Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
It is my pleasure to feature
Murder Off the Books by Tamara Barry today!
Murder Off the Books (By the Book Mysteries)
3rd in Series
Setting – Washington State
Poisoned Pen Press (May 30, 2023)
Mass Market Paperback : 336 pages
ISBN-10 : 1728248663
ISBN-13 : 978-1728248660
Kindle ASIN : B0B78695GJ
Author Tess Harrow is looking to get back in the town of Winthrop’s good graces after she uncovered not one, but two long-forgotten murders. With the perfect plan of combining her new book release with her bookstore’s grand opening, she’ll have the chance to wine and dine the locals and some big press contacts.
But the night before the party, Tess is greeted by a surprise: her mother has come for a visit, with her much-younger new boyfriend in tow…a boyfriend her daughter Gertrude recognizes as the notorious Levi Parker, a man recently connected to the deaths of three elderly widows.
Tess immediately alerts Sheriff Boyd about Levi and his suspicious past, but it’s already too late—Levi Parker is found dead and Tess’s mother is starting to look like the prime suspect. Bernadette swears she didn’t murder Levi, and Tess is doing her best to maintain her mother’s innocence, but too many coincidences keep stacking up. With the whole town seemingly against her family, it’s up to Tess to get to the bottom of the story before it’s too late.
Tess Harrow has timed the release of her new book to coincide with the opening of her new bookstore. Her daughter Gertrude has all kinds of food planned too. Now they just need the community to turn out to make the event a big success.
Her mother has made a surprise visit with her “boyfriend” the day before though and that could ruin the whole event. Gertrude recognizes the younger man as Levi Parker, a man that has been linked to three elderly widows’ deaths. What the heck is he doing with her mother?
Later, Tess tries to get Sheriff Boyd involved but he is attending to a death at the local hotel. She is shocked to learn the dead man is none other than Levi Parker and his number one suspect is her mother, Bernadette.
Add to that a true crime podcaster comes to town tailing Levi and a “fancy journalist” is in town following Tess around to “get a good look at her writing process”. Can she open her bookstore, launch her new book and prove her mother isn’t a killer? Or will her whole life blow up and chaos reign?
In this 3rd By The Book Mystery, Tess wants to enjoy the fruits of her labor, a book based on a murder she helped solve and the opening of The Paper Trail. Instead, she must solve another or at least help Sherrif Boyd catch another killer. Tess is a strong main character who can think on her feet and her daughter is an impressive amateur assistant too. Tess’s mother, Bernadette held back a lot of information making it pretty hard to keep her out of jail. I enjoyed the way Tess and Gertrude have continued to evolve. The addition of Bernadette added angst and humor in perfect amounts.
The mysteries were complicated with a lot of moving parts and characters weaving in and out. Twists, turns, and a bit of mayhem, along with plenty of suspects kept me guessing from the start. With so much going on, I had to slow down my reading pace because I didn’t want to miss any vital clues. Tess had to work hard to untangle this one and she put herself in danger more than I usually like, but “solving crimes is kind of” her thing and things get suspenseful when she does.
Like the previous two books, Tamara Berry knows how to bring the funny. The character interactions and situations can turn from normal to serious to humorous and back again quickly. I found myself giggling quite a few times. There has also been romantic tension simmering for quite a while. This leads to more humorous moments but by the end, I was smiling as the author was taking this relationship I had been hoping for.
Murder Off the Books features a complex mystery and engaging and entertaining characters. Tess still has a lot to accomplish including getting to work on her next book. It seems she is ready to shake things up fictionally and on the homefront. That makes me excited for this series to continue.
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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.”