Saturday, June 9, 2018

Once Upon a Spine - Cozy Mystery Review

Rating: Very Good
Source: Publisher 

Description: Brooklyn's future in-laws are traveling from England to meet her, and if that's not enough to set her on edge, rumors abound that the charming Courtyard Shops across the street may be replaced by high-rise apartments. Their trendy neighborhood will be ruined unless Brooklyn and her fiance, Derek Stone, can persuade the shopkeepers not to sell.
But with a rare edition of Alice in Wonderland causing bad blood at the Brothers Bookshop and a string of petty vandalism making everyone nervous, Brooklyn and Derek feel overwhelmed. Then the owner of the Rabbit Hole juice bar is felled by his own heavy shelves, and the local cobbler lies dead beside him. Things get curiouser and curiouser when a second priceless copy of Alice is discovered.
As the Brits descend, Brooklyn learns they're not so stuffy after all. Derek's dad is won over with chocolate cream pie, and his psychic mum would kill to help Brooklyn solve this murder--before another victim takes a tumble.

Genre: Mystery - Cozy

Why I Picked This Book:
I've really enjoyed this series in the past and was excited to get back to it.

My Impression:
  Well now I want to go on a book buying binge, make paper, find the perfect straw hat, and eat lots of pie.  This book is responsible for all of that (though it doesn't take much to make me want to go on a book buying binge or eat lots of pie).  While I read the first few books in the series I'm several books behind.  Brooklyn and Derek's relationship has progressed quite a bit since the last time I checked in with them but I didn't feel like I was lost or confused at anytime.

This is a bit of an ensemble cast mystery with Brooklyn and Derek, assorted parents, shopkeepers, friends, and police.  As is frequently the case with this type of book the mystery doesn't get quite as much page time as we see relationships grow and characters interact.  I very much enjoyed this aspect but if you're more in the mood for a straight up mystery this may annoy you.

I really enjoyed the mystery as well.  There are a lot of questions right from the beginning - was this an accident or a murder?  Who was the intended victim?  And just what was going on behind the scenes of this cozy little block.  I really enjoyed watching it all come together.  Brooklyn is a good amateur sleuth and Derek's line of work and background give her a tough of legitimacy.  I do like that she talks about the emotional ramifications of regularly stumbling over dead bodies and that there is some distress.

All in all I find this an enjoyable and entertaining mystery series.  The writing and the pacing are well done and the characters are nicely developed.  I think the first few books in the series are more of a straight mystery with not quite as much of a "cozy" atmosphere but I did enjoy getting more of a community feel in this latest book. I'm looking forward to my next visit with Brooklyn and Derek and now I want all the books!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Absolutely!  I really enjoy this author's books and am looking forward to catching up on this series as well as starting her Home Renovation series.

Would I Recommend this Book?
  While this technically takes place in San Francisco it has a very small town cozy vibe.  If you enjoy cozy mysteries I think you'd really enjoy this series.  I think you would have no problem jumping in here though the earlier books are fantastic.


  1. I've been slacking on my cozy mystery reading lately, and along with catching up on Ellery Adams and Julie Mulhern's latest stuff, I'd like tot ry this author too (oh by the way, did you know Julie Mulhern has a new series? I just saw the first book over at Amazon). This sounds like a lot of fun :)

  2. A slice of pie and a cup of coffee sounds good. I like that it has a small-town/community feel.

  3. I really want to read this series. I'm going to start from the beginning. Unfortunately, I have so many cozy mystery series to catch up on, but this sounds really wonderful.

  4. I'd read this just by the title which is so clever. I've marked it as one I'd like to read.

  5. I really need to get to this series!

  6. I've been thinking about paper making myself and this series sounds good. Will probably start with the first though.

  7. This sounds so delightful! I haven't read any of the books in this series, but I do hope to. I am glad you enjoyed this one so much, Katherine.

  8. I just love that cover. How pretty. And pie. I'm in if there's pie. lol

  9. Ooh, this sounds good. I have #1 on my TBR. I'll have to move it up.
    No, the kid isn't getting a kitten so far; she is technically allergic to cats. I know she is dying for one though. I will ask her what would she do with all of those wishes.