Release Date: Apr 30, 2019
Series: A Book Retreat Mystery
Jane Steward, the manager of Storyton Village in Virginia, is taking a trip with her colleague, Landan Lachlan, to North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. While there, she plans to attend a luxury lodging convention. However, her main reason for going is to find her boyfriend, Edwin Alcott, who she believes is being held captive on the Biltmore grounds. On her search for Edwin, a helpful Biltmore staff member is found murdered in his cottage’s reading room. Jane has many obstacles to overcome to solve these cases if she wants to prevent anyone else from becoming a victim.
Murder in the Reading Room is the fifth book in the Book Retreat series, but the first I’ve read. Many cozy mysteries are accessible to new readers, but I don’t think this one is. When I started reading the book, it was like walking into a movie that was halfway over, because this book continues a storyline from a prior book. It starts with Jane rushing to the Biltmore Estate to find her boyfriend who she believes is being held captive there, based on clues she received in the book prior to this one. Since I missed so much of this continuing storyline, I never became fully engaged in the book.
I like the character of Jane because of her determination and dedication to those she cares about. The book is well-written and imaginative as I would expect from Ellery Adams, an author I enjoy. I may have enjoyed the book more if it would have focused on the book retreat aspect of Storyton Village instead of secret passages, secret rooms, and secret societies. Even when the story moves to Storyton, the book is not what I expected. Real books are frequently mentioned, but things like modern day Knights Templar play too large of a role in the plot for my taste. There are twists in the story and a lot of drama which helps keep the book moving even when I felt things were unrealistic.
Once everything is resolved, I like the discussion Jane and her best friend Eloise have about healing. I enjoyed the long and descriptive epilogue and wish more of the book would have been based on realistic moments between friends like those at the very end of the book. There are many positives to this book, and those who have been following the series will enjoying seeing the prior cliffhanger resolved. However, this book just wasn’t for me, and I can’t recommend it unless you have read the previous books in the series.