Bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright discovers that some treasures are worth killing for in this novel in the New York Times bestselling Bibliophile Mystery series.
Brooklyn is thrilled to be appearing on the hit TV show This Old Attic as a rare-book expert and appraiser. Her first subject is a valuable first-edition copy of the children’s classic The Secret Garden.
After the episode airs, a man storms onto the set claiming that the owner of the book, a flower seller named Vera, found the book at his garage sale, and he wants it back—or else. Afterward, Randolph Rayburn, the show’s host, confides in Brooklyn that he’s terrified by the man’s threats and fears that he is being stalked.
When several violent incidents occur on the set, Brooklyn and her security expert boyfriend, Derek, are shaken. But Brooklyn’s discovery of Vera’s corpse in her flower shop convinces her she has to find the killer—before her chance at prime time and her life are canceled...permanently.
About the Author
A native Californian, New York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle worked in television for many years before turning to writing. A lifelong fascination with the art and craft of bookbinding led her to write the Bibliophile Mysteries featuring Brooklyn Wainwright, whose bookbinding and restoration skills invariably uncover old secrets, treachery, and murder. She is also the author of the Fixer-Upper Mysteries featuring small-town girl Shannon Hammer, a building contractor specializing in home restoration.
Read an Excerpt
My mother always warned me to be careful what I wished for, but did I listen to her? Of course not. I love my mom, but this was the same woman who swore by espresso enemas to perk up your spirits. The same woman who performed magic spells and exorcisms on a regular basis and astral traveled around the universe with her trusted spirit guide, Ramlar X.
Believe me, I’m very careful about taking advice from my mother.
Besides, the thing I was wishing for was more work. Why would that be a problem?
I’d been in between bookbinding jobs last month and was telling my friend Ian McCullough, chief curator of the Covington Library, that I wished I could find some new and interesting bookbinding work. That’s when Ian revealed that he had submitted my name to the television show This Old Attic to be their expert book appraiser. I was beside myself with excitement and immediately contacted the show’s producer for an interview. And I got it! I got what I wished for. A job. A great job. With books.
That was a good thing, right?
Of course, I didn’t dare tell my mother that I considered her advice a bunch of malarkey. After all, some of those magic spells she’d spun had turned out to be alarmingly effective. I would hate to incur her wrath and wake up wearing a donkey’s head—or worse.
“Yo, Brooklyn,” Angie, the show’s stage manager said. “You look right into this camera and start talking. Got it?”
“Got it,” I lied, pressing my hands against my knees to keep them from shaking uncontrollably. “Absolutely.”
“Good,” the stage manager said. “No dead air. Got it?”
“Dead air. Right. Got it.”
She nodded once, then shouted to the studio in general, “Five minutes, everyone!”
I felt my stomach drop, but it didn’t matter. I was in show business!
This Old Attic traveled around the country and featured regular people who wanted their precious family treasures and heirlooms appraised by various local experts. The production was taping in San Francisco for three whole weeks, and I was giggly with pleasure to be a part of it.
And terrified, too. But the nerves were sure to pass as soon as I started talking about my favorite topic: books. I hoped so, anyway.
Today was the initial day of taping and my segment was up first. My little staging area was decorated to look like a cozy antiques-strewn hideaway in the corner of a charming, dust-free attic. There were Oriental carpets on the floor. A Tiffany lamp hung from the light grid, which was suspended high above the set. Old-fashioned wooden dressers, curio cabinets, and armoires stood side by side, creating the three walls of my area. I sat in the middle of it all in a comfy blue tufted chair at a round table covered with a cloth of rich burgundy velvet.
Seated across from me was the owner of the book we would be discussing. She was a pretty, middle-aged woman with an impressive bosom and thick black hair styled in the biggest bouffant hairdo I’d ever seen. She wore a clingy zebra-print dress with a shiny black belt that cinched in her waist and emphasized her shapely hourglass figure.
She had excellent posture, though. I’d give her that much. My mother would be impressed.
Between us on the table was a wooden bookstand with her book in place, ready to be appraised.
“Are you Vera?” I whispered. I’d already seen her name on the segment rundown but wanted to be friendly.
She smiled weakly. “Yes. I’m Vera Stoddard.”
I smiled at the sound of her high-pitched little-girl voice. “I’m Brooklyn. It’s good to—”
“Settle down, people!” Angie shouted, and everyone in the television studio instantly stopped talking. Angie listened to something being said over her headset and then added loudly, “First on camera today is the book expert. It’s segment eight-six-nineteen on the rundown, people! Stand by!”
“I’m so nervous,” Vera whispered.
“Don’t worry. We’ll have a good time.” I could hear my voice shaking but I smiled cheerfully, hoping she wouldn’t notice. It wasn’t like me to be this anxious. All I had to do was talk about books, something I was born to do. It was a piece of cake. Unless I thought about the millions of people who would be watching. It didn’t help that several zillion watts of lighting were aimed down at me, and the stage makeup I wore, while it made me look glamorous, was beginning to feel like an iron mask.
“So stop thinking about it,” I muttered, and plastered a determined smile on my face.
Angie caught my eye and pointed again at the television camera to her right. “Don’t forget, this camera here is your friend. This is camera one. When you see the red light go on, it means you’re on the screen.” She turned and pointed to another camera a few feet behind her on the left. “Camera two will get close-ups of the book and the owner’s reactions.”
“Got it,” I said, nodding firmly. “I’m ready.”
“Good.” Angie glanced around, then bellowed, “Here we go! Quiet, please! We’re live in . . . Five! Four! Three! Two!” She mouthed the word One and waved her finger emphatically at me.
I took a deep breath and tried to smile at the friendly camera. “Hello. I’m Brooklyn Wainwright, a bookbinder specializing in rare-book restoration and conservation. Today I’m talking with Vera, who’s brought us a charming first edition of the beloved children’s classicThe Secret Garden, written by Frances Hodgson Burnett.”
I smiled at the older woman and noticed her lips were trembling badly and her eyes were two big circles of fear. Not a good sign. So instead of engaging her in conversation, I gestured toward the colorful book on the bookstand.
“This version of The Secret Garden was printed as a special limited edition in nineteen eleven.”
I touched the book’s cover. “The first thing you’ll notice about the book is this stunning illustration on the front cover. The iconic picture of a blond girl in her red coat and beret, leaning over to insert a key into the moss-covered door that leads to the secret garden, is famous in its own right. There are some wonderful details, such as this whimsical frame around the picture, painted in various shades of green with thick vines of pink roses.”
“I didn’t even notice that,” Vera muttered in her oddly charming sexy-baby voice.
“It’s subtle,” I said. “The artist was Maria Kirk, known professionally as M. L. Kirk. She was never as famous as her illustrations were, but she did beautiful work. Isn’t this lovely?”
“I think so,” Vera said softly.
I picked up the book and stood it near me on the table, keeping the cover turned toward the camera. “What makes this even more outstanding is that this illustration is actually an original painting on canvas.”
“Yes,” I said. “You can see that it’s been signed by the artist here in the lower-left corner.”
Vera blinked in surprise and leaned closer. “Oh. And look, there’s a robin in the tree.”
I grinned at her, happy that she was getting into the spirit of things. The show’s director had urged us to keep the owner in the conversation, so I hoped Vera would play along. “Yes, that robin has a role in the story.”
“I like birds,” she said with a sigh.
Uh-oh. I shot a quick look at her. Was Vera going spacey on me? My smile stayed firmly in place as I spoke to the camera. “Another unusual feature is that the painting has actually been inlaid into the leather cover. You can see how the edges of the leather have been beveled so nicely.” For the camera, I ran my fingers along the edge of the beveling and gave silent thanks to my friend Robin, who had insisted that I get a manicure before the show.
“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Vera said, her spacey moment apparently past.
