Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review: Valentine Murder

Valentine Murder by Leslie Meier

My rating:  4 Stars

Lucy, in addition to being a busy mom of four, and an occasional freelance feature writer for the local newspaper, is now a member of the board of directors at the town's library. She is one of seven directors, and imagine her horror, on the very first day of her new duties, when the librarian, Bitsy Howell is murdered.  The detective on the case, Lieutenant Horowitz, is certain that one of the directors is responsible for Bitsy's death. She met Hororwitz before and as he knows of her propensity to get involved, he strictly warns her to leave things to the police.

Over the past few years, several cases have arisen involving the gruesome act of murder, and Lucy was right in the thick of things with the very intent of solving them, which she did admirably. Things will be no different this time - she will not wait around for the police. She intends on finding the murderer as soon as possible, despite being commanded by the detective to stay out of it.

Per usual Lucy Stone style, Lucy knows just who to talk to and just what questions to ask. She is superb when it comes to digging to the bottom of matters. All the while playing sleuth, she is living a real life with relationships and situations that cannot be ignored. I especially love her role as a mother - it brings to much to an already well-written story and series.

However, I want to mention two things that kept me from giving this more than four stars. For one thing, the parents were quite lax with their computer and there was no internet safety for their children. Also, while running to the store, she left her four-year-old Zoe in the car in order to avoid an argument over what the little one might want her to buy. (Actually, she left Zoe in the car alone one other time come to think of it.) While the story may be set in small-town Maine, real dangers (well, fictionalized, but real, you know?) do exist and I feel that these matters weren't handled right. Also, a small thing irritated me - ten-year-old Sarah is in the 3rd grade? Hopefully just an editing error.

As with all connected series and books, familiar characters are back. We don't see as much as one of my favorites in this book, however, Barney Culpepper, but with 24 books in this series, I do hope to see him more. Ms. Tilley remains as cantankerous as ever, but I still feel a bit of patience for her. Bill, Lucy's husband, is growing on me. Then, of course, there is the mystery of the murder. It is handled well and efficiently, with enough twists and turns to keep the story at a fast pace. With only a handful of suspects, it was great fun trying to pinpoint the murderer. For an enjoyable and quick read for lovers of cozy mysteries, even with the problems in the story, be sure to pick up this next installment in the series. I am looking forward to reading Christmas Cookie Murder next.


I started writing in the late ‘80s when I was attending graduate classes at Bridgewater State College. I wanted to become certified to teach high school English and one of the required courses was Writing and the Teaching of Writing. My professor suggested that one of the papers I wrote for that course was good enough to be published and I sent it off to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine’s Department of First Stories. I got $100 for the story and I’ve been writing ever since. The teaching, however, didn’t work out.

My books draw heavily on my experience as a mother of three and my work as a reporter for various weekly newspapers on Cape Cod. My heroine, Lucy Stone, is a reporter in the fictional town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, where she lives in an old farmhouse (quite similar to mine on Cape Cod!) with her restoration carpenter husband Bill and four children. As the series has progressed the kids have grown older, roughly paralleling my own family. We seem to have reached a point beyond which Lucy cannot age–my editor seems to want her to remain forty-something forever, though I have to admit I personally am dying to write “Menopause is Murder!”

I usually write one Lucy Stone mystery every year and as you can tell, my editor likes me to feature the holidays in my books. Of course Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and my newest mystery “Eggnog Murder,” is included in an anthology with two other Christmas novellas by Barbara Ross and Lee Hollis. I’ve long been a fan of the classic English country house mystery, and was a faithful watcher of “Downton Abbey,” so I couldn’t resist trying to write one. I think I succeeded rather well, if I do say so myself, with “British Manor Murder,” which came out in October, 2016.

My books are classified as “cozies” but a good friend insists they are really “comedies of manners” and I do enjoy expressing my view of contemporary American life.

Now that the kids are grown — we have five fabulous grandchildren — my husband and I are enjoying dividing our time between Braintree and Cape Cod, along with our cat, Sylvester.

Find Her:  Goodreads / Twitter / Web 

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