Crime and Poetry
A Magical Bookshop Mystery#1
By Amanda Flower
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Rushing home to sit by her ailing grandmother’s bedside, Violet Waverly is shocked to find Grandma Daisy the picture of perfect health. Violet doesn’t need to read between the lines: her grandma wants Violet back home and working in her magical store, Charming Books. It’s where the perfect book tends to fly off the shelf and pick you…
Violet has every intention to hightail it back to Chicago, but then a dead man is discovered clutching a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems from Grandma Daisy’s shop. The victim is Benedict Raisin, who recently put Grandma Daisy in his will, making her a prime suspect. Now, with the help of a tuxedo cat named Emerson, Violet will have to find a killer to keep Grandma from getting booked for good…(Goodreads)
Amanda Fowler has created a fantastic read with Crime and Poetry. Amiable characters, a talking crow, a very smart cat, and a strong mystery set against a charming small town backdrop with just the right amount of magic all come together to make an enchantingly entertaining cozy mystery.
Violet left her hometown of Cascade Springs, New York, right out of high school, haunted by her friend Colleen’s death. She has not been back home in the twelve years since and only now returns when she receives a call from her grandmother Daisy telling her that she is very ill and time is running out. Much to Violet’s consternation, she finds Daisy fit as a fiddle and hard at work in her bookstore Charming Books. Daisy unapologetically explains that she felt there was no other way to get Violet back home, that it is time for Violet to fulfill her providence and take over as caretaker of the bookstore. Violet is determined to get back to Chicago until she finds her grandmother’s gentleman friend Benedict Raisin dead on Daisy’s driveway. Clutching a book of poetry that he purchased the day before from the shop. Strangled with one of Daisy’s signature scarves. When it comes to light that Benedict recently changed his will making Daisy the beneficiary, it pains Police Chief David Rainwater to make Daisy the prime suspect. Violet cannot possibly leave now. She must find the true murderer and clear her grandmother’s name. Plus, there is the matter of her destiny.
Violet and the supporting characters in this freshman book in the Magical Bookshop Mystery series feel like old friends from the very first page. Flower does an excellent job introducing them without providing a potentially dry information dump. I like everything about Violet, Daisy, and Chief Rainwater. They are realistically portrayed and well developed. We learn the secrets of Violet’s past bit by bit, and it makes sense how it would shape her personality, decisions, and actions the way it has. Violet’s disbelief of her mystical heritage and destiny is authentic and, thus, helped it to be more believable. Daisy is delightfully upbeat and enthusiastic in all areas of her life. What a fun grandmother she must have been to grow up with. Chief Rainwater is mysterious and kind, and his chemistry with Violet adds a pleasant tension (and laugh out loud awkward moments) to the story. My jury is still out about Nathan, Violet’s high school boyfriend and current mayor of Cascade Springs. I would be remiss to not mention my absolute favorite characters – Faulkner, the talking crow and mascot of the bookstore, and Emerson, the charming and intelligent tuxedo cat.
Cascade Springs is the perfect bucolic setting for the series. Flower weaves some fascinating history into the story. She even manages to make city politics interesting. I hope to someday visit the majestic Niagara Falls, but a vicarious trip to Cascade Springs makes a good alternative.
The mystery is solid and well paced. A rival suitor, an estranged daughter, a jealous coworker, and nefarious people from Benedict’s past are all believable suspects with varied motives. Each new tidbit of information and suspect introduced had me guessing until the very end. To me, it is a sign of a quality mystery if I do not figure out whodunit early on (it happens far too often). The climax had me on the edge of my seat.
Crime and Poetry is on my short list for best reads of 2016. The magic aspect is subtle so I heartily recommend it to any fan of cozy mysteries, whether you think you like paranormal touches or not. Amanda Flower writes smart, interesting plots and characters. I cannot wait to read the next installment.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*