by Sandra Murphy
& Amanda Flower
This week we have a review of the latest Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower, and a fun guest post by Amanda about her series. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Murders and Metaphors. There is also a link to purchase it Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Murders and Metaphors: A Magical Bookshop Mystery by Amanda Flower
Review by Sandra Murphy
Violet Waverly got a message that her Grandmother was dying, hurry home. Fortunately, Grandma was faking. Now Violet is involved in running Charming Books with Grandma Daisy. The women of the family have been caretakers of a particular tree for generations. Logic says the tree shouldn’t still be alive, much less thriving, but there it is. Its health and longevity can be attributed to the magical waters from a nearby spring. Violet has inherited the caretaker job.
Inside the bookstore, you’ll find Emerson the cat and Faulkner, a crow. There are books everywhere, but readers don’t have to find the one they want. The book will find them. It’s a hard secret to keep, but it’s worked so far.
Violet has a history with Nathan who is now the town’s mayor. His snooty family caused her no end of grief as a teenager. Now she’s supplying the books for a signing party at the Morton family vineyards. It’s hard enough to be around Nathan but almost impossible to tolerate his parents. Belinda, the author, used to live in town, too. It seems she’s come back to make sure everyone knows just how rich, successful, and famous she is.
Near the end of the signing, there’s a commotion, of course, started by Belinda. Everyone takes a few minutes break to let tempers cool. Emerson, who stowed away, takes the opportunity to escape into the vineyards. Finding Emerson also means Violet is the one to find Belinda’s body.
Face it, Belinda wasn’t a nice person, so there are a number of suspects. Violet’s best friend is one of them. With a sleazy private investigator and a greedy but not grieving fiancé as major pains, Violet’s first problem is how to clear her friend before the killer strikes again.
This is the third book in the series. A bookstore that selects your book for you is a stretch of believability, but it doesn’t detract from the story. Violet and Daisy are fun characters, Faulkner and Emerson add a nice balance of humor, and anybody would risk arrest just to meet Police Chief David Rainwater.
I particularly liked that this isn’t just a murder to solve, but there’s also a threat against the store, the tree, and the magic they create. Readers will be anxious to see how Violet handles the challenge.
Amanda Flower also writes the Magical Garden series set in Scotland (2, reviewed here), Amish Candy Shop mysteries (3, reviewed here), the Living History Museum books (3, The Final Vow reviewed), Andi Boggs children’s mysteries (3), Appleseed Creek series, also Amish (4), and the India Hayes, college librarian, books (2).
Why Little Women
By Amanda Flower
Last year marked the 150 anniversary of the classic children’s novel Little Women by Louisa May Allcott. The book has been printed and reprinted millions of times in hundreds of languages with dozens of movie and television adaptations, and it has always been well-received. Some classic novels take time to find an audience, but that wasn’t the case with Alcott’s work. Right out of the gate in 1868, it was popular with readers, especially young women and girls. It still is today.
Some scholars believe that its popularity was due to its realism. It’s a slice of life, realistic book that delves into the everyday lives, triumphs, and heartbreaks of the March sisters during and after the American Civil War. The novel is full of life lessons, many of which come from the mother in the story, Marmee. And it was the inspiration for my magical mystery novel, Murders and Metaphors.
So how does a work of realistic nineteenth century fiction become the basis to solve a mystery in a magical realism cozy set in the present day? The premise for the Magical Bookshop Mysteries is Violet Waverly and her Grandma Daisy solve murders in their little village of Cascade Springs, New York, with the help of their magical bookshop, Charming Books. The bookshop’s magical essence doesn’t tell them who the killer is, but it gives them clues by revealing pieces of writing to them. When I started writing the first Magical Bookshop Mystery, Crime and Poetry, I decided to use the work of Emily Dickinson to solve the mystery. After that, it made sense to use nineteenth century American authors, so that the theme could continue. As soon as I made that theme choice, Little Women, a book that I loved as a child, came to my mind.
I was so glad that I made the decision to use Little Women for the third book. There are so many great passages in it that make for great clues, and Little Women is a story about women who are making their way in their world. The same could be said for Violet and Grandma Daisy; only their world is just a touch more magical than ours or the world of the March sisters.
So if you like Little Women, I’d love you to give Murders and Metaphors a try, but even if you didn’t enjoy the classic or haven’t read it, you can enjoy this unique take on an American classic.
To enter to win a copy of Murders and Metaphors, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “metaphors,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 9, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address (so if you win we can get the book sent right out to you), and if via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.
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