A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Review | “Naughty On Ice” (Book Four of The Discreet Retrieval Agency) by Maia Chance

Posted Monday, 24 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I was approached by Minotaur Books this Winter about reading a selection of their upcoming Mysteries and Suspense novels. I was hoping to read them in the weeks leading into Christmas until I came down with a serious Winter virus which disrupted my plans. Therefore, it became a proper #cloakanddaggerchristmas celebration for me as I settled into these Cosies as the holiday was arriving giving me a comfortable joy of reading the kind of stories I love to discover during this time of the year. Cosies are wonderful all year round but there is something special about the ones that take-on a holiday vibe!

I received a complimentary copy of “Naughty On Ice” direct from the publisher Minotaur Books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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The reason reading ‘Naughty On Ice’ appealled to me:

This one felt like a smashing good fit as I personally was seriously attached to the tv series “Miss Fisher” – I love the whole era this is set behind and of course, I can imagine the kind of folly which might follow suit as well. I saw the first in the series is at my local library so I wouldn’t feel guilty this is a series already in-progress!

I have been aching to find a new Cosy series which was representative of what I *adore!* in the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries but which could exist separate from #MissFisher all the same! I haven’t ever read one of those mysteries due to how attached I became to the television adaptations – something didn’t seem quite right to me to back-read a series I knew would ultimately disappoint me as the series on air and the series in print are two birds of different feathers! It would have been different of course, if I had found the book series prior to the tv series but since I hadn’t, I was ready to find another Cosy Historical Mystery series which had the essence of Miss Fisher but was a wholly new adventure all the same!

I had a feeling I’d adore reading this series – I had it in mind to fetch the first of the series as I spied it at my local library but as I struggled with my health this Autumn & Winter, I elected to read it out of sequence, keeping true to how sometimes you can read a festive Cosy and gather a good notion about a series already in-progress. It didn’t take long for me to recognise I would love these stories and I happily added the first three to my #BeatTheBacklist reading challenge to see what I’ve been missing out from not having found this series sooner!

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Naughty On Ice
by Maia Chance
Source: Direct from Publisher

Marvelously charming Lola Woodby and her stoic Swedish cook Berta return for a dazzingly fun holiday adventure in Naught On Ice, Maia Chance's latest addition to the Discreet Retrieval Agency series.

When an anonymous Christmas card from Maple Hill, Vermont beckons the Discreet Retrieval Agency to recover an antique ring at a family gathering, of course Lola and Berta jump at the chance - after all, holiday business hasn't been such exhilarating work, and their sweethearts Ralph and Jimmy have been on the back burner.

But no sooner do they find the ring on Great-Aunt Daphne Goddard's arthritic finger than Mrs Goddard drops dead from a poisoned glass of Negroni on ice - and the police show up to find Lola and Berta red-handed with the ring. It's an obvious set-up, and now the duo must uncover the secrets of Maple Hill in order to clear their name... or be thrown in the slammer.

Genres: Cosy Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781250109071

Published by Minotaur Books

on 13th November, 2018

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 288

 Published By: Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks)
{imprint of} St. Martin’s Press (@StMartinsPress)

The Discreet Retrieval Agency series:

Come Hell or High Ball (book one)

Teetotaled (book two)

Gin and Panic (book three)

→ Naughty on Ice (book four) *where I begin the series!

Converse via: #DiscreetRetrievalAgency, #LolaAndBerta, #MaiaChance

and #CosyHistoricalMystery, #CosyMystery or #HistMys

Available Formats: Hardcover and Ebook

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About Maia Chance

Maia Chance was a finalist for the 2004 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award and is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Washington. She is writing her dissertation on nineteenth-century American literature. She is also the author of the Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery series.

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My Review of naughty on ice:

As this was my first installment of the series, it was an interesting premise to be lead into as a seemingly benign albeit unusual request is proffered to the ladies of the Discreet Retrieval Agency – herein, there is a smidge of snark in how the request is worded and a heap of cheekiness as well! Who in their rights mind would venture up to Vermont on such a foolhardy request as to re-take back possession of a ring already having a home on someone’s finger? Apparently, these two quirky ladies! As we’re deftly dropped back into the scene as it is unfolding in Vermont – where two unknown women are caught with the ring and the corpse!

