Cover Image: Handbook for Homicide

Handbook for Homicide

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Lorna Barrett enters another Booktown mystery in her series Handbook for Homicide.  Tricia Miles returns from an Irish tour with her boyfriend Marshall unsure that the relationship has staying power.  Her assistant in her secondhand mystery bookshop Haven't Got a Clue, Pixie, finds a body behind the store.  The police don't want Tricia's help, but she is afraid Pixie might get accused of murder.  Between her romantic relations and family disturbances she rolls up her sleeves to find the killer.  Lots of red herrings. Traditional cozy.
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie

It has been a while since I’ve visited Haven’t Got a Clue in Stoneham, NH, so one thing I very much appreciate is how there are just enough details about the characters and town to feel as if I haven’t missed a thing. It can be read as a standalone, but one will definitely want to read the earlier novels in the series. This highly successful series appeals to me as a mystery lover, as do the amazing characters. The New Hampshire setting sounds quaint yet beautiful, the characters are interesting and well-defined, and the mystery kept me guessing.

Tricia, owner of Haven’t Got a Clue, a vintage mystery bookstore, and her gentleman friend Marshall, have just returned from Ireland. Marshall was leading a travel tour, so it was not really a vacation for him. Tricia enjoyed seeing Ireland, and wants to see it again, but probably not with a tour group. She is considering when to discuss their relationship. They are comfortable together, but neither seem to have a passion for each other, or the things they do when spending time together.

Tricia’s first stop is at her bookstore. She is greeted by Pixie, her assistant manager, and Miss Marple, her fluffy gray cat. After talking about the attempted break-in at the store a few days ago and how the shop in general has been, Pixie took the garbage out behind the store. A very upset, rattled Pixie came back in. Tricia went back out with her to a dreadful find. There was a penny loafer with a foot still inside of it. The foot of someone who was dead. Someone that Pixie recognized, a woman named Susan Morris. Susan had been homeless, living out of her car; they had met in a nearby town. Pixie had given Susan the shoes she was wearing, which is what helped identify her.

The police chief and Tricia’s long-term ex-boyfriend Grant wasn’t happy to learn that she was involved with another dead body. Tricia has helped with many murder investigations in the past few years; it was one of the things that made their relationship challenging. Pixie is very concerned that she could be considered a suspect due to her record, having spent time in prison on more than one occasion. Since meeting and working for Angelica, Tricia’s older sister, then for Tricia, she has stopped getting into trouble and gotten married a great guy. Someone who has been in prison is often suspected first, if not arrested and charged, for an easy case closure.

Pixie can’t get involved with asking anyone questions about Susan. The more Tricia learned, the more she looked around, including going to a nearby camp where several homeless veterans live. Her heart and Angelica’s were burdened that our veterans are homeless, as Susan had been, and they were prepared to help where possible. In the meantime, Tricia went into Haven’t Got a Clue late one evening when someone tried to break in again, and the police chief took this attempt seriously.

The characters are thoroughly enjoyable; I like Tricia and Angelica for their intelligence and heart for helping others. I also like Pixie and Hank, who have been willing to risk change and rejection to pursue better lives. All are defined as well as necessary for their roles, and I do hope Hank joins the gang of people we see regularly in future novels.

This is a town I would enjoy, being “Booktown” with genre-specific bookstores that would be a delight to spend time in. Plot twists kept me guessing, considering who could have killed Susan and if it was the same person who kept trying to break into the bookstore. I had a couple of culprits in mind and was happy with the unique resolution! All loose ends are tied up except for one. I’m looking forward to the next in series, and highly recommend Handbook for Homicide!

