his character. Stanley was as wicked as he was wealthy, as petty as he was pious. His soul may have been holy, but his behavior was wholly rotten. The last time Hope had seen him, he had shouted drunkenly that she would preach at Faith Chapel over his dead body.

Many of the townsfolk witnessed the altercation, so Hope finds herself as the prime suspect in Stanley’s murder. With Bogie’s four-footed assistance, Hope is determined to find the real killer and clear her name…even if it will require a bit of divine intervention.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Oh my, Hope Taylor is a woman I would surely be friends with. We share our Wisconsin roots, we hear our mother’s voice in our heads – “a place for everything and everything in its place” all the time, our inner thoughts sometimes roll off our tongues and escape out our mouths, we both love old black and white movies and can quote lines perfectly if necessary. She even has a labrador named Bogie.

Hope in the new associate pastor at Faith Chapel Episcopal Church and her first day doesn’t get off to a good start. While trying to locate the lead pastor, Father Christopher, she finds church elder Stanley Kind instead. He just happens to be dead in the columbarium with a crushed skull and a bloody urn by his side. She had only met the man once and he was drunk and not very supportive. When two parishioners find her and the deceased that quickly jump to the conclusion that she killed the man. Being a murder suspect was not the fresh start she was hoping to have. Now she is going to have to prove herself to her new congregation and clear her name.


Laura Jensen Walker introduces some fantastic characters in this first Faith Chapel Mysteries. Not only do I love Hope but her sister-in-law Virginia too. She drops everything to come to Hope’s aid and she is a whole lot of fun. I also liked the technology-challenged Father Christopher. He reminded me of one of my former pastors.  There are several other characters that remind me of people in my life. Bogie also stole my heart immediately. All the characters are believable and some are very quirky. They were all very fleshed out for the first book in the series.

The life of a small-town church is accurately portrayed. While not a pastor, I worked for our small town church for several years in different capacities and everything from the fundraisers to the services rang true, as did the dealing with the variety of members’ attitudes and feelings.

The victim was truly a despicable man so there was no shortage of suspects. The more I learned about him I was surprised he lived as long as he did. Another mystery involves a skeleton found buried in Hope’s backyard. Both mysteries are well-plotted and interesting. I really enjoyed doing some armchair sleuthing of my own as Hope was trying to uncover all the facts she could. Several twists and a little legwork brought the real culprit to light. The author’s descriptive writing style made everything clear in my mind’s eye each and every step of the way. The final twist was quite a surprise.

Hope, Faith, and a Corpse was a heavenly read. I loved the way humor was woven liberally throughout the entire story. I truly didn’t want to reach the end. I am very excited about this series. I can’t wait for book two! I have hope and faith that this series is going to be a must-read for cozy lovers everywhere. A Perfect Escape!!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent  

 

 

About the Author

Laura Jensen Walker has loved mysteries ever since she read Trixie Belden in the fourth grade in her Danish-founded hometown of Racine, Wisconsin–America’s kringle capital. A former journalist and the author of several novels and humorous non-fiction books, including Murder Most Sweet and Thanks for the Mammogram! Laura is grateful to be a longtime breast cancer survivor. She lives in California with her Renaissance-man husband and their canine-daughter Mellie. (from Amazon)
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Also by Laura Jensen Walker

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2020 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge New Release Challenge Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Murder Most Sweet: A Bookish Baker Mystery by Laura Jensen Walker #Review


Murder Most Sweet: A Bookish Baker Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (September 8, 2020)
Hardcover: 289 pages
ISBN-10: 1643855026
ISBN-13: 978-1643855028
Kindle ASIN: B08272M182

In this series debut for fans of Jenn McKinlay, baker Teddie St. John spends her time away from the oven writing murder mysteries. But is she herself a murderer?

 

Everyone in Lake Potawatomi, Wisconsin, knows Teddie St. John. Tall, curly-haired Teddie is a superb baker, a bohemian bon vivant, and a mystery writer. Teddie is walking her American Eskimo dog, Gracie, when her four-legged friend finds Teddie’s missing silk scarf. Only problem: the scarf is tied tightly around the neck of a beautiful blond woman, the fiancée of a touring British author.

