Trouble on the Books: A Castle Bookshop Mystery

Trouble on the Books: A Castle Bookshop Mystery

by Essie Lang

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Essie Lang’s series debut is perfect for fans of Lorna Barrett, Vicki Delany, and book lovers everywhere.

Rookie bookstore owner Shelby Cox must hit the books to learn the ropes before she loses a killer in the stacks.

Shelby Cox never intended to become a bookseller, so when the former editor returns to her hometown of Alexandria Bay, nestled in upstate New York’s breathtaking Thousand Islands region, to take over her aunt’s bookstore, she has no idea what to expect. To her amazement, she discovers that she now owns a fifty-percent share in Bayside Books, and will also run the store’s second location in the majestic castle on nearby Blye Island.

But just as Shelby is gearing up for the start of the tourist season, the Castle volunteer coordinator is found murdered in the nearby Grotto. Castle caretaker Matthew Kessler is suspect number one, but Shelby thinks the killing may be connected to an earlier era, when violence among Prohibition-era smugglers was rampant in the region. As Shelby launches her own investigation, handsome and unnerving Special Agent Zack Griffin of the Coast Guard Investigative Services tries to quell her smuggling theory and keep her safe. But Shelby is determined to summon all her savvy as a book editor to plot the murder—and find the killer before he strikes again—in Trouble on the Books, Essie Lang’s clever and captivating series debut.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683319825
Publication date: 03/13/2019
Series: A Castle Bookshop Mystery
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 181,819
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Essie Lang has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel and has also been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada for Best Short Story under other pennames. She is a former mystery bookstore owner and still loves reading all the mysteries she can get her hands on. She also loves choral singing, which is not always so pleasant for her Siamese cat, Keesha, who must endure hours of practice. This is her first Castle Bookshop mystery.

