Murder in the Margins

Open Book Mystery #1

By Margaret Loudon


Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


The plot thickens for American gothic writer Penelope Parish when a murder near her quaint British bookshop reveals a novel’s worth of killer characters.

Penelope Parish has hit a streak of bad luck, including a severe case of writer’s block that is threatening her sophomore book. Hoping a writer in residence position at The Open Book bookstore in Upper Chumley-on-Stoke, England, will shake the cobwebs loose, Pen, as she’s affectionately known, packs her typewriter and heads across the pond.

Unfortunately, life in Chumley is far from quiet and when the chairwoman of the local Worthington Fest is found dead, fingers are pointed at Charlotte Davenport, an American romance novelist and the future Duchess of Worthington. Charlotte turns to the one person who might be her ally for help: fellow American Pen. Teaming up with bookstore owner Mabel Morris and her new friend Figgy, Pen sets out to learn the truth and find the tricks that will help her finish her novel. (


Murder in the Margins, the first in the Open Book Cozy Mystery series, is full of English ambiance and colorful characters with a diverting murder to solve.

American Penelope Parish has found success with her debut gothic best seller but needs a change of pace to conquer writer’s block.  She takes a position as writer-in-residence at the Open Book Bookstore in Chumley-on-Stoke, not far from London.  Things are going well until Regina, the chairwoman the local fest, is found murdered in the Duke’s cellar.  All eyes turn to the Duke’s American fiancée Charlotte Davenport, a fellow romance author, as the prime suspect, and she turns to Pen to solve the crime.  Regina has a reputation for being bossy, condescending, and good at ferreting out secrets people would rather not come to light.  Pen sets out to find the truth.

I really like the premise of this new series. An author as a protagonist, somewhat of a fish out of water, in a charming village with quirky characters is great fun.  Pen is a logical and down- to-earth amateur sleuth.  I like her bookstore coworkers Mabel and Figgy, as well as Detective Maguire, and the other supporting characters add eccentric yet stereotypical (in a good way) variety to the cast.  Readers do not get to know Regina very well, but she is sufficiently unlikable and makes a good victim.  There are plenty of people around the village with deep secrets that make good suspects, and these keep readers on their toes throughout.  There is also a potential romance brewing.

Murder in the Margins kept me guessing and engaged with its easy writing style and interesting mystery.  The series has a lot of potential, and I look forward to reading more about Pen and visiting Chumley-on-Stoke