A Page Marked for Murder
Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery
By Lauren Elliott
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In Lauren Elliott’s fifth Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery, a murder and a missing first edition of The Secret Garden have rare bookstore owner Addie Greyborne running around her Massachusetts town trying to read the clues…
January isn’t the season for the seaside, but the big Fire and Ice festival is keeping bookstore owner Addie busy. Amid the plans for a fireworks display and an ice-carving competition, she’s also dog sitting for a friend in the hospital. When Addie goes to her friend’s house to gather supplies, she notices an interesting item on the nightstand which belongs to her shop assistant, Paige: a very valuable copy of the beloved children’s book The Secret Garden.
But Addie’s blood runs cold when she finds something else: a dead body behind the bakery next door to her shop. Martha, the bakery owner, has no alibi–and has been seen in a heated argument with the victim. And the next thing Addie knows, that first edition has gone missing. Is there a connection between the body and the treasured tome? If there is, it’s up to Addie to find a killer with a motive as hidden as Frances Hodgson Burnett’s famous garden… (from Goodreads)
This is one of my favorite “bookish” cozy mystery series, with each one being better than the preceding. The characters are so well-defined that they pop from the pages, I love the gorgeous New England setting, and the mystery kept me guessing. It was a bonus to be reminded of the Fire and Ice festival of the prior year (Murder in the First Edition). The addition of the sweet pup Addie dog sits for added a touch of sweetness and fun.
Greyborne Harbor is preparing for the post-Christmas Fire and Ice festival that tourists and locals love. The fire is a huge bonfire held the last night of the festival in which all used Christmas trees are burned on the beach, and the ice is the huge ice sculpture competition that is gaining national attention.
While preparing for the festival, Addie’s friend Gloria fell off her ladder and needed hip replacement surgery. Martha, one of Gloria’s best friends, volunteered Addie to take care of her pup, Pippi. She has never had a pet before, so she is very concerned about doing the right thing. When Martha took her to Gloria’s to pick up the pup’s food and toys, they saw a book on the bedside that Paige, Martha’s daughter and Addie’s assistant manager, loaned her. Addie recognized it as a first edition, and in the present condition, it was worth about twenty-five thousand dollars. When Gloria was ready to read it, Addie went to her house to pick it up, and it was gone.
Addie had invited her cousin, Kalea, to stay with her in the home she inherited from her great aunt. She gave her a job at the bookstore to help her get on her feet. Kalea decides she doesn’t have to work to get a paycheck when she meets and spends time with a mystery man. She even tells the guy that the house belongs to her, and he had been looking at some of the rare, valuable books that were part of the collection that Addie’s great aunt had. She even told her new boyfriend that Addie was the one who needed a hand up to get back on a stable footing!
One morning when going into the bookstore, Addie finds a body in the alley behind Martha’s bakery. It is Paige’s ex-boyfriend, the father of her daughter. He had brought his latest girlfriend to Greyborne Harbor to meet Paige’s daughter…and to demand custody of her. The police have their eye on three people as prime suspects – Paige, her father Ken, in town for a few days, and Martha. Martha once disliked Addie, and they have since become friends, especially sharing one of their frustration relievers, gingerbread men. Despite their rocky introduction, Addie doesn’t believe Martha would kill anybody, nor would Paige. Could Addie go back to sleuthing to help get Martha out of jail before she is railroaded into murder? Do the missing book and murder have anything to do with each other?
The author designs her characters thoroughly, introducing and defining them as necessary for their roles. It amazes me how Addie and Martha have become good enough friends for Addie to be willing to go the distance to help get her out of jail. Martha is quite a personable lady once she likes someone, and having her daughter and granddaughter living with her has helped.
What a delicious mystery! If only I had some gingerbread men while enjoying this book! Watching Addie prepare her white board with facts and suspects, it was easy to see how the police lined up the clues to point to Martha, so Addie had her hands full trying to figure it out. Even with the help of her boyfriend Simon, the local surgeon and coroner, it was quite the challenge. I am happy to say that after chasing an excellent red herring, I did figure out who the killer was, with an idea what the motive was. The end was very satisfying, with all loose ends tied up. I highly recommend A Page Marked for Murder and this series!