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Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett

Murder on the Half Shelf (2012)

by Lorna Barrett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: A Booktown Mystery (6)

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1652172,171 (3.91)10



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I've really enjoyed this series until this book. It was annoying. Didn't seem to have the depth as the others. Unfortunately, I think this series has run its coarse. ( )
  anglophile65 | May 23, 2017 |
Again the ending of this series book leaves me with a huh kind of feeling. Really did it need to end that way and why would you do that to your followers kind of questions. Although this book was much better then the last I still don't see why she still is with the Officer and why Angelica torments Bob just get on and get over it already. ( )
  nraichlin | Jan 26, 2016 |
Tricia and her sister Angelica think they're in for a treat when Angelica wins a free night at the sumptuous new bed and breakfast opening up in Stoneham. When the manager of the inn, Pippa Comfort, turns up dead, however, it's up to Tricia to sniff out the real murderer.

This was a weaker entry in the series, which on the whole has been fairly enjoyable. For one thing, half the plot - and this is revealed on the back summary, so I won't hide it in spoiler blocks - revolves around Jon Comfort, the victim's husband, who also turns out to be a best selling crime author who was also Tricia's long-lost lover who faked his own death! Wait, what? That seems rather fantastical. The elements were just too far out there and I could never fully suspend my disbelief.

For another, this book highlighted Barrett's quirk about characterization. I first noticed it with the men in the series, who appear amazing and perfect then suddenly undergo a frontal lobotomy and become raving maniacs. Well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but take the sarcastic, but good-hearted Russ who turned into a crazy stalker who attacked a police officer. So far only Grant has managed to escape that particular failing.

However, it turns out that this is not solely restricted to the men - here we have Nikki, who previously forgave Tricia for accusing her of murder but is so overcome by jealousy because Tricia gave Russ some doughnuts that she banishes Tricia from her business. What? What just happened here?

Most of her characters are fine, but when there needs to be some drama, Barrett tends to just change the characterization rather than subtly introducing flaws from the beginning. The main characters mostly escape this tendency, but the marginal characters often are victims of this. Barrett needs to work on her ability to write convincing conflict - this is manufactured solely to introduce drama to the story, but it's not a believable confrontation. Real relationships require real problems, not sudden personality changes.

Also, I had qualms with the "solution" to this one. Normally there are at least hints of who the bad guy is, but this one came so far out of left field that it might have come from another field entirely. If you haven't read this yet and don't want to know who the murderer is, I recommend you don't click the spoiler below.

The murderer is Mary Fairchild's husband, Luke. Apparently he lived in New York with his first wife when she was hit by a car, which was driven by none other than Pippa Comfort. In the final confrontation, Luke turns into a complete sociopath (Barrett keeps reiterating how wooden and flat his voice is) and Mary is utterly shocked. First, there were no hints at all and we barely even saw Luke the entire book. There wasn't even a mention that he lived in New York or had a first wife.

In fact, even Tricia mentions this little new nugget of information and in comes the weirdest, most facile explanation I have ever read:

"But I thought you said you and Luke had been married half your lives," Tricia hissed at Mary.

"Yes, but not to each other." (279)

Really. That wasn't just a shamefully transparent misdirect that you tried halfheartedly to cover up from the readers?

It also surprises me since the scene seemed like it was trying to set it up that Mary was abused by her husband - "You are my wife and you will do as I tell you...or do you want to suffer the consequences?" (278) - but there was no further mention of this and she readily flipped on him.

Finally, Tricia became very judge-y in this one. Tricia is, of course, somewhat spoiled (in one, she even tells someone that she's been poor before, which she hasn't, but she's read Dickens, so that must count for something), and that actually creates some dynamic to her character. In the book with the freegans, she evinces genuine disgust at the practice, which is keeping with her character.

However, this one crossed the line into true unpleasantness. One of the new characters - who later becomes a favorite of mine - is a former sex worker, and the characters' reactions are deplorable and left a bad taste in my mouth.

As I said, this series is mostly enjoyable in a kitschy, fun way, but this one was definitely a weak entry in the series. ( )
  kittyjay | Jan 2, 2016 |
Murder on the Half Shelf, the sixth Booktown mystery, is the earliest entry I found at my local library.

