Title: Chapter and Curse
Author: Elizabeth Penney
Series: Cambridge Bookshop Mysteries #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Pages: 315
Book Source: Netgalley

“Librarian Molly Kimball and her mother, Nina, need a change. So when a letter arrives from Nina’s Aunt Violet in Cambridge, England requesting their help running the family bookshop, they jump at the chance.

Thomas Marlowe—Manuscripts and Folios, is one of the oldest bookshops in Cambridge, and—unfortunately—customers can tell. When Molly and Nina arrive, spring has come to Cambridge and the famed Cambridge Literary Festival is underway. Determined to bring much-needed revenue to the bookstore, Molly invites Aunt Violet’s college classmate and famed poet Persephone Brightwell to hold a poetry reading in the shop. But the event ends in disaster when a guest is found dead—with Molly’s great-aunt’s knitting needle used as the murder weapon. While trying to clear Violet and keep the struggling shop afloat, Molly sifts through secrets past and present, untangling a web of blackmail, deceit, and murder.” – Amazon

Kim’s Review

I don’t read many English Cozy Mysteries, and I am not sure why since I always end up enjoying them. And Chapter and Curse, the first book in The Cambridge Bookshop Mysteries by Elizabeth Penney is very enjoyable!

Penney really shines in all three areas that are essential to cozies; the well developed community, the wonderful descriptions of the town/job, and an engaging mystery with lots of suspects and some red herrings.

Penney has lots of fantastic characters so I’m sure readers will find at least one to be a favorite, if not all of them. Sir Jon, a former spy, is definitely high up on my list. But I really like the patience of George, and Daisy too, who is becoming the fun BFF to Molly. There’s also the wonderful family aspect with her mother, Nina, and her Aunt Violet. Along with the bookstore’s cat, who is a perfectly written cat, there’s Puck, the new shop cat, who is a curious little bugger.

And, of course, we can’t forget the love interest, Kieran. I really enjoy the twist that Penney has given the romantic partner being from high society while Molly is not. I’m looking forward to seeing how his connections play out in future books.

As for the descriptions of Cambridge, the bookstore, local pub, and other shops, they make me want to go for a month-long trip to England. Penney adds in details not only of the architecture, but includes bits of history and nods to various books that will have any book lover very happy. It seems like such a charming place (besides the murder) with people riding bicycles everywhere, stopping in to accuse people of murder and still being offered a spot of tea, and pubs where everyone really does know your name.

Penney offered up lots of suspects for the mystery, even having me wonder for a brief moment if it could have been the aunt! The blackmail aspect of the crime provided lots of motives for the various suspects and showed what a truly horrible person the murder victim was.

I highly recommend the new Cambridge Bookshop Mysteries and can’t wait for the next book in the series!

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