Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Crime and Poetry (A Magical Bookshop Mystery)

Author:  Amanda Flower
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Ebook, Audiobook
ISBN #:  9780451477448; 9781515950394
NAL Publishing
368 Pages
$7.99; $7.99; $29.99
April 5, 2016
Five Stars

Rushing home to sit by her ailing grandmother's bedside, Violet Waverly is shocked to find Grandma Daisy the picture of perfect health.  Violet doesn't need to read between the lines: her grandma wants Violet back home and working in her magical store, Charming Books.  It's where the perfect book tends to fly off the shelf and pick you...

Violet has every intention to hightail it back to Chicago, but then a dead man is discovered clutching a volume of Emily Dickinson's poems from Grandma Daisy's shop.  The victim is Benedict Raisin, who recently put Grandma Daisy in his will, making her a prime suspect.  now, with the help of a tuxedo cat named Emerson, Violet will have to find a killer to keep Grandma from getting booked for good...

Charming Books, Daisy's store, is a lovely old Victorian that has been built up around a towering birch tree - that's right; there's a tree growing in the middle of the home that has been converted into a bookstore.  It is where Violet grew up and has been there since the 1800's, with additions and alterations over the years and Violet is about to learn the magic of the house, the tree and the books...

Violet Waverly returns home to Cascade Springs, New York after receiving a distressing phone call from her grandmother.  She is sure that Grandma Daisy is ill, or worse, dying.  So it is with some surprise that when she enters her grandmother's bookstore, she sees Daisy appearing quite healthy for a woman in her seventies and admitting that it was all a ruse to get Violet back home.  Daisy informs her that it's time she came back, it's her turn as the Caretaker; something Violet has never heard of before and isn't sure she wants to hear about now.  

After Violet realizes it was all a ruse, she reiterates her plan to return to Chicago, where she is working on a dissertation in order that she may at last fulfill her dream of becoming a college professor.  Daisy, of course, is against the idea of Violet leaving and has plans of her own, which will allow Violet to achieve her dream and stay in Cascade Springs.

Just as Daisy and Violet are going to settle in with a glass of lemonade and a comforting talk, the doorbell rings and an older man steps in, dressed in livery.  Violet notices the warm way he looks at Daisy, and he is introduced as Benedict Raisin, a close friend who is also a carriage driver for this tourist village.  He's looking for a book, and when a volume of Emily Dickinson's poems literally flies off the shelf and hits him in the kneecap, he thinks he's found the perfect one.  And although Daisy, who appears distressed, does her best to try and talk him out of hit, this is the book he will have.

The next morning Violet is about to have her coffee when she looks out the window of Daisy's house and sees a carriage parked in the driveway.  When she goes to investigate, she sees that it is none other than Benedict Raisin, with her grandmother's scarf tied around his neck, and he isn't breathing.  The attending officer seems to think that Daisy had something to do with the murder, and Violet sees it happening all over again, just like it did twelve years ago - for Violet hasn't been back in all that time since she left right after high school due to the fact that her best friend Colleen died and she was briefly accused of causing it.  No, she's not about to allow her grandmother to be put in the same position she was put in.  She wasn't guilty then and she's not about to allow her grandmother to be railroaded, either... 

Seeing what appears to be a similar case of deja vu, Violet is trying to keep Daisy out of jail.  Even though Chief David Rainwater tells her he doesn't believe Daisy is guilty, he also tells her that she had a motive, and until he has more information, she has to remain on the suspect list.  This, of course, doesn't sit well with Violet, who doesn't trust the village police and she vows to try and move the investigation along, determined to find the real killer.  Along the way, Chief Rainwater keeps turning up (and making her knees turn to jelly), always seeming to be one step ahead of her and always seeming to know what she's been up to.  This is no dunderheaded police officer; he's sharp, smart, and wildly attractive, which isn't helping Violet whenever she sees him.

As if this weren't bad enough, there's Violet's ex-boyfriend Nathan Morton, the boy she broke up with just before she left town.  He's the last person she wants to see, but since he's now the Mayor of Cascade Springs, she's going to see him whether she wants to or not.  And it's also apparent that Nathan is very glad she's back, and finds opportunity plenty to seek her out.

Violet doesn't stumble into situations randomly, and the questions she asks don't appear invasive, so people are willing to answer.  Who was Benedict Raisin?  What did he have in his past that he never wanted to talk about?  Was this what got him killed?  Yet the more she digs for answers, it raises more questions about the murder.    

I truly enjoyed this book and the premise of the story.  A magical bookshop, with books that speak to you?  Becoming a Caretaker of a tree?  A cat and a talking crow?  Emerson the cat, who once belonged to Benedict, has now attached himself to Violet, whether she wants it or not.  What Violet is reluctantly coming to understand is that Emerson was always meant for her, and he's not your usual cat, because it seems he's actually helping her in her investigation.  What could be better for anyone who likes a good mystery?

This book is the first in the Magical Bookshop Mysteries by Amanda Flower, and I hope not to be the last.  It is delightful, enchanting, well-written and with characters that have a real feel to them and make you want to know them better.  Cascade Springs is a sleepy little village that has a touch of magic in it, much like this book.  Highly recommended.

More on Amanda Flower's books:

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