Tag Archives: Jenn McKinlay

Better Late Than Never


Title:  Better Late than Never (Library Lovers Mysteries 7 )
Author:  Jenn McKinlay
Publisher:  Penguin
Publication Date:  2016
ISBN:  978-0-399-58373-5

Book Summary:
Librarian Lindsay Norris feels that books back in the library for recirculation are worth the loss of any fines collected, and she organizes Briar Creek Public Library’s first overdue book amnesty day.  The flood of books is so overwhelming that Lindsay not only recruits her entire staff, but also the group of crafternoon ladies who come to the library weekly to craft, discuss books, and enjoy a lunch together.

A copy of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye wins the prize of the most overdue book at almost 10 years, but what is more shocking is that the person who checked it out was Candice Whitley, a local high school English teacher who was murdered.  The plot thickens when Lindsay and the staff realize that the book was checked out on the very day her body was discovered and that the killer was never found.

Always curious and possessed with a natural inclination to want to find the answers, Lindsay uses her research skills to look into this cold case.  The case may be cold, but it seems that the memories of the horror of Candice’s murder and the secrets contained are warming up and Lindsay finds her researching skills put her in the hot seat.

Book Commentary:
This is the seventh book in this delightful cozy series.  Jenn McKinlay writes three cozy series – the Library Lovers, the Hat Shop, and the Cupcake Bakery – and they all embody what makes a cozy mystery so enjoyable:  a fun protagonist, likeable characters, a fun setting, and plot that is interesting without being too complex.  Of the three series, I enjoy the Library Lovers the most; a combination of the library setting and book references interests me, and the book is also set on the Connecticut coast with several adventures on the open water.

Lindsay is a very likeable character and her rationale for research and curiosity are very believable.  The author weaves in a bit of romance with two gentlemen vying for Lindsay’s attention.

Who might like this book:
These books are perfect for the carpool lane or waiting in the doctor’s office.  Each time a new one comes out, I feel like I am visiting with an old friend.

Make sure that you read them in order!

Books Can Be Deceiving
Due or Die
Book, Line, and Sinker
Read It and Weep
On Borrowed Time
A Likely Story
Better Late Than Never



I have to admit that I am Buzz Feed Quiz junkie.  You know, the ones that have you answer questions to determine which Disney Princess you are, which Hogwarts House you belong in, and which decade should you have lived in.  In order, Belle (no surprise there), Gryffindor (I wish I was that brave), and the 1950’s (pencil skirts and cocktail hour all the way!).  I recently saw one that “determined” your book interests based on travel preferences, and it got me thinking about settings.  I went through my list of all my favorite mystery writers . . . of course I have a list . . . and not too surprisingly, there was a lot of overlap of locations.  An honorable mention list must include New Orleans, Washington DC, and New York, but here are the four that made the final cut.

The United Kingdom
Big surprise there!  Obviously London – past and present – is number one of my list.  I have been an Anglophile forever, and although I have only had the opportunity to travel to the UK once, I love the juxtaposition between old and new, ancient and modern.  The history combined with all the cultural influences makes the setting full of literary opportunities.  With such a rich history, mysteries can be set in so many different time periods.  I love to read about the social customs and class mores that are indicative to each era.  Some of my favorite authors include maps of historical London and it is fascinating to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

I love to read about modern London in Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James New Scotland Yard adventures, Regency London through the eyes of C. S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr, and Victorian London’s Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch.

Of course, the great thing about the UK is that you can include Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.  My favorite mystery writer, Anna Lee Huber, sets her Georgian Lady Darby series in Scotland.  A modern day Wales is seen in Elizabeth Dunnett’s Penny Brannigan series and Rhys Bowen’s Evan Evans mysteries.

San Francisco
You have probably also noticed my love of San Francisco.  Ah, if money were no object . . . actually, it is an object, just one I don’t have a lot of!  Once again, it is a city with a lot of history and diversity.  With influences from the West and its role in the American Gold Rush and westward expansion history, there is a wealth of potential for conflict and personality.  The cultural and ethnic enclaves within the city are so vibrant that they are also individual and unique settings within the larger city.

I love Juliet Blackwell’s witchcraft series that is set in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco; the author does a great job at describing the tone and feel of this vibrant neighborhood.  Kate Carlisle is another favorite author of mine; her stories are set all around the heart of the city but she also travels up 101 across the Golden Gate Bridge to the wine country as well.  I just discovered Nancy Herriman’s novel of Old San Francisco set post Gold Rush and I look forward to more in that series.

