Murder in the Storybook Cottage
Book Retreat Mysteries #6
By Ellery Adams
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In the sixth Book Retreat Mystery by New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams, resort owner Jane Steward has her hands full hosting the Peppermint Press children’s book conference when she is sidelined into tracking down a killer who fashions his crimes after fairy tales.
Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a top travel destination for book lovers and the perfect spot for literary events. But as a children’s book publisher hosts a gathering there, some folks aren’t going to live–happily ever after or otherwise . . .
Jane Steward’s resort is hopping–not only is Peppermint Press’ conference in full swing, there are also lots of families staying on the premises, bringing their kids to events like a scavenger hunt through the Fairy Tale Forest.
Then a woman dressed like Little Red Riding Hood is found dead from a plot device straight out of a fairy tale–with a rare and valuable copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in her basket. Not long after, a second victim is killed, with yet another treasure–a volume by Hans Christian Andersen worth thousands of dollars–nearby. It looks like a big bad wolf may be lurking among the guests, and Jane can’t just wait for a handsome prince to come to the rescue… (From Goodreads)
This is one of the most elegantly written cozy mystery that I’ve read, fascinating in every way! It is not a fast read, rather, one to be slowly savored. One comes away with an understanding of the Storyton residents, especially Jane Steward, the manager of Storyton Hall and Guardian of the secret library tucked away in her ancestral home. We enjoy those who work with and protect Jane and grounds, her friends, and her twin sons. There are excellent descriptions of the pertinent the Hall and grounds so that one can feel the same wonder as the guests, especially the children who come to special events. The mystery is complex; Jane has a huge challenge finding the real culprit(s) may be.
Storyton Hall sounds like an amazing destination for booklovers of all ages; it is a five-star bibliophile resort. Jane’s great uncle Aloysius and great aunt Octavia are now retired from the daily activities but are still on top of all that occurs. Jane has been in charge for a few years with the help of the Fins, a specially trained group of men who protect the family and the secret library as well as overseeing day-to-day security.
The Hall is preparing for a five-day children’s book conference. They will also welcome a family chosen to win a prize package of several days and activities at the Hall, and many more families with children anticipated for the upcoming Valentine’s Day weekend.
They will be there in time for the opening of Storybook Village, a fairy tale world on the grounds that children will love. When their book club meeting is over, Jane takes the Cover Girls out to see the Village. Their awe turns to horror when entering one of the cottages to find a woman lying on the floor dressed like Little Red Riding Hood. She is clearly dead, but it is not obvious what she died of. They learn that she only has a basket from which a book has fallen, a costly edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. She was not a guest at the Hall. They later learn she had been murdered by anaphylactic shock; the murder “weapon” had been removed from the cottage.
A couple mornings later, a senior editor from a children’s publishing company was missing. Jane and the Fins conducted behind the scenes searches to no avail. The next day, one of the Fins found the woman, dressed as another storybook character, dead, but not from the snowstorm. Gloria was also murdered, but in a different, ghastly manner. In her room was a valuable copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Jane, the Fins, and the Sheriff feel the pressure to solve this quickly as the families with children are arriving.
The characters are three-dimensional; I loved catching up with them! I think those I enjoy most are Jane and her aunt and uncle, her best friend Eloise and all the Cover Girls – the women in the book club – and the Fins. Jane takes her responsibilities to her family and guests seriously and would go to almost any length to protect them. Eloise, her best friend, owns the bookstore in town and her knowledge of Storyton’s secrets is safe with her. The Cover Girls have been together for several years and are totally loyal to each other. If one is in need, the rest will help unless personal circumstances prevent it. Three of the Fins were around when Jane was growing up; they are family.
Storyton Hall sounds like the best place in the world to grow up, a wonderland of adventure and books. Aloysius and Octavia have been loving and very wise parents as well as managers of the Hall. I am very impressed with the author for designing such an incredible place, down to every detail! The mystery is as complex as Storyton Hall, with plot twists that would change the texture of searching for the real killer. I thought I had guessed who did the murders except for a couple points, including what the motive could possibly be. There were many surprises in the final chapters, with all loose ends tied up. I highly recommend this novel!