A bit of hilarity ensues from there – as the owner of the finger is very much alive and rightly thrilled to pieces the ring is free of her hand! Uniquely enough though the detective on the scene is having issues following the logic of how Lola and Berta are bonefide private detectives working a case they were hired on to carry out. I had to give him credit – he played his affable part well, quite classic too trying to close a case by what was on hand to excuse away the circumstances! Mind you, I didn’t think Lola and Berta would stand for a chase-up like that! I might have only just met the ladies but they seem like the kind who have keen minds, sharp wit and good instincts for how to extract themselves from trouble; either that, or they have a ready sense of knowing how to get themselves into pickles which are harder to explain and even harder to become extracted!

Observing how Lola converses with Berta is a delight – she is a bit faster to feel alarmed than Berta, not just due to their age differences but I would think their personalities. Berta likes to think about the facts of what they know pertaining to a particular case whereas Lola has the tendency of grabbing hold of any odd nibble of fact or hearsay and tries to make sense out of what they don’t yet fully understand of the details. They work well together as a team as Berta definitely keeps Lola grounded and likewise, Lola gives Berta a few new reasons to have new grey hair!

Lola is a cracker of a character, that’s for sure! She carries Cedric like an accessory (her pint size and portable canine), dearly wishes she could hob nob with Hollywood and fancies herself in touch with the culture of Flappers though she’s not as willing to shrink her body size if it meant not enjoying the creature comforts of what she loves to eat and drink. To her, everything is rather cut and dry; she doesn’t like to beat the bushes but she also isn’t upset if she needs to fib here or there. In many ways, she’s a younger Miss Fisher in that regard; she loves to dress to impress but sometimes she is clueless why others aren’t as accepting of her on face value as she is of them.

I like their style – Lola and Berta like to cook up a good blueprint of whom could be responsible for the crime as they now having to defend their innocence (really, what could that silly man Peletier be thinking?) before heading out to sleuth. It gives you a better impression of the players involved but also, of the closeness of this village towne in Vermont. Everyone might know of everyone else but it is telling to know how well they know of each other isn’t it? They’ve already observed a few of their quirky natures at the general store and are about to learn more I’d gather from whom they wish to interview next. The air is full of flurries but the hunt for truth is only just begun for these two adventurers! I’d love to see how they first came together and started their sleuthing escapades which of course I am sure is properly discussed in Come Hell or High Ball. It is only lightly touched upon that Lola used to be a Society girl and Berta was her cook.

If two sleuths could get into trouble at the drop of a hat, it would be Lola and Berta! Even the minister surmised they might be up to a bit of mischief but he was kind-hearted enough not to make mention of his suspicions. I had to hand it to Lola for being game for proving one of Berta’s theories right or wrong whilst Berta herself came out rather champion as compared to Lola who was always caught quite unawares at just the wrong moment to make amends for her odd behaviour patterns! The two of them worked well as partners – their innocence and their eagerness for sleuthing is what wins you over, truly!

Erstwhile, Chance has given you ample reason to tuck close to the setting in her series – I am unsure if this is the first time the series has travelled outside of their regular residence of New York City but as we’re in a small hamlet of a village in Northern New England, Chance brings to life the quaintness and the neighbourhood protective atmosphere known to those environments well. It is also good folly to see how the community reacts to these two big city girls interloping on their community whilst they are preparing to play host to a winter festival that has them clogged to the gills with out-of-towners!

There is a pleasant segue about an artist of greeting cards named Ives which I would presume is a homage to ‘Currier and Ives’. Yet what caught my eye more is how Lola bursts with rampant joy whenever she feels she’s moved in close to a clue that could point them in the right direction! She has such a carefree personality about herself owning to the fact she believes more than she distrusts whereas Berta likes to have a more sounding reason to trust what people disclose to her in their conversations.

