Release Date: Apr 28, 2020
Series: Beyond the Page Bookstore
New England bookstore owner Addie Greyborne leaves her assistant Paige in charge of the store while she pays a visit to Hill Road House for an estate sale preview. She ignores rumors that the house is haunted to attend and ends up putting her rare book expertise to use by helping the unpleasant insurance adjuster appraise some of the books. Addie discovers a hidden gem but when she returns the next day for the sale, the library door is locked from the inside, the insurance adjuster is dead, and the valuable book is missing. When an overzealous member of law enforcement puts Addie in her crosshairs as the prime suspect for theft and murder, Addie must launch her own investigation to find the real killer and stay out of prison.
This book is the fourth book in the Beyond the Page Bookstore mysteries, but the first I’ve read. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear to be a series that new readers can just jump in and enjoy. There are so many characters, many of whom have complicated backstories that are only touched on in this installment. At first, I tried to keep track of all the various supporting characters but finally gave up in order to get through the story. Things did get better when I focused only on Addie, her current boyfriend Simon, her ex-boyfriend Marc, her assistant Paige, and good friends Serena, and Catherine. That list of characters was more than enough to keep me busy and even with those characters, I didn’t figure out their full history. My favorite character is actually Catherine. She doesn’t play a large role, but I like the kind, soothing advice she gives to Addie.
Addie is able to uncover numerous potential suspects, but her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend, a visiting FBI agent who is helping with the investigation, focus only on Addie right from the beginning. Marc had proposed marriage a couple months before but now he believes Addie could commit grand theft and murder. He and the agent are so hostile and unprofessional, it made a large part of the book unpleasant to read. Since I’m new to this author, I don’t know if Marc’s behavior is usual for him or if the negative tone is typical of this series, but it didn’t appeal to me.
The mystery itself is interesting and I like the references to real books at the estate sale and at Addie’s store. Addie has a tendency to act first and think about the consequences later, but she is still a likable main character. She does a great job discovering and putting together clues that the police overlook, and I enjoyed that part of the book. Hill Road House’s ghost story is intriguing and leaves enough teasing tidbits to be interesting even after most of it is explained. Fans of this series may have a completely different opinion of the book. However, as someone new to the series, even though I enjoyed parts of the book, I never fully connected with Addie or the story.