QNPoohBear's Reviews > The Plot Is Murder

The Plot Is Murder by V.M. Burns
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bookshelves: cozy-mystery, clean-romance, historical-fiction, kisses-only

Samantha Washington, a young widow, is living out her husband's dream of opening a murder mystery bookstore in their hometown of North Harbor, Michigan. Sam's dream has always been to write a murder mystery but she is eager to try her hand at running a bookstore/cafe. It took a lot of effort and one savvy attorney to purchase the historic Gargoyle building for her store/apartment. When Clayton Parker, the shady realtor who sold Sam the building tries to talk to her after closing one night, she refuses. When she wakes up to take her dogs outside they discover Clayton Parker dead in the backyard. The incompetent and overworked police detective obviously suspects Samantha. Sam will stop at nothing to find out who killed Clayton. Her Nana, refusing to see her granddaughter take the blame for something she didn't do, teams up with her "Golden Girls" friends from the retirement village to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, in 1938 England, Victor Carlston is mad about the beautiful Lady Daphne Marsh. Her sensible sister Penelope has a plan to get Daphne interested in Victor. Before Penelope can put her plan into action, Daphne's American suitor, Charles Parker, is found dead in a maze and Daphne becomes the chief suspect. When Victor decides to take the blame, Penelope takes over the investigation to clear her friend and her sister.

This is a cute, fluffy, unmemorable cozy mystery. I really liked the story within a story aspect. Samantha's novel was more interesting than her real life mystery. Her novel is modeled after British cozy mysteries like Miss Marple and Mrs. Polifax. The high society setting is reminiscent of Downton Abbey but is written by someone who doesn't really know anything about British aristocracy. The story reads like a first draft of a first novel. The villain is painfully obvious yet I had to keep reading so I could find out how it was all resolved. Sam's novel is off to a good start and with some polishing, I think people would like to read it.

Samantha's real life mystery is not so interesting. The clues are there but the suspects are so incredibly boring and the victim such a louse, that I didn't really care who killed him and why. The "coziness" of this novel is done very well. I like the upper-class/vs. working class divide of the city echoing the world of Sam's own cozy mystery. I really liked the bookstore/cafe and would love to go there. However, you can NOT mention scones with clotted cream and tea without offering recipes! I was craving scones after this. I had to go to a local coffee shop today for a scone and tea thanks to this novel. The author also does quirky characters really well. Sam is relatively normal. She's grieving for her husband in a normal way, she wants to help her community and her investigation is legal and logical. The secondary characters make the novel shine. Nana and her friends are a hoot. They are not your typical granny ladies. They take Aikido classes, shoot guns, curse (though none of the phrases are ever concluded, making this mystery free of bad language), and gamble. They senior ladies deserve their own series because they're more colorful and interesting than Sam.

The suspects include Diana Parker, Clayton's widow. She surprised me. I wasn't expecting her to be like that at all. Clayton's uncles are also chief suspects. George, the most boring senior gentleman at the casino (according to Nana's friends) and David, an ex-con. There are also mistresses, disgruntled ex-employees down on their luck and any number of people Clayton cheated. Another human character is Dawson, a college football player and one of Samantha's ex-students. He has an interesting story and I don't think he was fleshed out enough. I like him a lot. Rounding out the cast of human characters is Detective Brad "Stinky" Pitt. He's awful! Stinky, as Nana calls him, is rude, crude and unintelligent. He's worse than many of the small town sheriffs in cozy mysteries but he isn't the only detective in town, just the only one available. Finally Sam's two dogs Snickers and Oreo, a pair of toy poodles. Each has their own distinct personality which I liked. Snickers is the sweet cuddler, an older dog who knows her place in the pack is at the top. Oreo is a young pup full of energy. They're both so sweet and fun. I fell in love with them both.

Then there are the characters in Sam's novel. I really liked Penelope Marsh and wanted to read a book starring her. She doesn't get fleshed out enough understandably, because this is a story within a story and a first draft as well. Penelope is sensible, calm and intelligent-everything her sister is not. Daphne is awful. I do not like her. Their uncle and aunt are very kind and bland. They don't act much like a Duke and Duchess. The butler, Tompkins, is so appropriately snobby! I can hear Mr. Carson's voice (Downton Abbey) coming out of his mouth. Victor does not appeal to me and I don't know why Penelope loves him. He can't see past the end of his nose, preferring beauty to brains. His noble nature is a bit too good to be true. His friend James is a bit cheeky and more lively yet there's something about him I didn't like or trust.

This novel is perfect for fans of British cozy mystery novels but it isn't really worth the full price. If you can get it from the library the way I did, it makes a good read for a rainy day. Pair with a cup of tea and a scone for full enjoyment!
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Reading Progress

January 23, 2018 – Started Reading
January 24, 2018 – Shelved
January 24, 2018 – Shelved as: cozy-mystery
January 24, 2018 – Shelved as: clean-romance
January 24, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
January 24, 2018 – Shelved as: kisses-only
January 24, 2018 – Finished Reading

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