“It’s really quite rare,” I agreed. “The bookbinder was clearly an artist, too, in the way he chose a rich forest green leather to blend with the painter’s softer green frame. And the intricate floral gilding on the leather is patterned after the vines and roses on the painting.” I glanced at Vera. “Do you have any idea what the book might be worth?”
“I don’t have a clue,” she said, shaking her head. “It cost three dollars at a garage sale last Saturday.”
I choked out a laugh. “Wow. I don’t think I’m giving too much away if I tell you it’s worth a little more than that.”
“Oh, good.” She pressed her hands to her remarkable chest, obviously relieved by the news. Maybe now she would be able to carry on a normal conversation. Her voice was high yet sultry, but it seemed to suit her personality. I wasn’t sure why I thought that. I’d never met her before this moment.
I opened the book and showed the frontispiece illustration to the camera. “There are eight color plates throughout the book, all in excellent condition and each with tissue guards intact.”
I angled the book toward Vera. “They’re charming illustrations, aren’t they?”
She nodded politely. “They’re very nice.”
Nice? I thought. Was she kidding? They were spectacular. The entire book was fantastic. I couldn’t believe it had been allowed to molder away in someone’s garage. But I wasn’t about to criticize Vera’s lackluster response aloud.
I should’ve been used to that sort of attitude by now. Nobody gushed about books as much as bookbinders did. I would’ve loved to have mentioned how rare it was that a children’s book printed in 1911 was this beautifully preserved. Children were not generally known for their ability to treat books gently.
I sighed inwardly and changed the subject. “Now, obviously not every copy of this book could be printed with original artwork attached to its cover. So let me explain briefly about this particular edition. Back in nineteen eleven, when this book was printed, a publisher would occasionally release two versions of the same book. A regular edition and a limited, more expensive edition. This version is obviously one of the limited-edition copies.”
“How limited?” Vera asked, her gaze focusing in on the book.
“Very.” I turned to the next page. It was almost blank except for two lines of print in the middle. “This is called the limitation page. It states here that only fifty copies of this numbered edition were printed. And the number six is handwritten on the next line. So this particular book is number six out of fifty copies made. It’s beyond rare.”
Vera gulped. “And . . . and that’s good, right?”
“Yes, that’s very good. And, of course, you will have noticed that on the same page we see that it’s been authenticated with the date and original signature of the author, Frances Hodgson Burnett.”
“I did notice that.” She bit her lip, still nervous, though this time I figured it was from excitement, not fear.
Now that she was finally showing some emotion, it was time to bum her out. Earlier at rehearsal, Jane Dorsey, the show’s director, had advised us to balance things out by mentioning a few negatives. So I flipped to a page in the middle. “I should point out a few flaws.”
Vera’s expression darkened. “No, you shouldn’t.”
I chuckled. “I’m sorry, but the book isn’t without its imperfections.” I faced the page toward the camera and pointed at some little brown spots. “There’s foxing on a number of pages. These patches of brownish discoloration are fairly common in old books.”
“Eww.” She drew the word out as she leaned in to get a good look. “Are those bugs?”
“No. They’re clumps of microscopic spores, but that’s not important. Sometimes foxing can be lightened or bleached, but you should always hire a professional bookbinder to do the work.”
Turning to the inside front cover, I said, “There’s also an additional signature on the endpaper, right here.” I made sure the camera could see what I was referring to, and then I took a closer look at it myself. “It doesn’t look like a child’s handwriting. It was probably a parent signing for the child. I can’t quite make out the name, but I assume it’s the signature of one of the book’s first owners. They used a fountain pen, and it’s faded a bit.”
“And that’s a bad thing?”
“Writing one’s name in a book can diminish its value, but that’s another topic altogether.”
“Let’s not dwell on the negatives,” I hurried to add, “because other than those items and a few faded spots on the leather, it’s in excellent condition and—”
“And what?” Vera demanded, interrupting what was about to be my rapturous summary of the book’s qualities.
I pursed my lips, thinking quickly. I had been given six minutes to talk about the book, but the director had warned me that as soon as I revealed my appraisal amount, my segment would be over, even if I had minutes to spare.
I wasn’t ready to stop talking about the book—big surprise. But Vera was finished listening and it was time to put her out of her misery. More important, I noticed Angie hovering. And Randolph Rayburn, the handsome host of the show, stood next to her, looking ready to pounce into the camera shot and cut me off.
“And for a book of this rarity,” I continued hastily, “in such fine condition and with the author’s original signature included, it’s my expert opinion that an antiquarian book dealer would pay anywhere from twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars for this book.”
“Wha—?” Vera’s eyes bugged out of their sockets. “Twenty . . . Say that again?”
“Twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars,” I repeated, happy I’d finally gotten a reaction out of her. The producers were going to love that look on her face.
I turned the book over again to examine the rubbed spots on the back cover. “Frankly, Vera, it would take only a few hundred dollars to have the book fully restored to its original luster. Once you did that, you could probably add another three to five thousand dollars onto the value.”
“Another five thou— Holy mother-of-pearl!” Vera slapped her bountiful chest a few times as if to jump-start her heart. “Oh, my God. Are you serious?”
“But that’s freaking—”
Angie must have thought Vera was about to scream out some expletive because she shoved Randolph forward, and he rushed to stand in front of our table.
“Indeed, it is!” he said nonsensically to camera, grinning as he blathered cheerfully about some of the items coming up later in the show. He finished with, “We’ll be right back.”
“And . . . we’re clear!” Angie shouted.
Vera looked shell-shocked. Everyone in the studio started talking again, moving here and there between the sets, carrying on normal conversations.
I had watched the program a bunch of times, so I knew that when they went in to edit the shows, they would plaster across the TV screen a green graphic banner announcing the amount of money I had quoted, accompanied by the sound of a cash register making a sale.Cha-ching!
Angie approached me, but suddenly stopped and cupped her hand over her ear to hear what was being said over the headset. Her arm shot up in the air. “Quiet, people!”
Everyone in the vicinity froze. What awesome power she has, I thought. It was all in the headset. I wanted one.
“Randolph, don’t move,” she warned, as though she suspected he would disappear if given half a chance. Then she announced to the group in general, “Okay, we’re gonna need camera one to remain here. Jane wants to tape a short chat between Randolph and the book expert. For everyone else, we’re moving on to the Civil War segment.”
Most of the crew stirred themselves into action at the mention of Jane, the director. They pushed the cameras and the heavy microphone boom to the opposite side of the large studio where another cozy antiques-furnished set similar to mine had been designated the war room.
I had met Jane Dorsey earlier that day, during my orientation with the two executive producers, Tom Darby and Walter Williams. Jane was almost six feet tall and very attractive, but stick thin, with white blond hair pulled back in a severe ponytail. Today she wore knee-high black boots over her jeans and a black sweater. A long white scarf was tied around her neck and fluttered in her wake as she walked.
Apparently the long scarf was something she wore every day. Tom explained that they kept the air really cold in the director’s booth so the equipment wouldn’t overheat, but I figured she also enjoyed the dramatic effect. Not that she needed it. People paid instant attention to her when she walked into a room.
Camera one remained in place, still pointed in my direction, along with its operator and a couple of crew members who assisted with microphones and cables.
Angie looked around anxiously. “Where did Randolph wander off to?”
“I’m here,” he said from halfway across the stage floor. “I’m here. I’m here. Don’t pay the ransom.”
A few of the crew guys chuckled and Angie’s lips twisted sarcastically. “Can we get this show on the road?”
I wondered how he had escaped all the way across the room in mere seconds. The guy was speedy, for sure.
“Okay, let’s do this,” Randolph said, and flashed me a rakish grin. “Hello, beautiful.”
“You are so full of it,” Angie muttered.
“But you love me, anyway,” he said, bumping his shoulder into her arm.
“Yeah, in the worst way,” Angie said. She paused to listen to a voice in her ear, then said to us, “They’re not quite ready upstairs, but don’t anyone go anywhere.”
Randolph snorted. “Famous last words. I’ll be right over here.” And with that, he wandered a few feet away to kibitz with one of the crew.
