Tag Archives: Lorena McCourtney

Review: Detour, by Lorena McCourtney

Detour, by Lorena McCourtney (Rogue Ridge Press, 2018)

Another enjoyable mystery, packed with suspects and unusual characters. This time, Mac and Ivy take a detour on the way to their honeymoon destination in Arizona for Mac to cover a magazine assignment covering a Northern California dinosaur theme park.

The park is run down and Ivy has doubts about the couple running it. Suspicions and motives fly even before a body comes to light. Naturally, shenanigans ensue. I had a little trouble getting into this one, and found the occasional clunky sentence, but Ivy and her mutant curiosity gene are a delight. By the end, I was reading at full speed.

Ivy MacPherson (formerly Malone) is a self-titled “LOL” (little old lady) with a knack for finding—and solving—mysteries. The Ivy ‘n’ Mac series follows the Ivy Malone series now that she and Mac are a couple.

Ivy is funny, sassy, and possessed of a double helping of spunk. She’s a treat to read, and it’s worth going back to meet her in her first book, Invisible. She and Mac travel the US in an RV, yet murders somehow find her at every turn.

To learn about author Lorena McCourtney and her other mysteries, visit lorenamccourtney.info.

[Review copy from the public library. This title is available through Hoopla.]

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Review: Something Buried, Something Blue, by Lorena McCourtney

Something Buried, Something Blue, by Lorena McCourtneySomething Buried, Something Blue, by Lorena McCourtney (Rogue Ridge Press, 2016)

I thoroughly enjoyed the Ivy Malone series, and it seems only fair that with Ivy and Mac planning to get married, we should have a new series to celebrate it. Something Buried, Something Blue is The Mac ‘n’ Ivy Mysteries, Book #1.

Mac should have known there’d be more bodies ahead. Ivy attracts them, and it’s probably contagious. In this new series, Mac gets point of view chapters to balance Ivy’s, and they each have a part to play if they’re going to solve this crime and stay alive until their wedding day.

Mac and Ivy are senior citizens (she’s a self-proclaimed “LOL” – little old lady), and sometimes the “invisibility” that comes with age works to their advantage in solving crimes. Neither of them is known to back away from a challenge.

This book introduces Mac’s school-aged granddaughter, Elle, whose curiosity matches Ivy’s. I hope we’ll see more of this girl in the books to come.

It’s a fun story, amusing in places and without too much rough stuff. I did find it felt like some of the complication-causing characters kind of slipped off into the sunset before the final conflict, but other than that, another fine read. I’m looking forward to the next one.

For more about Lorena McCourtney and her books, see her Goodreads profile, and check out this interview: introducing-lorena-mccourtney.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Go, Ivy, Go! by Lorena McCourtney

Go, Ivy, Go! by Lorena McCourtneyGo, Ivy, Go!, by Lorena McCourtney (Rogue Ridge Press, 2015)

Ivy Malone has been on the run from the Braxton family for years, but they haven’t tried to kill her recently. Maybe it’s safe to go home. Her boyfriend disagrees, but once Ivy gets an idea in her head, there’s no stopping her.

If you’re not familiar with Ivy, she’s a self-described “LOL” (little old lady). In the first book in the series, aptly titled Invisible, Ivy discovered that most people don’t notice elderly people – which came in very handy when she decided to solve a murder.

Ivy is down-to-earth, brave, and funny. She’s not terribly tech-savvy, but she has friends who can help when needed. She has a kind heart, and her faith is a quiet but important part of who she is.

I’ve enjoyed this series, and am glad this book came along to wrap it up. There was a long gap after the previous instalment. And now readers can look forward to a new series, The Mac ‘n Ivy Mysteries.

If you’ve loved the series, grab this final book. If it’s new to you, start with Invisible. Or jump in here, and catch up on the previous stories later.

