by Cynthia Chow
& Essie Lang
This week we have a review of Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang, and a fun guest post by Essie (aka Linda Wiken) about the real life bookstores that inspired the one in her books. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Trouble on the Books, and a link to purchase it from Amazon, and an indie bookstore where a portion of the sale goes to help support KRL.
Trouble on the Books: A Castle Bookshop Mystery by Essie Lang
Review by Cynthia Chow
When her aunt is sidelined by knee surgery, editor Shelby Cox returns to upper New York’s Alexandria Bay to help run Edie Cox’s two Bayside Books bookstores. Shelby’s focus is on the smaller store built into Blye Island’s Blye Castle, and she doesn’t regret leaving her small publishing job in Boston for the island with its own ferry and ghost stories. Shelby remains steadfast despite a confrontation with curator Loreena Swan, who demands that Bayside Books stock copies of her rather unsellable guidebook. Unfortunately, being right doesn’t mean that Shelby feels any better after discovering Loreena’s body floating in a grotto, especially when Police Chief Tekla Stone seems happy to take out a grudge against Edie by targeting her friend. A true-crime writer and the current caretaker of Blye Castle, Matthew Kessler unfortunately has his own sad past that makes him an easy suspect for a single-minded police chief.
Interrogating suspects is certainly one way for Shelby to get to know her neighbors, and she soon learns that the abrasive Loreena had more than her share of enemies and jealous rivals. The arrival of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service Special Agent Zack Griffin adds a surprising twist to the investigation, causing Shelby to focus on the Island’s history with smuggling during the Prohibition. He adds a bit of a romantic jolt to her life as well, especially when an old crush of hers is on sight to provide compliments and some outstanding cooking. An unexpected discovery about her own mother further adds to the intrigue, especially when Aunt Edie proves to be elusive with answers and friends just as reluctant to disclose their knowledge.
Shelby enters the novel confident with her professional skills but insecure in her personal life, and the revelations about her past and present rock her as much as the murder. As Shelby continues to question her neighbors and old family friends, she attempts to keep the police informed but isn’t about to let a few threats or intruders stand in her way. This is an irresistible novel for cozy readers looking for a charming setting, houseboat cat, and romantic flirtations. It’s also the promising start of a new mystery series perfect for a vicarious weekend getaway, and its setting of a castle bookstore ensure for further adventures.
Bookstores I Have Known
By Linda Wiken (aka Essie Lang)
When designing my bookstore for the Castle Bookshop Mysteries, I used a good dose of imagination – after all, the castle in which it is housed is totally fictitious. But I also fashioned it along the lines of my own, departed mystery bookstore, Prime Crime Books. It had a healthy lifespan of twenty-five years in Ottawa, Ontario, and was, in my mind anyway, the type of bookstore I’d always dreamed of working in. It was small – only 300 square feet—which suits the castle setting to a T.
By the way, my real name is Linda Wiken but for this new series, I’m Essie Lang.
The seasonal arm of (the fictional) Bayside Books is set in the front corner of Blye Castle, on Blye Island as part of the beautiful Thousand Islands, New York, while the main branch is in Alexandria Bay, New York. The large casement windows in the castle allow for a lot of light to shine in, which helps the space seem larger. Now, this corner is more square shaped than my own narrow, rectangular Prime Crime but the interior feels welcoming and cozy.
As with the original, the walls are lined with tall bookcases and in the center are several stand-alone shelving units. Two comfortable wicker chairs are tucked under the window looking out to the side of the castle, and there’s a small table in between, great for setting a pile of books on while a customer thumbs through the choices.
Green is the color I’ve chosen for the castle bookstore, several shades lighter than in Prime Crime. But in both, the ceilings are tall and help with that feel of expanse.
I say it’s modeled after my own store, but it also has touches of another bookstore, sadly now closed, that I have enjoyed over the years. The Mystery Bookshop in Bethesda, Maryland, was one of the first specialty stores in which I indulged my obsession with mysteries and I’d visit it every year when attending Malice Domestic. The chairs were similar to what I had in my real store, wing chairs that were aged with use by happy readers. But the coziness was the same, that come in and share a love of the mystery feeling, was there. That’s what readers want when they enter the world of books, right?
I had been asked to name my favorite bookstore, but that’s not something I can readily do. I love them all, for different reasons, but at the moment, my favorite is Bayside Books, in Blye Castle, on Blye Island. I hope you’ll visit it soon by reading Trouble on the Books. Visit www.lindawiken.com. It’s available from Amazon and at Barnes and Noble https://tinyurl.com/y6oecx8h.
To enter to win a copy of Trouble on the Books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “trouble” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 4, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via comment please include your email address. If entering via email be sure to include your mailing address in case you win. 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. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on iTunes and Google Play. A new episode went up this week featuring Boxes in the Basement by Kathi Daley.
Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:
You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.