Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
Today I am delighted to share my thoughts about
On Spine of Death by Tamara Berry!
On Spine of Death (By the Book Mysteries)
2nd in Series
Setting – Washington State
Poisoned Pen Press (November 29, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback : 408 pages
ISBN-10 : 1728248639
ISBN-13 : 978-1728248639
Kindle ASIN : B09RTH1T7Q
Bestselling author Tess Harrow and her teenage daughter Gertrude have decided to make Winthrop their home. Their cabin is fixed up and now they’re turning to the family hardware store that Tess inherited from her late grandfather into the town’s first independent bookstore.
But when renovations unearth bones from a cold case and send them toppling—literally—onto Tess’s head, the work comes to a grinding halt. With the whole town convinced that her grandfather was a serial killer, Tess has to call in a fellow horror author for reinforcements. Together, they’ll come up with a perfect story to make all the clues fit…and solve a mystery more than thirty years in the making.
In this second By the Book Mystery Tess and Gertrude Harrow have made themselves at home in their cabin so Tess is ready to start renovations to turn her grandfather’s hardware store into the bookstore of her dreams. That is until the demolition sends some bones literally falling down on her head. The bones are linked to a 30-year-old cold case. Tess is beside herself with worry when most of the town is sure her grandfather was a serial killer. Tess needs help proving them wrong so she asks an author friend to come for a visit hoping together they can gather the intel and sort through the clues to explain what really happened and clear her grandfather’s name in the process.
Just like in the first book, Buried in a Good Book, Tess spends most of her time thinking about murder and turning her present-day situation into her next book. The story starts out with her testing a theory she wants to use in a book. Still, when bones start falling means, motive, and opportunity become her focus, not only for the actual bones that surround her but tasking her with the way to fictionalize it for her bestselling series successfully. Tess is an interesting protagonist because of this. Readers are treated to her writing process and where she gets her ideas, even though they are hitting very close to home.
Her teenage daughter Gertrude is very mature and understands what is happening around her. She is even willing to help her mom in any way she can. This character has grown a lot since the start of the previous book.
I really enjoyed that part of the mystery dug into Sheriff Boyd’s past and that the cold case affected him in a personal way. He really touched me in the last book and I am so appreciative that we got to know him better. With the subject matter, he understandably was a little more somber throughout the story but that made him even more real. Sheriff Boyd is joined by several other characters we met in the first book too. They all have continued to develop nicely. Tess does get an assistant to help with her renovations with a surprising background. He quickly becomes entangled in everything happening as does Tess’s author friend Peter. All the characters are well-defined and believable.
The mystery was pretty twisted up. Tess had her job cut out for her and she had to find people who remembered what happened all those years ago. I was surprised by a key piece of evidence that was driving her quest. It really drew me in and kept the pages flipping at a rapid pace. Even with that, I was taken aback when everything was revealed.
The thing I really love about Ms. Berry’s writing style is the way she uses humor. She gives us readers plenty to laugh about, sometimes out loud. The way the characters interact and some of the situations they find themselves in are just so darn funny. It starts from page one. Tess is doing something at first that is suspenseful until the author draws back the scene curtain. At first, I was just shaking my head but that led to a downright giggle. And of course, then there was a twist and things get serious.
I thoroughly enjoyed On Spine of Death and I am excited to see that the series continues with Murder Off the Books coming out on May 30, 2023. I am excited to see what happens next in the crazy town where there never seems to be a dull moment.
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About the Author
Tamara Berry is a part-time author and part-time freelance copywriter/editor. She has a B.A. degree in English Literature from Eastern Washington University. In addition to books, she has mad love for all things TV, movies, and pop culture. Find out more and her website and sign up to be on her mailing list here.
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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.”