There are a thousand stories in New York’s scenic Thousand Islands, and Bayside Books co-owner Shelby Cox stocks them all. But lately, the Blye Island bookseller’s life is more about investigation than inventory. True-crime writer Savannah Page caps off two successful signings at Bayside Books with a night in Blye Castle. She’s there to research Joe Cabana, a colorful Prohibition-era mobster who owned the castle–until he was found dead in the island Grotto.
But crime becomes all too true for Savannah. Her body turns up the next morning, in a secret passage at the bottom of the stairs. The last thing Shelby Cox wants is to sleuth another murder, but she’s intrigued about how a killer could have reached the island after hours. She’s not at a lack for suspects either. It could have been anyone from Savannah’s fiancé, Liam Kennelly, who argued with her the evening before, to island caretaker Matthew Kessler, recently cleared of his wife’s murder. Can Shelby keep regular store hours, elude the police chief, and assemble the clues into a hard-bound case without getting permanently shelved?
The Bottom Line: In an effort to be fair to the author and to accept that the first book in a new series isn’t always the best, I went for round two of the Castle Bookshop Mystery series. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much more in this installment of the series than I did in the first. The setting/locale is still idyllic and beautifully described, but the characters still fall woefully short and the plot was only moderately more interesting than in the first book. My greatest issue with this book is going to have to be the characters: Shelby is still rather flat, her aunt and her aunt’s best friend are cold, at best, and the police chief is just completely off-putting. Though the men and a few of the minor female characters are slightly better, they just aren’t enough to keep me coming back to this series. Sad as it is, there are just too many books and too little time to continue to devote time and effort to a series that just doesn’t totally enthrall me.