Summer Merriweather’s career as a Shakespeare professor hangs by a bookbinder’s thread. Academic life at her Virginia university is a viper’s pit, so Summer spends her summer in England, researching a scholarly paper that, with any luck, will finally get her published, impress the Dean, and save her job. But her English idyll ends when her mother, Hildy, shuffles off her mortal coil from an apparent heart attack.
Returning to Brigid’s Island, NC, for the funeral, Summer is impatient to settle the estate, sell her mom’s embarrassingly romance-themed bookstore, Beach Reads, and go home. But as she drops by Beach Reads, Summer finds threatening notes addressed to Hildy: “Sell the bookstore or die.”
Clearly, something is rotten on Brigid’s Island. What method is behind the madness? Was Hildy murdered? The police insist there’s not enough evidence to launch a murder investigation. Instead, Summer and her Aunt Agatha screw their courage to the sticking place and start sleuthing, with the help of Hildy’s beloved book club. But there are more suspects on Brigid’s Island than are dreamt of in the Bard’s darkest philosophizing. And if Summer can’t find the villain, the town will be littered with a Shakespearean tragedy’s worth of corpses–including her own.
This sounded like the perfect book for me: I love the beach, books, and bookstores, and I enjoy reading Shakespeare. But it didn’t quite hit the mark. I figured out who the killer was early on, so none of the red herrings really worked.
There were entirely too many similar female characters—some even had similar names—so I didn’t have much luck keeping them sorted out. Summer was a bit of a wash for me, too: the whole premise of why her career was on the line was ridiculous and she kept doing things that just didn’t make sense: I’m pretty sure if my mother had just been murdered and someone had lit my house on fire while I was asleep inside it, I would not have been running all over town by myself—and I certainly wouldn’t have been walking anywhere alone.
Maggie Blackburn also writes under the name Mollie Cox Bryan. Little Bookshop of Murder is the first book in her new series.
(Galley courtesy of Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.)