Bookstore owner Samantha Washington sells and solves mysteries in North Harbor, Michigan—including the murder of her mother's wedding planner . . .
Sam's mother can't wait to wed her wealthy beau, Harold Robertson. The big mystery is how they're going to pull off a lavish wedding in three weeks. Harold's snobby sister-in-law proposes a solution: engage flamboyant wedding planner Lydia Lighthouse. But their beacon of hope quickly sends everyone into a blind rage, most of all the groom-to-be. So when the maddening micromanager is strangled with her own scarf, it's a shock, but not a surprise.
It’s a case of art imitating life as Sam pens her next historical mystery set in England between the wars. Lady Daphne Marsh insists on marrying Lord James Browning on Christmas Eve, three weeks hence. But when the fop planning their wedding ends up with a knife in his back, she vows to nab the backstabber before she walks down the aisle.
Meanwhile, when she’s not writing, Sam and her beloved and boisterous Nana Jo rush to shine a light on Lydia's killer—so her mother's new husband won't spend his honeymoon behind bars . . .
Praise for The Plot Is Murder
“Readers of Carolyn Hart and Vicki Delany will appreciate the lively seniors, the humor, and the bookstore environment.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)
About the Author
V.M. Burns is the acclaimed author of screenplays, children’s books, and cozy mysteries, including the Dog Club Mysteries, the RJ Franklin Mysteries, and the Mystery Bookshop Series. Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, V.M. Burns currently resides in Tennessee with her poodles. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dog Writers Association of America, Thriller Writers International, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. She can be found online at www.VMBurns.com.
Read an Excerpt
"If you don't get your fanny out of that dressing room in the next thirty seconds, I'll come in and drag you out."
I recognized the tone in my grandmother's voice well enough to realize she meant business. Three hours of trying on every bubblegum-pink bridesmaid dress in South Harbor's one and only wedding shop had left all of us in a foul mood. I took one last look at my reflection in the mirror and resigned myself to my fate. The hoopskirt under my ballroom gown was so large I had to turn sideways and wiggle to get through the dressing room door, but given this was the seventh or eighth dress I'd tried on, I had mastered the technique fairly well.
In the main viewing area at the back of the large store, I walked up the two stairs and stood atop the platform designed to look like a wedding cake to showcase the dresses to loved ones. I stood atop the platform of shame and waited for the laughter I knew was inevitable.
My timing was impeccable. Three other brides and their guests had just walked to the back of the store, so my audience had tripled since my last humiliation. I heard snickers and one guffaw from the store personnel. Initially, the sales consultants had contained their reaction much the same as the queen's guard outside of Buckingham Palace, not showing one iota of a smile. However, three dresses ago that all changed. Now, they smiled and snickered openly.
My grandmother, Nana Jo, and my mother, the impending bride and source of my current embarrassment, sat on a comfy sofa sipping champagne. Nana Jo had just taken a sip when she looked up and saw my latest ensemble.
Nana Jo snorted and champagne squirted from her nose. "You look like a giant pink piñata."
I turned and stomped down the stairs and headed back to my dressing room.
In between the laughter, my mom said in a confused voice, "I don't understand it. It looked so cute on the hanger."
I squeezed back into the dressing room, caring little if this satin and tulle monstrosity got snagged or not. My sales consultant helped me get out of the dress while she avoided making eye contact. I suspected a few of the chuckles I'd heard had come from her, although I couldn't be sure.
"Your mom has a very distinct taste." She picked the pink piñata off the floor and made sure it was returned to its protective plastic.
"You can say that again." I took a drink from the glass of champagne she'd snagged for me after I'd walked out in a hot pink version of the velvet draperies Scarlett O'Hara had fashioned into a ball gown in Gone with the Wind. "How many more?"
I should have been suspicious when she didn't respond and quickly turned away, but I was too busy texting my missing sister, Jenna, who'd managed to back out of today's humiliation by declaring she had an important legal brief to write. Her day would come and revenge would be sweet. When I turned around and saw the next fluffy pink concoction, I nearly spit my champagne. Instead, I grabbed the champagne bottle and took a long swig.
The eighth, or was it ninth, dress was a tight-fitting mermaid-style gown with a super tight sequined gold bodice layered to look like scales that went down my hips to my knees and then the fluffy tulle skirt expanded in waves into a long train of pink, which puddled at my feet. I didn't even bother looking in the mirror. One look at the sales consultant's face told me everything I needed to know. From her raised eyebrows to the twitching lips, I knew I looked absolutely ridiculous. I contemplated taking it off and refusing to wear it out of the dressing room, but it was the last one. I might as well get it over with.
