Mystery Books for Sale

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by Elizabeth Penney
St. Martin's, September 2021
320 pages
ISBN: 125078770X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Established author Elizabeth Penney introduces an appealing group of characters to anchor her new Cambridge Bookshop series, set in Cambridge, England.

From Vermont, Librarian Molly Kimball and Nina, her mum, move to England to help Nina's Aunt Violet manage the family bookshop – Thomas Marlowe – Manuscripts and Folios. Molly and Nina arrive as second cousin Clive Marlowe is maneuvring to sell the bookshop and get his loan repaid. Molly secures a reading by well-known poet Persephone Brightwell to boost revenue for the struggling shop during the upcoming Cambridge Literary Festival.

While the reading brings positive results, the evening ends on a sad note: one of Violet and Persephone's college classmates is found stabbed to death with one of Violet's pink knitting needles. With her great-aunt the leading suspect, Molly, immediately begins investigating. She finds Kieron Scott, owner of Spinning Your Wheels, the bicycle shop next door, willing to assist her learn her way around Cambridge.

The list of suspects in Myrtle's death expands as Molly uncovers evidence of Myrtle's extensive blackmail activity. Three other classmates emerge as having been targets of Myrtle's demands for money: Fiona, a friend having an extra-marital affair; Steve, a gambling addict; and Clive, caught bribing a local official. In addition to blackmail, Myrtle was building a case to claim ownership of Thomas Marlowe since her family tree indicates century-old connections.

Penney builds an intriguing mystery that allows Molly to discover her English roots and relatives while exploring the rich literary world of Cambridge with its schools and libraries. Molly also uses her skills with social media and the bookshop's website to generate interest for the books they have for sale. The author creates an engaging environment with complex plotting, appropriate twists and keeps the pace moving along. CHAPTER AND CURSE is an excellent beginning to a fascinating new series. May the next trip to Cambridge be soon.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, September 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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