Murder is Binding, by Lorna Barrett
Paperback: 281 pages
Series: A Booktown Mystery (book 1), although it can just as easily be read as a stand-alone novel.
First published: April 2008
When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries-and hunt down someone who isn’t killing by the book. (Goodreads)
I have to admit, one of the reasons I picked up Murder is Binding is the cover. I don’t normally judge a book by its cover, but the artwork for the Booktown Mystery series is beautiful, easily rivaling the British edition of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Vivid colors, a meticulous attention to details, and the inclusion of just the right elements from the story give the book a very high chance of “catching the eyes” on a bookstore shelf.
Book Country’s genre map defines the cozy mystery subgenre as:
A subgenre of mystery set in a small town or village. Cozies are characterized by their lack of explicit sex and violence. The protagonist is usually a likable female sleuth who is often viewed as an annoyance by the local police
This describes Murder is Binding to the letter, and I don’t really have that much to add. The story is good, there are no silly twists to make you roll your eyes, and the reader stands a clear chance of figuring out who did it without having to worry that the author will pull a deus ex machina to provide a “clever” twist ending that no reader could predict. All in all, the book keeps pretty close to the Twenty rules for writing detective stories, which any self-respective detective novel should respect.
You know when you read a book and all kinds of delicious meals are mentioned, and you find yourself salivating and making mental notes to find the recipe for a particular dish? Well, Murder is Binding goes the extra mile and includes a recipe for every dish that gets mentioned in an annex at the end of the novel. This is a nice touch that I would like to see implemented in more books. As a side note, if you found yourself drooling over George R.R. Martin’s intricate dishes in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, the Inn at the Crossroads blog does an excellent job of creating said dishes and publishing the recipes.
I gave Murder is Binding ( ) such a high rating because it was exactly what I was looking for at the time, a good, clean cozy mystery to enjoy on a few lazy summer afternoons. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Murder, She Wrote and liked it, you should definitely pick up this book.