At the mention of their favourite librarian, Myrtle, I was hopeful I might get to see her more often in the previous three novels, as it is lovely someone at a library would be agreeable to aiding in research pursuits! It is also just the type of confidential colleague you would hope the ladies would have in their agency!

I had more than one chuckle of laughter about how their noses get a bit dusted with ingratitude by how their pursuing their investigation! They have a way of bungling even the shortest of enquiries as either they get a bit ahead of themselves or they follow a lead where it shall present more clues but at the wrong moment for them to be found out where they don’t belong! It is a jolly good story in that regard – whilst your enjoying the scenery of the village, your readily engaging in the hilarity of having these two upset everyone’s apples by making their presence known to everyone who will agree to speak with them!

Lola’s dog Cedric is such a key part of her life – something that is even more apparent after there is a bit of foul play involving the dog. Blessedly there is a happy resolution to this but through that ordeal we see how loving and supportive Cedric is to Lola. He is everything to her you see and she would go the mile to not just save him but to protect him. It was during these passages we first were given a hint towards the title of the novel – about how the word can be used to describe a particular action or be an adjective to describe a behaviour pattern. I, for one, though was thrilled the dog wasn’t injured as there is one thing I don’t like in stories and that is the mistreatment of animals.

This is something that I loved most about the way in which the Discreet Retrieval Agency series is written – the words are lushly vintage and the whole appetite you have for the story to reveal more of itself is through the delish plating of the words and phrases Chance has chosen to populate this novel! Everything about the way she dressed the story and how she gave Lola and Berta their unique personalities plays into the era and the time period ever so nicely! I, for one, loved just ruminating in the descriptive details – of seeing where Chance wished to take me and to visually be there alongside her pen as she crafted the tale!

Part of the fodder of course is about the propensity for alcohol and the law about not having it – Chance gives us a lot of fun exploring how ingeniously crafty people would become to have their favourite nip and drink! Of course, sometimes it seemed to be a bit over the top but then again, if you knew it was going to get you into trouble, I suppose you’d take those longer lengths to hide what cannot be found in your possession! It was rolling good fun too, seeing how everyone tried their hand at having a stash or a small binge of the goods on hand – whilst Lola mused about how frequently she noticed everyone seemed to drink now that it was prohibited! And, isn’t that the truth in the pudding about Prohibition overall?

I was truly swept up in this Cosy Historical Mystery! By the time Lola’s beau Ralph came into the scene, I was thoroughly engaged with the twisting turns of who was whom and why everyone in this idyllic small village seemed to be living a double life! There was so much to root out about the goings on of this towne that half the time I was reading Naughty On Ice it nearly felt like it would take til Spring to thaw out the truth! Ralph by the way is a wicked bloke – he’s such a sweetheart to Lola and I liked their dynamic quite a bit! At first I thought it might throw off the partnership already established with Lola and Berta, but truly, by having Ralph tagging along it felt more akin to Nick and Nora all the more! As that was my precursor observation when I first started reading this novel!

I’m truly hoping that in the next installments, we find Lola, Berta and Ralph happily together sleuthing away and taking us on these incredibly daring adventures where they become enraptured in a crime that dearly needs their attention to solve! As one thing is for sure, I’m going to enjoy watching their escapades! Quite clever of Chance to tie this whole affair together with the Prohibition era’s leading cause of trouble for the authorities but it was how it was knitted together – I must admit, I hadn’t quite solved the mystery when the final scenes came into sight. In fact, I was a bit confounded how I hadn’t seen it sooner – a credit to Chance and a wholly wonderful read for a girl who loves Cosies! Anything can happen and that is the beauty of being inside them!

on the cosiness of how maia chance writes her mysteries:

As soon as I opened the first pages of Naughty On Ice, I had a good impression I was going to be in for a laugh-out-loud good time! Mostly as it is in how Chance delivers the lines for her characters – there is a certain essence of clapstick humour nestled between the dialogue – similar truly to how I might expect Nick and Nora Charles to come into a scene of a crime and then, be rather bemused about how to explain themselves to the detective! Just as I found Lola and Berta trying to say their piece to Peletier! She has this Old Hollywood and Classic Detective styling about her series – where it is easily to find yourself lost in the pages and dearly curious how these two smart women are going to talk themselves out of the fray they find themselves!

