Silent Slipper (Julia Fairchild #5), by PJ Peterson

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and PJ Peterson for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

After recently discovering the cozy mysteries of PJ Peterson, I call myself an excited fan. Peterson presents a lighter mystery in interesting climates, which provides the reader with something to pass the time and feel entertained. Julia Fairchild and her sister, Carly Pedersen, have decided to travel on a vacation, leaving their troubles and love interests back home. While out on the beaches of the British Virgin Islands, they find a woman’s body floating in the water, with a lovely necklace and single slipper next to it. Things soon heat up, as Julia and Carly work with the local police to see what’s going on and how a criminal enterprise might be up to no good. Peterson delivers another great story that I devoured in a single day!

Julia Fairchild has a knack for finding mysteries and murder whenever she packs a suitcase. She promises her sister, Carly, that things will be different on this, their anticipated girls’ getaway to the British Virgin Islands. Ready for the sun and sand, Julia and Carly stroll along the beach, only to discover the body of a woman floating in the water. While she is an accomplished doctor, Julia can do nothing and decided that it is best to document the scene and alert the authorities. They notice that the woman has only a single slipper and a medallion of sorts that apperars to be religious in nature. The etching is nothing that either Julia or Carly can read, adding to the mystery.

When Julia and Carly approach the police chief, he orders an autopsy to get some answers. The toxicology shows significant drugs in the victim’s system, leaving many to wonder if there might be a criminal element using the island to distribute their product. While she is itching to help Julia stands down and allows the authorities to take the lead.

While Julia and Carly wait to see how they can help, they come across a group filming a moving along the coast. Intrigued, they make friends with some of the actors and hope to score roles as extras, if only for a day or two. The costumes and footwear worn by the cast bear a striking resemblance to those the victim had on when she was found. Might there be a connection?

When a few of the extras chosen for the film go missing, Julia and Carly can no longer sit on the sidelines, itching to help find out what is going on. It is sure to be dangerous, particularly in a part of the world they do not know, but the sense of adventure is more than either can ignore. PJ Peterson keeps the reader flipping pages well into the evening, as she did with me once again!

I discovered PJ Peterson’s work through the Reedy’s site, after another author spoke highly of her work. I was taken with how easily I could read and review the previous books in this series and can only hope they will continue in the years to come. Peterson mixes an easily digested story with some dazzling settings to provide the reader with something intriguing that is sure to keep them flipping pages. Everything flows well and the end result is a cozy mystery that has just enough spice to keep things interesting.

Julia Fairchild is again in the driver’s seat for this novel, though her focus is more on the case at hand than swooning any men. She is becoming very ‘Jessica Fletcher-esque’ as she stumbles upon a number of mysteries wherever she might be, while also keeping things on point with her witty remarks. I have seen much growth in her (and Carly) over the series and hope it continues into the future.

The key to a great mystery is to have all the elements in order without revealing too much at the early stages. PJ Peterson has it all and uses her skills well to allow the reader to become one with the story without feeling too bogged down. A great narrative that clips along keeps the reader in the middle of the action. Plot twists find themselves developing with ease, though the reader is not lost when things take place. Fabulous settings, described in an effective manner, keep the reader feeling as though they are part of the action, with local characters adding to the flavour. I have devoured all the books in the series to date and cannot wait for more, whenever they might arrive.

Kudos, Madam Peterson, for another winner in my eye. I am so pleased to have been shown your work and am happy to read anything you put in front of me.

One Will Too Many (Julia Fairchild #4), by PJ Peterson

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and PJ Peterson for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

When I received an ARC of this novel, I could not help but be both excited and uncertain. Usually, it is the complex, hearty crime thriller or mystery that piques my interest, though I have found a few gems when I can turn off my brain and let a ‘cozy mystery’ entertain me. I took the leap, though chose to read the three previous novels beforehand, devouring them in a handful of days. Peterson won me over early and I could not stop the momentum of this quick read series of novels. Dr. Julia Fairchild is home and enjoying her medical practice, when she’s asked to attend a fundraiser at the local theatre. Learning of some controversial goings-on at the event, a local banker is soon found dead in his home. The situation surrounding the death proves to be suspicious, fatal alcohol poisoning, but not the variety usually found on the liquor shelf. Further inquiries show that there may have been many who had a beef with him and with the reading of his will, things could get really messy. Always the sleuth, Julia dons her cap again to help get to the bottom of it all in short order. Peterson does a masterful job at impressing the reader once again with this piece.

Dr. Julia Fairchild enjoys jet-setting, but sometimes there is nothing better than staying close to home. When she is inviting to fill a last-minute vacancy at a charity auction in town, she hesitantly agrees, but not for the reasons one might think. While there, she rubs elbows with some of the local upper crust and discovers a little more about a local banker, Jay Morrison. His life is full of secrets and being recently divorced, those skeletons are sure to march out of the closet.

