Murder in the Mystery Suite begins Ellery Adams’s latest mystery series, one which will make bibliophiles everywhere drool. Imagine getting to live in and work as manager of Storyton Hall, a luxury hotel for book lovers. Each public room is filled with books from wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and devoted to a different topic or genre. There’s the Jane Austen Parlor, the Ian Fleming Lounge, the Shakespeare Theater, the Daphne du Maurier Morning Room, the Isak Dinesen Safari Room, and the Beatrix Potter Play Room, among others. Guests get to do more than just select books from each room, they get to luxuriate in each room as they read their books. A full-time librarian who can find something new to excite every guest, no matter what her or his reading preferences, works to make each person’s stay as pleasurable as can be. In addition, visitors get to enjoy the peaceful countryside, with horseback riding, bicycling, games, and country walks calling visitors outside on beautiful days and a quaint village to explore.
Jane Steward, the great-niece of the owners, serves as the hotel’s manager and lives at Storyton Hall with her 6-year-old impish and delightful twin boys, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. To raise money for a new roof, Jane has conceived of the idea of holding a mystery weekend, complete with a treasure hunt and a mystery ball in which everyone must appear as a character in a mystery novel. Everything seems to be going along well, with the hotel booked for the weekend and the merchants of the small town nearby eagerly do extra business. But then Great-aunt Octavia has a stroke in a panic over the fact that she has given the wrong copy of a book to the winner of the treasure hunt. As far as Jane can see, the book intended for the prize is an excellent collector’s edition, so she cannot understand what could have been so much more special about her aunt’s copy that its loss could give Octavia a stroke.
The morning after the stroke, a maid at the hotel discovers a “Rip Van Winkle,” the hotel’s code for a guest who falls asleep never to be able to wake up again, and it looks like murder. It soon becomes clear that Storyton Hall is infested with a murderer. To keep Storyton running and the village from floundering from lack of customers, Jane must assume the mantel of leadership from her aging great-uncle and aunt and find the killer before the guests get scared away. To do so, she learns the deep secret that the guardians of Storyton Hall, many generations of Stewards, have been guarding very carefully for centuries.
I enjoy all the books I have read so far by Ellery Adams, a highly gifted author who specializes in uniquely blending genres, writing much more than just mystery novels. This was actually my introduction to Adams’s work, and when I read this book a year ago, I did not appreciate its finer points as I do now after having read it for the second time today. Murder in the Mystery Suite is ever so much more than just a mystery, even though the mystery in and of itself is very well written. This book has clear elements of romance and bits of fantasy. In addition, it contains the drama of family life, no matter the day and age, and the nature of friendship. It explores the way our friends become family, especially when, in Jane’s case, she was widowed before her twins were born and would have had to bring up the boys by herself if not for the many substitute family members who help her out.
One detail I especially enjoyed with this book was all the multiple allusions to other books well recognized in the field, whether when the head librarian is recommending books to appreciative readers, when the women’s book club selects books to read together, or when people dress in the costumes of fictional detectives. It became a game to recognize detectives and their authors.
The book is available on audiobook and is read by Johanna Parker, who does a good job. I especially liked her voicing of the twin boys, who come across as incredibly cute and fun little mischievous boys.
Now that I have a deeper appreciation of Murder in the Mystery Suite, I can’t wait to move on to the next book to see how my views on that might have changed before I go on to read the third book in the series, whose recent release prompted me to revisit the books in this series. I strongly give this book five stars, which is borne out by the fact that despite being very tired, I couldn’t let myself sleep last night because I wanted to hear more of my book!
<em><a href=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0425265595/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0425265595&linkCode=as2&tag=fgnmag-20&linkId=38db174e43ee094174a3e6cc1f66f80b”>Murder in the Mystery Suite (A Book Retreat Mystery)</a><img src=”//ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=fgnmag-20&l=am2&o=1&a=0425265595″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” /></em> by Ellery Adams is available in multiple formats. To order, click the link in the title.