Copyright: November 2010 (Signet) 304 pgs
Series: 3rd in Bibliophile Mysteries
Sensuality: mild, occasional swear word
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy
Main Character: Brooklyn Wainwright, book restoration expert
Setting: Modern day, San Francisco
Obtained Through: publisher for honest review
Brooklyn is teaching book binding classes at BABA (Bay Area Book Arts) Center which provides the background for the majority of the novel. The BABA Director, Layla Fontaine, was disliked by everyone even her niece Naomi. When she wasn't breaking up marriages she was belittling colleagues and inflating a book's value. Dealing with Layla is only one of Brooklyn's challenges as she discovers that Minka - her arch nemesis - has been hired to teach a class also. Minka is attacked one night and Brooklyn discovers her prone body and saves her life (Minka is not thrilled with the thought of being in Brooklyn's debt), but she isn't as timely when she discovers Layla's body shot too late to save her. There was more to Layla than even Brooklyn knew as she starts to sleuth. The suspects keep adding up and it would be easier to count those who didn't want to kill Layla.
Brooklyn makes a solid main character, likable and smart. Derek, a romantic interest from prior books suprisingly shows up in a slightly far-fetched coincidence. Same for bad-boy Gabriel who pops up in the idylic town where Brooklyn's family lives, seeming to seek sanctuary. But in this novel hints are dropped that Gabriel maybe more than just an opportunistic thief.
Brooklyn's family are bright spots to this series providing a warm and light-hearted touch with their new-agey ways. The villain is well done, although I had pegged the bad guy half way though it didn't spoil the rest of the tale for me. The other characters are delightfully rendered with a few eccentric and an occasional over-the-top character. Minka comes to mind. Even Brooklyn's neighbors add to the overall flavor.
This is a delightful light cozy series that keeps the reader's interest to the end. The plot is solid cozy fare to carry the reader through to the end. For a profession, book restoration, that doesn't lend itself to suspense and excitement, the writing seems to effortlessly bring these all together. The setting is used nicely as a great backdrop for the murder and investigation. This is a great escape read and this third installment in the series meets all expectations. It has some tense moments and the sense of walking a high wire is prevalent in the climactic confrontation with the killer. Also an interesting development in the wrap-up that will have readers looking forward to the next book in the series. I highly recommend this for cozy fans.
Now for a special recipe treat for the upcoming holiday:
* 1 cup finely chopped pecans
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree*
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 1/2 pounds deli-style cream cheese
* 1/2 cup maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
* 1/8 cup sour cream
* *Use oven-roasted, fresh pumpkin or good-quality canned pumpkin, not presweetened pumpkin pie filling.
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 teaspoon bourbon whiskey
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* Special equipment: a 9-inch springform pan, an electric mixer
For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
Combine the pecans, flour, brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, butter, and egg yolk together in a large bowl. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Turn the oven down to 300 degrees F.
For the filling: Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, maple syrup, and bourbon until smooth. Combine with the sour cream and pumpkin mixture. Pour over the prebaked crust. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the center shows little to no movement when the pan is tapped. Set aside to cool.
Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
For the topping: Combine the sour cream, bourbon, and sugar together in a small bowl.
Spread over the cooled cheesecake. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until well chilled. Remove from the springform pan and peel away the parchment paper. Slice and serve.