Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Setting, cast, twisty mystery
Cons: Ending is rushed
The Bottom Line:
Rare coloring book
Did it lead to a murder?
Story filled with fun
Coloring Can Be Profitable…and Deadly
I completely enjoyed the first in Krista Davis' new Pen & Ink Mystery series, so I was thrilled when we got to revisit Florrie Fox and the rest of the characters in The Coloring Crook. I wasn’t surprised to find that this is a fun sequel.
Florrie spends her days as the manager of the bookstore Color Me Read in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC and her nights creating adult coloring books. She's also heading up a club at the bookstore for adults to come and color together. It's through this club that she's gotten to know Dolly Cavanaugh, who owns a brownstone in the neighborhood. In addition to coloring, Dolly loves to hunt for bargains at garage sales.
One day Dolly arrives for the weekly coloring club meeting thrilled with her latest bargain. She believes she has found a rare copy of The Florist, an adult coloring book from the 1700's. There are very few of them left, so this could be Dolly's ticket to wealth. However, the evening, Florrie finds Dolly's dead body. The book is missing, only a piece of torn paper left in Dolly's hand. As secrets begin to come to light, Florrie is left to wonder how well she really knew Dolly. Was the book the motive for Dolly's murder? Or did a secret from her past catch up with her?
Normally, we don't think of big cities as the setting for cozies, or at least modern cozies, but the Georgetown neighborhood works wonderfully here. The action all takes place in the area; in fact, Florrie walks much of the time. This feels like a cozy. Florrie has a great guest house she lives in, and the bookstore sounds like one I would gladly spend a day browsing in. An appealing setting is much of what draws me to a series, and this one has it.
I've also got to love the characters, and I certainly feel that way about this bunch. Florrie is wonderful, and I love spending time with her. Various members of her family and friends bring out different sides of her that I enjoy seeing. Even the suspects are a nice bunch. Yes, there are one or two characters we don’t like, but they are the exception.
As I alluded to above, this book isn't quite as simple as the rare coloring book being the motive, and I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot. I did begin to piece things together early, but I only had a few pieces of it. While the solution is logical, I did feel that the ending was rushed, leading to a few things being glossed over. That's my only complaint with the book, however.
Since adult coloring books are the theme of the series, this book offers a cover you can color when you are pondering the latest twists and turns of the case. And, since Florrie loves to bake, you'll find five recipes at the end.
With a charming setting, great cast, and involved plot, The Coloring Crook is well worth reading. Personally, I'm already looking forward to a return visit.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.