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Sara M. Barton is the author of several fast-paced mystery and thriller series, featuring lively characters and lots of action. "Miz Scarlet" (Scarlet Wilson Mystery series) is a teacher-turned-innkeeper, who throws herself into danger with a feisty determination to make things right, relying on cohorts like "Captain Peacock" and "Colonel Grey Poupon" to help her solve the clues. Deputy Gabby Grimm (Gabby Grimm Fairy Tale Mystery series) protects the citizens of Latimer Falls, where there are more cows, goats, and chickens than people, and she has her hands full when terrorists, organized criminals, and other bad guys wreak havoc with the peaceful village of Latimer Falls, Vermont. Sydney Stansfield (Off-the-Books Mystery series), an artist and interior decorator, is the sidekick of FBI Special Agent Henry Hartman, and she is often dragged into crises that result from his investigations. Bea Jones, a former bookstore manager, is the beleaguered wife of Benedick, a CIA officer forced into early retirement, and they bicker their way through a myriad of intelligence situations of Shakespearean proportions, even as they run their Vermont bed and breakfast, hosting a variety of spies, operatives, and even a couple of war refugees.
The author's passion for writing fiction comes through each tale. "There is nothing sweeter than sticking characters in the hot seat and making them find their way out of the darkness. I'm fascinated by human behavior and I love to see characters grow as they go through tough times. Life is never fair, but I believe in heroes, those people who don't take no for an answer, who put the greater good ahead of 'me, me, me'. But most of all, I enjoy a good story, seasoned with action, memorable characters, unpredictable behavior, and a monkey wrench big enough to jam up the best laid plans. It's the perfect human storm."
on June 10, 2013 :
A very entertaining book that keeps the reader turning pages to see what is going to happen next. A retired CIA agent and his wife, Bea, operate a bed and breakfast that is not for ordinary tourist. It is a getaway for agents who need a break from their jobs. It appears to work well until Bea is getting a room ready for a guest when she finds a body under the bed. Now begins the hunt for the killer and the reason why the body was left where it was.
Bea becomes an ex officio agent as she is drawn deeper in to the activities of her husband and other agents. It all boils down trying to protect two young Syrian girls from the bad guys who are hunting for them.
A very interesting and fun read and I recommend the following up book for those who want to see a continuation of this book. Hopefully we will see more adventures out of the Bard’s Bed and Breakfast.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on April 16, 2013 :
This is the first book of a series. It takes place in a bed and breakfast along Lake Champlain. It is a respite for CIA personnel, but where spies are, there is also intrigue. This book introduces the main characters, explains their relationships and sets the stage for future stories. It involves a plot to kidnap family members of a high ranking Syrian in order to force him to be a double agent. Of course the plan is foiled, but not without a dead body in a guest room, a chase in the woods and some banter between Bea and Ben, who operate the b&b. The plot is not a difficult one to follow, even with a few surprises in the relationships. There are Shakespearian references sprinkled throughout the book. I received this enjoyable tale as an Early Reviewer, but that did not influence my review.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Jan. 13, 2013 :
I found the book too fast-paced, especially given all the sub-plots and that some characters have more than one name because they're working for more than one spy master.
Also caught a few glitches in continuity. One character's alibi is he's under arrest but a few pages later he has a different alibi and the first one is never mentioned again.
Bickering and quoting Shakespeare is fun, but doesn't ring true in the scenes where Ben rescues Bea.
I enjoyed the parts where the child arrives and gradually warms up to her new surroundings. It's touching and handled in a sensitive way which some writers would not have done.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Jan. 11, 2013 :
Let Slip the Dogs of War by Sara M. Barton is the first book in the Bard's Bed and Breakfast Mystery series.
Starring Bea (Beatrice) and her retired husband Ben (Benedick), we follow their adventures in running a B&B in Vermont. But not just any B&B. No this is an establishment that specifically caters to the CIA and a few others to keep the ruse up. A little history of the place then. The B&B was founded by Uncle Edward ( who used to work in the OSS as an intelligence officer). Now retired, he created the Bard's B&B (so named for his love of all things Shakespeare- in fact he used to work at the Bard's theatre as a dresser). You may have already noticed the Shakespeare references in the book titles, but we also see them in the form of quotes and as aliases for people in the book, as well as room names.
