Sunday, March 3, 2019

ARC Review: Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang

Trouble on the Books
Author: Essie Lang
Series: A Castle Bookshop Mystery
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (March 13, 2019)

Description: Rookie bookstore owner Shelby Cox must hit the books to learn the ropes before she loses a killer in the stacks.

Shelby Cox never intended to become a bookseller, so when the former editor returns to her hometown of Alexandria Bay, nestled in upstate New York’s breathtaking Thousand Islands region, to take over her aunt’s bookstore, she has no idea what to expect. To her amazement, she discovers that she now owns a fifty-percent share in Bayside Books, and will also run the store’s second location in the majestic castle on nearby Blye Island.

But just as Shelby is gearing up for the start of the tourist season, the Castle volunteer coordinator is found murdered in the nearby Grotto. Castle caretaker Matthew Kessler is suspect number one, but Shelby thinks the killing may be connected to an earlier era, when violence among Prohibition-era smugglers was rampant in the region. As Shelby launches her own investigation, handsome and unnerving Special Agent Zack Griffin of the Coast Guard Investigative Services tries to quell her smuggling theory and keep her safe. But Shelby is determined to summon all her savvy as a book editor to plot the murder―and find the killer before he strikes again―in Trouble on the Books, Essie Lang’s clever and captivating series debut.

My Thoughts: Shelby Cox is settling in running the second location of Bayside Books. She has learned that she is the half-owner along with her Aunt Edie. The second location is in a tourist attraction on Blye Island. As she is setting up the store for the opening of the tourist season, she has a run-in with volunteer coordinator Loreena Swan. She is surprised to discover Loreena's body when she goes for a quick walk after work before taking the shuttle back to Alexandria Bay.

The murder draws the attention of the local police, the State police, and the U. S. Coast Guard Investigative Service in the person of handsome Zach Griffin. Shelby's Aunt Edie, hobbled by knee replacement surgery, asks Shelby to ask around because Edie's new love interest Matthew Kessler is a person of interest in the crime.

Shelby is also working on another mystery. She wants to find out more about the mother who died when she was three causing her father to move away from the area and raise her in Boston. But everyone she asks finds various ways to stonewall her. She finds herself exploring local cemeteries looking for her mother's grave. Why she didn't do an internet search is a question that is never answered and is just one of the inconsistencies I found in the story.

Shelby gets it stuck in her head that the murder had to do with smuggling. She bases this belief on information that the owner of the island during Prohibition was a smuggler. She also believes that the Coast Guard wouldn't be involved if smuggling wasn't happening.

She has a wide variety of suspects as she gets to know the locals and make a place for herself as a bookstore owner. It seemed strange how many people were willing to answer her questions as she went about her investigation.

I had some issues with the story and with the characters. Shelby repeats, frequently, that she isn't a people person, can't judge how old someone is, and can't remember names of people she's introduced to. It made it confusing for me as a reader when I tried to figure out how old people were and what their relationships were. I'm also still wondering why she goes to a Greek restaurant with a potential love interest and orders Spaghetti Carbonara.

Favorite Quote:
Drew smiled, "Come on, now" look. "That belongs to the old Joe Cabana days. It makes an exciting tale for the castle to tell, that their grotto was once part of the operation, but that time has long passed. No, I think it's something more personal." He leaned closer to her and lowered his voice. "Like a jilted lover. Isn't that usually the prime motive?"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I know the feeling when the story gets so confused with too many threads or too many characters or like this, you begin to lose the thread of the story. I like the spaghetti story too!


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