Cover Image: How to Book a Murder

How to Book a Murder

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Member Reviews

Emma Starrs holds a dinner party with guests invited to come as historical figures,
She is trying to get her new bookstore off of the ground and this seems like a perfect idea,.

Until someone is murdered
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How to Book a Murder was a pleasant read, but as I had just finished a couple of books in the author's first series, I was struck by all the similarities between the two series.

I don't particualrly like the use of the stereotypical mean girl character especially when the main character is a doormat, as in this case.  The mystery was also pretty light.  It could literally have been almost anyone until the killer just spews out the details.

I did enjoy the story enough to finish and would consider reading the next book to see if there's enough change to interest me.

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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My rating: 1 of 5 stars, it's a DNF for me.

Book one in a new series.

I wanted to like it. It had a bookstore and it was set in Colorado. The mean girl from high school trope is starting to get on my nerves, and the whole thing dragged. Emma needs to grow a backbone, because the client is NOT always right. I finally gave up and walked away. I started reading this in JULY, and tried again in December, closer to the pub date. Still a NOPE for me.

This is just one of a string of cozies that didn't hold my interest. I find myself thinking that maybe, I am growing out of cozy mysteries?
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Let me start by saying I love any book about bookstores or that take place at a bookstore, especially cozy mysteries that take place in bookstores! As an indie bookstore owner, I identify with the characters, see "customers" that I know and often get ideas for my own bookstores through these stories! I also love an intelligent story and thats exactly what this was. The characters were charming and smart and I see a lot of potential for a lot more stories in this series!
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So cozy! This is a great little small town mystery with a great sister dynamic. Lots of fun sides stories in the midst of the main plot. I loved the group of characters throughout and really enjoyed this read.

Thank you NetGalley for providing an eARC copy of this book
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This was a very engaging story.  There were no slow spots.  I could not wait to find out who did it.
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I am finally starting a cozy mystery series from the beginning! 😄 

So overall this was an enjoyable start to a new series. I (of course) LOVED the setting. An inherited bookstore set in a quaint small town full of interesting characters. The writing itself was good. The plot was a little all over the place (at times) and needed to be tightened up. The mystery kept me guessing, so that was a positive! There are a ton of characters introduced in this book which made the plot a little convoluted, and some were so over the top they became caricatures. I loved Emma, Lucy, and Nora. However, I found Jake's character odd. I can't really put my finger on why, but it was like the author couldn't decide if he should be just an author or a police officer, so she made him both. Which didn't 100% work for me. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Basically, this was your standard formulaic first book in a new series. A lot of positive points, and some things that (hopefully) the author will tighten now that everyone has been introduced, and the stage has been set. 

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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A fantastic cozy mystery! I really loved the relationship between sisters Emma and Lucy working together to run the family bookstore after the death of their parents. The story is well-written and the cast of characters are very interesting. I'm glad this is a series debut and look forward to the next book.
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What happens when a mystery murder dinner party results in an actual death?  Emma Starrs recently returned home to Silvercrest to help her sister and aunt with the failing family bookstore. When the opportunity arises to get the name out to attract more customers and earn some much needed commission, Emma decides to take on the job of hosting a murder mystery dinner party for a former unfriendly classmate,  Tabitha Baxter. When Tabitha's husband Tip winds up dead and not as a part of the act, fingers are immediately pointed to Emma and her aunt Nora. Will they be able to clear their names and find out who the real murderer is?
Thank you Netgalley, Cynthia Kuhn, and Crooked Lane Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.  I'm on the fence on this one. Though I absolutely love Cozy mysteries I really tried to love this one, and I just fell short. There were so many characters it was hard to keep them all straight and a lot going on which at times got rather confusing. The storyline minus the added fluff has a lot of potential. I can honestly say that I never saw the twists that surfaced, so that was a plus. All in all, it was a decent book that just fell short of hitting the mark for me. I'm rating this ⭐⭐⭐💫
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This new series is interesting. I like that Emma is already married (most cozy protagonists are single) and the aspect with how many family members were involved with the murder. I really liked this book and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  it is a shame when one element of a book sets teeth on edge when there is so much to recommend it.  Such was the case here.  Let me be upfront about what bothered me.  The “mean girl” socialite who is and has been our heroine’s nemesis since high school does such outrageous things against Emma and her aunt, at times in full view of the police.  Many of her attacks go way over the legal line, into slander and defamation of characters.  That no one even bats an eye in the midst of this, including Emma, distracts from the story line which happens to be good.  I know we want our villains to be villainous but unless you are going for an entirely different feel, it must still remain in the realism of “reality”.

The story itself is good.  The witch’s husband is murdered at a Murder Mystery Dinner she is holding.  Emma is her last minute replacement for the organizer.  Without too much of anything,  Tabitha has proclaimed far and wide that Nora and Emma committed the murder.  This is where things get unhinged because what she then does is she sets about blackening the reputation of the ladies, and their business.  She really steps over the line.  Emma, in the meantime, is working with a local author on a big Halloween launch of her new book.  If this goes well, both the bookshop and the nascent planning business might have a firm future.  That is if Tabitha’s  plots do not ruin them.

