Book Review: Murder in the Paperback Parlor

Murder in the Paperback Parlor: A Book Retreat Mystery
Author: Ellery Adams
ISBN: 978-0-425-26560-4
Published: August 2015
Available at all major book retailers.

The story

Murder in the Paperback Parlor is the second entry into Adams’ Book Retreat Mysteries. The first entry is Murder in the Mystery Suite. This time, heroine Jane Steward and Storyton Hall staff are working to maintain order during Romancing the Reader week. Female fans of Regency-era romance novels have descended upon the hotel to engage in a myriad of activities. Those activities include making truffles, watching a male cover model contest, and meeting their favorite romance authors, particularly Rosamund York. At the pinnacle of her career, it would appear that Rosamund has the world at her feet, and she is determined to keep it that way. But there are others that will stop at nothing, even murder, to expose her secret.

At the same time, loyalties are tested as Jane finds out a secret about her admirer Edwin that completely alters their relationship. Her desire to share Storyton’s secrets with the world is also putting her at odds with her family. Can Jane catch a killer, keep her family from fraying, and keep her enemies at bay?

The experience

I devoured this book within 24 hours- I couldn’t put it down. I loved that Jane does not take on suspects herself, that she always has someone capable of taking the killer down beside her instead of rushing headlong into nabbing the bad guy only to end up caught in his or her clutches and needing to be rescued.

Jane has gumption but an intense level of naivete as well. She sees the good in people first and never thinks anyone can be bad. She’ll keep that view until friends or family literally point out another’s criminal behavior and negative traits. That naivete flaw may work as a story device in fiction, but it’s terrible for the real world. Jane couldn’t run a hotel (or any business) presuming everyone has nothing but her best interests at heart- she’d be taken advantage of at every turn. That being said, Jane is a likable character, as are the rest of her staff and family, though each has a distinct personality. All of them felt like people I’d want to befriend in real life.

Adams’ crafted a fantastic story with many twists and turns. Just when you think you’ve figured out who the killer is and how it was done, you’re thrown for a loop and have to completely rethink your assumptions. Adams’ ability to take a reader down one path and then yank him or her down another is a true gift. A gift that Adams’ gives again and again in this book. There were a few hiccups in verb tense, using present instead of past, etc., but nothing that broke engagement with the story.

Final thoughts

Murder in the Paperback Parlor is a definite must read. I’m already looking forward to the next Book Retreat Mystery.