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Murder by the Book: 12/22/22
Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott and Karen White (Narrator) (2018) is the start of the Beyond the Page Bookstore mystery series. Really and truly it is, even though the first couple chapters might have you doubting that fact.
Addie Greyborne has moved to New England having inherited her aunt's estate. She's now living in a mansion and has used some of her windfall to open a bookstore. But her bad luck seems to have followed her here as someone is sabotaging her store before opening day. Things keep escalating until her new friend, Serena, is arrested for the murder of another merchant.
Many cozy mystery series start with an inciting event. There's something that brings the main character to a new town or into a new job. In series from the 1990s and 2000s, that event often involves the death of a relative.
Addie's case, though, is an extreme one. Before the start of the book she lost her fiancé to murder, her father to a car crash, and then her aunt to presumably, old age. As a long time mystery reader, I see each of these deaths as separate mysteries, meaning, it feels like Murder by the Book should be book four. I can't tell you how many times I double checked that this volume was in fact the first one of the series!
With so much going on in Addie's life in terms of deaths, break-ins, and the store sabotage, I'm surprised at how long it takes her to agree that she's being targeted. I did like how the chief of police (newly appointed) takes her situation seriously. The relationship between Addie and Mark is supposed to be set up as a romance, but they gave me more a Jessica Fletcher and Sheriff Amos Tupper vibe. Sure they're younger, but Mark just happily invites Addie along as he investigates.
I listened to the audio book, read by Karen White. White has certain types of characters she does. I'm not sure Addie, et al fit naturally with the types of characters she normally performs. The characters seem bubblier than the narrator's usual fare. We'll see how she grows into them as the series progresses.
The second book is Prologue to Murder (2019).