Smugglers and Scones cover revealAuthor Morgan C. Talbot offers up a smart, smirky cozy mystery in Smugglers & Scones. As mysteries go, I tend more towards hard-boiled fare, but sometimes change is good. In this case, the change was very good! I honestly didn’t want to put my Kindle Fire down.

This is a first-person affair with Oregon Coast bed-and-breakfast queen Pippa Winterbourne running the show in Moorehaven. Well, at least when Rex and Svetlana, her feline fans, aren’t in charge.

I’ve spent time in Oregon, and my┬ávisits were always blanketed with fog and buffeted with cold. Probably nothing has changed. In Scones, Pippa’s business location is the former home of a world-famous mystery writer, and her guests arrive daily to wallow in writers’ block or finish their little darlings and get the pages off to their publishers. That sounds fine for me. Might as well be inside writing if the weather’s a bit blocky outside.

Of course I wouldn’t have kept reading without that tricky murder and the clues leading a call-back to Prohibition days. Yeah, there’s plenty here to keep you reading, and pondering what’s up next as you reach the end of each chapter. Really an enjoyable read.

Four Stars

HHow Speleology - book coverIf┬áthe title of Michael Bernhart’s latest book is confusing, don’t feel bad. Speleology is the study of caves and cave systems, and you already know about sex drives, but the snake? Well, I think Bernhart is selling himself short here because this is the third book in a four book series and it reads well, but the titles aren’t helping to get readers. That’s unfortunate, and while he almost lost me because of the cover, I did start reading the story, and it was interesting.

The truth is that How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive is a good clean (mostly) read about a family that travels to Georgia to hunt lost treasure left during the Civil War. It draws on a possibly true legend of lost gold and presents some characters with colorful back stories of their own.

Bernhart writes in first-person and the main character, Max, tells us about his wife Sally and their two twins, who somehow manage to convince their parents to go on the treasure hunt in the first place. Much of the story is tongue-in-cheek, although there are some serious issues involved when the foursome is forced to interact with the Ku Klux Klan, who is also searching for the same treasure. Needless to say, struggles ensue.

This is a 265-page, easy-reading book set in 1993. It’s available on Kindle for $2.99, and you are likely to enjoy the read.

Three Stars