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This is the first book in this series and the first by this writer. As previous reviewers have noted the book is set in a small town which is full of bookstores. Being a booklover myself I could not resist. The owner of the murder mystery bookstore is the herione and I warmed to her from the beginning. There is an obvious frisson of animosity between she and her sister and the reasons for this are developed well throughout the book. Although this is not an edge of the seat tale I did enjoy the story and I thought the plot developed well. This evolved around the murder of the bookstore owner next door and there were enough twists and turns to keep you reading. Unlike a previous reviewer I thought the story was well written, the plot interesting and the characters believable. Yes some of the characters are not developed as well as others but I think this is deliberate and more of their stories will unfold in future books. I look foward to the next in the series which comes out in February 2009.
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on 31 March 2008
Lorna Barrett's MURDER IS BINDING introduces the new Booktown Mystery series. A cozy mystery with a mystery bookseller amateur sleuth and a book at the center of the puzzle, this mystery is a fun light read. For mystery enthusiasts, the tribute to the mystery genre itself with mentions of mystery classics from Cornell Woolrich and Ngaio Marsh to Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie make Murder is Binding a must read. Every good cooking mystery must include recipes, and true to form, Lorna Barrett delights readers with a recipe addendum in the back.

Stoneham, known as the safest town in New Hampshire, was a dying town until the downtown revitalization. Now, the center of town houses genre specialty bookstores and draws in tourists and book collectors. Tricia Miles and her cat Miss Marple run the mystery bookstore, Haven't Got a Clue. When she discovers Doris Gleason, owner of the Cookery, dead in the neighboring bookstore, Tricia sees a new side of Stoneham from the political race threatening to divide long term natives on the town's outskirts and the bookstore newcomers to other simmering jealousies. When another resident has a suspicious car accident, Tricia thinks she might have a lead into the motive behind the murder but who can she trust? Sheriff Adams seems determined to pin the murders on Tricia, the town jinx. Tricia's sister Angelica arrives into town unexpectedly, stirring up the past along with her appetizing dishes.

Lorna Barrett's MURDER IS BINDING is a must read for mystery buffs. Full of first edition classics and tributes to many of the great mystery classics, readers will not only feel the nostalgia of a small town mystery but of their personal reading histories. Lorna Barrett's research into the bookseller trade flows in the smallest details from the details of book sources and different types of booksellers to the antiquarian and rare book standards for packaging books.

Tricia Miles is a wonderful sleuth. With each new trail, the reader catches a glimpse of a woman who cares for others and justice beyond just clearing her name even to the point of endangering her own safety. Tricia's relationship with her sister Angelica adds depth to the characterization as Tricia battles a history of sibling rivalry at the same time as she gains a mystery sidekick who amuses and endears the reader to the sisters. To the reader's delight, the mystery details and resolution provide several twists until the very end. Lorna Barrett gives readers a delicious mix of small town and family jealousies and undercurrents beneath the surface complemented by heart-warming scenes, all brought together by Doris Gleason's murder. After reading Lorna Barrett's MURDER IS BINDING, the first in the Booktown Mystery series, readers might just find themselves hoping that this small town will forever shed the distinction of safest town to make way for more Booktown mysteries!
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Tricia Miles has found life in Stoneham to be a nice change from life in the big city. The historic down town area consists of nothing but bookstores, and running her own mystery bookstore has been a real joy.

But one fall day things change from good to bad. First, her sister Angelica shows up for an unannounced, extended visit. The two sisters have a strained relationship, and Tricia can't wait until she leaves.

Much worse, however, is finding the body of Doris Gleason. Doris owned the cookbook shop next door to Tricia's. She could be quarrelsome, but she didn't deserve to die. Tricia immediately notices that the antique cookbook Doris had just acquired is missing. Was theft the motive? Or was it something more sinister?

