by Cynthia Chow
& Lauren Elliott
This week we have a review of Proof of Murder by Lauren Elliott and a fun guest post by Lauren about the Sherlock Holmes stories. Details at the end of the post on how to enter to win a copy of Proof of Murder and links to purchase it.
Proof of Murder: A Beyond the Page Mystery by Lauren Elliott
Review by Cynthia Chow
There are two things that Beyond the Page rare book and curio shop owner Addison Greyborne finds irresistible: mysteries and estate sales. The auction being held at Hill Road House offers both of these, having not only a huge library collection up for sale but also its own myth of residing ghosts.
In 1945, new wife and mother Kathleen Gallagher fell down the stairs to her death, while her in-laws would commit suicide there five years later. Addie doesn’t believe in ghosts, though, and she has a very living relative from her past reappearing to complicate her life. Kalea Hudson has whisked into Greyborne Harbor, New England, ostensibly to visit the cousin she hasn’t seen in ten years, but Addie suspects that the man-motivated flirt’s presence is motivated by reasons related to her still-married boss. Nevertheless, both women are enlisted in helping catalog the enormous book collection up for sale when the Addie’s longtime family friend is unhappy with the pace of his auction house’s current insurance appraiser. Charlotte McAdams reluctantly accepts their assistance, but when she becomes a part of a locked-room mystery, she completely upends the auction and puts Addie in the hot seat. Addie and Kalea have the horrific experience of finding Charlotte dead in the locked room of the library, but just as alarming as Charlotte’s frozen face of terror and Kalea soon going M.I.A.
Also missing from Addie’s life for months was Chief of Police Marc Chandler, who reappears at the most awkward time with a very unwelcoming addition. FBI agent Ryley Brookes displays interest not just in Marc but in seeing Addie behind bars, gathering up evidence and interrogating her in such a way that leaves no question of whom the agent suspects of being a murderer. Not about to allow herself to be railroaded into prison despite Marc’s warnings to stay uninvolved, Addie unravels the discrepancies in the library inventory, most specifically the missing collection of Sherlock Holmes books. Worth over hundreds of thousands of dollars, Addie is the only one now present able to testify that the books were ever present in the first place. With coroner, and suitor, Simon Emerson at her side, Addie and her superstitious friends must determine whether the lingering ghosts of the past may have somehow led to the book theft crimes of the present.
This fourth in the series is so successful at building up Addie as an admirable and likable lead character that every attack against her feels very personal. Marc’s stubbornness and faith in Ryley is infuriating and unfair, especially considering Addie’s past record in finding clues and tracking down killers. Her BFF and tenant Serena Chandler, also Marc’s sister, is as wary of Hill House ghosts as Addie’s bookstore employee Paige Stringer, but they are dependable allies and emotionally supportive. Even more rewarding is the presence of the charming Simon, who proves his reliability by staunchly defending her against police accusations and Marc’s jealousy-driven intimidations. Book lovers will delight in the mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes’s attention, especially the drawn out reveal and confession by the culprit. A dénouement tying up loose ends and serving up satisfying resolutions leaves readers more than satisfied and eager for Addie’s next adventure full of romance, books, and mysteries.
Lifting the Veil Behind Proof of Murder
By Lauren Elliott
Hi, I’m Lauren Elliott and the author of the Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series. I will start by saying that I love books. I love reading them (especially murder mysteries), writing them, and strangely enough, researching them. That was the main reason I was inspired to write a murder-mystery series based in a bookshop that features a different classic novel in each edition.
In my latest book, Proof of Murder, Addie Greyborne, bookshop owner, and one-time assistant to the curator of acquisitions at the Boston Library, is challenged to solve a murder that occurs in a supposedly haunted mansion. To make it more mysterious, the body is discovered in a library that is bolted from the inside. Well, I don’t know about you, but that concept alone makes me conjure up all sorts of images. From vaporous apparitions to the idea of secret passageways, something I personally have been fascinated by since reading Nancy Drew’s The Hidden Staircase when I was young.
In my story, there is also the little matter of an 1887 copy of Beeton’s Christmas Annual, the magazine that featured Arthur Conan Doyle’s debut novel, A Study in Scarlet. The story where Doyle introduced readers to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and the copy, Addie discovers is estimated to be worth well over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, is missing. Addie is certain the death and the robbery are connected—but who, other than a ghost, could have walked through the walls to perform either deed?
Through researching both Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, I came across some interesting and not so well-known facts. For example, twenty-seven-year-old Doyle, a new surgeon with a faltering medical practice, used his free time to write his first detective story, which he completed in three weeks. The title was A Tangled Skein, and his characters were called Sherrinford Holmes and Ormond Sacker. After finishing it, he changed the names to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and renamed the story, A Study in Scarlet. Holmes, a strange, eccentric figure, was based on a real person. Dr. Joseph Bell, Doyle’s former professor at the University of Edinburgh, who was reputed to have the ability to diagnose patients simply by looking at them when they walked into his surgery.
A couple of other not so well-known facts I discovered were, A Study in Scarlet was the first work of detective fiction to incorporate the magnifying glass as an investigative tool and is something we often associate with detectives today. In addition, at times Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as wearing a deerstalker cap, but it was never written into any of the stories. It was purely British illustrator Sidney Paget’s rendition in his character sketches, which appeared alongside the Sherlock Holmes stories published in the Strand magazine in the 1890s.
What’s more, the pipe Holmes smoked in the stories and books was very different to the calabash pipe we often see dangling from the side of his mouth. The curved pipe commonly associated with Holmes was first used in the theater so the actor could rest it on his chest while speaking his lines. I was also surprised to discover that Holmes also never actually said, “It’s elementary, my dear Watson.” Holmes does say “Elementary!” and “my dear Watson” at various points in the stories, but the idea of putting them together came much later.
I was relieved to find that a few famous lines attributed to Sherlock Holmes, he did indeed say, such as, “The plot thickens” and “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however, improbable, must be the truth?” from The Sign of the Four and “Come, Watson, come!” he cried. “The game is afoot,” from The Adventure of the Abbey Grange.
To this day, my favorite quote by Sherlock Holmes is when he explains to Watson in A Study in Scarlet what murder is: “There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colorless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” This line gave us a book that would become the first in the tales of the greatest detective ever and raised the bar for all other detectives who followed. Let’s hope Addie Greyborne is up for Doyle’s challenge and can solve her own locked room mysteries in Proof of Murder before she’s the next one cornered by a killer.
To enter to win a copy of Proof of Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “proof,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 11, 2020. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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. One of Larissa’s books is featured in a past episode. A new episode went up this week.
You can use this link to purchase this book from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:
You can 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. 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.