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Plot Boiler
Black Cat Bookshop Mystery #5
Ali Brandon

Berkley Prime Crime
November 3, 2015/ ISBN 978-0-425-26155-2
Genre Mystery / Cozy / Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


Bookshop owner Darla Pettistone decides that a Fourth of July block party is just the ticket to bringing in more customers to the shops in her store's Brooklyn neighborhood. Sure, it will be a lot of work, but she can delegate tasks to other shop owners. The only fly in the ointment seems to be George King, proprietor of Perky's coffee. George is notoriously foul-tempered, and Darla has to visit his shop to get him to pony up his share of the costs of the event. George is not too pleased to see Darla because he believes her bookshop cafe is her attempt to lure away his coffee shop customers.

When George's wife, Livvy, dies mysteriously during the street fair, and then a local ballet teacher seemingly confesses in her own suicide note, Darla realizes something isn't quite right. Livvy was into herbal treatments, and was also selling coffee with special packages of herbs in the bags, tricking the local teens into thinking the herbs were drugs. Could that have caused someone to snap and take her out? Why would Penelope, the ballerina, kill the coffee-king's wife, let alone herself?

I enjoy this series for several reasons. First, the protagonist is not one of those silly women who puts herself in harms way intentionally with the singular purpose of solving the crime before the police can. Second, there's a special cat in the series that helps provide clues by knocking down relevant books in the bookstore. Third, the cast of characters is varied in age, walks of life and interests, keeping the stories alive and the action moving right along.

This is a fun and fast-paced read, a true cozy mystery that kept me reading into the wee hours. I highly recommend it to mystery lovers who are also bookworms and cat lovers! With that combination of offerings how can you go wrong? Five paws up for Hamlet the cat who steals the show!

Reviews of other titles in this series

Double Booked for Death #1
A Novel Way to Die #2
Plot Boiler #5

Reviewed 2015