Sometimes, despite the murders in cozy mysteries, it's just wonderful to escape to the small towns in these books. It's hard to resist Inspiration Valley, North Carolina in Lucy Arlington's Novel Idea mystery series. Who wouldn't want to live in "A tiny utopia of art and books and food"? But, as much as she loves the community, Lila Wilkins knows sometimes the town is disrupted by crime as in Books, Cooks, and Crooks.
Lila Wilkins is a literary agent in her late forties, working at the Novel Idea Literary Agency. The agency is the major sponsor and host for the town's Taste of the Town festival. Lila is excited that they're hosting some of their authors, celebrity chefs and cozy mystery authors. But, she doesn't realize how high maintenance those chefs are. "It's when the chefs all get together. The mix doesn't quite result in an explosion, but sparks do fly."
But, someone's explosion leads to murder. Lila, dating a police officer, trusts the police to find the killer. But, she's angry, and determined to help the police. The "Killer not only took the life of another human being...They also affected the festival, damaged the Arts Center, and cast a shadow of evil over Inspiration Valley." Lila has a valid excuse for her involvement.
I'll admit I knew who the killer was quite early in the book. However, that didn't spoil my enjoyment of this charming mystery. It's a pleasure to read about a mature amateur sleuth who doesn't hide information from the police, has realistic relationships with her mother, son, and the man she loves, and loves her job. There's also a mystery about a romantic figure in this book, a mystery that is solved in a beautiful scene.
And, what lover of books can resist a community that celebrates books? Jay, the bookstore owner says, "In whatever form it takes, the book will never disappear. Stories are too important to us. We can't live without them." Ellery Adams, half of the writing team of Syliva May and Adams who write under Lucy Arlington, has expressed that philosophy about story in other mysteries. In Books, Cooks, and Crooks, a bookstore owner and a literary agent share that understanding.
Mysteries, books, and food just go hand-in-hand. Lucy Arlington's Books, Cooks, and Crooks ties those elements together in a charming story.
Lucy Arlington's website is www.lucyarlington.com
Books, Cooks, and Crooks by Lucy Arlington. Berkley Prime Crime. 2014. ISBN 9780425252246 (paperback), 295p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.