In Murder Is Binding by Lorna Barrett, Tricia Miles is just getting her mystery bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, off the ground after six months in business when her prima donna older sister, Angelica, suddenly arrives in her small town of Stoneham, NH, against Tricia’s desires. Angelica has just split up with her fourth husband and, to Tricia’s dismay, wants to move to Stoneham, which has the reputation for being the safest town in New Hampshire, without a murder in 60 years. The other merchants all get along well except for one woman, Doris Gleason, who sells cookbooks and other books about food, both contemporary and historical. The day that Angelica arrives, Tricia is stuck having to deal with Doris twice in the same day. She goes to meet up with Angelica and then returns to show her sister her store and home in the loft above the store. But as they arrive, Angelica smells smoke, and Tricia discovers the cookery store on fire. After putting out the embers, Tricia discovers the body of Doris with a carving knife in her back and a valuable old cookbook stolen.
This leads to Tricia’s worst nightmare, as the sheriff, eager to make an arrest in time for the election in two months, has decided that Tricia committed the murder and follows her everywhere. Each time Tricia points out someone else who has a motive, the sheriff gets angrier and closer to arresting her. Further, an old beggar woman who buys books and trinkets from people in the community and sells them to shop owners is killed in a car crash that Tricia suspects was not an accident. In addition, Tricia comes to realize that the valuable cookbook originally landed in Doris’s hands through the services of the beggar lady, enough cause to make Tricia and Angelica suspect extra foul play.
As Tricia feels the danger closing in, the sisters learn to work together and address the childhood issues that once divided them. They find that not all people with nice smiles are real friends and that the two have to fight for each other in order to survive. The book teaches valuable lessons about teamwork and learning to set aside childhood differences that in and of themselves no longer have relevance to the present even though their effects often linger long into adulthood.
I also enjoyed the witticisms and clever comments made throughout. Just one example comes when Tricia is facing an upsetting situation and cries out for a cookie to help bolster her, but in pique, Angelica taunts her with, ” ‘I ate the last one just before you came back.’ Suddenly, fratricide seemed like a wonderful solution to all of life’s problems.”
Cassandra Campbell does an amazing job as narrator of the audiobook version of this book. I have long enjoyed her reading of Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune series, which she does very well, yet if I had not recognized the name of the narrator, I would not have connected the narrator of this book with the one of the Miss Fortune series. In giving her performance, Campbell really displays the flavor of her books, receding from herself and marvelously displaying the characters of the books.
Murder Is Binding is a well-written book, with a joy of mystery books and great characters. I heartily enjoyed listening to this and look forward to listening to more in this series! I give the book five stars!
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