A Fatal Booking
reviewed by Pam Guynn
A Fatal Booking by Victoria Gilbert is the third book in the Booklover’s B&B cozy mystery series. In this engaging story, the author has managed to bring together an amateur sleuth with her older neighbor and friend who was a spy in her younger days. The literary-themed Chapters Bed and Breakfast (B&B) is the main focal point and the story is set in and around Beaufort, North Carolina.
Charlotte Reed inherited the B&B from her great-aunt Isabella Harrington and left a job teaching high school English to run it. A last minute cancellation opens the B&B for a last minute request. An illustrator and jewelry designer who also taught at the same school calls for a week-long literary event focused on classic children’s literature and fairy tales, and Charlotte is happy to take the reservation. When one of the guests is found dead during a costumed tea party, Charlotte and neighbor Ellen Montgomery are once again working to solve the mystery while keeping Detective Amber Johnson informed as they discover helpful information. The victim had plenty of enemies and many of them were in the book club.
Charlotte has an inquisitive mind and is a likeable character, but there were a couple of times when she noticed something that should have been investigated but didn’t do so despite her craving for excitement and danger. The characters are well developed with a charming mix of personalities ranging from likable, intelligent, and independent to quirky to annoying to deceptive. One additional positive is the inclusion of diverse characters which isn’t often done in cozy mysteries.
The book has the right mix of humor, suspense, historical questions, and suspense in a contemporary mystery. However, the pace seemed somewhat slow in the beginning as characters were introduced and the background established. After the mid-point, though, the tempo increased, and the ending was a highlight. There are several potential suspects and enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested. Will you guess who the killer is and why they did it? Several themes run through the story line including murder, business practices, racism, friendship, and a bit of romance, plus a few others that would be spoilers.
Overall, this was an entertaining and fun novel. I look forward to seeing what is next for Charlotte and her friends. Readers of cozy mysteries set in the south with a focus on books will likely enjoy this series. The series is best read in order to see the character growth and the friendships develop, but this novel can be read as a stand-alone.
Crooked Lane Books and Victoria Gilbert provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for June 07, 2022.