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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review - Trouble on the Books

This is the debut novel of a new author on the cozy mystery scene.  The setting appealed to me immediately: upstate New York, Thousand Islands region, and a castle on an island!  See what you think.  

#TroubleOnTheBooks #NetGalley

Author: Essie Lang

Copyright: March 2019 (Crooked Lane Books) 332 pgs

Series: 1st in Castle Bookshop Mystery series

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Shelby Cox, former editor who co-owns a bookstore now 

Setting: Modern day, Alexandria Bay, NY and castle on nearby Blye Island

Obtained Through: Netgalley for honest opinion

Book cover blurb: "Shelby Cox never intended to become a bookseller, so when the former editor returns to her hometown of Alexandria Bay, nestled in upstate New York’s breathtaking Thousand Islands region, to take over her aunt’s bookstore, she has no idea what to expect. To her amazement, she discovers that she now owns a fifty-percent share in Bayside Books, and will also run the store’s second location in the majestic castle on nearby Blye Island.

But just as Shelby is gearing up for the start of the tourist season, the Castle volunteer coordinator is found murdered in the nearby Grotto. Castle caretaker Matthew Kessler is suspect number one, but Shelby thinks the killing may be connected to an earlier era, when violence among Prohibition-era smugglers was rampant in the region. As Shelby launches her own investigation, handsome and unnerving Special Agent Zack Griffin of the Coast Guard Investigative Services tries to quell her smuggling theory and keep her safe. But Shelby is determined to summon all her savvy as a book editor to plot the murder—and find the killer before he strikes again"

Shelby Cox, finds herself half owner of the two bookstores in town. She lives on a houseboat, adopts a stray cat, and can be stubborn.  Special Agent Zack Griffin of the Coast Guard Investigative Services is the cop romantic interest with a twist.  Aunt Edie is a patient and loyal woman who had knee replacement surgery a month prior and is relying on Shelby.  Matthew Kesler is the caretaker of the castle and grounds with a murky past and primary suspect.  Chief of Police Tekla Stone grounds us in the small town feel with a grudge against Aunt Edie and suspicion of Matthew.

Shelby's living on a houseboat really immersed the story in the seaside location. I was hoping for some Gothic 
atmosphere from the castle, but the grounds were used more in this story.  Looking back, I have a good image of the grounds, but not so much the actual castle interior.  I am hoping to have more castle interior description in the next book.  

The motive for the murder isn't obvious and Shelby's theory that it has something to do with prior smugglers using the island is as feasible as other motives that develop.  The pacing was steady, until the killer reveal.  It seemed Shelby was still in her asking around phase when - bam, it's time to unmask the murderer.  The suspense was pushed aside after only a few sentences to explain the motive.  I love a tense killer confrontation, so that just seemed too abrupt.

Overall it is a light cozy read and good debut of a new series.  I am hoping for more atmospheric touches in the castle in future books and a more gripping killer reveal in the books to come.

Rating: Very Good - A light and fun read.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Spiked (Resort to Murder 3) by Avery Daniels

Julienne needs only three things: successfully pull of a last minute wedding relocated to her resort, work out things with her stubborn ex- boyfriend, and solve the murder of a private investigator found with her business card on his dead body. The wedding she can handle, but it comes with a flirtatious brother of the bride who manages to give Mason the idea she has moved on, and the dead PI was playing with fire before he was poisoned leaving a myriad of suspects. Two suspects are part of a scandal waiting to explode and nobody wants to be in the middle of the fallout.

Can Julienne wade through the various suspects while coordinating the wedding and dealing with a handsome amorous guest before her rival on the local paper exposes her connection and thus damages the resort’s reputation? Will she and Mason find their way to each other?

Reviews of Spiked
"Another fantastic book. Very entertaining, great characters."  Book Hound

"This is another fantastic cozy mystery with warm, well written characters and a fantastic female lead." Katie T

"The characters in this series are believable. I appreciate the fact that the main character is relate-able. There is enough of a mystery that the reader doesn’t guess the culprit right off the bat. In addition, there is a bit of romance but not enough that it becomes the focus of the story." OneReader

"Ms Daniel's has done it again. This series has it all-believable romance, entertaining characters and a mystery to solve"  Darlene

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sherry fundin said...

i love a good mystery. thanks for sharing some new to me authors
sherry @ fundinmental

Stormi said...

Both of those sound good. :)

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