Lorna Barrett’s cozy, Murder is Binding, starts off her Booktown Mysteries with a bang! Or is it a stab?
To bring in some much needed revenue, the town of Stoneham, New Hampshire, has opened its doors to booksellers inviting them to set up shop.
Tricia Miles took up that invitation, leaving her life in Manhattan for the small town to live out her dream of owning her own mystery bookstore.
Soon Tricia’s bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, is open for business and Tricia is met with all of Stoneham’s friendly citizens. Well mostly friendly. All except Doris Gleeson, the owner of the cookbook store right next to Tricia’s.
She’s the grouchiest person in town, and she certainly doesn’t seem to like Tricia. Her antagonism becomes a real problem after Tricia finds Doris stabbed to death with a kitchen knife in her own store, and her rare and valuable cookbook stolen.
Before she can blink Tricia has all the town’s suspicions on her, and a sheriff breathing down her neck. And if that weren’t bad enough,Tricia’s older and overbearing sister has come for a surprise visit.
With the sheriff and most of the town set against her, Tricia will have to figure out this mystery herself if she wants to clear her name. Tricia’s read mystery books all her life, but she never thought she’d find herself in one.
Now Tricia must dust off her sleuthing skills and take a page from the mystery masters to catch a killer who is interested in more than just books.
Thoughts on Murder is Binding
This is the cozy for book lovers everywhere who feel as though there just aren’t enough bookstores anymore. Murder is Binding transports you to Stoneham where bookstores line the streets, and the peace is only broken by the occasional murder.
Tricia Miles is our spunky amateur sleuth, and her role is made even better by the fact that she owns a mystery bookstore and that the sheriff really is out to get her.
Tricia is a great cozy heroine. Not only does she feel the need to figure out the murder herself, her love of mysteries since childhood gives her a dose of confidence. How hard can solving a real murder be with all the reading she’s done?
Obviously her thinking gets her into some very funny situations, especially as she butts head with the local sheriff, who it seems has never actually worked on a murder case…
Huh. Maybe Tricia does have a bit of a leg up. Though that leads her into some dangerous situations.
But Tricia gets help from her two loyal employees; Ginny a twenty-something young woman who used to work for Doris Gleeson, and Mr. Everett, the elderly gentlemen who loves mysteries just as much as Tricia.
Tricia’s older sister, Angelica, is another colorful character who adds in some extra trouble for Tricia, as the two have never really gotten along. But she is also surprisingly helpful in solving the case.
The sisters’ relationship adds emotional depth to the story that is very relatable. Who doesn’t have family problems and that one relative they love, but from a distance?
Romance is not a huge factor here. Tricia has just gotten a divorce, and is much more interested in her bookstore. However, there is a local politician across the street making advances and an annoying newspaper man.
How that ends…well I’ll let you read and find out! The answer might surprise you.
The mystery itself is quite puzzling, and there was a huge twist in the end I didn’t see coming!
The clues lead Tricia into several different mysteries that all come together to form a complete picture of Doris’s murder. The whodunit won’t surprise you nearly as much as the howdunit.
Murder is Binding remains the funny light read expected of a cozy, while still giving you a mystery with enough tricks and turns to keep you guessing at the murderer until the end.
With this debut, the Booktown Mysteries are shaping up to be a great cozy mystery series. I know I can’t wait till the next one!
My Recommendation: It’s a cozy so it’s in the adult mystery section. This one though I think even young teens (around fourteen and up) could read. It doesn’t really have much in the way of sexual innuendo like some other cozies.
Author: Lorna Barrett (also known as, L.L. Bartlett and Lorraine Bartlett)
Genre(s): mystery, cozy murder mystery
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
First Released: 2008
To learn more about the cozy murder mystery sub-genre check out my post
Stoneham, New Hampshire, the fictional booktown, is based on the real life booktown, Hay-on-Wye in Wales!