Crime and Parchment: A Rare Books Cozy Mystery
by Daphne Silver
I am delighted to welcome Clover Blume to Escape With Dollycas today!
Crime and Parchment Character Post:
Clover Blume, Rescue Dog Extraordinaire!
In Crime and Parchment, readers think the story centers around Juniper Blume, a rare books librarian who finds books and bodies where they don’t belong. But I’m here to set things straight. The story is really all about me – the rescue dog extraordinaire Clover!
Since I don’t get to talk in Crime and Parchment, except for a few well-timed barks and growls, I figured I’d take over this character post to share things from my perspective. I’m twenty pounds of soft white fur, always ready to play, explore, and protect my people.
Honestly, I love Juniper. She’s a great human. We go on great walks together, especially up and down the boardwalk overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, and she always brings me back the best doggie treats from the nearby Purple Oyster Coffee Shop. She should bring me more. I mean, I’m a growing dog. If you go visit the Purple Oyster, can you grab a few more treats for me? Please?
Ever since moving to Rose Mallow, Maryland, I have found my new bestie in life: the almost four-year-old Violet Blume. I mean, Juniper is still my human through and through, but even she can’t keep up with the energy and fun of a kid like Violet. Sure, she’s Juniper’s niece and her sister Azalea’s daughter, but she’s my best friend! We love to play all over her family’s Wildflower Inn. Someone told me that the house is over a hundred years old. I wonder what that is in dog years?
Violet and I have gotten in trouble a few times, although I don’t know why. What’s a few crayon scribbles on the wall? Or stealing a couple of her mom’s delicious baked goods? Azalea – Juniper’s sister – is even better at baking than they are at the Purple Oyster!
I really hope you’ll come out and visit us. I love making new friends, especially if they bring me something yummy. Then maybe you can play with Violet and me! Sounds like a deal? Let’s shake on it, assuming you don’t mind shaking a paw.
Thank you, Clover, for visiting today!
Keep reading for my thoughts on Clover’s, I mean Daphne’s new book!
About Crime and Parchment
Crime and Parchment: A Rare Books Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – The fictional town of Rose Mallow, Maryland
on the Chesapeake Bay
Level Best Books (November 21, 2023)
Print length : 226 pages
Digital ASIN : B0CKVBLPCY
Rare books librarian Juniper Blume knows this much… an ancient Celtic manuscript shouldn’t be in a Maryland cemetery. But that’s exactly what her brother-in-law claims.
Last year, Juniper saw the 1,200-year-old Book of Kells in Ireland. She learned how their bejeweled covers were stolen centuries ago, never to be seen again. So how could they have ended up in Rose Mallow, a small Chesapeake Bay town? Being Jewish, the Book of Kells might not be her sacred text, but as a rare books librarian, the ancient book is still sacred to her, making it important to Juniper to find out the truth.
Rose Mallow is the same place where Juniper used to summer with her sister Azalea and their grandmother Zinnia, known as Nana Z. Ever since Nana Z passed away, Juniper’s avoided returning, but her curiosity is greater than her grief, so she heads down in her vintage convertible with her rescue dog Clover.
Juniper discovers that her sister Azalea has transformed their grandmother’s Queen Anne style mansion into the Wildflower Inn, backing up to the Chesapeake Bay. Although Juniper isn’t much of a cook, Azalea has kept their grandmother’s legacy alive, filling the house with the smells of East European Jewish treats, like sweet kugels and tzimmes cake. Will coming back here feel like returning home or fill Juniper with a deeper sorrow? Can she apologize to her sister for not being there when she was needed most?
Juniper Blume has not returned to Rose Mallow, a small Chesapeake Bay town, since grandmother Zinnia had passed away. She has thrown herself into her work at the Library of Congress working with rare books. It was through her job that she was able to travel to Ireland last year to see the 1,200-year-old Book of Kells and learn about its history including the fact that the bejeweled covers were stolen centuries ago. So when her brother-in-law, who is separated from her sister, Azalea, contacts her saying he has information that the covers are in Rose Mallow, she is pretty surprised.
