Title: The Plot Is Murder (Mystery Bookshop) by V. M. Burns
Genre: Currently #1139 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Cozy, Crafts & Hobbies
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: To be released November 28, 2017
Source: Kensington and NetGalley
Title and Cover: The Plot is Murder – Great cover includes the protagonist’s poodles
Here is a 1930’s British Cozy Mystery within a contemporary American cozy mystery. The protagonist, Samantha (Sam) Washington has lost her husband with whom she shared a dream to open a mystery bookshop in North Harbor, Michigan. She sells the home they owned, collected the insurance money, and buys an older building downtown where she will convert the upper story into living quarters and the main level into her mystery book retail space with hopes of providing a limited assortment of teas and scones. She has a support group that includes her grandmother, Nana Jo, and her grandmother’s friends from the retirement community. Unfortunately, closing the sale was difficult, had to involve an attorney, and left her with major animosity toward the real estate agent–the weasel. Unfortunately, before she can open the store, Clayton Parker, the agent, is found murdered in her back yard.
You have to give Ms. Burns an A for effort with her debut in a new series regarding the mystery bookshop in this unique plot concept. Juggling two plots, two time periods, and two different countries and styles of language couldn’t have been too easy and it definitely makes for an interesting read. Sam begins her manuscript of a murder in England using some aspects of her current experience. And with the exception of the English Ladies and Lords, names her English characters a little too close for local police comfort. The detective on the homicide case in her backyard is sorta on probation with his department and it’s easy to understand why–if he’s carrying a piece, he’s probably a danger to himself as well as others.
Sam determines she’ll have to solve the whodunit in order to save her rep, her bookshop, and her property. No problem, as her grandma quickly gets her senior friends involved in the investigation and they are not without resources, gumption, or smarts. They named themselves the Sleuthing Seniors. Let the fun begin!
The reader gets to know those old girls, each bringing to the table their bit of intelligence and it doesn’t take long before they are gathering information to share with Sam. They do this with little sharing meetings where they discuss the next avenue of inquiry. Sam, meanwhile, is embroiled in trying to get her bookshop opened and has enlisted the help of her nephews (among others), to set up the technical aspects of her POS (and inventory) system. While pondering the perils of owning a bookshop and the death of the agent on her property, she uses sleeping time to form the plot of her Great Britain murder plot and begins to portray the Marsh’s, Lord William being the 8th Duke of Hunsford who with his wife, Lady Elizabeth Marsh, have two daughters, Daphne and Penelope, the latter of which becomes the British protagonist.
The antagonist doesn’t figure too prominently in either time period, and really, Sam isn’t as fully fleshed as we’d like, though perhaps that is being saved for additional series. Sam is still a grieving widow, though having taken on this totally life-changing goal has given her a new focus and much of the effort in making her whole is devoted instead to creating the diversion. Writing her own mystery book is a closet dream of hers and she jumps into that aspect of her new life not realizing she may be incriminating herself. Additionally, she has two poodles that add some depth to the home scene and create empathy. Neither plot is overly long and both are neatly sewn up in rather predictable fashion with the plot in Great Britain tipping on the pseudo-romance side of the cozy mystery genre.
Plot driven, there is humor in the characters of the feisty seniors. Lake Michigan information is of interest, not the largest of our Great Lakes, but the only one wholly within the U.S. border. The novel is clean of four-letter words and I wasn’t stumbling over edit errors. If I had any problem, it was with the format going from book plot to protagonist’s British plot. As a senior myself and reading from my cell phone, I was having to adjust the font size back and forth to accommodate the new and separate (British) plot.
I downloaded this digital offering from Kensington Books and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three Point Five of Five Stars
The Author: (From Goodreads author page) V.M. Burns was born and raised in northwestern Indiana, but is now thawing out in eastern Tennessee with her two poodles. She has a BA from Northwestern University, a Masters from the University of Notre Dame and an MFA from Seton Hill University in Writing Popular Fiction. She spent many years working as a trainer and now works as a training manager for an appliance manufacturer. Ms. Burns is represented by Dawn Dowdle at Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org ©2017 Virginia Williams