On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Better Off Read: A Bookmobile Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Georgia
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (May 8, 2018)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Kindle ASIN: B075QJRD2J
When her best hope of saving her storm-damaged library is found murdered, senior librarian Cleo Watkins hits the road in her bookmobile in search of justice.
Septuagenarian librarian Cleo Watkins won’t be shushed when an upstart young mayor threatens to permanently shelve her tiny town’s storm-damaged library. She takes to her bookmobile, Words on Wheels, to collect allies and rally library support throughout Catalpa Springs, Georgia.
However, Cleo soon rolls into trouble. A major benefactor known for his eccentric DIY projects requests all available books on getting away with murder. He’s no Georgia peach, and Cleo wonders if she should worry about his plans. She knows she should when she discovers him bludgeoned and evidence points to her best friend, Mary-Rose Garland.
Sure of Mary-Rose’s innocence, Cleo applies her librarian’s sleuthing skills to the case, assisted by friends, family, and the dapper antiquarian bookseller everyone keeps calling her boyfriend. Evidence stacks up, but a killer is overdue to strike again. With lives and her library on the line, Cleo must shift into high gear to close the book on murder in Better Off Read, the charming Bookmobile series debut by Nora Page.
In Better Off Read we meet Cleo Watkins. She is a Septuagenarian librarian trying to save her library after recent storm damage. While waiting on repairs she and her Persian cat Rhett Butler have pressed the library’s old bookmobile, Words on Wheels, into greater service to reach all her patrons. While delivering some questionable books to one of the library’s major benefactors, Buford Krandall, she finds him dead on the floor surrounded by books Cleo had delivered to him recently. She was really hoping he would help her convince the town’s mayor, Jebson Day, that the library was an important piece of the community. He has plans to shudder the library and invest the money to build an enormous fishing pier to draw professional fishermen to the area and she just can’t fathom her town without a library.
Cleo sees all the evidence and knows her grandson Ollie, and best friend, Mary-Rose Garland could be in trouble. She enlists the help of antiquarian bookseller Henry Lafayette and his pug, Mr. Chaucer to help her check out other suspects and find the real killer and get them booked and behind bars. And oh, she is also going to do everything she can to save her library too.
I was a fan of Cleo Watkins before I had read the first quarter of the book. She is a smart spunky senior citizen with plenty of energy to do whatever she sets her mind to whether it be delivering books in the bookmobile, finding support to help her save her library, or tracking down a killer. Even when it looks like the murderer has set their sights on taking her down she doesn’t give up. It pushes her even more. She is driven to clear her grandson and her BFF. We meet several residents of Catalpa Springs as she travels around trying to hone in on who could have killed Buford. I enjoyed meeting her “gentleman friend” Henry. He is very supportive of her endeavors and a great help to her. His pug and Cleo’s cat also stole my heart quickly. All the characters were interesting but I think we just scratched the surface on their stories.
Ms. Page really twists things up in the plot of this mystery. My personal list of suspects was way off the mark. Following Cleo and her friends as they snoop out clues was fun and entertaining. At times it was laugh out loud funny. In the end, I was surprised by the conclusion of the story and that was absolutely great. The author had me fall for every little misdirection she had plotted.
Cleo Watkins is a treasure. Her passion for books just shines within these pages. She made this book a pure delight to read. Better Off Read is an excellent start for this series. I will be reading book two in this series, Read On Arrival soon.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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.”