January means ice wine season in the Niagara Falls region, but the festivities leave Charming Books owner Violet Waverly cold, still reeling from a past heartbreak. A past heartbreak who will be present at the annual midnight grape-harvest festival, and no magic in the world or incantation powerful enough could get Violet to attend. But Grandma Daisy, an omniscient force all on her own, informs Violet that she’s already arranged for the mystical Charming Books to host celebrity sommelier Belinda Perkins’s book signing at the party. Little do either Waverly women know, the ice wine festival will turn colder still when Violet finds Belinda in the middle of the frozen vineyard—with a grape harvest knife protruding from her chest.
Belinda grew up in Cascade Springs, but she left town years ago after a huge falling-out with her three sisters. One of those sisters, Violet’s high school friend Lacey Dupont, attends the book signing in the hope of making amends with her sister, but Belinda and Lacey end up disrupting the signing with a very public shouting match and Lacey quickly becomes the prime suspect in the sommelier’s murder.
Violet is sure Lacey is innocent, and to keep her friend out of prison, Violet asks for guidance from her magical bookshop. The shop’s ethereal essence points her to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, but what have the four March sisters to do with the four Perkins sisters? If she can’t figure it out, Violet, herself, may turn as cold as ice. Violet, Grandma Daisy, Emerson the tuxedo cat, and resident crow Faulkner are back on the case in Murders and Metaphors, USA Today bestselling author Amanda Flower’s enchanting third Magical Bookshop mystery.
“I was really going to have to rethink my life, since my own grandmother took it for granted that ‘crime investigation’ was a part of it.”
Lord have mercy! Cascade Springs is full up on murders, murderers, and people willing to openly and loudly blame Violet Waverly for all the awful. Thankfully, in this instance one of the blamers isn’t the local sheriff . . . . .
After knowing her Grandma Daisy for her entire life, one would think Violet Waverly would used to her schemes, plots, and plans. This time, Grandma Daisy has signed the bookstore up to host a book signing at none other than the Morton Winery. There are few places on earth Violet would rather be than the Morton Winery, but duty and Grandma Daisy are calling. For much of the night, Violet plays nicely with the Morton’s and just when she begins to relax and consider everything will go off without a hitch, Violet’s normally adorably sweet friend Lacey faces off in a loud and ugly argument with the author. Mrs. Morton promptly blames the scene on Violet ☹
As with everyone else at the signing, Violet has no idea what prompted her normally kind and soft-spoken friend to engage in such an ugly and very public display. As Violet quickly discovers, the fight was prompted by a deep hurt that has split Lacey’s family completely apart. The pain of her friend pains Violet, but what hurts even more is accusations being flung at Lacey, most importantly that she has killed her sister! Yes, once again, thanks to the shenanigans of Emerson the cat, Violet has stumbled upon (literally!) yet another dead body and murder investigation.
Naturally, everyone, including Lacey, Grandma Daisy, and the bookstore expect Violet to stick her nose right into the middle of the murder and uncover the truth of the matter. As always, the bookstore has something to say on the subject and this time, the words come in the form of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Violet is intimately familiar with Alcott’s writing and fully appreciates the connection to family, but that seems to be all the magic of the bookstore is willing to offer up. With frustratingly little help, Violet dives in with both feet with the hope she can do more good than harm.
In betwixt and between her investigating, Violet continues her duties as the Caretaker (she’s getting better!), settles into her new adjunct teaching position, and continues to struggle with her feelings for a certain sexy sheriff who suspects Violet is keeping something BIG from him. What’s more, the sheriff is absolutely adamant Violet stays out of the investigation before she stumbles into true danger. Um, with Violet that is always far easier said than done 😊
The Bottom Line: There is no doubt about it, the Magical Bookshop Mystery series is at the top of my favorite cozy mystery series list! With each book, I am seeing the kind of character development and evolution I expect to see, I am falling head over heels in love with Emerson, Faulkner, and Cascade Springs, I adore the twisty turnings of the plots, and the light romance is just perfect for the genre. There really is a sort of magic (no pun intended, this time!) to these books and Violet, with her feisty personality, totally awesome Grandma Daisy, two beasts, and a bookstore with an agenda made up entirely of helping, is simply a perfect recipe for an excellent read. I am ready for more and wish for a long life to this series.