The real murderer and the real motive kept me guessing all the way.  The characters were solid and show potential .  I truly wish this one thing did not distract me from an otherwise good book.  Four purrs and one paw up.
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Loved this new series. Charming characters and nice story plot. The area where is takes places is interesting.. story line was engrossing and kept the reader wanting more.
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It was a quick, fun read. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to others. I liked the characters and writing style.
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This was an excellent mystery. I really liked the setting and the characters. I had a little trouble figuring out the culprit, but the clues and explanation all made sense once it was revealed. I cannot wait to read more from this series. I think anyone who likes cozy mysteries would enjoy this one.
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This book started on the right note, except for one thing, Emma's character was too cowering towards Tabitha. It was a real puzzler with a twist you didn’t expect. I thought Jake wasn’t too convincing as a detective. Even with these minor details, this book was intriguing, captivating, and exciting.
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What a good story!  I like the bookshop and the family. And so many writers in the area too. The whole high school flashbacks are why I don't go to reunions.  Why do some kids become such awful adults? A way to increase shop income is to have events.  The planning for the first big event turns into constant changes and long hours.  But the party does sound amazing.  The college side story is an interesting side story. When the relationships unravel, the ending is a good one.
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How to Book a Murder is a great start to a new cozy series. Emma Starrs ha returned home to her family's small bookshop in Colorado to help her sister Lucy run it. Finances are hard for the store and Emma decides that becoming a party planner will help the store make it. Her first client is her high school nemesis Tabitha and she plans a murder mystery party for her and her "crowd" of friends. Tabitha's much older husband is killed at the party and Emma and her Aunt Nora soon become prime suspects. Through the help of her friends, Emma sets out to prove her innocence. 
I am looking forward to the second in the Starlit Bookshop series and to see what happens to the characters we met in this book. I did find that the fight Aunt Nora had with the dead man concerning office location at the college was unrealistic-seemed a lot of fighting for a small issue. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, but many delightful personalities. 
I received a complimentary copy through NetGalley, but all opinions are my own.
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How To Book a Murder
A Starlit Bookshop Murder
by Cynthia Kuhn

The Book

	Emma Stars, PhD, has returned to Silvercrest, Colorado, to help her sister Lucy run Starlit Bookshop, the bookstore founded by their late parents. Lucy has just told Emma that if they don’t have a financial miracle by Halloween the bookstore will have to close. Emma and Lucy are brainstorming ideas to expand social events to bring in more money when a possible financial miracle totters through the shop’s door, shrieking into her cellphone. Emma’s high school nemesis, Tabitha Louise Saxton Lyme Harmon Gladstone Baxter, is wealthy and in desperate need of a new party planner for her murder mystery dinner party. Emma jumps at this chance to earn money for the store as well as the exposure to Tabitha’s wealthy social circle.  
	The party goes well. As the guests are enjoying dessert, Emma clears the great room of stray glasses. Once she deposits them in the kitchen, Emma checks the dining room and then heads for the patio for one last sweep. Once outside, something catches her eye, and thinking one of the guests left something behind, Emma heads over to pick it up. Once there, though, Emma realizes she’s found a body. It’s Tip, Tabitha’s wealthy husband and the evening’s host. Tip Baxter was the Arts and Humanities dean at Silvercrest College and had invited bickering members of a faculty committee to the party. One of those committee members is Emma’s Aunt Nora, a tenured faculty professor at the college. 
	Tabitha is convinced Emma and Nora are guilty of murdering Tip. Detective Trujillo also has suspicions regarding Emma and Nora’s innocence. Emma knows she and Nora are innocent of Tip’s murder and she decides the only way to clear their names is to find the murderer on her own. Emma does discover the killer, only to find she’s the next intended victim. 

My thoughts

This is the first book in a new series and it’s off to a solid start. The strong family bonds between Lucy, Emma, and their Aunt Nora drew me in. Emma’s relationship struggle with her high school nemesis Tabitha Louise Saxton Lyme Harmon Gladstone Baxter is spot on. The murderer was a surprise. I thought I had that person’s identity figured out, but I was wrong-several times. I hope there are more books planned for this series because I’m looking forward to reading the next one. 

Publishing information

Cozy Mystery
Published by Crooked Lane Books
336 Pages
ISBN 9781643858593

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Emma Starrs plans a mystery themed dinner party or a wealthy schoolmate Tabitha to help the family's floundering bookstore.  All goes well until Tabitha's husband is murdered.  Emma and her famous mystery writer aunt, Nora, are suspects.  Emma starts investigating the murder while throwing another themed party for an author wants a Poe themed launch for her newest book.  

This is a great start to this new series.  The characters are interesting and believable.  I'm looking forward to more mysteries with Emma.
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This is EXACTLY the type of book I love. It was a fantastic mystery that left me guessing. I felt like I lived in this town and that I had been to Starrlight books. I went to the college, visited the cafe, and shopped at the second hand close shop. I wish I could live in this book and I cannot wait to read more of this series!
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