“You move and I’ll kill you,” she said.
He grinned and winked at me behind Angie’s back. He was the worst kind of flirt, completely adorable and charming. I could tell Angie liked him. What woman wouldn’t? Maybe she didn’t want to like him, but she couldn’t help herself. All of that was probably clear to Randolph, as well. Angie seemed pretty transparent with her feelings.
She was beautiful, with pale skin and a halo of thick, dark curly hair. They would make an adorable couple if hard-as-nails Angie could ever learn to deal with Randolph, the charming jokester.
The stage manager ignored the star as she rested her elbows on my table. “You did a good job, Brooklyn. Once we’re finished with the chitchat, you’ve got at least two hours to kick back before we tape another book segment.” She turned to Vera. “You okay, hon?”
Vera blinked a few times. “Oh. I’m . . . I’m a little shaken up, but very happy.”
Angie pulled two pieces of paper from the clipboard she carried. “Almost forgot. You both need to sign these releases.”
“Another one?” I’d already signed my life away that morning, indemnifying everyone in the universe in case of any possible occurrence of anything, including acts of God. “What are these for?”
“One of our local news stations is here, taping some footage for their nightly segment. It’s sort of a Look What’s Going On in San Francisco kind of thing.”
“So we could be on the news?” Vera said.
“They’re taping a bunch of short segments, so it’s not a guarantee,” Angie said. “But either way, they need your approval, just in case.”
“Okay,” I said, taking the one-page document from her and scrawling my name on the bottom line. “No problem.”
“This is so exciting,” Vera gushed, and signed her copy with a flourish. She handed it back to Angie, who slid both pages back onto her clipboard.
A young production assistant jogged across the set and slowed down as she approached the host. With a nervous gulp, she said, “Randolph, you have a flower delivery. They put it in your dressing room.”
“Thanks, kiddo,” he said, flashing her a million-dollar grin. “Hey, Angie, be back in two minutes.”
He strolled away before Angie could protest. Exasperated, she turned to me. “Stand by, will you, Brooklyn?”
“No problem,” I said, not minding the wait. I was having too much fun to complain about anything.
Vera flashed me a wide-eyed look. “Can I ask you a few more questions about the book?”
Before I could answer, Angie shook her head. “Sorry to interrupt, kids, but the second Randy returns, I’ve got to get that damn chat done and then clear this area. They’ll start taping the next segment right after that, so maybe you two can set up a meeting later.”
“Oh, sure.” Vera stood and I got a look at her shoes for the first time. Patent-leather leopard-skin stiletto heels. Wow. They had to be six inches tall and the pattern should’ve clashed with her zebra-print dress, but somehow it all worked for her.
“Hey, dig those shoes,” Angie said.
“Don’t you love them?” Vera said, beaming. “They’re my Christian Louboutin knockoffs.”
Angie nodded. “They’re freaking awesome.”
Vera turned and bent her knee, lifting her foot behind her. “They’ve even got the signature red sole. See?”
Angie and I stared at the shiny red bottom.
“They rock,” Angie said.
Vera gazed down at her sexy stilettos. “They were the first thing I bought myself after I left my no-good boyfriend.”
“Best revenge, sister,” Angie said stoutly.
“You know it,” Vera said, and giggled.
I handed Vera the business card I’d pulled out of my pocket. “I’ll be happy to talk with you about the book anytime you want. Or you can call me whenever you decide what to do.”
She looked at the card. “Okay, good. The sooner, the better.”
“Anytime,” I said.
Looking relieved, she said, “Thanks, Brooklyn.”
“And don’t forget your book, hon,” Angie said, extending The Secret Garden to her.
Vera stared blankly at Angie until she saw the book in her hand. “Oh, wow. I guess I’m still a little discombobulated. Thank you.”
Angie pointed out the exit to Vera, and we watched her walk away, a bit wobbly in her sky-high heels.
I sniffed, feeling sentimental. Vera was, after all, a first for me.
“She’s adorable.” Angie grinned. “And you made her day.”
“I loved every minute of it,” I said, happy that so far my day was going pretty well, too.
But the same couldn’t be said for Randolph. The star of the show crossed the wide stage and headed straight for Angie and me, his face drained of color and his jaw taut. He looked as if he might have just witnessed his own death.
Ten minutes later, the director was ready to shoot our segment. I’d been watching Randolph carefully as he slowly shook off his mood and returned to his peppy, perky self. He was deeply involved in a conversation with Tom and Walter when Angie grabbed him and dragged him over to my table.
“Sit. Stay,” she said, pushing him into the chair across from me.
He looked in much better spirits now than he had a few minutes ago and he took Angie’s wrangling with good humor. I wondered if maybe he had a soft spot for her, too. Who could blame him? She looked like a pre-Raphaelite angel with lustrous black curls instead of the usual red.
I was nosy enough to wonder what had caused Randolph’s look of despair earlier, but it wasn’t the right time to ask. Something about that flower delivery had caused him to turn a deathly shade of white. I’d been itching to eavesdrop on his discussion with the producers, but I wasn’t brave or stupid enough to do it. Not with so many witnesses standing around, anyway.
Whatever had upset him, he seemed to have brushed it aside and was in a good mood for our short teaser segment. The camera rolled and the two of us chatted for all of one minute. And then it was over.
“That was easier than I thought it would be,” I confessed.
“It’s my cheery inquisitiveness,” Randolph said blithely. “Admit it: I make you feel both desirable and comfortable.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “You really are a rascal.”
“Rascal.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “I like that.”
“You would,” Angie muttered.
Poor Angie had my sympathy. Randolph was in his thirties, tall and classically handsome, with dark blond hair worn in a casual, wind-tossed style. His vivid blue eyes were mesmerizing. He had a great smile and perfect teeth, and it didn’t hurt that his voice could melt butter. Best of all, he had a charming sense of humor.
Angie yelled, “Civil War’s up in ten minutes, people!”
I turned down Randolph’s generous offer to buy me a free cup of coffee and headed off to the tiny dressing room I’d been assigned earlier that day. The schedule gave me two hours to research the next book I’d be appraising and I would need every minute to do my job well.
On the way backstage, I wasted a few long seconds worrying about my Secret Garden segment. Had I blathered? Had I laughed too loud? Had I sounded smart? Silly? Had my shoulders slumped? Had I droned on with details nobody else in the world would care about unless they were a devout book lover? Probably yes to that last one, and maybe to all of the above.
I wondered if my on-camera self-consciousness would ever wear off. Did it matter? I would be here for only three weeks and the most important thing was to have fun and give accurate appraisals and make the book owners happy. I thought I had accomplished all of that with Vera.
And with that conclusion, I shoved my angst aside. I didn’t expect it to stay where I’d shoved it, but for now, I gave myself permission to ignore it.
As I crossed the massive studio, I glanced around and marveled that despite the large space, it had an air of intimacy. This was probably because of the twenty-five-foot-high wall of curtains that was hung from a curved ceiling beam that ran all the way around the room. The curtains were weighted and anchored to the studio floor, creating a wall between the main staging area and the backstage. The stage manager referred to the curtains as the backdrop.
The main staging area was further divided into six small sets where the different experts sat and appraised their items. Like my cozy space, the others were filled with antique furniture and interesting set pieces that corresponded to their field of interest. For instance, on my set, the cabinets and shelves were filled with old books. Sitting on the dressers were framed illustrations and frayed botanical prints taken from old books.
Since I would be sharing my space with a map expert and a historian who specialized in vintage correspondence and documents, my book illustrations would be switched out with framed drawings of maps or old letters and tattered certificates.
In the Civil War expert’s area, an old rifle was displayed in a large glass cabinet. On one of the dressers were two elegant portraits of soldiers from that era. Apparently, the rifle could be replaced by a musket or a bow and arrow or another weapon, depending on which particular war was being discussed.
