LORNA BARRETT – Bookmarked for Death. Berkley Prime Crime, paperback original; 1st printing, February 2009.


   I ordered this sight unseen, attracted by the description of it as a bookstore mystery. What I didn’t realize was that it also included recipes, a seemingly popular device for some mystery novels that I have, up to now, avoided.

   Zoe Carter, author of a popular series of mysteries, is murdered during a signing at Haven’t Got A Clue, a mystery bookstore in Stoneham, New Hampshire. Tricia Miles, the proprietor of the bookstore, has a rocky relationship with the town’s sheriff and decides to investigate the case on her own in an attempt to speed up the identification and capture of the murderer.

   She has a sister, irritating to other people and, I suspect, to some readers as well; an ersatz boyfriend to whom she is not yet committed; and a tendency to put herself in situations that put her own life at peril.

   Tricia and I both fingered the wrong suspect, but the outcome is only slightly delayed. One of the chief suspects is a woman who has a bakery. and she keeps bringing treats to Tricia that are described in such a way as to provoke a reader with a sweet tooth into an instantaneous and severe craving for an over-caloried snack.

   I made it through the book without succumbing, but the fragrance lingers on. Now you know why I’ve avoided recipe mysteries.

   Most of the characters are quickly introduced in the first chapter, which had me retracing my steps more than once to find out who in heck the author was talking about. Distinctive characterizations are not her strong suit, but the plot has some tricky, intriguing turns, the setting is affectionately evoked (with a bookstore cat, Miss Marple, to pull in the animal lovers).

   In short, all the bases are hit for a conventional, undemanding cosy that’s dispatched with some flair.

      Bibliographic Data: Author’s Name: Lorraine Bartlett.

   Booktown Mystery Series, as by Lorna Barrett:

      1. Murder Is Binding. Berkley, pbo, April 2008.


      2. Bookmarked For Death. Berkley, pbo, Feb 2009.
      3. Bookplate Special. Berkley, pbo, Nov 2009.


   The Jeff Resnick series, as by L. L. Bartlett:

   [After insurance investigator Jeff Resnick is mugged, he discovers the resulting brain injury has left him able to sense people’s secrets.]

      1. Murder on the Mind. Five Star, hc, Dec 2005; Worldwide Mystery, pb, Oct 2007.


      2. Dead in Red. Five Star, hc, June 2008.