Morrison’s girlfriend calls Julia the next day to say that she cannot reach him. Julia is happy to help and they go in search of Jay, who seemed to be having quite a good time at the fundraiser. It’s only then that they discover Jay’s body in his home, dead for reasons unknown. What could have been a massive medical incident is soon ruled a homicide by the coroner, opening up some interesting discussions with Julia in the centre. Always one keen to unravel a mystery, Dr. Julia Fairchild is on the case, albeit in an unofficial capacity. What did Jay Morrison do to cause such grief to someone that they may have wanted him dead?

Working on the assumption that it was some type of alcohol poisoning, Julia tries to piece it all together, only learning that the secrets Jay held were even more complex than first thought. His ex-wife has no love loss for him, there are some who held him responsible for massive losses with certain accounts at the bank, and someone emerges to claim a family connection and seek restitution for being kept out of a previous inheritance. Who was Jay Morrison and what was he keeping from everyone?

All this, while Jay Morrison’s will is about to be read and monies dispersed. Julia will have to work fast, using a nephew who is on the police force, to find the killer before it’s too late. Money has a way of mucking things up and this may be the messiest situation Julia’s come across yet! PJ Peterson pulls the reader in and entertains them in short order once again. Brilliant and just what I needed this week.

PJ Peterson succeeds yet again with one of her novels, without needing a complex storyline to keep the reader enthused. A simple story with great characters and a plot that never rests on its laurels, Peterson presents the reader with something well worth their while. I can only hope that there are more of these books in the works, as I cannot wait to learn more about Dr. Julia Fairchild or some of those around her.

Dr. Julia Fairchild continues to develop as a strong protagonist, using more of her backstory to shape the novel and flavour the narrative. Series fans will revel in learning more about her personal life in this piece, though there is also much to be said about her development throughout this piece, particularly with the story’s focus in Parkview, Washington (yes, we finally learn when she lives!). While Julia is the ultimate amateur sleuth, she is also trying to solve the mystery of her personal connection in a romantic sense, as the reader is introduced to Alex, her latest beau. There are some key moments around this relationship, which Peterson handles well as she uses it to formulate a decent subplot. A well-rounded character who seems full of surprises for the attentive reader.

PJ Peterson offers up another strong cozy mystery, which competes well with many of the other books that fill the genre. It’s highly entertaining without being overly frilly. There is a depth to it that keeps the reader wanting to know more, though does not drag on, allowing its completion in a day or two. The narrative flows well, as did the other novels, building from the opening pages. This early momentum serves as a great pace and keeps the reader turning pages while losing track of time. The plot offers a few twists and is not overly predictable, without blurring the lines between plausible and far-fetched. Strong characters and quick dialogue make for an enjoyable read. Peterson can surely write and keep the reader’s attention until the final page, where a cliffhanger teases at more to come soon. Overall, it makes the reading experience all the more enjoyable and guarantees that I will reach for the next novel as soon as it becomes available!

Kudos, Madam Peterson, for another winner. Thank you for reaching out with this novel, as it allowed me to discover a new series that I have placed on my reading radar!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Pickled Pink in Paris (Julia Fairchild #3), by PJ Peterson

Eight stars

I recently received an ARC of the latest PJ Peterson novel and found myself excited, yet unsure what I ought to expect. I usually look for the complex, hearty crime thriller or mystery, though I have had some success when turning off my brain and letting a ‘cozy mystery’ entertain me. I took the risk, but stuck to my guns and found the other novels in the series, which I could try first. It helps with context and a little momentum building. Peterson won me over early in the first novel and here I am, having read the first three in short order. I made it through to this, a story set in Paris, where young doctor, Julia Fairchild, and her sister are spending a week, alongside a friend of Julia’s. While there, the ladies attend a cooking school, while Josh attends to some business. When a man turns up poisoned in the hotel and eventually dies, Julia’s amateur sleuthing skills come in handy. Who would have wanted him dead and for what reason? This is only the tip of the mystery, as a week in Paris turns into a major investigative event. Peterson pulls out all the stops here and dazzles repeatedly.

Dr. Julia Fairchild knows how to balance her professional and personal lives quite well. After making arrangements to meet an old friend in Paris, she heads over the Atlantic with her sister, Carly. They are to meet Josh, a businessman, who may have caught Julia’s eye a while back, especially since they reconnected in Amsterdam the previous year.

While Paris has all the excitement that Julia looks for in a city, it is not only the art and nightlife that have pulled her in. She and Carly agree to attend some cooking classes at a Cordon Bleu school, honing their skills and seeking to impress the people back home. While they meet a small group of English-speaking students, it is their instructor, Francesca, who makes a real mark. She agrees to help them create some dazzling items for a small party Josh is hosting back at the hotel.