I'm of two minds about this debut. On the one hand, I loved it and the setting. What reader wouldn't love the idea of a town devoted to bookstores? And the little details of the book made me smile every time they showed up on the page. The plot twisted in a couple surprising directions. Angelica and Tricia have a complicated relationship, and I could identify with both of them at the same time. And Tricia's employee Ginny and regular customer Mr. Everett are both a delight as well.

On the other hand, this debut had some flaws. The rest of the characters are a little flat. In fact, the characters I already mentioned could be flat at times as well. The ending is too abrupt. While logical, it needed more time to be fully developed. Finally, the writing is okay, but it was often awkward, forcing me to backtrack and reread stuff to make sure I understood.

In the end, I did enjoy the book enough to give the sequel a chance. Hopefully, the problems will be ironed out as the series progresses.
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on 22 November 2009
Before I read this book I read books two and three in the series. I have to say that while this book gives an introduction to Tricia, her bookstore, her sister and the folks who work at her shop, I would give this particular installment a pass as the next two books are much, much better.
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VINE VOICEon 29 June 2011
I just love these 'small town' mysteries - and this looks like it will be an excellent series of books. Before I read it, I thought it sounded really odd - to have lots of bookshops in one little town, but it isn't at all! I think it sounds like the perfect place - browsing through shop after shop of specialist books.

I liked the characters in this book, and hope that most of them will be back in subsequent books. It was a little obvious who the 'baddie' was - but hey-ho, it didn't spoil the fun of the journey!

Looking forward to downloading and reading the next one.
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on 13 August 2010
Oh, gee, just what we all need, a cozy mystery about a woman who runs a smalltown bookstore that sells only mysteries! Perhaps now we can look forward to a new series of books about a young woman in, say, New Jersey who takes up bounty hunting, or maybe another one about a woman in Southern California who operates a small-time detective agency. (Hm ... here's an idea: one might have titles that progress through the alphabet while the other uses numbers.)

This first book of a proposed new series is all about setting the scene, introducing characters and establishing relationships. By the standards of detective fiction, the mystery element of "Murder is Binding" is rather anemic, although perhaps a bit closer to crimes in real life. After all, the master criminals who use elaborate, diabolical plots and exotic, untraceable poisons must be few and far between compared to the simple, untaught toilers who simply bash their victims over the head in commonplace back alleys.

Some Amazon US reviewers, I see, dislike the author's word-smithing--her style, her punctuation, that sort of thing. And, yes, this book is a bit more crude than many exemplars of the cozy mystery. On the other hand, how many times have we seen writers heap praise to the highest heavens upon their editors for helping to shape their works? I see no reason why some honest, hard-working and, needless to say, underpaid editorial drudge should not pull up his or her sleeves to put in some real work on the second volume of this series.

(This type of aid is by no means limited to cozy mysteries. There is something truly epic about the way Maxwell Perkins, greatest of all American editors, carved minor masterpieces out of the endless reams of glop submitted by Thomas Wolfe. And no doubt, unless the author burns it all first, some other editor is going to do the same thing for the enormous but unpublished output of a famously reclusive writer who catches his last in the rye.)

"Murder is Binding" isn't much as it stands, but it may yet prove to hold potential as the author expands both the series and herself as a writer.

I think this is a three-star book, but I look forward to volume two of the series with a certain amount of hope.
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on 17 April 2010
This is the first book in the Booktown Mystery series by Lorna Barrett, and centres around a mystery book shop owner named Tricia Miles who finds herself the local sheriff's primary suspect for the murder of the shop owner next door. She then goes about to prove her innocence, as well as revealing the real murderer.

For fans of cozy mysteries, this will be a nice addition to your collection but while there is nothing radically new to offer here, the author does a stand up job of placing the story in an innovative location, a town called Stoneham in New Hampshire which is full of bookshops, ranging from Tricia's own mystery shop, to books on history, arts and crafts and cookery. It's a fun place to set the story, and it's a town which offers up a whole cast of characters who are involved in the action.

