Summer Merriweather thought she was done with Brigid’s Island, North Carolina. Embarrassed by her mom’s beach-read themed bookstore, she’s spent her adult life toiling in real literature and building up her reputation as a Shakespeare scholar. However, when her mother, Hildy, dies of a suspected heart attack, Summer rushes back to the island for the funeral with plans to leave as soon as possible. But while looking through her inherited bookshop with thoughts of selling, Summer comes across a note: “Sell the bookstore or die.” Could Hildy have actually been murdered? Summer quickly discovers there are more than a few possible suspects, and she’ll have to crack the case unless she wants to become the starring character in a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.
Caught between a stalled academic career and the sudden death of her mother, Summer is truly at a crossroads. Fortunately, there’s nothing like a good mystery to force someone to confront their life. Even better when that mystery is plotted by author Maggie Blackburn, who has skillfully engineered an enchanting first book in a new cozy series.
From the first pages, it’s abundantly clear that all is not well in Brigid’s Island. Yet even with a dead woman and a threatening note, police don’t seem interested in an investigation. Thank goodness, then, for Summer, who drags herself out of mourning to explore her own theories. Blackburn’s early chapters are both thrilling and justifiably frustrating. With no one of authority even considering murder, Summer must step outside of her comfort zone while collecting clues and considering a wealth of interesting suspects.
And it’s abundantly clear Summer is far outside what she considers comfortable. An academic by trade and at heart, she’s rather spend more time with books than bodies. Though not just any books! Classics only. Blackburn has no problem painting Summer as a bit of a snob who has always looked down on her mother’s popular genre fiction shop. Yes, this can be frustrating at times, but Blackburn makes it feel necessary in the end—Summer cannot be perfect and she has to have a chance to grow as a person. It’s refreshing to find a main character who doesn’t have easy opinions.
Of course, it helps that Blackburn has given Summer so many genuinely fun friends and relatives who both aid and push her. Aunt Agatha, Piper, and a cadre of book club members all add in a touch of comic fun, keeping things light while Summer explores the utterly charming bookshop setting. Yet Blackburn knows how to tease a mystery. Can Summer truly trust any of them? With plenty of potential killers, there’s a constant sense of uncertainty that ramps up the tension.
Though Summer herself might not agree with the assessment, Little Bookshop of Murder is the perfect beach read. Fun, full of twists, and a total treat, it’s a killer start to a new series.
Title: Little Bookshop of Murder
Series: Beach Reads Mystery #1
Author: Maggie Blackburn
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: September 08, 2020
Classification: Cozy Mystery
Blackburn’s Website | Publisher’s Page | Goodreads
Note: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.