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*
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Handbook for Homicide by Lorna Barrett is the 14th A Booktown Mystery.  I found Handbook for Homicide to be well-written with a colorful cast of characters.  It was nice to catch up with everyone in Stoneham including Miss Marple and Sarge.  Tricia Miles owns Haven’t Got a Clue in Stoneham, New Hampshire known for its bookstores.  Tricia is returning from a trip to Ireland with boyfriend, Marshall Cambridge and the trip was disappointing to Tricia.  She knew it was a working trip for Marshall since he was leading a tour group, but she expected them to have time to themselves.  Tricia wonders if their relationship is near its end.  She is not home thirty minutes when Pixie Poe finds a dead woman in their dumpster.  The victim is Susan Morris, a naval veteran who was living in her car.  Pixie is at the top of Chief Baker’s suspect list which has her worried, so she asks Tricia to do a little nosing around.  Tricia, of course, agrees.  Her investigation takes her to a local homeless camp where she finds a suspect or two.  The mystery was not at the forefront of this book.  It seemed to take a backseat to Tricia’s love life.  There is also someone trying to break into the store.  The two mysteries are easily solved. I would have liked more action in the book.  The investigation was minimal on Tricia’s part.  Of course, Tricia was distracted by her love life along with the disagreeable Russ Smith, a request for help regarding Nikki Brimfield, Angelica needing extra help, and family drama.  There is plenty of eating in this book.  I do not think Tricia will be losing those extra pounds from her vacation any time soon.  There seem to be several people in town who dislike Tricia which was mentioned several times.  I guess investigating murders will earn you a few enemies.  I found the pacing a little slow in this edition and there is some foul language as well.  I enjoyed the humor when Tricia utilized a unique skill to do a little sleuthing. We are left with an unanswered question at the end of the book, and I am curious how this situation will turn out.  The story delves into the situation of homeless veterans and how people can assist them in a helpful and respectful manor.  There are recipes at the end of the book for some of the dishes Tricia and Angelica enjoyed.  Handbook for Homicide is an appealing cozy mystery with a valuable video, chamber of commerce chaos, a sidelined sister, a cookie conundrum, helping the homeless, and courtship challenges.
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After an Irish vacation, Tricia Miles and her quasi-boyfriend Marshall Cambridge are back in Stoneham, New Hampshire. The trip was a dud. It was a working vacation for Marshall, who was leading a tour of elderly travelers, and he was never off the clock. 

Back at the Haven’t Got a Clue Bookstore, Pixie Poe, the assistant store manager, brings her up-to-date. Everyone saw Tricia’s interview with the local cable station: “They’d featured the store as well as Tricia’s prized collection of vintage mysteries.” Anything else? “One teeny problem,” Pixie ventures, “someone tried to break into the store.” Unsuccessfully, thank goodness. Time for a cup of tea and a snack. Pixie goes out to empty the overflowing trash bin but returns right away, pale and shaky. The air in the alley stinks—is there a dead animal in the dumpster?

The smell was unpleasant, and she was about to turn away, when she noticed the shoe. But it wasn’t just a scuffed-up penny loafer; it was a scuffed-up penny loafer that enveloped a sock-covered foot.


* * * * *


Stoneham’s police chief, Grant Baker, turned his stern gaze on Tricia. “How long did it take after your return home before you found your latest stiff?”


“Hey,” Pixie protested. “Have some respect. That’s a dead lady you’re talking about.”


Baker ignored her and continued to stare at Tricia. Mr. Everett had returned from the bank and stood a discreet distance from the trio looking quite upset, but Tricia had to attend to Baker before she could reassure her friend and employee.


“For once, it wasn’t me who found a corpse. It was Pixie,” Tricia said, feeling just a little irritated.


Baker turned his attention to Pixie. “And?”


“Well, I was taking out the trash, when I smelled that awful smell,” she said rather sheepishly.


“And did you know what it was?”


“Yeah. I’ve smelled that stink before.”

She was once an EMT and her crew was often summoned to crime scenes. Pixie says that she and the dead woman, Susan Morris, were acquaintances, hanging out occasionally at the Milford laundromat. She had given Susan the penny loafers. Lastly, she shares that Susan lived in her car.

“Why would she have to live in her car?” Tricia asked.

“Because she couldn’t afford an apartment. But she did okay. She paid her car insurance, had a PO box for her mail, and stowed everything she needed in her Toyota Camry.”

Taking people at face value and walking a mile in their shoes can be challenging. Tricia can’t imagine paring down her life to what could be stored in a car. How could Susan survive living like that? Pixie offers some insight to Tricia:

“It’s just what you do when you’re broke. I lived in my car for six months between stints in the big house,” she admitted.

Tricia cringed inwardly. Pixie had a criminal record longer than both of her arms. Did she really need to remind Baker of that when she’d just found a dead body?

Tricia’s paltry vacation after-glow is short-lived. Pixie is a former sex-worker and although her crimes weren’t violent in nature, she’s worried that Susan Morris’s murder will be pinned on her. Tricia sets out to investigate Susan’s life, determined to catch the real murderer.

