Thursday, February 27, 2020

Book Review: Death with a Dark Red Rose by Julia Buckley (Writer's Apprentice Mysteries #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Characters I love in a story that hooked me early
Cons: Beginning a little weak (although still hooked me)
The Bottom Line:
A missing person
Lands Lena in mystery
Keeps pages turning

Mysterious Disappearance

Since I’ve enjoyed the first four books in Julia Buckley’s Writer’s Apprentice Mysteries, I was looking forward to catching up with Lena and the gang in Death with a Dark Red Rose, the latest in the series.  But even though I’m a series fan, I was surprised at just how quickly I came under the spell the book wove.

Life is going well for Lena London.  Her latest collaboration with bestselling novelist Camilla Graham is doing well, she and her fiance, Sam West, are just starting to plan their wedding, and she enjoys spending time with her new friends in Blue Lake.  The only shadow is the new factory that is being built just outside of town.  It looks like the building is going to be an eye sore, and Lena is not happy about it and other ways it might change this area she considers home.  However, a cold wind blows in when someone vanishes.  Soon, Lena and her friends are caught up in another race to figure out what is happening before things turn deadly.  Will they solve things in time?

Yes, I’m being even vaguer than normal is describing the plot of this book.  Honestly, I thought the initial set up was the weakest part of the book.  Having said that, I was still hooked from the first page and that didn’t let go until I reached the end.  It amazed me just how quickly I was concerned for these character’s safety, and that concern never wavered.  Stupid real life for getting in the way of me being able to read faster.  I did see a couple of twists coming, but there were still plenty that surprised me as I went along.

Obviously, I love the characters.  Lena has amassed quite the group of friends over the year she’s lived in town, and we get to see all of them again here.  From their interactions on the page, we can tell just how much they truly do care for each other.  At times in the past, I’ve felt this aspect of the book could be a little overdone, but here it was just right.  The new characters fit right into the world that’s been created for the books, and I hope some of them pop up in future books.

Each chapter in these books starts with a quote from the current project that Lena and Camilla are working on, and this book is no exception.  I’ve always appreciated how those quotes foreshadow the events to come in the chapter, but here these quotes also helped me appreciate just how the novels in the series incorporate elements of Gothic novels into their storytelling.  Not being super familiar with that genre, I hadn’t picked up on a few subtle things this series does well to incorporate these elements.  I’m impressed with just how seamlessly the elements of Gothic and cozy are mixed for this series.

And I still want to read some of Camilla’s books.  If only they were real.  The plots she and Lena talk about sound wonderful.

The main plot in this book stands on its own, however, this book does have some pretty major spoilers for earlier books in the series.  That’s necessary considering what happened to the characters in those books.  I highly recommend you read this series from the start.  It’s best to watch how things unfold unspoiled, and you’ll be hooked on every page.

Death with a Dark Red Rose is another thrilling page turner.  Block off plenty of time when you sit down to read because you won’t want to put this book down until you reach the end.

Need to start at the beginning?  Here are the rest of the Writer's Apprentice Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  I will pick the winner Thursday, March 5th, so please leave your comment before midnight Pacific Time on 3/5.  You will have until midnight on 3/10 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 3/11.


  1. This is a good author. And, as usual, you write a thorough and helpful review!

  2. I read the first book in the series and enjoyed it.

  3. I've been looking for a new mystery series to read and this sound like a good one. Thank you for the opportunity to win the start of a great series!

  4. I've been looking for a new mystery series to read and this sound like a good one. Thank you for the opportunity to win the start of a great series!

  5. Love that series. Can't wait to read this--fingers crossed. lsum1258 at aol dot com.

  6. Enjoy your reviews thanks for the drawing.

  7. I love this series as well! Thanks for the review. I look forward to reading this one. Thanks for a chance to win!

  8. Loved your review and thanks for the giveaway. doward1952(at)yahoo(dot)com

  9. Thank you for the review and the giveaway. This sounds wonderful! ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  10. I really enjoy this series! Thanks for the giveaway. acate9(at)utk(dot)edu

  11. I'm intrigued by the gothic elements.
    turtle6422 at gmail dot com

  12. I’ve read all of Julia Buckley’s seres, but the Writer’s Apprentice my favorite. I think it’s because I read a lot of Gothic novels growing up. I agree with you, Mark — I would love to be able to read Camilla’s books. cking78503(at)aol(dot)com.

  13. Love that pup and kitty on the cover and sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the opportunity.

    olomuss (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. Thanks for the info on this great author!

  15. I love this cover since I can picture our animals doing the same thing. Thank you for the opportunity to enter your giveaway. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

  16. This sounds like a great series and I have the first three in the series. Thanks for the giveaway! aut1063(at)gmail(dot)com

  17. I love this series and can’t wait to read this one!

  18. On my library's wait list for the book - thanks for the review.
    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

  19. Sounds like a great cozy mystery.
    xzjh04(at) gmail(dot) com

  20. I’d love to read this!

  21. Thank you for the chance.

  22. Love this series! I definitely recommend it.