Murder in the Paperback Parlor
A Book Retreat Mystery #2
By Ellery Adams
Author’s Website: elleryadamsmysteries.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Jane Steward is organizing a week of activities for fans of love stories at her book-themed resort. But her Regency readers barely have time to brush up on their Jane Austen before tragedy strikes Storyton Hall. Rosamund York, one of the most celebrated authors in attendance, is killed.
Rosamund had as many enemies as she did admirers, including envious fellow novelists, a jealous former lover, and dozens of angry fans. It’s up to Jane, with the help of her book club, the Cover Girls, to catalogue the list of suspects and find a heartless killer quickly—before the murderer writes someone else off… (Goodreads)
Murder in the Paperback Parlor, the second installment in the Book Retreat Mystery series, is a delight. An idyllic mansion in a quaint village complete with secret passages and books, books, and more books – what could make for a more ideal setting for a cozy murder?
Valentine’s week has arrived at Storyton Hall, and manager Jane has a week’s worth of romantic activities planned for the Romancing the Reader Retreat. A panel of romance writers, male cover model contest, ball, fashion show, and auction are just a portion of the itinerary. Rosamund York is the headliner for the event, and from the moment of the elusive author’s arrival, tension rises. Her assistant does not want to abide by the resort rules, another author is dreadfully jealous of her, and her fans just might turn against her after they read the advance copies of her new book which is a bid departure from her usual offerings. When the phone rings in the wee hours, Jane knows it cannot be good news, and sure enough, Rosamund has been found lifeless in the garden. Keeping her death a secret is not possible, and the retreat goes on as scheduled in honor of her memory. Only now, instead of playing cupid, Jane must put on her investigative hat.
The more Jane digs the more dirt she finds about the ever private author and that she had as many enemies as she did secrets. Georgia Dupree is Rosamund’s chief rival and is almost gleeful upon hearing about her demise. Rosamund was seen arguing with a journalist, Nigel, who is there to write freelance work. Rosamund’s “biggest” fan Maria Stone makes an about face, feeling Rosamund betrayed the cause of women in her latest contemporary romance. As Rosamund’s assistant, Taylor Birch had access to all aspects of her life. Then there are all of the other retreat attendees to consider.
As if the murder was not enough to keep Jane busy, she must continue to work with the Fins, a group dedicated to protecting the secret treasures hidden in Storyton Hall, as the priceless collection’s new Guardian, care for her precocious twins Fitz and Hem, and keep her own romantic feelings for her best friend’s brother in check. What embers she hoped to fuel into the flame of love for Edwin are dowsed by her family and the Fins when they tell her Edwin’s true identity.
Though Murder in the Paperback Parlor did not exactly end with a cliff hanger, it did leave me wanting to know more. Jane is a strong and appealing character and Edwin is proving to be quite the man of mystery, but it is the Fins that I find so captivating. A group of older men for the most part, who would think that the main librarian would know how to throw a roundhouse kick or that the chauffeur has a secret laboratory. I love all of these guardians. Uncle Aloysius is endearing, but Aunt Octavia is a bit tedious at times. The mystery itself is well paced with realistic suspects and motives. I did guess whodunit fairly early into the story, but there were enough twists and turns to make me second guess myself at times.
Ellery Adams spins a fine tale full of jealously, love, greed, aspirations, and poison. I absolutely loved Murder in the Paperback Parlor and cannot wait to read the next installment. Highly recommended.