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Meet Isabel Puddles

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Veteran television writer M.V. Byrne debuts with the first Mitten State Mystery featuring Jill-of-all-trades Isabel Puddles, a widowed mother of two grown children who lives in the tiny hamlet along Lake Michigan where she grew up. The only thing she loves as much as her quirky hometown is reading a good murder mystery, but until she takes a side job styling hair at the lo Veteran television writer M.V. Byrne debuts with the first Mitten State Mystery featuring Jill-of-all-trades Isabel Puddles, a widowed mother of two grown children who lives in the tiny hamlet along Lake Michigan where she grew up. The only thing she loves as much as her quirky hometown is reading a good murder mystery, but until she takes a side job styling hair at the local funeral home, she never thought she'd be living in one! The only thing widow Isabel Puddles loves as much as her hometown of Gull Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan is cozying up to a good mystery--but she never expected to be caught in the middle of one... To the tourists and summer residents, Kentwater County is a picturesque community of small-town charm, fruitful farmland, and gorgeous freshwater beaches. To middle-aged widow Isabel Puddles, it's where she enjoys breakfast every morning at a local caf� with her childhood best friend and spends her evenings cozying up with a good book and her devoted Jack Terrier, Jackpot. In between, Isabel makes ends meet through a variety of trades--preserving pickles, baking pies, working the counter at her cousin's hardware shop, and occasionally helping "fix-up" the hair of corpses at the local funeral parlor. When Isabel discovers a two-inch nail embedded in the skull of Earl Jonasson, it seems the octogenarian may not have died of a stroke. His son is quickly arrested when his alibi doesn't check out. But Isabel has known Earl Jr. since they were kids and can't believe he'd murder his own father, regardless of his financial difficulties. As gossip about Earl Sr.'s land and insurance policy money starts to spread around the county, Isabel finds herself conducting her own investigation to clear her friend's name. But real detective work isn't like Jessica Fletcher's Murder She Wrote mysteries, and she's meeting dangerous suspects who don't like Isabel poking around in their business...


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Veteran television writer M.V. Byrne debuts with the first Mitten State Mystery featuring Jill-of-all-trades Isabel Puddles, a widowed mother of two grown children who lives in the tiny hamlet along Lake Michigan where she grew up. The only thing she loves as much as her quirky hometown is reading a good murder mystery, but until she takes a side job styling hair at the lo Veteran television writer M.V. Byrne debuts with the first Mitten State Mystery featuring Jill-of-all-trades Isabel Puddles, a widowed mother of two grown children who lives in the tiny hamlet along Lake Michigan where she grew up. The only thing she loves as much as her quirky hometown is reading a good murder mystery, but until she takes a side job styling hair at the local funeral home, she never thought she'd be living in one! The only thing widow Isabel Puddles loves as much as her hometown of Gull Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan is cozying up to a good mystery--but she never expected to be caught in the middle of one... To the tourists and summer residents, Kentwater County is a picturesque community of small-town charm, fruitful farmland, and gorgeous freshwater beaches. To middle-aged widow Isabel Puddles, it's where she enjoys breakfast every morning at a local caf� with her childhood best friend and spends her evenings cozying up with a good book and her devoted Jack Terrier, Jackpot. In between, Isabel makes ends meet through a variety of trades--preserving pickles, baking pies, working the counter at her cousin's hardware shop, and occasionally helping "fix-up" the hair of corpses at the local funeral parlor. When Isabel discovers a two-inch nail embedded in the skull of Earl Jonasson, it seems the octogenarian may not have died of a stroke. His son is quickly arrested when his alibi doesn't check out. But Isabel has known Earl Jr. since they were kids and can't believe he'd murder his own father, regardless of his financial difficulties. As gossip about Earl Sr.'s land and insurance policy money starts to spread around the county, Isabel finds herself conducting her own investigation to clear her friend's name. But real detective work isn't like Jessica Fletcher's Murder She Wrote mysteries, and she's meeting dangerous suspects who don't like Isabel poking around in their business...