The relationship between heroine Tricia Miles and her sister, Angelica Miles, reminds me a little of that between Patricia Hollowell and her sister, Mary Alice Crane, in the late Anne George's delightful Southern Sisters mysteries. These sisters are younger, live in New England (the fictional Stoneham, New Hampshire, to be precise) instead of Birmingham, Alabama, and they both run their own businesses. Tricia is divorced instead of happily married, and her sister has a knack for falling for cheaters instead of being widowed from rich husbands. Still, Angelica is the more colorful, bossy sister and she does have more money.

Angelica has won one of the local Chamber of Commerce's free pre-opening stay at the town's new and only bed-and-breakfast, the Sheer Comfort Inn. Bob Kelley, the CoC head and one of Angelica's cheating ex-boyfriends, expected to join Angelica. She chose Tricia. The contrast between how much luggage Angelica and Tricia brought for an overnight stay made me smile.

Angelica not only breaks one of the rules by bringing her dog, Sarge, with her; she makes Tricia smuggle him out for a 'potty break'. It's while Sarge is sniffing around after anointing the ground that he discovers the body. Technically, Tricia merely called 911, but her attempts to give Sarge the credit/blame do no good. She's considered the discoverer. Because Tricia has discovered the bodies before, there's a rumor that she's the town jinx. How unfair is that? (Speaking of unfair, that's my opinion of what Police Chief Grant Baker says to Tricia when they meet after the call.) If you guessed that Sarge will also be instrumental in discovering the murder weapon, pat yourself on the back.

It doesn't help that one of the suspects was once Tricia's first love. Grant even declares that he and Tricia shouldn't speak to each other (except in an official capacity) until the case is solved. This gives Tricia reason to wonder if Grant is a good romantic prospect after all.

Tricia has been having trouble finding a competent assistant manager to replace Ginny Wilson. Yes, Mr. Everett is helping out, but still... Will Linda Fugitt, overqualified victim of the 2008 economic crash, prove the charm? She's certainly miles above Pixie Poe, the receptionist hired by Mr. Everett's wife, Grace, for the Everett Charitable Foundation. (I feel for Linda. I remember how it felt to be desperate for a job, but being told I was overqualified for the ones I I hoped to get.)

That foundation is proving to be a problem for Mr. Everett. His beloved Grace is giving their non-profit more time than she's giving him. Worse, she hasn't been listening to his attempts to tell her how much he misses her. Tricia is asked to intervene. That's when her troubles with Pixie start.

No, I didn't guess the killer or the motive. I did enjoy the climax. This is a nice cozy. Hope my library gets the earlier books.

Cat lovers get to rejoice in Tricia's Miss Marple (Of course I approve of the cat's name. I named one of my cats for another vintage mystery sleuth, Miss Silver).

Dog lovers get to preen over Sarge the bichon frise's more important role in this book.

The recipes in this book are: Crepes Flambé À L' Orange, Sausage and Vegetable Strudel, Simply Crackers Candy, and Thumbprint Cookies. ( )
  JalenV | Oct 23, 2015 |
Thought this was was one of the better books in the series. The Booktown mystery series is about Trisha who owns Haven't Got a Clue bookstore located in Stoneham, New Hampshire. Although there's a bookstores a plenty there aren't enough places to stay for tourists. That changes when a B&B opens but then one of the managers is killed and Trisha finds the body.

I enjoyed getting to know a few more characters. I didn't feel like Grace's character would go off the deep-end but glad it was short-term. I suspected who did it very quickly but couldn't figure out why. I hope Trisha can start to have some good things happen to her soon. ( )
  mmoj | Aug 16, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lorna Barrettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Colgan, TomEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corless, Laura K.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fasolino, TeresaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolsky, DianaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, KarenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my wonderful aunts

Sonia and Michele
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The overloaded luggage trolley bumped along the sidewalk, following Tricia Miles like an overgrown puppy.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When she discovers the proprietress of a cozy inn murdered, bookshop owner Tricia Miles must protect the hotel's co-owner, and prime suspect, who she believed to be dead for twenty years.

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