Another area featured shelves of vintage kitchenware, old toys, and folk sculpture. A child’s painted rocking horse filled one corner of the space, and on the top shelf was an intriguing display of covered woven baskets.
The largest staging area was located at one end of the studio and would be used to feature larger pieces of furniture, grandfather clocks, and other big items, such as the old canoe one visitor had brought in for appraisal.
Even the largest area had the same rich, warm feeling as my smaller set. If I ignored the studio cameras and the technical contraptions and the burly crew members, it was almost like being inside a beautiful home.
“Watch your step, young lady,” one of the crew guys said.
I stopped abruptly and glanced down. I was close to tripping over the two-inch-thick cable that snaked down from the boom microphone pedestal, slithered across the shiny floor, and disappeared under the backdrop.
“Thanks,” I said, flashing him a grateful smile. I really didn’t want to break an ankle on my first day. Around me was a tangle of equipment. There were four television cameras along with two boom microphones that looked like heavy-duty fishing poles attached to rolling pedestals. These could all be wheeled from set to set, depending on which segment was being taped.
Besides all the hardware, dozens of people bustled about in a state of organized chaos. The lighting crew stood on ladders or used long poles to adjust the studio lights hanging on the grid high above our heads. Camera operators discussed the shooting schedules with the director and her team. A woman touched up Randolph’s makeup and hair with brushes and sponges she had stashed in a tool belt around her waist.
Thick lines of electric cables went everywhere. It looked like one crew member was assigned to each camera and each boom, simply to adjust the wires and cables as the machinery was moved from here to there.
I found a break in the curtain and slipped through to the backstage area. I passed the green room—the walls of which were actually painted a pleasant light taupe—and the makeup room, then turned the corner and stared down a hallway that ran the entire length of the studio building. There had to be twenty doors on either side of the long, wide corridor and I was happy I’d memorized my dressing room number.
As I approached the room, I felt that odd buzzing sensation I always got whenever I was about to start work on a new book. I didn’t know what else to call it but sheer exhilaration. I was itching to explore the old edition of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám I’d been given to study, especially since it featured a unique wooden cover with art deco–style illustrations carved into it.
How cool was that?
And how geeky was I for getting so excited? I chuckled at myself as I started to turn the key in the lock.
I glanced down the hall and saw Vera Stoddard teetering toward me in her death-defying heels. I grimaced, knowing that if she slipped and fell off those stilettos, she could break her neck.
“I’m probably not supposed to be back here,” she said, giggling in that high-pitched tone I’d grown used to so quickly.
Probably not, I thought, but didn’t say it aloud. She looked nervous enough already as she clutched The Secret Garden to her pillowy chest. I had to resist grabbing the book right out of her hands. The tiniest bit of perspiration could ruin that beautiful leather cover within seconds. But I held back. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t my book.
“I wanted to ask you,” she said, then paused, out of breath from her exertion. “I . . . I wanted to ask you about all that book stuff you said when we were on camera.”
“Let’s go in here.” I opened the door to the dressing room and ushered her inside.
She stopped just beyond the threshold. “I don’t want to take up too much of your time, but I’m anxious to—”
“It’s fine, Vera. I’m happy to talk for a few minutes. Have a seat.” I gestured toward the hideously ugly orange cloth chair that was a perfect complement to the ugly turquoise Naugahyde sofa shoved up against the wall. An imitation wood coffee table completed the ensemble.
Once she was seated, I held out my hand. “May I see the book again?”
“Oh, you bet.” She handed it to me.
“Thanks.” I sat in the swivel chair at the counter in front of the wide makeup mirror. I had turned it into a desk and set up my computer and a few reference books here. I took a moment to admire The Secret Garden cover again before looking up at my guest. “What can I do for you?”
With a nervous laugh, she played with the loose threads of the armchair. “I want to sell the book and I want to make as much money as possible. And I want to do it right away. The sooner the better. So, I want to hire you to do . . . you know, whatever it is you can do to make it perfect.”
“So you definitely plan to sell it?”
“You bet I do,” she said eagerly, then pressed her lips together as if she’d said something rude. “That is, I would love to keep it, believe me. It’s a work of art, like you said. A real beauty. But when you told me how much it was worth . . .” She shook her head, giving up any pretenses. “I mean, wow. I could really use the money.”
“I understand.” I leaned forward in my chair. “But, Vera, I should warn you. I had only a limited time to research your book, so I’m not exactly sure how much work I might have to do. My guess is that my time would only cost you a few hundred dollars, but it could go as high as five hundred. I won’t know for sure until I get a better look at the book.”
“I hear you.” She nodded slowly. “Five hundred would be okay, as long as it’s not much more than that.”
“No, I can promise it won’t be any more than that.” I turned the book over in my hand and carefully stroked the back cover. “Probably less.”
“And then I could get a few thousand dollars more for it, right?”
“Yes.” I wasn’t going to tell Vera, but I believed a real collector would pay many thousands more than I had quoted her on camera. “And when you’re ready to sell, I can help you. I’ll give you a few names of people to call.” If she was going to sell the book, anyway, why not point her toward someone who would appreciate the book for the treasure it was?
“That would be great,” she said with a sigh of relief. “I have no idea who to talk to about this kind of stuff.”
“I’ll be happy to help.”
“Okay, let’s do it,” she said.
“Are you certain?” I asked. She didn’t appear to be a wealthy woman, so I decided I’d better make sure. “It’s a lot of money. I don’t want to empty your bank account.”
“You won’t,” she insisted. “As long as you guarantee that I’ll get an extra couple thousand on the book when I sell it. Can you do that?” Her eyes narrowed suddenly. “I can trust you, right?”
I almost laughed. She didn’t know me from Adam, so why would she trust me to give her an honest answer? But I wasn’t about to lie to her. “Yes, I promise you can trust me, but you don’t have to. I can give you some references before I take your money. I can also give you a list of bookbinders who can offer a second opinion.”
She closed her eyes and pressed her hands together as if she were praying. “Just tell me again that I can sell it for the price you quoted.”
I smiled. “Unless the world turns upside down tomorrow, I can pretty much guarantee it. And as I mentioned before, I can also give you the names of some reputable buyers in town who would be interested in looking at it.” Like Ian, I thought. He would kill to add this book to the Covington children’s collection.
She patted her chest again and took a slow, deep breath. Then she clapped her hands and let out a little shriek of joy. “Thank you! This is like a dream come true.”
As I watched her bounce with delight, I noticed something odd. Her bubbly black bouffant hairdo seemed to shift slightly.
Is she wearing a wig?
I looked away, but from the corner of my eye I caught her surreptitiously tugging at her bangs.
That was so weird. But maybe she’d been sick. Maybe she’d lost all her hair. Maybe that’s why she needed the money. I hated to stare so I busied myself with straightening my short stack of reference books. After a few seconds, I tried to be nonchalant. “I still can’t believe you found this amazing book at a garage sale.”
She glanced at the ceiling and around the room. “Gosh, I can’t either. The guy I got it from didn’t seem to know much about it.”
“He couldn’t have,” I said firmly. “He wouldn’t have given away a treasure like this for so little money.”
“No, I guess not,” she murmured. “Lucky for me.”
I checked my watch. We’d been talking for ten minutes and I needed to get back to work. “Why don’t I take the book home and look it over, then call you with an estimate? You’ll have some time to catch your breath and figure out whether you want to spend the money or not.”
She nodded. “That sounds good.”
“If you decide not to go through with it, we can meet somewhere and I can return the book to you, no problem.”
“I’m not going to change my mind,” she said, and, reaching into a pocket of her faux tiger-skin tote bag, she pulled out a shiny green business card.
We both stood and she handed the card to me. “I own a flower shop at Nineteenth and Balboa in the Richmond.”
I read the card. VERA’S FLOWER GARDEN. VERA STODDARD, PROPRIETOR. I looked back at her. “That’s a pretty name for a shop.”
“Thank you. I love flowers.”
