Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham

 
First Lines: Abbeymead, Sussex, 1955. Locking the shop door carefully behind her, Flora heaved the last parcel of books into the basket.
 
Expecting the day to be like any other in quiet little Abbeymead, bookshop owner Flora Steele gets the shock of her life when she opens All's Well to find the dead body of a young man on the floor amongst the shelves.
 
The discovery turns her life upside down, and the reputation of her business takes a nosedive amid all the virulent village gossip. Who was the young man? Why did he break into her bookshop? There's nothing else Flora can do but solve the mystery herself-- with the aid of reluctant reclusive mystery writer Jack Carrington. 

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What's not to like about an English village mystery that takes place ten years after World War II and concerns a bookshop? That's what I thought, too, when I picked up Merryn Allingham's very first Flora Steele mystery, The Bookshop Murder. As I began to read and the pages turned, it got even better. Buried treasure? A priest hole? Secret passages? Definitely my cup of tea.

Allingham puts us right in the era with little details like Flora delivering books by bicycle and the fact that meat had come off rationing only the year before and people still felt eating it was a wicked indulgence. Flora's Aunt Violet, who left her the bookshop, lost her fiancé in World War I and raised Flora after a car accident killed her parents. (How many parents have lost their lives due to car accidents in crime fiction I wonder?) The village also plays its part in the story by spreading all sorts of scandalous gossip and whispers of gruesome doings and haunted bookshops. The coup de grâce involves a bus driver in a neighboring village, but I'll let you find out for yourselves what he did.

The mystery is a good one, and so is the setting, so... what about the characters? Any traditional or cozy mystery worth its salt has to have characters that readers can care about. The Bookshop Murder rises to the occasion in this, too. Flora is intelligent, hard-working, and even though she seems to know how to get her own way, her life so far has been one of doing for others and putting her own dreams aside. Once she decides to enlist the help of mystery writer Jack Carrington, the story shifts gears and becomes even more enjoyable to read.

Jack has his own past that readers have to learn about. He's decided to shut himself away in a house outside the village, and he's hired a young boy to deliver food and books so he doesn't have to deal with anyone else. That is until the boy becomes ill and Flora decides a mystery writer is the perfect person to help her solve a crime. Watching the two work together and become used to each other bodes well for future books in the series.

If mysteries reminiscent of Miss Marple and Miss Seeton are your favorites, then by all means get your hands on a copy of Merryn Allingham's The Bookshop Murder. It has all the hallmarks of being the start of a beautiful reading relationship.

The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham
eISBN: 9781800196810
Bookouture © 2021
eBook, 256 pages

Historical Mystery, #1 Flora Steele mystery
Rating: B
Source: Net Galley

12 comments:

  1. This really is tempting, Cathy! Bookshop. Check. Village setting. Check. Historical fiction. Check. Solid mystery and characters. Check. Check. And it sounds like the sort of series that has a real potential to be outstanding.

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    1. It really does have lots of potential, Margot.

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  2. Does sound fun and I notice that it's available on Kindle Unlimited if readers have that. Putting it on my list for sure. Interesting about the Allingham name - relative or just coincidence?

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    1. I've been wondering the same thing, Kay.

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  3. I can not think of a thing not to like about this one! I'm putting it on my every growing TBR 🙂.

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  4. Just the title makes me want to read this one! :)

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    1. That's the first thing that grabbed my attention, too!

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  5. I'm curious about the Allingham last name--which Kay mentioned in her comment. Aside from an English village and a bookshop, the reclusive author is enticing. :)

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    1. He's enticing and funny, too. :-)

      I've been looking, and so far I haven't found anything about her being related to Margery Allingham. I guess someone will have to ask her!

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  6. I am sorry the book was archived just yesterday on Netgalley. Both setting, the era all up my street.

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