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Howloween Murder

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Melanie is sure that her colleague Harriett didn't poison the marshmallow puff that killed her neighbor Ralph- but who did and why?  Melanie is back!  Its Halloween and she's got the usual lot of stuff on her hands, especially since there might be a ghost in the attic of the Howard Academy.  Her loyal poodle Faith plays a key role, as always, as does her family (although this is less a poodle novel than most in the series).   Cozy readers know that the victim usually has more than one person who doesn't like him.  How Melanie finds the villain- no spoilers from me but pay attention to what might seem like small subplots. If you haven't read all the books in the series- or any of them for that matter- know that you will enjoy this just as much as those of us who have.  Berenson's a good storyteller and she's got a way with a twisty, but not too twisty, solution.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A favorite cozy read.
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Howloween Murder
Melanie Travis,book #26
Laurien Berenson
5 Stars


As the town of Greenwich, Connecticut, counts down to a spooky celebration on October 31st, a horrifying murder leaves Melanie Travis pawing for clues in a hair-raising game of trick-or-treat . . .
With just a few days left before Halloween, everyone at Howard Academy is anticipating the guaranteed sugar high they’ll experience from gorging on Harriet Bloom’s famous marshmallow puffs. The private school’s annual costume party revolves around the headmaster’s assistant and her seemingly supernatural batches of gooey goodies. So, it's a shock when Harriet’s elderly neighbor is suddenly found dead with the beloved dessert in his hand. In a snap, police start questioning whether Harriet modified her top-secret recipe to include a hefty dose of lethal poison . . .
Melanie knows her tenured colleague would never intentionally serve cyanide-laced puffs to a defenseless old man. But as explosive neighborhood gossip reveals a potential culprit, it also brings her closer to sealing her own doom. Because on an evening ruled by masked revelers, bizarre getups, and hidden identities, Halloween might just be the perfect opportunity for a cold-hearted killer to get away with murder once again—this time sending a nosy, unsuspecting sleuth to an early grave!  (Goodreads)

Books written by this author are always good, and this one was no exception.  I would not have cared if there was no mystery to solve, I was enjoying spending time with the Travis family.  

The characters are well rounded and well developed.  Melanie and her family are getting ready for Halloween and all of the fun that goes with it.  But until she can completely enjoy the season, she has to find a murderer before a coworker is sent away for life.

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read.  The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and these descriptions pulled me into the story from the very beginning and took me on a great adventure.  The mystery was well plotted and even though I had the killer on my radar, I was not sure I was right.  

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery.  I cannot wait for the next time I get to spend time with Melania and her family.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, Kensington Books, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.
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I always find that spending time with Melanie Travis, her pets, friends and family to be relaxing.  I think that Laurien Berenson has a good sense of what cozy readers are looking for.  She has likeable characters, decent plots and...the dogs! 

In this entry in the long running series, the story takes place around Halloween.   Melanie's school colleague is accused of murder after an elderly man dies after eating sweets that she made.  Readers can be certain that the case will be solved.

This 26th entry in the series is a fun seasonal mystery that can be read both by long time fans or new readers.  Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title in exchange for an honest review.
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Melanie Travis and a new first grade teacher is in charge of setting up the Halloween party for the kids at the private academy where they work. When the school secretary is accused of poisoning her neighbor, she suggests that she take over planning the party and Melanie should find out who the real killer is. I like Berenson's books and this one was entertaining, but it wasn't her best effort. The killer was obvious and the story seemed to be abbreviated--not as fleshed out as some of her novels. If you're a big fan you'll want to read this one, if you're starting her books, check out one of her earlier efforts. #netgalley #howloweenmurder
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Loved the dogs and their interactions with the various characters. The descriptions of the costumes and halloween decorations around town were fun. The story was a little predictable in places, particularly at the end, and I did figure out the most likely to have 'done it', which is a little unusual for me, but I did enjoy the story. This was the first one I'd read in this series. It can be read as a stand alone. I didn't have any trouble following who was who, even though it was #26 in the series. I would recommend it, for those looking for a light read with a touch of murder.
  There was one glaring typo in chapter 9 (50% mark). At the bottom of the page, while Kevin, Faith, and Melanie were waiting for aunt Peg by the car, Aunt Peg went speeding by, It says "Davey's " eyes widened. It should be "Kevin's" eyes, as Davey was still at school.
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I didn't realize this really wasn't a novel....more like a prolonged short story. There really wasn't even much of a knew who does it almost immediately.  While it was a typically cute cozy I was disappointed in the lack of plot development and the length. Thank you NetGalley for the advanced readers copy for review.
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Howloween Murder is Laurien Berenson’s 26th book in the Melanie Travis mystery series.  Halloween is approaching and Howard Academy is gearing up for their annual party.  However, the headmaster’s assistant, Harriet, has just been accused of murdering her elderly neighbor, Ralph Penders.  Ralph had been eating one of Harriet’s famous marshmallow puffs which was found to be laced with cyanide.  Harriet enlists Melanie’s help to clear her name.

