Victoria Square #6
By Lorraine Bartlett and Gayle Leeson
Author’s Website: lorrainebartlett.com & gayleleeson.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
The charm of
Victoria Square may prove to be only skin deep when murder follows the arrival
of a tattoo parlor in town in this latest installment of the New York
Times bestselling series.
A tattoo parlor on Victoria Square? Some of the merchants get hot under the collar at the proposal, but could they be driven to kill to stop it? That’s what the sheriff’s office and Katie Bonner want to know when the building’s owner is electrocuted with his own saw.
Meanwhile, tensions rise when a hot chef takes over the square’s tea shop. Will Katie have three men vying for her affections, or will her rival take the tea cake?.
I always look forward to a new cozy in this marvelous series; each can be read as a standalone or in order. I enjoy the characters at Artisan’s Alley and Victoria Square; they are like a big family with unique personalities and talents. The setting in this historic neighborhood is one I would love to visit, but not in the summer! It was fun to see the progress of Katie’s new business and the challenging murder mystery implicating one of her close friends as the killer made for a read that was impossible to put down!
Katie, who runs Artisan’s Alley and the Victoria Square Merchants Association, started a new business venture with her former mother-in-law Margo a few months earlier. Katie purchased, renamed, and remodeled the former tea shop in Victoria Square. Tealicious has a good following already, thanks in part to her baking. Unfortunately, the manager just quit with short notice, leaving her in the lurch.
At the Merchants Association meeting, a muscle-bound, tattooed man in attendance wants to join. He is purchasing a vacant building on the Square to open a tattoo parlor. A few members protested mildly, saying that it doesn’t fit with the arts theme, and a peacemaker suggesting he won’t get the exposure there that his business needs. He stormed out. The members discussed the possibility of asking the owner to rescind the sale to the tattoo artist and the would buy the building, perhaps to lease out.
The next day, retired homicide detective Ray comes in to see Katie with a black eye. Nobody realized that Harper, owner of tattooist’s building, is family to the tattoo artist, as is Ken, the man doing the construction buildout. When Ray asked if he would consider selling to the group, Ken slugged him. Katie went over later to see if she could smooth things over. At least he didn’t slug her. To tune her out, he turned on his saw and was electrocuted, with the spark shooting out knocking Katie out. By that night, the sheriff’s office is considering Ken’s death a possible homicide, with Ray, once one of their own, a prime suspect. When they confirm that the wiring was rigged to kill Ken, Katie knows there is a killer on the loose on the Square, and despite what the deputy thinks, it isn’t Ray.
In the meantime, her boyfriend Andy, owner of Angelo’s Pizzeria on Victoria Square, doesn’t recognize that his assistant manager is in love with him – but he does think Ray is very interested in Katie. Thanks to friends Nick and Don, Katie finds a manager for the tea shop. Brad is extremely overqualified but wants a calmer life in a small town. He is incredibly handsome and personable. Andy and Ray are both jealous of Brad, and Katie just wants to do her work and find the killer.
It is always a delight to visit the gang at Artisan’s Alley and Victoria Square! I was happy to see Katie hire someone with the challenges Brad has faced. Her loyalty to her friends is wonderful, and asserting her independence is an asset. I like Katie, Ray, Andy, and Rose best. The regular characters are defined as well as needed for their roles; I do wish we had seen more of Rose!
The plot was well-researched and realistic. Katie has a lot of irons in the fire and juggles them with her usual skill. I was a bit put off by Katie’s on-and-off attitude with Andy and Ray as (for me) it detracted from the story at times. I enjoyed meeting Miles and Grimm and would enjoy seeing him and his “family” in the future. Discovering the murderer was challenging, and I’m happy to say I was only a few steps – or pages – ahead of Katie. There were such good suspects along with some amazing surprises! The loose ends were tied up, and to me, this is the best cozy in the series. I highly recommend it!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*
Thank you for the lovely review!