Susan Morris was a Navy veteran whose career petered out after she testified against several higher-ranking officers in the aftermath of the Tailhook scandal. Tailhook was particularly egregious, “drunken naval and marine officers camped out in a narrow third-floor hallway, luring female naval officers—and even some civilians—into what was called ‘the gauntlet,’ where eighty-three women and seven men were sexually assaulted.” Tricia wonders how it impacted Susan. She didn’t have to live out of her car, her daughter wanted her mother to live with her, and she was working her way out of homelessness. Her employer at the Sweet As Can Be Candy Store is heartbroken to lose her, noting that the customers all loved her.

Lorna Barrett’s take on homelessness and second chances is empowering. Sadly, in the weeks before her murder, Susan applied for a grant from Mr. and Mrs. Everett’s charitable foundation for first and last month’s rent. Philanthropy is shown in myriad ways in Handbook for Homicide; Pixie giving Susan penny loafers, the generosity of the Everett’s, and Tricia’s sister Angelica’s sizable secret fund that gives Stoneham a firm financial foundation.

A shout-out to Tricia Miles, a middle-aged woman living her best life. Who wouldn’t enjoy joining her and Angelica for their daily martini? The town is rooting for Marshall, her beau-with-benefits, but Tricia is somewhat tepid, possibly because she’s carrying a flag for her former lover, the chief of police. The townspeople think the curious bookseller is a magnet for murder. 

Is a thriving town full of bookstores believable?  Yes. There’s a Welsh town called Hay on Wye that has nineteen bookstores! Could fans combine autumn leaf-peeping with a visit to Stoneham? Alas, says author Barrett: it’s fictional.

Can’t find Stoneham on a map? It’s about five or ten minutes down the road from lovely Milford, NH. Stoneham is known as “Booktown” (hence the name of the series), and consists of many used bookstores.

Finally, Tricia whips up divine dishes and Lorna Barrett shares doable and mouth-watering recipes, a lovely bonus. Check out her delectable spinach quiches in Poisoned Pages (Booktown Mystery #12) or make Tricia’s Lemon Crackles from Handbook from Homicide. Bon appétit!
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Tricia returns from a trip to Ireland with her off-and-on boyfriend, and one of the first things she finds on her return to her bookshop is another body. Pixie, her assistant manager, is the prime suspect, which compels Tricia to conduct her own investigation, but the clues are few and far between. 

This is the 14th book in the Booktown series, one that has had its ups and downs for me. Some books have been disappointing, but this one was not. While I find it annoying that Tricia still obsesses about her weight and her appearance, I like her relationship with most of the other residents of her town, and would love to spend some time in Booktown, just browsing the shops and chatting with the people there. The mystery in this book was good, and I liked the way a couple of social issues were worked into the story, hopefully bringing more attention to these issues. I had no clue about the identity of the killer, but I wasn't surprised when it was revealed. I look forward to reading the next book in this series.
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A cozy mystery that takes place in Booktown, a town with many themed bookstores, can only be appealing.  Tricia owns a mystery bookstore, and as the 14th installment, we know she has had quite a few love interests.  When Susan Morris gets murdered and dumped in the dumpster behind her store, Tricia gets involved again, bringing Grant, a policeman, back into her life.  Enjoyable.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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Tricia returns from a less-than-exciting trip to Ireland with her boyfriend to find someone attempted to break into her store. Then Pixie, her assistant, finds the body of a homeless woman in their trash bin. Tricia, of course, has to investigate and is soon being a do-gooder, bringing food to the local homeless population. Her obnoxious ex-boyfriend, Russ, is selling his newspaper to her current bland boyfriend. Tricia has issues with numerous other shopkeepers in her small town, but she generally means well. She and Baker, the police chief, are still at odds (or is that attraction?). It’s fun to see the group moving on; Tricia and her sister have a real bond now and a family that supports each other. The story ends with a cliffhanger...what will happen next? Guess we’ll all wait for the next book in the series!
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I really enjoyed the book - but the cliffhanger just threw me for a loop. Having to wait at least a year to know what happened is going to be hard.
I like the characters and the mystery as always. It is so nice to visit this town (other than all the dead bodies) it would be a good place to visit in real life.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley.
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Cozy mysteries have a niche and they fill a need for a number of readers at various times in their lives. 

