Thursday, September 16, 2021

Book Review: Murder Outside the Lines by Krista Davis (Pen & Ink Mysteries #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, setting
Cons: Plot could be more focused
The Bottom Line:
Psychic signing books
Did she really see body?
Good Halloween plot

Florrie is Haunted by Murder this Halloween

It’s been several years since the second book in the Pen & Ink Mysteries came out, but I was excited to see Florrie Fox and her friends return in Murder Outside the Lines.  Anyone who has been looking forward to more in this series will be delighted.

If you need a refresher about this series, Florrie Fox is the manager for the bookstore Color Me Read in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC.  Despite the fact that the series is set in a large city, the fact that we focus on the neighborhood still definitely makes it feel cozy.  In addition to managing the bookstore, Florrie creates adult coloring books, and as she is thinking about the events happening around her, she will sketch the suspects or crime scenes.

As this book opens, fall is in the air with Halloween fast approaching.  Florrie has a special author appearance planned, author and psychic Hilda Rattenhorst.  However, when Hilda shows up, she claims to have seen a carpet wrapped up with a foot sticking out of it in a nearby doorway.  Florrie and her boyfriend, Eric, who is also a police officer, head out to check it out only to find nothing when they arrive.  Then, during her talk before signing books, Hilda claims to feel a killer’s presence in the audience.  As Florrie is trying to figure out if it is a publicity stunt, one incident after another begins to happen.  What is going on?

I’ll admit that this book had more potentially supernatural elements than I was expecting, even for a book set at Halloween.  I was uncomfortable with how many of them turned up early on in the book, although eventually, the story settles down and focuses on the crimes that are going on.

And there is a lot happening here.  In fact, I felt like there might be a bit too much going on.  I feel like taking out one or two elements would have helped the story a bit more since it would have allowed Florrie, and us, to focus.  On the other hand, I also felt like the story stalled a bit in the middle.  I know, I know, I’m never satisfied.  Despite these two complaints, the book does come together for a satisfying and logical conclusion.

And don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book.  The plot was engaging, and the setting is wonderful.  Between the bookstore and the wonderful neighborhood, I loved tagging along with Florrie as she worked to figure out what was going on.

Plus, I like Florrie.  It had been long enough since the previous book that I didn’t remember much about the characters except that I really liked them, but it was only a couple of chapters before I was feeling right at home again and remembering just how charming and eclectic the cast is.  I liked some of the growth we got in the characters, and am looking forward to seeing how these events play out in future books.  The suspects prove to be just as entertaining and endearing – at least at first before Florrie begins to uncover their more sinister sides.

The cover of the book is mostly black and white, giving you a canvas you can color to make it your own.  And, while not a full culinary cozy, we get some delicious sounding recipes at the end of the book.

Fans will be happy to return to Florrie’s world in Murder Outside the Lines.  Overall, this is a charming mystery that is perfect for the fall.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. I feel like I would be coloring in all those doodles on the cover LOL

  2. The addition of supernatural elements in book 3 is definitely a surprise. I have the first book on my TBR so I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one even if it was a bit scattered especially at first.


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