Lorena McCourtney has also written the Cate Kincaid Files, Andi McConnell Mysteries, and the Julesburg Mysteries, all mystery-suspense stories.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Review: Dolled Up to Die, by Lorena McCourtney

Dolled Up to Die, by Lorena McCourtneyDolled Up to Die, by Lorena McCourtney (Revell, 2013)

Cate Kinkaid is a private investigator—assistant PI, she’s quick to point out, which means she’s not allowed to carry a gun. Not that she should need one, since Belmont Investigations doesn’t take cases involving violence. Somebody should tell the criminals that last bit, because Dolled Up to Die is Cate’s second encounter with murder.

Cate wants to find out who killed her client JoJo’s ex-husband before the police decide it was JoJo herself. JoJo designs custom-made, child-sized dolls. She may talk about them as if they’re real, and she may have a donkey for a watchdog, but she’s not a killer… is she?

The Cate Kincaid Files books are cozy mysteries, with interesting characters and more focus on solving the crime than on frightening the reader. Even when Cate’s in danger, the suspense isn’t over-the-top. Cate is lovably impulsive, a bit too sympathetic for her own good, and not so sure of herself, but she’s enjoying this PI gig and she’s still alive to tell about it.

This story has a bit more Christian content than the previous one, because one of the characters professes to be able to discover facts about people’s “past lives” and when she encourages Cate’s boyfriend, Mitch, to try it out, he’s uncomfortable enough that he blurts out his Christian view of the subject in self-defense.

Octavia the deaf cat is back in this book, occasionally trying her paw at assisting the assistant PI. Octavia isn’t as adept as the cats in Lilian Jackson Braun‘s The Cat Who… series, but she occasionally points Cate in a useful direction.

You don’t have to have read the first book, Dying to Read, to enjoy this one, but if you plan to read them both, do it in order to avoid spoilers. New York Times best-selling author Lorena McCourtney is perhaps most widely known for her Ivy Malone series, where “LOL” means “Little Old Lady.” If you like Ivy, or you like mysteries with a bit of humour, check out Cate Kincaid. You can read an excerpt of Dolled up to Die, or view the readers group guide if you’ve already read it, by clicking the links.

[Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.]

Review: Whirlpool, by Lorena McCourtney

Whirlpool, by Lorena McCourtneyWhirlpool, by Lorena McCourtney (Kindle version, 2011)

Would you stay in a town where your ex-husband flaunted his lavish lifestyle and new fiancée while he stalls on dividing ownership of your former family business? Well, maybe you would, since there’s evidence he’s been less than honest with the company finances.

Stefanie Canfield chose to stay.

Arson investigator Ryan Harrison spent a miserable portion of his childhood in the town of Julesburg and can’t believe his company’s sending him back there. Surprise number 1 is the discovery that Stephanie’s still in town. After their shared underdog status in school, he figured she’d have distanced herself as much as he had. Surprise number 2: She’s turned into an attractive woman, and they seem to have some chemistry. Number 3? She’s one of the suspects in his case.

Stephanie knows she didn’t start the fire. Her ex, Hunter, is calculating enough to have done it, but she has no proof.

What she does have are odd “blurry” episodes, brought on by stress, when she can’t remember what she’s done. Under the circumstances, these happen more frequently. So when there’s a murder, can she really be sure she didn’t do it? Even if she didn’t, can Hunter successfully frame her?

I really enjoyed this novel, the first in the Julesburg Mysteries series. It has a more serious feel than Lorena McCourtney’s Ivy Malone series or her new mystery, Dying to Read, but there are still light-hearted turns of phrase to bring a smile.

Whirlpool is a good mystery, set in coastal Oregon. I like Stefanie, although her impulsive actions often had me wanting to shake her and say “don’t do that!” Not only has she lost her husband to another woman, she lost her mother to cancer the year before. And she may have lost her faith. After all, where was God in all this hurt?

While the specific mysteries of arson and murder are wrapped up for the authorities by the novel’s end, some of my questions aren’t resolved (will Stefanie’s blurry spells go away, and was the accident that caused them really an accident?). I thought that might happen as the series progressed, but the next two novels, Riptide and Undertow, focus on new characters and new romances. Stefanie and Ryan do appear, and all three books are worth a read.

