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Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett

Murder Is Binding (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Lorna Barrett

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7155313,174 (3.44)116
Title:Murder Is Binding
Authors:Lorna Barrett
Info:Berkley (2008), Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett (2008)



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Review Originally Posted At: FictionForesight

A quiet tourist town with an economy based on book stores is rocked when a murder of a shopkeeper is discovered by Tricia Miles, the neighbor to the deceased. She thinks that things can’t get worse, what with her sister reappearing unannounced, until the local Sheriff makes it clear that she is the unwavering prime suspect in the case. Now it will take all of those years of reading crime novels to help her clear her name.

This was actually a very refreshing read. I was expecting flat characters, too much information on books, and a crazy cat lady, but I was happily surprised at what I actually found.

Tricia Miles moved from New York City to this small New Hampshire tourist town to open a book store that specializes in mystery books; both rare and new releases. She aptly named it Haven’t Got a Clue and decorated it to resemble Sherlock’s Baker Street apartment. It sounds rather cheesy in the summary, but well introduced in the novel. The entire town was restructured to revolve around bookshops, so that buses came with loads of collectors and book lovers alike. They even had the “safest town” title, until Doris, a shopkeeper selling cookbooks was murdered with a knife, and had her shop set ablaze.

The big plus in this book is the characterization. Barrett actually spent a large amount of time building up the characters in a subtle way. I’m not talking walls of text with back story, but peppering in lines that gave us a short look into the past, while moving the story forward. Everything from how Tricia interacted with her cat to how she reacted to her sister seemed natural. The side characters had less detail, especially her shopkeeper Ginny who seems like a stranger, but what was given made it seem very plausible. I wouldn’t expect Tricia to be best friends with Ginny, but then again I would think she would have asked why Ginny was looking at a bridal magazine.

The mystery itself had a variety of twists and turns, some of which I actually didn’t predict. I liked Tricia’s style of investigation, being that she knew the ins and outs of basic investigations without magically being perfect. She does do some odd things along the way, but she never truly stumbles through the process which is nice.

My main gripe is that I don’t think the conversations with the Sheriff were very fact-based. I don’t belief an officer of the law would make idle threats about arresting the prime suspect, Tricia; and I don’t see how she would then just storm off in a huff because Angelica threw some school-girl level catty lines at her. It seems a little disappointing that they had to take a female character in a powerful position and turn her into a bimbo.

There is one theme that runs through the book that I don’t like very much, and that seems to be that men are all jerks. Both Tricia and Angelica are divorced because their husbands decided they didn’t want them anymore. Angelica falls for the landlord, who is anything but pleasant when it comes to controlling rent and Tricia. Tricia starts to fall for Mike, at least before he has her look at his mother’s book collection and makes unwanted advances – showing some weird stalker traits. The female Sheriff in the town is also wooed to the point of blindness by a man, and it just seems like such a downer.

Overall though, there seems to be something good to read here. I’ve read the first book in a three book collection, so eventually I will get to the second and third books. It seems like a series that any book lover would like; combining both the love of books and an elegant murder mystery.

( )
  FictionForesight | Apr 26, 2016 |
Murder is Binding is the first book in the Booktown Mystery series. Stoneham, a fictional village in New Hampshire, has reinvented itself as 'Booktown' by having quite a few specialty bookshops in the once-crumbling business district. Outsiders were recruited to create these shops. Heroine Tricia Miles, New York City divorcée, owns the Haven't Got A Clue bookshop, which is next door to The Cookery, owned by Doris Gleason, a rather unpleasant woman.

The book opens with Doris complaining about the rent hike she's going to face when her lease is up. Tricia is not impressed. Her cat, Miss Marple, doesn't approve of Doris' manner. (Kudos to the cover artist for correctly depicting Miss Marple as a gray domestic longhair, by the way.)

It's Trish who discovers the murder victim. The sheriff, Wendy Adams, seems determined to pin the blame on Trish. Granted, she's up for reelection soon and this is the first killing in about 60 years, but why Trish? The valuable book stolen from the victim isn't anything Trish would want for her store or personal collection. (Don't let yourself miss Sheriff Adams' attempt to interrogate Trish in chapter 14. It's a scene to savor.)