Mermaid dresses looked great on tall women, but I was only about five feet three, so the tight part of the dress fell lower on me. The sequined upper part of the gown was so tight I couldn't open my legs to walk and had to shuffle out of the dressing room. Climbing the stairs to get atop the platform required the help of two sales consultants and a great deal of tilting on my part.
Nana Jo laughed so hard and so long, she started gasping for breath and tears rolled from her face. My mom just stared at me as though I truly had just crawled out of the sea.
"Look, we've been at this for over three hours. I'm tired and hungry and my patience has waned," I announced to anyone listening.
I was about to turn and shuffle back to the dressing room when I looked up and saw my mom's fiancé, Harold Robertson, and my friend-who-is-more-than-a-friend, Frank Patterson, gawking at me from behind my mom's chair.
"You're just hungry, dear. I'm sure you'll feel better after you eat something. That's why I invited Harold and Frank to meet us for lunch." Mom smiled.
I stared openmouthed into Frank's eyes and saw the look of shock and mirth he tried to hide reflected back at me. I'd endured ridicule and degradation from my family and complete strangers, however, Frank Patterson was different. It had taken quite a while after my husband Leon's death before I was even ready to entertain the idea of a male friend, let alone a romantic relationship. So, I wasn't quite ready for Frank to see me in all of my mermaid glory.
I took a step backward in my haste to find a place to hide and tumbled off the back of the platform. My only consolation was if I'd still been wearing a ball gown with a Gone with the Wind hoopskirt, when I fell on my rear, my dress would have lifted like the rear hatch of my SUV. Instead, the long flowing train got wrapped around my feet and I lay trapped on my back like a mummy.
I didn't believe Nana Jo could have laughed harder, but she managed. After my first few seconds of stunned embarrassment, where I flopped and wiggled around on the floor like a fish out of water, Frank's arms went around my waist as he lifted me to my feet.
Once I was upright, I made the mistake of trying to walk and realized my legs were still trapped and nearly toppled over again. Thankfully, Frank was still there and grabbed me before I fell again. His soft brown eyes sparkled and his lips twitched as though a laugh was just seconds away.
"Laugh and you're a dead man," I whispered and gave him a look that had once brought a two-hundred-pound football player to tears when I taught in the public high schools.
The look worked, and Frank wiped the mirth off his face and helped the sales consultants untangle the fabric binding my feet. Once I was free, I turned and stomped, well, shuffled, back to the dressing room with as much dignity as I could muster. Oh, yes, my sister, Jenna, would pay dearly for leaving me to suffer alone.
Dressed, and in my own clothes, I marched out of the dressing room to find my audience had dwindled down to a party of one, Frank Patterson.
"Where'd they go?" I looked around.
Frank opened his arms and engulfed me in a warm hug. "You look like you could use a hug."
I sighed and snuggled closely. I took a deep breath and released the tension that had built up in the past few hours. Frank owned a restaurant a few doors down from my North Harbor bookstore and he always smelled of coffee, bacon, herbal Irish soap, and red wine. I took a large sniff and felt the ripple of laughter rise up inside him.
"Let me guess, I smell like bacon and coffee?"
I took a big whiff. "Don't forget the Irish soap and red wine."
He laughed. "It's a good thing I don't serve liver."
My stomach growled. "I'm so hungry I'd probably eat it if you did. Where'd they go?"
He pulled away. "I told them we'd meet them at the Avenue."
I raised an eyebrow. "Let me guess, that was Harold's idea?"
"Actually, I think Grace suggested it. Your mom wants you to taste some pastries or cake or something."
I sighed. "I thought when they said they wanted a small wedding, it would be simple."
We walked to the front of the store and Frank held the door. "Small doesn't necessarily mean simple."
I should have known my mother well enough to know better. She'd always had grand taste. Nana Jo blamed my grandfather. He'd always referred to my mom as his little princess and she'd spent her entire life living up to it. My father had been equally guilty of perpetuating the princess mind-set. He'd done everything for her. When he died, she couldn't write a check or pump her own gas and she had never paid a single bill. Jenna and I spent quite a bit of time arranging her finances so her rent and utilities were automatically withdrawn. Jenna took away her credit cards and arranged for Mom to have a weekly allowance, which was the only way she seemed to grasp the concept of budgeting. Now, she'd met and fallen for Harold Robertson, one of the wealthiest families in Southwestern Michigan. Harold was a widower who seemed content to continue the princess legacy.
