Ripped From the Pages
A Bibliophile Mystery #9
By Kate Carlisle
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
When book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright temporarily relocates to her parents’ place in Northern California, she finds that wooden barrels aren’t the only things buried in the wine caves of Sonoma….
Excited to explore the secrets of wine country, Brooklyn attends an excavation of the caves hidden deep under her parents’ commune—and the findings are explosive. A room is unearthed, and it contains a treasure trove of artwork, rare books, a chest of jewelry…and a perfectly mummified body.
A closer examination of the murdered man’s possessions reveals a valuable first edition of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hidden in the book is a secret map that unveils an even greater hoard of treasures brought to California by French winemakers fleeing the Nazi invasion with the commune leader’s grandfather, Anton, among them.
As reporters and art appraisers flock to Sonoma to see the precious bounty, questions begin to rise—did Anton hide these items to protect them, or did he steal them for himself? Who is the mysterious man left for dead inside the cave? But not all crime is buried in the past. When a new presence threatens the town’s peace, Brooklyn decides to do a little excavating of her own and solve the mystery of the treasure before anyone else is written off.…(Goodreads.com)
Ripped From the Pages, the ninth entry in the Bibliophile Mystery series, is perhaps the best installment yet, chock full of zany characters, a palpable love of books, and a murder mystery tied to World War II.
I have always enjoyed Brooklyn Wainwright, her former MI6 boyfriend Derek, and her quirky family. Whereas most of the series has taken place in San Francisco, this installment finds us in the quasi-hippie commune turned town Dharma where Brooklyn grew up and most of her family still resides. I find this change of venue is a breath of fresh air. Brooklyn and Derek are spending a couple of months in Dharma while their loft is remodeled and are as excited as the rest of the town about the excavation of one of the wine caves (most of Dharma’s success has involved the town’s vineyards). What a surprise when the work crew finds a walled off “room” instead of terra firma, and an even greater shock to find valuable art, jewelry, furniture, and a body. The discovery brings the press and the curious to town and death to a local.
I love the historical aspect of this mystery. I read a lot of historical fiction/mysteries, as well as cozies, and am tickled to see two of my favorite genres mesh in Ripped From the Pages. The history of the treasures added some weight to the story, and I cannot imagine what all of the families who entrusted their most valued possessions to Anton went through during the war. I was just as interested in the items as Brooklyn was. Ms. Carlisle does a fine job of highlighting both the past and present murder mysteries, and the pace of the story is goodoverall. Tension builds along with the danger throughout. If I have a quibble, it is small – the climax and ending feel rushed.
Since this is the ninth book in the series, the characters are like old friends at this point. However well developed they are, they still grow and manage to surprise me with each installment. There is a great deal of focus on Guru Bob and his family this time around, and learning his back story made me like him even more. It is also nice to learn more tidbits about Brooklyn’s brothers and sisters, particularly Jackson. I hope his secrets are further explored in a future book. Brooklyn’s family is quirky, especially her mother Becky, but no character ever crosses into caricature, and they are definitely not stereotypical. Even characters that are portrayed as difficult and unpleasant are still easy to read about.
As I stated above, Ripped From the Pages is my favorite book to date in the series, and I look forward to future adventures with Brooklyn and crew. I recommend it to any cozy fan, but especially to fans of the series, those who like a strong emphasis on books, and to anyone who enjoys a touch of history with their murder.