I was familiar with the Richmond District so I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble finding it. “I’ll call you with my estimate in the next day or two. Then, depending on which way you decide to go, I can either drop off my invoice and pick up a check, or I can simply return the book to you.”
“And, like I said, you’re welcome to get a second opinion.”
She giggled as she reached for the doorknob. “You sound like a doctor.”
“I probably do, but bookbinding isn’t cheap.” I followed her out. “And I want you to be happy with the final product.”
She looked over her shoulder at me. “They wouldn’t have hired you for this show if you weren’t the best in town.”
“Thanks,” I said, feeling my cheeks grow warm with the compliment. “I appreciate that.”
Before I knew what was happening, she let out a little squeal and came click-clacking back to me. She threw her arms around me and whispered, “Thank you.”
“You don’t understand,” she said in a breathless hush as she stepped back. “I’ve met some real meanies during my lifetime, but everyone here has been so nice, especially you. I’m just bowled over.”
“Thank you, Vera. That’s really sweet.”
“Well, I just think I should let people know when they’ve been helpful and kind.” She frowned and pressed her lips together. “I had a really awful man in my life for a while, so I know the difference between nice and not so nice.”
“I hope you got rid of him,” I said.
“You bet I did.” She laughed self-consciously. “I’d better stop bending your ear and get out of here.”
“It was great to meet you, Vera.” I walked with her down the hall and across the studio to the stage door that led to the parking lot, just to make sure she didn’t get lost.
By the time I stepped back inside the studio door, my mind was already back to my next book. The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám was one of the most widely published books in the world, but the edition I was about to research was unlike any version I’d ever seen before. Excited to get back to work, I crossed the studio quickly and entered the backstage area. But while approaching the makeup room, I slowed down as I caught a snippet of hushed conversation.
“I’m sick of you two brushing this off,” a man whispered harshly, and I realized it was Randolph. “Either you call the police or I will.”
“And tell them what?” another guy said caustically. “That you stumbled over a broom?”
“No, damn it,” Randolph said. “Tell them someone’s trying to kill me.”
• • •
The old freight elevator in my converted loft building came to a shuddering halt, and I dragged myself down the hall toward my apartment. Working in television was invigorating, almost manically so, but now I felt all of my high energy and perkiness collapsing from within.
Earlier, I had forced myself to shut off all thoughts of that short, ugly conversation I’d overheard, in order to give my work the attention it deserved. Concentrating on my job, I’d found some fascinating facts about the publisher of the wood-carved Rubáiyát I was appraising. Later I had managed to appear intelligent and sparkling during the videotaping of the segment. The book’s owner was thrilled to be in possession of such a fabulous piece of art and history. I got high fives from the crew members and gushing words of praise from the production staff and I left the studio feeling proud and confident.
But now those ugly words came back with full force. Tell them someone’s trying to kill me.
When I’d first heard it, my heart had clenched in my chest and my feet had stuttered to a stop just short of the open doorway to the makeup room. I’d been tempted to spin around and dash right out of the studio, jump in my car, and race home. I didn’t want to be anywhere near someone who might be the target of a killer.
Been there, done that.
But because my innate curiosity outweighed my fear, I hadn’t moved a muscle. Instead, I was still standing in the hall like a statue when Tom and Walter walked out of the makeup room, exchanging a derisive look.
Tom noticed me first. “Hey, Brooklyn. Nice job on the book segment.”
Walter winked at me and the two producers walked away, chatting quietly. They stopped halfway down the hall and went into another dressing room. They’d been chuckling and talking as if they didn’t care that I’d obviously overheard their troubling conversation with Randolph.
I glanced inside the makeup room and saw Randolph gripping the counter as he stared at himself in the wall-length mirror. He looked pale, frustrated, and unnerved, completely unlike the flirtatious, smooth-talking dude I’d chatted with only a few minutes ago.
I lifted my arm in a casual wave. “Hi, Randolph.”
“What? Oh. Hi, Brooklyn.” He rolled his shoulders and neck as if to work out some kinks.
“Everything okay?” I asked.
Gritting his teeth, he muttered, “Just great. Couldn’t be better.”
I hadn’t expected him to confess his deepest, darkest fears right then and there. He barely knew me. But my curious mind was itching to find out and I figured I would hear the truth eventually. At that moment, though, I had simply nodded and hurried back to my little dressing room, where I’d closed myself off to study more books.
Now I slipped my key into my front door, relieved to be home.
“Hi there,” said a voice behind me in the hall.
I whipped around. My place had been invaded a few times in the recent past and I didn’t like people creeping up on me. But the woman standing there didn’t look threatening—unless you counted the fact that she was drop-dead gorgeous with long dark hair, exotic eyes, and supermodel legs. And she was tall. Taller than me by an inch or two, and I was no slouch at five foot, eight inches in my socks.
She stood by the door of Sergio and Jeremy’s loft, at least twenty feet away. Not exactly invading my personal space.
“Hi,” I said cautiously. “You must be Sergio’s friend.”
“Yes, I’m Alexandra Monroe,” she said, and walked over to shake my hand. “But please call me Alex.”
I worked up a smile. “I’m Brooklyn Wainwright. Nice to meet you. Are you settling in okay?”
“Oh yeah.” She gave a quick glance over her shoulder at the apartment, then back at me. “The space is fabulous. I love all the exposed brick and the hardwood floors and the freight elevator. And this location is perfect. I’m really lucky I was able to work out a deal with Sergio.”
“That’s great.” I felt completely outclassed and tongue-tied, probably because I was so tired. Alex Monroe was bright-eyed and vivacious. Didn’t she know it was ten o’clock at night?
She wore a gorgeous pale pink business suit with a silky black tank top and fabulous shiny black stiletto heels. How could she be so friendly so late at night? And why was she still wearing high heels? Why wasn’t she wrapped in a ratty old bathrobe? The woman was downright intimidating.
But I had to let that go. This was the good friend of Sergio and Jeremy’s, my darling neighbors who had sublet their loft for the next year while they cavorted in Saint-Tropez. Alex was my new neighbor and I was determined to be friendly, even though I was so tired, I felt punchy.
“Have you met any of the other neighbors yet?” I asked. For a nanosecond, I considered asking her to come in to talk for a few minutes. I felt a bit aloof, carrying on a conversation out in the hall, but I wasn’t quite ready to invite someone I’d just met into my home. Another residual effect of having my space invaded more than once.
“I met Vinnie and Suzie first thing this morning,” she said. “And their adorable Lily, too. And then I ran into Mrs. Chung a little while ago. Everyone’s been so welcoming and helpful.”
I wasn’t about to break the streak, so I smiled gamely. “I’m glad. We all love Sergio and Jeremy, so any friend of theirs is a friend of ours.”
“That’s so sweet of you,” she said earnestly. Damn it, she sounded really sincere. Was there nothing truly hateful about the woman?
“I would ask you in for a glass of wine,” I said apologetically, “but I’m completely beat. I’ve been working all day and I confess I’m not used to it.”
She took a step backward. “I’m so sorry. I won’t keep you. I just wanted to introduce myself.”
“No, no, I’m glad you did. We’ll have you over for that glass of wine as soon as possible.”
“I’ll look forward to it.” Her smile turned thoughtful. “Vinnie said you worked at home. You’re a bookbinder, right?”
“That’s right.” I wasn’t sure how I felt about being the topic of conversation between the neighbors, but I guessed it was unavoidable. “I usually work at home, but I’m doing an outside job right now.” I paused. “That sounds really weird.”
She laughed, and the sound was so natural and friendly that it made me smile. For some reason, it also made me feel okay that Vinnie had been talking about me.
“Where are you working?” she asked.
“I’ve been hired to be the book appraiser on This Old Attic.”
“I love that show!”
“Me, too.” I grinned, pleased by her reaction. “It’s just for three weeks and it’s really fun, but I didn’t realize how drained I would feel by the end of the day.”
“You poor thing. You probably want to crawl into bed. But if you’re up for it tomorrow night, why don’t you stop by my place after work? I’ll make cupcakes.”