Frank drove us the short distance to the Avenue hotel, one of the finest hotels in South Harbor. The Avenue was an older building that sat atop the bluffs and looked out over the Lake Michigan shoreline. From a distance, the hotel looked grand and imposing. Up close and personal, the wear and tear of chipped paint, cracked marble floor tiles, and wallpaper that had once been white but was now yellow showed. The bones were there, but the building needed an update. Despite these shortfalls, the grand staircase that greeted guests at the entry was still quite impressive.
Guests entering the building from the semicircular driveway found themselves on the landing and could ascend to the lobby or descend to the dining area. We spotted Mom and Nana Jo and followed the downward path to the restaurant. Waiters hovered around in red livery with gold braids and black pants. Frankly, it seemed a bit much for lunch, in my opinion, but my mom loved it and smiled brightly at the young freckle-faced youth who brought her iced tea.
"Are you sure you're warm enough, Grace?" Harold took my mother's hand and stared into her eyes.
Mom shivered and looked into Harold's eyes like a lost fawn in a vast forest. "It is rather chilly, but I don't like to be a bother."
Harold hopped up and removed his jacket. With a flourish, he draped his suit coat around her shoulders. Then he turned and got the attention of a passing waiter. "Can you please see the heat is turned up?"
The waiter practically snapped to attention and hurried off to see the heat was increased.
Before Harold was settled back into his seat, the manager came to the table, apologized for the inconvenience, and offered a complementary hotel blanket to go over her lap, and another log was added to a nearby fireplace.
I felt drenched just watching all of the activity.
Nana Jo picked up a menu and fanned herself. "Grace it's an oven in here. Your hormones must be out of whack. You need the patch."
Mom ignored her mother, a skill she'd honed over the decades, and I removed my cardigan and drank a half glass of ice water to help lower my core temperature.
Ignoring Nana Jo wasn't an easy task. She was tall, loud, and very opinionated. Few people would recognize Grace Hamilton as a relative, let alone the only child of Josephine Thomas. Nana Jo was tall, while my mom was petite, barely five feet tall. Nana Jo was about a hundred fifty pounds heavier than Mom, who weighed an even one hundred pounds. However, the two women were alike in their ability to annoy and aggravate their children.
Lunch itself was uneventful, apart from seeing the attention the hotel and restaurant waitstaff dedicated to Harold and consequently to Harold's guests. Harold Robertson was a tall, white-haired, bearded man who was one of the only people I had ever met I would describe as jolly. He had been a successful aeronautical engineer with NASA for over forty years. However, his brain power wasn't the reason the waitstaff were falling over themselves to ensure his every wish was fulfilled. Harold's claim to fame in Southwestern Michigan was that he had the good sense to be born into one of the wealthiest families in either North or South Harbor. Robertson's Department Store had been the premiere store in this area for over one hundred years. The store catered to the lakeshore elite. As a child, I remembered the grand building with its high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and marble columns. Even though we couldn't afford to shop on the upper floors, I remembered the red-coated doormen and elevator operators. My excursions to Robertson's were limited to the bargain basement. The store had weathered the economic downturn of North Harbor better than most and had only closed its doors completely about ten years ago. In fact, I went to the liquidation sale, expecting to finally buy things like furs and jeweled evening gowns like the ones I'd dreamt about as a child. Unfortunately, the old building had lost its charm. I was underwhelmed and depressed by the yellowed, peeling wallpaper, the threadbare carpets, and the smell of mothballs that assaulted my senses when I stepped through the door. The world had changed, but Robertson's had failed to adapt. The old cage-styled elevators were a fallback to a time that no longer existed.
Harold inherited the store and the family fortune, but he had pursued his dreams by becoming an engineer with NASA. He'd only returned after his wife became ill and he wanted to be close to family. He nursed her until she took her last breath. He now seemed dedicated to caring for my mom in much the same way.
I couldn't help but smile as I watched the way he catered to her every whim. No detail was too small.
Nana Jo leaned close and whispered in my ear, "I wonder how she manages to find men who fall over themselves to make her happy."
I shrugged. "Luck, I guess."
