Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
In the latest New York Times bestselling Booktown Mystery, amateur sleuth and bookstore owner Tricia Miles gets caught up in a local election that turns lethal . . .
It’s November in Stoneham, New Hampshire, and time for the Chamber of Commerce elections. The long-standing Chamber president is being challenged by a former lover—Tricia’s own sister, Angelica. Also throwing his hat in the ring is small business owner Stan Berry. Unfortunately, Stan isn’t in the race for long.
When Stan is found murdered, his political rivals become suspects. Angelica is going to need more than a vote of confidence from her sister—she needs Tricia to clear her name so she can win the election.
Tricia soon uncovers a ballot box full of lies and betrayals, and a chamber full of people who had grudges against the victim. But were they serious enough to lead to murder? It’s up to Tricia to pull the lever on a killer before it’s curtains for someone else. (Amazon)
There is much going on in this seventh installment of the Booktown Mystery series, but I did not find it to be disjointed or confusing. The book opens with nominations for the Chamber of Commerce presidential seat. Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday shopping season are only a week away. Ginny and Antonio’s wedding is also just around the corner. And, finally, Tricia is experiencing somewhat of a midlife crisis: she breaks off her tenuous relationship with the chief of police, her ex-husband has come to town hoping to rekindle their relationship, she’s feeling a bit burned out at the bookstore, has come to the realization that those around her think her stuffy, and is really living up to her reputation as the town jinx.
In true Tricia form, she stumbles across the most recent dead body – Stan, one of the nominees for commerce president. Stan is somewhat of a newcomer to the New England village and not many people like him. But there does not seem to be a clear suspect or motive. As Tricia pokes around, she discovers Stan had an unusual fetish, he recently broke up with his girlfriend, and his estranged son, who stands to inherit everything, comes to town and displays a romantic interest in Tricia. There is also Bob, the current chamber president (rival), to consider and the fact that Eleanor’s, the inn’s receptionist, letter opener was the murder weapon.
As always, this series is mostly character driven, and there is growth for several of the players throughout. I am so happy to see a gentler, less narcissistic Angelica this time around. I hope she remains the good sister and does not revert to her bossy, inconsiderate ways. Tricia’s soul searching makes this installment seem like a transition period for her character, and I hope we see a happier main character in the future. Though she has faults, I felt for Tricia as she dealt with the alienation of her friends and towns folk because of her “jinx”. I wonder, though, just how many more people that hate her the series can support. Pixie continues to provide a bit of levity, and Mr. Everett remains endearing.
For me, the best part of the book was that I did not figure out the identity of the murderer until merely a few pages before he/she was revealed. That is almost unheard of for this seasoned mystery reader. Also, kudos to Ms. Barrett for including the characters’ musings on how strange it is that Tricia finds so many dead bodies and that there is such a high murder rate for such a small town. This is a well paced, fast read, and a fine addition to the series. Recommended for those who like book themed cozies that include a pet or two and followers of the series.