For Whom the Book Tolls: An Antique Bookshop Mystery (Crooked Lane Books, August 2020)
By Laura Gail Black
It’s not looking good for young Jenna Quinn. Newly arrived at a small North Carolina town at the invitation of her Uncle Paul, Jenna finds her uncle dead in his antique bookstore. Jenna’s the prime suspect. It looks even worse when the police find out she’s just beaten an embezzlement/murder rap and is the primary beneficiary of her uncle’s will. Uncle Paul not only named her the new owner of Baxter Books Emporium, he also left Jenna a lot of dough.
But something doesn’t add up about her uncle’s death. Jenna wants to redo the math almost as much as someone else wants her dead. Can the recently jilted, ex-accountant uncover obscure clues from another century and discover a hidden treasure before the killer does? Can Jenna stay ahead of the local gum shoes? Will her broken heart ever mend?
Packed with enough plot twists to rival the tilt-a-whirl at the county fair, For Whom the Book Tolls is an engaging, entertaining read. Nimbly paced and brisk, the writing is also top-notch. It includes vivacious, three-dimensional characters, credible dialogue and rich descriptions of an historic downtown district, lawyers’ offices, and the secret passageways, opulent lobby and dining hall of a 1900s-era inn.
The story is lithe and lively, with generous doses of dry humor and rapier wit. Readers will find themselves quickly draw into Jenna’s labyrinthian maze of suspects, motives, death threats, hidden treasure, blackberry cobbler, and attic squirrels.
Subtle clues are also woven into the story, alerting readers to possible suspects without giving anything away. Suspense is maintained throughout, keeping readers guessing until the final pages.
Anyone who relishes a clean, clever murder mystery will enjoy this book. Bonus points: The plot revolves around a book store! Simply delicious.