Of Manners and Murder by Anastasia Hastings
The first book in this new cozy series is absolutely delightful! The protagonist, Violet, is plunged into the action right along with the reader, learning that her aunt Adelia is a popular Agony Aunt, an anonymous writer who offers advice through a newspaper column. In that same conversation, she learns that Adelia is leaving for the Continent and expects Violet to take her place. When the first letter she opens is from a new bride fearing for her life, Violet sets off to offer advice in person, only to learn that the young woman is already dead. The book is fast paced and entertaining and, while I started to get an idea what the solution to the mystery would be, I didn't come close to solving it all. I can't wait to read more about these characters!
Wined and Died in New Orleans by Ellen Byron
After some crates of what could be very valuable wine are discovered hidden at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, Ricki starts looking for ways to combine the upcoming auction with promotions for her vintage cookbook shop. Those bottles of wine could generate a small fortune, money that will definitely help the museum, and she's eager to help. Even if that means venturing back onto social media, something she's shied away from since her husband died while filming a prank video. News of the auction brings distant Charbonnet cousins to town, all hoping to claim what they see as their share of the windfall and seemingly willing to do anything to make that happen.
I loved this one, with its quirky characters and the atmospheric backdrop of New Orleans. This murder mystery could only have happened at this museum with these people and I can't wait to see what happens to Ricki and her friends next.
Such Pretty Flowers by K. L. Cerra
Plagued with guilt about avoiding her brother's last few text messages and horrified by the details of his grisly suicide, Holly goes looking for explanations. Was her brother's enigmatic girlfriend somehow involved or had Dane experienced a psychotic break? Holly scrolls endlessly through Dane's messages and considers every detail of their last encounters, trying to figure out what actually happened. Maura is welcoming and supportive and almost before Holly realizes what's happening, she's moved into the gorgeous woman's apartment. The horror is absolutely claustrophobic and the author has a way of making things that don't seem like they should be scary work. The protagonist suffers from trypophobia, an aversion to clusters of small holes. When she first explains it and uses strawberries as an example of a sight that makes her uncomfortable, it seems silly. By the end of the book, descriptions had me squirming.
Disclosure -- The publishers provided me with advance review copies. This post contains affiliate links.