The Maggie McGill Mystery Series books have garnered quite a bit of favorable attention from the book review community, including Kirkus Reviews, the The Library of Clean Reads, and, which you can read on this page. reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews has provided the following review of Maggie's Image, the first book in the Maggie McGill Mystery Series:

Maggie's ImageSharon Burch Toner’s (Maggie’s Ghost, 2013, etc.) reissued first entry in the Maggie McGill mystery series, featuring a psychotherapist/amateur sleuth and her beautiful photographer daughter, Allie. Florida resident Maggie McGill visits her 30-something daughter, Allie, in Southern California, never guessing that a casually taken snapshot at the LA airport will have huge repercussions. Initially, Maggie dismisses the fact that she keeps running into people from her flight in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. She also believes that a firmly embedded rock that rolls down the hill and lands inches from her is a fluke. However, when Brigitte, a honeymooning French woman she met on the plane, disappears, and one of Maggie’s mysterious followers turns out to be a CIA agent, Maggie and her daughter accept that they have become the quarry of some very dangerous people—though they still do not understand why.

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Featuring beautiful scenery, delicious meals, hints of romance and a miraculously conflict-free mother-daughter relationship, this cozy has just the right amount of suspense. Maggie, a mature woman of indeterminate age, is a looker, as agent Harry Cavanaugh clearly finds her appealing. The most intriguing character, however, is Hadi, a prescient, serene man whose involvement in the case remains unexplained. The Middle Eastern villains seem a bit clichéd and dated (although the novel was initially released in 2008), and references to them as “Arabs” skirt political correctness; however, the motive is secondary to the action itself. The apparent resolution of the plot with nearly 50 pages left in the book is initially troubling, but Toner doesn’t disappoint; the most harrowing scenes occur at the end of the book. Best yet, the excerpt from the second book shows that Hadi returns.

A very pleasant introduction to a promising mystery series; and there’s no wait for subsequent books.

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Library of Clean Reads reviews

The following reviews of the Maggie McGill Mystery Series books were provided by the Library of Clean Reads. The Library of Clean Reads reviews books of all genres, fiction and non-fiction, that are considered clean reads—no explicit sex, no excessive profanity, no excessive violence and no paranormal themes, such as ghosts, the occult, or vampires. All the reviews are an honest critiques of the books. They read the entire book and take the time to note character, setting and plot development. It is their intention to write well-balanced reviews that state their views and opinions of the books.

The Amulets Legacy – book review

The Amulets LegacyI feel honoured to have read and reviewed all of the Maggie McGill mysteries. And this latest novel is no exception. Once again, the author has succeeded in writing a story that is both exciting and relevant to the world in which we live. The plight of the Syrian refugees is compassionately told.

The prologue begins in the ancient mists of time that is the 5th century BC, continuing to 2017. The story revolves around two lapis and gold horse-head pendants (amulets) and is told in two parts. The first, covering the years 1818 in the Middle East to 1852 England, is interesting if somewhat slow moving. The second part, involving the present day is immediately suspenseful, fast-paced, reflecting current events in Syria. The author has creatively threaded the story of the amulets from the past to the refugee crisis of the present, to the wanton destruction of invaluable museum artifacts. Bravo!

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The descriptions of the desert as well as the English countryside are captivating. The author has an elegance of style in her writing that I enjoy. "Each of us is a play unto himself with a long cast of characters buried inside."

The author lovingly maintains the personalities of both Maggie and her beloved daughter, Allie that we have come to know and love in the past 8 stories. Ever-resourceful, strong and independent, the two women find themselves in situations that would test the courage of any modern-day sleuth. And they do it in a believable, thoroughly modern fashion.

And, as usual, the author succeeds in telling a wonderful story without resorting to sex, sexual innuendo or expletives of any kind. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

Sandra Olshaski, Library of Clean Reads
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Maggie's Image – book review

Maggie's ImageMaggie McGill, a psychotherapist living in Florida, visits her 30-something daughter, Allie, in California. She is looking forward to a couple of uneventful weeks of vacation with her daughter. Almost immediately upon deplaning, curious coincidences begin to occur. Observant Maggie notes the presence of several sinister dark-skinned, turbaned, Arab-looking men and wonders about it. Unexplained falling rocks threaten Maggie as she sits on a bench; the wife of a French tourist who was on the same plane as Maggie disappears.

Later, while in an art gallery a stranger warns Maggie to “stay out of things that do not concern you. Give us the picture. Forget the French couple. Go home. You have been warned.” Huh? Maggie and Allie have no idea what that means. Allie’s beautiful house overlooking the sea is broken into and trashed – obviously someone is looking for something.

