Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving.
But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up…
My Thoughts :
Ellery Adams is one of my favourite Cozy Mystery writers so this new first in a series was on my pre-order list as soon as I heard about it. The Book Retreat Mystery series is the third series the author has penned under this name and I couldn't wait to see what she was going to spoil us with this time. Her Books by the Bay series is one of my all time favourites and her Charmed Pie Shoppe series is just magical! Could the Book Retreat series make it a hat-trick?
The book started off well but the size of the Book Retreat, Storyton Hall, was hard to grasp. I tried to map it out in my head but I gave up after a while and could really do with some kind of plan in the next book to be able to put everything into perspective. As the story continued things got bigger and instead of the quaint hotel with a few staff I realised that this was more of a manor house with a huge staff. Maybe the picture of the cover made me think too small.
I was very impressed to find that the leading lady, Jane, was a mother of twins and also the manager of Storyton Hall. It isn't often that the main character has so many responsibilities and I have to give the author a huge thumbs up for going there and doing that! However I hope we find out more about Jane's situation in the next book. Her past wasn't really explained and I feel I need to know more to really like her. So much about her is also a mystery.
The plot was well thought out and it was a good cozy but if you are thinking that this is your typical hotel murder story then you are totally wrong. Somewhere along the way there is a huge twist that makes this one really stand out and make you take notice. I wasn't expecting something so daring and complicated, especially with the whole retreat to run, her family and the twins! A surprising tangent that will definitely make this series very special and original.
All in all this debut was, in my honest opinion, a success. Ellery Adams gives good cozy and she has once again managed to come up with something different and exciting. I look forward to the sequel and hope that this is the first of many Book Retreats I will be spending at Storyton Hall. Where can I book a week there?