Who better than authors and booksellers to follow every story to its conclusion, no matter how unexpected? Mystery writers and bookshop owners star in these stories featuring amateur—but determined—sleuths. These intrepid ladies aren’t afraid to poke their noses into remote farmhouses, secluded island communities and the long-held secrets of their own small towns, and they won’t stop until they reach The End.
FAR FROM THE TREE
The mother-daughter writing and sleuthing team in Antiques Swap may share genes, but their methods are poles apart. Fans of the Trash'n'Treasures Mystery series will recognize the entertaining way level-headed narrator Brandy Borne’s sensible tone clashes with her mother's cheerful disregard for the rules. When an old flame’s vindictive wife is found dead, Brandy rushes to clear her own name, while mother Vivian gathers material for their next book. And she’s really hoping for a reality TV series. The little town of Serenity, Iowa, turns out to have plenty to work with, as Brandy and Vivian uncover the most surprising games played by the town’s elite, with the highest of stakes.
BETWEEN THE LINES
Semi-retired bookstore owner Claire Malloy is back with her signature snark in this witty 20th installment of Joan Hess’ series. Though the distractible Claire can’t be bothered to address the alarming rate at which her bookstore inventory walks out the door on its own, she is more than willing to throw herself into a murder investigation when the prosecutor makes a grievous error: He humiliates Claire in public. That’s all it takes to put her firmly on suspect Sarah Swift’s side, though the evidence paints Sarah guilty of killing her husband. Throw in a surly teenage daughter, a husband who happens to be the Deputy Police Chief and the impending visit of her mother-in-law, and you’re caught up in the chaos that is Claire Malloy’s life. None of this stops her, of course, from sneaking down back roads, climbing into dusty attics or taking seriously a 4-year-old boy’s zombie sighting. Her willingness to consider all sides of the story ultimately solves the complex case.
BEST LEFT UNWRITTEN
Best-selling author Alex Griffith has mined his childhood home, Broward’s Rock, for all it’s worth, fictionalizing the island’s secret affairs, dirty deals and suspicious deaths in his novel Don’t Go Home. The golden boy is out of ideas, though, which is how he lands in the hands of bookstore owner Annie Darling. The Death on Demand proprietress is happy to help, until she learns what he has in mind: a nonfiction book that will reveal the real names of his characters. His plan leaves Alex with plenty of enemies, and when he is murdered on the eve of his planned press conference, the list of suspects is long. Annie, however, has a native’s knowledge of the island, and she’s read Alex’s book; she can find out who had the most to lose from his tell-all. Author Carolyn Hart sets Annie on a winding path into the past, carefully curating the intricate plot twists that ultimately lead to the truth.