Title: Better Off Read: A Bookmobile Mystery
Genre: Currently #2790 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Amateur Sleuths
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: To be Released June 12, 2018
Source: Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Better Off Read – Beautiful cozy cover
Pretty hard to resist any cozy mystery with that cover! Okay, the cover and the premise. The blurb describes a septuagenarian librarian who is forced to race around in a converted school bus now bookmobile after her Catalpa Springs, Georgia library suffers major storm damage. (And she tends to speed. Who pays for her tickets?)
The small Georgia town oozes that southern charm we’ve come to expect in any cozy with a venue in the south. Charm and recipes. Southern recipes. And pets–a Persian cat–whose name I loved, Rhett Butler (very original), but the cat is annoying. The cat goes with her everywhere, and sometimes she straps him in, sometimes she doesn’t. If I were Rhett, that’d worry me (because she speeds)!
Protagonist Cleo Watkins is not your average senior, still working because she needs the money and apparently, the mayor has major ideas for the library money anyway. He wants none of it to go to repairs for which he feels is a waste. No, he has some pretty grandiose ideas of his own, sure it’ll turn his tiny town just north of the Florida border into a vacation destination.
There are a number of small-town characters, enough to get confused. I don’t think they are meant to be fully fleshed since this is Cleo’s show and she’s on a mission.The problem begins when her major supporter for repair funds turns up dead, ahead of his time. It’s thought that her bff Mary-Rose may have had something to do with offing him as they were having a turf war over the springs separating (or not) their respective properties. Mary-Rose needs that special spring water–she runs a pancake house. (But I don’t get it–she needs water to make her pancakes? Is she diluting the buttermilk?) In any case, she’ll definitely have to clear her best buddy, who’ll also support her library campaign.
Unfortunately, small town Barney Fife won’t be forthcoming with perp ideas, so Cleo will have to weed through the list of possible suspects (apparently, the man didn’t have many friends) to help clear Mary-Rose. And she does have an officer neighbor who can provide investigative support.
Ah, gee, loved that the MC was going to be a little closer to my age, but the plot kinda dawdled along at the beginning. Once she got the Words on Wheels bookmobile going, the storyline seemed to smooth out and speed up a little and we were introduced to more characters, most of whom would not be involved. I enjoyed her (not!) romantic interest, the bookstore owner, Henry, also very much an active senior, with a low-key pug. Perhaps that was my problem; I expected to identify somewhat with a fully fleshed senior Cleo, but didn’t. Cleo may be over-active. She’s also very determined to save her library, is sharp-witted, and articulate.
There came a conclusion, a perpetrator reveal, which left me scratching my head. Huh? No, I didn’t see it coming as I don’t think I was ever given the information. Must have missed it! Overall though, it’s a fun, cozy mystery whether a slightly awkward start to a new series or not. The author has introduced some interesting characters who she may very well spend more time developing in #2. I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I can recommend to any who enjoy a good southern cozy mystery, though I’m not quite sure her target is middle seniors–more perhaps the “youth of old age” (50-60?). I would entertain a second book in the series to see how Cleo has “matured” and whether or not she’s found some medication.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: Nora Page enjoys rainy weather, the perfect biscuit, and quiet evenings in with her husband and cat. You can often find her in the company of books. This is her first Bookmobile mystery.
©2018 V Williams