This is an enjoyable whodunit with likeable characters.  If you love dogs, you will especially love the antics of Melanie’s standard poodles.  Even though this is part of a series, Howloween Murder can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone.  The plot moves along quickly to a satisfying finish.  It was a quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I highly recommend Howloween Murder and the Melanie Travis series to all readers who love cozy mysteries.  

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
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Another great installment in the Melanie Travis series. Halloween time has come to Howard Academy. One of the beloved staff members is accused of murder and it's up to Melanie to figure it out.
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Melanie and her poodle Faith are on another mystery case. When secretary Harriet is accused of poisoning a neighbor she asks Melanie for help. A quick and easy read for Halloween. Highly recommend this book and author. A fun series.
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Melanie Travis—along with the rest of the faculty and the students—is preparing for the annual Halloween party at Howard Academy. Everyone is anticipating gorging themselves silly on the delicious marshmallow treats made by the headmaster’s assistant, Harriet. But, when one of Harriet’s neighbors drops over dead after eating one of her marshmallow treats, the goodies are off the table. With Harriet as the detective’s only suspect, Melanie steps up to prove that her coworker is no killer. 

This is the first Melanie Travis novel I have read, so I really can’t compare it to any of Laurien Berenson’s other novels. Overall, I was not overly impressed. Due do the length, HOWLOWEEN MURDER is more of a novella. The murder investigation dominates the novel (as it should), but there was not much of a subplot. There was only one real suspect (Harriet), and I found the identity of the killer blatantly obvious. It also seemed very strange to me that Melanie has been working with Harriet for all these years and has no idea what her last name is. Just seemed very unrealistic.
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This is a novella in Berenson's Melanie Travis mystery series in which a murder comes too close to work: the accused is Harriet Bloom, the super-efficient secretary to the head of Howard Academy, where Melanie works as a special ed teacher. The police think she poisoned Ralph Pender, an elderly neighbor who has dementia, with one of her famous Hallowe'en treats, marshmallow puffs she typically gives away to the neighbors. The headmaster of Howard Academy knows Melanie has rooted out other criminals before; he's hoping she can discreetly suss out this one before the academy gets a bad rep. And Melanie truly believes Harriet could never poison anyone. 

There's only one problem with this mystery that is set happily in October in New England, and all the sights and sounds and smells and excitement—autumn leaves, crisp air, Hallowe'en prep, luscious fall foods—that come at that time of the year. Melanie meets some new people, some unfriendly, most of them quirky and nice, she forms a stronger bond with Harriet than she has in years, there's nice bits about Kevin selecting a costume, Aunt Peg manages to not overrun the story for once...but once the actual murderer is introduced, you'll know the person immediately. Yes, you'll have to learn why the crime took place, but you won't need to guess who; trust your first instincts. So I've taken off a star for that.

Still, I loved every bit of this for the reasons enumerated in the previous paragraph—and one more thing: the subplot involving Melanie and one of the young students at Howard Academy. In the end, that's the element that's the most magical about the whole story.
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Melanie Travis is a teacher at Howard Academy, an upscale school that was once the Joshua Howard mansion and is now home to the Connecticut private school.  Since she is the special needs teacher, she also brings her ex-champion show dog and standard poodle, Faith, along with her.

After an unexpected trip to the attic, Melanie is heading back to her office when she spots the director's assistant, Harriet, sitting at her desk, clenched fingers and staring straight ahead.  Harriet tells her that her neighbor Ralph Penders is dead, and the police think she killed him.  It seems Harriet makes marshmallow puffs every Halloween not only for the academy's annual Halloween party, but for neighbors as well, and when Ralph was found, he had one very tainted puff in his hand.  Now she's afraid she'll be arrested for a murder she didn't commit.

So she asks for Melanie's help in finding out who killed the old man, and while Melanie doesn't want to get involved, she knows she'll need to do so.  After informing the director -- who will be sorely upset by the news -- Melanie sets about retrieving the puffs that Harriet gave to neighbors and trying to find a killer.  But it's not going to be easy, since none of the suspects know who she is, and the ones that do talk to her aren't giving her much.  It's when Melanie gets a little too close that the killer becomes nervous -- and decides the best thing to do is get her out of the way -- permanently...

