Played By the Book

Novel Idea #4

By Lucy Arlington

ISBN# 9780425276631

Author’s Website –

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt


The New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries make their return with Lila Wilkins, literary agent and “murder magnet,” planning a book signing garden party. But things aren’t coming up roses when she has to weed out a dangerous killer…

The owner of the Novel Idea Literary Agency is thrilled when former local boy and popular television show host Damian York returns to Inspiration Valley, North Carolina, to launch his new gardening book. But Lila is less than excited about the hubbub when she sees her mounting to-do list. Between planning York’s gala and sprucing up her yard for another event, she’s spread too thin—especially after she finds a skull buried in her flowerbeds.

As Lila’s macabre discovery leads to other secrets hidden in Inspiration Valley’s past, a member of the local garden club is found slumped over her prize roses—murdered. Now it’s up to Lila to dig through old mysteries and new clues to unearth a murderer before someone else is found pushing up daisies…


The Novel Idea series is one of my favorites. Who wouldn’t want to live in a town that caters to the written word? Such is the city of InspirationValley, North Carolina. The main character Lila and her family are so much fun and so well written. I just recently learned that the author Lucy Arlington was actually two of my favorite cozy writers working together under that pen name. I was even more surprised after I finished Played by the Book to find out that this one and future ones will be written by a different author, Susan Furlong-Bolliger. I did not notice any drastic changes in style and at times liked this installment’s pace even better.

Played by the Book is superbly written, full of stellar characters and intriguing twists and turns aplenty. Lila, the main character, is TOLD by her boss at The Novel Idea Literary Agency that not only does she need to plan a gala in less than 2 weeks but also get her own gardens in shape for a walking tour. A former local is now host of a popular gardening television show and his new book is about to launch. Lila sets to right her garden with the help of her son, his friends and her interesting mother when they find a skull buried in her yard. That is just the beginning of the secrets that are about to be uncovered and the mysteries that need to be solved.

Murder, secrets and mayhem seem to be the trend for this big event.  Who knew gardening could be so dangerous and underhanded. Lila has always been a polisher, which comes in handy in her profession, but also plays a part in her amateur sleuthing. The writing style is entrancing and as Lila says “the author’s easy cadence and lively descriptions” transport the reader to this unique town. The characters are fun, entertaining and delightful. This series just seems to be getting better and better.

I highly recommend Played by the Book to any and all cozy readers. This series is enjoyable and fun. It helps to read them in order, but only for the continuity of the series. This is a wonderful read that entertains from start to finish. The flashes of how the main character works with authors lets the reader see books from another side. I can not wait for the next in this series and many, many more to come.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*