TL;DR: An entertaining cozy mystery with a librarian, Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay is a fun read with a decent mystery.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 3/4
Lindsey is the director of a small town’s library having come from the “big” city because one of her friends is a children’s librarian. A calamity of events occurs and they stumble upon her best friend’s ex-boyfriend’s body. What follows is a race to find out who the real killer is before her best friend goes to jail for it.
I’ve been reading a lot of cozy mysteries lately, tryin gto find one that sticks. This had a good mystery and a likeable main character. It also introduced a love interest who felt like a fully fleshed out character. The writing was okay and the author tends to over describe what the main character is doing, which is why I’ve rated this 3.75 stars.
Lindsey is settling in as the director of Briar Creek’s Public library and all the fun staff drama that comes with that. When a New York editor comes to town, she pushes her best friend, Beth, to share a book idea to her. The editor claims another author – Beth’s ex-boyfriend – has already written the book and Beth should find her own material.
When Beth, Lindsey, and Scully (a local boat captain) go to confront the ex-boyfriend, what they find instead is his body. Because of the timing, the local chief of police is only too happy to pin the murder on Beth. Lindsey and Beth race against the clock to find the murder before Beth is arrested. Can they reveal the killer in time?
What I liked & liked less
The mystery is good, although I pegged the killer almost right away. I also found that the way the mystery is solved made it tricky for the reader to guess the motivations behind the killing.
Lindsey is a likeable character who takes on the challenges before her with grace. She faces an ornery older librarian with as much grace as she can and she has a good group of women around her to help her solve the mystery.
The best friend and sidekick, Beth, is invested in the mystery, has a good personality, and the reason for her finding the body fits with her character, which is nice. I also liked that she wasn’t stupid, something that a lot of cozy mysteries feature to allow the writer to insert exposition. It’s one of my least favorite tropes of cozy mysteries.
The love interest, Sully, has a reason to be on the spot when he does and the romance is slow burn, which I really like. I also found him to be an interesting character who is more than just skin deep.
The killer’s motives take a lot of additional research to discover and a lot of it happens outside the town where the murder occurs. This is one of the areas of the book that I wasn’t as enthralled with, because it makes it hard for the reader to figure out the murder when all of the clues happen offstage.
The prose is also a bit problematic. The author provides way too much detail of every step the protagonist does, down to where she puts her umbrella when she arrives at work. A lot of that detail is unnecessary as it doesn’t add to the plot at all, which made the book a little hard for me to read.
To Sum Up (Too Late!)
If you enjoy cozy mysteries with an interesting small town, a lot of talk about food (complete with recipes), and a likeable protagonist, you’ll like this book. I’m also interested to see where the romance takes Lindsey and found the mystery to be pretty well written. The author could use an edit on her prose and some of the big cliches are present (bumbling police chief, for example), which led me to give it 3.75 stars.
About the Author
Jenn is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series. She is also the winner of the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for romantic comedy and the Fresh Fiction award for best cozy mystery. Her work has been translated into multiple languages in countries all over the world. A TEDx speaker, she is always happy to talk books, writing, reading, and the creative process to anyone who cares to listen. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars.