A Dark and Stormy Murder
Julia Buckley     

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Writer's Apprentice Mystery
Book: 1

An aspiring suspense novelist lands in the middle of a real crime, in the first in a captivating new series by the author of the Undercover Dish Mysteries.

Lena London's literary dreams are coming true—as long as she can avoid any real-life villains...
Camilla Graham’s bestselling suspense novels inspired Lena London to become a writer, so when she lands a job as Camilla’s new assistant, she can’t believe her luck. Not only will she help her idol craft an enchanting new mystery, she’ll get to live rent-free in Camilla’s gorgeous Victorian home in the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana.
But Lena’s fortune soon changes for the worse. First, she lands in the center of small town gossip for befriending the local recluse. Then, she stumbles across one thing that a Camilla Graham novel is never without—a dead body, found on her new boss’s lakefront property.
Now Lena must take a page out of one of Camilla’s books to hunt down clues in a real crime that seems to be connected to the novelist’s mysterious estate—before the killer writes them both out of the story for good...

Lena London’s best friend Allison helps her get the job of a lifetime. Lena will be an assistant to her idol, author Camilla Graham, and will get to help her write her new book. Lena has read and enjoyed Camilla’s books so much that her graduate thesis was a novel inspired by Camilla’s work, so the job is a perfect fit for Lena.  One of the perks of the job is being able to stay in Camilla’s Victorian home, not far from Allison in Blue Lake, Indiana. Lena needs a job and this exciting opportunity also gives her the chance to leave Chicago and move on from a break-up with her boyfriend.

However, Lena soon learns nothing is perfect. Camilla’s dark and gloomy house would fit right into a scene from one of her gothic mysteries. Also, when Lena becomes friends with one of Camilla’s neighbors who has a mystery of his own, small town tongues start wagging. To make things worse, Lena discovers a body on Camilla’s property and gets caught up in a dangerous murder investigation.

A Dark and Stormy Murder is the first in a new cozy mystery series. Sometimes the flow of the first book in a series gets bogged down in introductions to numerous characters and their backgrounds, but this book in engaging right from the beginning. There is a small, but interesting cast of characters and the reader gets to know Lena, Camilla, Allison, and the other characters well by the end of the book without being overwhelmed by too many characters with complicated backstories. The result is a nicely paced, suspenseful cozy that reads like a modern gothic novel, and the book stands out from the typical cozy. Another nice touch are the bits of the novel Lena and Camilla are working on that are used to begin each chapter.

The book has a great combination of setting, atmosphere, and characters. Lena is an intelligent, likeable main character and her quick friendship with the famous, but down-to-earth author Camilla is fun to read. Lena’s unlikely friendship with a Camilla’s mysterious neighbor is intriguing and romantic, even as the reader questions his motives. This well-written book has a heartwarming ending that is satisfying and yet still gives the reader a cliffhanger creating anticipation of the next book in this wonderful new series. 

~ Christine