cover image Murder on the Half Shelf

Murder on the Half Shelf

Lorna Barrett. Berkley Prime Crime, $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-24775-4

At the outset of Agatha-finalist Barrett’s unsatisfying sixth Booktown mystery (after 2011’s Sentenced to Death), Tricia Miles, owner of the Haven’t Got a Clue bookstore in Stoneham, N.H., who’s been invited by her sister, cookbook author Angelica, to share in a free night at the new Sheer Comfort Inn, stumbles across the body of Pippa Comfort, one-half of the couple running the inn. Tricia soon becomes aware that Jon Comfort, Pippa’s husband, is not what he seems, and begins receiving disquieting packages from someone apparently well versed about her own past. Police chief Grant Baker, Tricia’s boyfriend, is inclined to think that Tricia isn’t an innocent bystander to the crime, while Bob Kelly, Angelica’s former boyfriend, may be involved in shady dealings. Situations that strain credulity and a culprit who appears without sufficient foreshadowing will disappoint some readers, but series fans should enjoy the colorful smalltown characters and the cliffhanger ending. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds. (July)