Better Off Read: A Bookmobile Mystery

Better Off Read: A Bookmobile Mystery

by Nora Page


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When her best hope of saving her storm-damaged library is found murdered, senior librarian Cleo Watkins hits the road in her bookmobile in search of justice.

Septuagenarian librarian Cleo Watkins won’t be shushed when an upstart young mayor threatens to permanently shelve her tiny town’s storm-damaged library. She takes to her bookmobile, Words on Wheels, to collect allies and rally library support throughout Catalpa Springs, Georgia.

However, Cleo soon rolls into trouble. A major benefactor known for his eccentric DIY projects requests all available books on getting away with murder. He’s no Georgia peach, and Cleo wonders if she should worry about his plans. She knows she should when she discovers him bludgeoned and evidence points to her best friend, Mary-Rose Garland.

Sure of Mary-Rose’s innocence, Cleo applies her librarian’s sleuthing skills to the case, assisted by friends, family, and the dapper antiquarian bookseller everyone keeps calling her boyfriend. Evidence stacks up, but a killer is overdue to strike again. With lives and her library on the line, Cleo must shift into high gear to close the book on murder in Better Off Read, the charming Bookmobile series debut by Nora Page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683316435
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Series: A Bookmobile Mystery Series , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,067,419
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Nora Page enjoys rainy weather, the perfect biscuit, and quiet evenings in with her husband and cat. You can often find her in the company of books. This is her first Bookmobile mystery.