Customer Reviews

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Trouble on the Books: A Castle Bookshop Mystery 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
SewWrite 9 months ago
I was looking forward to this new cozy series with such a unique book store Location. I enjoyed learning about the two book stores and meeting the characters. the story line was well planned. Personally, I had a hard time getting to know the main character which made it difficult for me to enjoy the book as much as I had anticipated. I guess reading is much like life, sometimes different personalities just don't hit it off.
neptune75 More than 1 year ago
Shelby Cox takes over the management of a second location of her aunt's bookstore in a castle of all things! She has quit her job to help her aunt with the bookstore. Of course she has a run-in with a nasty character who then turns up dead. Then begins a search of who had the most reasons to want this nasty woman dead. Overall this is a good attempt for a first book. The setting is interesting- a castle in upstate New York. I had a hard time really connecting with the book. There are many passages in which nothing happens, we just have unnecessary musings of the main character. Since it is written in third person this is a bit awkward. There actually isn't that much that happens in the book, it lost my attention several times. Characters were thrown in and several times I couldn't remember who they were or if we had seen them before. I won't spoil the ending but the twist would legally be difficult to be true. I appreciate what the author tried to do, but I would have liked more action in the book and less repeating what has happened.
SunnyCarolinaGirl More than 1 year ago
I loved the small town setting of this book. It is set in Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands, and also Blye Castle on Blye Island. Shelby Cox has come back to Alexandria Bay to help her Aunt Edie run Bayside Books, while she recovers from knee surgery. She also finds out that she is co-owner of the bookstores, which she was unaware of. Shelby is in charge of the location at Blye Castle and takes the ferry to work each day and is renting a houseboat as her residence. It sounds like a perfect life, beautiful views and a wonderful cast of characters who live and work in the village. Shelby does have a disagreement with Loreena Swan, the volunteer coordinator at the castle, and later that day finds her body floating in the grotto. The local police, the state police and the Coast Guard Investigative Services are all investigating and Shelby starts to ask questions of her own trying to find out what happened to Loreena. The castle was once owned by a famous smuggler which adds to the mystique of the castle and its grounds, and Shelby wonders if there could be smuggling going on presently. Shelby is also asking questions about her mother, who died when she was three years old. I found myself liking Shelby more and more as the story progressed and was invested not only in the mystery, but hoping that she would get answers about her mother. I am looking forward to my next visit with Shelby and the other residents of Alexandria Bay. I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
SuzieQ45 More than 1 year ago
really enjoyed this book. Shelby Cox returned to her hometown after living in Boston to assist her Aunt Edie run the family bookstore. I liked that Shelby is smart, inquisitive and friendly. Her ability to look at the situation and assess things was spot on. Of course the secondary characters were a great supporting players. I like that Erica, Taylor, Trudy, Matthew and Aunt Edie all added to the mystery. The interaction with townsfolk and suspects kept me guessing as to who and why the murder was committed. I also felt the weaving in of the secondary mystery of Shelby's mom and her love interest Zack were well done. The fact that Shelby remained strong and held her ground was refreshing. I hope to read more about Shelby and the people of Alexandria Bay on future books. .
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts Her aunt has just had knee surgery so Shelby Cox arrives in Alexandria Bay to help manage her aunt’s bookstore and open a satellite store in the castle on Blye Island. She is surprised when her aunt informs her that she, in fact, owns fifty-percent of Bayside Books. She has a lot to learn but she is surrounded by a great staff. The island is a popular tourist attraction so her main focus is getting the castle bookshop open as before the tourists start arriving by the busload. After a busy grand opening Shelby is excited about her new life as a bookseller. That is until she finds a dead body floating in the Grotto. She knows immediately that it is the prickly volunteer coordinator for the Castle. The police quickly peg Matthew Kessler, the Castle caretaker as their prime suspect. When the Coast Guard gets involved Shelby starts to think the murder may be linked to smuggling, something the island was used for during Prohibition. She can’t stop herself from sticking her nose into the investigation much to the dismay of Coast Guard Special Agent Zack Griffin. She is determined to solve the case and Zack is determined to keep her safe. The setting of this story grabbed my attention right away. A bookshop in a castle on one island that is part of the Thousand Islands area off New York. A truly perfect setting for a cozy mystery series. Shelby Cox is an interesting protagonist. She has her work cut out for her. She admits she isn’t a people person and knows that has to change if she is going to be a success in her new profession. She is curious, a trait every amateur must have. She is also intelligent and detail oriented so I know she is going to succeed in both of these endeavors. In addition to trying to solve a murder, Shelby hopes to learn more about her mother. She was quite young when she lost her and has so many questions. Ms. Lang has surrounded Shelby with a great supporting cast. Aunt Edie was my fave. She is a strong woman too who hates being still and away from her shop. Her recovery is moving quickly and I am excited to get to know her better when she isn’t hindered at all. Romance is two-fold in