Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Buried In A Book - Lucy Arlington

Buried In A Book
A Novel Idea Mystery
Lucy Arlington
Berkley Prime Crime
After twenty years of writing for her local paper, Lila Wilkins is shocked to find herself unceremoniously down-sized.  Not to worry, though.  Through judicious use of the paper’s own classifieds section, she finds herself another job.  It’s entry level – actually, intern level – and involves a serious pay cut, but it’s a job.  Lila is the newest intern at the Novel Ideas Literary Agency.  She has dreams of finding the next best-selling author.  The reality is plowing through loads of poorly-written query letters every day and separating them into ‘rejection’ and ‘potential’ piles.
Her first day at work, a homeless-looking man arrives at reception clutching a bunch of flowers, asking if anyone has read his query letter.  Lila tries to let him down gently, especially after the other agents tell her that Marlette (it’s the only name they know for him) has been showing up at the agency twice a day for some time.  His next arrival proves to be his last, however, when Lila returns from a coffee run to find Marlette, dead, on one of the couches in reception.  An agent points out what looks like a needle mark on his neck.  Lila feels horror and pity for his man, who seemed like nothing more than a harmless nuisance.  When the local police put Marlette’s death aside during a murder/arson case, Lila decides that she won’t let his murder be forgotten.
This is the first in a new series.  A mystery series that gives readers a look at the inner workings of a literary agency is a unique idea, and the mystery plot itself is quite interesting.  Unfortunately, the various agents come across as caricatures, not real people.  The guy who does sports books is young and energetic and refers to himself in the third person; the woman who does children’s books is a zaftig matron who drinks tea.  The setting, a place called Inspiration Valley, is just entirely too twee for my personal taste.  That said, the underlying mystery is one not often seen in cozies, with enough red herrings to be entertaining.  If this were a query letter, it would definitely go in the ‘has potential’ folder.

Rating: 6 ½
February 2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-24619-1 (paperback)


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