Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book Review: The Broken Spine by Dorothy St. James (Beloved Bookroom Mystery #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Some good twists on the cozy in this debut
Cons: I’m keeping all cons a secret
The Bottom Line:
Tru hiding secret
Solve murder to protect books
Strong start to series

Uncovering Secrets to Keep Her Own

When The Broken Spine crossed my radar, I knew I had to read it.  The idea of a secret bookroom appealed to me, and that plays a large part of the mystery.  I’m so glad I picked up this series debut since I enjoyed it.

Tru Beckett has always lived her life playing by the rules.  However, when she learns that the books in her library are all going to be removed to make way for a modern, bookless “technology center,” she decides she has to do something.  So, she sets up a secret room in the library’s basement and hides as many of the books as she possibly can.

Tru enlists a couple of friends to help her one night, but as they are finishing up the next morning, the unthinkable happens.  A shelving unit filled with DVDs falls over and kills the town manager, the very person behind the change in the library.  Since Tru found the victim, the police start with her as their first suspect.  They can tell she is hiding a secret, but that secret is her bookroom.  She quickly decides the only way to keep her secret is to solve the murder herself.  Can she do it?

I always love it when a cozy comes up with an additional motive for the main character to investigate a murder.  In this case, not only does Tru want to clear her name, but she has to keep her new bookroom a secret.  That added layer to her motivation was great.

And the mystery was good.  A couple of times I thought the pacing might be slowing down, but then something would happen to kick the plot into high gear again.  The result was a book I never wanted to put down.  There are some great twists along the way, and the solution makes perfect sense.

Since this is the first book in the series, it’s not always easy to tell suspects from potential series regulars.  Not that it matters because all the characters are strong.  I like Tru, and her friends are just as great.  A few of the minor characters really make an impression with only a couple of scenes.  I’m definitely looking forward to spending time with all of them again soon.  They don’t all fall into typical cozy mystery categories, too, something else I appreciated.

As a reader, the idea of a bookless library truly bothers me.  I get that libraries offer so much more than books, and I’m thrilled that they do.  I’ve borrowed movies and ebooks and audiobooks from my own library.  But getting rid of books all together?  Naturally, that part of the premise made me sympathize with Tru that much more.

The Broken Spine is a delightful debut.  I already can’t wait to visit Tru and her friends again.  If you are looking for a fun new series to start the new year, this is one to check out.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. I enjoyed this one too. Such an interesting premise! What drew me to this book was the secret bookroom idea. I cannot imagine a completely bookless library--although I know the exist. It's just hard to imagine that as being anyone's ideal A combination of both sounds better. Of the characters, I would love to get to know Flossie more. She seems like an interesting character I hope the author will explore further in a future book.

  2. Looking forward to reading this one!

  3. A library without books? I can't blame Tru for deciding to take action. This sounds like a fun cozy mystery!