Monday, March 04, 2019

Read Herring Hunt by V. M. Burns

The second Mystery Bookshop mystery by V.M. Burns, Read Herring Hunt, was as delightful as the first. Yes, it's not difficult to spot the killer in these books. But, Burns' combination of a current mystery, and the text of a historical cozy is an unusual pairing. It works.

Samantha Washington is the owner of Market Street Mysteries Bookstore during the day. At night, when she can't sleep, she's writing her second historical cozy mystery, and readers have the opportunity to peer over her shoulder as she writes. Right now, she's awake at night, worrying about her tenant, employee, and the son she never had. Dawson Alexander is an outstanding football player on the local college football team, and the entire community is cheering for him. However, Dawson didn't have the right upbringing to recognize that his girlfriend, Melody Hardwick, sees him as her gravy train. However, when he dumps her, she attacks him. And, then Melody is found murdered.

When Dawson is picked up for questioning, Sam and her grandmother, Nana Jo, know it won't be long until he's arrested. Sam's sister, Jenna, is Dawson's defense attorney, and she doesn't discourage Sam, Nana Jo, and the "girls" from Nana Jo's retirement home from investigating. Those girls have a wide circle of acquaintances, sources who provide invaluable information. Sam investigates on campus, questioning Melody's roommate, classmates and professors. How did a young woman who attended college under a different name, and latched onto star athletes, maintain an A in a class she never attended?

I have to admit, while I really enjoy the characters in the contemporary part of this mystery, I liked the historical cozy better. Sam is writing a British cozy set in the 1930s before the war. England is still trying to avert world war, so when the Duke of Kingfordshire asks the Marshes to host the Duchess of Windsor and her shooting party, they reluctantly agree. It's an upstairs-downstairs story as the servants are as involved as the family in this engrossing mystery that adds a romantic element to the overall book.

Burns combines the best of worlds for the cozy mystery reader, a bookstore, a British cozy embedded in a contemporary one, and a likable cast of characters. The mystery itself might be a little weak, however the characters and the historical elements make up for that.

V. M. Burns' website is

Read Herring Hunt by V. M. Burns. Kensington Books, 2018. ISBN 9781496711847 (paperback), 278p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Even though I don't generally read cozies, I like the idea of the multiple periods. If you haven't read them (this goes for anyone reading this, of course), you ought to try a very good British series, Kate Ellis's Wesley Peterson series. Wesley is a policeman in Devon (a Sergeant at first, later an Inspector), whose best friend, archaeologist Neil Watson, always seems to be involved in a dig or reconstruction that inevitably ties into a modern murder or two. The first was published in 1998 and there has been one a year since. It's a nice mix of characters - Wesley and his wife, his boss Gerry Heffernan and the rest of their team, Neil and his team.

Lesa said...

I'm somewhat behind, Jeff, but I love the Wesley Peterson series! I like the combination of crimes. Terrific series. You're so right.

Gram said...

I read a few of Kate Elli's Peterson series and liked them...but never went I think I will. Thanks for reminding me. and I like V.M Burn cozies and will be looking for this one.

Lesa said...

It's so hard to keep up with the all the series you want to read, isn't it, Gram?