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Book Review: The Plot is Murder by VM Burns

T;LDR: A book full of mystery on multiple levels, A Plot is Murder by VM Burns is a light engaging cozy mystery with an equally light mystery plot contained within it.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/4

Samantha is a recent widow who decides to continue the dream she and her husband had of owning a bookstore. During the process, she’s also writing a mystery of her own set in pre-WWII England. The two plots intertwine and feature the same themes, with both coming to a satisfying conclusion at the end.

I liked the idea of the second story and it was interesting enough to read to the end. But I did feel that having both mysteries in this book created an issue where both were not as deep as they could’ve been. And, Samantha doesn’t really do much sleuthing, which is a core requirement for a cozy. Thus, while I enjoyed it, these factors dropped it down to 3.75 stars for me.

The Plot

As mentioned, Samantha is a recent widow. Part of her and her husband’s dream was to open a bookstore and a coffeeshop. After his death, she sells their home and puts the plan into motion. While still grieving and unable to sleep, she also is writing her own mystery novel, which also appears in the book.

Samantha’s family live nearby, including her grandmother. During the final days before opening, the selling agent for the property shows up to talk to Samantha about the building. Because he did not behave well during the sale – he kept trying to tank it – she does not let him in or speak to him. The next morning, he is found dead in her garden.

Her grandmother moves in with her (Samantha lives over the shop), and between Nana Jo and her friends, they team up to solve the mystery.

Will they figure it out in time before more bodies drop?

What I liked & liked less

I liked both mysteries, the main and the mystery in a mystery (MiM, for short) – they were engaging and mostly tricky enough to have me not guess the murderer. I normally don’t know, so it’s not that hard to do. I will say I found the Pre-WWII mystery a lot easier to solve; I knew who it was, but not why it happened.

I liked Samantha as a character, most of the time. There were moments where her emotional motivations didn’t make as much sense as they should’ve. She has some outbursts that come out of nowhere and then she falls back to being a bit wishy washy. She also doesn’t really solve the case; she figures out what it’s all about at the end, but the rest of the clues come from Nana Jo and the gang.

In the MiM, I liked the main heroine. I found her behavior to fit with what was happening at the time. The rest of her family was good, but I wasn’t a fan of the sister, Helen. Vapid from the start – even her family make comments on it – and then she changes into being less vapid at the end with no real reason. It didn’t work for me.

I liked the Nana Jo gang. There were enough of them to create interesting dialogue and plot points. They’re also not all the same boring old lady and there’s enough there to keep me interested.

The victim wasn’t given enough air time before he died for us to cheer on his death, although the inclusion of his widow and her life/view of him definitely made him more interesting than he was at the start.

The key complaint here for both mysteries for me was their lack of depth. Because so much space was given to the MiM, the main mystery feels more like a novella. In fact, the book is short – 230 pages – for two mysteries to be introduced, clues to happen, and to be resolved.

And, I wasn’t a fan of Samantha’s family (baring Nana Jo, who was awesome). The scene with the sister, Jenna, at the start put me off her family and gave me a much different impression of the book than what follows.

To Sum Up (Too Late!)

A light cozy mystery with another mystery encased in the pages, The Plot is Murder was a fun engaging read. I would’ve liked more from both mysteries and a more likeable family in both as well. I also would’ve liked to have met or known more about the victim before he died to care about solving his case. However, the Golden Girl gang held it all together for me and the mystery was well-structured, which is why I rated this 3.75 stars.

About the Author

V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at

If you wish to purchase this book, pick your vendor of choice here, or just cave to the man and get it from Amazon here.

Originally published on Feedium.