Sunday, November 9, 2014


Publisher:   Berkley
Published:   August 5, 2014
ISBN:  978-0425265598
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Format:  Print
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Coming from a long line of bibliophiles Jane Steward has taken the helm of Storyton Hall, a resort that could well be out of your favourite storybook…particularly if it is a mystery.  To increase her business Jane decides on a Murder and Mayhem week geared for fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and a chanced to solve a crime or two.  Surprised at the number of guests, Jane and her staff are delighted.  Things take a slightly serious turn when first a woman is thrown from her house in the middle of town and suddenly dies.  Then, when three guests vie rather seriously for the Murder and Mayhem big prize, Jane is a bit concerned.  Not as concerned though was when the winner of the scavenger hunt, is found dead in the Mystery Suite.  Not only is he found dead, but the very book presented as the prize is missing.  The book turns out to be more valuable than anyone could have imagined.   Concerns abound when Jane realizes one of her guests could be the murderer.  Can she find the killer before the guests realize the appearance of the local policy is not part of the game?  Or worse, before another guest dies?

I’ve read two of Ellery Adams’s prior series, her Books by the Bay and her Magical Cupcakes.  The Magical Cupcakes were a little too fantasy-based for me, but her Books by the Bay were wonderful.  I’ve eagerly awaited each new book in that series and haven’t been disappointed.  When I saw her new series, the Book Retreat Mysteries I couldn’t wait for the books to start appearing.  The first, MURDER IN THE MYSTERY SUITE is a decent read.  There were parts I really liked and parts that, had I not been reading it for review, would have skipped over.  In a way elements of it are blends of her two prior series—there is a slight element of fantasy in terms of Jane’s heritage.

No, she isn’t a wizard or have other magical abilities.  She’s your basic single parent trying to make a success of a family business.  The family isn’t destitute, but they do need to make a success of their business.  What makes me think of some fantasy elements are the hidden passages in the house, hidden rooms and the secret family library.  When Adams has Jane receive a locket and instructions to learn to defend the library it sounded like fantasy was an option.  I hope not.

The mystery itself is weak.  If you are expecting a who-done-it where you are working side-by-side with the sleuth to figure out who the killer is, this is not the book for it.  Yes, there’s a killer and a mystery, but the world building seems to override it.  It wasn’t a unique method of killing however it was nicely done in terms of the big reveal.

There is a fun side to the book as well—most, if not all, of Adams’s characters are either named for famous or well-known fictional detectives or their characters.  Some, as well, like Mrs. Hubbard, are from some well-known fairy tales.

I’m not a fan of “cute” or precocious children in books.  I didn’t see how Jane being a single parent of “cute” twin boys added to the story until the very end.  A little less of them and a little more mystery would have been nice.

I’m on the fence about continuing with this series. I might go on to book 2 and see if the characters have settled down somewhat and then decide.

If you like quirky characters in a setting made for avid readers this is definitely one to check out.

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

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