Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Book Review: How to Book a Murder by Cynthia Kuhn (Starlit Bookshop Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Solid mystery and main characters
Cons: A few niggles but overall enjoyable
The Bottom Line:
A deadly event
Past hurts complicate the case
Overall, it’s fun

Murder Mystery Night Ends with Real Murder

Cynthia Kuhn is back with a new mystery series.  Since I enjoyed the Lila Maclean Mysteries, I was anxious to meet her new characters in the Starlit Bookshop Mystery series.  I’m pleased to say that How to Book a Murder is a fun debut.

Emma Starrs has returned home to help her sister, Lucy, run the bookstore they’ve inherited from their parents.  Starlit Bookshop is doing even worse than Emma realizes, so she decides to put her event planning skills to use to supplement what the store is bringing in.

Emma’s first client is Tabitha Baxter, an old schoolmate.  Time hasn’t made Tabitha any kinder to Emma, but Emma figures she can get through one night, especially since all she has to do is run the mystery event that is supposed to take place over the course of the dinner.  The evening is really for Tabitha’s husband, Tip, and his colleagues at the local university, including Emma’s aunt Nora.  The evening ends when Emma finds a dead body.  With rumors spreading around town that Emma or Nora committed the murder, Emma tries to find the truth.  Can she clear her name?  Or has she doomed the family bookstore as the backlash drives customers away?

I was actually surprised at who the victim was, but it was a great choice since it allowed for some additional conflict for Emma.  The story does get lost a time or two in the sub-plots, but they were fun sub-plots, so I didn’t mind too much.  The climax was wonderful – logical and creative – and it wrapped up everything perfectly.

The book has a plethora of suspects, which is a good thing for a mystery.  Unfortunately, they are mostly introduced in group scenes, so it was hard for me to keep them all straight early on, but as the book progressed, it became easier to remember who the key suspects are and what their motives might be.  There were a variety of motives, which I truly appreciated since it made the book more fun and helped separate the suspects.

Emma, Lucy, and Nora are fantastic main characters.  Yes, Emma is the lead character, but Lucy and Nora are just as important to the story.  I loved them and their relationships, and I can’t wait to see more of them.  The romantic relationships are just as interesting, and I look forward to seeing how they grow in the future.

I mentioned the fun sub-plots earlier.  There is one in particular that added some great humor to the book.  At times, it was a bit over the top, but at other times I gave me the laughs it was supposed to be giving me.  There are some other laugh out loud moments over the course of the book.

How to Book a Murder sets up an intriguing new cozy series.  I’m anxious to see just what trouble Emma can get into next.

Note: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Mark, thank you very much for reading and for writing this kind review--so thrilled that you enjoyed it!

  2. The too many characters is definitely a problem I see a lot in first books in the series. This does sound really good though! I love the bookish setting!


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