After a successful cocktail party, one of Josh’s partners goes missing, only to be found, collapsed, in the hotel bathroom hours later. Rushed to the hospital, all he can utter is ‘mushroom’, one of the items at the party, but not something Julia or Carly created. It would seem that Francesca brought a tray of stuffed mushrooms, though no one else got sick. A mystery begins to develop, which is only heightened when the victim dies from acute poisoning.

As Josh tries to salvage a business deal, Julia and Carly begin to poke around to discover what’s taken place, only finding themselves more tied up in knots. Someone was trying to kill the businessman and Josh seems to be a primary suspect. How do mushrooms tie into it all and where does Francesca connect the dots, especially when her name and number appear on a piece of paper in the victim’s pocket? It will take all their energy and remaining time to piece it together, but Dr. Julia Fairchild loves a good mystery. Peterson does it again and held my attention throughout this piece!

I was yet again dazzled by PJ Peterson, without needing a complex storyline. The plot sustained itself as the narrative gained momentum and the reader found themselves in the middle of the story without needing to stretch their imaginations too much. Peterson appears to coax the reader into something effortlessly, which makes for a smoother delivery and more exciting piece of writing. These cozy mysteries surely have pulled me in and left me wanting more!

Dr. Julia Fairchild is a wonderful protagonist, using some of her past life experiences to shape the novel effectively. Series fans will have known a bit about her personal life, though it is still not really revealed here. References to the past novels and ‘holiday mysteries’ occur, adding some depth to the character, though a great deal is spent on development within this piece. Peterson focuses some of the attention on the Julia-Josh connection, though it does not get overly saccharine, helped along by Carly, who is not there for romance and gushiness. Julia’s sleuthing skills continue to impress and her ability to get information from people helps to keep the story moving. One might call her a modern Jessica Fletcher though, as death seems too follow wherever she might be.

PJ Peterson offers up another stellar cozy mystery, which offsets some of the heartier mysteries on the market today. It’s fun and intriguing without being too silly or sugary. There is a nice depth to it, though the story is compact, therefore it can be read in a day or two. The narrative flows well from the opening pages, setting the scene and getting right to the point. The reader can use this early momentum to pace their progress. The plot offers a few twists to keep from being overly predictable and yet does not become too far-fetched. Strong characters that are highly relatable make for an enjoyable read. Peterson can write and keep the reader’s attention, which is an added bonus. It makes reading these pieces in short order all the more enjoyable and has grabbing for the next one a foregone conclusion.

Kudos, Madam Peterson, for a story I thoroughly enjoyed. I made it to the ARC and am prepared to dive in, hoping it is as impressive as these past three novels!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Rembrandt Rides a Bike (Julia Fairchild #2), by PJ Peterson

Eight stars

When given an ARC for the latest PJ Peterson novel in the Julia Fairchild series, I was unsure what I ought to expect. Peterson writes ‘cozy mysteries’, which can be wonderfully exciting, but also pose of the problem of not being mentally stimulating enough for a reader such as myself. I chose to take the risk, but wanted to tackle the entire series to ensure context. Peterson won me over early with a young doctor whose sleuthing abilities are honed by her attention to detail. Having devoured the series debut, I forged onwards with this story, which takes the reader through much of Germany and into the Netherlands. Dr. Julia Fairchild is with an amateur dance troupe, but also seems to be surrounded by art thieves. Working with her younger sister, they try to piece it all together, while never missing a shuffle step or the chance to catch the sights! Another winner for PJ Peterson.

Dr. Julia Fairchild remains busy with her medical practice, but enjoys some of the more enjoyable things in life, such as tap dancing. Having taken it up in adulthood, Julia and a few of her friends signed up for a dance tour in Europe. Alongside her younger sister, Carly, Julia arrives in Frankfurt to join the rest of the tour group. They will be practicing routines most mornings and evenings, but have ample time to tour around the four cities, admiring the local art and history.

While out at a museum, Julia and Carly find themselves in the middle of a security breech, as someone has stolen an elusive piece of art. This is surely something a little more exciting that simply peering at paintings, though Julia and Carly cannot be sure what’s been going on. As they commence dance practices, some of the dancers meet one of their own, a Croat from New York City, who remains secretive and relatively shy.

It is only when the diminutive Irina does not show up for practice or one of their recitals that Julia worries. However, those organizing the tour are keen to point out that Irina mentioned having some issues and would catch up as soon as she could. While the tour moves along to another German city, so does the mystery, as another heist occurs. It is only when Julia meets a roaming American reporter that details of the robberies come to light, adding some intrigue to the holiday.

Never one to dismiss a mystery, Julia begins poking around as best she can, hoping to find answers alongside her sister. By the time the tour reaches Amsterdam, it’s intense and something is seriously wrong. Carly’s been kidnapped and held for ransom by a group determined not to let any amateur dancers stymie their plans. Julia will have to rely on those around her, while she tries to help the authorities crack the case wide open. Another Peterson winner that had me turning pages well into the night.

