Murder is Binding: A Booktown Mystery
Author: Lorna Barrett
ISBN: 978-0-425-21958-4
Published: April 2008
Available at Half-Price Books, online book retailers, and perhaps your local library.

Murder is Binding

Murder is Binding is the debut novel in Lorna Barrett’s Booktown Mystery series. Meet Tricia Miles, recent divorcee  and newcomer to Stoneham, New Hampshire. She’s gone from kept housewife to owner of Haven’t Got a Clue mystery bookstore. She’s settled into her new life nicely, but then the sister she’s grown up despising- Angelica- pays her a visit of indefinite length. Things go from bad to worse when Tricia finds a neighboring store owner with a knife protruding from her back. Everyone suspects she did it, and the sheriff has stopped looking for other suspects.

With few allies and a growing list of enemies, Tricia races to find the real killer before she’s put behind bars or becomes the next victim.

The Characters

A solid age range of characters (young adults, middle-aged workers, senior citizens) is provided and each is fleshed out with their own foibles, flaws, and features to make them feel real and relatable on differing levels. The bad guys are despicable and you feel a sense of fulfillment when they get what’s coming to them. It’s safe to expect to feel something for these people and their experiences.

Tricia is down-to-earth and makes a believable protagonist. The actions she takes are reasonable considering no one else is attempting to clear her good name of murder. She’s read enough mystery novels to deduce what course of action to follow. However, she’s not the best at judging character or protecting herself.

The Mechanics

This book was not without its flaws. There were some sentences that made no sense; I was left to figure out their meaning by context clues. There were a minute amount of conjugation issues, too. However, these errors did not irreparably harm the story or the experience.

The Plot

The story was not predictable in the slightest. Barrett did a fantastic job of keeping you guessing about who the real culprit is. While murder is the main focus here, there are enough people misbehaving to drive several subplots. The pacing is swift and there weren’t any scenes that didn’t contribute to the overall story. Not everyone got what they deserved, but just as in life, we don’t always get the happily ever after we want.

Final Thoughts

With it’s original plot, characters that grow on you, and good pacing, Murder is Binding is definitely worth a read.