Crime and Poetry starts with a lie. The type of lie that gets the protagonist, Violet Waverly into her Mini Cooper and driving from Chicago, where she’s pursuing a doctorate in literature, to Cascade Springs, a small, but beautiful town near Niagara Falls. Cascade Springs, the town a young Violet was lost her own mom and then a handful of years later was blamed for her best friend’s death by the police chief, her boyfriend and then the whole town. Violet promised herself that she’d never come back, but a dozen years later, she finds herself standing in her grandmother’s bookstore, Charming Books, where the perfect book chooses you.
Adorable, but strong Grandma Daisy needed Violet back home to tell her of her destiny, even if it took a whopper of a lie to get her there. Violet isn’t amused and intends on getting a shower, some sleep and then booking it back to Chicago. Unfortunately, the best laid plans and all. Violet wakes up to find Grandma Daisy’s man friend, Benedict, dead in the driveway with one of her grandmother’s scarves around his neck. With Grandma Daisy, her only living family member, as the main suspect, Violet feels that she must stay and find the real murderer.
Violet faces her past, from the death of her mother and best friend to her handsome ex-boyfriend, now mayor Nathan. There are new challenges too, including an equally handsome new police chief, Chief Rainwater (who isn’t thrilled with Violet’s insistence on solving the case) and her destiny as the “Caretaker” of the magical Charming Books. Throw in a few magical animals just for fun, Emerson, the late Benedict’s cat, who takes a special interest in Violet and Faulkner, a talking crow who has taken up residence in a tree that grows in Charming Books. Add in timing that is a little less than ideal, arriving on the eve of a murder and in the middle of a growing controversy surrounding the spring water in Cascade Springs. What you end up with is an interesting, if not always believable, plot.
Amanda Flower did an amazing job pacing Crime and Poetry and developing rich and complex main characters. I don’t generally like books that combine fantasy and mystery, but Crime and Poetry is an intriguing first book in the new Magical Bookshop Mystery series. While the clues slowly built up, the killer was still a surprise when they were revealed. I can’t wait to pick up the second book when it’s released.