While I must admit that I haven't read all of the Melanie Travis books, I've lately been doing so, and liked them.  This is a mystery set at Halloween, and while there isn't a lot of detail regarding the holiday, there's enough sprinkled throughout to remind you.  

Melanie vows to help Harriet any way she can, and if that means dealing with people she doesn't know, then so be it.  The people she questions are a motley bunch, and while I'm not sure I'd want to spend time with any of them, it's definitely an interesting group.  The most interesting of all is Harriet's sister Bernadette, who's merely two years younger than Harriet but doesn't want to get old.  So she's found herself a much-younger boyfriend, and unfortunately, Melanie isn't sure what to make of it, especially since they act like teenagers around each other.  But Melanie is discovering more about Harriet that she never knew, and it surprises her; realizing that she should have made better friends with Harriet years ago.

Woven in between this is, of course, subplots; one of which is the fact that her younger son Kevin still hasn't made up his mind on what he wants to be for Halloween; and there's also a young boy named Luke who is one of her students and has taken a real shine to Faith.  Both of these subplots are central to the story in one way or another, giving us a relief from finding a killer.

While I knew the murderer the moment the person stepped onto the page (I read a lot of mysteries); it still was quite a bit of fun reading the story and seeing if I was right (I was).  Finding the motive seemed rather sad and cold, and gave me no sympathy toward the killer at all.  In the end, this is a quick read that can be read in one evening, and definitely worth the time.  Recommended.
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Another fun title by Laurien Berenson!  This time she doesn't come upon the body, but murder still manages to find her!  Murder by sweets, but these are sweets that go out to practically the entire town!  Did the maker commit murder?  Or did someone want them framed?
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3.5 - 4 stars
Howloween Murder by Laurien Berenson
The newest book in this very long-running series features another mystery, the beloved poodles and Hanover Academy.  One excellent feature from this series is they can all be read as a stand-alone book. I enjoyed this truly cozy mystery with its light-hearted yet intriguing characters. Although there was a murder at the front of the book, the story wrapped up a bit to tidy. There is not much of a mystery to who the kiler was or why. But, overall, Berenson has written another winner with her tradmark good nature and wit.
I did miss Bernie, Frank and Terry and the lack of a dog show. It does seem this series is moving away from what made it so popular; such as dog shows and the behind the scenes look at dog shows. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. The views given are my own.
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I didn’t want this book to end. I am a huge fan of the Melanie Travis series and this new installment was brilliant. The author really knows how to bring out the best in her characters and that is definitely seen in the Howloween Murder. I get great comfort from reading this series.  Some people have comfort food, I have comfort authors and Ms. Berenson is definitely one of them.  Since I recently lost my father I was looking for a very light, fun and comfortable read and she definitely provided that for me.  I hope the Melanie Travis series goes on for many many  more years.
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This short novel centers around Howard Academy when the school's secretary is accused of murder. I really enjoyed the Halloween theme. Melanie as usual is in the middle of things, asking questions. I also enjoyed the family interactions. This was another successful entry in the Melanie Travis mystery series. I can't wait to see what she does next.
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Apparently the Howard Academy has a new resident in their attic. Newbie teacher Cheryl approches Melanie Travis, our favorite canine loving heroine with the news that there is a ghost shimmering about. At first I wasn't a fan of Cheryl after her freak attack when she saw Melanie's beautiful standard poodle Faith. She behaved as if the gentle and intelligent dog was a paranormal creature ready to rip her apart. However, Cheryl did calm and mellow towards Faith when she saw a student interacting with her and understood the importance of having a dog provide emotional support. You can find out about the ghost on your own as I don't want to give away any spoilers.
Murder follows Melanie like an obedient dog and once again she is ensnared in solving another killing. The headmaster's secretary Harriet is the prime suspect of her neighbor's death. Harry sampled some Halloween treats baked by Harriet that somehow got laced with poison.
If you love mysteries and tons of canine antics, you will love this wonderful story. It is always nice to catch up with Melanie's family both human and furry. Aunt Peg never disappoints and I loved the dynamics between the harried neice and the strong willed woman.  Halloween, murder and poodles are definitely an interesting combination and Ms. Berenson delivers another fun and fast paced tale. This book can be read as a stand alone but consider treating yourself to her previous works. Happy Reading!
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Adorable pets, grand characters, cool October nights, and a terrific mystery made for an enjoyable afternoon's read in the sun.
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This is another entertaining book in the Melanie Travis series.   The mystery is well plotted and the characters are well developed.  I love this series and look forward to the next book.
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This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  I love revisiting the characters.  This was the perfect book to read for halloween.
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