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10 December 2015

Dickens of a Murder by Joyce & Jim Lavene

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving (drat it all -- I should have read this a month ago!) former-librarian and mystery-writer-wannabe Lisa Wellman is busy getting everything ready for the opening of her new bookstore in Portsmouth, Virginia. Well, it's not entirely her bookstore. She's partnered up with Simon Canterville, a long-time patron of hers from her days at the library and they're planning on setting up shop in his antique-filled Victorian house in Olde Town. Both also live in the house -- her quarters are in a third floor turret and his are in the basement. One person in particular is trying to stop the store from opening -- a curmudgeon named Ebenezer Hart. He's found dead on the roof of the house right outside of Lisa's window and Simon is the top suspect on the list after it was discovered that the murder weapon was an antique pistol matching a pair found in his room.

Poor Lisa! She's already having trouble with the book she's been writing for the past two years and now her friend/partner/co-habitater is being accused of murder? It gets even worse, though, since the ex-husband she hasn't spoken to in twelve years is the one in charge of the case and the ghost of Charles Dickens has decided to show up to "help."

Guess what? Good ol' Dickens comes off as a bit of a ... well ... a dick. He's quite excited about the mystery aspect of being there but is quite dismayed at Lisa's writing.
Oh, and then Simon gets poisoned but still isn't off the hook for Ebenezer's murder since he could have poisoned himself. Right. Yep.

With Lisa being as well-versed as she is in mysteries she jumps right in to help clear Simon's name and discover what really happened to Ebenezer Hart. This means a lot of contact with her ex, Daniel, and a lot of criticism from Dickens. Through it all, though, the relationships with Daniel and Simon and even Dickens were the highlights of the book for me. I "awwww"-ed more than once over Daniel, shook my head more than a few times at how old-fashioned Simon can be, and snorted hot cocoa through my nose over Dickens and his antics.

With the joy that came with reading the story, though, also came the sadness in knowing that Joyce Lavene passed away shortly before the publication date. It's a delightful premise for a series -- the bookstore being haunted by literary greats (yes, there are more than just Dickens). It's like curl-up-in-a-blanket cozy ... when the ghosts aren't making you snort hot cocoa. Of course, I will completely understand if Jim Lavene opts not to continue without Joyce, but I do selfishly hope that there will be more. At least her spirit will live on for readers with the dozens of books previously published ... all of which are being added to my TBR.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like such a delightful read. I love the idea of literary ghosts. :-) I will have to look for this one. It is sad about the author. :-(

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