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Better Off Read: A Bookmobile Mystery 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
BeagleGirl123 More than 1 year ago
Great start to a series, quite enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to more mysteries to solve in Catalpa Springs, Georgia, along with feisty Cleo, the town's librarian! A+
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
Cleo is a seventy-five year old librarian in the small Southern town of Catalpa Srings, Georgia. After the library suffers some major storm damage, the mayor refuses to pay for repairs. He wants the library closed and all money used to build a huge fishing pier to make the town the Fishing Capital of the Universe. Cleo doesn't take it sitting down and brings out the bookmobile, and looks for support to keep the library open. One of her patrons, a rather eccentric gentleman, hints that he has a way to get her the money she needs. When he ends up dead, his nearest neighbour also Cleo's friend is the major suspect in his death. They have had several altercations and she was recently heard to say that she could kill him. Cleo keeps busy with her librarian duties, as well as trying to rally support for the library. With her mobility driving around the bookmobile, she also begins to do a little sleuthing of her own. This is the first book in the Bookmobile mystery series, and a great introduction to the town and characters it was. I loved all the eccentric characters, especially some from the retirement community. I particularly enjoyed the smart, capable, spry, more mature protagonist. She has a gentleman friend, but accent on friend. I assume they will eventually become more than that, but I look forward to seeing their relationship develop at a realistic pace. There are three wonderful pets in the story that add to the humour, small town feel as well as being somewhat instrumental in capturing the culprit. The pace was quite quick and I read this one in less than a day. There were several red herrings and a few twists that kept me guessing. Once again, I failed at my detecting and did not figure out who the murderer was until just before the final showdown. I am looking forward to the next book in this series to see what is next for Cleo and her bookmobile. If you enjoy cozy mysteries with older characters as well as eccentric ones, they you will love The Bookmobile Mysteries. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon my request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
bookaholique More than 1 year ago
3.5 Cleo Watkins is the librarian at the Catalpa Springs library. When the library sustains heavy storm damage. she has a hard time convincing the mayor that it is worth the money to rebuild the library. Her only option is to take the bus converted to a bookmobile out in search of supporters. When one of them turns up murdered, Cleo puts on her librarian's analysis cap to solve this murder mystery. No one was more excited than me to discover this is book #1 of a series. I loved Cleo! She is a force to be reckoned with especially when it comes to her beloved library and all the patrons who value it. If anyone thought that at age 75 she would just roll over, they were wrong. Do not mess with Cleo! I'm looking forward to keeping up with Cleo and to see where the next books take her. I received this book from Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley.
VWilliams More than 1 year ago
Pretty hard to resist any cozy mystery with that cover! The blurb describes a septuagenarian librarian who is forced to race around in a converted school bus now bookmobile after her Catalpa Springs, Georgia library suffers major storm damage and needs repair. She has a Persian cat--whose name I loved (Rhett Butler), who really doesn't behave like a cat. Protagonist Cleo Watkins is not your average senior still working because she needs the money and apparently the mayor has major ideas for the library money anyway. A number of small town characters are introduced. The problem begins when her major supporter for repair funds turns up dead. It's thought that her bff Mary-Rose may have had something to do with offing him as they were having a turf war over the springs separating their respective properties, so Cleo will weed through the list of possible suspects to save her friend. (Apparently, the man didn't have any.) And she does have an officer neighbor who can provide investigative support. (Forget the "chief.") Loved that the MC was going to be a little closer to my age, but the plot kinda dawdled along at the beginning. Once she got the Words on Wheels bookmobile going, the storyline seemed to smooth out and speed up a little. I enjoyed the bookstore owner, Henry, also very much an active senior, with a low-key pug. Cleo is very determined to save her library, is sharp-witted, and articulate. Then came a conclusion, the perpetrator revealed, which left me scratching my head. No, I didn't see it coming as I don't think I was ever given the information. Overall though, it's a fun, cozy mystery whether a slightly awkward start to a new series or not, has room to grow. The author has introduced some interesting characters who she may very well spend more time developing in #2. I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. I can recommend to any who enjoy a good southern cozy mystery, though I'm not quite sure her target is seniors--more perhaps the "youth of old age" (50-60?). I would entertain a second book in the series to see if Cleo has "matured."
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Better Off Read by Nora Page is the first tale in A Bookmobile Mystery series. Cleo Watkins is the head librarian of the Catalpa Springs Public Library in Catalpa Springs, Georgia. Unfortunately, a storm recently downed a beautiful old tree right onto the library. Mayor Jeb Day does not wish to use city funds to revive the library (they have insurance). Instead, he wishes to make Catalpa Springs a fishing destination with a world class fishing pier and have a floating casino on Tallgrass River. Cleo still wants to get books out to public and starts taking out Words on Wheels, the bookmobile, out every day. Cleo has to stop by Krandall House with books ordered by the eccentric Buford Krandall who is in a feud with neighbor, Mary-Rose Garland. Cleo discovers the front door open, the library in a disarray and Buford dead. The evidence quickly mounts against Mary-Rose. Cleo knows her friend did not harm Buford and sets out to prove it with the help of her friends. Better Off Read is a humorous cozy with a fast pace. Cleo Watkins is seventy-five and determined to save her library. The mayor is determined Cleo will retire and repurpose the library. Cleo is a smart, spunky strong-minded woman who leads a busy life and has a lead foot when driving (I am amazed she has not had her license revoked). I appreciate her passion for books and helping others find the right books for them to read. There is a cast of quirky characters to accompany Cleo in Better Off Read. There is Ollie, her grandson who does not know what he wants to do with his life. Leanna who works part-time at the library (before the storm) and is going to college to get her degree in library science. Henry Lafayette who is smitten with Cleo and has a pub named Mr. Chaucer. Bitsy Givens is president of the Ladies League, married to the local bank president and puts up with her demanding mother-in-law. Let us not forget Rhett Butler, the library cat who accompanies Cleo on her rounds in Words on Wheels. While there are some interesting characters, I felt the author introduced too many of them. They just kept coming and it is difficult to keep them all straight. I wish the author had limited the number and focused on developing them (they seemed superficial). Catalpa Springs is a small Southern town in Georgia near the Florida border. There is Southern hospitality, plenty of food and gossip flows freely and quickly. There seemed to be one zany antic after another throughout Better Off Read (I just wanted them to stop). There is an amazing amount of dialogue in the story. The mystery had some good components, but it gets lost. I believe when the solution to the murder is revealed, some readers will be scratching their heads. The book has a satisfying ending that wraps up all the storylines. I felt that there was too much going on (I could not begin to describe it all). Better Off Read had a great premise, but the final product was dissatisfying. My rating for Better Off Read is 3 out of 5 stars.
