Book Fair and Foul An Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery, Book #4 By Erika Chase ISBN# 9780425271490 Author’s Website: erikachase.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
For the mystery book lovers of Ashton Corners,
burial plots tell the most intriguing stories.
The members of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society are all chipping in as Molly Mathews, now owner of the bookstore the Book Nook, prepares the first annual Mystery Book Fair. While gossip circulates about the guest authors, club member Lizzie Turner is unpleasantly surprised to see a certain book publicist make an appearance. It seems Lizzie has a history with Ashley Dixon—a chapter of her life she’d rather leave closed.
But when someone gives Ashley a death sentence, Lizzie becomes the prime suspect in a murder mystery she can’t put down. Now Lizzie and her fellow book buffs have to read between the lines of the publicist’s past and catch the real killer before Lizzie is written off for good. (from Goodreads and back cover)
Book Fair and Foul, the fourth Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery, is the best to date. It can be read by itself, however, the first three mysteries are excellent and shouldn’t be missed. Erika Chase has clearly outdone herself, this time with Lizzie Turner, reading expert for the local elementary school and amateur sleuth extraordinaire, as the primary suspect.
Lizzie is an active member of the Book Club and one of the organizers for the upcoming Book Fair, as well as a very close friend of Molly Mathews. Molly, one of the most charming Southern ladies in the area, is also the owner of the recently purchased bookstore that she named A Novel Plot.
The first Book Fair is being organized by the book club members, each with tasks they can most adeptly perform. The work that goes on behind the scenes for an event of this type is interesting, and seemingly endless! Of the mystery authors who will attend, three of the four have been at similar fairs together in the past. They are booked at the B and B for the fair plus some additional days should the authors want to relax and enjoy the town.
The night that the first authors arrived needed some special author-handling by Lizzie. It was then she learned that a publicist from the publisher was scheduled to arrive as a last-minute addition, a woman named Ashley Dixon, who Lizzie hoped was not the girl of the same name who had briefly been a troublesome roommate at college.
The fair went off without a hitch, and was very enlightening and successful. The only problem that reared its – or whose – head was the dreaded Ashley Dixon, who really was the former college roommate. Ashley flirted outrageously with Mark Dreyfus, chief of police and Lizzie’s boyfriend. Lizzie remained cordial, biting her tongue until the fair was nearly over. Finally she had been baited one too many times and Lizzie and Ashley had a spat that was unfortunately the entertainment for the evening, all in attendance hearing Lizzie’s “or else” to Ashley.
The following day, it was a humbled, embarrassed Lizzie who took Ashley’s call and apology, agreeing to meet her before school the next day to clear the air. The next morning, though, Ashley never met her or answered her call. By midday, she knew why. Ashley had been found dead. And Lizzie is the only suspect.
Ms. Chase skillfully leads us through a well-thought-out plot, with surprise curveballs that only an excellent mystery writer could dream of. The Book Club members all take part in their own unofficial investigation – without Mark’s permission, of course. As readers of some of the more gifted novelists, who better than the club members could brainstorm every possible scenario? As well as sift through the clues to find secrets thought long-buried in some of the most influential local families?
The characters are authentic, each having their own unique personalities and quirks. Some are an enigma as part of the plot, becoming better defined as their role changes. The authors display interesting temperaments such as are sometimes attributed to artistes, temperaments that this reader would not anticipate from often introverted, thoughtful writers. Nobody is exempt from the bearing the brunt of short tempers that those inward-looking and somewhat unconventional writers act upon, whether about the size of their room accommodation or … well, we won’t give that one away!
Cover art that includes Lizzie’s cats, Brie and Edam, is very colorful and attractive, my favorite of Ms. Chase’s books. Blessed is the reader who has that library, and the gorgeous Siamese duo, in their home!
I highly recommend this mystery to adults of all ages who appreciate good writing and creative characters, especially to all who have read earlier books in the series. You won’t be disappointed to spend some quality time with the Ashton Corners Mystery Book Club! And you will also be teased with the first chapter of the next Book Club mystery!