MYSTERY

Trouble on the Books

Crooked Lane. (Castle Bookshop, Bk. 1). Mar. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781683319818. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683319825. M
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Shelby Cox returns to her childhood home of Alexandria Bay in upstate New York to help her Aunt Edie, who's recovering from surgery. Aunt Edie is part owner of two local bookstores, including one in Blye Castle on Blye Island. After a run-in with Loreena Swan, the castle curator, Shelby discovers the woman's body in the island grotto. Because Edie is worried that the local police chief will try to railroad the groundskeeper at the castle, she asks Shelby to poke around the area. Shelby knows few people in town, but that doesn't stop her from asking questions, annoying the neighbors, the police chief, the state police, and even a handsome Coast Guard agent. Convinced the murder may be linked to the castle's history of smuggling, Shelby's imagination runs wild, as anyone could be a suspect.
VERDICT Lang has written previous cozies as Linda Wiken (Roux the Day) and Erika Chase. In this new series, the setting is more enticing than the sleuth. Shelby lacks people skills, hasn't become part of the community, and is uptight and nosy. Readers looking for book-centric mysteries featuring more likable sleuths should be steered toward Eva Gates or Jenn McKinlay.

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