About The Book
Essie Lang’s series début is perfect for fans of Lorna Barrett, Vicki Delany, and book lovers everywhere.
Rookie book-store 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 home-town of Alexandria Bay, nestled in up-state New York’s breathtaking Thousand Islands region, to take over her aunt’s book-store, 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 début.
As a lover of cozy mysteries, I knew I would be onto a winner with this début in a new series! “Trouble on the Books” ticked all the right boxes before I had even started reading. The setting – a cosy book-store in a castle, no less – and an eye-catching, colourful front cover – all the makings of a great read for me. And I was even afforded a rare opportunity to begin a series from the offset as I always seem to pick them up half-way through. Here was my chance to, hopefully, discover another new favourite author to add to my ever-growing list.
There aren’t many settings as perfect as a bookshop located within a castle, and Essie Lang made great use of this. Alexandria Bay is a fine lakeside town, with a real sense of community and a general feeling of nostalgia. This, as well as a town full of secrets, made it a brilliant backdrop for a murder investigation.
Essie Lang has drawn some fascinating and very useful characters in this début. Protagonist Shelby has the necessary attributes of any great sleuth – intelligence, curiosity and attention to detail – but lacks some of those needed to make a success of the book-store, ‘Bayside Books’, as she is not great at dealing with people. I could see avenues for Shelby’s progression as the main character in any future books in the series.
I was especially fond of Essie Lang’s portrayal of Shelby’s endearing Aunt Edie. She was depicted as having great strength-of-character and was someone who always wanted to be on-the-go.
Even though the murder investigation itself took some time to get going, this did not detract from the story in any way as this book had many of the components that make a really good story: from the mood and undercurrents to the very clever writing and the existence of family secrets. There was a true sense of increasing danger as the story progressed, which definitely helped to keep my interest.
Another of my favourite aspects of this novel was the fluidity of the writing. The details of the plot were brilliantly executed and every chapter left me with a compelling need to read on.
I also enjoyed the little sparks of romance in this wonderful cozy mystery.
I very much look forward to returning to ‘Bayside Books’ in Alexandria Bay with Shelby and Aunt Edie on a future occasion!
[Thanks to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and the author, Essie Lang for my free ARC of Trouble on the Books in exchange for an honest review.]
Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars