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Chapter & Hearse Mass Market Paperback – Aug 3 2010


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (Aug. 3 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425236013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425236017
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #233,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

one

The poster on the Cookery’s display window had advertised the book signing for at least a month. Throngs of people were supposed to be in evidence. A temporary cook station had been assembled, and ramekins filled with diced vegetables, chopped chicken, and spices were lined up like props in a stage play.

Tricia Miles forced a smile and tried not to glance at her watch. “Everything looks perfect,” she said with a cheerfulness in her voice she didn’t quite feel.

The “guest” author, her sister Angelica, stood behind the cook station, head held high, although her eyes were watery and her mouth trembled ever so slightly. Next to her stood a larger-than-life-size photo cutout of . . . herself! The real Angelica was maybe five foot six in her stocking feet—the cutout was six feet tall, dressed in dark slacks and a white blouse covered by a buff-colored, full-front apron with her,name emblazoned across the front: ANGELICA MILES, and beneath that: author of EASY-DOES-IT COOKING.

Tricia tried to concentrate on the living Angelica, but her gaze kept wandering to the cutout. It wasn’t a good likeness, but somehow Angelica had missed that when she’d purchased the thing as an aid for promotion. Her rather demented expression was one of perpetual surprise—either that, or one of a victim of bad plastic surgery. With her fingers splayed, the cutout reminded Tricia of a bird spreading its bony wings. Yes, that was it—Angelica looked like she’d been goosed. Either that, or the photographer had coached her into an uncanny imitation of a constipated blue heron.

The real Angelica spoke, her voice sounding wobbly. “Nobody’s going to come. Not one person.”

“I’m here,” said a smiling Ginny Wilson, Tricia’s twenty-something assistant at her mystery bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue.

“And I,” said elderly Mr. Everett, Tricia’s other part-time employee.

“Don’t forget me,” Frannie May Armstrong said in her Texas twang. Angelica owned the Cookery, Stoneham’s cookbook store, and Frannie managed it for her. Angelica also owned Booked for Lunch, a retro café across the street. Writing cookbooks was just another entry on her colorful résumé.

Unfortunately, the village of Stoneham, known locally as “Booktown,” was more a tourist destination not far from the New Hampshire/Massachusetts state line. Not many of the locals supported the booksellers, who’d been recruited to save what had been a dying village. And shops filled with used, rare, and antiquarian books had done it, too, as evidenced by new prosperity and a much-needed influx of tax revenue.

“Wasn’t a busload of gourmands supposed to arrive for the signing?” Mr. Everett whispered to Frannie.

“I got a call about an hour ago,” she whispered in reply. “They canceled, but asked for a rain check. They may come up sometime in the fall.”

Tricia refrained from commenting. Thanks to the Internet, Angelica had cultivated a relationship with the “Gamboling Gourmets,” who traveled New England throughout the summer, tasting the local cuisines. Tonight’s signing was to be their first outing of the year, and Angelica’s launch party. She’d spent days preparing a table full of desserts—all from her newly published book, Easy-Does-It Cooking, which had been officially available all of two days.

Angelica’s cutout notwithstanding, Tricia had expected at least a few more warm bodies to attend the signing. Mr. Everett’s bride of eight months had come down with a cold, which explained her absence, but surely the employees at Angelica’s café—Jake Masters, the cook, and Darcy Gebhard, the waitress—might have made an effort to be there. And someone else was conspicuous by his absence.

“Anybody know where Bob is?” Frannie asked.

Bob Kelly, owner of Kelly Real Estate and the president of the local Chamber of Commerce, had been Angelica’s significant other for the past eighteen months—ever since she’d come to live in Stoneham.

“I’m sure he’ll have a perfectly reasonable explanation for being late,” Tricia lied. She and Bob weren’t exactly best friends, but she tried to overlook his many shortcomings for her sister’s sake.

“I saw his car parked down the street, near History Repeats Itself,” Ginny volunteered. “It’s been there awhile.”

Angelica pouted. “He said he’d be here.”

“There’s still time,” Tricia reassured her.

Angelica nodded, resigned, and tucked a lock of her short, blonde hair behind her left ear. “Business hasn’t been good lately, and he’s been preoccupied. It probably just slipped his mind.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” Tricia said, and hoped her nose hadn’t just grown an inch. For weeks, Angelica had done nothing but talk about the event.

Frannie straightened the stack of unsigned books on the side table, and everyone tried not to make eye contact with Angelica as they waited in awkward silence for someone—anyone—else to arrive. Finally, Ginny suggested Angelica go ahead with her cooking demonstration.

“What’s the point?” Angelica asked, defeat coloring her voice.

“Well, it’s almost seven thirty, and none of us has had dinner. I can’t be the only one eager to try your Hacienda Tacos.”

“Good old Tex-Mex—the best food on Earth,” Frannie piped up, then sighed. “Next to a luau, that is.” It was Frannie’s dream to retire to the fiftieth state.

Angelica gave a careless shrug and turned on the electric skillet.

Across the street, the newly installed gas lamps glowed. The Board of Selectmen had approved the installation of the old-fashioned streetlights in an effort to capitalize on the town’s history and its new lease on life. Tourists ate up that kind of stuff, and the Board of Selectmen was eager to do all it could to encourage their visits. Unfortunately, when the bookstores closed, the visitors disappeared, leaving no one to appreciate them.

Within minutes, Angelica had prepared the filling, spooned it into corn tortillas, and passed them out to her small—and hungry—audience. The desserts were then sampled, and everyone sipped complimentary coffee, not making a dent in the contents of the five-gallon urn borrowed from Angelica’s café.

As Angelica served Mr. Everett another portion of coconut cake, Tricia gave Ginny a nudge. “Buy a book,” she whispered.

Ginny’s eyes nearly popped. “They’re thirty-four dollars,” she hissed. “I can’t afford it.”

“Use your charge card, and I’ll credit your account tomorrow morning. I want Ange to make at least a couple of sales tonight.”

Ginny shrugged. “If you insist.” She set down her paper cup, grabbed a copy of the coffee-table-sized book filled with glossy photos, and marched up to the cash desk where Angelica stood wringing her hands. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m proud to be the first to get my signed copy of Easy-Does-It Cooking.”

Mr. Everett’s nervous gaze shifted to Tricia. She mouthed the words Buy one—I’ll pay you back.

“Uh, uh—let me be the second,” Mr. Everett said.

Luckily, Angelica hadn’t noticed Tricia’s prompting. She pressed a clenched hand to her lips, fighting back tears. “You guys are just the best. Frannie, grab the camera, will you?” she said. Next, she played director, carefully positioning Ginny with her back to the camera, posed to her satisfaction. She shook Ginny’s hand. She raised a finger to make a point. She looked surprised—then serious, and, ultimately, very silly. At last, Angelica reached for her pen, wrote a few words on the flyleaf of Ginny’s copy, and signed her name with such a flourish that it was completely illegible. Frannie kept snapping pictures as Angelica handed the book to Ginny.

Ginny frowned. “Live free or diet?” Was Angelica mocking the state motto?

“Yes, don’t you think that’s clever?” Angelica said. “I’m going to sign that in all the books.”

Though Ginny forced a smile, her voice was flat. “Go for it.”

As Mr. Everett stepped up to have his book signed, Tricia moved to look out the large display window that faced Main Street. As Ginny had said, Bob’s car was parked near History Repeats Itself. Tricia’s anger smoldered. How inconsiderate of Bob to ignore Angelica’s very first signing. He had to know how much it meant to her.

Tricia glanced back at her sister and Mr. Everett, still posing for Frannie. In a fit of pique, she decided it was time for action. She’d go find Bob and, if necessary, drag him back to the Cookery by this thinning hair. Besides, Angelica’s photographic self was beginning to creep her out.

Tricia took a Zen moment to calm herself before she spoke. “I think I’ll run out and see if I can find Bob,” she told Angelica. “If his car is parked down the road, he can’t be very far away.”

“I suppose,” Angelica said. “But please hurry back to help us pack up some of these desserts.” She shook her head, taking in the amount of leftover food. “I can’t serve all this at the café. Would you like to take some home, Ginny?”

“Would I? Hand me the plastic wrap, will you?”

“Be right back,” Tricia called and headed out the door.

The village was practically deserted, and Bob’s car was the only vehicle parked on the west side of Main Street. Tricia crossed the street and started down the sidewalk. Upon consideration, she decided she wouldn’t berate Bob, at least not in front of Jim Roth, owner of History Repeats Itself. It wouldn’t do to go ballistic with him as an audience. Instead, her plan was to poke her head inside the door and cheerfully ask if Bob hadn’t forgotten another engagement—and probably do it through gritted teeth.

The glowing gas lamps really did lend a quaint, old-fashioned charm to the already picturesque storefronts. Although an expensive indulgence, they added to the village’s ambience—especially outside of Haven’t Got a Clue. It went right along with the atmosphere she’d created, emulating 221B Baker Street in London.

Tricia was within two doors of History Repeats Itself when she paused to look inside Booked for Lunch. Angelica had done a wonderful job decorating the café. Heck, she’d done a terrific job managing two businesses and starting a writing career. Not that Tricia had ever mentioned to Angelica how proud she was of Angelica’s accomplishments. As it was, her swelled head could barely fit through a standard doorway.

As Tricia took a step forward, she heard a phoomph. The Earth shook as a shower of glass exploded onto the street, and a rush of hot air enveloped her, the shock of it knocking her to the ground.

Then everything went black.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Betty Gelean on July 28 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lorna Barrett writes with a flow that takes the reader into the story as eye witness to the events. You are there, it feels real. What I like best about reading a series is the character development and consistency; you soon feel you know these people personally, and Lorna is very good at giving her readers those characters. "Chapter and Hearse" is the fourth in the Booktown series.

An explosion rocks the little town of Stoneham, completely demolishing one of the heritage buildings as well as the store manager, and giving the biggest tourist draw in town the look of a mouthful of teeth with one missing. What's more, the property is sold within four days of the explosion, which naturally causes our heroine, amateur sleuth and bookseller Tricia Miles, an itch in her sleuthing bones. Fortunately, her ever-faithful employees and friends are on hand to mind her store "Haven't Got A Clue", while she pursues the case. Three men from her past tend to interrupt her concentration on sleuthing, especially the Chief who definitively tells her to not put herself in the way of danger.

Tricia's sister Angelica, owner of both the Cookery bookstore, next to Tricia's bookstore, and the eatery "Booked for Lunch" across the road, is out of town through most of this book She is out on a book-signing tour for her cookbook, "Easy-Does-It Cooking", but hurries back when her boyfriend Bob is not only an 'almost' victim in his own home, but also suspected of the crime already being investigated.

There are many surprises in "Chapter and Hearse", misunderstandings, outright lies, misdirections, suspicious accidents, several suspects, tangled connections, and a funny scene where Tricia tries to bake. Lots for the reader to chew on. There are also recipes included.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If there ever was a book written about a murder magnet, Tricia Miles could easily have been the protagonist. Every time a corpse showed up in Stoneham, New Hampshire she had her finger in the pie so to speak, but lately things had been toning down and all was well at her bookstore, "Haven't Got a Clue." Her employees were loyal, she was getting along much better with her sister, Angelica, and the most exciting thing that could happen was a tourist bus showing up in the quiet book town. Angelica was the kind of sister who had an ego that wouldn't quit and that life-sized cutout of her at "The Cookery" was simply aggravating, BUT Tricia was determined to get along with her.

Angelica's boyfriend, Bob Kelly, was a drip, but that wasn't her problem. Even though Trish just might have been a tad jealous about Angelica's upcoming book tour for her new cookbook, all was good. Trish could have hung out a shingle on the side of her store because all of a sudden she unintentionally became a "personal counselor to half of Stoneham." The chit chat and gossip would soon travel around town faster than a speeding bullet when a sudden explosion rocked the quiet street, right across from "Haven't Got a Clue." Jim Roth's store, "History Repeats Itself," was blown to smithereens when he lit up. The quiet streets of Stoneham began to stir again and history was repeating itself. A murder history, that is.

Bob Kelly was in that building. Granted, Trish thought Jim was a "spineless mama's boy" and her opinion of Bob wasn't much better, but they didn't deserve this. Things seem to move quickly around Ms Miles and the hubbub began in earnest. Someone was out to get Angelica, Russ began to stalk Trish, Ginny's home owning days were going down the tubes, Trish's ex, Christopher, sent her a gift . . .
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By beegirl1978 on June 2 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The Booktown Mysteries are one of my favorite cozy mysteries and with this book this series is getting better and better. Who wouldn't love a town based on used bookstores in New England? I like that Tricia naturally and subtly begins investigating the murder instead of launching into a formal one and taking over from the police. There are a great cast of characters in this town and with each book we are learning more about them. I can't wait to grab her next book and you will too.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I did not read the series in order and in this particular one that was a shame, since I already read the next one and knew who won the lottery ;)
again fast paced and again lots of happening. and again could not put it down, even though I kind of guessed the "whodunit" - again it was probably because I read the next one in series :)
great easy and relaxing read! :)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 78 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A Booklover's Delight Aug. 3 2010
By Cindy Chow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bookstore owner Tricia Miles wasn't sure what to expect when she agreed to host her ego-inflated sister's debut cookbook launch party, but Tricia certainly didn't expect it to bomb. Literally and figuratively. After having her own workers purchase copies of Angelica's cookbook to have her sign, Tricia angrily sought out an explanation for Angelica's boyfriend's absence only to find herself in the middle of a gas explosion that leaves Bob Kelly injured and the owner of the blown-out history bookstore dead.

Since Angelica is committed to a booksigning tour she begs Tricia to discover answers despite her antipathy towards her sister's beau. Bob doesn't help matters by being completely unwilling to provide answers to Tricia's questions even when his home is broken into and evidence seems to indicate that he was the true target. Adding to Tricia's concerns is how tourist-reliant town of Stoneham, New Hampshire has been hit hard by the downturn in the economy, and her friends are at risk at losing their homes and businesses. The final topper to Tricia's worries is how her ex-boyfriend Russ seems to be displaying stalker tendencies in his desire to win her back while the police captain who won her heart continues to be loyal to his ill ex-wife.

In the fourth in the Booktown Mystery series Barrett now has a fully developed cast of characters who inhabit this book-centered town. The impact of the economy realistically affects the characters who each must cope with the threat of the loss of their livelihoods. Tricia's relationship with her sister is a complicated and conflicted one, as Tricia both resents having to assume all of Angelica's responsibilities at her restaurant and cookbook store and yet also deeply misses her sister's company. Tricia's relationships with her ex Russ and not-quite-a-boyfriend Grant Baker are similarly torn and unresolved with no easy solution in sight. However, the concept of a town completely centered around the theme of bookselling is overwhelming appealing and the characters are all engaging and realistic. Some are irritating, many are hilarious, but all are fascinating. This is a true booklover's delight.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This "explosive" Booktown series is now hitting its stride when an explosion rocks the quiet of Stoneham, New Hampshire! Aug. 3 2010
By D. Fowler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If there ever was a book written about a murder magnet, Tricia Miles could easily have been the protagonist. Every time a corpse showed up in Stoneham, New Hampshire she had her finger in the pie so to speak, but lately things had been toning down and all was well at her bookstore, "Haven't Got a Clue." Her employees were loyal, she was getting along much better with her sister, Angelica, and the most exciting thing that could happen was a tourist bus showing up in the quiet book town. Angelica was the kind of sister who had an ego that wouldn't quit and that life-sized cutout of her at "The Cookery" was simply aggravating, BUT Tricia was determined to get along with her.

Angelica's boyfriend, Bob Kelly, was a drip, but that wasn't her problem. Even though Trish just might have been a tad jealous about Angelica's upcoming book tour for her new cookbook, all was good. Trish could have hung out a shingle on the side of her store because all of a sudden she unintentionally became a "personal counselor to half of Stoneham." The chit chat and gossip would soon travel around town faster than a speeding bullet when a sudden explosion rocked the quiet street, right across from "Haven't Got a Clue." Jim Roth's store, "History Repeats Itself," was blown to smithereens when he lit up. The quiet streets of Stoneham began to stir again and history was repeating itself. A murder history, that is.

Bob Kelly was in that building. Granted, Trish thought Jim was a "spineless mama's boy" and her opinion of Bob wasn't much better, but they didn't deserve this. Things seem to move quickly around Ms Miles and the hubbub began in earnest. Someone was out to get Angelica, Russ began to stalk Trish, Ginny's home owning days were going down the tubes, Trish's ex, Christopher, sent her a gift . . . what next? Everyone was starting to think she was the "village jinx." They just might have something there. Even mild mannered Muriel Dexter said, "Well you do seem to be falling over corpses every few months." Could the next one be hers? Perhaps Angelica's? Something really weird was brewing in Stoneham and it wasn't espresso.

