Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BURIED IN A BOOK by Lucy Arlington

Publisher:   Berkley
Date published:   February 7, 2012
ISBN:  978-0425246191
Genre:   cozy mystery
Book format: Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina Ginalrmreviews@gmail.com

After twenty years of dedicated service as a features writer for the Dunstan Herald, a job she thought would be hers for basically forever, Lila Wilkins suddenly finds herself out on the street.  Well not exactly on the street.  She does have a home and she’d got smarts and gumption. Disappointed but not down for the count she returns home and sets about finding a new job. She is thrilled to see that a Novel Idea Literary agency is looking for an intern!  Granted, it will be a pay cut. But it could also be the gateway to a fantastic job—a career changing one at that. Following a telephone interview she’s told the job is hers. The next morning, excited about her prospects, Lila boards a train to Inspiration Valley and her new career. The coffee shop and it’s friendly counterperson set the stage for a super situation. She quickly envisions mornings of caramel lattes, days of discovering new and exciting authors and evenings of great reads.

Things don’t turn out quite the way she expects. In fact, they take a decided downturn.

First a wanna be author turns up dead not just in the agency but on the same couch she has been using as her work space. She returns home that evening sure that a murder has been committed. Things take another curve when Trey, her son, is taken into custody for trashing the school yard—with Lila’s car. With the cut in pay, money owed to the school and now having to buy a new car Lila isn’t quite sure how she’s going to make ends meet. But before she can engage in her own personal pity party—not that she is the type to engage in one—her mother calls and tells Lila she’s got a place with her for as long as she needs.

Trey isn’t so pleased to be moving in with his grandmother but things being what they are, Lila and Trey move in. Trey is still having issues but more than that, things at the agency are taking some decidedly scary turns. When it appears the wanna be writer may have been murdered, Lila cannot help but want to figure out who done it. Will the killer now set his…or her…sights on Lila?

BURNED IN A BOOK is the first of Lucy Arlington, the nom de plume for the writing team of Ellery Adams and Sylvia May’s Novel Idea Mystery series. To their credit, for the most part, their writing is seamless. Generally you really can’t tell where one ends off and the other begins but at other times it is a bit choppy and I wondered why certain scenes were there. Over all they are really in synch with each other’s writing and given that Ellery Adams writes cozies and Sylvia May writes women’s fiction that’s saying a lot. You can see each author’s particular brand in the story—Lila is a middle aged woman and there is a mystery that draws you into wondering just who killed Marlette. The idea of a mystery series in a publishing agency is intriguing and lends itself to some great story lines.

The heroine is different from many cozy sleuths because she is middle aged.  She’s not quite Miss Marple but neither is she the late-20’s-early 30’s detective we see in many cozies. I didn’t exactly warm up to her as a character. At times she was the mature mother struggling to keep her career on track. At other times she acted a bit like a 20-something ingénue, especially around Zack and Officer Griffiths. I suspect in later books she will come into her own personality.  There were points where I felt the authors had a check list of elements needed for a good book and did their best to include them. Like many cozies lately there is the requisite gay couple and at least one ethnic character. Whether they are included to flesh out the story or to appear more diverse isn’t clear and doesn’t really matter. There just seem to be elements that are either mandated to be included or authors feel should be.

I did like the characters Franklin and Addison and Makayla. I suspect Lila will grow on me as the series progresses. Like I said, I have a feeling she is going to come into her own. I love the idea of Inspiration Valley and the way the agency is set up. It sounds like the perfect kind of place to work.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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