You can learn more about author Lorena McCourtney at her website, or find her on Facebook. Whirlpool previously appeared in print through Fleming H. Revel, a division of Baker Books, 2002. The Julesburg novels are all available on Kindle, and since they’re re-issues of older novels, the prices are very inviting (under $3 each). See Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

[Review copy from my personal library. Amazon links are affiliate links for The Word Guild.]

Review: Dying to Read, by Lorena McCourtney

Dying to ReadDying to Read, by Lorena McCourtney (Revell, 2012)

Cate Kinkaid is working for her Uncle Joe, “dipping her toe into the world of private investigation” until she can find a real job. Her past work experience, and her ex-fiancé, have left her feeling like a failure.

Her first investigative assignment seems to be more of the same: all she has to do is verify the address of a young woman named Willow, but Willow’s gone. Instead, Cate finds a dead body and ends up saddled with the deceased’s cat.

But Cate has spunk and some good instincts, and the official verdict of accidental death doesn’t feel right. Plus, she’s determined to find Willow before her uncle discovers the assignment’s still unfinished.

Suspects abound: Willow, the dead woman’s book club, her niece, her boyfriend. It’s not all bad, though. Cate meets a handsome handyman, Mitch, who appoints himself her bodyguard. Even that’s troublesome, because she still wonders if God will bring her ex-fiancé to his senses.

Dying to Read is book one in Lorena McCourtney’s new series, The Cate Kinkaid Files. After enjoying her Ivy Malone books, I was eager to give this one a try, and I look forward to reading more of Cate’s adventures.

Lorena McCourtney’s characters are always a treat, blending humour and eccentricities with hearts that are surprisingly real. Cate doesn’t trust her intuition, but she’s wiser than she knows, and she’s too stubborn to quit.

To learn more about the author and her books, visit Lorena McCourtney’s website. At the publisher’s website, you can read an excerpt of Dying to Read, or if you’ve already read the novel, check out the discussion questions.

[Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.]

Review: Stranded, by Lorena McCourtney

Stranded: cover artStranded, by Lorena McCourtney (Revell, 2006)

There’s not much better than a cozy mystery with a spunky heroine and a sprinkle of humour, and as such I always enjoy Lorena McCourtney’s Ivy Malone mysteries. Ivy is a self-proclaimed LOL—“little old lady”—and much like Miss Marple she uses her apparent harmlessness to solve the murders that keep happening around her.

Stranded is Ivy’s fourth case, set in the small, mountain town of Hello, Colorado. She and her travelling companion, Abilene, arrive after the murder—and after the townsfolk have decided who did it—but it doesn’t take long for Ivy’s “mutant curiosity gene” to kick in. Since they’re literally stranded in town until they can pay for a new engine for their motor home, she has time to indulge her curiosity and find the real killer.

Dead is one Hiram McLeod, a wealthy older gentleman about to embark on his ninth marriage. Hiram was a shrewd if not always upright businessman, and who knows how many enemies he had? It doesn’t take long for Ivy to discover a list of suspects. Unfortunately, she likes them all.

Fans of the series will welcome appearances by Ivy’s friends Magnolia and Geoff and her special friend Mac. Stranded is a pleasant read, not overly tense except for one scene near the end. Ivy’s always good for a few smiles, and I appreciate her practical faith. She may not know what’s going to happen next, but she’s sure God has something in mind.

Readers new to the series can jump right in with Stranded, but it may be wiser to start with book one, Invisible, which sets the stage and has this LOL staking out the local cemetery. Invisible is available as a free e-book through Christianbook.com, to get you started.

Lorena McCourtney has also written the Andi McConnell mystery series and the Julesburg Mysteries, as well as the women’s fiction/romance Searching for Stardust. She says there will be a fifth Ivy Malone book to answer some of our ongoing relationship questions about Ivy and Mac, so I guess I’ll have to be patient. You can find Lorena at her website or on Facebook.