 

Before you can say “Wisconsin kringle,” Teddie becomes a murder suspect. Everyone in town knows all too well that the distinctive scarf was hers. But there are more layers to this case than there would have been on poor Kristi’s wedding cake. Tavish Bentley should be bereaved after his sweetheart’s strangling. Instead, the dashing Brit takes a shine to Teddie’s witty wisecracks and to-die-for cookies, and soon he’s mooning over her instead of mourning his bride. That is, when he’s not dodging the attentions of Annabelle, an obsessive fan who’s taken to stalking him.

 

And when a second murder shocks the community, the plot thickens to the consistency of fondant as Teddie stands accused of not one, but two, murders. With the help of her friends Sharon and Char, can Teddie clear her name and deliver a killer’s just desserts?

 

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I had planned to read and review this book closer to the release date but I was suffering from chemo side effects and preparing for surgery at that time. Now I have just a few radiation treatments left and am in a much better place to read this book that features a breast cancer survivor protagonist.

Teddie St. John loves to bake and she’s good at it. She also loves to write mysteries and she excels at that too.  A breast cancer survivor she has plotted her life around those two things, plus her friends, her mom, and her American Eskimo dog, Gracie.  She is excited to attend a book signing at her BFF Char’s bookstore. The author, Tavish Bentley, is a famous British suspense writer who ended up in Lake Potawatomi when his event in Milwaukee was canceled. Sadly just as the event is getting started Teddie suffers one of those dreaded side effects brought on by cancer treatments and ends up leaving the book signing early.

Later while out walking Gracie she makes a gruesome discovery. Behind her friend’s bookstore, she finds the famous author’s fiance dead with a significant clue that points directly at Teddie as the murderer.  Thankfully she is friends with the sheriff and he knows she didn’t kill anybody. The author does have a fan who is obsessed with him, and Teddie’s money is on her as the killer but then a second body is found and that really twists things up. Teddie enlists the help of her besties to help her find the real killer and serve them up on a silver platter.


I love Teddie St. John! It is always nice when you have something in common with the lead character in a cozy but this time it isn’t just a craft or an occupation, it is something neither would have chosen for ourselves. Surviving cancer is a battle and her road was much tougher than mine. I know the author drew from her own experiences and that makes the story even more special. Ms. Walker also surrounded Teddie with excellent friends, an overbearing mother, and a lovable pup. These characters all drew me in right away.

Setting the story in my home state, also the author’s, grabbed my attention too. The dialogue rang true, the descriptions of the people and places was like looking out my back door, and OMG the food/Kringles mentions brought me actual joy.

The mystery was top-notch, with actually two to solve. Teddie was an interesting sleuth to follow. If you are looking for quirky, somewhat creepy characters look no further than the people that land on Teddie’s suspect list. She takes some risks but none of the “too stupid to live” kind that some amateur sleuths do. I did hone in on a few things before she did but was very entertained by the way things played out.

The story had a great flow with one scene near the beginning of the book that had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. There is also the start of a romance for Teddie. At first, I thought it was happening too quickly but who am I to judge. Teddie has been through a lot and deserves all the happiness she can get.

Murder Most Sweet is a terrific cozy mystery that has set this series off to a fine start. My appetite has been seriously whet, I can hardly wait for Deadly Delights that will be hitting shelves June 8, 2021.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Laura Jensen Walker has loved mysteries ever since she read Trixie Belden in the fourth grade in her Danish-founded hometown of Racine, Wisconsin–America’s kringle capital. A former journalist and the author of several novels and humorous non-fiction books, including Thanks for the Mammogram! Laura, like her main character, chose to go flat after her second mastectomy and is grateful to be a longtime breast cancer survivor. She lives in California with her Renaissance-man husband and their canine-daughter Mellie. (from Amazon)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”