To absolutely no one’s surprise, I was an English major in college. We would have regularly scheduled workshop and critique days with pages and pages of rough draft material. Poetry, well-done thriller, poorly-done romance, almost complete personal narratives. If it was someone’s brain child, we dove into it.
What I’m trying to say is that Little Bookshop of Murder feels like something I was handed on a workshop day. The idea is there, the characters are there, but the pieces of the puzzle were jammed together in the wrong spots. Actually, if a book were a puzzle, I think pieces of other puzzles were mixed up in the box. The elements of the story aren’t cohesively working together to create that pretty picture.
Expected Publication Date: July 7, 2020
If you’re not familiar with the wonderful world of cozy mysteries (I prefer the word cozies, myself), the genre is a very gentle version of crime writing. The best definition I’ve found is by Debbie Young when she wrote, “It’s a comfort read that leaves you satisfied and at one with the world, rather than scared to sleep alone with the lights out.” Cozies are meant to be lighthearted reads with the “detective” playing a certain version of the reader – someone really unqualified to solve crime, yet finding all the clues and unraveling the web of mystery anyway.
Summer Merriweather is a Shakespeare professor on a mission to save her job and has returned to her beachside hometown to uncover the mystery of her mother’s mysterious and unexpected death.
I wanted to like Summer. As a Shakespeare nerd, I thought I would fall right in sync with this cozy. Summer is, unfortunately, completely unlikeable. She’s so uppity, as if her degree and career make her a step above everyone else. The one thing her mother was passionate about (her bookclub at the store she owned, Beach Reads) is the one thing Summer bashes almost constantly. Actually, she bashes it in front of her mom’s best friends who loved her and the store deeply. Summer herself only reads the classics and thinks commercial romances are just trashy. She comes across as unpleasant and ungrateful.
The dialogue leaves little to be desired. The more the characters talked to each other, the less I liked them. Many of the conversations felt completely pointless. Why are so many characters coming and going and feeling rushed while having nowhere else to be? I agree with another review I read, it felt like the author was just pushing for a word count.
There was also too much going on. Summer is a Shakespeare professor. Got it. Returns home from England because of her mother’s untimely death. Got it. She is also terribly afraid of spiders and is working with her therapist. Okay…? Then throw in a witch-y undertone with her aunts, a weird bird, and a deep hatred for the mainstream. You’ve got yourself a lot of distractions from the actual point: a potential murder. It seemed like the author spent a lot of time explaining that Summer is struggling to keep her career together and weaving in how spiders takes place instead of working towards developing the plot.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.