Lauren Elliott comes to the blog today with her debut and the first in her Beyond the Page Bookstore mysteries, narrated by Karen White. Please read on for my review of
Murder by the Book
Set in New England, Addie used to work at the Boston Public Library until an unexpected inheritance provides her with oodles of cash and the family home, Greyborne Manor, set overlooking the harbor in the small town. She’s always been a bookish type, so she decides that the time is right for her to open Beyond the Page, a bookstore on the town’s main street. With plenty of her own books, and a space now available she sets to work to open her shop. But all isn’t smooth: we learn that her father has died recently under suspicious circumstances, she lost a fiancé to murder that is yet unsolved, and she’s just looking to put her life together and start again. Instantly things are starting to look dire as she’s almost run down in front of her shop, both the shop and her home have been broken in to and her new friend and owner of a shop on the street is arrested for murder – when her neighbor Martha, owner of the bakery seems to be doing everything possible to see the bookstore not open.
Determined to discover who really committed he murder brings Addie into the mix of dramatics as she hires Paige to work for her: Paige is the daughter of Martha who wants the shop closed, and the niece of Marc, the chief of police. And Marc and Addie have this instant connection and chemistry as she first helps in the investigation with her sharp wits and curiosity, and then is pushed off by Marc because of her lack of experience. But there is murder afoot – and perhaps her family history has something to do with it? Obviously there is far more going on here than in the usual cozy, and the connection and flirtation (and drama) between Addie and Marc is the focus of the story, with clues coming almost too conveniently and the frequent back and forth about her ‘ability’ to investigate and Marc’s seeming to dance between allowing her to help or not. Not quite a romantic suspense-level tensions, but more drama and far more attention paid to character building rather than developing the mystery, this could be an intriguing series if it decides which path it will follow. Writing was solid, if there were moments that brought resolutions too conveniently and the overloaded reliance on one more element to build “Addie’s story of mysteries surrounding her and her family’ did have the story wandering about without clear purpose.
Narration for this story is provided by Karen White, and with all of her work, she presents the story clearly – giving each character a distinct and unique presence, using pauses, volume and subtle changes in tone to add emotional context to the story, without overwhelming listeners hoping to find from audible clues alone, who is the culprit. And while the mystery itself was fairly simple to work out and decide on the culprit, the narration added to the questions about characters, providing that sense of agenda and purpose that we all have, without raising big red flags to “listen up here” because this is important. As always, White’s work is solid and shows a familiarity with the text, and an understanding of moments that need highlight or downplay without guiding the listener to a solution, but allowing it to unfold as the relationships develop.
Stars: Overall 3 Narration 4 Story 3
Title: Murder by the Book
Author: Lauren Elliott
Series: Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery #1
Genre: Contemporary Cozy Mystery, Romantic Elements
Narrator: Karen White
Published by: Kensington, Tantor Audio
Published on: 30 October, 2018
Source: Tantor Audio
Audio Length: 8 Hours: 40 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Tantor Audio
Addie Greyborne loved working with rare books at the Boston Public Library—she even got to play detective, tracking down clues about mysterious old volumes. But she didn't expect her sleuthing skills to come in so handy in a little seaside town . . .
Addie left some painful memories behind in the big city, including the unsolved murder of her fiancé and her father's fatal car accident. After an unexpected inheritance from a great aunt, she's moved to a small New England town founded by her ancestors back in colonial times—and living in spacious Greyborne Manor, on a hilltop overlooking the harbor. Best of all, her aunt also left her countless first editions and other treasures—providing an inventory to start her own store.
But there's trouble from day one, and not just from the grumpy woman who runs the bakery next door. A car nearly runs Addie down. Someone steals a copy of Alice in Wonderland. Then, Addie's friend Serena, who owns a nearby tea shop, is arrested—for killing another local merchant. The police seem pretty sure they've got the story in hand, but Addie's not going to let them close the book on this case without a fight . .
A copy of this title was provided via Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.