Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Murder is Binding (Booktown Series #1), by Lorna Barrett (author), Cassandra Campbell (narrator)


Penguin, ISBN 9780425219585, April 2008

I listened to the audiobook, but I've linked to and provided the information for the mass market paperback, because Amazon won't allow me to create a direct product link to the Audible audiobook. Amazon owns Audible and presumably makes money selling Audible audiobooks, so go figure.

Tricia Miles, recently divorced, has moved from New York to the small town of Stoneham, NH, and opened a bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue, specializing in old and classic mysteries. This wasn't a random or haphazard choice; local real estate broker and Chamber of Commerce president Bob Kelly recruited lots of antiquarian booksellers to turn Stoneham into a tourist destination and revitalize its struggling economy. Tricia is the most recent addition, and her store has been open just five months. When she and her visiting sister, Angelica, respond to the smell of smoke coming from the neighboring shop, The Cookery, and find her argumentative neighbor, Doris Gleason, lying on the floor with one of her own knives in her back, it's a terrible shock--and just the beginning of Tricia's troubles.

The local sheriff, Wendy Adams, is annoyed that Stoneham has lost its status of "safest town in New Hampshire" right before the upcoming election. She's also not pleased when Tricia points out that local hero Bob Kelly wanted Doris out of that shop, had a meeting scheduled with her that night, and had plenty of time to do the deed.  Tricia becomes the sheriff's prime suspect. Things only get worse when Tricia finds the valuable old cookbook stolen from The Cookery when Doris was murdered hidden among the lower-value books in the back of her shop. Adams doesn't even pretend to be interested when a large rock is thrown through the window of Tricia's shop.

Stressed by the murder and her suspect status, uncomfortable with the extended visit of the older sister she's never been close to, and frustrated and provoked by the appearance of a series of nudist flyers tucked into the books in her shop and others', Tricia has to figure out who the real killer is or she'll be arrested herself as soon as Sheriff Adams can cook up a reason. Two handsome guys are hanging around, each offering their own not-necessarily-helpful contributions--Mike, candidate for town selectman, and Russ, editor of the local weekly newspaper. With less ambiguous help from Angelica, her store clerk Ginny, and regular customer Mr. Everett, Tricia races to figure out what's going on before it's too late.

This really is a charming little cozy, complete with bookstore cat Miss Marple--who also makes a contribution to nailing the real killer!--and an interesting set-up for the series.

Recommended.