Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so happy to welcome Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli to Escape with Dollycas today!
When my agent suggested Little Libraries might make a good topic for a series, I did what I always do, smiled and nodded while thinking: “That’s nuts! What can I do with Little Library boxes that sit out in front of houses?
They sit there at the curb, one purpose only: to hold borrowable books and make readers happy. How do I stuff a body into one of those little things? How do I plant clues? How do I work up suspense? How do I stage a final scene with the killer cornering my sleuth: his eyes blood red, a knife in his raised hand, the final thrust within inches…?
I thought up mysteries based on themes in a famous writer’s work., or a style, a book from a series, a character, a setting . . . from shadowy moors with a voice calling from a parked Porsche: “Heathcliff! Where the hell are you?” to a 21st century Scrooge with a murderous ghost hiding in his natural-stone shower. I looked at writers from Shakespeare: “Out, out, damned spot. Thy DNA wilt gives me away.”
Edgar Allen Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart. My title: What’s That Beating in my Walls.
Joseph Kesselring, the Broadway play of 1941: Arsenic and Old Lace. My title: Batrachtoxin and Spandex
Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden. My title: Mulch and Murder.
Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca. My title: Hmmm. Maybe, for that lying, cheating Rebecca: Sure Glad She’s Dead.
Louise May Alcott: Little Women. My title: The Family that Preys Together.
But this is what I’ve settled on so far:
I took bits of Alice in Wonderland, stirred in some whimsical flavoring, committed a couple of murders, threw in a Little Woman with a giant chip on her shoulder, and out popped: A Most Curious Murder.
Then—Emily Dickinson, at long last she’s slipped into my hands. I used, not her work but her life in their icy Amherst, MA house with sister Lavinia. I threw in a heap of jealousy, touched a match to it, and came up with: She Stopped for Death.
Then—In Want of a Knife. This is Jane Austen (believe it or not). I found what I was looking for in Pride and Prejudice. I discovered that mothers wanting rich husbands for their daughters are alive and well, in this century, in Bear Falls, Michigan. Rich husbands might be murderers, or maybe it’s their friends. It all works out in the end: some daughters get their men, murderers are duly dispatched, and everyone lives happily ever after.
And now I’m writing: He Went out and Hanged himself. You’ve got to know that’s Agatha Christie. This one’s easy. Ten people isolated in the forests of Upper Michigan. They disappear—one by one (almost), old sins follow them, and eventually, the dead are unburied for all to see.
After all, there’s no place like a library.
What a great idea: Little Libraries! (I love my agent).
Thank you, Elizabeth, for visiting today!
Now let me give you my thoughts on In Want of a Knife.
In Want of A Knife: A Little Library Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Pennsylvania
Crooked Lane Books (September 11, 2018)
Hardcover: 321 pages
Kindle ASIN: B078MB5DHT
When they investigate a string of disappearances of young girls, will Jenny Weston and Zoe Zola be dispatched with extreme pride and prejudice?
Amateur sleuth and little librarian Jenny Wilson is set on edge when the police discover a young girl’s body, dressed in an old-fashioned white lace dress, just outside Bear Falls. And when another local girl from town disappears soon after, Jenny and her next-door neighbor, author and little person Zoe Zola, know they have to help the beleaguered police chief.
But first, Jenny and Zoe have new neighbors to meet: A trio of wealthy newcomers from Chicago has just moved into a huge mansion on Lake Michigan. Nathan and Delia Wickley are genial siblings, and Fitzwilliam Dillon, the mansion’s owner, is a Little Person like Zoe. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a rich gentleman seeking to ingratiate himself to his new neighbors will spread a bit of largesse around, and Fitzwilliam is no exception: He has offered two million dollars to Bear Falls. But the townspeople are far from agreed on what to do with the money—and the deliberations are far from peaceful.
But it’ll all come to naught if the missing girl isn’t found, and the culprit identified. And when she ventures alone to a mysterious structure in the woods, Zoe may not live to resolve her romantic dilemmas. Though neither Jenny nor Zoe is particularly placid or even-tempered, love and danger beckon them.
Dora’s daughter Jenny and famous author, Zoe team up in this story after one young girl is found dead on the side of the road and another girl goes missing. The police are doing a huge search and as soon as the amateur sleuths meet their new neighbors they will join the search and meet with the girl’s mother and her friend to see if they can get more insight as to where the girl may have gone.
The new neighbors, wealthy people from Chicago, are not very well received. The owner of the new mansion on the lake, Fitzwilliam Dillon, is a Little Person like Zoe and treats her horribly. His two friends aren’t much better, but this group is offering the town two million dollars to invest in something that all residents will benefit from, so the Zoe and the rest of the greeting committee try to bite their tongues until they leave the mansion. Dora agrees to take on Fitz and his friends while Jenny and Zoe do all they can to save the girl who is missing.
Little Librarian Dora takes a bit of a backseat in this story. Jenny and Zoe shine as the trek through the woods searching for any clue that may lead them to the missing girl. They think her friend may have information but he is out of town with his father. The police want all the help they can get and encourage Jenny and Zoe to reach out to this young man as soon as he gets home. I missed the way Jenny and Dora worked together, but really enjoyed the way Zoe cast everything aside, okay, she really doesn’t like the topic of her new book, but she really stepped up this time especially when she has to take 2 steps to everyone else’s 1 and traveling through that woods was hard. The author did an excellent job of making me feel like I was there every step of the way.
Readers were also treated to a complex mystery. First, they had to decide if and how the two teenagers were connected and that wasn’t easy. Suspects were determined by the result. Truthfully the whole thing came down to Zoe and Jenny’s determination that the woods was key. The story is broken into eight parts. I love this author’s writing style. The story had a slow build, each section got a little more intense. By the time I reached Part 8, my heart was beating fast and I could not read the pages fast enough. Like in the last book a psychological element is brought to light as the mystery is solved.
The subplot of Zoe’s book brought the necessary humor to the story. Her take Pride and Prejudice and the women Jane Austen had created crack me up time and time again. I agreed with her but I do enjoy the escape I get when reading an Austen book.
Jenny’s romantic life is in flux in this book but by the end, things take a turn. No spoilers, you have to read the book.
This is another wonderful book from Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli. Her lead characters are genuine and women whose lives I have become invested in. Each stop to Bear Falls has been very interesting and entertaining. I am excited for more books in this series.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher on NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”