Tricia Miles is just back from a trip to Ireland with her sometimes beau Marshall, who owns a travel book store. The trip is forcing Tricia to rethink her relationship with Marshall. She is eager to get back into the groove of running her bookstore, but in early days back, her employee, Pixie, finds a body in the dumpster behind her building. Pixie's past is less than squeaky clean, and she is immediately considered a suspect. 

Tricia, of course, investigates and the investigation leads her into a local homeless camp as well as some run ins with several characters who are less than fans of Tricia herself. For those who have read the preceding books, Tricia's family and the residents of Booktown make appearances.
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Great stand alone cozy mystery that makes you want to read previous books in the series to obtain more information about the recurring characters. Trish is known as the town jinx for discovering dead bodies. This book focuses on the plight of the homeless but especially homeless veterans. When Trish arrives home from an Ireland vacation with her boyfriend, she finds out someone tried to break into the bookstore. Can Trish solve the mysteries or will Chief Grant beat her to it?
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Tricia Miles had just returned from Ireland when a body is found in the dumpster behind her bookstore. Though Tricia never met the victim she can't help but investigate. On the personal side, she's having second thoughts about her beau, Marshall. Though she enjoys his company she thinks the relationship lacks something. As her investigation into the murder heats up, so does her love life. This is a good entry in the series. The characters are developing and changing, Though the mystery is good, it wasn't the most suspenseful. #netgalley #handbookforhomicide
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This is a favorite series of mine and have read all of the but #13 so I was excited when I had an opportunity to get an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher of the  newest book in the series. In this edition Haven't Got A Clue bookshop owner Tricia Miles's relationship is on the rocks. After a not-so-fun vacation with her on-again-off-again lover, Marshall Cambridge, Tricia's hoping for a quiet return in Stoneham. Unfortunately Booktown greets her not with blue skies but with another body.  When Tricia's assistant manager, Pixie, finds homeless vet Susan Morris's body behind Haven't Got A Clue, Pixie's checkered past makes her the prime suspect. Tricia sets out to clear Pixie's name armed with only an anchor insignia earring found at the scene of the crime.  The author continues to evolve the main characters in the series and leaves us hanging at the end hoping we know the answer but eagerly awaiting the next installment.
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It's nice to see that Tricia is finally growing as a character. By deciding what she might want in a partner to how to continue to help the community around her. I do find it odd the way that Lorna Barrett gets rid of certain characters. The only problem I have is that in every book, just like this one, when Tricia is talking to people they seem to go from okay to extremely angry in less than 3 seconds. Overall, I am very happy with how this series is continuing to change and grow the main character.
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The 14th book in the Booktown Mystery series, addresses a current problem facing our society; homelessness.  A body is found in the dumpster behind Tricia Miles book store.  The victim is a homeless female veteran, who has been living in her car. Tricia didn’t know the victim,, but once again is determined to apprehend the killer. This is a great read and will keep you guessing until the end. I have read all the books in the series and I enjoy seeing family and friend relationships strengthen.
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As with any good cozy series, the books become less about the murders and more about the relationships between characters, most of whom the reader comes to view as good friends. The Booktown series by Lorna Barrett certainly fits this bill.
In Handbook for Homicide, heroine Tricia Miles is just back from a trip to Ireland with her on again, off again boyfriend Marshall who owns a travel book store. The trip was less than inspiring, but Tricia doesn't have to wait long before events in her life become unpredictable again. A body is discovered in her bookstore's dumpster, but, in a nice twist, it is discovered by Tricia's assistant Pixie, not Tricia herself.

Of course, Tricia investigates and the investigation leads her into a local homeless camp as well as some run ins with several characters who are less than fans of Tricia herself. The book makes some nice points about homelessness in our society and shows Tricia's evolution into a more nuanced character with a social conscience.

The ending is an unexpected cliff-hanger that will have readers very much anticipating the next entry in the series.

Full Disclosure--NetGalley and the publisher provided me with a digital ARC of this book. This is my honest review.
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I love this series!  Tricia and others are like friends and family by now.  I thought the mystery wasn't the best and the killer was sort of random.  I love reading about what the characters are up to in their lives apart from the mystery storyline.  I look forward to the next one, since this one ended in a huge cliffhanger!
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