Title: Methods of Malice

Series: Hope Street Church Mysteries

By: Ellery Adams and Tina Radcliffe


Website: elleryadamsmysteries(.)com and tinaradcliffe(.)com

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra                   


The Hope Street Community Theater is staging It’s a Wonderful Life as a fundraiser, and Cooper and the Bible study group are all taking part. They’ve also managed to land the help of a famous Broadway director who’s trying to clean up his image after a scandal, and he travels to Richmond along with his star actress and staff. But the director’s entourage epitomize the worst of theater personalities, with petty grievances and jealousies stirring up more drama off the stage than on. And when the assistant director is found murdered in her hotel suite, the list of possible suspects is longer than a red carpet.

Unwilling to stand by with a murderer in their midst, Cooper and her friends get to work ferreting out clues and surveilling the staff, including a dangerously inept set technician as well as the director’s current and former love interests. Despite inexplicable and terrifying stage “accidents” threatening to derail their investigation and the play, the intrepid amateur sleuths know the show must go on. Their only prayer is to set a trap and successfully catch a killer before it’s curtains for Cooper . . . (Goodreads)


Ellery Adams is one of my go to favorite authors for cozy mysteries. At this point in time, I have read nine of her books from the following different series: Secret, Book & Scone Society, Antiques & Collectibles Mysteries, Supper Club Mysteries, Book Retreat Mysteries and the Hope Street Church Mystery series. And I am happy to report – that I have enjoyed all that I have read… especially this title, Methods of Malice.

The members of the Sunrise Bible study group have been cast in various roles for the Hope Street Community Theater’s performance of It’s a Wonderful Life. What is truly unique for this particular production is that the theater group has snagged a director from Broadway (who by the way is trying to expunge his bad reputation) along with his star actress and staff. One would hope that all goes smoothly (or at least as smoothly as little theater can) but of course – there are a series of accidents and a murder! 

The gang from the bible study group decide (of course) that for the show to go on, they must help the police solve the crime. What ensues is an entertaining tale fraught with leads that lead no where and ongoing rehearsals. Numerous twists and turns and I for one, was thoroughly entertained…even chuckling a number of times (and yes – I know murder is no laughing matter).

What does happen is that after following, questioning, sleuthing…by every member of the Sunrise Bible study group… every possible suspect… they have varying degrees of success and solve the mystery (at almost the same time as the local police department). It was a fun journey which kept this reader entertained… and for a new reader –  hopefully guessing until the end.☺

I do love that Methods of Malice is also more than just about solving a mystery…There is depth to the story in that we are brought into life altering decisions that Cooper must make to spread her wings and take over a local shop in town. I am glad that Cooper is believing in herself and her artistic talent. Can’t wait to see how the next part of her journey turns out. And the slow but steady advancement with respect to Cooper and Jon – about time! Though in all fairness – Jon is only her third boyfriend and with what happened this past year for Cooper (a broken engagement and having to cancel all kinds of wedding plans) – one can empathize with her in proceeding VERY slowly. Luckily for her, Jon is a very patient guy.

I should also note that I really liked the cover of the book, theater lights and all. Very engaging and colorful.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries with an entertaining cast of characters, even if you have not read the series from the start (and why not???), you can pick up Methods of Malice and step into the lives of the Sunrise Bible study group as they embark on not only little theater but also solving a murder. Ellery Adams did not disappoint with this entertaining addition to the Hope Street Church Mystery series. 

Note: This series is a bit heavy on Christianity – though one should be able to infer that from the series title.