Nana Jo snorted. "Luck, my big toe. More like a curse, if you ask me." She shuddered. "Who wants that kind of attention?" I agreed with Nana Jo. Harold's constant attention, no matter how well-meaning, would drive me batty. However, my mother was a different breed.
"I prefer a man with more spunk, someone you can argue with." She laughed. "You should have seen some of the fights your grandpa and I had." She gazed off into the distance. "Makes a marriage stronger." She tsked. "Of course, then you get the fun of making up." She guffawed.
"Nana Jo, I don't want that image in my brain." I shook my head as if trying to erase an Etch A Sketch.
Lunch was tasty. Good food and a glass of wine restored my humor. After lunch, we ate cake. In fact, cake was the main reason Mom wanted us to eat at The Avenue. The pastry chef presented us with samples from three different cakes as possible choices for the reception.
The pastry chef was a tiny little woman with electric-blue hair. She presented the first sample. "This is a chocolate almond cake with raspberry mousse filling topped with chocolate ganache." She watched our faces as we tasted.
"This is delicious. Chocolate cake is my favorite." Harold's eyes sparkled, but then he turned to my mother. "What do you think, Grace?"
Mom took a small bite and then washed it down with a long drink of water. "It's very good, and I know a lot of people like chocolate, but ... well, I was hoping for something a little more ... well, unique."
Harold promptly nodded in agreement. "Of course, you're right. It's delicious, but you can eat chocolate cake anywhere. A wedding is a special occasion." He gazed at my mother as though she was the first person to entertain the idea the earth was round.
For the second tasting, we were presented with a white cake. "This is a traditional white cake with vanilla mousse filling and white fondant topping."
I'd never quite understood if you're supposed to eat fondant. It made the cake look nice and smooth, but it wasn't the tastiest topping I'd ever had. This one was no exception.
Based on the look on my mom's face, she wasn't a fan of this one either. "White is definitely traditional, but not very unique, is it?"
I agreed with her on that one.
The third tasting was presented. "This is a pink champagne cake with a filling of rum-infused custard and whipped cream frosting."
"Hmm. That's good stuff." Nana Jo licked her fork.
Harold turned to see my mom's reaction so he could know what his opinion should be.
Mom took a bite and smiled. "I really like the pink, don't you, Harold? It will go with the color scheme."
The cake wasn't the bubble gum color my mom seemed to like best, but it was definitely pink. Regardless of the cake's color, it was by far the tastiest of the selections. The chef explained she used champagne in place of water for the cake. I struggled to think of anything that wouldn't taste good if it was doused in champagne.
Cake choice made, we moved on to the ballroom, which was massive. The crystal chandeliers and marble columns, with views of Lake Michigan from nearly every window, would be an ideal space for a large wedding.
"Grace, I thought you wanted a small wedding? You could hogtie cattle in this room," Nana Jo said.
Mom fluttered her hands around. "Well, we want to make sure the guests have room to dance, but maybe you're right."
"Our library can accommodate up to thirty-six guests comfortably and the patio could be used for cocktails," the manager continued his sales pitch.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Wed, Read & Dead"
Copyright © 2019 Valerie Burns.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 stars Wed, Read & Dead is book 4 in the mystery bookshop series by V.M. Burns and it just keeps getting better! I truly love this series, the characters, and the unique double mysteries. I have read this entire series in the last two months and now I am more than a little sad that I must wait a while for the next one in the series! Book 4 brings us back to Sam’s mom upcoming nuptials with a crazy wedding planner who is scamming everyone in sight. I loved the addition of Lexi and Angelo. I truly hope they stay around for the next book. I really enjoy the double mystery plots. Burns writes truly relatable, fun people and stories that instantly grab you and keep you hooked until the last page. I recommend this book and the series to everyone. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. The views given are my own. #WedReadandDead #NetGalley
Wed, Read & Dead was the first book in the Mystery Bookshop series that I've read, and while I enjoyed my time there, it wasn't my favorite of the mysteries I've read. Ms. Burns does a great job making sure you can jump right in at any point, I never felt lost with the characters I met or how they were related to our protagonist. The mystery was intriguing, and I was wondering who the villain was up until the moment it was revealed. Enough twists and turns to make you wonder, and quite a satisfying end. Our lead, Samantha Washington, writes mystery books of her own in her spare time, that we get to read along with the story. Having your characters write a story of their own is a fun element that I tend to enjoy, but wasn't sure how I felt about it in this regard. I've seen it done quite well, and though the writing style itself I enjoyed, I didn't love it in this case. Our lead is rewriting the events of the main story into her historical novel. Perhaps in one of the earlier books she talks about how she does that to figure out subconscious clues in the mystery at hand, which is a very interesting idea, but somehow just felt like a chapter long rehashing of the events that have already happened. But if that is the case, then when she threw in her own spin into story, why did what she write happen in real life? Is she able to predict the future? Why was she not more surprised when her plot twist occurred in real life? I think if the author had put Sam's chapter after the events then it would have felt more like her continuing to work through things and I would have had a better understanding of how it worked. As it is, I felt a bit confused about that whole part. The secondary story that she weaves in was very interesting. I found myself caring about what happens for those characters just as much as I cared about discovering who the villain was, a rare feat. Without spoiling anything, I had no idea how the arc was going to end and that, just as much as the mystery, kept me reading. Warnings for this book are, of course, murder, but on par with an episode of Murder She Wrote. I received a free ecopy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a free review.
