Sunday, September 13, 2020

Review: The Grim Reader by Kate Carlisle

by Kate Carlisle
Release Date: June 22nd 2020
2020 Berkley/Penguin Publishing House
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0451491435
Genre: Fiction / Cozy mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Brooklyn and her new hunky husband, Derek, are excited to be guests at Dharma’s first annual Book Festival. The entire town is involved and Brooklyn’s mom Rebecca is taking charge. In addition to all of her other event related duties, she’s got Brooklyn doing rare book appraisals and is also staging Little Women, the musical to delight the festival goers. If that wasn’t enough, she and Meg—Derek’s mom—will have a booth where they read palms and tarot cards.

Brooklyn couldn’t be prouder of her mom’s do-it-all attitude so when a greedy local businessman who seems intent on destroying Dharma starts harassing Rebecca, Brooklyn is ready to take him down. Rebecca is able to hold her own with the nasty jerk until one of her fellow festival committee members is brutally murdered and the money for the festival seems to have vanished into thin air. 

Things get even more personal when one of Brooklyn’s nearest and dearest is nearly run down in cold blood. Brooklyn and Derek go into attack mode and the pressure is on to catch a spineless killer before they find themselves skipping the festival for a funeral.
My Thoughts
The Grim Reader is the fourteenth instalment in the Bibliophile Mystery series, and I will admit right off the top here that I am so glad that Brooklyn and Derek are back to normal in this one.  I wasn't a big fan of the previous book which made me sad as I have really enjoyed this series; I just felt like there was something off about the two of them as they didn't behave as they normally did and it drove me crazy.  People do not change that much after they get married.  So I was really hoping things were back to normal in this book, and happily, they were.
What I really enjoyed about this book is the setting.  I love Dharma and have always enjoyed every visit Brooklyn has made to this place; there are just so many interesting people to meet and get to know better that I always felt a little cheated when there were only snippets here and there.  So, to have the entire book set in Dharma was wonderful.  And to be there in the midst of planning for a book festival, even better.  
Brooklyn's mother, Rebecca, is in charge of the book festival, and naturally things are far from smooth.  Throw in a rare edition of Little Women, a belligerent wine owner who has ambitions to take over other wineries, a committee member who whines over everything, a committee member who may not be what he seems, and a few other mysteries, and now you have a whole lot of interesting developments happening in a town that will soon be hosting thousands of people.  
The action moved fairly easily, but not all that quickly. I did find it predictable and it was easy to figure out the culprit.  I will admit that I did find Derek and Brooklyn to be a bit 'quiet' in this book and not as much in the centre of things; I mean, Brooklyn didn't even find the body this time.  However, the author has an easy writing style that makes you want to visit Dharma and the people who live there, she makes you care about them.  I have always enjoyed the relationships that have developed over these books and it is always fun to revisit characters who appeared in previous books.
The Grim Reader is very enjoyable, and if you enjoy wine and books then you will definitely enjoy this book.  While you can read this as a standalone, I do recommend that you start from the beginning as the author writes in such a way that assumes you have read the earlier novels.  And while I find the mysteries are getting easier and more predictable, they are still fun and I do enjoy them a lot.  At least they are believable.  And as I've already mentioned, I love the community and the characters in Dharma, so I am happy to see that we will back there again and again.  Looking forward to the next instalment. 


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