Bookclubbed to Death
By V. M. Burns
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When the bookshop she owns becomes a crime scene, mystery writer Samantha Washington discovers there is such a thing as bad publicity . . .
After the local library in North Harbor, Michigan, is flooded in a storm, Sam offers her bookstore as a new venue for the Mystery Mavens Book Club. Unfortunately, she immediately runs afoul of the club leader, Delia Marshall, a book reviewer who can make or break careers—something Sam can ill afford with her debut historical mystery soon to be published.
But the next morning, Sam opens her shop to find the unpleasant woman dead on the floor, bashed with a heavy—apparently lethal—tome: the Complete Works of Agatha Christie. While Sam is busy writing her latest British historical mystery in which the queen mother is suspected in the murder of a London Times correspondent, a pair of ambitious cops suspect Sam of the real-life crime. When she gathers Nano Jo and their friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Village to review the case, they discover every one of the Mavens had a motive. With her novel about to hit the stores, Sam must find out who clubbed Delia before a judge throws the book at her . . . (From Goodreads)
In this excellent new mystery in its series, Samantha faces potential prison time when a syndicated book reviewer is found dead in her shop after trying to extract payment from Sam in lieu of filing a lawsuit against her. I enjoyed both the mystery Sam is living and the mystery she is writing that will be her second to publish. I felt the characters, both from 1939 England and present-day Michigan, were very well defined through conversations, behaviors, and even their facial expressions. I especially love the Girls, Nana Jo’s friends, who bring additional life and laughter to the pages.
Sam, widowed at a young age, is preparing to get married again. Her indie mystery bookstore, opened after her husband’s death, continues to grow in popularity. Her first mystery, set in Britain as the country is preparing to enter WWII, will be released in a few days and she is working diligently on the second. Then, after a tornado roared through North Harbor and the library is damaged, a book club that need a temporary place to meet will use her conference room. Delia, the head of the Mystery Mavens, is one of the nastiest people Sam has ever met. As Nana Jo commented, “Whose house landed on her back?”
An argument, loud enough to be heard throughout the store, took place during their first meeting. Sam went in to quiet them down, only to be met with more nastiness from Delia, who left the meeting. After Sam commented about being surprised nobody has killed the woman already, she heard a crash from the front of the store and her dogs barking. Delia was on the floor, having fallen, and is going to sue Sam for all she has and take one of her dogs away. It wasn’t until later that Sam learned the woman had kicked one of her dogs, and the other had not hurt, or bit, her. Refusing to let EMT’s check her out, Delia left.
The next night, Delia called and offered Sam an alternate to being sued by her. Even though it was late, Sam spent a couple hours looking for Delia. She finally returned home without finding her. Nana Jo got in about an hour later. She found Delia on the floor of the bookstore, with the very expensive special-order book she hadn’t yet paid Sam for looking like the murder weapon.
Having an attorney in the family can come in handy. Described as a pit bull in the courtroom, Sam’s sister Jenna was a wealth of information. This time, unfortunately, she is certain an arrest warrant for Sam would be forthcoming. Sam had only a couple days to find a killer, and while she and the Girls were very good at gathering information from their resources, it would take more than a day to come up with a killer.
Sam and her friends are very engaging, delightful folks. I enjoyed picturing some of the facial expressions and gestures, especially Jenna’s, and was very surprised at the changes in Detective Pitt. Only one of the book club members was forthcoming about Delia’s schemes, as was a tentative new member. The men and women in Sam’s cozy mystery series are mostly likeable, including the Royal family and their staff. Sam has a unique way of working through mysteries that works for her. One can see parallels between their situation and the mystery she is writing, including the logic behind the clever clues they found. I especially enjoyed seeing another point of view regarding the weeks before Britain joined WWII and insight into the Royal family. I was stunned at the vastness of Windsor Castle! Both mysteries kept me guessing throughout, and I was somewhat surprised at each of the outcomes. The author continues to demonstrate her skill of building a mystery within a mystery. I highly recommend this novel and series!