Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams (Book Retreat Mysteries #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful characters; something different for the plot
Cons: Loose threads and holes in the plot
The Bottom Line:
Book resort, murder
Weak plot but great characters
Wanted to love it

Some Loose Threads in the Mystery Suite

There are many popular cozy authors I don’t get around to reading much.  Too many books and all that.  One of the names I haven’t kept up with at all is Ellery Adams, but I decided to give her a try.  Since I am so far behind, I decided to go with her latest series since there’s only one book in the series.  That means I’m up to date on this series at least, right?  That’s how I came to read Murder in the Mystery Suite.  Unfortunately, a weak plot kept me from loving it like I had hoped I would.

Jane Steward enjoys her life as the manager for Storyton Hall, the family estate located in the country in Virginia.  This resort is a reader’s paradise with libraries and libraries of books, and people come from all around to spend time in solitude reading.  However, the estate is beginning to need some repairs, and so Jane hits on the idea of hosting themed weeks with more events to draw in crowds.

The first such weekend is a Mystery and Mayhem Week with costume balls, scavenger hunts, and other fun activities.  The scavenger hunt is held on opening night, and the prize is a first edition book about the letters of mystery author Adela Dundee, creator of the beloved Umberto Ferrari.  However, soon after awarding the prize, Jane’s great-aunt insists that they gave the winner the wrong book.  When Jane goes to switch out the copies, she finds the winner dead and the book missing.  What was in that particular book that made it worth killing over?

The author tries hard to break out and do something different with this book, and I applaud her for that.  At first I wasn’t sure what to think about that twist, however, by the time I reached the end, I was on board with it.  In fact, I could see how it would lead to lots of fun in further books in a series.  Likewise, the mystery is complex and has some twists to it I wasn’t expecting at all.

However, the more I’ve thought about the ending, the more I’m disappointed with it.  The majority of the story is wrapped up in a satisfactory manner, but there are some questions left outstanding that are bugging me.  I can guess what the answers might be, but I’d really like to know for sure.  Additionally, there’s a plot hole or two out there.

That’s a shame because I really liked the characters.  I can see plenty of potential for fun and growth with them in future books.  My only nitpick here is that Jane’s twin sons occasionally seemed to act about eight or nine, while other times they acted their true age of six.  Still, the large staff of the resort and many members of the town were so much fun, and I would love to visit them again.

There were so many references to famous detectives past and present that it was a blast to read.  Many of them I am familiar with only by reputation, but I still got a kick out of seeing their names pop up here.  However, my favorite mention was of Mrs. Polliax.  (And if you don’t know why I would especially love that, click on the Carstairs? link on the top of the page.)

Still I will probably pass on future visits to Storyton Hall.  The weak plot was enough to keep me from returning, so I will not find out what happens after Jane solves the Murder in the Mystery Suite.


  1. I have this one and am looking forward to reading it. It's too bad that the ending is really unsatisfactory. I'll be prepared for that. Hopefully all the detective mentions will make up for it!

  2. I hope you enjoy it more than I did. There is definitely some fun stuff in there, and the author has many loyal fans.