“Cupcakes?” I said slowly. “I love cupcakes.”
“Everybody does,” she said, smiling. “I’m hopeless at cooking much else, but I make fantabulous cupcakes. The best you’ve ever tasted.”
“How can I say no?”
“You really can’t.”
“Then I’ll be there.”
“Good. I’ll open a bottle of wine, too.”
I laughed. “Now you’re just pandering.”
She laughed, too, and we stood there grinning at each other for a few more seconds until I realized how goofy I must look.
I shook my head. “I’m obviously tired or I wouldn’t be standing here like a knucklehead. It was great to meet you, Alex. I’ll see you tomorrow night.” I started to walk away, made an instant decision, and turned back. “We’re having a little party Saturday afternoon, very casual, mostly neighbors and friends. If you’re not busy, we’d love it if you’d join us.”
For a brief second she looked bewildered, as if nobody had ever invited her to a party before. I knew that couldn’t possibly be true. Then, just as quickly, the look disappeared and she beamed with pleasure. “I would love to come. Thank you so much.”
“Great.” I turned, then remembered one more thing. “Tomorrow night I’ll be home around this same time. Is that too late?”
She brushed away the question. “No, anytime is fine.”
“Cool.” I waved, then walked into my place and closed the door behind me. And was instantly attacked by a tiny ball of fur that pounced on my shoes.
“Hello, silly thing,” I murmured, reaching down to pick up my adorable new kitten and cuddle her against my neck. I set down my computer case on the floor by my workshop desk and carried the kitten into the living room. On the kitchen bar was an open bottle of wine and two glasses.
“This is a very good sign,” I said to the kitten, then called out, “Is anybody home?”
Derek emerged from his office, also known as our second bedroom. “Hello, darling. How was your day?”
I turned at the sound of that silky, rich British accent and wondered if there was anything sexier than Derek Stone’s voice. Not in my world there wasn’t. “My day was exciting and fun, but now I’m exhausted.”
He touched my cheek and nudged my chin up so that I was looking at him. Then he kissed me. “You do look a wee bit weary. Do you want to skip the wine and go to bed?”
“I think I can manage half a glass. And I want to talk and maybe watch a little television with you. It’s so odd to be working outside of the house.”
“It’ll take some getting used to,” he said, reaching for the bottle. “You take Pugsley and go relax on the couch. I’ll bring the wine.”
“Pugsley,” I said, frowning at the kitten. “Really?”
He shrugged. It was his latest name for the kitten. Derek had surprised me a few weeks before with this fuzzy little white-haired darling, with a hint of tiger stripes around her face and a sweet personality. I’d fallen instantly in love with her, but we hadn’t yet decided what to call her.
At first I had suggested the name Syllabub, after the ridiculously sweet and alcoholic English dessert I’d recently learned to make. But I had ended up calling her Silly and Derek had been calling her Bub. Neither of us were happy with that and I figured the poor cat was just confused.
So now we were trying out different names whenever they occurred to us, convinced we would recognize the perfect name when we found it.
As I walked to the couch, I nuzzled the kitten and she patted my nose with her tiny paw. “You’re much too cute to be a Pugsley, aren’t you? Let’s sit down and think of a better name for you. How about Skeeter?”
“Absolutely not,” Derek said immediately.
I laughed in agreement. “You’re right, she’s definitely not a Skeeter.”
Derek set our two wineglasses on the coffee table and joined me on the couch. The kitten immediately abandoned me for Derek, who was holding a tiny stuffed mouse to entice her. As Derek teased the kitten, he regaled me with the story of his latest client who’d had a fortune in artwork stolen from his beach house in the famous Long Island Hamptons.
As one of the world’s leading experts on security for the incredibly rich, Derek always had interesting work stories to tell.
“I might have to travel back east for a few days and I’m hoping you’ll come with me. We can spend some time in New York.”
“That sounds wonderful.” I sighed. “But I can’t go anywhere for the next three weeks, not until the show is over.”
“I’ll try to hold off, then, until you’re free.”
“That would be nice.” I squeezed his arm affectionately. “I’ve never been to the Hamptons.”
“Good. We’ll make it a mini break.”
“We’ll have to find a kitten sitter,” I said.
“Vinnie and Suzie can help out. You’ve taken care of their Pookie and Splinters any number of times.”
“But they have Lily now.”
“They won’t mind,” Derek said, tucking me closer to him.
“Of course they won’t,” I said. “And speaking of neighbors, I met Alex tonight.”
“She’s the one who’s subletting Sergio’s place.”
“I’ve yet to see her,” he said. “Do you like her?”
“I do. Even though she’s tall, smart, and gorgeous. She wears fabulous shoes and pink suits and still manages to look powerful and perky at this hour of the night. I should hate her, but apparently she bakes wonderful cupcakes.”
“Ah,” he said, finally reacting. “Cupcakes.”
I laughed. “Yes, that got my attention, too. So far, it’s her most outstanding quality.”
He laughed, too. “I look forward to meeting her.” He reached to pick up his wineglass.
“I should tell you something,” I said.
He swallowed a sip of wine and studied my expression. “Yes, you should.”
I related the conversation I’d overheard between the two producers and Randolph, the host. “Randolph was really upset, but Tom and Walter seemed unfazed.”
“He believes someone is out to kill him?”
“Have you any idea what occurred before you came down the corridor and overheard them?”
What People are Saying About This
Praise for the New York Times Bestselling Bibliophile Mystery Series
“A delicious, twisty tale, it features food, friends, fiends.…Don’t miss it!”—Julie Hyzy, New York Times Bestselling Author of the White House Chef Mysteries and the Manor House Mysteries
“Suspenseful, intelligent mysteries with a sense of humor.…Kate Carlisle never fails to make me laugh, even as she has me turning the pages to see what’s going to happen next.”—Miranda James, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries
“A terrific read…great fun all around.”—Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Fun and funny…delightful.”—Lorna Barrett, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Booktown Mystery Series
“A fun, fast-paced mystery that is laugh-out-loud funny. Even better, it keeps you guessing to the very end.” –Susan Mallery, New York Times Bestselling Author of Halfway There
“Carlisle’s story is captivating, and she peoples it with a cast of eccentrics. Books seldom kill, of course, but this one could murder an early bedtime.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Another superb entry… Quirky characters and an intriguing cookbook with a fabulous history add to the fun. Highly entertaining.”—Carolyn Hart, Author of the Death on Demand Mysteries
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love Brooklyn, she cares about old books. I also love her boyfriend Derek. Who is like a secret agent 007. She cares about other people & seems to find dead bodies. This was so good I stayed up late to finidh it. I can't wait for next one to come out. I will tell everyone about how good this book was.
The Book Stops Here is so much fun to read with your favorite cushy chair and a cup of coffee! With an intriguing antique TV show, our heroine finds herself trying to solve a murder while driving her boyfriend Derek crazy and finding just the right name for her beloved kitten! Kate Carlisle can advance her characters in charm and talents with a double dose of deductive reason and humor. Get this book for your bookshelf, it is a keeper!
I am a huge fan of Kate Carlisle and have read all her Bibliophile mysteries. I especially admire Carlisle for being adventurous and developing a lead character and family from a new age community in wine country. Each one of the Bibliophile mystery characters has a rich, colorful background and style. Even the characters meant to antagonize are just as fun to watch. With this in mind I began “The Book Stops Here” in earnest as it combines two of my favorite things – TV and books. Of course Carlisle did not disappoint. She has the genre of “Cozy Mysteries” down pat. This book had a new angle because there were several mystery plots going at once. This makes the reader constantly try to put everything together. I was led down many paths that were incorrect in the end. And this was my first book of hers that completely surprised me with the guilty party. Which was revealed during a party of course! I think the thing I liked the best was our lead character finally learned a few self-defense skills and she was able to take care of herself in the end. This detail has been necessary for the last few books. As always, this book is filled tidbits from the fascinating Bibliophile world of book repairs and valuations. It is a wonderful and creative foundation to base mysteries. Without spilling the plot, you will enjoy the variety of mysteries happening at the same time, the burden of the red coat, the Mae West details, behind the scenes at an Antique Roadshow tapings and of course the cupcakes, kittens and love affair.
