Killer Words

Mystery Bookshop, Book #7

By V.M. Burns

ISBN 9781496728975

Author Website: vmburns(.)com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


Bookstore owner and mystery writer Samantha Washington comes to the aid of the cop who once arrested her own grandmother . . .

Sam and Nana Jo are back in sleepy North Harbor, Michigan, where Sam is eagerly awaiting the publication of her first book. In search of more immediate excitement, Nana Jo hits the casino with her fellow Shady Acres Retirement Village gal pals—but they get more than they bargained for when they witness Detective Bradley Pitt decking mayoral candidate John Cloverton.

As Sam well knows, mystery novels are full of brilliant detectives, genius sleuths, and hero cops. Detective Bradley Pitt—aka “Stinky Pitt”—is another story. In the past, the dull-witted detective has mistakenly accused members of Sam’s family for crimes they didn’t commit. Now, it’s his turn: when Cloverton turns up dead, he’s arrested. With his predilection for polyester, Pitt has been wanted by the fashion police for years, but Nana Jo knows her former elementary school math student would never commit murder—it doesn’t add up. Somebody’s framed the flatfoot to take a fall, and Sam and Nana Jo must step in to restore the reputation and good name of Detective Pitt. (Goodreads)


There are many things that grabbed and held my attention in this exciting cozy mystery. Each character is illustrated as fitting their role. I really like the core group, including Samantha and Frank, Nana Jo and the Senior Sleuths. Sam followed the dream that she and her late husband had shared of owning a mystery bookstore. She is also a new author with her first British cozy mystery releasing soon, and we get to read parts of her next novel as she writes it. Both mysteries are quite challenging.

Nana Jo, Sam’s grandmother, helps at the bookstore, as do her twin nephews, who will soon graduate from the university. During the week, Nana Jo stays with Sam in her huge loft upstairs from the bookstore. Sam often joins Nana Jo and her friends from their retirement community on their outings. They are going to the casino tonight, where each has their preferred spot to play. When Sam finishes at her machine, she finds a quiet spot to work on her novel. Writing is something she enjoys doing, and it helps her relax and work through the murder investigations she and the Senior Sleuths get into.

Sam’s historical British cozy is especially interesting to me as I learned some things about WWII from a different perspective. There are real people and events referenced, and some of her characters are related to British royalty. Sam’s novel shows another side of V.M. Burns and her talent to research and write historical cozies.

Sam, along with Nana Jo and her friends, have helped solve several murders to date. The cases were ones that she or her loved ones had a vested interest in, including when they recently visited London. The detective in North Harbor, Detective Bradley “Stinky” Pitt, has tried to arrest Sam and people she loves for crimes they didn’t commit, which began their quests to find the real bad guys. This time, Stinky is on the hot seat in jail. While it is clear he has been set up by somebody, Sam doesn’t want to help find the person who killed the detective’s ex-wife’s husband and framed him for it. Nana Jo remembers Detective Pitt when she taught him math in elementary school and knows he couldn’t have done it.

Nana Jo and Sam visited Mildred, Pitt’s ex-wife and widow of the murdered mayoral candidate, John Cloverton. Mildred knows that John had affairs with several younger women since they have been married and seemed to accept it. Due to his religious beliefs, she said he would never divorce her.

Sam, Nana Jo, and those helping them found several possible suspects and try to put all the pieces together. One of the issues John had brought to light before his murder is how North Harbor needs to investigate the accounting practices of the current mayor and chief of police, as he believes there is a serious misappropriation of funds.

There is a delightful mix of characters, each one distinctly demonstrated throughout. I was very impressed with the grace demonstrated by each of those involved with clearing Detective Pitt’s name despite the past. I like Sam best, then Nana Jo, and one of Nana Jo’s friends, Ruby Mae. Ruby Mae has a huge family that stretches around the world. When they need information, Ruby Mae usually has a family member who can help. These women are living their respective dream in exemplary ways. This time Sam’s mother Grace and her new husband, Harold, have huge surprises for the family. 

There are two murder mysteries in each novel, one in the present day and one in 1939 England. Both are intriguing, yet perhaps the one in 1939 is more challenging for me due to political implications. I appreciate the fast pace and humor. Most of the characters have grown since the beginning of the series through personal, business, or scholastic interests. Sam and several of her friends and relatives have positive changes in the works, leading to a bittersweet season of flux. The end is very satisfying, with all loose ends tied up. I am absolutely looking forward to the next one in the series, and highly recommend Killer Words!