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Off The Books by Lucy Arlington
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I've enjoyed Lucy Arlington's Novel Idea cozy series from the start. Off the Books-- like the other books in the series-- provides a good, solid mystery as well as a pleasant visit with a cast of characters who have become friends.

There's a bit more delving into the personalities of Lila and her boss Bentley here in book four. Lila is getting a severe case of pre-wedding jitters, and she really has to figure out why. Her boss Bentley has always been the high-handed genius who expects everyone to tug their forelocks when she snaps her fingers. With the addition of one little dog named Olive, we are given some insight into this demanding woman's character, and it's a welcome one.

One of the things I have always enjoyed about this series is its idyllic "bookworm heaven" setting of Inspiration Valley. Reading about this special place (that should exist but doesn't) is a welcome bit of fantasy for me. An added bonus is that each book uncovers more of the inner workings of a literary agency and how it deals with new authors, query letters, publicity, and manuscripts. Like me, many readers enjoy learning about what goes on behind the scenes to create the books we all love.

As I was reading Off the Books, I got the feeling that the series may be coming to an end because many loose ends that had been left dangling for a book or two (or three) were neatly tied up. However, that probably isn't the case. The first three books in the series were written by Ellery Adams and Sylvia May. This fourth book was written by Susan Furlong, and Furlong may have wanted to tie off some old plot threads in order to introduce some of her own in future books. I hope that is the case because this is one of my favorite series. ( )
  cathyskye | Jul 21, 2016 |
While Lila Watkins always enjoys her work at the Novel Idea Literary Agency, she is especially thrilled with the agency's latest venture - a wedding themed week celebrating not only authors represented by the agency but local vendors featuring products like wedding gowns, cakes, flowers, and photography. Not only is she representing one of the authors featured at the event, she is hoping to get ideas for her wedding to Detective Shawn Griffiths. However, Lila's excitement quickly turns to shock and dismay when a man is found murdered and several of the authors represented by the agency may be suspects. Lila and the rest of the agents decide to find out who the killer but their sleuthing puts them in real danger.

I love Lucy Arlington’s Novel Idea cozy mystery series and “Off the Books” is no exception. I love Lila and especially the way she grows in this book as she begins to realize that she has been so wrapped up in her work that she has neglected seeing what is going on with her mother and son - this is very realistically done and made me like Lila even more. I also love the glimpses into the world of book writing - for example how many words a cozy mystery should have, what makes a good query letter, and why some authors succeed while others don't – this was very informative. I like Lila's relationship with her coworkers which continues to grow with each book and I love what Lucy Arlington did with Bentley’s character in this book. Finally, I love the reason why the whole agency pitches in to try in solve the mystery - I think one of the hardest parts of plotting out a cozy mystery must be to find ways to give the amateur sleuth a reason to have to investigate the mystery and Arlington pulls it off brilliantly in this book. Speaking of the mystery, it is very well plotted with some red herrings and some nifty twists and turns. There are plenty of suspects - this is the type of cozy mystery that I love as the author gives the reader enough clues to try to figure out who the killer is (alas I did not figure it out but the clues were there). The identity of the killer left me with mixed feelings as to the motive - this would be a perfect book to discuss during a book club meeting.

“Off the Books” is another nicely done cozy mystery by Lucy Arlington. ( )
  drebbles | Apr 27, 2016 |
Inspiration Valley is one of my favorite fictional places to visit, and I was thrilled to get back there in OFF THE BOOKS, #5 in the Novel Idea series. Lila Wilkins is a down-to-earth, relatable protagonist/amateur sleuth, and she’s lucky to have a book nerd’s dream job — literary agent.

Poor Lila, unfortunately, is known around town as the “murder magnet” for her uncanny ability to stumble across murder victims. Lila finds the latest victim during the craziness of a bridal expo, hosted by the literary agency she works for.

I enjoyed OFF THE BOOKS very much. This was a difficult mystery to figure out, which makes it more fun. The whodunit was as surprising as the why!

Author Susan Furlong took over the writing duties of Novel Idea starting with book four, and I think she’s done a fantastic job with this smart and entertaining series.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  bookofsecrets | Feb 26, 2016 |
Off The Books is the fifth book in the A Novel Idea Mystery series.

Lila Wilkins is looking forward to the upcoming event that The Novel Idea Literary Agency has planned, as it couldn't have come at a better time. Novel Idea is having a wedding themed week. The event will have many vendors covering all facets the bride-to-be will need for her wedding. Also in attendance, will be the agencies author's wedding related books.

As the event is about to begin, a repairman, Chuck Richards, to repair a refrigerator before the wedding cakes that are inside are ruined. When Lila, the “murder magnet” as her co-workers call her, goes to check on the repairs, she finds Richards face down in one of the wedding cakes, dead. The prime suspect is Lila's soon to be published author, Lynn Werner, the ex-wife of Richards. Lila soon learns that Richards, wasn't the handiest of handymen and begins to wonder if possibly a former customer was so upset with his work and got their revenge by killing Richards.

I always enjoy spending some time In Inspiration Valley and with the staff of Novel Idea, who may have some difference from time to time, but it's at a time of need they will put their differences aside and work together.

Would love to see more of the staff at Novel Idea and the enjoyable residents of Inspiration Valley. ( )
  FredYoder | Jan 31, 2016 |
This is the fifth book in The Novel Idea Mystery series by Lucy Arlington and it is amazing! I love this series and didn't want to put it down. We are back in Inspiration Valley where wedding fever is all around. Novel Idea Literary Agency is hosting a bridal expo full of their authors and all the trimmings including cakes, dresses, and murder??? Yep, the "murder magnet" Lila finds a body face down in a wedding cake. Then to make it even worse she finds out that one of her author friends is the prime suspect! Everyone is not only in bridal mode, they are in murder solving mode. Bentley is determined to clear her client and is having all the agents keep their eyes and ears open. She wants to hear of any leads to help her author as well as the reputation of the agency. Sean, Lila's fiancé and police detective is not happy with her being involved in the investigation and asks her to stay out. Will Lila stay clear of the case or will she find out more than just wedding ideas?
In every book that I have read by Lucy Arlington/Susan Furlong I have loved the characters. Each book in the series delves deeper into each of the characters and it makes them feel like family. I was shocked at the end of the book. I didn't see it coming! I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Can't wait to see what Lila and the agency get into next.
I recommend this book to all those out there that like a great mystery. ( )
  Penny_Burns_Marks | Jan 21, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425276678, Mass Market Paperback)

Literary agent and amateur sleuth Lila Wilkins is back to seal the deal in the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mystery series.
Lila is showcasing some of her biggest authors at a bridal expo. But when the joyous event turns deadly, she’ll have to figure out who penned the perfect crime...
The Novel Idea Literary Agency has planned a wedding-themed week for Inspiration Valley, celebrating not only North Carolina’s best vendors but also some of the agency’s most popular bridal books. The fact that Lila can use the event to plan her own impending nuptials is just the icing on the cake.
But wedding bells turn to warning bells when Lila finds a dead man facedown in the frosting. Soon it’s discovered that the victim was connected to several Novel Idea authors, all of whom quickly become suspects in the case. It’s up to Lila and her fellow agents to find the real killer before one of their clients winds up scribbling stories from behind bars...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 31 Aug 2015 09:24:04 -0400)

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