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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review - Bookplate Special

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Author: Lorna Barrett
Copyright: November 3, 2009 (Berkley); 320 pgs

Series: #3 in Booktown Mysteries

Sensuality: N/A

Mystery sub-genre: Cozy

Main Character: Tricia Miles, owner of "Haven't Got a Clue" mystery bookstore

Setting: Current day - small town Stoneham, New Hampshire

Obtained book through: Library Find

The story opens with Tricia confronting a freeloading old college friend who came for a visit and camped out indefinitely in her living room. Tricia manages to do the unpleasant task of informing Pammy that it is past time she move on. Within a matter of hours after Pammy has vacated she is found stuffed in a trash dumpster behind Angelica's dinner. Apparently Pammy hung out with a group called Freegans which salvage still usable food from trash and Tricia goes on an outing with them to dig for information on a friend she really barely knew. Pammy had also tried to crash a talk by a philanthropist and the clues start to point to Pammy blackmailing somebody. Tricia must figure out who she was blackmailing and over what to figure out who likely killed her.

Perhaps I am unusual, but I don't care for annoying family characters. I get agravated when a character doesn't stand up for themselves, whether it is "family" or not. With that said, the character of Angelica seemed to get a teensy bit less aggravating IMHO. Angelica, Tricia's ever perfect and annoying sister, now runs two businesses, the cookbook store and a dinner - and her cookbook is about to published.  She still thinks the world revolves around her and shows her utter disregard for those who aren't as well off as her (when she didn't work for her money but marry four guys and get their money.) But at least she doesn't bull doze Tricia all of the time in this one - only some of the time.
"Angelica sighed theatrically.  "Yes, Angelica Miles.  Soon to be published, I might add.  Penguin Books, Easy-Does-It Cooking, twenty-four ninety-nine - available on June first."

It was Tricia's turn to roll her eyes.  Much more information than anyone needed to know.

She leaned against the counter stool and listened as Captain Baker took Angelica through the same set of questions.  His demeanor was just so different from that of his boss.  If the circumstances were different, she decided, she might even like him. 

"And why was it you hired Ms. Fredericks?" Baker asked.

Finally, the question Tricia had been waiting to hear answered.

Angelica sighed, looked over to Tricia for a moment and then turned back to the captain.  "I figured it would keep her out of my garbage."

Baker blinked in disbelief.  So did Tricia.

"Of course, " Angelica continued, "I had no idea someone would actually kill her and put her in my garbage cart."

"Wait a minute," Tricia siad, leaning forward.  "What do you mean, 'Keep her out of my garbage'?"

Angelica shrugged.  "She came by every day - after closing, of course - and poked through my cans to see what she could salvage."
A few of the characters lost a little ground it seemed. Tricia's employee Ginny seemed a bit "off" to me this time out, and Angelica's employee Frannie who runs the cookbook store (the prior Chamber of Commerce maven) is uncharacteristically frazzled and scattered. Grace, from a prior book, and Mr. Everett are planning a wedding which adds a sentimental touch. In this installment Tricia's stale relationship with Russ has apparently passed its expiration date and the setup for a new love interest to enter the story is presented.   But otherwise the characters didn't seem quiet as vibrant as I remember from the prior books. Mostly I would like to better understand Tricia. In this book she seems to lack the psychological / emotional element that was present in the first book.

The plot was good, the author let you think the answer was so obvious and then throws you for a loop with that being completely wrong. The climax had a surprise in it I was taken aback by - good job there. A new love interest was obviously being setup but we will have to see how that one plays out - could work nicely or be cliché. Overall it is a good cozy mystery and draws you in to the little town that was saved economically by becoming a "book town" full of book sellers of many varieties.  If you like cozies, you might want to check this series out.

The next book in the series is Chapter and Hearse,which is due out August 3.  I look forward to it.

For your convenience, you may purchase your copy here.

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