This is the fourth book in the Mystery Bookshop series and the first that I read. I will now go back and read this series from the beginning. This is a character driven, humorous, cozy mystery with so much going on, I had no problem whipping through this book. The main murder does not take place until about 30% of the way in, but that did not deter my enjoyment of this story. Sam's and Jenna's mother is getting married to wealthy Harold and he will do whatever it takes to make his bride-to-be happy. She really does not know what she wants in this wedding, but only has three weeks to plan it. I laughed loudly during the scene of Sam trying on bridesmaid dresses in bubble gum pink. When she falls over, I almost did the same. Not only is there the mystery of the murder, but there is a side mystery about two runaway children which just about broke my heart. I love the characters in this story. I would love to meet Nana Jo, Dorothy, Ruby Mae and Irma and spend time with them, they are so quirky and hilarious. I love their sleuthing and they all just happen to know someone. Frank, Sam's boyfriend is also a great character, but so are all the rest. V.M. Burns has penned an enjoyable story. The plot kept me hooked, but it is the characters that will keep me reading this series. So, two mysteries in one, humour, adorable kids that will break your heart, sassy seniors, the MC owns a bookstore and lots of food all add up to a wonderful cozy mystery that I can't recommend enough. Pick this one up, you won't be disappointed. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
As this newest book begins on a funny scene of Sam trying on the worst bridesmaids dresses to make her mother happy for her upcoming wedding, you know it will involve some interesting predicaments that you can't wait to see how Sam tries to solve. Sam's mother is planning her wedding on short notice, throw in a social climbing relative who hijacks the planning with the intent of creating a huge event and you have conflict. This is the setup for the murder of the unpleasant wedding planner. But who had a reason to want her dead? In order to save her mother's fiance from jail, Sam and her Nana Jo set out to find out. I love Nana Jo's spirit and think she would make a fun grandmother. At first I found the concurrent scenes from the novel that Sam is writing to be distracting, but eventually I got into them as I realized that they mirrored the action in the "real" part of the book. I enjoyed the book greatly as the characters seem to be real people that you would meet in your town. This helps draw you into the book and keep your attention. The big reveal of the culprit was not given away early on, so that is also a plus. This is another author that is on my watch list.