"The Book Stops Here" is a wonderful mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the end. There is more that one 'bad guy' and at least two mysteries to solve. I found the job of restoring books very unusual but tied right in with being invited to work for the antique road show. The final reveal brings out such a surprise twist that I never saw it coming. I recommend this book for anyone who likes a good suspenseful read with eccentric characters who bring the story to life.
Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews by Kim While this was my first time reading Kate Carlisle and her Bibliophile Mystery series, I didn't have a problem getting into the story. In fact, I got more out of this book than I expected. I never expected to learn anything about books, but I totally did. I'm a person who loves to read ebooks, in fact, they're my chosen method of reading. But after reading this book, I can appreciate the details that have gone into classic books. Since this was the eighth book in the series, I was surprised that my one gnawing question was the age of Brooklyn. But that doesn't affect the story. The characters are all very likeable, from Brooklyn herself to her James Bond like boyfriend (Derek), to her neighbors. Told in first person, you really get a sense of Brooklyn and the world in which she lives in. Kate has weaved a lovely tangled web that will have you guessing whodunit and leave you surprised when you find out. I so want to find out what Brooklyn and Derek's next adventure will be. Source: Author
Brooklyn seems to stumble over murder victims wherever she goes. With the yummy Derek by her side, she has a knack for solving these murders, regardless of the twists and turns the clues may take. I love her relationship with Derek and I'm so glad that Ms. Carlisle doesn't add unneeded drama to it. They are devoted to one another and that makes it such a refreshing change from being subjected to relationship ups and downs, misunderstanding and jealousy. Her descriptions of Minka are side-splitting! Brooklyn has a fabulous sense of humor. Hope this series goes on forever!
I always know when I pick up a book by Kate Carlisle that she is going to pull me into the world that is Brooklyn Wainwright. The comfortable tone, the humor, the excitement, the adventure and the mystery is all packed into a wonderfully crafted whodunit that kept me turning the pages to see where this fast-paced and action-filled drama leads me. The author did a great job in teasing me with a bevy of suspect with some surprising twists that I did not see coming that had me saying “wow.” Good job Kate! Brooklyn and Derek are back and the introduction of a new character is a bonus that I hope we get to see more of in future stories. This is one of the best books in this fabulously entertaining series and I can’t wait to see what awaits Brooklyn and her friends.
Very well done! I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good mystery. What is terrific about Kate Carlisle's writing style is that she does a good job at keeping the reader's attention. The supporting characters were funny and I could relate to a lot of them. The relationship between Brooklyn and Derek seems so perfect! Naturally, a man with a sexy accent is irresistible. I cannot wait for the next book in this series!
Dollycas’s Thoughts I never thought much about bookbinding until this series and being introduced to Brooklyn Wainwright. Now we are 8 books, 9 really as Ripped From The Pages was released in hardcover this week, and each installment continues to be better than the last. In this installment Brooklyn gets her break into television as a rare book expert and appraiser on This Old Attic, think Antiques Roadshow. She meets a woman with a very special edition of The Secret Garden that she claims she picked up at a garage sale. After seeing a preview of the show the former owner finds out what the book is worth and he wants it back. Strange things start to happen at the studio and Brooklyn learns the host may have a stalker. Derek worries Brooklyn herself may be in danger so he plans to stick as close as possible until Brooklyn’s stint on the show comes to an end. We are introduced to several new characters, the crew for the television show and a very intriguing collector. I enjoyed meeting these new characters. There were some very interesting twists that connected some of them. I was happy Brooklyn’s parents made a cameo appearance. Brooklyn and Derek also have a new neighbor and she is a fantastic addition, plus she makes cupcakes that may have you craving something sweet. Oh and Brooklyn’s arch enemy Minka makes a return appearance. One of the new characters has an extensive Mae West collection. The author fictionalizes a friendship between Mae and The Secret Garden author, Frances Hodgson Burnett. While it is not true it was very entertaining and educational subplot to the story. It was nice to learn more about these iconic and very different women. This story has many layers and subplots and again Kate Carlisle blends them all to flow effortlessly. We are treated to more than one mystery and both were fun to solve right along with Brooklyn. The author has given us another wonderful story with the perfect amount of romance and humor and we learn a little bit too. To me that means this is a Perfect Escape! I will be reading Ripped From The Pages soon!
“Be Careful What You Wish For” Rare Book Expert and Appraiser, Brooklyn Wainwright’s name has been submitted by local Library Chief Curator Ian McCullough to appear on the hit TV show, “This Old Attic” that is to be taped in San Francisco for three weeks. She’s a combination of nervous and excited, especially after she meets the show’s host Randolph Rayburn, Show Director Jane Dorsey, and Stage Manager Angie—but they all assure her that she will do well with the book appraisals. Brooklyn’s first appraisal is a first edition of a favorite of young and old—“The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett that Vera Stoddard had picked up at a garage sale for $3.00. At inspection, Brooklyn finds it is in excellent condition and the cover is stunning. It consists of an original oil painting on canvas and is inlaid into the pristine leather cover. The only confusing part is an indistinguishable autograph that accompanies the Author’s on the flyleaf. Brooklyn informs Vera that her book is a treasure worth between $20,000. and $25,000. ! With Vera in shock, Brooklyn takes a break between segments and is approached by a mountain of a man, (later discovered to go by the name of “Lugnut”) declaring that he is the real owner of the book and its worth belongs to him also. He towers over Brooklyn and proceeds to threaten that if she doesn’t hand over the book at once, he will kill her. Luckily, the security guard comes to her aid, as well as her Security Expert Boyfriend Derek Stone. To add more chaos to the mix, Randolph Rayburn feels he has a stalker, but is not taken seriously by anyone on staff. When a few incidents happen, including of all places, the TV Studio, his claims are taken into serious consideration. Meanwhile, Brooklyn tries to carry on with her work and appraisals until she stops by Vera’s place of business to pick up a check for some restoration work and discovers her lifeless body behind the counter. Would people really kill for a book? After some startling similarities are discovered, it is pondered if Lugnut has a twin brother. Could Lugnut and his supposed Brother be out to kill or maim Randolph Rayburn or is Brooklyn the prime target? Are certain people all they claim to be? Or is there a dark, sinister cloud with a shadow of Mae West hanging overhead? Brooklyn’s lucky to have Derek by her side, but will he be enough to thwart the evil out to claim their victim and reclaim what may or may not be theirs? Ms. Carlisle has taken us on another enjoyable journey of mystery and intrigue with many twists and turns in the road to discovery. I’m looking forward to Brooklyn’s next adventure and I think you will be too. You do not have to start from the beginning of the series to read and enjoy this edition. The Author makes it very easy for you to begin to feel like you’ve known Brooklyn and Crew forever—and that in itself, dear readers--is a gift! Nancy Narma
I love this series and really enjoyed this book. It is action packed with someone after Brooklyn, a murder and a stalker of a co worker, things definitely keep moving. Brooklyn's humor is back and I love the addition of a new neighbor who I hope stays. I love Derek who knows that Brooklyn won't stop what she's doing and doesn't even try to change her but hangs around to help protect. This kept me guessing, I figured out one part but didn't see the other one coming. I will definitely continue on with this series.
