I reviewed the first book in the series, Crime and Poetry (click here), and this is fast becoming a "must read." I am attempting to catch up on my past due reviews, I got behind with the holidays. Whew.
Copyright: Dec 2016 (Berkley) 352 pgs
Series: 2nd in Magical Bookshop Mystery series
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy Mystery with some paranormal elements
Main Character: Violet Waverly, graduate student in American Literature PhD program
Setting: Modern day, Cascade Springs - New York
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest opinion
From the book cover: October in Cascade Springs means tourists are pouring in for the annual Food and Wine Festival, and Daisy hopes to draw those crowds to the store. She asks Violet and the local writing group, the Red Inkers, to give a reading of the works of Edgar Allan Poe in the shop’s back garden to entertain the revelers. Everyone eagerly agrees.
Yet their enthusiasm is soon extinguished when Violet discovers one of the writers dead during the event. After the shop magically tells Violet she’ll need to rely on Poe’s works to solve the murder, she enlists the help of her trusty tuxedo cat, Emerson, and the shop’s crow, Faulkner. But they must act fast before someone else’s heart beats nevermore...
The gang is back with Violet, Grandmother Daisy, persistent Mayor/ex-boyfriend Nathan, tantalizing Police Chief David Rainwater, the writing group Red Inkers play a central role, and the whimsical crow Faulkner and cat Emerson continue to charm. The character mix is slightly less eccentric and a bit more real than you might expect for a cozy while maintaining the lighter feel. The characters are welcoming and draw you into their world.
The town continues to provide a rich tapestry for the backdrop and more believable than most "bustling" small towns because of its proximity to Niagara Falls. I typically have a problem with the usual small town setting that manage small shops with employees and large events, since small towns I've visited struggle to keep shops open at all. This is more likely in the story with the regular tourist draw of the Falls nearby. Besides that, the Food and Wine Festival supplies a level of confusion and complication that was utilized nicely.
I was engaged from the first page and that was maintained throughout. The maze of who the victim really was and possible killers made this second book in the series an iron-strong addition signaling the story-lines will only get better. I have to say the murder weapon was a surprising twist in itself. There is a subplot introduced that touches Violet personally that added a deeper dimension. The balance between characters and plot is perhaps the reason the pacing seemed effortless and smooth.
This had a great killer reveal with a good twist. I liked it because of the tension and danger that was well constructed, my favorite in a reveal/confrontation. The wrap-up promises the personal subplot mentioned will be further developed and the Nathan vs. Daniel dilemma is moving towards Violet making a decision.
Ms Flowers writes a novel with finely balanced mix of plot and characters with judicious dashes of magical whimsy topped with a dollop of romance. Kudos.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list