New England
The crisp fall air.  The smell of apple pie.  The sound the pounding surf.  The sight of a dead body.  Don’t you love New England!!  Having lived in the Northeast, I quickly fell in love with the region and it truly does provide a wonderful backdrop to a great crime!  Seriously though, the history, the topography, and customs of decades old generations makes New England a great setting.

Quintessential New England towns provide the perfect setting for Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Russ VanAlstyne and Clare Fergusson contemporary mysteries that feature a small town cop and an Episcopalian priest, and for Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lovers mysteries set in coastal Connecticut.  Kaitlyn Dunnett channels a Scottish heritage in the fictitious Moosetookalook, Maine.

Ironically, France had never been a place I had a huge desire to visit, until I was introduced to two great mystery series sent in this beautiful and culturally rich country.  Wine, cheese, the French Alps, the French Riviera.  Seriously, what was I thinking?  Of course I would love to go there!!

Two writers that I really enjoy include Mark Pryor and M.L. Longworth.  Mark Pryor’s Hugo Marston series is set mainly in Paris and I enjoy reading about both the famous and infamous stops that he visits within the city.  M.L. Longworth’s Verlaque and Bonnet series takes place in Aix-en-Provence, which is in southern France not too far from Marseille.  I really enjoy the contrast between the two geographically and culturally diverse areas.

Interesting . . . I have lived in two of these locations; perhaps it is time to move again?  As I wrote this, it got me thinking about specific places from novels that I have read that I would like to visit.  I think I see another blog post topic!  How about you?  What are your favorite book settings?

Copy Cap Murder

Copy Cap Murder

Title:  Copy Cap Murder (Hat Shop Mysteries 4)
Author:  Jenn McKinlay
Publisher:  Penguin
Publication Date:  2016
ISBN:  978-0-425-27958-8

Book Summary:
After the humiliating discovery that her boyfriend was married and the ensuing battle that went viral online, Scarlett Parker retreated across the pond to the place of her childhood vacations.  Mim’s Whims is a hat shop in London that was run by her aunt; now that Mim is gone, Scarlett’s cousin Vivian Tremont designs the hats and Scarlett helps to run the shop.  Scarlett has been in the UK for eight months and is finally finding some normalcy to her life.  Although she has sworn off men for a year, she is struggling with the attraction of Harrison Wentworth.  As a boy, Harrison teased Scarlett but now is a respected financial consultant.  Harrison has made his feelings known and Scarlett isn’t sure she will be able to make it to the one-year mark.

Scarlett is excited to participate in the British holiday of Guy Fawkes Day for the first time and she, along with Vivian, accompany Harrison to a huge bonfire celebration at his boss’ house.  Once there, Scarlett starts to meet some of Harrison’s colleagues, including former girlfriend Tuesday Blount and rival Winthrop Dashavoy.  When Winthrop tries to be a little too friendly, Harrison defends Scarlett and fist fight ensues.  Later that evening, when the straw effigy of Guy Fawkes is being prepared to be thrown on the fire, the crowd becomes horrified to discover that “Guy Fawkes” isn’t made of straw but is actually Winthrop.  Because of their conflict since their school days and the fight that night, Harrison becomes the number one suspect.

Scarlett, Vivian, and their friends and neighbors are anxious to help clear Harrison’s name and search to find who might want Winthrop dead.  Unfortunately, the list is lengthy.  As they continue to pursue their inquiries, it becomes clear that Harrison is NOT the murderer; the real murderer however has no intention of being caught and will do anything to prevent discovery.

Book Commentary:
Jenn McKinlay writes three cozy mystery series: the Hat Shop Mysteries, the Library Lover’s Mysteries, and the Cupcake Mysteries.  I have read all the Hat Shop and Library Lover’s books and they are very enjoyable.  McKinlay does a nice job creating fun characters and unique locales for her stories.  The stories aren’t real deep but very enjoyable and so far, the plots have been believable.  I like how she has a number of series going on; none of them have the lasting potential of a detective story but they are still holding their own.

The Hat Shop setting is unique and I love all the explanations of hat couture; I had no idea!!  I am jealous of a time and place where wearing hats is the norm.  The descriptions of the hats and places where they are worn is very intriguing.  And of course, it is set in London.  Yes, I love that!

Who might like this book:
These are great for car pool lines, waiting in the doctor’s office, or any time you want a nice story that is easy to pick up and put down.  If you like the author’s style, I highly recommend her Library Lover’s mystery series as well.

Here are the books in order:
Cloche and Dagger
Death of a Mad Hatter
At the Drop of a Hat
Copy Cap Murder