Wed, Read & Dead is the fourth installment in the Mystery Bookshop series, I haven't read any previous books but was able to follow along. The story grabbed my attention right away! I am very happy I chose to read this book and plan on reading the other 3 as soon as I can. Bookstore owner Samantha Washington sells and solves mysteries in North Harbor, Michigan--including the murder of her mother's wedding planner... Sam's mother can't wait to wed her wealthy beau, Harold Robertson. The big mystery is how they're going to pull off a lavish wedding in three weeks. Harold's snobby sister-in-law proposes a solution: engage flamboyant wedding planner Lydia Lighthouse. But their beacon of hope quickly sends everyone into a blind rage, most of all the groom-to-be. So when the maddening micromanager is strangled with her own scarf, it's a shock, but not a surprise. It's a case of art imitating life as Sam pens her next historical mystery set in England between the wars. Lady Daphne Marsh insists on marrying Lord James Browning on Christmas Eve, three weeks hence. But when the fop planning their wedding ends up with a knife in his back, she vows to nab the backstabber before she walks down the aisle. Meanwhile, when she's not writing, Sam and her beloved and boisterous Nana Jo rush to shine a light on Lydia's killer--so her mother's new husband won't spend his honeymoon behind bars... This book is filled with wonderful characters that are well-developed and very relatable. The plot had just enough twists and turns that I was guessing who might have done it till the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed Wed, Read & Dead and am looking forward to visiting Sam and Nana Jo again. I highly recommend this cozy mystery to all my friends and fellow cozy lovers. I requested and received a advanced reader copy from the publisher and Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
While this was my first read by V. M. Burns, it won’t be my last! The main character Sam is a young widow who is starting over with a new love and a couple of new careers – writing British historical cozies (how’s that for specific?) and running a mystery bookstore. Her family and friends who’ve become family are a very important part of her life, so she’s rarely sharing the scene with less than a handful of other people. Between her sassy Nana (who would purse whomp if she knew about my coined term, I’m sure of it), her sister and brother-in-law, her nephews, her mom, her mom’s fiance, her new boyfriend Frank, the Sleuthing Seniors (seriously, Irma cracked me up), and the college kids who help out in her store there are a lot of characters to fall in love with. Combined with the suspects and two adorable & heartwarming subplot characters, it could feel a bit crowded but it doesn’t at all. Everyone contributes to the plot in some way and the author maintains a seamless flow. I also loved how the mystery Sam is writing becomes a story within the story that adds a bit of split-time genre to the mix, as well as helping Sam flesh out the real life mystery as she writes. Burns is clearly multi-talented as “Sam’s” novel is just as entertaining as the “actual” novel. Bottom Line: Smooth writing, engaging characters, wit, humor (Irma!) and a multi-layered mystery that kept me guessing until very close to the end means I have a new fave author! Add in a bookstore setting & I’m eagerly waiting more books (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
Dollycas’s Thoughts Wedding bells will soon be ringing for Samantha’s mom Grace who is set to be married on Christmas Eve to Harold Robertson. With just 3 weeks to make all the arrangements including the dresses for the bride and her daughters who will be her bridesmaids. The family gets together to meet the groom’s family and go over details. That is when his sister-in-law reveals her gift of a wedding planner even as she degrades the bride feeling she is not good enough for her brother-in-law. The wedding planner makes her grand entrance. Lydia Lighthouse flaunts all the lavish wedding she has planned. But her ideas fall short of what the couple wants and come with huge price tags. The groom can certainly afford them but when the planner continues with her plan ignoring Grace, her betrothed becomes livid. Later when Lydia is found dead no one is really shocked but when Harold is named the main suspect, Sam, Nana Jo, and the Sleuthing Seniors gather and use all their resources to find the killer. Sam also opens her home to some special guests and works on her next book which also features a wedding. It takes place in England in 1938 at the home of Lord William March. And it includes a murder too. What a fabulous book! The first chapter was so funny. I was laughing out loud. Things get serious after that but Ms. Burns laces her mysteries with humor and I love that. The characters in this story are so well crafted. From the youngsters to the seniors and everyone in between. There is a real sense of family in this story. A family that is so inclusive of not just blood relatives but the people that have been brought together through life choices and chances. It warms my heart to witness how Sam and Nana Jo open their hearts to others and how it expounds from there. This group of people comes together for all occasions even to solve a murder. Some investigate, some keep the bookstore going so Sam can pursue leads, while others try to get the wedding plans under control. Two characters that always steal my heart are Sam’s toy poodles, Snickers, and Oreo. I too have 2 dogs, not poodles, but border collie mixes, one who happens to be named Oreo. In this story, we learn how much Sam’s Oreo enjoyed playing in the snow. His snowful joy mirrored my Oreo perfectly. Snickers doesn’t like the snow much at all and that behavior mirrored my other dog Nerabelle too. It was almost as if Ms. Burns had visited us. The story includes two mysteries and I love that Sam uses her writing to settle her mind to ponder the clues in her real-life mystery. Both are well-plotted with great twists and turns. New readers to this series will have to get used to the switching back and forth from present day to Sam’s historical mystery but now look forward to it. In fact, I can’t wait for the parallel storyline to start. Engaging and fun characters, two intriguing mysteries, romance that doesn’t go too far, and great dialogue all make this story so entertaining. I love the bookshop setting too! I have enjoyed every book in this series and in Ms. Burns Dog Club Mysteries too. So much so, the last book in this series, The Novel Art of Murder was the first book this year to have a place on my Best Reads List for 2019. This book will join it as it now is my favorite book in this series. I can’t wait for the next one!
family-dynamics, friendship, mystery, murder, murder-investigation, situational-humor, verbal-humor ***** A cozy mystery set in the Midwest wraps itself around a prewar British cosy mystery being written by the main character who operates a bookstore. Samantha is a widow like her Nana Jo and they are tasked with gathering their friends to put a wedding for the mom in the three weeks before Christmas. Enter the in laws, a villainous wedding planner, a pair of orphans, and an inept small town policeman. The mystery novel she is writing rather mirrors the current goings on and helps Samantha see the clues and red herrings more clearly. Plenty of laughs, too! I loved it and stayed up to finish it! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thank you for introducing me to a new author!
