Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Homicide in Hardcover

Cozy mysteries seem to be hot these days. As a writer of cozies myself, I am constantly on the lookout for new books and read them as much as possible. The market is full of them, much to my delight, and there is a book for almost every interest out there. Cheese shop mysteries, embroidery shop, knitters, coffee shops, soap makers, crafters, bakers, caterers, cake decorators, scrap-bookers, -- the list is endless! If you have a hobby, you can bet there’s a cozy out there that will grab your attention.

Homicide in Hardcover, author Kate Carlisle’s debut novel, is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Tightly written, this cozy has three dimensional characters, a wonderful plot and best of all a unique hook: antique book restoration.

Now, you might think that this is a dull, dry subject to wrap a mystery around, but under Carlisle’s deft hand it’s anything but. Brooklyn Wainwright finds her mentor lying in a pool of his own blood and with his dying breath leaves her a cryptic message and hands her the book he’s currently restoring: an original, and cursed, copy of Goethe’s Faust. Found holding the body and the book in her arms by the enigmatic and darkly attractive British security agent Derek Stone, Brooklyn finds she must clear her name and find the real killer.

Told in first person, you can sink yourself into this book and feel as if Brooklyn and you are sitting comfortably as she relates her story to you; something that is often difficult to pull off well. Carlisle does it masterfully! On top of that what could be a dry topic in her book is fascinating. The art of restoring antique books is just that -- an art unto itself and it makes you look at some of these older volumes in a new light.

The background and supporting characters are just as interesting as Brooklyn and Stone, who dance around their attraction to each other throughout the book. Brooklyn was raised in a “commune” in northern California’s wine country by free-spirited parents and a community that is a fascinating back story.

The other thing I liked about this book was revisiting San Francisco, where the story takes place. Having been raised in and lived for many years in the Bay Area, I often read books set there where I know the author has never been. This book rang true to the feeling and atmosphere of the City, and it was a nice experience for me.

Pick up a copy of Homicide in Hardcover and you'll be glad you did. I’m looking forward to reading more from Kate Carlisle and hope she, and Brooklyn Wainwright, enjoy a long and mysterious career.

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