In the Study with the Wrench – Book Review

In the Study with the Wrench: A Clue Mystery, Book Two by Diana Peterfreund

Synopsis:
In the aftermath of their headmaster’s brutal murder, Blackbrook Academy has been thrown into chaos. Half the student body hasn’t bothered to return to campus—but those who have include Orchid McKee, Vaughn Green, Scarlett Mistry, Beth “Peacock” Picach, Phineas Plum, and Sam “Mustard” Maestor, now warily referred to by the other students as the Murder Crew.

When another staff member is found dead, each teen’s reasons for sticking around come to light. Orchid and Vaughn grow ever closer to having their secrets exposed, Peacock and Scarlett struggle to change their stripes, and Plum and Mustard question everything. As everything comes to a boiling point at Tudor House, nobody’s life will ever be the same.

Review:
Where the previous novel felt a bit claustrophobic, being mostly stuck in the house, this sequel is just as suspenseful and full of intrigue. Once again, each chapter rotates from each of the main characters’ points of view. It’s a great way to tell the story, as we only get snippets from each, adding to the mystery and each of their own motives. We are introduced to several more “colorful” characters (pun intended); and everyone seems like they have something to hide. The interpersonal drama develops in this installment, with a bit of romance. And a surprising finale builds to a bit of a cliffhanger ending. I certainly look forward to the final novel in this fantastic mystery trilogy.

In the Hall with the Knife – Book Review

In the Hall with the Knife: A Clue Mystery, Book One by Diana Peterfreund

Synopsis:
When a storm strikes at Blackbrook Academy, an elite prep school nestled in the woods of Maine, a motley crew of students—including Beth “Peacock” Picach, Orchid McKee, Vaughn Green, Sam “Mustard” Maestor, Finn Plum, and Scarlet Mistry—are left stranded on campus with their headmaster. Hours later, his body is found in the conservatory and it’s very clear his death was no accident. With this group of students who are all hiding something, nothing is as it seems, and everyone has a motive for murder. Fans of the CLUE board game and cult classic film will delight in Diana Peterfreund’s modern reimagining of the brand, its characters, and the dark, magnificent old mansion with secrets hidden within its walls.

Review:
As a fan of the game and the film based on it, I knew I had to check out this new trilogy. There are clever characters with familiar names and nicknames. It’s easy to keep track of them all as they all have vastly different personalities and motivations. Each chapter is from a different rotating, major character. This is a very fun and well-developed whodunnit for teens and adults alike. From the colorful characters (maybe a pun indented) to the suspenseful plot, mystery and Clue fans will enjoy this fresh take. To be honest, I did guess the killer, but I wasn’t sure of the motivation – so it was still a thrilling adventure with several surprises along the way. I’m definitely reading the next in this fantastic series soon.

Mystery Book Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon

Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove

Synopsis:
It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe – eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty – is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.

Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick’s calling card…

Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something – or someone – is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realize that no one is beyond suspicion.

Review:
Sherlock and Watson head to a castle to help a young woman being haunted. Sherlock quickly discovers how someone is leaving the ominous twigs, but not who or why. Despite being unwelcome by most of the rest of the household, Sherlock continues his investigation as time is running out.

This latest Sherlock Holmes mystery is a bit of a slow burn. However, the characters are engaging and entertaining. I enjoyed this intriguing mystery. And it certainly kept me guessing the whole time. While part of the mystery was easy to uncover, I didn’t see the big reveal coming. I look forward to more installments from this author.

Book Review: Capturing the Devil

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Synopsis:
Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve encountered before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

Review:
Audrey Rose and Thomas arrive in New York and soon learn about a killer who seems reminiscent of their Ripper in London. Though they thought they had stopped him back in London. Clues lead the couple to Chicago and the World’s Fair, where people have been going missing. America’s first serial killer is their most evil foe yet.

Capturing the Devil is the fourth and final installment to the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I enjoyed this take on HH Holmes, and several of his actual victims are mentioned or featured along the way. The story is quite a bit lengthier than its predecessors, as there is more of a developed side story with the romance between Audrey Rose and Thomas. I preferred the gothic, mystery storyline and was glad when they arrive in Chicago and the suspense increased. I only wish we had more time in the “Murder Hotel,” as the climactic showdown could have been played up even more. However, it was still intensely thrilling, with a fun epilogue. I certainly enjoyed this unique series.

Blu-Ray Review: Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-Ray I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.”

Synopsis:
After the death of his wife, Carson Drew decides to leave Chicago behind and make a fresh start with his daughter in River Heights. But for 16-year-old Nancy Drew, life in a small town is mighty dull. She longs for excitement, adventure, and the chance to make a difference. Nancy gets that opportunity when she is asked to help solve the ghostly activity at the Twin Elms mansion. Can she help explain the creaking footsteps, exploding lightbulbs and the ominous creature? Is it the handiwork of high-school bully Derek Barnes? Or is it possible that the ghost of original owner Malcolm Colfax is back for revenge? Recruiting her best friends George and Bess, along with local “mean girl” Helen, Nancy Drew is on the case!

Review:
Nancy Drew is fearless and always up for an adventure. She also has a soft spot for those who can’t stick up for themselves. So, after the fallout of avenging her friend with a school bully, Nancy finds herself in community service. But helping out a sweet old lady with a ghost problem is just the thing she needs to save herself from boredom.

Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase resembles the second book in the Nancy Drew series of the same name. Though, this has obviously been modernized. Nancy, George, and Bess have very different looks and personalities. And this Nancy seems much more immature and brazen than her original character from the books. The story is intriguing and engaging. Though, most of the mystery is very predictable for any adult, children will still enjoy the suspense and silly humor. Despite the exciting suspense, it still remains lighthearted and fun. This family friendly film was a hit with my 9 and 11 year old nieces, who immediately wondered if there would be sequel.

Own it on Blu-Ray and DVD April 2!

Bonus Features:
A Sleuth, A Girl and an Inspiration (Featurette)
Pink Footprints: Touring Twin Elms (Featurette)
– Gag Reel

Book Review: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Haunting of Torre Abbey

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Haunting of Torre Abbey by Carole Bugge

Synopsis:
Sherlock Holmes receives a request for aid from Lord Cary, whose family home, Torre Abbey, is seemingly haunted. While skeptical, Holmes believes that the Carys are in danger, a belief that proves horrifyingly accurate when a household member dies mysteriously. As strange sightings and threatening apparitions become almost commonplace, Holmes and Watson must uncover the secrets of the abbey if they are to have any hope of protecting the living and avenging the dead.

Review:
The Haunting of Torre Abbey is a fun and suspenseful mystery with everyone’s favorite detective. This has the feel of the original The Hound of the Baskervilles. Holmes makes astute observations and always seems miles ahead of everyone else. Though Watson is brilliant as well, as we get his point of view. When I thought I had the mystery figured out, I was only partially right. There are several surprises and overall an intriguing mystery that I won’t soon forget. I can’t get enough of Sherlock, so I’m grateful for this Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series.

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