30 review for Meet Isabel Puddles

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Review coming soon.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chatting About

    There was so much rambling dialogue to this book that I could not get very far into it. It just wasn’t the book for me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jerri Cachero

    Isabel Puddles is on the case, before she even knows there is one! When an 88 year old man is murdered, Isabel is determined to find the killer. Along the way, it's clear she may be the next victim! I loved Isabel! A "mature" widow, she's kind, smart, curious, quirky and busier than a person half her age, in order to make ends meet, she bakes pies, preserves pickles, works part-time at a hardware store but when Isabel agrees to help "fixup" deceased Earl Sr. for his funeral, that's when the myste Isabel Puddles is on the case, before she even knows there is one! When an 88 year old man is murdered, Isabel is determined to find the killer. Along the way, it's clear she may be the next victim! I loved Isabel! A "mature" widow, she's kind, smart, curious, quirky and busier than a person half her age, in order to make ends meet, she bakes pies, preserves pickles, works part-time at a hardware store but when Isabel agrees to help "fixup" deceased Earl Sr. for his funeral, that's when the mystery begins. The way she discovers it may be murder instead of natural causes is one of the most original scenes I've read! This was a wonderful introduction to Isabel and Kentwater County! We meet so many wonderful characters - Ginny (her cousin), Grady the sheriff & Ginny's boyfriend are favorites. An important character, is Jackpot her much loved Jack Russell Terrier. Jackpot gets an unexpected surprise and a new family member that warmed my heart! I can't wait to return to Kentwater County!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Morin

    From the moment I started this book, I knew I was going to love it. Isabel Puddles is a fantastic character, she brings a breath of fresh air to the cozy mystery genre. Isabel is a funny, colorful character, who stops at nothing when she discovers that a long time neighbor and friend has been murdered. The cast of supporting characters works well with Isabel and I’m looking forward to reading more in this series. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good solid mystery.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Short

