Trouble on the Books By Essie Lang: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Apr 27, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

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.mystery

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.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

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.

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Linda in her bookstore

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.

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Linda Wiken aka Essie Lang

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 It’s available from Amazon and at Barnes and Noble

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:

Adding a second pen name, Linda Wiken writes the Castle Bookstore Mysteries as Essie Lang, for Crooked Lane Books. As Linda she wrote the Dinner Club Mysteries; as Erika Chase, the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries. Nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada for Best Short Story, she’s a former mystery bookstore owner and avid chorister. You can learn more on here website.

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.


  1. I love books about books. Read other series by this author and really enjoyed those- want to read this one too.

  2. Sounds fun!

  3. A fascinating bookstore story and a wonderful feature and giveaway. I enjoy this author’s books. Thanks.

  4. Great book cover! Thanks for the info and the chance to win! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. I can’t wait did this series! And what a great location to choose!

  6. Can’t wait to read this one!

  7. Essie Lang is a new author to me and her book looks intriguing. Thank you for including information on your blog about both author and book. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

  8. Book themed mysteries are very hard to resist. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  9. Bookstores and libraries are my favorite things. Thanks for this chance!

  10. Sounds like a great new series. Looking forward to reading.

  11. This looks like a great read. An English major who worked in bookstores for many years, I adore cozy series that involve books, writers, bookshops, and/or booksellers. Always looking for a new series to enjoy!

  12. This looks like a fun read! When I was kid I dreamed of owning a small bookstore. While that is not the path my life actually took, I am back to a point in time that I am enjoying being introduced to new fun series!

  13. Thanks for the contest. Sounds like a fun series. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. Looks like a great read, thanks for the chance!

  15. I enjoyed the book when I read it recently. I’d enjoy it even more if I could own a copy for my growing home library.

  16. Love a good story about books.
    I was a librarian for many years
    and an avid reader. thanks
    for the offer of the book

  17. Great cover! Thanks for the chance! JL_Minter (at) hotmail (dot) com

  18. Bookstores are among my favorite reads for mystery…thank you for the chance.

  19. We have a winner!


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