Title: Murder Is Binding (Booktown Mystery #1)
by Lorna Barrett
Publishing Info: April 1, 2008 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 21, 2012
The streets of Stoneham, New Hampsire are lined with bookstores... and paved with murder. When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries-and hunt down someone who isn't killing by the book.
Breaking it Down Further: Not-so-city-slicker Tricia (40s, single, kind of a recluse) is accused of murdering her surly shop neighbor Doris. Still new to town and unfamiliar with most of the residents, her town turns on her, dubbing her not only a curse to the town’s murder-free record, but also the culprit of the murder. She bounces back and forth between her attraction to selectman candidate Mike Harris – from weak in the knees to terrified of suspicious motives in no time at all. Long rival sister Angelica shows up in town, charms all of the townspeople, and makes plans to stay as Tricia begins to mend fences the best that she can. Oh, and there’s a cat named Miss Marple who is up to the usual cat shenanigans.
Well, sad to say, I was actually really disappointed with this book. I couldn’t even write an unbiased synopsis of the book — It all turned out snarky! It starts right off with Tricia running her bookstore (which the book description is misleading since she’s already been in NH for 6 months, not “brand new” to the country life, and they never really talk about her being from the city. The story/plot itself was enjoyable. I just didn’t like the way the book was put together very much. Tricia was kind of a flat character to me and I didn’t feel like we got a whole lot out of her. So much more character was put into her sister, Angelica. I didn’t feel like the investigating really took off and the plot didn’t “thicken” so to speak until about halfway through the book until they threw some twists in. The ending was interesting, yet predictable, and I didn’t like how that was all resolved either. I really just felt like it was kind of poor writing. I also really wanted a lot more references to the mystery writers/stories that she sells in her shop since she was supposed to be “taking a page out of” her own niche.
I want to give it three stars, but I just keep coming back to how disappointed I was with it. Usually I can take a cozy mystery for what it is, but this one didn’t even really catch me at any point. I’m really sad to say that it just didn’t do it for me and if someone asked it as a suggestion, I would actually say no. Just really disappointed overall.