Does anyone else find it hard to believe that it is already February 8, 2009??? My mother said that time flies as you get older, and she was right. I don't know if it is the realization that time is passing me by - or the desire to overcome this week's melancholy mood that prompted me to re-evaluate my priorities and begin to make time for what I feel is important rather than only focus on those events that are most urgent. I have decided that I have been a victim of the "tyranny of the urgent" far too long and I want to take some steps to rectify that. This week, my baby steps included a visit to the bookstore (my all time favorite past-time - I think I may enjoy fantasizing about all the books that I plan to read almost as much as I like reading them) and reading two books that I wanted to read (not books for a class or for some higher academic gain). The two books I chose to read did not disappoint in the least - and proved to be the right prescription for my temporary despondency.
The first book I read was The Sister by Poppy Adams - and I even forced myself to write a book review (there is something very intimidating about putting my writing samples out on the web for the world to view and criticize --- but as with most of my fears, this was totally unfounded. The book blogging community is a very accepting and encouraging group of people and I thank you). When I finished that book I decided that I wanted to read something fun that would allow me to escape into a fantasy world (well, for me a fantasy world - you already know how I feel about that particular genre of fiction) and relax. I chose Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett and I simply could not have chosen a better read for my particular mindset.
I first discovered this new mystery series at the Cozy Mysteries group on the GoodReads website. Shortly after hearing about it, I happened to find the book at my local used bookstore and excitedly posted the find on my blog. Little did I know that my joy of finding a "bargain" would elicit such a response in the blogging community (if interested - you can read my posts here and here). One of those who commented on this entry was none other than the author herself - Lorna Barrett! She was so kind and gracious in her post - and subsequent email - that I knew I had to read this book the moment I had (or rather - made) the opportunity to do so.
This book absolutely fits the bill for a "cozy" mystery. While I know the story is fictional, I must say that I truly long to retire to Stoneham, New Hampshire - or at least the Stoneham, NH described in this book. This sleepy little New England town was on the verge of economic ruin when the local realtor, Bob Kelly, decided to entice business owners from elsewhere to open specialty bookshops in this town. The move proved successful, Main Street was revitalized, and it has now become a destination place for bus tours from all over the eastern seaboard. While the series focuses on the Haven't Got a Clue mystery bookstore, and its proprietor, Trish Miles, some of the other bookstores that line this quaint village street include the Cookery (cookbooks), History Repeats Itself, Have a Heart (Romance), and the Armchair Traveller. (Doesn't this town sound just divine?!) One of the characters in the book, Mr. Everett, is a retired grocery store owner, and he spends his days sitting in the nook of Haven't Got a Clue, reading, browsing and people watching. Soft jazz music is playing in the background and fresh ground coffee is always available. I want to be Mr. Everett when I retire!!
The basic premise of the book is that the owner of the Cookery, a 70 year old crumudgeon of a woman, has been murdered and Trish Miles is the number one suspect - only because she was the last one to see her alive. It is very evident to the reader - and most residents in town - that Trish is not the culprit, but for some reason the female sheriff refuses to take any other possibilities seriously. There are at least three other characters that could easily have motive and ability to commit this crime, but it is up to Trish to investigate these leads if she wants to clear her name. Trish uses her lifetime passion of reading crime fiction to help her investigate and follow the clues.
Another sub-plot that runs throughout the story is the strained relationship between Trish and her older sister, Angelica. They have never been close and Trish is somewhat perturbed that her New York City high-class sister decides to come to Stoneham and stay for a while. While the two sisters have not quite put the past behind them, they are working on their relationship, and Angelica enjoys cooking meals for Trish (and recipes are included at the end of the book!) and helping Trish sleuth for clues (Angelica's knowledge of crime comes from watching all the episodes of CSI). I am sure that this relationship will continue to develop in subsequent books in the series.
As you can tell - I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am very excited that the 2nd book in the series, Bookmarked for Death, was just released this week. On her website, Lorna informs us that the 3rd book will be released in December and the publishing company, Berkeley Prime Crime, has just negotiated for another 3 books in the series. If you consider yourself a bibliophile - and you enjoy a good cozy mystery, I urge you to try this first book in the Booktown Mystery Series!