Wed, Read & Dead by V.M. Burbs is the fourth book in her Mystery Bookshop series and was one of those books that grabbed my attention from the first chapter. I laughed so hard at Sam while envisioning her trying on bubble gum pink bridesmaid dresses for her mother's wedding. I wish there was something new that I could say about Ms. Burns writing that I haven't said previously. It's so much fun to read two mystery stories within one book which Ms. Burns gives us in each book of this series. Her writing is captivating for me. I enjoy her characters and find each one to be friendly and likable. I would love to meet Nana Jo, Dorothy, Ruby Mae and Irma and spend time with them. The plot was tightly woven with just enough clues, twists and suspects that I was guessing almost to the end of the book who might have done it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with Wed, Read & Dead. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.
Wed, Read And Dead is the fourth book in the Mystery Bookshop Mysteries series. Samantha “Sam” Washington’s mother, Grace, is planning on getting married in three weeks and if Sam has to try on one more, less than beautiful, bridesmaid dress, she will scream. Grace is more concerned with meeting her husband-to-be, Harold Roberstson’s family. Her fears were well-founded when she met her future sister-in-law, Margaret. Margaret is snobbery personified and looked down on Grace and the rest of her family. As a wedding gift for Grace and Harold, she had hired a wedding planner. Big mistake!! The Wedding Planner, Lydia Lighthouse seems to more interested in lining her pockets with Harold’s money, rather than planning the wedding that Grace wants. Soon, Lydia’s body is found, having been strangled with her scarf. Sam and her Senior Sleuths begin to investigate who might have killed her, as Harold had a big argument the day before her body was found. Sam, in addition to running her bookstore and a little sleuthing from time to time, is also an aspiring author. Early in her writing career, Sam has learned that if she works on her book set in the 1930’s English countryside it helps her deal with the current mystery. So, we get a story inside a story. The English countryside mystery center around Lord William Marsh and his wife Lady Elizabeth and their nieces, Lady Daphne and Lady Penelope. I love this series, it is well-written and has a wonderful cast of characters. The book reads at a good pace. The Senior Sleuths are a real hoot and will have you laughing at their antics. Most all of the characters from previous books are back once again to give help and support to Sam. I can’t wait for the next book in this very enjoyable book. The next book is Bookmarked For Murder and will be out in November of this year.
Through NetGalley, I received a free copy of WED, READ & DEAD (Mystery Bookshop Mysteries Book 4) by V.M. Burns in exchange for an honest review. Samantha Washington is delighted with Harold Robertson, the lovely man her mother is marrying; however, she’s less than delighted with the couple’s decision to have the wedding almost immediately. No one is pleased with the snotty wedding planner Harold’s sister-in-law foists upon the couple. Harold, especially, is incensed with the wedding planner’s rude and condescending behavior toward Samantha’s sweet mother. Though Samantha and family joke that Harold is furious enough to throttle the woman, it’s no laughing matter when the woman is later found strangled. Sam, Nana Jo, and their coterie of senior sleuths swing into action to keep Harold from being arrested for the murder. As usual, Samantha works through the events surrounding her by penning a new mystery novel centering around the wedding of Lady Daphne Marsh to Lord James Browning. I enjoyed this novel. I adore Nana Jo and the family dynamic. The people surrounding the core characters are wonderful in their own right. The more time I spend with the character, the more time I want to spend with them. I recommend this novel to fans of the series, fans of cozy mysteries with themes related to books, weddings, orphans, sassy seniors, and doggies. #WedReadDead #NetGalley
Art Imitates Life in This Episode This is the fourth book of this series. As in the prior episodes, the reader is getting 2 mysteries in one as our heroine solves a mystery in her life, she is also writing a British country mystery that the reader also gets to enjoy. Both stories are fun to read. The plots and their execution are very entertaining. There is a lot going on in both stories but they are never confusing. I have enjoyed reading this series and it is one of my favorites. I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.