booklover6460 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! Of course, what's not to love about a library and murder?! The characters were well developed and fun, quirky, strange, lovable...all of the things you would hope to find in a good book. The location of Catalpa Springs, GA was just the kind of place you would expect to find such delightful characters. They had me laughing and cringing and gasping in shock. I loved Cleo's Words on Wheels bookmobile! Made me want one for myself to toot around all of my books. The mystery kept you wondering until the very end...or at least it did me! While you were sure who was the culprit, you might have been surprised. Though there were plenty of other surprises to go along with the murder mystery. Just a delightful cozy mystery and a fun read. I hope to read more books in this series. I've come to love Cleo and Henry and the menagerie of animals and characters that make up the town of Catalpa Springs! Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
Missisue4 More than 1 year ago
I really thought I knew who the bad guy was. I was pretty certain I had it in the bag but Nora Page really tangled it up in Better Off Read. But hey I am not complaining at all !! Better Off Read is a captivating page turner and Page has you falling in love with librarian Cleo Watkins, her cat, Rhett Butler, and the town of Catalpa Springs, Georgia...close to Florida but not too close for Cleo. Even though Cleo should have retired already, her love and devotion of books keeps her young. And even though the library isn't open due to storm damage, she still has the bookmobile, Words on Wheels, to keep her busy. However, when a grouchity old neighbor is murdered and her grandson, Ollie, is the main suspect, Cleo will do whatever she can to prove his innocence. Better Off Read will keep the reader thoroughly engrossed with the murders, secrets, blackmailing, grouchy old people you cannot help but laugh at, (we all know 1 or 2 in our own lives) the food, the relationships, dogs and a cat !! Page has done an excellent job setting the stage for future Bookmobile Mystery books and I, for one, will have my library card at the ready.....
bookwomen37 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this first book in a new cozy series. The book opens as Cleo, a senior librarian is working hard to save her small town library. The library was damaged in a storm so until repairs can be made she is running the library in a book mobile. The current mayor thinks the town would be better off if the library was bulldozed and replaced with a fancy new tourist building. On one her book deliveries she discovers the a body. When her best friend falls under suspicion she sets out to solve the murder. She is helped in her investigation by the owner of the local used bookstore and her eccentric family members. There are a lot of suspects and the solution made sense. I really liked the mystery, the characters and the southern small town setting. I am excited to read the next one already. Enjoy
chefdt More than 1 year ago
Better Off Read is the first book in A Bookmobile Mystery series. From reading the synopsis of this book I was looking forward to reading about 75-year-old Cleo Watkins, her bookmobile, and her attempt to save the Catalpa Springs library that was damaged in a storm. But I found that I was repeatedly putting the book down. Although the characters were interesting, I just couldn’t get into the story. I might try the next book in the series.
CozyOnUp More than 1 year ago
Cleo Watkins, head librarian in Catalpa Springs, GA is doing her best to get the library repaired after a storm did some heavy damage. Until they, she’s left with only the “Words on Wheels” mobile library to cater to the reading needs of her neighbors and townsfolk. The new mayor darkens the outlook when he begins hinting that the library is in jeopardy. But Cleo calls in the big guns by going to the library’s largest supporter, who promises to keep the library open. But when her ace in the hole is murdered, things really begin to look like there may be no happily ever after. Will Cleo and her friends be able to solve the murder before her grandson is arrested and charged with murder or before she herself is killed? Whoever said small towns are sleepy never spent time in Catalpa Springs! The locals are interesting, the suspect list is long and you’ll be guessing at who the murdered is close to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in a new series and look forward to spending more time with Cleo and her friends in the next book.
Mama_Cat More than 1 year ago
This is a solid, delightful, and intriguing start of a new series, Bookmobile Mystery #1. Cleo and Rhett drew me in from the beginning, and kept my attention throughout. Cleo, best friend Mary-Rose, young deputy Gabby, and best guy Henry are memorable – especially since three of the four are seniors. Ahem. I love seeing more cozy mysteries with folks of a certain age, and Cleo is more active and brilliant than many younger folks. Especially Mayor Jeb Day, who keeps trying to send Cleo off to retire. The snappy dialog, descriptions of Catalpa Springs, and intriguing mystery are part of part of this delightful package. Rhett Butler, of course, is second only to the humans, as the orange Persian is quite a character himself. The local library, where Cleo has worked for many years, was damaged by a falling tree during a recent storm. She now can only drive Words on Wheels, the re-purposed school bus/ book mobile. Rhett has his own special place to sit when Cleo speeds through the area. She makes deliveries regularly to Buford Krandall, a strong supporter of the library who rarely goes out during daylight hours. He has recently been reading many creepy true crime books. Never did it occur to the curmudgeon that he would end up being in his own true crime. Or at least his remains, for he has been murdered. There is a strange trail of clues, all of which lead to Cleo’s best friend Mary-Rose, then includes Cleo’s grandson Ollie. Cleo and close friend Henry are caught up in looking for clues to who the real bad guy might be. Cleo, being a librarian and cat lover, is my favorite, then Henry, Leanna and Ollie. They represent some of the very best of their respective generations, and demonstrate how the 50 year gap can be bridged through mutual interests and that certain something available to those open to hearing new ideas from those on the other side of the bridge. The mystery was definitely intriguing! I enjoyed watching Cleo and her friends working together, and how they managed to get in and out of places such as Miss Pawpaw’s home. The solutions to the mysteries, including a subsequent murder and challenges, are so interesting! The author shows that while sometimes we can anticipate who the bad guys might be, some of those thought to be bad guys are really our friends in disguise. In other words, there were surprises for this reader! This is an excellent start to a new series, and while looking forward to the next in series, I highly recommend this one! From a grateful heart: I received a copy of this e-arc from the publisher and NetGalley
Chatting-About-Cozies More than 1 year ago
Hand me a book with a lovely Georgia setting, a few corrupt citizens aligned against some honest folks, and combine it all with an enticing mystery, and I’m happy! The protagonist is a young 75 year old librarian—Cleo—who is strong, capable, and fun! When the town’s new mayor gets it in his craw that they need a fishing pier and casino and he’ll just cut out the funds for Cleo’s precious library and Words on Wheels bookmobile to pay for them, she’s determined to show him how misguided his plans are. Then her best friend, Mary-Rose and her eccentric neighbor, Buford, get into a dispute over the fresh spring water that runs between their properties and one of them suddenly croaks! Cleo puts her knack for sleuthing to test with the help of Henry—a nice bookstore owner—who’s enamoured of Cleo, and Gabby, a female police officer who’s also Cleo’s neighbor and friend. Rhett Butler, Cleo’s library cat, and Mr. Chaucer, Henry’s old pug, are usually along for all the excitement! Author, Nora Page introduces readers to an outstanding cast of characters and a lively plot. I so enjoyed Cleo’s spirit and passion for books and her loyalty to her patrons. The story moves along swiftly—I didn’t want to put it down! I didn’t guess the killer’s identity or motive, so this is a great whoddunit that snared my attention. The Hummingbird Cake recipe included is similar to one my mother used to make. I reviewed a digital arc provided by NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books.