this story. Caretaker Matthew Kessler is very important to Edie and Agent Zack appears to be very interested in Shelby. The murder happens early in the story. Shelby’s first investigation is a bit clunky as to be expected, it is her first, but it messed with the story flow in places. When she found her rhythm so did the story. Clues fell into her path and the twists and turns kept her and the reader guessing. The subplot of Shelby’s mother blended in nicely, but I must confess I was almost more interested in it than murder. I feel this is a credit to the author because I was invested in her main character and cared about her and her feelings very early in this first book. She has left so much room for all the characters to grow. This is a fine start for this series. Endearing characters drew me in and their lives and the mysteries thrown into their paths kept those pages turning. I am excited to learn more about these characters and to see what the author has in store for them next.
KTempleton More than 1 year ago
Shelby has recently moved back to her hometown of Alexandria Bay to manage the 2nd location of her Aunts bookstore while her Aunt recovers from surgery. While Shelby is gearing up for the opening of tourist season she comes across the body of one of the volunteers. When the caretaker Matthew becomes the prime suspect, Shelby believes the police are following the wrong clues. Shelby believes the murder has to do with what the island was known for in the past. Is Shelby right or are the police? This is an interesting start to a new series. I was intrigued with the series premise of a Castle Bookshop. This is a well written cozy mystery with several twists and turns along the way to the big reveal. The characters are interesting and realistic. I really like the main character Shelby although Shelby is a little awkward socially she is trying to settle into her new life and make friends. In addition to trying to settle in Shelby is trying to find answers to why her dad moved them away from their life in Alexandria Bay when her mother passed away. She wants to know why her mother’s life was kept a secret from her. The setting of the bookshop location being in a castle is unique and fit in very well into the storyline. I recommend this book to cozy mystery fans. I voluntarily agreed to read a copy of this book supplied by Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own and in no way have been influenced.
diane92345 More than 1 year ago
Trouble on the Books is the first in a new cozy mystery series, A Castle Bookshop Mystery. Shelby takes leave from her job to help her Aunt Edie with opening her new bookstore after Edie’s knee replacement surgery. The bookstore is in a real-life castle on Blye Island in upstate New York. Only one day before opening day, Shelby finds the obnoxious castle curator, Loreena, dead in a grotto on the estate. When the castle’s caretaker, Matthew, is suspected, Edie asks Shelby to investigate. Shelby thinks that smugglers could be using the grotto to smuggle in contraband. During her investigation, she meets the good looking Coast Guard investigator Zack Griffin. Trouble on the Books was a good, but not great, cozy mystery read. I loved the idea of a castle on an island but this wasn’t developed much in this book. I loved the gentle romantic interests of some of the characters. However, the mystery was too easy to solve plus the book was a slow slog. No one needs so much description of everyday tasks, like shelving books and pouring wine, when the time could be spent describing the setting or adding more potential suspects. There are also many loose ends left at the conclusion of the book. 3 stars. Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
BeagleGirl123 More than 1 year ago
Trouble on the Books, Essie Lang's first Castle Bookshop Mystery, was a charming read, and I enjoyed spending time with Shelby and her friends/family in Alexandria Bay. When a volunteer is murdered on Blye Island, the location of one of the bookstores Shelby and her aunt, Edie, own together, Shelby puts on her deerstalker (figuratively, lol!) to investigate. Lots of suspects and a surprising conclusion kept me guessing the identity of the culprit until the very end. Well done! 5 stars!
Karen-Hollins More than 1 year ago
Trouble on the Books is a good start to a new cozy mystery series. The premise of the story has promise, and I loved the setting of Alexandria Bay, nestled in upstate New York’s breathtaking Thousand Islands region. With that said I am hoping as the series goes on the author decides to expand on the castle/bookstore element and the quaint seaside town. I had a difficult time getting into the book at first but by chapter 10, I finally started to want to know a little bit more and was connecting more with the main characters. I think the pacing of the story is slow, which made me become distracted and put the book down. The characters are a bit flat but I am hoping that in further instalments the characters will be a bit more fleshed out and the murder not so obvious. I do intend to read the next instalment to see where it goes. I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of this book through Netgalley/Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest opinion
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Trouble on the Books has an intriguing premise with a bookshop in an old castle on an island (love it). Shelby Cox is twenty-nine years old and has been working as an editor for Masspike House in Massachusetts. When Aunt Edie needs Shelby’s assistance, she takes a leave of absence and returns to Alexandria Bay. Shelby is living on a houseboat until winter and managing the new satellite location of Bayside Books on Blye Island inside the historic Blye Castle (it would have made more sense to live with Aunt Edie who needs her help getting around). I knew Loreena Swan would end up dead after the altercation with Shelby and the way she treats the volunteers at the castle. The murder occurs early in the book. There is little investigating by Shelby until later in the story when Shelby asks various people questions (people she does not know). I wish the mystery had been more of a focus with more complexity. I found