In Wed, Read & Dead, the fourth book in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series, bookstore owner and author Samantha "Sam" Washington is juggling the holiday shopping rush at the bookstore and the upcoming wedding of her mother, Grace Hamilton to Harold Robinson, a member of one of Southwestern Michigan’s wealthiest families. With just three weeks until the nuptials, a wedding planner is hired to orchestrate the special day. But Lydia Lighthouse, touted as the wedding planner to the elite is in reality a planner-zilla intent on staging an extravagant, outlandish affair, steamrolling over the bride’s wishes for a private, elegant wedding. Harold is outraged by Lydia’s bullying behavior toward his beloved Grace and the mounting wedding expenses being incurred—and tells Lydia so in a very heated public conversation. It is thus no surprise that Harold becomes the prime suspect when Lydia is found murdered soon thereafter. With no time to waste, Sam—together with the formidable Nana Jo and her group of Sleuthing Seniors—springs into action to clear the prospective groom’s name before the wedding. Implementing both the standard and non-conventional research methods they’ve honed through previous investigations, the resourceful team unearths a treasure trove of information, revealing a number of suspects with axes to grind against Lydia. But who among these persons of interest is the killer? While the Sleuthing Seniors work their connections to dig up dirt on the suspects, Sam once again takes to writing to help her process her thoughts. The latest British cozy mystery novel she’s working on features a plot similar to the crime at hand. Through writing, Sam focuses her attention on connections between the clues, leading the way to resolutions in both “real” life and the novel she is creating. In the Mystery Bookshop series, Burns has established an inviting bookstore setting and team of close-knit family members and friends who become more endearing with each new book in the series. Their laugh-out loud antics and loyal devotion to one another are delightful to behold. Rounding out the cast of characters are Sam's two faithful poodles, Snickers and Oreo, who appear on the series' book covers. Also of note is Burns’s "novel within a novel" technique, which has Sam writing cozy murder mysteries set in England between the two world wars. It is thus that readers are actually following the developments in two murder mysteries—one in the present day and one in the last century. I've read three of the four books in the series (note to self: track down and read book #2), and am of the opinion that Burns’s novels demonstrate cozy mystery writing at its very best.
Wed, Read, and Dead, the third novel in the Mystery Bookshop series by V.M. Burns is a delightful read. As interesting as the mystery is, it is the characters that make me love this series so much and this book is no exception! The fact that the book includes poodles and a wedding are icing on a perfectly lovely cake. The regular characters are strong, fun, kind and witty from Samantha Washington to the college-girl sometimes helpers. Samantha is delighted, and a bit puzzled, that her extremely dependent mother has found a wonderful and wealthy man to play prince charming to her southern bell. Sam is more than willing to help with the wedding plans, but between a short deadline and the bride’s unrealistic and lavish expectation, the event is becoming a nightmare for the bookstore owner. When the groom’s sister-in-law “gifts” the happy couple with a wedding planner, the news should be greeted with delight, but they have all just met the woman and no one else thinks that she right for them. The bride so badly wants to make a good impression on the snobby sister-in-law that they all accept the nightmare to come, but they have no idea what a nightmare it will be. The murder of the planner is not a real surprise since it appears that they are not the only ones ready to strangle her, but until the murder is solved, the groom is suspect number one. I was delighted to receive an ARC of the book via NetGalley mostly so I could read it early, but I also enjoy sharing my love of Ms. Burns books with my friends. #NetGalley, #WedRead&Dead
Samantha’s mother, Grace, is getting married on Christmas Eve and tis the season for murder! With three weeks to plan the wedding with the wealthy beau, there is a family get together to bring both families together and a gift from Grace’s future sister in law is the services of a wedding planner. Turns out the wedding planner isn’t seeing the same vision os Grace, but she’s more than ready to spend the groom’s money freely. When the groom finally puts his foot down with the wedding planner after a furious confrontation, her body is found the next morning. Sam, Nana Jo, and the gang are raring to solve the murder before the wedding and there’s not much time left. This book was the best in the series so far. The family dynamics are captured well and I think everyone can relate to them. Also the next installment in the historical mystery series that Sam writes mirrors things to some extent and was a solid story within the story. It gives a great view of how a cozy author will bring some of the goings on in their own life into their writing and take some artistic liberty with it. ENJOYABLE on all fronts. A great twofer!