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Enter Harry Cavanagh of the CIA, who was also on Maggie’s plane. And the mystery intensifies! Then, Maggie and Allie are abducted, thrown into a dark room with another occupant named Mohammed Hadi El Kabir, a Sufi mystic (another dark-skinned man, but a “good guy”, this time). He guides them through their ordeal as he philosophically reassures them that they will be freed in Allah’s own time. All is resolved by the story’s end. Though this is a fast-paced light-hearted novel, the mystery at the heart of the story is serious as it deals with current themes in international news.

I liked the creative plot and the rounded-out characters of Maggie and Allie. Both are strong, sensible, independent, resourceful women. I especially enjoyed the author’s description of the close, supportive relationship between Maggie and Allie as they confront and try to deal with the frightening events swirling around them. Add into the mix a couple of handsome men and the stage is set for romance also. And what better background to these events than warm, sunny California, replete with sun, sand, ocean, and eucalyptus trees. If you've ever been to California, you will recognize the author’s description of the coastline from Monterey to Big Sur!

I highly recommend this delightful, first-of-a-series book.

Sandra Olshaski, Library of Clean Reads
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Maggie's Art – book review

Maggie's ArtMaggie McGill paints for pleasure and relaxation after her hectic days as a psychotherapist. Then, suddenly, her art career takes off, thanks to her daughter, Allie, when Maggie has an exhibition of her primitive art paintings. A cold-blooded murder occurs at the vernissage and the two women are plunged into the mystery.

This is the second in a series of cozy mysteries in which Maggie and Allie, with the help of law-enforcement officers and Hadi, the mysterious Sufi Moslem, with his philosophical attitude, solve crimes. Apart from those three main characters, however, it is a completely new cast of players from those that we met in the first novel, Maggie’s Image.

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At the heart of the novel, for me, is the warm, loving bond between mother and daughter. Both women are kind, generous, sympathetic and strong. Their mutual love and respect rang out so clearly. I was envious.

I enjoyed this well-written, fast-moving novel. Plus the mystery kept me turning the pages and best of all, it is a completely clean read; no need to worry about coming across f-bombs or the like.

I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to mystery buffs, and those who value strong, independent women.

Sandra Olshaski, Library of Clean Reads
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Maggie's Brujo – book review

Maggie's BrujoHere is another Maggie McGill mystery to be enjoyed and savored. I reviewed two other books by Sharon Toner on this blog so readers may be familiar with her style of writing. It is always clean, always stylish, always interesting, and always exciting. The thread holding it firmly together is the mutual warm relationship between Maggie & Allie. This book is no exception.

Maggie and her daughter, Allie, are off to a vacation in Arizona at a dude ranch/B & B to reconnect with one of Allie’s friends. Before long, unusual things start to happen that cause the owners of the ranch to feel uneasy: a prize Arabian stallion at the ranch mysteriously sickens; Allie and Maggie get lost in the Arizona desert; illegal immigrants and two-legged coyotes cross their path and a mysterious Mexican man who “follows the angels” appears out of nowhere to help them. Esmeralda and Rosalita, his two travelling companions are a story unto themselves!

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I liked the author’s description of the old hacienda dude ranch. She makes the reader want to be there to enjoy the warm hospitality of the owners, the Mexican staff and to delight in the regional food. These are comfortable people. I could imagine myself at their table. Her description of the prize horse is so similar to my brother’s Arabian filly, Farah, that I could picture him in my mind’s eye. I loved the description of the southern Arizona desert full of cacti, dust storms and mesquite.

As for the meaning of “brujo” in the title – that’s one of the little tidbits available to the reader.

I recommend this excellent mystery that also deals with relevant issues of our time.

Sandra Olshaski, Library of Clean Reads
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Maggie's Island – book review

Maggie's IslandMaggie McGill, psychologist, artist and amateur sleuth is back in her home town of Costa Mira, Florida in this fourth of a series of Maggie McGill mysteries. While on a beach walk Maggie meets tall, handsome blue-eyed Brit Timothy. There is a mutual attraction and they meet for an enjoyable lunch. Days go by with no word from Timothy. When he gets beaten up, stranded on nearby Manatee Island and begs for Maggie’s help, she realizes a mystery is swirling around him. Who is he really?

In this book we are reconnected with several familiar characters from the previous books, including Pascal, Maggie’s charming, French, art gallery owner. As well, the reader is treated to more of the warm, loving relationship between Maggie and her photographer daughter, Allie. Both Maggie and Allie are intelligent, strong, resourceful women, but it will take all of their strength, courage and wit to survive as the danger around them intensifies.

