I referred to this as "another bookstore mystery" but it is actually the first in a new series. The series is "a booktown mystery" and takes place in a small town (Stoneham, NH) with a lot of specialty book stores. It is a book written by Lorna Barrett and is called "Murder is Binding".
Tricia Miles is the owner of the mystery book store. She like the other book store owners in this community caters to tourists who come to buy rare and new books. She is the new kid on the block having been in business for just six months.
She has a few things she has to deal with as a new business owner. Somebody is sneaking nudist brochures into the books in her shop. Another bookstore owner wants her to join forces to get the owner to stop raising leases. Now her older sister is coming for a visit. And if things could not get worse, the bookstore owner next store gets murdered and a fire is started there. Tricia and her sister were the ones who discovered the body and the fire.
Murder in this town has been unheard of - until now. Tricia has been labeled as a jink in the town. And in the eyes of the sheriff, Tricia is the most likely suspect since she is an outsider. Since the sheriff is not pursuing any other suspects, it is up to Tricia to look for the guilty party.
One of the likely suspects is the real estate owner of the book store properties. He was scheduled to meet with the murdered woman on the evening of her death. But "his alibi" was "some other business" he was attending to that evening. In spite of the fact Tricia's sister becomes involved with him, she still suspects him.
Another likely suspect is the twin sister of the murdered book store owner. She shows up a couple of days after the murder and says she and her sister were going to do business together.
Another possible suspect is a local political candidate who Tricia was initially attracted to. She learns he is trying to sale off his mothers books and other stuff to pay for the home she is in with Alzheimer's.
Despite this list of possible suspects, the sheriff is not pursuing any of those seriously.
Tricia learned of another recent death (automobile) that she suspects may be connected. This was the death of a local woman who bought stuff from tag / estate sales and resold them to the local businesses. She had sold a valuable cook book to the murdered shop owner. That valuable cook book was missing when the body was found. A few days later this valuable cook book showed up in Tricia's book store further implicating her. Somebody wanted to hang the murder and theft on Tricia. If Tricia was going to escape this rap scotfree, she would have to discover who the responsible party was.
As part of her investigation, she went to visit the mother of the political candidate in the nursing facility. While she was there she leaned the lady seems to have improved miraculously. She is suspicious about the circumstances that put the lady in the facility in the first place. The mother tells her that her son has stolen from her in the past and asks Tricia to help her.
After some more investigation she takes her concerns to the sheriff who dismisses them. Now she must pursue other measures to protect herself and the mother of the suspect. She goes to the mother's lawyer office to get herself a lawyer and to ask the lawyer to follow up for the mother.
That night after the shop is closed, the local politician and the sister of the murdered book store owner break in. The local politician is angry about the accusations made to the sheriff. In his angry comments to Tricia and her sister, he lets it spill out that the sister of the murdered book store owner was not actually the book store owner but actually the sister. The book store owner was having a hard time making things meet and her sister was a well off business woman who was dying. The motive for the murder was clear. Tricia and her sister were the next candidates for murder and they were going to be disposed of where they would not be found for a long while.
Tricia had to take some drastic measures to protect her sister and herself. She wrecked the auto before they got to there final destination. In the process, the local politician died and her sister almost died.
Afterwards, it became public about what actually happened in the murder. And Tricia's sister became the new owner of the book store next door.
My recommendation - this is a good book and enjoyable reading. I will look forward to more in this series. Oh by the way... this author also writes under another name - L.L. Bartlett and has another mystery series featuring the sleuth - Jeff Resnick. I think I will try out that series soon.
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