A Margin for Murder
Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery #8
By Lauren Elliott
Author’s website: laurenelliottauthor.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In the riveting new mystery from the USA Today bestselling author, a murder and a missing first edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses send rare bookstore owner Addie Greyborne on an investigation to challenge even the most distinguished of bibliophiles…
Addie leaves her Greyborne Harbor bookstore, Beyond the Page Books and Curios, in the capable hands of her assistant while she travels to the neighboring town of Pen Hollow to attend a book sale at a library that is closing due to lack of funding. But the real find is a bookmobile bus, which she’s excited to refit as a traveling bookstore to hit all the summer festivals. The bookmobile also holds a surprising treasure: several classic first editions and an early edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.
But before the bookmobile can be delivered to Addie, a fatal car crash occurs. When an autopsy reveals poison in the victim’s system and the first editions go missing, it’s up to Addie to determine what would drive someone to murder. If she’s not careful, however, she may be the next one to be dead on arrival… (from Goodreads)
This is absolutely my favorite in the series so far! The author has outdone herself with a mystery so complex that at times I wondered how it could possibly come out well. It was great fun to visit with Addie and get to know Paige better. The characters invited me in at the beginning, and I stayed for the mysteries that Addie and Paige are the only suspects. I always love visiting Addie’s bookstore and curio shop, Beyond the Page.
Addie and her assistant manager, Paige are going to nearby Pen Hollow for a library book sale. They will stay overnight so Paige can treat Addie to a mini-girl’s night out to celebrate her birthday. Serena, the third musketeer and Addie’s best friend, wants to come with them, but her first baby is due any day.
Luella, the mayor and head of the library committee, overheard Addie and Paige talking about the library’s antique furnishings. She asked if they were interested in a school bus repurposed as a bookmobile. Despite the initial cost, it looked perfect to use as a satellite store on wheels for summer festivals. The payment is transferred for the library, and Luella will present them with the keys on a special TV news feature to be filmed after the volunteer dinner.
While at the dinner, Addie gets a huge surprise. Her high school boyfriend, who disappeared mere weeks before graduation and never heard from again, is there. Tony is in Pen Hollow for family business, and he is now one of the top horror fiction authors in the country! He is interested in Addie all over again, but her heart is with Simon. Luella left to drive the bus over, but she never returned. When leaving the storage yard, it appeared that she quickly accelerated, then crashed.
During the night, Simon, Addie’s beau, a doctor, and the county coroner, conducted the autopsy. Luella had a heart attack resulting from being poisoned. The poison was either in something she ate or drank, or it was on something she touched and was absorbed through her skin. First thing in the morning, Simon and Marc, ex-boyfriend of Addie and police chief of their town, were at the office of the sheriff of Pen Hollow. They are extremely concerned because it looks like the sheriff is trying to railroad Addie and Paige into orange jumpsuits as he is convinced that nobody in his town would kill anyone. Marc, in a real role change, is willing to hear all that Addie has to say and what her suspicions are. After years of trying to keep her out of his investigations, this is quite a change!
The author seems to effortlessly design the characters. Being with Addie, Paige, Simon, and others from Grayborne Harbor is like visiting old friends. Most of the folks in Pen Hollow are friendly and welcoming. There are a few odd ducks there, however, especially the sheriff! Pen Hollow and Grayborne Harbor are in the same county, so many long-term residents in one town have friends in the other, such as Paige and Addie’s old friend Catherine.
There are several mysteries involved. They may or may not be connected to the murder. There may be one bad guy, or several. When they initially looked at the bus to consider purchasing it, Addie and Paige found four first edition books of substantial value. Luella said they had been donated for the annual fundraiser but disappeared and were considered stolen when the sheriff’s department couldn’t find them. Within hours of being found, they went missing again.
There may be people in the gardening club who have access to the plant source for the poison. The plant is even found in the elegant conservatory of the mansion Tony inherited from his grandmother! There were several very good suspects, but the sheriff won’t seriously look at people in his own town. I was concerned for Addie and Paige – will they ever get to return to Grayborne Harbor, or is the big house their only destination? You won’t want to miss this unbelievably clever resolution! I highly recommend this exciting, intense novel and the rest of the series!