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I loved the descriptions of the beaches, the warm sub-tropical climate, the beautiful sunsets, the animals and birds of Florida. “Sandpipers and sanderlings scuttled at the water’s edge, playing tag with each foamy wave, daring the waves to touch their tiny feet. The waves continued the contest but never won. The birds reminded Maggie of old-fashioned ladies going about their household chores.” Sharon Burch Toner delights the reader with her elegant writing!

I highly recommend this delightful, clean, light-hearted mystery.

Sandra Olshaski, Library of Clean Reads
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Maggie in White – book review

Maggie in WhiteMaggie and Allie take a shortcut through the mountains on their way to a getaway weekend in Southern California, get caught in a blizzard and slide off the road. Ever resourceful, they leave their car in the ravine and set out to find help, stumbling upon remote Sanctuary Inn. Happy to find warmth and shelter to wait out the storm in a beautiful Inn, they discover that it has everything one could possibly want in a weekend retreat, friendly, concerned owners, delicious homemade food, a well-stocked library, beautiful paintings, exercise equipment, a greenhouse for fresh produce, 6 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats and as the narrator says, “it reeks of money.” Maggie calls the Inn “never, never land.”

The narration then switches to Paris 1942 where Nils Von Pfeffer, a curator of art at the Jeu de Palme museum “rescues” 13 valuable pieces of art that the Nazis deem degenerate and want destroyed. He and his wife narrowly escape the Nazis, immigrate to America and set up an art gallery with the stolen artwork. This is the very touching backstory to the novel. The reader will love the family letters detailing the events.

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Back at the Inn, Maggie and Allie meet the handful of seemingly normal guests; but then dead bodies begin to appear, one in a horse stall, another in the greenhouse; everyone becomes a suspect and some people are not who they seem to be. As in all of the previous Maggie books, amateur sleuthing takes place by Maggie and Allie. Both are getting better at it. Allie even has the presence of mind to take pictures of the crime scene with her cell phone!

I loved the description of the horses at the Inn, particularly the two Arabians, Rafik and Laziz. How wonderful to walk into a barn and be greeted by horses! “And Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew his breath over it, and created the horse…Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword. Oh horse” says a Bedouin legend quoted by the author. Beautiful!

The mystery kept me turning the pages. I was particularly interested in how the author intertwined the events in Europe during the war years with the present-day story. Very imaginative, but believable.

This is the author’s most ambitious work and in my opinion, her best, as she successfully weaves in mystery, murder, art forgery, Nazi intrigue, romance, adventure on the high seas and the ever-present close relationship between mother and daughter. And it’s an entirely clean read.

Sandra Olshaski, Library of Clean Reads
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The Care of Goats and Ghosts – book review

by Sandra Olshaski, Library of Clean Reads

The Care of Goats and GhostsI had the honor to review yet another of Sharon Burch Toner's very worthy mysteries in the Maggie McGill series. And as in her previous books of which there are 7, the reader is treated to a satisfying tale well told. The author has an elegance of writing that I enjoy. Her stories are clean, interesting and fast-paced. There is enough excitement and danger to keep readers engaged.

In their latest adventure, the mother-daughter team of Maggie and Allie McGill travel to Ireland in search of their roots to see if a family legend about an Irish ancestor with a castle are true. But they find so much more. Along the way they make new friends, meet up with old ones, encounter foes, and visit a mysterious island that is at the heart of the story. "There's this castle, Ballybeoc in the west of Ireland, and just across a wee bit of sea is an island, they call it Inish Beoc, where there once was a grand monastery, where ancient monks had collected a great treasure."

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Pervading this book as in all the others is the warm, close relationship between Maggie and Allie. "Allie gave her mother a loving smile. Even in the tough times...Allie never doubted Maggie's love or her own for her mother. It was as if on a subliminal level, they had negotiated an unspoken contract to eliminate any power struggle and be together with equal power."

The charming soft Irish lilt was ever present as one would expect of a book set in Ireland as the locals talk about the "wee folk" and such. Phrases like "sure and there's no great hurry" or "sure and I should have known it" or any sentence prefaced with "sure" adds to the authentic voice. And what better Irish names than Mathair, Eamon, Liam, Darragh, Neala. Not to be dismissed are those tiny Irish goats who save the day when danger threatens .

This is an ambitious work as it chronicles events that took place in the 800's, a love story in the 1800's, another one during the First World War, tying them convincingly to the present, with a satisfying conclusion to the story.

This is a novel that deals not only with mysteries but also with family dynamics, sadness, joy, plus poignant love stories. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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