Can’t Judge a Book By Its Murder (Main Street Book Club Mysteries)
1st in Series
Setting – Mississippi
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (October 29, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07VVT2LFF
Not every murder is by the book…
As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime.
When the elderly ladies of Arlo’s Friday Night Book Club start to investigate, Arlo has no choice but to follow behind to keep them out of trouble. Yet with Wally’s reputation, the suspect list only grows longer—his betrayed wife, his disgruntled assistant, even the local man who holds a grudge from a long-ago accident.
Between running interference with the book club and otherwise keeping it all together, Arlo anxiously works to get Chloe out of jail. And amidst it all, her one-time boyfriend-turned-private-eye returns to town, just another distraction while she digs to uncover the truth around Wally’s death and just what Sugar Springs secret could have led to his murder.
Arlo and Chloe’s Books & More is set for a book signing for bestselling author Wally Harrison as part of the Tenth Annual All Class Reunion. Then Arlo receives a phone call that will bring that event to a screeching halt. Arlo has been summoned to the store because a dead body has been found on the sidewalk directly in front of the bookstore. The man has been identified as Wally Harrison and the death is classified as suspicious. Suicide? Murder? It looks like Arlo’s best friend and business partner Chloe may be involved.
It isn’t long before the ladies of the Friday Night Book Club decide to start their own investigation. Unable to stop them Arlo finds herself investigating too if only to keep the book club members safe. When Chloe is arrested, Arlo is given ten days to prove someone else did the job or Chloe will be transferred to a bigger jail until her trial. Arlo hopes to get a little help from an old boyfriend who is now a P.I. but he may be working the case for another client. All she knows is Chloe didn’t do it and she is going to make sure the right person is booked for murder.
Sugar Springs, Mississippi is full of the requisite quirky characters. We are introduced to a fantastic group of core characters in this first Main Street Book Club Mystery. Arlo and Chloe own and operate the bookstore. Arlo takes care of the books and Chloe takes care of the coffee. Chloe is the mother of the deceased Wally Harrison’s son. We also meet Camille, Fern, and Helen, an elderly group of friends and the original members of the Friday Night Book Club. A spunky group of women who are ready for whatever comes their way. Then there is Chief Matthew “Mads” Keller, Officer Jason Rodgers, and Private Investigator Sam Tucker. Sam and Mads both make Arlo’s heart race. I can’t forget Faulkner, the very vocal Amazon parrot that resides at Arlo and Chloe’s Books & More. All the characters nicely fleshed out for the first book in a series but are left with plenty of room to grow as the series continues.
Like most first books in the series, the murder mystery was interesting but not as complex due to the time needed to introduce readers to the characters and setting. That being said there were some nice twists. Chloe does have motive but Arlo quickly finds others with motive too. I was able to solve this one before Arlo and Mads but found myself very entertained from beginning to end.
I love the small-town ways and feeling. The fact that the book clubbers were able to provide the meals for Chloe reminded me of Mayberry from the Andy Griffth Show. Sugar Springs is full of Southern charm and appealing residents.
This series is off to a terrific start. I see a lot of potential for these characters and the mysteries they could get involved in. Can’t wait for book #2.
About Amy Lillard
Amy Lillard is the award-winning author of more than twenty novels, including the Wells Landing series, The Quilting Circle novels, the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries and the Kappy King Mysteries. Born and raised in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. Please visit her online at www.AmyWritesRomance.com.
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