Aside from Tricia, there is her older sister Angelica who comes to town on a surprise visit after her marriage ends, Tricia's employees Ginny and Mr. Everett, mysterious politician Mike and Miss Marple, Tricia's cat, amongst others. In a lot of mystery novels, the supporting characters can often be a bit one dimensional and are simply there to serve their purposes, but here the author has managed to create characters who do more than simply serve as a suspect at one point or another.

Which brings me to the conclusion. While I am happy I managed to guess the murderer, it really wasn't very difficult as plenty of obvious clues were placed along the way, which is one of the reasons I didn't award the book five stars. I would have liked more twists and turns, and where some parts of the book lagged, I felt that those places could have been used to add a bit more mystery to the book. Not that I didn't enjoy it of course, I simply suspect that with this being the first in the series, the author is still getting to grips with throwing off her readers.

The writing is good, it has a nice flow to it. Some parts feel slightly over written, but it's only the author's first novel and the first in a series so lots of time is spent in setting things up and giving the reader the impression of this world, which is no easy feat when there are so many characters involved as there are in mystery novels.

But all in all this is a good addition to any mystery fan's collection. It has plenty of things any cozy mystery should; a sleuth who is active in unravelling the mystery, a cast of colourful supporting characters and a nice flow to the writing. I can't wait to see what Book Two has in store for Tricia and the gang.
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VINE VOICEon 31 December 2009
This is the first book in the new Booktown Mystery series which form part of the Berkley Prime Crime Series. Books with the theme of murder and with a running theme; coffeehouses, needlecraft, cooking classes, knight's templar to name a few and now books and in particular booksellers. I feel they are the 'Mills and Boon' of the murder mystery novels and perhaps are to be consumed as such - a mere diversion.

Stoneham in New Hampshire has a high number of bookshops (how blissful!) each shop dealing with a specific theme. The main protagonist is Tricia Miles who has a bookshop, 'Haven't Got a Clue' that deals in crime novels. Tricia becomes embroiled in her own murder mystery with her as main suspect when next door at 'The Cookery' (cookery books as you can imagine) the owner Doris is killed. We then see Tricia try and clear her name with the help of her assistant Ginny, Mr Everett a permanent fixture in the shop as well as her sister Angelica who decides that she wants the life that Tricia has made for herself.

A good 'story' and went at a fairly quick pace, and there was plenty of easy opportunity to work who committed the murderer and why. Nonetheless this did not detract from the story, though once having forgotten I was reading American prose, I settled into the flow of the story quite well. Unsure as to whether I will seek out anymore, but I know what I am getting if I do.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 December 2015
This small-town mystery is set in a New England location which has specialised in antiquarian books, bringing tourism and providing employment. Our heroine is a new bookstore owner, but she is reasonably well off after a New York divorce. Creditably she wants to support herself and pursue her own love of books. The cookery book store next door is the location of a murder, and suddenly the suspicion rests on this newcomer, for no very convincing reason other than that she is new.

I liked a lot of the characters and events, with a few different strands and some amusements. However I was surprised by the terms used to refer to a child with special needs - I had thought Americans were more PC and figured the book must be twenty years old - it was published in 2008. Some of the writing could do with an edit to make clear who is speaking. I enjoyed particularly how the protagonist's older sister, who got all the attention as a child leaving the younger girl envious and cross, turns up and makes herself useful so that quite soon they are off burgling a premises without having much in common. Only with family could this happen. Now the series will probably improve as the situation is established. There are a few recipes in the back, for crab puffs, lobster bisque and meat stroganoff.
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on 23 June 2012
I really enjoyed this book. It was a nice easy read at a gentle pace and managed to hold your attention. The characters were well drawn and the relationship between Tricia and Angellica was done well.

I thought the ultimate conclusion to this book was good and I would never have guessed the outcome.

Good book. Would recommend if you want a nice gentle easy read.
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