Little Bookshop of Murder
A Beach Reads Mystery #1
Crooked Lane, September 2020
As the story begins Summer Merriweather is on her way back to her hometown of Brigid’s Island, NC from England where, during her summer break she was trying to write a paper for publication in the hope that she could save her job as a professor of Shakespearean literature at a Virginia college. Her job is in jeopardy because she hasn’t published enough, and she fails too many students. But the thing that really sealed her possible fate was an embarrassing video of her that went viral. Summer is returning to her hometown because she learned of her mother’s death – the mother from whom she has been estranged for many years.
Upon her return Summer learns from her aunt Agatha, her mother’s sister, that the coroner ruled her mother’s death a heart attack which Summer refuses to believe because her mother, Hildy, was very healthy and never had heart problems. Back on Brigid’s Island Summer is immediately surrounded by her mother’s friends who help out in the store, bring huge amounts of food, and with whom Hildy was in a book club for many years. However, the police chief firmly believes that Summer’s mother did suffer a heart attack and, since he dislikes Summer for personal reasons, is not inclined to take her seriously and investigate.
So, with the help of her cousin Piper, Piper’s daughter Mia, and Summer’s aunt, Agatha, Summer begins investigating. What she learns makes her even more suspicious that her mother’s death was not from natural causes: her mother had no symptoms before the apparent heart attack, she had recently seen her doctor for a routine check-up, she went to her yoga class the morning of her death, then to work at the bookstore, and then, according to one of the other book club members who was working with her at the time, dropped to the floor and was dead.
Throughout her investigation there is a side story about Summer reading a book her mother was reading just prior to her death – a romance novel – just the kind of book Summer has always hated but to which she feels drawn.
I enjoyed this book, not because the mystery was tricky, and the outcome was difficult to figure out because neither is true but because I really liked the relationships in Summer’s family and with the women in the book club. The book was supposed to come out in July 2020 (was delayed to September because of COVID) and I would have said it was a great beach read (a play on the bookstore’s name!) but it’s winter here in New England and we just got a foot of snow so maybe for some of you it’s beach weather but not here!
Reviewed by Melinda Drew, December 2020.