To the Tome of Murder
Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery, Book #7
By Lauren Elliott
Author Website: laurenelliottauthor(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Three weeks before Thanksgiving, bookshop owner Addie Greyborne already has a full plate—and a killer on her case…
Addie’s determined to turn a seemingly ordinary November in coastal Greyborne Harbor into one for the books. The windows of her shop display carefully curated works by American writers, including a rare selection of traditional holiday recipes from the influential 19th-century publication Godey’s Ladies Magazine. And then there’s the town’s Civil War-era themed cooking and baking competition, with a hefty cash prize and free publicity going to the winning dish…
But when she finds her cousin’s boyfriend murdered, a stunned Addie reluctantly realizes she may be the only person who can blow the cover off a grisly crime. With so many unanswered questions surrounding the victim’s death, Addie must figure out the strange connection between a mysterious vintage briefcase, the disappearance of a first edition copy of Sarah Josepha Hale’s famous nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and a dangerously well-read culprit. (Goodreads)
Every time I open a new mystery in this series, I eagerly anticipate hours of intrigue with characters I have come to care about in a charming New England setting. The author has again exceeded my expectations in every way. Oh, and did I say it is unpredictable? The events surrounding the mystery and the bad guy or gal are not predictable. The books can each be read as standalones as enough information is provided about past events to suffice. Each character is defined very well, as befitting their role. I still stand by Addie as my favorite, and second favorite is probably her very personable and capable assistant manager, Paige.
Addie inherited her great-aunt’s elegant Victorian in Greyborne Harbor a few years ago. She has since opened Beyond the Page, a bookstore that includes new, used, and collectible books and curios. Having once been a curator at the Boston Library, she is very knowledgeable in handling the kind of rare and collectible books that may be found at estate sales and auctions.
Greyborne Harbor is preparing for Thanksgiving. They are also preparing for a Civil War era Thanksgiving cook off that will showcase a competition from local bakers and cooks in which only authentic Civil War dishes are accepted. Addie is having a run on every Civil War related book in her shop, and Paige even requested emergency orders from their distributor.
Addie has only one living relative, her cousin Kalea, who she knew well through childhood and college. Kalea is an interesting person, not someone easy to genuinely like. Since moving to town, Kalea has found her niche as a clothing designer and seamstress who could rival any big-city design shop. Her boyfriend, Jared, who invests in people’s businesses to help them start or expand their dream, had helped her open Hudson’s Creations on Main. He has since helped several other business owners in the area. Having a reputation as ruthless, he has few fans in this close-knit town. Kalea once said that he is the first man she has ever truly loved. That was huge for her, having been known as a flirt, especially with men dating Addie or her friends.
Monday morning, she called Addie to come to her store for an emergency. When she arrives, Kalea is visibly shaken. When she came downstairs to open for business, handbags, shoes, and jewelry were strewn about the sales floor. Lying dead amidst the mess was Jared, who was to have left early that morning for an out-of-town business meeting. The means of death was a hanger used for clothing that had been broken and jabbed into his chest. The doors were locked with no evidence of any break-in.
Addie is not a stranger to murder and had helped solve several murders since moving to town. When she lived in Boston, she arrived home one night to find her fiancé murdered. Addie had to draw on her own experiences and remember how she reacted for a long time after David’s death. Kalea began to act out in ways that led others to doubt which of her behaviors was real – the flirt that she had been before meeting Jared, or the weepy woman going through a terrible ordeal.
More troubling than Kalea’s behavior, there were parts of her story that didn’t add up. Addie and her friends tried to help find someone other than her for the police chief to investigate, as evidence continued to point to Kalea. When Addie had reason to believe Kalea was innocent, she was a force to be reckoned with, and was willing to go to any length to keep handcuffs off her cousin’s dainty wrists.
This is not the first locked-room mystery in the series. Each has a fresh approach and resolution, so this mystery is not cookie-cutter or cliché. I appreciate Addie’s approach to Kalea, especially when Kalea shamelessly flirted with her beau, Simon. Addie stood up to the police chief, Marc, on Kalea’s behalf, and cared enough to confront her when necessary rather than kick her out of her home. This murder kept me guessing almost through to the resolution. The end is very satisfactory, with the murder and surrounding circumstances fully resolved. I highly recommend this, and the other mysteries in the series.