Bookmarked for Murder (Mystery Bookshop) by V.M. Burns
A modern-day locked room (actually a tour bus) mystery and a tale set in 1938 England are both included in Bookmarked for Murder.
The author uses a clever plot device of having the main sleuth, Samantha, be creating the period mystery as we watch. Since Sam is also a mystery bookstore owner, she also recommends other excellent cozy mysteries a la the Death on Demand mystery series. The main plot on the bus involves Sam, her grandmother Jo, and her three neighbors at the senior living residence, Shady Acres. This allows the author to include some gentle humor.
“You ordered fifteen pizzas?” [says the] freckle-faced kid, who looked about twelve, with […] a red hoodie with a Star Trek insignia, and red Converse All-Stars. “Nice shoes,” said Nana Jo. […] “Thanks. All the old ladies usually like them.”
The coroner was removing the body from the bus. “That’s what’s left of the last person who called me an old lady. Remember, on Star Trek, the red shirts always die first.”—from Bookmarked for Murder
The historic fiction mystery within the mystery is set immediately prior to World War II. Lady Elizabeth and her niece, Lady Penelope, solve the mystery of a woman who fell to her death convinced her family was trying to kill her for her valuables.
Both the present-day and historic mysteries include plenty of character development. The humor is fun. Most enjoyable is the self-referential mystery trope references. I thought I would die laughing when Sam asked the detective for “a big reveal, like in Hercule Poirot books, where you bring all the suspects together and then the sleuth […] can reveal whodunit.” His reply? “Are you joking? This isn’t television. Real killers don’t crack under the pressure of hearing the evidence against them. Real killers laugh in the face of overwhelming mountains of evidence and deny to their dying day that they’re guilty.” What mystery reader hasn’t had that thought? But I’ve never seen it used in such a clever tongue-in-cheek way before. If you read a lot of cozies, Bookmarked for Murder will be a hilarious addition to your library with its witty takes on old mystery tropes and two intriguing mysteries to solve along with the heroines. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
After some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .
About V.M. Burns
V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com