Homicide in Hardcover
A Bibliophile Mystery with Brooklyn Wainwright by Kate Carlisle
Review: Kate Carlisle introduces San Francisco rare book restorer Brooklyn Wainwright investigating the murder of her mentor in Homicide in Hardcover.
Kate has been invited to attend a gala at the Covington Library where Abraham Karastovsky, Kate's her lifelong teacher but also her former employer, is opening an exhibit of rare antiquarian books. Unfortunately, the two had a falling out after Kate elected to open her own business but she sees this event as a way of making amends. At the opening, Abraham is unexpected thrilled to see Kate and offers to show her the result of his latest project, the restoration of a priceless, but also considered cursed, book. When she enters his basement workshop an hour later, she finds him on the floor, dying. He whispers "Remember the devil" to her just before he dies, killed with a Japanese paper knife. The police initially think she may have had something to do with his murder, but she's more concerned with someone she saw on the stairs just before she entered the workshop: her mother.
Homicide in Hardcover spreads itself a bit too thin, trying to appeal to a wide range of mystery readers and never really succeeding at completely satisfying any. Mysteries set in the world of books are always a promising premise. Featuring an amateur sleuth who is also an expert on rare books is certainly not new, but it is basically handled well here (Kate is a bit too sassy, but that's a minor quibble) and the mystery appropriately incorporates a book (in this case, Goethe's jewel-encrusted, gilded edition of Faust) in its storyline. But Homicide in Hardcover also strays into other areas that are often the setting for genre mysteries, wine and art, which, while providing background and color, end up appearing more than a little affected. Then there are the "chick lit" references to shoes, fashion, and dreamy boyfriends that really seem out of place here.
The author does have some fun with Brooklyn's parents, flower children from the 60s who have successfully adapted to the 21st century while still retaining their commune lifestyle, Daddy's trust fund notwithstanding. Guru Bob is also an unexpected treat. Still, these delightful secondary characters are not really sufficient to carry Homicide in Hardcover, which meanders too much and never really finds its footing.
Acknowledgment: Breakthrough Promotions provided a copy of Homicide in Hardcover for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Homicide in Hardcover: San Francisco, California
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Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle — A Bibliophile Mystery with Brooklyn Wainwright
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Publication Date: February 2009
List Price: $6.99