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This is the fourth book in the Booktown Mysteries, featuring Tricia who owns ‘Haven’t Got A Clue’ – a bookshop specialising in mysteries.  Her sister, Angelica, has just launched her career as the new Martha Stewart with her cookery book and on the eve of her book tour there is an explosion in one of the other bookshops in the street.  The owner, Jim, is killed, and Angelica’s boyfriend, Bob, is injured and will not co-operate with the police and is very tight-lipped about the whole matter.

With Angelica away, soon Tricia finds herself taking care of Anglica’s shop and café, attempting to take care of an increasingly hostile Bob, dealing with mourning shop manager, as well as collecting for a fund for Jim’s mother and trying to figure out what happened.  She certainly has her hands full!

This is my favourite book in the series, I had really hoped that Tricia and Captain Baker’s relationship would move on, but instead he put things on hold to take care of his ex-wife who became sick.  To top it all, Revolting Russ has gone from being an irritant to verging on being a stalker.  I can only hope that Captain Baker’s behaviour is a way of illustrating that he and Tricia are made from the same cloth – she deserves a little happiness.  I loved hearing more from Miss Marple, she sounds just like my cat (although a little less set on world domination).

I feel sorry for Tricia, given that she is always trying so hard to help other people – and they rarely seem to appreciate it. The murder plot itself was very clever and as always the reveal showed that there was a lot more at going on in the town that meets the eye.  What I enjoy about this series is that the additional goings on in the town is not just to add colour, but creating sub plots that evolve in the background throughout the series. It also adds updates of what happened in previous books, like Ginny and Eugenia, to prove that even though the crime has been solved, that there are repercussions.

Like the last book, it seems to be that the men are the most disappointing, other than Mr Everett who is an absolute star.  The rest all seem to be lacking (especially Bob and Revolting Russ).  The murder victim, Jim, seems to have been a complete ass in spite of the love of a good woman and even Captain Baker is losing brownie points because of the way that he is treating Tricia.

The final scene revealed that Tricia isn’t totally taken for granted and I loved what happened with the delivery man.  It certainly left a lot of room for new plots and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

This book was very kindly sent to me by Lorna Barrett, thank you.

For fans of this book, Lorna Barrett is the pen name for Lorraine Bartlett and she has a new book series coming out in the autumn called ‘A Matter of Murder’, a craft themed mystery which looks brilliant.  Keep your eyes peeled for this one!

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I haven’t been well over the last couple of months and what with being on steroids and the painkillers being increased,  book reviews have fallen by the wayside – but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t stopped reading them!  In fact, curling up with a book and the cat has meant I have a backlog of reviews to come…

Bookplate Special features Tricia Miles who owns Haven’t Got A Clue, a book shop that specialises in mysteries and this is the third in the ‘Booktown Mysteries’.  Tricia is playing host to her old college friend, Pammy, who has been an absolute pain in the neck.  Tricia finally asks her to leave after she discovers that Pammy has stolen money from her.  She goes without a peep, but soon emerges that Pammy has been going around the town looking for a job and giving Tricia as her reference and while chatting to Angelica (her sister), Tricia is guilt tripped into finding Pammy and apologising.  Pammy is discovered all too soon when Tricia takes out the rubbish for Angelica and finds her corpse in the dustbin.  Oops.

Thankfully the unbalanced Sherriff Wendy wasn’t investigating and instead Captain Barker, a welcome newcomer to the town is attending in her place.  Not only being the person to throw Pammy out, but also the one to find her, Tricia is being treated like the main suspect and she not only decides to solve the murder herself/

She discovers that Pammy has been very busy, embracing a freeganist lifestyle and boasting about a large sum of money that she was soon going to come into.  A nasty piece of work, she seems to have been as much of a criminal as the murderer was and on unravelling her steps, Tricia also finds out other secrets within the town, such as the Stoneham Food Shelf, dark family secrets and a mysterious diary.

What I like about these books is that as well as showing the light and shade in the characters, Lorna Barrett also does the same with the town of Stoneham too.  It would be all too easy to cast it in this idealised light, like Stars Hollow in the Gilmore Girls, but instead she tackles topics such as financial hardships and stigma surrounding it.

The most tragic figure in this book wasn’t Tricia, Pammy or even the murderer, but Ginny.  A loyal employee of the Haven’t  Got A Clue, she is financially struggling, trying to do up her cottage with her boyfriend Brian (scumbag) who is set on putting her through the ringer.  I hope that things get better for her in the next book.

I loved the romance between Mr Everett and Grace, so often in cozies romance is all ‘hot and bothered’ and sometimes it is refreshing to see some good old fashioned courting going on!

Thankfully Tricia broke up with Russ.  While I can understand why he was part of the story so far and that Tricia needed to have a post-divorce date  before she could start a ‘proper’ relationship with someone else, but Russ really did have the charm of a slug.

This is a book that didn’t disappoint.  It is a refreshing, more mature cozy mystery that deals with real issues without becoming political.  You end up feeling like you have learnt something from the book and itching to find out what happens next!

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