it a snap to solve this crime. Shelby’s attention is split because she is determined to learn more about her mother. Her father would not discuss her mother who died when she was three, and Shelby is hoping to learn more about her from the people that knew her in town plus Edie. Shelby is searching the local cemeteries for her mother’s grave. I was curious why Shelby did not research her mother online (death certificate would pop up). The pacing of the book was lethargic which made it hard for me to stay interested. The author is a detail oriented which slowed down the pace (an example is making tea—getting the kettle, filling it with water, putting in on the stove, turning on the stove, etc.). Add in a daydreaming main character with a significant amount of internal dialogue and repetition of information. Shelby also has trouble remembering people’s names and figuring out a person’s age (makes it hard for a reader). She states she is not a people person, but Shelby is working in a bookshop frequented by tourists (an oxymoron). I felt that Trouble on the Books needed more pizzazz (oomph). The characters failed to come alive for me. We are not given many details on them which I found disappointing. I hope the characters will be fleshed out more in the next installment. I did enjoy the descriptions of the castle, island and bookshop. Trouble on the Books could have benefited from further editing (there are inconsistencies). A Castle Bookshop Mystery series has potential which I hope the author will achieve.
chefdt More than 1 year ago
Trouble On The Books is the first book in the A Castle Bookshop Mystery series. Shelby Cox has returned to her hometown of Alexandria Bay taking a break from her job as an editor at a small book publisher. She has returned to help her Aunt Rudy, who is recovering from knee surgery, run her bookstores. Shelby will be running the new bookstore in Blye Castle on Blye Island. As Shelby is putting the final touches on the book displays, she has a disagreement with Loreena Swan, curator of exhibits and heritage at Blye Castle. Shelby was upset that Loreena was trying to tell her how the bookstore should be run. Later in the day, Shelby decided to take a walk on the island before catching the shuttle to the mainland. As she was nearing a cove she thought she saw Matthew Kessler, caretaker at the castle, leaving the vicinity of the cove. Deciding to take a closer look at the cove, just as she enters she finds the dead body of Miss Swan. Her first thought is could Kessler have killed her. For the most part, he was a quiet man, but had been extremely helpful to her and was a good friend of her aunt. Shelby later learns that he was at one time an author of true-crime books and had been thought to have killed his wife, but charges were never brought. Shelby, having heard the owner of the castle was reportedly involved with smuggling during the prohibition era, feels that smuggling might once again be going on and Miss Swan might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. This feeling is somewhat reinforced when Zack Griffin, a Special Agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Services. The chief of Alexandria Bay and her family have had issues in the past and isn’t sure that she will be too forthcoming in her investigation, so Shelby decides to do her own sleuthing, hoping that she might get some help from Griffin. Shelby has a second mystery to search out and that is why her mother had abandoned her when she was a child, leaving her father and aunt to raise. Her father and aunt are reluctant to explain why her mother left. The only thing he aunt was willing to share is that before her mother left she signed over to Shelby her half of the bookstore to her. The book is well-written, plotted and very interesting. The author created a book that read at an easy pace. I found the characters very interesting and believable. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to more books in this nice series
Tangen More than 1 year ago
cozy-mystery, amateur-sleuth, women-sleuths, murder-investigation, family-dynamics, greed ***** CGIS stands for Coast Guard Investigative Services, I didn't know that. The publisher's blurb is pretty good, so there's no need for recap or spoilers here. The characters are all interesting, the locale fascinating (she's renting a houseboat to live in!), and the mystery is well done and with the expected plot twists and red herrings. There's lots more I'd like to say, but it would either be redundant or get into spoiler territory, so I'll just let you know that it's a great book that grabs by the imagination and doesn't let go! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Crooked Lane Books via NetGalley. Thank you!
CozyOnUp More than 1 year ago
Shelby Cox returns to the town she was born in when her Aunt has surgery and asks here to help out while she recovers. While there, Shelby has some questions she wants answers to and begins digging to find out more about the mother she lost when she was three. As co owner and managing the newest remote location at a tourist castle location, Shelby has her hands full. And when she finds one of the castle’s board member dead, she’s got even more on her plate. While Alex Bay is a small town where everyone knows each other, it also means there are a lot of people keeping secrets while others are gossiping. But Shelby asserts herself and begins asking questions, both about her Mother and the murder. When Shelby begins getting closer to uncaring the murderer, she is threatened by a foiled attempt to set her houseboat free into the river. Then she is the threatened by a developer who not only places a vailed threat against Shelby, but also her Aunt Edie. Time is running out and it may be up for Shelby. The first in a new series, I found the book enjoyable overall. Though I had to get more than halfway through the story before i was completely engaged. I’ll attribute this to a new author and writing style I had to adapt to. The mystery side of the story was engaging and there were enough suspects and motives, both real and imagined, that it kept you wondering for awhile. A solid 3.5, but I will give it a four since I will read the next book in the series.