Archive for 'Hughes, Mary Ellen'
Today’s featured author is Mary Ellen Hughes. Mary Ellen has two different mystery series – the Craft Corner series and one featuring math teacher Maggie Olenski.
STRING OF LIES: Jo finally sees her Craft Corner showing signs of success. But then a local developer threatens to take over her building before she can renew her lease. Jo tries to meet with him but instead finds him murdered and her good friend Dan under suspicion. Craft tips and a beading project included!
WREATH OF DECEPTION: Jo McAllister needs to pull her life back together after her husband Mike dies in a terrible accident. With the help of her good friends, she relocates to a small town in Maryland to begin life anew as owner of an arts and crafts shop.
Itâ€™s a sink or swim venture, Jo having invested every penny into her shop, and things seem to get off to a great start at her grand opening. Then the clown she hired is found murdered in her stock room, and the local police suspect Jo of a different type of craftiness â€“ the criminal kind.
RESORT TO MURDER, was published in December, 2000 to be followed by A TASTE OF DEATH. Both novels feature Maggie Olenski, a high school math teacher who tends to take deadly vacations, and who coincidentally enjoys tennis and skiing nearly as much as Mary Ellen does.
A TASTE OF DEATH: Cedar Hill sounds like the perfect place for Maggie to write her math puzzle book – a small New Hampshire town whose biggest problem should be keeping roads to the adjacent ski slopes clear of snow. The first town meeting, however, proves otherwise. Bitter arguments break out over Jack Warwick’s proposal to buy the financially-struggling ski resort and turn it into a granite mine. Maggie thinks she can keep out of it all, until Jack drops dead of poison and her childhood friend becomes the prime suspect.
As Maggie investigates, she soon finds there were many who wished Jack dead. Which one of them acted on it, though, and planted evidence pointing to her friend? Maggie struggles to find out, before time runs out, and before the killer decides to give her A Taste of Death.
RESORT TO MURDER: Maggie decides she needs a break. Teaching high school geometry has her burnt out so she plans a week vacation at Highview Inn, a mountain resort in Maryland. The peaceful, idyllic surroundings are the perfect antidote and she looks forward to long days of playing tennis and swimming. But on her first day she discovers the body of a hotel employee in the woods. The young waitress was also a former student of hers and the murder disturbs Maggie in more ways than one.
Unlike most math problems she encounters, this mystery has no easy answers. As the list of suspects gets longer she finds herself distrusting everyone. With clues from the girl’s diary and inquiries into her suspects’ histories, Maggie moves closer to the truth. Then she learns of other puzzling “suicides” and accidental deaths in the resort’s past which seem too coincidental to her. But the killer knows what she is up to and she will have to outwit this cold-blooded murderer or die trying.
You can read my review of RESORT TO MURDER here.
Mary Ellen can be found on the internet at maryellenhughes.com.
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This book starts off with the murder of a clown, which the surprising number of people who are afraid of clowns will probably be pleased with. Cuddles the Clown was, in fact, hired to work the grand opening of a craft store and is found murdered in the back room by the owner at the end of a long opening day. Those of you who like clowns may be somewhat mollified by the fact that this was a very annoying actor in a clown suit with several people angry at him.
Wreath of Deception is billed as the first in the new Craft Corner Mystery series and is based around widow Jo McAllister’s new craft store. Those of you expecting lots of craft tips (the cover states “includes craft tips”) will be disappointed, as the book includes directions to make one wreath and some not very detailed crafty dialog worked into the book. I think the publishers do themselves a disservice by labelling these themed books this way and implying the reader will get more detailed information out of them than is available. But anyway…
The book isn’t bad but suffers from a shortage of suspects and Hughes doesn’t manage to insert her clues very subtly. It is painfully obvious who the killer is and exactly what the motive is. This book seems to be written to suit somebody’s specifications – popular hobby, light mystery, target audience women 30-60, hint of future romance – rather than with any enthusiasm or enjoyment. I have read better by Hughes and would like to think that she can bring more of her talent and creativity to her next book.
Favorite character? Jo’s mother, who never discusses anything unpleasant. Did I guess it? Oh, yeah. Will I read another? If I hear good things about it.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2007
I really enjoyed this book, but everything I can think of to say about it sounds bad. If I say it is a simple mystery it sounds boring. If I say it is old-fashioned, it sounds dated. If I say it is light, it sounds dull. And if I say it reminds me of a Nancy Drew mystery, who knows what you will think. But it is all of those things and really good, too!
Maggie is a young teacher who heads off to a small resort for some quiet time on her vacation. She immediately finds the body of a former student in the woods and decides to do a little nosing around because the girl worked at the resort. She is assisted by fellow vacationer and new friend Dyna, who is a little flighty but very likeable. Together they investigate the resort staff and find that they arenâ€™t all as nice as they seem.
This is a well-written, straightforward light mystery. It is a smooth, fast, and enjoyable read. Cozy readers will like it just fine. And those of us who fell in love with mysteries as kids by reading Nancy Drew stories will find the style of the story and the young heroines seem familiar â€“ this is sort of a walk down memory lane.
Did I guess it? Yes. Will I read more? Absolutely.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2006