Juniper decides to try to put her grief aside and check out her brother-in-law’s claim. When she arrives she sees her sister has been busy. Their grandmother’s Queen Anne style home has been made into the Wildflower Inn as a tribute to the woman’s love of flowers and a way to keep her legacy alive. Juniper quickly realizes she has really let her sister down by staying away.
Will she be able to mend fences with her sister? Will her heart be able to handle this homecoming? Is there any way the Book of Kells covers are really here in Maryland?
Ms. Silver has introduced some complicated characters in this first Rare Books Cozy Mystery. Juniper loves the idea of working at the Library of Congress but her new boss is driving her crazy. Her sister, Azalea has a lot on her shoulders, a pending divorce, raising her precocious almost 4-year-old daughter Violet, and running The Wildflower Inn. Her soon-to-be ex-husband, Rory works at a car dealership but somehow knows about a 1,200-year-old book. Keisha Douglass is a 17-year-old who helps Azalea at the inn and with Violet. Clover is Juniper’s canine companion that quickly becomes Violet’s best friend. And I can’t forget the “screaming, ranting, madwomen”, also known as Cordelia Sullivan and her granddaughter Whitney. We also meet several other residents of Rose Mallow and people brought into the story due to the notion that the missing covers of the Book of Kells may be there somewhere. I did enjoy the way these characters continued to grow within these pages, especially Juniper. The tension between her and her sister is palpable but gets better as the story continues and is still a work in progress.
The author has written a compelling mystery. A meeting in the cemetery leads to a dead body, a missing man, and a rain-soaked diary. This all sets Juniper off on an intriguing mission and she isn’t the only one digging. The missing man could have all the answers but she knows she needs to focus and use her skills as a librarian to follow each clue no matter how minor. Keisha even lends a hand in the investigation. Juniper also makes a new friend. Azalea doesn’t approve but he may have the information that she needs at his fingertips. I really liked tagging along with Juniper as she did her best to make sense of it all when the police dropped the ball. Her A-Ha moment really shook things up. I was really surprised by the dangerous and terrifying plan she came up with to out the killer.
Ms. Silver did a good job of setting each scene, especially during the showdown. She also described the beautiful area of Chesapeake Bay, the small town of Rose Mallow, and the Wildflower Inn so well. I would love to travel to the area.
I can see the author drew on her life experience to hit all the right historical notes throughout the book. With my Irish heritage, I was Googling the Book of Kells as soon as I finished her story and her Author’s Note so I could see actual pictures and learn more about it. She really piqued my interest with this story.
Crime and Parchment sets this series off to a very enjoyable start. With several threads to follow I was captivated the entire way. I am keen to see what the author has in store for her characters next.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
About Daphne Silver
Daphne Silver is the author of the Rare Books Cozy Mystery series. She’s worked more than twenty years in museums and has the great fortune of being married to a librarian. When she’s not writing, she’s drawing and painting. She lives in Maryland with her family. Although she’s not much of a baker, she won’t ever turn down a sweet lokshen kugel.
My 1965, robin’s egg blue convertible backfired as I parked in front of the Wildflower Inn. The noise set off Clover barking in the backseat. Not exactly the quiet homecoming I’d hoped for. I jumped out of my Karmann-Ghia – or “KG” as I’d nicknamed her – to check under the hood, hoping I wouldn’t need to get the roadster serviced yet again. No idea where that money would come from.
A screaming, ranting madwoman poured out of a neighboring house. Maybe in her late seventies, she brandished a large umbrella. I dropped the hood to find the umbrella pointing at me. Clover – all twenty pounds of him – jumped out and started growling.
“Easy, boy,” I said.
“You shoot something off, Missy? Here to cause trouble? Because I’m on the board of the Friends of the Rose Mallow Police.” the woman said. She wore a perfectly fitted Mamie Eisenhower pink skirt suit with enormous pearls – straight out of the 1950s. Her white bouffant billowed around her head. She reminded me of a researcher I’d helped earlier that day at the Library of Congress. That woman had been a murder mystery author looking for books about early detectives. This woman looked like she wanted to murder someone – namely me.
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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.”