To add to Trish's woes, her older sister, Angelica Miles Prescott, descends on Stoneham to visit. As Angelica herself says in response to Trish's wish to leave her childhood baggage behind:

'I have none. But then why should I? I was the cherished child they never thought they'd have, and you were... well, you weren't expected. By that time Mother had moved on to other pursuits.' (See chapter 14)

It's easy to see why Angelica's plans leave Trish cold.

Handsome Mike Harris a local man, seems interested in Trish. Angelica, the family beauty, has caught the eye of another local: Trish's landlord, Bob Kelly. Too bad Trish considers him a viable suspect.

Several characters who will become regulars (I've already read the sixth book, Murder on the Half Shelf.), are introduced. Some are likeable, some not.


Chapter 1:

a. Tricia has blue eyes and light brown hair. She's escaped middle-aged spread thanks to genes from the Miles side of the family. Her sister, Angelica, hadn't inherited the slim gene(s) and hasn't forgiven Tricia for her better luck.

b. Tricia has been in Stoneham for six months.

c. Tricia learns what's the first cook book published in America. She mentions the holy grail of mystery fiction.

d. There are references to J. Robert Janes, Philip Kerr, Greg Isles, and Thomas Kinkade.

e. Tricia talked about books for hours with Angelica's 4th husband, Drew.

f. Haven't Got a Clue's exterior has been made to resemble 221B Baker Street, although its street number is only 221 and it has a plate glass window.

g. Tricia had never been bored when their Grandmother read Sherlock Holmes to her, but Angelica had.

Chapter 2:

a. Sheriff Wendy Adams is described.

b. Bob got his idea to make Stoneham a book town from the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye.

c. Miss Marple's favorite catnip sock is rather ratty.

d. Haven't Got A Clue's hours are 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays. It's open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

e. Ginny's boyfriend's name is Brian.

f. There's a Josephine Tey reference.

g. Tricia considers local newspaper editor Russ Smith a 'Jimmy Olsen wannabe'. He's a middle-aged man, not a boy, but he deserves the insult.

Chapter 3:

a. Agatha Christie and her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are mentioned.

b. Stoneham has the Coffee Bean as well as the Happy Domestic. Mike Harris' election HQ is between Stoneham's Stoneware and History Repeats Itself.

c. Tricia learns how some of the old-timers in town feel about the newcomers. Still, the money brought in by the new bookshops has paid for Stoneham's new library and sewer system.

d. Dick Francis is mentioned.

e. Tricia buys a scatter pin like one her grandmother had.

Chapter 4:

a. Tricia's loft apartment above her store has a soaring ceiling and contemporary décor.

b. Tricia finds out she's considered the town jinx.

c. Bess, the Brookview Inn receptionist has '...a cousin who works for the county health department, who has a direct pipeline to the medical examiner's office.'

Chapter 5: a 'church key' is a nickname for a metal rectangle with a pointed can opener on one end. The other end is a bottle opener.

Chapter 7:

a. Doris E. Gleason has a daughter with Down Syndrome. Susan Gleason lives in one of the Anderson Developmental Clinic Group Homes in Hartford, Connecticut.

b. Tricia and Angelica's grandmother has a copy of the 1936 Household Bookshelf in their kitchen. Angelica loved reading it when she was a girl. (Bread stuffing used to be called 'force-meat'? Interesting.)

Chapter 8:

a. We learn about Tricia's powers of deception.

b. 'The Snoop Sisters' was one of their grandmother's favorite TV shows, according to Angelica. (It ran from 1972 to 1974.)

c. There's a newspaper article that upsets Tricia. (Libel is written defamation of character, slander is spoken. Shame on Ms. Barrett for using 'inferred' when she meant 'implied'.)

d. A customer buys a copy of Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night.

Chapter 10:

a. Tricia, Ginny, and Mr. Everett look up Full Moon Camp and Resort.

b. Carter Dickson, Margery Allingham, and Cornell Woolrich are mentioned.

c. The writer of that newspaper article isn't pleased when Tricia tells him what he was acting like.

d. Nicholas Blake is mentioned.

Chapter 11:

a. Tricia reads Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, and Elizabeth Becka as well as classic mysteries.

b. The Bookshelf Diner is described.

c. Tricia mentions Clark Kent.