There are period touches to the history of when this series takes place I am most pleased to see inclusive of the story-line; from the words and phrases which bring back the Prohibition years vividly to life as there was a certain robust vibe to how people spoke back then whilst the clothes and the way of life itself was a pleasurable piece of the evolving puzzle. Chance lets you soak into her world – creating a cosy comforting place to alight into her series and where her characters are the reason you feel rooted to the pages. She has a tenacious knack for conceptional design within the series but also, to make the series feel a bit larger through how Lola and Berta appear throughout the story itself.

I liked how there are small notions of presence from previous installments – little nuances I am sure would make better sense once I’ve read the previous stories but for now, they were simply happy fodder for the background. It is a lovely series – mostly due to how it is anchoured to the close relationship Lola and Berta share with each other, though, truth be told, they are on formality with each other rather than taking an informal tact such as I have when I’m speaking about them. They wear well together – mostly as they each respect each others weaknesses and strengths. They know what will rib the other and they know when to lead or to respectfully withdraw depending on what is happening.

What was especially gratifying though is how Cosy Chance wrote the story – nothing was too over the top in regards to descriptive narrative and the humour simply bowls you over because it is a rather cleverly spun mystery that keeps you on your toes! Between the laughter and the surprise twists and the arrival of dear ole Ralph, I can’t remember the last time I had such a wonderful respite inside a story that was a joyful adventure to read! Light and cosy – a brilliant selection for Winter and for curating a wicked good moment of a #cloakanddaggerchristmas!

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This book review is courtesy of:

Minotaur Books badge is being used with permission of the publisher.

I would like to extend a note of gratitude to Minotaur Books for finding me & for giving me a lovely introduction to their Christmas Cosy Mysteries & a British Cosy Author I hadn’t heard of previously – as I’m reading and sharing my thoughts & ruminations on behalf of these lovelies I’ve received during Christmas Week!

I had intended to read them sooner but when my health was afflicted by a horrid Winter virus, my plans were altered! I am thankful to say I truly had a #cloakanddaggerchristmas this year & that is partially to being inspired by Minotaur Books for stepping out of my comfort zone & reading a few series out of sequence in order to gain a bit of insight into the author’s collective works!

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Be sure to catch each of my reviews of the following:

Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Toa Heftiba. (Creative Commons Zero)

Deck the Hounds (book eighteen of the Andy Carpenter Mysteries) by David Rosenfelt

Naughty On Ice (book four of the Discreet Retrieval Agency series) by Maia Chance

& Murder at the Mill (book one of the Iris Grey Mysteries) by M.B. Shaw

as these are the lovelies I was sent to become better acquainted with the Mystery authors currently being published by Minotaur Books! Each of them has been a delight!

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge badge created by Jorie in Canva.

This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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#CloakAndDaggerChristmas badge created by Jorie in Canva

*UPDATE*: 27th December, 2018

Jorie takes a walkabout the book blogoshere:

Laura shares her review for “Naughty On Ice” | Through Raspberry Coloured Glasses

Jules shares a passion for #LolaAndBerty in her review of “Naughty On Ice” | Reviews by Jules

The Lit Bitch shares a lovely Extract from “Naughty On Ice” | The Lit Bitch

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{SOURCES: The Minotaur Books badge, book synopsis for “Naughty on Ice” and author biography for Maia Chance were provided by St. Martin’s Press (courtesy of Minotaur Books) and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Photo of pine cones, apple and mug: Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Toa Heftiba (Creative Commons Zero). Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 24 December, 2018 by jorielov in 20th Century, Amateur Detective, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Cosy Historical Mystery, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Detective Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lady Detective Fiction, Modern British Author, the Roaring Twenties

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