So, how did Bea and Ben come to take over? Well Uncle Edward needs a hip replacement and just couldn't take care of his guests anymore, while at the same time Bea and her bookshop, Marbury Books, were going through a whole heap of CIA mess. The CIA naturally thought of the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.
The plot of this first instalment is terrorism. In fact, the second book's plot is terrorism too, so it may be a recurring theme. The first couple chapters are about the CIA, terrorism and explain how Bea got to where she is. Then one day, she finds a body under the bed (not her first apparently). The body is that of a young woman, who had her clothes removed and has two tattoos- one made with edible ink that is the image of a bee and one that is scented and shows the image of a rose.
Ben and Bea figure it's a CIA code for something and the plot thickens as terrorists begin to show up, along with CIA spies. And who is the mysterious Yuri?
This series reads like a cozy mystery, but this time with the added twist that the protagonists (and most everyone else) aren't exactly new to the game. The basic story is a little darker than your average cozy because of all of the terrorism involved.
The plot itself is very fast-paced, A lot happens in this short book and I found it almost too fast-paced. There was never really any down time, you were constantly going from action scene to action scene, revelation to revelation. I don't often say this about a book, but it could have used a little extra padding. While too much can have a negative effect, a little goes a long way to helping the reader absorb all the information you give them, especially when throwing such fast-balls as this book does.
I would've also liked a little more closure at the end. I don't know if the author plans to revisit that particular character, but the ending is pretty ambiguous and abrupt. But then I suppose it's a good thing that I want to know more. It's a mark of good writing if the reader wants more.
The relationship between Bea and Ben I can see some people loving and some people hating. They are constantly bickering and Bea seems forever annoyed with her husband. Their form of bickering is quoting Shakespeare at each other, which is at least nice to listen to (or read in this case), but it's so frequent that it can get a little grating sometimes.
While I am not a great fan of unresolved endings, I did enjoy this short book. I found the characters of Yuri and Wardah to be my favourites and wanting to know what happens to each of them is enough to keep me reading.
Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Dec. 25, 2012 :
This is the first book from a wonderful new espionage serie. It's written in a marvellous humorously way. It's fast-paced sometimes too quickly, so that I had to go back a few pages to be sure that I understood the point correctly. Nevertheless this story is definitely set out in a fascinating way to introduce all the main characters which we'll see probably in the future books of this serie. The links between the protagonists kept me guessing until the very end and therefore the reading is always enthralling.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Dec. 07, 2012 :
Let Slip the Dogs of War: A Bard's Bed & Breakfast Mystery #1 by Sara M. Barton
This is a complicated mystery story. A lot of set up into the begining about how the bed and breakfast came to be a place for spys to vacation or meet ect. I can see
with this set up many books good be set their.
This novel is part comic farce,spy novel,action and wity dialog. I liked it but had to keep track of who was who and why.
The owner Uncle Edward is a retired spy and professor. Beatrice (not real name) used to run a book store for CIA now sent to help run bed & breakfast,Benedick a spy that was force out of CIA.
While Beatrice is making up a room her pets find a dead body under the bed. She calls her husband and using code lets him know she found a dead body.
Bea and Ben then get into a comedy to get the body hidden before anyone sees it. Then the body is stolen from them.
The story has a lot of humor and a lot of scary spy world out thier. I think it is pretty balanced. It is a very complicated plot. Trying to figure out who the bad guys are, the really bad guys, who everyone is really working for. Who the dead body is again and again.
I will read the next book in the series soon and look forward to seeing what that new book will be like.
I was given this ebook from the author and asked to give a honest review in exchange.
08/29/2012 PUB Words: 46743 (approximate) ISBN: 9781476284965
(reviewed the day of purchase)