Chapter 13: We learn the sex of Deborah Black's baby and who won the parlay on the birth.

Chapter 14:

a. Angelica mentions her friend Carol and Carol's panic attacks.

b. The cottage Angelica is looking at is described.

Chapter 16:

a. St. Godelive Assisted Living Center is described. (Godelive was Flemish and lived during the 11th century. Look up her life to find out why she's the patron of, among other things, victims of abuse, verbal spousal abuse, and in-law problems. Eeek!)

b. Lawrence Block is mentioned.

Chapter 17: Angelica talks about her third husband, Ted.

Chapter 18:

a. Tricia owns a Timex watch and a diamond-studded watch her ex-husband gave her for their 10th anniversary.

b. Angelica has a problem caused by something that happened in her childhood.

Chapter 21:

a. Mr. Everett used to own and manage Stoneham's only grocery store.

b. Angelica's ringtone is Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive'.

c. Ngaio Marsh is mentioned.

Chapter 22: Angelica mentions items of Haven't Got A Clue décor as she praises it. ( )
  JalenV | Apr 16, 2016 |
A small New Hampshire town has reinvented itself as “booktown” – setting up a variety of used book stores and specialty shops on the formerly decaying Main Street. One of these is “Haven’t Got a Clue,” owned and operated by newcomer Tricia Miles, and specializing in mystery books. When Tricia finds a neighboring shop’s owner murdered, she quickly finds herself the chief suspect. Now she has to find who really committed the murder in order to clear her name.

It’s a promising set up for a cozy mystery. Tricia’s sister also makes an appearance as the “clueless” sidekick, and there are plenty of handsome, rich men about to lend some romantic interest. The problem is that Barrett’s writing is so hackneyed. I’m supposed to believe that a level-headed business woman like Tricia will actually “giggle” on meeting one of the local hunks for the first time? Really? Barrett also throws in a meddlesome cat, and a sister who is a gourmet cook (so, of course, she has to include the recipes). The author seems to have lost focus. Perhaps other books in the series get better, but I’m not sure I’ll even try them.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
What a fun new cozy mystery series! I didn't realize until adding Books 3 and 4 this week that I had not previously added these books or reviewed them! Thankfully, I purchased Books 1 and 2 together so I didn't have to wait long to enjoy the 2nd book in the series. ( )
  Corduroy7 | Nov 18, 2014 |
Pleasant enough but nothing to write home about. ( )
  majkia | Sep 20, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lorna Barrettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Corless, Laura K.Designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fasolino, TeresaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolsky, DianaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Valerie Bartlett
First words
'I tell you, Trish, we're
all victims.'
Tricia turned away. 'I'm starving. I haven't had a thing to eat since breakfast. Where's the bakery bag? There must be a few cookies left.'

'Sorry,' Angelica apologized. 'I ate the last one just before you came back.'

Suddenly fratricide seemed like a wonderful solution to all life's problems. (chapter 21)
COPYRIGHT PAGE NOTICES (for the mass-market paperback edition):

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The recipes in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: [see publisher address in the your book info section]

The snail mail addresses are given for Penguin offices in various countries in this order: USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Africa. England, India, & South Africa are listed as Penguin Books rather than Penguin Group. Canada's is a division of Pearson Penguin Canada, Inc. [Incorporated]. Ireland's is a division of Penguin Books, Ltd. [Limited] Australia's is a division of Pearson Penguin Australia Pty. [Proprietary] Ltd. New Zealand's is a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd. South Africa's is also Pty. & Ltd.

Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition: April 2008

First printing of first edition line: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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Book description
Stoneham, New Hampshire, was a dying town until community leaders invited booksellers to open shop. Now, its streets are lined with bookstores--and paved with murder…

When she moved to Stoneham, city-slicker Tricia Miles was met with friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met with friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased--and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries--and hunt down someone who isn’t killing by the book…
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425219585, Mass Market Paperback)

The streets of Stoneham, New Hampsire are lined with bookstores...and paved with murder.

When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries-and hunt down someone who isn't killing by the book.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:03 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries-and hunt down someone who isn't killing by the book.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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