Genre: Cozy, Thriller & Suspense, Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Print Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Murders and Metaphors: Cover perfectly depicts content
Niagara region booksellers Violet Waverly and Grandma Daisy sleuth the slaying of a sommelier whose book signing turned into her sayonara.
January means ice wine season in the Niagara Falls region, but the festivities leave Charming Books owner Violet Waverly cold, still reeling from a past heartbreak. A past heartbreak who will be present at the annual midnight grape-harvest festival, and no magic in the world or incantation powerful enough could get Violet to attend. But Grandma Daisy, an omniscient force all on her own, informs Violet that she’s already arranged for the mystical Charming Books to host celebrity sommelier Belinda Perkins’s book signing at the party. Little do either Waverly women know, the ice wine festival will turn colder still when Violet finds Belinda in the middle of the frozen vineyard—with a grape harvest knife protruding from her chest.
Belinda grew up in Cascade Springs, but she left town years ago after a huge falling-out with her three sisters. One of those sisters, Violet’s high school friend Lacey Dupont, attends the book signing in the hope of making amends with her sister, but Belinda and Lacey end up disrupting the signing with a very public shouting match and Lacey quickly becomes the prime suspect in the sommelier’s murder.
Violet is sure Lacey is innocent, and to keep her friend out of prison, Violet asks for guidance from her magical bookshop. The shop’s ethereal essence points her to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, but what have the four March sisters to do with the four Perkins sisters? If she can’t figure it out, Violet, herself, may turn as cold as ice. Violet, Grandma Daisy, Emerson the tuxedo cat, and resident crow Faulkner are back on the case in Murders and Metaphors, USA Today bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting third Magical Bookshop mystery.
The third in the series and my first with both that and the author, I discovered the magical bookshop to be an intriguing and fanciful, paranormal idea. Also, to think the books are chosen for the person, not the other way around is a fun concept as well, not totally unbelievable.
Protagonist Violet Waverly, as so many in a cozy mystery, has returned to her quaint village of Cascade Springs in the Niagara area to become “Caretaker” of the magical tree located inside the Charming Books bookshop. Her grandmother, Daisy, relinquished the caretaker position, but continues to works in the bookshop. She is a huggable character, totally engaging, as are Faulkner the resident talking crow who lives in the branches of the tree and Emerson, the black and white tuxedo cat.
The cozy begins a little slowly, setting the scene for a late night book signing hosted by Charming Books for a former resident of the village at the Morton Vineyard Estate, a vineyard looking forward to the harvesting of grapes for their ice wine production. The author of the book, a critic and widely accepted sommelier as well, ends the book signing party when she and one of her other three sisters end up in a very public and humiliating fight. She is later found slain in the vineyard and of course it is Violet’s childhood friend, Lacey Dupont, and Belinda’s sister who is immediately assumed the prime suspect.
First, I must say I was introduced to ice wine in Idaho, where they certainly produce some very premium ice wines. SOOO yummy, while it may be designated a dessert wine (it is sweet), definitely one of my very favorites and always my first choice if offered, so the discussion of ice wine in the blurb caught my eye.
There were a few references to previous developments in the earlier books, but told in first person, it is fairly easy to get into the head of Vi and this entry could function fine as a standalone. Her grandmother is totally engaging, as is her friend Sadie Cunningham, owner of Midcentury Vintage across the street, the community, and the members of the Red Inkers (writer’s critique) meetings. There is a running connection between Vi and the police chief, David Rainwater which appears to be a developing relationship to be further explored in succeeding series entries. The shop’s magical “essence,” as it quietly deposits books for hints about the murder presents a charming inclusion of the mystique of Little Women (Louisa May Alcott).
“Some people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadow…”
Violet is a no-nonsense, in your face, direct question type of amateur sleuth. She is calculating in how much she can push and when to pull back, but manages to get to the twist and ferret out the details. And there are twists and turns in this well-plotted mystery, the murder of which is never lost or background.
I enjoyed the fine pace of the narrative, the characters, the setting, and mystery. There were a couple details that were not wholly explained in the surprising conclusion and a number of edit misses, but there were also sufficient threads left dangling that would obviously be further examined in the next book of the series.
I was granted this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read for my unbiased review. Recommended to all who enjoy an easy, fast cozy read with a touch of paranormal.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children’s mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children’s/YA Novel. Andi Unstoppable won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel 2015. Amanda is a librarian in northeast Ohio. Visit her at http://www.amandaflower.com
©2019 V Williams