The Grim Reader
Bibliophile Mystery #14
By Kate Carlisle
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright was hoping for a fun, relaxing weekend at a local book fair, but a murderer made other plans in the latest in this New York Times bestselling series.
Brooklyn and her new hunky husband, Derek, are excited to be guests at Dharma’s first annual Book Festival. The entire town is involved and Brooklyn’s mom Rebecca is taking charge. In addition to all of her other event related duties, she’s got Brooklyn doing rare book appraisals and is also staging Little Women, the musical to delight the festival goers. If that wasn’t enough, she and Meg–Derek’s mom–will have a booth where they read palms and tarot cards.
Brooklyn couldn’t be prouder of her mom’s do-it-all attitude so when a greedy local businessman who seems intent on destroying Dharma starts harassing Rebecca, Brooklyn is ready to take him down. Rebecca is able to hold her own with the nasty jerk until one of her fellow festival committee members is brutally murdered and the money for the festival seems to have vanished into thin air.
Things get even more personal when one of Brooklyn’s nearest and dearest is nearly run down in cold blood. Brooklyn and Derek go into attack mode and the pressure is on to catch a spineless killer before they find themselves skipping the festival for a funeral. (Goodreads)
In Kate Carlisle’s fourteenth installment in the Bibliophile Mystery Series, The Grim Reader, Brooklyn and Derek are looking forward to some time away from San Francisco and Brooklyn’s hometown Dharma’s first annual Book Festival. Brooklyn’s mother Rebecca is head of the committee in charge of the weekend festivities, and though overall planning has gone well, it has not been without challenges – namely Saffron, a really negative committee member, and bully businessman Jacob Banyan. Banyan is full of threats for Rebecca, but she is more annoyed than afraid. When the festival’s co-chair is brutally murdered and the festival funds are MIA, Banyan becomes Brooklyn’s prime suspect. Things become quite personal when Rebecca has more than one close call and the body count rises. Brooklyn and Derek do all they can to get to the bottom of things all while trying to keep Rebecca safe.
The Grim Reader can be read as an enjoyable standalone mystery, but characters pop in and out and other books are mentioned throughout so I recommend reading the series in order if possible (all of the books are great fun). This tale takes place in Dharma, a utopian hippie colony turned small town, and it is a nice change of scenery from the series’ normal San Francisco setting. Dharma is nestled in California wine country and definitely a place I would like to visit if it was a real place. Beautiful weather, gorgeous scenic views, and consistently successful residents do make it seem a bit too perfect, but it is a cozy mystery after all.
The murders are a bit gruesome for a cozy mystery but not unbelievable over-the-top. Brooklyn and Derek’s involvement seems perfectly natural, and no one comes across as too nosy. The couple is still newly wed, but they are not too lovey-dovey. However, both of their mothers, as much fun as they are, do come off as saccharine. They express their pride in their children over and over again throughout the book, and it becomes noticeable enough that it jarred me out of the narrative more than once. This is a minor complaint that I am sure will not bother most readers. The mystery is pretty straight forward, and I had my suspicions about whodunit relatively early on. There are, however, enough suspects to keep readers second guessing. There are plenty of book restoration scenes to satisfy readers’ curiosity about Brooklyn’s profession.
The Grim Reader is engaging and entertaining, sure to please both longtime fans of the series and readers new to the Bibliophile Mystery series.