A Just Clause
Lorna Barrett     

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Booktown Mystery
Book: 11

Just when things are getting back to normal in Booktown, Tricia and Angelica have their lives turned upside down by a shocking visitor from their past in this latest entry in Lorna Barrett’s New York Times bestselling series. 

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, is in for a surprise when her ne’er-do-well father, John, comes to town—and promptly becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a woman with her own scandalous past. Even Tricia’s faith in the old man is shaken when the Stoneham police break the news that her father is a known con man who has done jail time.  

But what about bestselling thriller author Steven Richardson? Is it a coincidence that he arrived for a book signing just before the crime or that the victim was found with a signed copy of his latest bestseller?  

From merlot to murder, Tricia is determined to clear the family name before another body shows up and ruins Stoneham’s first—and highly anticipated—wine and jazz festival.


Mystery bookstore owner Tricia Miles and her sister Angelica and happy living and working in Booktown and are eager for the upcoming wine and jazz festival in their town. Their routine is shaken by an unexpected visit from their father, John. They are suspicious but try to be open when John says he wants to stick around for a while, as long as they can offer some financial help. However, things go downhill when John becomes the Stoneham police’s main suspect in the murder of a woman with whom he may have been involved. The two sisters learn that besides having an eye for the ladies, even while married to their mother, John is also a con man who has served time for his crimes. Tricia is not completely in her father’s corner, but doesn’t think he is the guilty party, so she undergoes some sleuthing of her own to find the real murderer.

A Just Clause is part of the long-running Booktown series. I have read some, but not all of the books in this series. As a casual reader of the series, I don’t remember all of the detail. A refresher for new (or forgetful!) readers on some of the background, such as why the sisters’ mother is so hateful to Tricia, would have been helpful in understanding the actions of the characters in this installment. I have found this series to be hit or miss. I loved Title Wave, the book just before this one, but wasn’t completely satisfied this time. The mystery is interesting, but not as engaging as the sisters’ adventure on their cruise. Readers who read that book will be interested to see that author Steven Richardson, who Tricia met on that trip, pays a visit to Booktown.

What is consistently likeable about the series is the loving relationship between Tricia and Angelica and the way all of the shop owners work together to make the town better and more appealing to tourists. However, that love and friendship is almost overpowered by the bad feelings throughout the book caused by the Tricia and Angelica’s manipulative father and their cold, abrasive mother. This is especially true because as mentioned, I couldn’t remember why their mother has such as grudge against Tricia. Normally, I would be rooting for a family reunion, but in this case, neither Tricia and Angelica’s mother or father were characters I cared about.

Fans of the series will enjoy the book, but other readers may want to start earlier in the series to get a better feel for the characters before diving into this installment.

~ Christine