Another fun bibliophile mystery from Kate Carlisle. The mystery will keep you guessing to the end, and there are some nice twists thrown in to keep it interesting. Brooklyn is a smart female protagonist, and it's always nice to read a mystery where the author doesn't insist on advancing the plot by having the main character make a series of stupid decisions. Brooklyn and Derek make a great couple. and it's nice to see them work together to solve a mystery. It can be very frustrating when a couple in a book profess to love each other but keep secrets from each other for no apparent reason. I've always felt that was lazy writing, and it's obvious Ms. Carlisle doesn't have to depend on such practices. I also enjoyed the introduction of Alex, another strong female character who I'm hoping we get to see in future books. I found the details about the antique books and the work Brooklyn does fascinating. I would have given the book five stars, but I did feel there were a couple times where the story dragged a little. Overall I really enjoyed the book, and I look forward to reading more works by Carlisle in the future.
What an enjoyable book! I wish real life would leave me alone sometimes because I think I could have read this book in one sitting! Brooklyn is such a fun character and I enjoyed getting to know her, as this is my first Bibliophile Mystery. Brooklyn has been hired as a book expert for a show called "This Old Attic" where people bring various items, and experts give them an estimate of how much the items are worth. A special copy of "The Secret Garden" arrives and Brooklyn gets wrapped up in a murder mystery and the show host being possibly stalked. Good thing Derek, her security boyfriend, is around to look after her! ( I think I have a crush on him!) It was a mystery that involves books and was such a fun read! I was excited as Brooklyn would give estimates on the books based on the fine details of these collectible pieces. I learned interesting facts about books which was an added bonus! There were so many twists and such likable characters, except for one in particular, that I didn't want to put the book down! I can't wait to read more of this series (especially previous ones to get the back story as well as other cases that were referenced to) and see what other dead bodies Brooklyn comes across!
If you enjoy mysteries and the TV show "Antiques Roadshow", "The Book Stops Here" is worth your time! The Book Stops Here is the first book in the Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle that I have read. I usually like to start a series at the beginning but the opportunity to read this book presented itself and I took it. I liked that I could pick up this book and not feel like I had missed anything. Yes, the book refers to earlier books, so now I want to read those, but an interested reader can pick up this book and read it without reading the others. I enjoyed that the book combined a couple of mysteries, appraisals on an antique appraisal TV show, a hunky guy, a new girlfriend, a cute kitten and cupcakes. I thought the book was well paced and kept things interesting. I liked that the main character, Brooklyn, spent time with her friends and became stronger and better able to defend herself in the book. I enjoyed reading about the response of the people when their books were appraised on TV. I thought the book had a good ending. I did not anticipate the ending, yet I wasn't frustrated by it either. Some books make you feel like the author had to end the book suddenly, but this book did not give me that feeling. The cupcakes described in the book sounded delicious! I was wishing at least one recipe was included so I could try baking the cupcakes myself. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries and "Antiques Roadshow".
Brooklyn Wainwright has a cool new gig on This Old Attic, a television show that travels the county evaluating people's treasures. She's the resident book expert for the show while they're in San Francisco for a few weeks. On her first day of taping, she encounters a flamboyant woman with a rare copy of the The Secret Garden. When the woman finds out how much her garage sale find is worth, she immediately asks Brooklyn if she can find a buyer for it. When news gets out about the potential value of the book, some nasty characters threaten Brooklyn. Our heroine isn't the only one being threatened. Randall, the host of This Old Attic thinks he's being stalked. And Brooklyn might be a little too close to the danger there as well. There are some fun new characters in this outing. A gorgeous and mysterious woman is subletting an apartment down the hall from Brooklyn and Derek. There's also a very rich, very ecentric collector of books and other things. The cutest, though, is a new kitten whose name is eluding both of her new pet parents. Of course, the 'old' characters who make this series such a pleasure to read are back. My one complaint would be not enough of Jim and Becky, Brooklyn's parents. I know lots of former hippies in real life so maybe that's why I love them so much. Whenever friends say they're looking for a book that is an escape but isn't dumbed down, I always point them in the direction of The Bibliophile Mysteries. They've been glad I did.
This book was just plain fun. Professional book binder Brooklyn Wainright is thrilled to be the local book expert for the TV appraisal show This Old Attic. The first book she appraises is a valuable copy of The Secret Garden. The owner of the book is thrilled with her appraisal. Brooklyn's segment appears on the local news that night. The next day, Brooklyn is attacked in the parking lot of the TV studio by a man claiming Vera, the owner of the book, found it at his garage sale and he wants it back. Suddenly, Vera turns up dead and Brooklyn has several dangerous accidents at the studio. Enter Brooklyn's security expert boyfriend Derrick, police Detective Janice Lee and a host of enjoyable characters as Brooklyn sets off to discover who murdered Vera. Brooklyn is a positive, happy main character who often looks for the good in everyone. But all the characters in this story are fun and individual and Brooklyn gets along with them all - except her larger than life arch rival, Minka. The story is fast moving, full of twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing until the very end. This is the first of Ms. Carlisle's books I have read, but it definitely won't be the last.
absolutely loved this book! this is the first in the series that I had the pleasure of reading. I received a copy from the author to read and give an honest review! Bookbinder Brooke is a wonderful character and the situations she gets into are amazing! So many twists and turns! I cannot wait to read the rest in the series! There are two mysteries going on here and I could not wait to finish the book to find out who did it! Thank you Kate Carlisle for a wonderful read! It was a mystery with humor, just what I like!
The Book Stops Here is the 8th book in the Bibliophile Mystery series centered around Brooklyn Wainwright, a professional bookbinder and rare book expert. She also has a tendency to find dead bodies. If you have a love of books and mysteries, you will enjoy this book. The characters are fun and there are many twists and turns that will keep you guessing. I really enjoyed the details on the rare books that were being appraised in the story. This is a great series and I will be looking forward to the next book.
Entertaining from start to finish! I don’t know much about bookbinding, but I found myself not only captivated by Brooklyn’s profession, but by the mystery as well. The relationship between Brooklyn and Derek was easy to relate to, and I found myself feeling as though I was right alongside the characters throughout the book and was coming to know them personally. Kate Carlisle’s writing style is easy to read, yet has enough depth and definition to keep you on your toes. Her books are fun, as she keeps more than one mystery going, which keeps the reader guessing from beginning to end. I had trouble putting this book down, and I couldn’t wait to get back to it to find out more. Best of all, she adds humor,which makes a “mystery” even more fun to read! This was my first experience with this author, and I was not disappointed. Can’t wait to read more of her books!
Oh how can you not love Brooklyn and her handsome security man Derek! I have read all of the books in the series and I really enjoyed this one. As a lover of books myself, it was interesting to learn about old books and it is always intriguing to learn about repairing them. What starts out innocently for Brooklyn working on This Old Attic appeasing rare books turns into a duel mystery. The Secret Garden really is a book to die for when the owner ends up dead in her flower shop. Then again, who is sabotaging Randy, the host of This Old Attic. Brooklyn is getting it from all sides and has to figure out both mysteries before she ends up hurt or dead herself! I cannot wait for the next installment of the Bibliophile Mysteries! Will Brooklyn and Derek ever get to live happily ever after? Pick up a book by Kate Carlisle, you won't be disappointed!
A very good book with details about the bookbinding craft with a mystery thrown in as to who is after Randolph and who killed Vera Leaves you guessing till the end
Wonderful book, in a series of good books by a great author. Brooklyn and Derek are two of my favorite characters. And with 2 new characters introduced in this book, it only adds to my enjoyment. A wonderful ending to the book.
I enjoyed The Book Stops Here. This is the first book I have read by Kate Carlisle and I am glad that I discovered her writing. The Book Stops Here is part of the Bibliophile Mystery Series. I found that by reading this book first, without starting with the first book, I was a bit lost and confused by references to events that must have occurred in the previous books. I definitely will be getting the previous books in the series. Kate's writing is witty, and entertaining and I look forward to reading more books by her.
Love this book. Kept me guessing with all the twists and love the relationship between Brooklyn and Derek. So refreshing to see a couple who don't have a lot of misunderstandings that keep breaking them apart. This book has not one but two mysteries so with all the twists and turns in the plot it really keeps your interest. This is a great book for the fan of the cozy mystery. Light and entertaining.