    Though I really enjoyed Isabels zany and funny character, I didn’t like how the story line dragged on and on. Just seemed like the dialogue was going on forever. Lots of charming characters, intriguing mystery and humorous moments kept me interested enough to read to the end. Would be interested in reading the next book in the series to see what Isabel gets involved in. I’m sure it will be just as wacky as Meet Isabel Puddles. Thank you to NetGallery, the publisher and author for the opportunity to Though I really enjoyed Isabels zany and funny character, I didn’t like how the story line dragged on and on. Just seemed like the dialogue was going on forever. Lots of charming characters, intriguing mystery and humorous moments kept me interested enough to read to the end. Would be interested in reading the next book in the series to see what Isabel gets involved in. I’m sure it will be just as wacky as Meet Isabel Puddles. Thank you to NetGallery, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read this book for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    Meet Isabel Puddles by M.V. Byrne is a new cozy mystery featuring widow Isabel Puddles. She is active in her community and knows everyone (along with their stories). We get detailed information on Isabel and what seems like everyone she knows. It felt like an information dump in the beginning with all the details. I did not feel we needed a life history on Isabel (not in the first book) and anyone who lived or worked nearby (it was too much). There are some interesting and quirky characters in t Meet Isabel Puddles by M.V. Byrne is a new cozy mystery featuring widow Isabel Puddles. She is active in her community and knows everyone (along with their stories). We get detailed information on Isabel and what seems like everyone she knows. It felt like an information dump in the beginning with all the details. I did not feel we needed a life history on Isabel (not in the first book) and anyone who lived or worked nearby (it was too much). There are some interesting and quirky characters in the story. I enjoyed the humorous moments which had me laughing. The vivid depictions of the town allowed me to visualize it. It took a bit to get to the mystery (we are busy getting to know Isabel). There are multiple suspects in the whodunit. Isabel works her way through each one. I wish the whodunit had been more of a challenge. Identifying the guilty party is a piece of cake even with the number of suspects. The mystery is not at the forefront of the story. Just when I would start to get into the whodunit, Isabel would launch into one of her tales (she has so many of them). We follow Isabel and the sheriff as they investigate Carl’s death. I do like how it all comes together at the end. The author needs to find a balance between too much information and too little. I cannot imagine what else there is to learn about Isabel. It seems that we know everything about her. I thought the pacing of the story was slow and the story felt like it dragged on forever. I really struggled to finish Meet Isabel Puddles. There were some bright moments that I truly enjoyed. I hope there are more of them in future books. This is just the first book in A Mitten State Mystery series. We must wait to see how the series develops as well as the author’s writing. Meet Isabel Puddles has potential with its interesting main character, quirky residents, and charming town.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I love finding a new mystery series to add to my must read list. From the first page I knew Isabel Puddles belonged on the list. Her name alone made me smile and then getting to know her, well, I wish I could join The Land's End Breakfast Club with Isabel (Izzy) and her BFF Frances - breakfast special $6.99. It feels welcoming and comfortable and I like small towns like Gull Harbor, Michigan. Isabel is a widow of a certain age with grown children. She has a Jack Russell terrier named Jackpot and I love finding a new mystery series to add to my must read list. From the first page I knew Isabel Puddles belonged on the list. Her name alone made me smile and then getting to know her, well, I wish I could join The Land's End Breakfast Club with Isabel (Izzy) and her BFF Frances - breakfast special $6.99. It feels welcoming and comfortable and I like small towns like Gull Harbor, Michigan. Isabel is a widow of a certain age with grown children. She has a Jack Russell terrier named Jackpot and she lives on a fixed income. At one time she was a hairdresser but didn't enjoy it but times are hard and converting the mother-ion-law apartment into a salon. She also works part time at her cousins hardware store, she knits items for sale and she is a regular visitor to the library. As Isabel sees it, if sh'e physically able to do the job and it's legal, well then go for it. That's how she found herself doing the final hair and makeup for the dearly departed at the Tate Funeral Home - a favor to a friend. Turns out her current "client" didn't die of a stroke, even though he was 88. He had help in the form of a two inch nail rammed into his skull. Now the question becomes did his son bump him off or did someone else do the deed? The son is a friend of Isabel's and she is certain he couldn't have killed his father. So Isabel uses her talents to track down a killer. Isabel hears all of the gossip, knows just about everybody in town and figures out which dots to connect. It makes for a believable mystery and I am already looking forward to her next case. To be fair, the pace is on the slow side to start but I was fine with it as it takes time to set the stage and get everybody introduced. It was a great de-stressing read. My thanks to the publisher Kensington and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Meet Isabel Puddles is the first book in the Mitten State Mystery series. This is what I consider a cozy mystery, but there are differences from the other cozies I have read. Firstly, I have never had so much background and character development in a cozy before. Maybe it is just those I have read. I forget is it was chapter 3 or 4 before a murder took place. Prior to that is was all development. Also, this book had a bit of an edge. Not necessary more violent than other cozies, but defiantly mo Meet Isabel Puddles is the first book in the Mitten State Mystery series. This is what I consider a cozy mystery, but there are differences from the other cozies I have read. Firstly, I have never had so much background and character development in a cozy before. Maybe it is just those I have read. I forget is it was chapter 3 or 4 before a murder took place. Prior to that is was all development. Also, this book had a bit of an edge. Not necessary more violent than other cozies, but defiantly more edgy. Neither of these were bad qualities, just different from other cozies I have read. Isabel is a widow who seems to have more time in a day then possible. This is based on all her jobs and hobbies. on top of that she is not inadvertently a mystery solver. Others in the story are her BFF Frances, her cousin Ginny, Ginny's boyfriend and police officer Grady, Meg and others from the town. We are also introduced to new friends Zander, Josh, and Beverly. Each of whom we know a great deal about based on that mentioned character development. When a loved local 88 year old man is listed as a natural death, Isabel finds evidence that it was not natural, he was actually murdered. I will not go more into that as you deserve to follow Isabel and her friends along as they argue, chat, suspect, and discover who actually killed Earl Sr and why.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This first of a new series features Isabel (Izzy) Puddles, a widow whose many part time jobs keep her financially afloat. Isabel knows everybody in her small town and most of the county.which introduces us to a host of interesting characters.. Isabel's disdain of cellphones puts her at a disadvantage, especially when it comes to contacting Sheriff Grady Pemberton when she needs him the most. Her dogged determination to solve the murder of 88 yr old Earl Jonasson leads her into a dangerous encoun This first of a new series features Isabel (Izzy) Puddles, a widow whose many part time jobs keep her financially afloat. Isabel knows everybody in her small town and most of the county.which introduces us to a host of interesting characters.. Isabel's disdain of cellphones puts her at a disadvantage, especially when it comes to contacting Sheriff Grady Pemberton when she needs him the most. Her dogged determination to solve the murder of 88 yr old Earl Jonasson leads her into a dangerous encounter.. Skip the first chapter, rewrite the Gladys story into an opening chapter minus most of the Kentwater County & Peabody family history, and this is quite a fun to read novel . I thoroughly enjoyed Isabel Puddles and look more adventures in Kentwater County. I volunteered to read an ARC from Kensington through Net Galley Release date Nov 20, 2020.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tari

