Release Date: Jul 21, 2020
Series: A Booktown Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Group
Tricia Miles is back home in Stoneham, New Hampshire after a disappointing trip to Ireland with her boyfriend, Marshall. She barely makes it inside the door of the bookstore she owns when her assistant discovers a body in a dumpster behind the shop. Pixie recognizes the victim as Susan Moore, a woman who has been living in her car. Tricia’s ex-boyfriend, Police Chief Grant Baker, puts Pixie at the top of her suspect list. Tricia knows Pixie doesn’t have a motive and would never have hurt Susan, so she is determined to clear Pixie’s name and find the real killer.
Handbook for Homicide is the fourteenth book in this long-running series. I’ve only read a few of the prior books, so I was thankful for the cast of characters at the beginning. It helped me remember who’s who and would help new readers enjoy this book without having read the prior books in the series. My favorite part of the book and the entire series is the close, loving relationship between Tricia and her sister Angelica. They tease each other, but they get together almost every day and are always there for each other. I’m less enthusiastic about Tricia’s relationship with her boyfriend, Marshall. It seems obvious that Trica cares about Marshall, but isn’t in love with him but maybe I’ve missed something in a prior book. There are a few unexpected developments in Tricia’s love life at the end of the book that could get interesting in the next book. I don’t care for huge cliffhangers like this in a series, but I will admit I am very intrigued by what Tricia will do next.
The author does a good job of balancing the daily routines in Tricia’s personal life with the murder investigation. I enjoy seeing Tricia with her sister, on the job, and on the case. The investigation brings Tricia to a local homeless camp looking for possible witnesses or suspects. The inclusion of social issues in the book has mixed results. The homelessness issue is woven fairly seamlessly into the story, especially since the victim is homeless. Other offhand comments included in the dialogue regarding other issues come across as stilted and out of place. This is a small complaint about an otherwise evenly paced and entertaining cozy mystery. Readers who enjoy this series or the author’s books written under the name of Lorraine Bartlett, as well as fans of Sheila Connolly will enjoy the latest trip to Booktown.