Chapter and Curse (Cambridge Bookshop Mystery, #1)

Chapter and CurseChapter and Curse
by Elizabeth Penney
Rating: ★★★
isbn: 9781250787712
Series: Cambridge Bookshop Mystery #1
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
Pages: 309
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks

Librarian Molly Kimball and her mother, Nina, need a change. So when a letter arrives from Nina’s Aunt Violet in Cambridge, England requesting their help running the family bookshop, they jump at the chance.

Thomas Marlowe—Manuscripts and Folios, is one of the oldest bookshops in Cambridge, and—unfortunately—customers can tell. When Molly and Nina arrive, spring has come to Cambridge and the famed Cambridge Literary Festival is underway. Determined to bring much-needed revenue to the bookstore, Molly invites Aunt Violet’s college classmate and famed poet Persephone Brightwell to hold a poetry reading in the shop. But the event ends in disaster when a guest is found dead—with Molly’s great-aunt’s knitting needle used as the murder weapon. While trying to clear Violet and keep the struggling shop afloat, Molly sifts through secrets past and present, untangling a web of blackmail, deceit, and murder.

This is one of those books that I sort of liked in spite of itself.  The author commits the trope-y sin of her characters thinking they must solve the murder for themselves; she doesn’t go so far as to infer or state it’s because the police are inept, but falls back on the argument that a character must be saved because the police won’t look at anybody else.  Pu-lease.  Also, the murderer was super obvious from the first clue.

But, the setting is in a bookshop, in Cambridge, I say in a somewhat whinging voice.  And I like the characters; I like the little micro-community of the laneway whose name I can’t remember nor find in the text.  I like that the author goes a slightly different way in terms of the relationship dynamics between the detective and the other characters.  The MI6 character is a bit of a stretch, but whatever.  I loved Puck.

So, I have enough hope that I’d be wiling to read a second one, but not a lot of optimism that the series will be a keeper.

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