This "explosive" Booktown series is now hitting its stride when an explosion rocks the quiet of Stoneham, New Hampshire. Readers who have been following this series right along will take delight in becoming reacquainted with their favorites and meeting the acquaintance of a few new ones. The character development is beginning to gel nicely and the story line is becoming increasingly interesting. The three coulda dunit characters will tickle your fancy and each one has a good enough motive to keep you guessing. This lighthearted cozy has a bit of romance, plenty of intrigue, just the right amount of fandango and one more explosive murder to keep the reader burning the midnight oil
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Tricia needs a vacation Sept. 30 2010
By Lily - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the previous books in this series. While this is well-written mystery, I did get tired of Tricia's cranky dispostion. She grumbles, complains, picks on her friends and feels sorry for herself. She mumbles about Russ stalking her, yet she stalks Bob Kelley through-out the book, even though he continues to tell her to leave him alone. Tricia won't cut handsome Police Captain Grant Baker any slack because he's helping his ex get through her cancer treatment. She says rude and cutting things to several characters, and has a fit whenever anyone says "No Problem." She completely misjudges Chef Jake and makes snide remarks to him. When she realizes she is totally wrong about him, she manages to barely mumble, "I'm sorry." What happened to the cheerful, caring, empathetic character from the previous books? I think Tricia needs to get out of town and get some perspective. How about a nice cruise mystery?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Another delightful Booktown whodunit Aug. 10 2010
By Sheila L. Beaumont - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this mystery, the fourth in a delightful cozy series in which each book seems better than the last. I loved the setting, a New Hampshire town centered on bookstores. In this one, the History Repeats Itself bookshop is hit by a fiery gas explosion, which kills the proprietor and injures a local real estate mogul, and presents our heroine, Tricia, owner of the Haven't Got a Clue mystery bookstore, with yet another case to solve.

The author does a great job of portraying the characters and their complex interrelationships. She includes just the right amount of romance, not letting it overwhelm the clever, fascinating mystery plot, which goes in quite unexpected directions. There's also plenty of humor. I enjoyed the antics of Tricia's cat, Miss Marple, and there's a hilariously funny scene in which Tricia tries to bake blueberry muffins.

I loved the conclusion, after the murder is solved, in which Tricia gets some lovely surprises on her birthday, which she had thought nobody would remember. And there's more at the very end: recipes, including one for blueberry muffins (not Tricia's disastrous recipe, but that of her more culinarily talented sister, Angelica) and one for cinnamon coffee cake. A tasty addendum to a delectable mystery.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read for Fans of Cozy Mysteries Nov. 27 2011
By Cozy Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Title: Chapter and Hearse
Author: Lorna Barrett
Series: Book 4 of the Booktown Mysteries

Mystery bookstore owner Tricia Miles has been spending more time solving whodunits than reading them. Now a nearby gas explosion has injured Tricia's sister's boyfriend, Bob Kelly, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, and killed the owner of the town's history bookstore. Tricia's never been a fan of Bob, but when she reads that he's being tight-lipped about the "accident", it's time to take action.[via Amazon]

It's no surprise that I'm a big fan of the Booktown Mystery series by Lorna Barrett. They have everything I enjoy in cozy mysteries: fascinating characters, a bookstore setting and an adorable cat called Miss Marple.

Lorna Barrett continues her series with the fourth book, CHAPTER AND HEARSE, and it is an absolute page-turner!

CHAPTER AND HEARSE sees Tricia's sister, Angelica, on her very first book tour (for her newly published recipe book) and it is up to Tricia to try and manage not just her store but to oversee Angelica's stores too! Angelica has barely left town before there is murder and mayhem with the death of the history bookstore owner, Jim Roth. Now its up to Tricia to try and solve the case.

This series just gets better and better! The mystery was strong and detailed. Lorna Barrett had me guessing right till the end, with every twist and turn, as Tricia is racing against the clock to solve the crime.

I simply love Stoneham. I love this town of bookstores, where there is always so much gossip and with adventure at every turn. With Tricia at the centre of all the action, it was a pleasure to learn more about my favorite characters. I really love how all the characters have grown and developed and I'm so eager to start the next book, SENTENCED TO DEATH, to find out what is in store next.

CHAPTER & HEARSE is definitely a 5-star read for me. For fans of cozy mystery I highly recommend this series. It is one that you must add to your shelves. You definitely won't be disappointed.

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