Saturday, January 29, 2022

Book & Audio Review: The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham

The Bookshop Murder

Merryn Allingham
Narrator: Charlie Norfolk
Series: A Flora Steele Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Bookouture (July 26, 2021); Hachette UK - Bookouture (July 26, 2021)
Length: 256 p.; 7 hours and 17 minutes

Description: Join Flora Steele – bookshop owner, bicycle-rider, daydreamer and amateur detective as she tackles her first case!

Sussex, 1955:
When Flora Steele opens up her bookshop one morning she’s in for the surprise of her life! Because there, amongst her bookcases, is the body of a young man, with a shock of white-blond hair. But who was he? And how did he come to be there?

Determined to save her beloved bookshop’s reputation and solve the baffling mystery, Flora enlists the help of handsome and brooding Jack Carrington: crime writer, recluse and her most reliable customer.

The unlikely duo set about investigating the extraordinary case, following a lead across the sleepy village of Abbeymead to The Priory Hotel. When the hotel’s gardener dies suddenly, and they find out their victim was staying there, Flora’s suspicions are raised.

Are the two deaths connected? Is someone at the hotel responsible – the nervous cook, the money-obsessed receptionist, or the formidable manageress?

As the trail of clues takes Flora and Jack all over the village it becomes clear there’s more than one person hiding secrets in Abbeymead…

But does Flora have what it takes to uncover the truth – or will her amateur sleuthing put her in harm’s way?

My Thoughts: It's 1955 and Flora Steele is just opening the bookshop she and her aunt had developed together. Times are hard; England is still trying to recover from World War II. Flora has her own difficult recovery to accomplish too. Her aunt's illness and death had meant that Flora had to delay her dreams to travel and see new places. 

Flora's first customer of the day is recluse Jack Carrington who is a man who writes crime novels. This is the first she has seen of him despite him living just outside the village for five years. He usually sends an errand runner to pick up the books he orders. After Flora finds his books in the basement and goes to find him in the quaint old shop, she discovers that he has discovered the body of a young man back in the stacks. 

Flora had seen him before when he almost ran her and her bicycle off the road the previous day but has no idea why he would have been in her closed shop and certainly no idea why he might have died there. The police are quick to write the death off as a heart attack which seems unlikely in a twenty-one-year-old and fit looking man. When rumors start to spread that there must be something wrong with her shop and business, which hadn't been brisk. slows to a trickle, Flora decides that her only option is to find out how the young man died and clear the reputation of her shop.

Flora recruits Jack since she believes that a crime writer would be a useful partner in solving a crime. Since Jack is having difficulty with his current book and finds Flora intriguing, he agrees. Their investigation leads to the new hotel in town which used to be a stately home. The dead man was staying there. 

The investigation runs into roadblocks, takes strange turns, and turns dangerous when Flora and Jack are shot at with a crossbow and the former gardener also dies in a suspicious accident. Flora and Jack begin to think that the murder has something to do with a legend of buried Tudor treasure. 

There are a number of suspects and a number of interesting characters in the story. This is the first book in a series. It was narrated by Charlie Norfolk who did a good job making the various characters unique. 

Favorite Quote:
"German sniper," he said briefly. He wouldn't say more, Flora knew. People didn't speak of the war, particularly men who had fought their way across Europe. they barely mentioned what had happened to them in those long years of struggle. No one did, really. It was as though a huge schism had broken the country apart - a second appalling conflagration within thirty years - and everyone was now silently trying to knit the edges together. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love getting comments. Let me know what you think.

This blog is now officially declared an Award Free zone! I do appreciate your kindness in thinking of me and I am humbled by your generosity.

Your comments are award enough for me. Comment away!