I love reading cozy mysteries. That’s the reason I entered the Cozy Mystery Challenge. My particular take on the challenge has been to read all of the authors who make up the Cozy Chicks, all cozy mystery writers. So far I’ve read Maggie Sefton, and Jennifer Stanley. This is book number three and the author is Lorna Barrett.
Lorna Barrett is the pen name of Lorraine Bartlett (also known as L.L. Bartlett). As Lorna Barrett, she is best known for her Booktown Mysteries – three of them so far with the fourth coming out in August.
Murder Is Binding is Book 1 of the series. The setting is a small town in New Hampshire. The old downtown area has been redeveloped into a haven for bookstores selling new and used books in a wide variety of genres. It’s modeled after the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye.
Tricia Miles is the owner of the mystery bookstore called Haven’t Got A Clue. Although Tricia is new to store ownership (five months), she’s not new to mysteries. She’s been reading them since childhood. She’s widely read in the genre and her store reflects her good taste. The bookstore is also home to her ever-present cat, Miss Marple. Isn’t that perfect?
All of the bookstore owners are outsiders and there is some conflict between the locals who have lived there forever and the newcomers. The locals resent all the tourist buses who bring in daily business for the bookstores.
Everything heats up when the owner of the cookbook bookstore is murdered. Tricia is the one who discovers the body. Because the sheriff is a local and has never investigated a murder, she decides Tricia is the best one to accuse of murder.
Since Tricia has read so many mysteries and crime procedurals (a lot more than the sheriff), she sets out to investigate the murder. Her goal is to clear her name. Tricia has plenty of suspects: the super-agressive real estate developer, a super-good looking insurance salesman, and the murdered woman’s twin sister. Tricia also has plenty of help: her sister and her two employees.
I liked the story and the way it was written. At first I didn’t like the main character, Tricia. I thought she was sometimes rude to people and cold. The first four or five chapters she didn’t like anyone. But, once the mysteries started piling up and the story started rolling, I was really into it. And, I saw the character of Tricia change a bit and I soon warmed up to her.
I also liked the numerous references to mystery books and authors. It felt good when I recognized authors and books I’ve also read. I’m ready to go on to the next book in the series, Bookmarked For Death. I’d like to see if/how her character develops and, hopefully, read of more good mystery books in Tricia’s bookstore.
The library here has the whole series but they are also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)