by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Ripped from the Pages, and a link to purchase a copy where a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore.
When a home renovation forces Brooklyn Wainwright to live temporarily back in Dharma, California, no one wants to mention the high probability that it will end in murder. The only real question is whether it will be a result of Brooklyn’s recent incarnation as a “murder magnet” or from living near her parents. Brooklyn may love her mother, but the compulsively organized, book-obsessed daughter couldn’t be any more different from the Wiccan Grand Raven Mistress of the Celtic Goddess Coven of greater Sonoma County.
So it’s fortunate that Brooklyn and her boyfriend, the imminently hot ex-MI6 security agent Derek Stone, managed to luck into house- and pet-sitting for Brooklyn’s parents’ neighbor. This gives them a tiny bit of space while still being able to help out at the Dharma Winery, run by Brooklyn’s brother and owned by the Dharma community. In keeping with its communal roots, the vineyard and winery have the goal of becoming self-sustaining and eco-friendly, and a large step toward achieving that is the wine cave being excavated to store their barrels. Although no one could have expected they would uncover a drove of treasures hidden from WWII Nazi pillaging, they probably should have laid bets that Brooklyn’s “talent” would kick in and that the discovery would include a mummified body.
The first third of this novel delves into the mystery of the secreted artwork and jewels, as well as the impact it has on the town’s moral leader Robson Benedict, known affectionately as “Guru Bob.” What makes this series unique is its depictions of a commune and a guru who is genuine in his beliefs and in whom the heroine places a tremendous amount of trust and loyalty. It is seeing Robson’s pain that his family may have been responsible for secreting the treasures that spurs Brooklyn into seeking answers, even as she juggles an onslaught of reporters, nosy tourists, and thieves.
Fans of the series should be reassured that book lore definitely comes into play, as also uncovered is a priceless copy of Jules Verne’s “Voyage au Centre de la Terre,” an 1867 original version of his famous journey to the earth’s center. A bookbinder specializing in rare-book restoration, Brooklyn is unable to touch the tome without doing what she can to meticulously restore it to its former state. Another letter rescued from that trove also leads to the discovery of why the treasures were never restored to their families. The author revels in lovingly relating the details of paper repair and restoration.
Once again, Carlisle mixes equal amounts of bibliophile mystery clues with romance and fun character development. Fans will be happy to see Brooklyn return to her roots in the idealized and very quirky town of Dharma, where she was raised with her siblings Savannah, China, London, Jackson, and Austin. Even hot Gabriel, the mysterious thief/rescuer/agent of Discreet Procurement, arrives to lend a hand.
The author doesn’t shy away from the cozy mystery series dilemma of having an amateur detective encounter an alarming number of homicides, but here it is explained in a way that fits with the town. Brooklyn is “Nemesis,” a wielder of justice and not a harbinger of death, and it is her purpose in life to bring resolution to the murders. Brooklyn’s cynical and often acerbic humor can’t hide her marshmallow center, and she’ll do anything for her family, her friends, and Dharma. There is enough romance, booklore, and witty banter among characters to please the growing numbers of fans of this reliably enjoyable mystery series.
To enter to win a copy of Ripped From the Pages, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Ripped,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 27, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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