Three Cozy Mysteries by Lorna Barrett

Stonehaven New Hampshire is  a small town whose …”streets are lined with bookstores…and paved with murder.” Recently a cousin who is a “book buddy” sent me the third book in this quick-to-read and hard-to-solve murder mystery series.

Tricia Miles, the owner of a mystery bookstore, “Haven’t Got a Clue”, has it all:   her own bookstore with an nice apartment above, a bookstore cat named Mrs. Marple, and a retro cafe just across the street owned by her older sister Angelica.   Angelica has recently sold her bookstore, “The Cookery”,which exclusively sells cookbooks to open “Booked for Lunch,” a fifties cafe  and “…somehow manages to remind everyone she talks to–in nearly every conversation–her own cookbook is about to be published.”  These sisters have seen trouble before.

Although I jumped in on the third in a series, Bookplate Special reads well as a stand alone.  Its predecessors, Murder is Binding  and Bookmarked for Death received good reviews, and although there are a few references to the previous books (two other murders solved), the reader catches on without a lot of tedious backtracking–a skill any series writer needs to cultivate. Two “love interests” appear, Russ, a writer for the local newspaper (of course) who has come to take Tricia for granted; and a “new man,” Captain Baker, who will investigate the murder of Tricia’s “sort-of” friend, Pammy, whom Tricia finds “crocs up” in the dumpster behind Angelica’s cafe. At first, Grant Baker seems a polite relief from Sheriff Adams who was sure in at least one previous book that Tricia was the murderer, but then the love/hate fireworks, a sure fire technique in a love story ,begin as Grant tells Tricia to “stay out of it.”

This mystery is definitely an escape read and is full of twists and turns as well as interesting information: a Senior Citizen wedding, freegans searching local dumpsters, family secrets revealed and complicated family dynamics.  Of course at one point Tricia is in danger and the pace is quick and scary. Set during the autumn tourist season and featuring The Great Pumpkin Festival in a near by competitive (crucial to one plot) small town, the book is the perfect Fall Read.

P.S. A fourth mystery in the series Come Chapter and Hearse is forthcoming. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun!)