    This was extremely well-written, and I think I felt like Izzy was an old friend before the first couple of chapters even ended. There was a lot going on besides the mystery, and the book was lots more detailed than the cozies I'm used to, but if I thought about it, it was just like visiting Jessica in Cabot Cove and all the small town goings-on. Izzy and her friends all tended to go off on a tangent, some of which had a lot of bearing on the mystery itself, and some were just interesting back st This was extremely well-written, and I think I felt like Izzy was an old friend before the first couple of chapters even ended. There was a lot going on besides the mystery, and the book was lots more detailed than the cozies I'm used to, but if I thought about it, it was just like visiting Jessica in Cabot Cove and all the small town goings-on. Izzy and her friends all tended to go off on a tangent, some of which had a lot of bearing on the mystery itself, and some were just interesting back stories for the characters. But it was all worth paying attention to. I couldn't believe how exciting it got toward the end when they knew whodunit! It was great and provided an experience Iz and her friends wouldn't soon forget. She'd ended up making friends with a high-profile lawyer in the process and helping someone change their ways. I loved that Iz was all about helping people which made people happy to do nice things for her. No matter what the person had done, she always saw the good in them. There were so many laugh out loud moments too, and by the end of the book, I felt like I'd made a whole group of new friends that I can't wait to visit again. I loved how the epilogue reflected back, and everything that could possibly have been considered a loose thread was neatly resolved and explained. I'm really anxious now for the next book! I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    The first page screamed “This is going to be a fun read not too serious, not too frilly, just fun.” Set in Gull Harbor, Michigan, a community on the shores of Lake Michigan, Isabel Puddles is a down to earth woman, who has many jobs, friends and interests and not much disposable income. She meets her overbearing and outspoken best friend, Frances, at the Land’s End most mornings for the $6.99 breakfast special. She works at her cousin’s hardware store when needed. She knits and sells scarves, ma The first page screamed “This is going to be a fun read not too serious, not too frilly, just fun.” Set in Gull Harbor, Michigan, a community on the shores of Lake Michigan, Isabel Puddles is a down to earth woman, who has many jobs, friends and interests and not much disposable income. She meets her overbearing and outspoken best friend, Frances, at the Land’s End most mornings for the $6.99 breakfast special. She works at her cousin’s hardware store when needed. She knits and sells scarves, makes amazing pickles and pot roast, loves animals and has a heart as big as the moon. As the story spins out we are introduced to Isabel’s relatives, friends and acquaintances, many of whom she has known for decades. She is fiercely loyal and tolerates even the most cantankerous characters. Naturally shy the moniker of super crime fighter is what this story is all about. Having just finished Fannie Flagg’s most recent “Whistle Stop” installment I kept drawing parallels. Feels similar, feels good, no need to take notes, just go with the flow and enjoy the small town, down home atmosphere and be prepared for a story that takes a left turn. “Meet Isabel Puddles” might have been a little too descriptive, maybe a few too many words, but enjoyable from start to finish. Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joan Hoffman

    I absolutely loved this book! The characters were flesh and blood. I felt as if I would know them if I met them. The main one, Isabel, was level headed, not given to flights of fancy or jumping to conclusions. A refreshing change from amateur sleuths who act impetuously and get into trouble. Not that Isabel doesn't get into trouble: she just wasn't trying to find it! She accidently discovers a murder, prevents another, then almost ends up murdered as well. In between, she discovers someone in he I absolutely loved this book! The characters were flesh and blood. I felt as if I would know them if I met them. The main one, Isabel, was level headed, not given to flights of fancy or jumping to conclusions. A refreshing change from amateur sleuths who act impetuously and get into trouble. Not that Isabel doesn't get into trouble: she just wasn't trying to find it! She accidently discovers a murder, prevents another, then almost ends up murdered as well. In between, she discovers someone in her small Michigan town is trying to get rich, even if it means putting a few people in the ground. The pacing of the story was just right. I really felt the tension escalate when Isabel realized one of her friends was in terrible danger. She doesn't hesitate to go to the rescue. This is a wonderful addition to the cozy mystery field. I loved the small town life and the feeling of community. I also liked the fact the characters were on the, ahem, mature side. Not that I wouldn't read a story with younger people in it, it's just nice to see someone else who remembers the 70s detective shows. (Rockford rules!) I look forward to the next entry in this series. Alas, it won't be for another year!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    An interesting start to a new series that is as much about life as a middle aged woman in a small town as it is about solving a murder. Isabel Puddles has cobbled together a batch of money making enterprises, including, as it turns out, doing hair in a funeral home. She discovers that Earl Jonasson probably didn't die the way everyone thought- he has a nail in his head! Of course, Isabel decides to use her wide network (as wide as it can be in Gull Harbor, Michigan) to find out what really happe An interesting start to a new series that is as much about life as a middle aged woman in a small town as it is about solving a murder. Isabel Puddles has cobbled together a batch of money making enterprises, including, as it turns out, doing hair in a funeral home. She discovers that Earl Jonasson probably didn't die the way everyone thought- he has a nail in his head! Of course, Isabel decides to use her wide network (as wide as it can be in Gull Harbor, Michigan) to find out what really happened. Byrne introduces a lot of characters (this is the first book after all) and gives you a good sense of the town. It does meander a bit as this is detection by gossip but it's entertaining. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

  14. 4 out of 5

    JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book)

    I wanted to read this book because the premise sounded interesting, but the book fell a little bit short for me. First off, we certainly did meet Isabel Puddles. In fact, we learned everything about her that there is to know. How many people do you meet where they tell you there life story at the first meeting? Well, this book is much like that. In fact, so much information was given that there won't be anything left to know about her in future books (if there are any planned). It's like everyth I wanted to read this book because the premise sounded interesting, but the book fell a little bit short for me. First off, we certainly did meet Isabel Puddles. In fact, we learned everything about her that there is to know. How many people do you meet where they tell you there life story at the first meeting? Well, this book is much like that. In fact, so much information was given that there won't be anything left to know about her in future books (if there are any planned). It's like everything was thrown at us as fast as it could come. I felt as if it detracted from the murder, which should have taken front and center, but didn't. It took awhile to get there, because we were learning All About Isabel. Not that this is a bad thing; it just took so long to tell it all, and the book could have been sheared down at least two dozen pages less. Yes, I get that the author wanted to give us background, which is always appreciated; but there was so much of it that I began to find Isabel the most boring woman on earth. She was constantly telling us stories that were decades old and weren't needed to tell the current tale. That being said, I had a hard time getting into the mystery itself because of this. Every time we were given a bit of it, she started telling us another story. The murderer became apparent early on, but I was waiting to see how the sheriff and Isabel put everything together. It wasn't until the end that Isabel had her 'aha' moment, which was fine with me; and the ending brought everything together nicely. I only wish we had more to learn about Isabel, but I think we've learned it all. I received an advance copy from the publisher and NetGalley but this in no way influenced my review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Yes, I did Meet Isabel Puddles. In fact, I Iearned so much that I don't know what's left for future books. In addition, I learned about her ancestors, her friends, her high school activities, who she went to prom with, and the backgrounds of all the others as well. There were 2 to 3-page reminiscences and anecdotes, which I wanted to skim over, but I thought they might be significant. They weren't. This is a cozy mystery, but it does have more edginess than most of the cozies I read. And it has a Yes, I did Meet Isabel Puddles. In fact, I Iearned so much that I don't know what's left for future books. In addition, I learned about her ancestors, her friends, her high school activities, who she went to prom with, and the backgrounds of all the others as well. There were 2 to 3-page reminiscences and anecdotes, which I wanted to skim over, but I thought they might be significant. They weren't. This is a cozy mystery, but it does have more edginess than most of the cozies I read. And it has an epilogue (I don't remember if it was called that) that wraps up what happens to everyone. I may read another in the series out of curiosity to see if there is anything else to tell.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    At first I thought there was too much minutia of detail, but I came to realize it made the whole story authentic. Certainly the discovery of the initial crime was very unique and the resulting nefarious plots were both surprising and intense. By the end of the climax it seemed like bodies littered the county with multiple kidnappings, sometimes of the same people! The final scene in the car was particularly chilling. I enjoyed meeting Isabel Puddles and look forward to the continuation of her st At first I thought there was too much minutia of detail, but I came to realize it made the whole story authentic. Certainly the discovery of the initial crime was very unique and the resulting nefarious plots were both surprising and intense. By the end of the climax it seemed like bodies littered the county with multiple kidnappings, sometimes of the same people! The final scene in the car was particularly chilling. I enjoyed meeting Isabel Puddles and look forward to the continuation of her story. This is a great mystery with some very funny scenes and interesting friendships amidst the chaos. Isabel was going to do what she thought was right. And that gag order didn't prevent her from quietly doing her own investigating, as long as she kept her mouth shut. After all, she was, as Gil pointed out, the one who got the proverbial ball rolling, so she was duty bound to follow that ball wherever it rolled. Isabel Puddles was now officially on the case.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Hoffman

