Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Past and Present by Judy Penz Sheluk

Posted September 29, 2018 by meezcarrie in contemporary, cozy mystery, giveaway, historical, Judy Penz Sheluk, mystery/suspense / 7 Comments

about the book

SERIES: A Marketville Mystery #2
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Superior Shores Press
RELEASE DATE: September 21, 2018
PAGES: 232

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?
Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

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Other Books In This Series

The whole premise of this cozy mystery intrigued me – investigating past mysteries in the present, using photographs and memorabilia and personal belongings as well as research to bring closure to their clients. I would personally love to do something like this – old photos just call to me, teasing me with stories that lie just beneath the surface. Wouldn’t it be fun to piece those stories together?

Calamity (what a great name for a heroine) and her best friend Chantelle have just started this business, after events from the first book which I want to go back and read now. I loved their interaction and friendship and how they worked as a team, utilizing each other’s strengths, etc. The case was very compelling, and at times I forgot we weren’t talking about real people – that’s how well the author develops particularly the historical characters that Callie and Chantelle are investigating. I was fully invested in finding out what happened.

My enjoyment of the story, however, was broken up by large sections of explanatory text about what they happened to be researching – or how they were doing so. Paragraphs of Wikipedia-like entries, instructions on social media use, etc. distracted me from the story and broke up the flow of my reading. Y’all know I don’t like stopping my story for a sermon. Apparently I don’t like stopping it for lessons either lol! I also wasn’t crazy about the amount of time given to the tarot card angle (the blog posts written out, etc). Granted, my own personal belief system played a part in this opinion (I believe tarot cards can open the door to forces we have no business messing with) but, while I don’t mind if they pop up for character arcs every once in a while in a story, this approach was more educational than I was comfortable with & honestly I started just skipping through the educational narratives.

Why did I skip through those parts instead of just quitting the book? Because the story itself is SO compelling and I enjoyed the characters and wanted to see how it ended. There were some great twists, excellent character development, and engaging plot points. And I also didn’t feel I was missing anything important to the story by skimming over the tarot card scenes and web pages and articles I would rather not spend time on. Bring on more story! 😉

Bottom Line: I want to be Calamity Barnstable and grab my bookish sisters and start a ‘historical mystery’ investigations firm! Who’s with me? haha! Very interesting plot, well-crafted, with layered and engaging characters. And even though it stopped the story too often (for my tastes) to input an article or blog post or instructional guide,  it’s easy to ignore that ultimately in favor of finding out how everything ties together in the end.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Very cool concept

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about the author

Judy Penz Sheluk is the author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries (THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE and A HOLE IN ONE) and The Marketville Mysteries (SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC). Judy’s short crime fiction appears is several collections. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Regional Representative for Toronto/Southern Ontario. Find Judy on her website/blog at, where she interviews and showcases the works of other authors and blogs about the writing life.

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The author is giving away a Kindle copy of Past and Present to one of my readers! Open internationally except where prohibited by law. This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What interests you most about this book?

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7 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Past and Present by Judy Penz Sheluk

  1. Debra Branigan

    What interests me most is that it is a cozy and historical mystery at the same time. I have delved into past stories to solve mysteries about people in my family tree, so that idea intrigues me as well. I hope to read the novel.

    • Judy Penz Sheluk

      Hi Debra, it’s not truly a historical mystery, since the research is done in the present, but it does look at an old, cold case. So I guess it’s a combo! Hope you check it out. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thank you for hosting me today, and for posting your honest review. I love Callie and am hard at work on book 3. PS The Kindle version is on for $2.99 promo — price increased to $5.99 on Oct.1st

  3. Mallori N.

    I like the idea of a female PI looking into cold cases with the help of her best friend. I have never heard of this author before, but I have added this series to my TBR list. Can’t wait to read them!

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