I have now completed 2 books (out of 6) for the Cozy Mystery Challenge. The first book was a cozy that focused on the catering business, The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murders by Joanne Fluke, (here is my review) and the second book focuses on the owner of a mystery bookstore, Bookmarked for Death by Lorna Barret. This is the 2nd book in the booktown series. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book, Murder is Binding back in February (review found here) and was very anxious to return to Stoneham, NH -- booktown USA.
To be honest, this is the first time in my adulthood that I have read the 2nd in a series of any genre. As a child I loved Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins, and I still have those books somewhere in my attic -- but for some reason I was never interested in serial work as an adult. Surprisingly, I found myself very excited to return to this familiar setting. I was anxious to meet up with these new friends and pick up where we left off. Tricia Miles still owns the Haven't Got a Clue bookstore and Ginny and Mr. Everett still provide her with valuable assistance. Her sister, Angelica, has now purchased the cookbook store next door and their sibling relationship continues to vacillate between love and hate (but mostly love). Tricia is still dating Russ, the hometown reporter, and while they continue to butt heads occasionally, romance is winning out. Angelica is also becoming intimate with Bob Kelly, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, and that also causes a few tense moments among the sisters.
The story opens when the Haven't Got a Clue bookstore is hosting an author signing of its own hometown New York Times bestselling mystery writer, Zoe Carter. Zoe is somewhat ill-at-ease in these social settings and has solicited the aid of her niece, Kimberly Peters- who is definitely more anti-social than her aunt. Toward the end of the event Zoe excuses herself to use the restroom. When she doesn't return after a few minutes Tricia decides to investigate and to her horror finds Zoe murdered. This does not bode well for our protagonist, as this is the 2nd dead body she has discovered in less than a year in the - what was once known as - sleepy town of Stoneham.
Because the bookstore is now considered a crime scene, it must be shut down and Tricia, who lives upstairs with her cat Miss Marple, must move in next door with Angelica for an indefinite period of time. If this weren't bad enough, the town's sheriff, Wendy Adams, is still holding a grudge against Tricia for trying to steal her boyfriend, and decides to keep the store closed for a longer period of time than is truly necessary.
In typical cozy fashion, Tricia manages to do most of the detective work in solving this murder. During the investigation she learns that Zoe is not the true author of the popular mystery series and deduces that it is probably the legitimate author who has killed her as revenge. The final chaotic scene takes place in the bookstore where Tricia plans to identify the murderer in front of the sheriff. It is amateur sleuthing at its finest.
I really enjoy these books and I am very anxious to read the 3rd in series, due to be released sometime in November, 2009. My only complaint about this 2nd book is that the setting remains focused on the sisters' two stores and we see very little of the rest of the town. Part of the charm of this series, for me at least, is the idea that there is a place where small, independent bookshops line main street, USA. Each bookshop has its own specialty and the ambiance of each shop is suited to its offerings, such: History Repeats Itself; Have a Heart; and Armchair Traveller. I so thoroughly enjoyed escaping to this idyllic setting in the first book, and I hope that Ms. Barrett has plans to allow me to escape there again.