    Meet Isabel Puddles, Amatuer Sleuth! Isabel Puddles is the main character andamateur sleuth of the new mystery debut by M.V Byrne. She's a middle aged widow, 'Jill"of all trades, and loves murder mysteries. In her hometown of Gull Harbor, Michigan, Isabel,, or Izzy as she's called, spends her days working at the counter of her cousin's hardware store and also fixing people up at the local Funeral Home, is their hair stylist in makeup artist. When old man Earl Johansson, St dies and comes in for a Meet Isabel Puddles, Amatuer Sleuth! Isabel Puddles is the main character andamateur sleuth of the new mystery debut by M.V Byrne. She's a middle aged widow, 'Jill"of all trades, and loves murder mysteries. In her hometown of Gull Harbor, Michigan, Isabel,, or Izzy as she's called, spends her days working at the counter of her cousin's hardware store and also fixing people up at the local Funeral Home, is their hair stylist in makeup artist. When old man Earl Johansson, St dies and comes in for a viewing. Izzy gets to work, until she finds a nail in his head. She's washed enough Murder She Wrote and read enough Agatha Christie to know this isn't right. Think she ends up in real life in murder investigation. I really like this character as a more "realistic" Jessica Fletcher. I also like how the town and setting was portrayed as what you expect from a Midwestern small town.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Liisa

    A slow first chapter ramps up to a really good "rest of the book." A slow first chapter ramps up to a really good "rest of the book."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    This was a very good beginning to a new series. My only criticism is that it took forever to get to the main story. We got lots of background that was interesting but you felt like you were never going to get to the point. Once you do get to the point it's great! There is lots of action and plenty of red herrings. The characters are wonderful! Isabel is a treasure and all of her friends are very entertaining. Isabel makes a great sleuth and I'm looking forward to more of this series. I received a This was a very good beginning to a new series. My only criticism is that it took forever to get to the main story. We got lots of background that was interesting but you felt like you were never going to get to the point. Once you do get to the point it's great! There is lots of action and plenty of red herrings. The characters are wonderful! Isabel is a treasure and all of her friends are very entertaining. Isabel makes a great sleuth and I'm looking forward to more of this series. I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher and voluntarily chose to review it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Anyone named Isabel Puddles was sure to have a quirky life, quirky friends, and a quirky mystery. Isabel Puddles quickly lets us into her life with vivid descriptions of the community, her friends, and the little details “for twenty years, she never let on that she didn’t like scrambled eggs.” It’s these conversational tidbits which kept me reading, and then the author introduces us to an unusual murder discovered when Isabel is performing what might seem a scary task to most of us, styling a dea Anyone named Isabel Puddles was sure to have a quirky life, quirky friends, and a quirky mystery. Isabel Puddles quickly lets us into her life with vivid descriptions of the community, her friends, and the little details “for twenty years, she never let on that she didn’t like scrambled eggs.” It’s these conversational tidbits which kept me reading, and then the author introduces us to an unusual murder discovered when Isabel is performing what might seem a scary task to most of us, styling a dead person’s hair and makeup for their viewing and funeral. Since I actually know people who do this, I was delighted to find this in a mystery because the author perfectly describes the feelings of a person performing this task. Byrne surrounds the main characters with friends and enemies who move the plot along fast but not too fast, making it easy to follow and giving me the feeling I was there, in the community living it with characters. I found myself holding my breath at times when the final moments were revealed. This mystery has good characters, an interesting plot, and also some feel-good moments that give a lesson in life to all of us. I give this five stars and I can’t wait for more in this series.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Gull Harbor, a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan, is the gorgeous setting for a new series, the Mitten State Mysteries. And Isabel Puddles, described as “Sherlock Holmes with a C cup” makes a perfect amateur detective. Isabel, a widow with a limited income, makes do with several different part-time jobs that keep her connected to many of the nosy but endearing town residents. She sells baked goods and pickles, works in the hardware store, sells knitted scarves and has just been offered a Gull Harbor, a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan, is the gorgeous setting for a new series, the Mitten State Mysteries. And Isabel Puddles, described as “Sherlock Holmes with a C cup” makes a perfect amateur detective. Isabel, a widow with a limited income, makes do with several different part-time jobs that keep her connected to many of the nosy but endearing town residents. She sells baked goods and pickles, works in the hardware store, sells knitted scarves and has just been offered a most unusual position. She’s the new hair and makeup artist at the Tate Funeral Home. While working on her second “client”, a wealthy local farmer, she discovers that his death from a cerebral hemorrhage was really caused by a nail embedded in his skull. Who would want to kill an 88 year old man? There are suspects. Or who would benefit from an 88 year old man’s death. Even more suspects. When a long time friend of hers is arrested, Isabel wants to prove her friend’s innocence by finding the real killer. Can she solve the case before there are more deaths? When I read that M.V. Byrne is a veteran television writer, I understood why I thought the story was too long with too much inner thought and unnecessary scenes (the relatives at Ms. DeLong’s funeral, for example. The characters are actors and, through their thoughts, we understand their actions. That strengthens the characters, especially Isabel who I look forward to meeting again, but makes the story drag. I love all the characters and the witty descriptions- her “type was anyone with a job, a pulse, and out-of-state plates”. I’m looking forward to the next in this series. 4 stars. Thank you to NetGalley, Kensington Books and M.V. Byrne for this ARC.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Knapp

