When I read complaints about cozy mysteries and the amateur sleuth getting involved in all the investigations, I think about Julie Hyzy. Yes, her amateur sleuths do get involved, but it's through no fault of their own. And, as in her latest mystery, Grace Among Thieves, Hyzy is more than willing to show that her sleuths are human, fallible, and they make mistakes. It's no wonder that Julie Hyzy is an award-winning author with some of the best cozy mysteries out there. Her series books are just what cozy mysteries should be, filled with likable, flawed characters a reader would like to know, settings we appreciate, and despicable villains. Just perfect.
Grace Among Thieves, the third book in the Manor House mystery, once again features Grace Wheaton, curator and manager of Marshfield Manor, an estate in Emberstowne, a small town in the North Carolina mountains. Along with the Bennett Marshfield, the septuagenarian owner of the manor, she's trying to bring the house up-to-date, increasing security, and bringing in a film team to create a dvd to showcase the estate. When small valuables start to disappear around the house, Grace and Bennett fear it might be his stepdaughter, Hillary, a cloying woman who is trying to win her way into the dvd while urging Bennett to allow her a bigger part in running the estate. But, a surprise phone call from Grace's mentor reveals those thefts could be an indicator of bigger trouble to come.
The trouble isn't quite what Grace expects though. While a tour is going on in the house, one visitor is murdered, and another is shot. Now, Grace has theft, murder, and an appealing recuperating victim on her hands. She's worked with the local police force before, and even Grace's recalcitrant assistant, Frances, admits Grace does a better job finding killers than the police do. That's one reason one of the detectives, Flynn, gets so angry when Grace is involved. This time, Grace's mistakes could lead to tragedy.
What are you looking for when you read a cozy mystery? If you're looking for a cast of characters that include the sleuth, loyal friends, an attractive setting, and a duplicitous villain, you can pick up Grace Among Thieves with confidence that you've found the right book. If you're looking for mature sleuths who still grow and learn from their mistakes, Hyzy is the right author. Grace Wheaton, like Ollie Paras in Hyzy's White House Chef series, is a mature woman in her thirties who juggles a career and a complex personal life. Relationships don't always work out for either woman, but they grow and move on. Readers of cozy mysteries often care about the characters as much as they do about the mysteries themselves. Julie Hyzy successfully combines all the elements cozy readers want in her latest mystery, Grace Among Thieves.
(And, a note. Kudos to the cover illustrator, Kimberly Schamber. If that cover doesn't define a cozy mystery, nothing does.)
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.