I've always found that I learn so much about social issues, history, and the world from mysteries, so they're perfect books for Sunday Salon. Lorna Barrett's third book in the Booktown Mystery series, Bookplate Special, is not only the best in the series, but a book that deals with important issues right now. Mystery readers will appreciate all of the comments about mystery authors and books. And, what reader can resist a town of bookstores?
Tricia Miles, owner of Haven't Got a Clue mystery bookstore in Stoneham, New Hampshire, was just angry and frustrated when she asked her former college roommate to leave her apartment. Pammy Fredericks had visited, but her visit went on for two weeks, and Pammy interfered with Tricia's business, and stole and forged a check. It was a relief to throw her out, but Pammy went on to use Tricia as a reference when applying for jobs. To Tricia's horror, it was her sister, Angelica, who hired her to work in her restaurant, Booked for Lunch. Pammy didn't last long there. The last time Tricia saw her, she was making a scene at the opening of the new food pantry. At least that was the last time she saw her, before finding her body in the dumpster behind Angelica's restaurant.
It was a pleasant surprise to find Tricia's old enemy, Sheriff Wendy Adams, wasn't the officer who responded to the 911 call. Instead, a handsome officer, Captain Grant Baker, was in charge of the case, a professional who handled the investigation much more professionally than the sheriff ever did. Even so, Tricia felt obligated to find out why her old friend was killed.
When she asked questions around town, Tricia found out about a whole other layer of society that she didn't know about, the working poor, who often went hungry or needed clothes. The Food Shelf and the adjoining Clothing Closet were there to help those residents of Stoneham. She was shocked to find some of her friends in need of their services, and, even worse, dumpster diving as "freegans," people who salvaged food, claiming too much food was wasted when people needed it.
Anyone can pick up Bookplate Special, even if you haven't read earlier books in the series. But, those of us who have read previous books will appreciate the growth of the characters as personalities. We learn more about them, and watch developing, and changing, relationships. Tricia's romantic relationship changes, and, happily for most of us, there is a change in her relationship with the sheriff's department.
Most of all, it's refreshing to watch Tricia continue to develop. Her eyes are opened to the situation around her, in this rough economy, when even some of the people she's closest to need help, and she was unaware. Barrett uses the food pantry, the Clothing Closet, and the freegans as essential components of the plot. But, these elements also point out the tough economy, and current social needs.
Lorna Barrett continues to build the characters, the stores, and the setting in her Booktown Mystery series. Bookplate Special is the most enjoyable, and the most solid, successful story in the series yet. I'll be waiting for book four, Chapter and Hearse.
Lorna Barrett's website is www.lornabarrett.com
Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett. Berkley Prime Crime, ©2009. ISBN 9780425231197 (paperback), 320p.
FTC Full Disclosure - Library copy