    Move over Jessica Fletcher! This first in the series mystery story introduces Isabel Puddles, who has live her entire life in Michigan and has been doing odd jobs to supplement her income. She has worked many jobs, but her newest one is an eye opener even for her; she is a beautician for a corpse. Then she realizes that her corpse was murdered, her friend accused, and so she taps into the local grapevines to solve this mystery. Isabel is likeable but nosy, She has numerous friends they keep the p Move over Jessica Fletcher! This first in the series mystery story introduces Isabel Puddles, who has live her entire life in Michigan and has been doing odd jobs to supplement her income. She has worked many jobs, but her newest one is an eye opener even for her; she is a beautician for a corpse. Then she realizes that her corpse was murdered, her friend accused, and so she taps into the local grapevines to solve this mystery. Isabel is likeable but nosy, She has numerous friends they keep the pace up in this book. The author has included twists and turns that will delight the reader.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Samantha McGraw

    A good main character always pulls me into a story and keeps me reading and Isabel Puddles fits the bill! She's charming, witty, nosy, and fun to spend time with. I enjoyed this book from the first page to the last. I'm already looking forward to the next time I get to spend time with these characters! It's truly a fun and enjoyable read! A good main character always pulls me into a story and keeps me reading and Isabel Puddles fits the bill! She's charming, witty, nosy, and fun to spend time with. I enjoyed this book from the first page to the last. I'm already looking forward to the next time I get to spend time with these characters! It's truly a fun and enjoyable read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Started off a little slow with a lot of backstory, but ended up being a very enjoyable read. Plot moved at a nice place, killer was a surprise at the end. Very entertaining story!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    How refreshing that the amateur sleuth, Isabel, is a middle-aged woman, a likeable woman with strengths and weaknesses and a passion for animals. She and her friends thankfully are imperfect and have experienced life challenges which adds a more relatable element. We catch glimpses into various relationships, too. The book is more than "just" a mystery. Everyone knows and looks out for each other in the small community, especially when they learn a beloved friend and neighbour is murdered. Suspic How refreshing that the amateur sleuth, Isabel, is a middle-aged woman, a likeable woman with strengths and weaknesses and a passion for animals. She and her friends thankfully are imperfect and have experienced life challenges which adds a more relatable element. We catch glimpses into various relationships, too. The book is more than "just" a mystery. Everyone knows and looks out for each other in the small community, especially when they learn a beloved friend and neighbour is murdered. Suspicion lurks everywhere and Isabel is determined to discover the murderer's identity as well as the hows and whys. She is joined by others in the search. Many subplots punctuate the story which can be a bit distracting and boggy but the character development is well done with more than just cursory descriptions. I like that the characters had personalities. There are many things to like about this book from the lovely rural setting and the food descriptions are mouthwatering! The title is charming and a great introduction. The police were secondary characters which appeals to me. The murder premise is unique and interesting. Several witticisms made me smile! My attention was held for the first half or so but the story became predictable and unbelievable later without tension or suspense to keep me riveted. However, I would like to read more about Mrs. Puddle's next adventures. Though this was a fun read, I wasn't as enamoured with it as I had hoped. But I do recommend it to those who read cozies. This may become your new favourite series! My sincere thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an ARC for this book...much appreciated.

  26. 4 out of 5

    FMSWarrior

    Isabel Puddles does whatever job she needs to in order to keep herself in the family homestead and keep the lights turned on. She never saw herself providing beauty services for the dearly departed as one of those jobs…and she surely NEVER thought she’d be involved in a murder mystery. But here she was, playing beautician for her second corpse and finding the the 88 year old man didn’t die of old age, he died from a nail to the skull. With Isabel living a mystery rather than reading one, she fin Isabel Puddles does whatever job she needs to in order to keep herself in the family homestead and keep the lights turned on. She never saw herself providing beauty services for the dearly departed as one of those jobs…and she surely NEVER thought she’d be involved in a murder mystery. But here she was, playing beautician for her second corpse and finding the the 88 year old man didn’t die of old age, he died from a nail to the skull. With Isabel living a mystery rather than reading one, she finds herself connecting dots and bringing pieces of the puzzle together to help form a clearer picture of what must have happened. Can Isabel figure it out before her old friend, the son of the deceased, is sent to prison for a murder he didn’t commit? Maybe, if Isabel doesn’t become collateral damage in the process. A fun new series that focuses on the middle aged Isabel Puddles and her friends. Our protagonist isn’t elderly and isn’t perky and young, she’s just right…the Goldilocks protagonist for this reader. A well thought out whodunit with red herrings to keep you guessing. It took me a few pages to get into the groove, but then it flew by. A great new edition to the cozy lover’s reading list.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Digiantonio

    As soon as I saw the description for this book, I was interested! Meet Isabel Puddles is about a widow in Michigan who is observant and friendly to all. In this story, she ends up mixed-up in a murder investigation of her friend's father and hi-jinks ensue! I found the first half of the story slow as we got to know Isabel and the other characters along with the set-up of the mystery. However, the second half moved along at a faster pace as Isabel starts to put the pieces of the story together. T As soon as I saw the description for this book, I was interested! Meet Isabel Puddles is about a widow in Michigan who is observant and friendly to all. In this story, she ends up mixed-up in a murder investigation of her friend's father and hi-jinks ensue! I found the first half of the story slow as we got to know Isabel and the other characters along with the set-up of the mystery. However, the second half moved along at a faster pace as Isabel starts to put the pieces of the story together. The mystery itself wasn't too hard to solve, but I greatly enjoyed the characters and Isabel. The author made the characters funny and warm, similar to Donna Andrews' characters or Denise Swanson's Scumble River series. I would definitely read another to see what Isabel and friends do next! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Isabel Puddles is a widow who is juggling many different jobs in order to make ends meet. One of her little jobs is in the funeral home where she makes sure the dead are presentable (fixing hair, makeup, etc.). And it is in this capacity that she discovers a recently deceased old friend was murdered instead of dying by natural causes as everyone supposes. What happens after that is her attempt to find out what happened to him. I really enjoyed this book and making Isabel's acquaintance. I hope t Isabel Puddles is a widow who is juggling many different jobs in order to make ends meet. One of her little jobs is in the funeral home where she makes sure the dead are presentable (fixing hair, makeup, etc.). And it is in this capacity that she discovers a recently deceased old friend was murdered instead of dying by natural causes as everyone supposes. What happens after that is her attempt to find out what happened to him. I really enjoyed this book and making Isabel's acquaintance. I hope to get to know her and the other folks in the town some more in future books. This was a perfect book to read for a lazy Sunday afternoon and I am going to recommend it to anyone asking for a book to read. I received this book as an advanced reading copy from NetGalley and I want to say thank you because it was a fun read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    It all started when Izzy's old friend asked for her help in making the old man look presentable for his funeral. She was creeped out, but she was the one who found that there was a nail driven into his head! Izzy has lived in Gull Harbor, Michigan all of her days, has more friends and relatives than she knows what to do with, and has work part time at the hardware store since her husband died some years ago. This is where I either get longwinded or slip unintentionally into spoilers, so I'll jus It all started when Izzy's old friend asked for her help in making the old man look presentable for his funeral. She was creeped out, but she was the one who found that there was a nail driven into his head! Izzy has lived in Gull Harbor, Michigan all of her days, has more friends and relatives than she knows what to do with, and has work part time at the hardware store since her husband died some years ago. This is where I either get longwinded or slip unintentionally into spoilers, so I'll just say that I loved the story, the mystery, and especially the wacky characters! This laugh riot is not to be missed! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thank you!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julianne

    This book had such a great premise, and there were so many aspects I enjoyed! Isabel's character is wonderful. She's relatable, funny, and interesting. She makes the perfect sleuth! I thought the mystery element was well-plotted and I enjoyed the plot and sleuthing. What didn't work for me was how much internal narration there was. In the beginning, especially, it felt like I was reading internal dialogue and backstory and thoughts... I needed to see some action or dialogue, not just be told stu This book had such a great premise, and there were so many aspects I enjoyed! Isabel's character is wonderful. She's relatable, funny, and interesting. She makes the perfect sleuth! I thought the mystery element was well-plotted and I enjoyed the plot and sleuthing. What didn't work for me was how much internal narration there was. In the beginning, especially, it felt like I was reading internal dialogue and backstory and thoughts... I needed to see some action or dialogue, not just be told stuff without interruption. It became difficult to wade through at times. I feel like if that aspect was corrected in the next book, it would be a four or five star read! Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary copy.

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