CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS MURDER
SERIES: Main Street Book Club Mysteries #1
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: Cozy Mystery
Not every murder is by the book…
As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime.
When the elderly ladies of Arlo’s Friday Night Book Club start to investigate, Arlo has no choice but to follow behind to keep them out of trouble. Yet with Wally’s reputation, the suspect list only grows longer—his betrayed wife, his disgruntled assistant, even the local man who holds a grudge from a long-ago accident.
Between running interference with the book club and otherwise keeping it all together, Arlo anxiously works to get Chloe out of jail. And amidst it all, her one-time boyfriend-turned-private-eye returns to town, just another distraction while she digs to uncover the truth around Wally’s death and just what Sugar Springs secret could have led to his murder.
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder starts with a bang — or rather with our protagonist, Arlo, finding a dead body, who seems to have jumped from the roof of her bookstore. We soon find out that the victim is visiting hometown-boy-done-good, best-selling author Wally Harrison, who has returned to promote his new book and attend the towns class reunion.
Like all good sleuths, Arlo is soon gets set to investigating, when her best friend and business partner, Chloe, is accused of the murder. Arlo rather reluctantly teams up with her book club members Camille, Fern and Helen and they do what they can to get Chloe released.
One of the things I really like to put this one was the way the investigation felt believable. Lillard spends a bit of time discussing the ways in which the ladies ago about sorting a schedule to provide meals for Chloe while she’s in jail (so she can avoid a prison transfer, which felt a little unbelievable to me, but was something a little different), and ways in which they listen to various people in town to uncover clues and secrets from Wallace past. The three book club members have colourful personalities and it’s fun to see them talk the more sensible Arlo along with their plans.
Lillard does a good job of setting up larger storylines within the town as well. There’s a potential love triangle which involves both Arlo’s childhood sweethearts (this might be a pro or a con, depending on how/ how long it’s played out) and it seems like lots of different locations and interesting characters populating the time for us to get to know as the series progresses.
At first I struggled a little with Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder, there was just something in the first few chapters that didn’t quite click for me, and I had a bit of a hard time to really immerse myself in the characters. However, once the story got moving and the pace picked up I found myself really enjoying the characters, and Arlo especially. I think she’s going to be really interesting cozy protagonist.
I’d definitely be interested in reading more of the Main Street Book Club and possibly were of Amy Lillard’s work in the future.