I was yet again captivated with the story PJ Peterson recounted without needing anything too complex and deep. The plot developed well, mixing humour with some nefarious activity and left the reader highly entertained throughout. There were moments of grit and hearty determination, offset by a lighter story about a dance troupe making their way across the European countryside. A cozy mystery right up my alley!

Dr. Julia Fairchild continues to work well as a protagonist in this series. A sleuth both at work and on holiday, Julia has a great intuitiveness, which emerges throughout the piece. Her backstory is minimal, but there are some moments of flashbacks, just enough to offer context at the right moment. Julia’s character develops well, again interacting with some heroic men, but also taking a leadership role when it comes to working the mystery before her. Truly a woman who enjoys her independence.

I have found a great book when able to devour it in a day or two. PJ Peterson offers up another wonderful cozy mystery, perfect for those who need something lighter to balance their hectic reading schedule. The narrative keeps its flow, offering the reader some momentum as they progress. The plot has a few twists to keep the reader on their toes and does not lag at any point. Strong characters and well-described settings help paint a delightful story. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next novel, sure it will pack the same punch.

Kudos, Madam Peterson, for another great novel. I’m glad to have stumbled on these books and hope others discover them as well.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Blind Fish Don’t Talk (Julia Fairchild #1), by PJ Peterson

Eight stars

While I do enjoying thinking while I read, there are time when a cozy mystery works well to relax a busy brain. I was given an ARC for the latest PJ Peterson novel in the Julia Fairchild series, but thought it best to start at the beginning for some context. Peterson presents a great tale of a young doctor on vacation in the Caribbean who stumbles upon a dead scuba diver. While many are sure it was an accident, Dr. Julia Fairchild is not entirely convinced and works for most of her vacation investigating it, repeatedly putting herself in harm’s way. A quick read and highly entertaining, I will certainly be devouring the rest of the series in short order.

Dr. Julia Fairchild has her heart set on a romantic getaway with her new boyfriend, the elusive Tony. His delayed arrival leaves Julia to spend some time in the Caribbean alone. While she hopes to lap up the waves and work on her tan, things go awry from the start when the woman set to collect her at the airport does not show. Still, there’s nothing that will ruin this getaway and Julia hopes to get things going as soon as she settles in.

Tasked with meeting one of Tony’s friends to deliver a package, Julia tries to locate Linda Townsend. No one has seen her and she’s not answering her calls. Only slightly worried, as it was Linda who was to collect her at the airport, Julia continues looking. It’s only when she and a newfound friend go scuba diving that they locate Linda’s body. What looks to have been a faulty air tank does not sit right with the fair doctor and Julia continues her sleuthing. Nothing seems to make sense and yet no one else wants to really push for answers.

While she does balance her time investigating with some sun, Julia refuses to give up on the investigation. As Tony is repeatedly delayed, Julia finds herself seeking answers and receives unknown threats in the form of corny poems left on her rental car. Linda Townsend seems innocent on the surface, but Dr. Julia Fairchild is sure there is more to the story. While the threats increase, so does Julia’s determination to find answers, even if it costs her everything. A great debut to this series by PJ Peterson!

While some would say I have eclectic tastes when it comes to books, one things remains constant; the writing must pull me in. I found myself captivated with the story PJ Peterson told from the opening chapter, liking the lighter fare she had to offer. The details were constant and the plot development never lagged. I got just what I was expecting, as well as more when I could not stop turning pages well into the night. I am eager to see what the coming books will offer, with the author having sent me an ARC of her latest in the series.

Dr. Julia Fairchild works well as a protagonist. Her passion for answers parallels her medical career, though she is not one to forget having a little fun. While her backstory is minimal, save a little discussion about meeting Tony, I can hope that this will be addressed more in the coming novels. Julia’s character develops well throughout the piece, as she mingles with many of the men on the island, even allowing herself a little scandal here and there. I am eager to see how the character evolves throughout the series and will forge onwards.

It’s the sign of a great read when I can devour a book in just over a day (darn that my life and work get in the way!). PJ Peterson offers up just what she promises, a cozy mystery with all the intrigue of a great winter or beach read. The narrative flows well and gains speed when needed, offering the reader some momentum as they progress. The plot has a few twists and works well as it comes to a climax. Strong characters and well-described settings help make this a novel with just enough depth, while not trying to reach for heights it cannot promise. If I can make it through the rest of the series with the same ease, I will have the mental relief I seek from a busy week ahead.

Kudos, Madam Peterson, for a great series debut. I cannot wait to tackle more and see what Dr. Julia Fairchild finds as she continues her amateur sleuthing.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons