Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . .
Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap.
When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . .
“Readers will find themselves wanting to live in Storyton, no matter how many people end up dead there.” —Suspense Magazine on Murder in the Locked Library
About the Author
Ellery Adams has written over thirty mystery novels and can’t imagine spending a day away from the keyboard. Ms. Adams, a native New Yorker, has had a lifelong love affair with stories, food, rescue animals, and large bodies of water. When not working on her next novel, she bakes, gardens, spoils her three cats, and spends far too much time on Pinterest. She lives with her husband and two children (aka the Trolls) in Chapel Hill, NC. For more information, please visit www.elleryadamsmysteries.com.
Read an Excerpt
Jane Steward was heading straight into the storm.
At least I can see the storm in front of me, she thought as she turned on her windshield wipers. The other storm I'm racing toward is invisible.
The rain struck the pickup truck with timidity, but Jane knew that it was only a matter of moments before the drops changed from hesitant taps to a machine-gun hammer.
Ahead, the sky was smudged with gray. Soot-colored thunderclouds hovered over the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. In some places, the clouds had descended low enough to cover the valleys in mist. There were farmhouses and fields in those valleys, but Jane couldn't see them. Her world consisted of a dark road and a darker sky.
One of the windshield blades squeaked with every pass, and as the rain picked up its pace, Jane had to turn the wipers to a higher speed setting. This made the squeak sound like the whine of a petulant child.
Between the rain, the wiper blade, and the groan of tractor-trailer engines adjusting to the winding road, Jane was glad for her taciturn passenger. Landon Lachlan, head of Storyton Hall's Recreation Department, rarely spoke. He'd spent most of the trip from Virginia staring out the window in contemplative silence.
Jane could guess his thoughts. Or more accurately, she could guess which questions were whirling inside his head. The same questions whipped around in hers, echoing the wind that threatened to push their vehicle into the next lane.
Gripping the steering wheel harder, Jane focused on what awaited them once they were clear of the storm.
Ahead, in Asheville, there would be new hazards. If Jane's theory that her lover was being held captive at Biltmore Estate was correct, there would be danger.
If she was wrong, then Edwin Alcott was beyond her reach. She was certain he would die if she and Lachlan didn't rescue him, so here they were.
Edwin had been gone for nearly two months. During that time, his sister, the manager of his restaurant, and Jane had all received postcards written in Edwin's hand. Jane didn't think the words were his. However, she'd had no way to prove this until her twin sons, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, were kidnapped. It was at the abductor's house that she discovered a clue to Edwin's whereabouts.
The clue had been a Templar cross pinned to a map. The location was Asheville, North Carolina. Jane was positive that the pin marked Biltmore, and she was equally sure that the Templars were responsible for Edwin's disappearance.
How I wish I had that map, she thought mournfully. But the map was gone. It had burned, along with the rest of the kidnapper's house. That despicable man had taken Jane's sons. He'd threatened what she held most dear. He'd taunted her, deceived her, and laughed at her. He'd also provided invaluable hints about Edwin. And while it seemed like madness to take a madman at his word, Jane was doing just that.
Her sons had come out of the ordeal unscathed. As for Edwin's welfare, Jane couldn't say. She needed to see him, face-to-face, before she'd believe that he was okay.
Not too long ago, she would have laughed over the absurdity of her mission. If someone had told her that she came from a long line of Stewards who vowed to guard a secret library filled with rare and potentially dangerous, books, she would have called them crazy. If she'd had an inkling that the Knights Templar was still a functioning society, and that it had split into multiple brotherhoods, one of which was determined to locate Storyton Hall's hidden library at any cost, she would have gone elsewhere following her husband's death.
"We're not making very good time," she said to Lachlan as lightning rippled over the dark sky. Seconds later, there was another brilliant fracture. And a third.
"I have a feeling caution won't be a priority once we get to Biltmore," Lachlan said.
Lachlan was part of an elite group called the Fins. These former military men had specialized combat training and had pledged to protect the members of the Steward family with their lives. Despite this, they managed to pull off their Storyton Hall staff member personas with conviction.
Jane glanced at him and shrugged. "I'm just a resort manager attending the Luxury Lodging Symposium, and I plan to use that cover to my full advantage. We have three days to find Edwin. We don't have time for caution."
"If Biltmore is a secret Templar hideout, their people will monitor everyone who passes through their doors. Just as we do," Lachlan said. "We might be able to count on one employee. When I met Master Gardener Gerald Tucker at a lecture on rehabilitating raptors, I knew he was a really decent person. After researching Mr. Tucker, Mr. Sterling agrees that the veteran gardener could be helpful. But he's very devoted to Biltmore. He won't tell us a thing unless we gain his trust."
"Mr. Tucker is Army Retired? Like you?" Jane asked.
A curtain fell over Lachlan's features. He didn't like to discuss his time as an Army Ranger. The atrocities he'd witnessed during his tours still haunted him. These ghosts from the past appeared without warning, paralyzing his emotions and causing him to withdraw deep inside himself. Jane had witnessed this sad transformation, but Lachlan always came through for her and her family when called upon. Jane just hoped that his PTSD would remain dormant over the next few days. Lachlan was the only person she had to rely on, and Jane needed his fighting and tracking skills. In addition to these talents, women of all ages found Lachlan irresistible. If Jane could exploit his roguish good looks and quiet charm to save Edwin's life, she would.
"What about your Biltmore manager friend?"
"Julian Douglas." Jane repeated the name for Lachlan's benefit. "He's a former manager. He doesn't have the level of responsibility he once did, but he can access restricted areas of the estate. Mr. Douglas still has the keys to open all those doors closed to the public."
Lachlan glanced out the window. "From what I've read, that's a ton of doors."
Jane lapsed into a reflective silence. Lachlan was right. There were lots of doors. And rooms. And outbuildings. The French-style chateau had 250 rooms and over four acres of floor space. Storyton Hall was an impressive manor house, but Biltmore was colossal in comparison.
One of the things that separated the two estates was money. Biltmore's coffers never seemed to run dry. The gardens and lawns were impeccably manicured, there were multiple inns, shops, and eateries on the grounds, and an army of staff kept everything in tip-top order.
During the past week, Jane and Sinclair, Storyton Hall's head librarian, had read everything they could about Biltmore. They began their research by familiarizing themselves with its construction. They studied blueprints, photographs, newspaper articles, letters, and archived materials referring to the chateau.
Jane felt that she knew George Vanderbilt and his incredible house after reading so much material. However, she was sure there were plenty of details left unwritten concerning Biltmore and its occupants throughout history. She still had much to learn.
"The house features multiple secret passages," Jane had said to Sinclair a few nights ago. "Most of the books state that Vanderbilt requested these because he wanted his rooms to have a seamless look." Jane had pointed at two photos. One showed a door in the billiard room that was noticeable only because it was ajar. Otherwise, it would have been camouflaged by its wood paneling and framed art. The second photo was of a similar door. This one was in the breakfast room. Jane imagined that other doors were better concealed than these and had shared her theory with Sinclair.
"I have no doubt there are more hidden doors, passageways, and rooms than we'll read about in books," Sinclair had said. "There is another resource to consider, Miss Jane."
Jane had met her mentor's kind, intelligent gaze and known what he was implying. He was suggesting she enter Storyton Hall's secret library to search for material on both Vanderbilt and his famous house.
Immediately following this discussion, Jane and Sinclair had taken the staff stairs to the only private apartments in Storyton Hall. After greeting the residents of these apartments, Uncle Aloysius and Aunt Octavia, Jane had entered her great-aunt's closet and removed the tiny key once kept inside a locket around her neck. The key was now hidden in a compartment on the back of her oval wristwatch. Uncle Aloysius did the work himself, astonishing Jane with his cleverness.
"I can be quite handy," he'd said, touching the brim of his ratty old fishing cap. "I've made my entire collection of flies and hooks, you know."
"Your tinkering is most charming, Aloysius," Jane's great-aunt had said. "We all need hobbies. They prevent us from becoming dull."
As Jane had slid the key into the keyhole behind the air vent in her great- aunt's closet, she thought about George Vanderbilt's hobbies. Like the Stewards, he was a devoted reader and collector. His personal library contained over twenty-two thousand books, and he kept a record of all the titles he read. He was also friends with famous authors like Edith Wharton and Henry James.
Jane hadn't wanted to unearth dark secrets about George Vanderbilt — a bibliophile, an art lover, and a conservationist. Luckily, there was nothing nefarious to discover. She and Sinclair had ascended the narrow spiral staircase to the secret library, where they'd searched a document drawer filled with letters. They'd found a single missive written by George Vanderbilt to Uncle Aloysius's father. The letter was congenial and polite — written to an acquaintance, not a close friend. Vanderbilt praised Storyton Hall and its reading rooms and went on to mention the books he'd recently read. He finished by inviting Cyril Steward to visit Biltmore.
"I'm not sure why this letter is here," Jane had said to Sinclair. "It's completely innocuous."
Sinclair had looked pensive. "There must be a reason it was stored here and not with the rest of Mr. Steward's personal papers."
"I'll take a photo with my phone. We can study it later."
Jane and Sinclair had returned to the Henry James Library and resumed their reading on the Vanderbilts and Biltmore.
The blare of a car horn snapped Jane out of her reverie. She checked her rearview mirror and glared at the minivan behind her. It was within inches of her bumper, and she was already driving over the speed limit.
"You okay?" Lachlan asked.
"I just want to get to our hotel," she said.
A green road sign ahead indicated that their journey was nearly over. Jane relaxed her grip on the steering wheel.
Most of the drive had taken them up and down mountain roads. These curving, fog-covered rises and descents were unpredictable. It had been a harrowing trip, and Jane was ready for it to be over.
Lachlan helped her navigate around Asheville. She took the Biltmore exit, and he directed her to Village Lane.
"I still don't understand why we didn't book rooms on the estate grounds," Lachlan said as Jane pulled into a gravel lot facing a four-story Tudor Revival structure made of pale brick.
"I don't want to use Biltmore's Wi-Fi or have Templar eyes on us."
Lachlan grunted in approval. Any remaining doubt dissipated when he realized that the hotel was a series of apartments lacking a front desk or any visible staff.
After checking her text messages for the access codes, Jane opened the outside door. She and Lachlan ascended to the second floor, and Jane used the second code to unlock the apartment door. Inside, there was a living room, a dining area, a full kitchen, and two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.
Jane's bedroom overlooked a small patio garden, but she ignored the rain- soaked cafÃ© tables, the lush greenery, and the bubbling fountain. Instead, her eyes traveled to where she knew the chateau sat, perched like a king on a high throne, atop a rise in the distance.
"I'm coming, Edwin," she whispered.
* * *
Though Jane had been to Biltmore as a young girl, the sight of the magnificent building still took her breath away.
Lachlan was also gazing over the main lawn toward the house. He frowned and said, "It'll be a challenge to find a human needle in that massive haystack."
"Ernest Hemingway warned that we should never confuse movement with action. We don't have time to waste moving around the estate without purpose."
Jane took out her phone and reread the text message Julian Douglas had sent ten minutes ago. "Mr. Douglas promised us a behind-the-scenes tour. Now is when your interest in roof pitches and drainage comes into play. You get to the attic, and I'll work on the basements."
After handing their tickets to a Biltmore employee stationed at the front doors, Jane and Lachlan entered the house along with dozens of tourists.
It had been years since Jane had last seen Julian Douglas, but there was no mistaking the round-cheeked, round-bellied gentleman with the silver hair standing in the Winter Garden Room. Julian watched the passersby with friendly interest, but when he saw Jane, his mouth curved into a broad smile.
"Ms. Steward! It's an honor to have you grace these halls." He pumped her hand enthusiastically. "I understand you're interested in a peek behind the scenes."
After introducing Lachlan, Jane said, "That would be lovely. It'll be fascinating to compare notes between Biltmore and Storyton Hall. We have secret passages and rooms, though not as many as this house, I'm sure."
"Those hidden doors and corridors never fail to intrigue," Julian said. "I can't tell you how many guests have ducked under our velvet ropes or dashed through closed doors clearly marked with STAFF ONLY signs to search for a secret hideaway they read about in a book or on the Internet, which can be as wildly fantastical as any novel."
"Personally, I like the informal spaces," Jane said. "The butler's pantries, laundry rooms, root cellars. These places aren't pretty, but they hold so much energy. I can imagine teams of servants bustling around the kitchen, hanging sheets up to dry, or rushing to answer a bell."
Julian beamed at her. "I also enjoy the inner workings of large houses. What about you, Mr. Lachlan?"
Lachlan pretended to hedge. It was only after Julian assured him that another guide could be called should his interests depart from Jane's that Lachlan said that he'd like to visit Biltmore's tallest points.
"Ah, a man who wants to conspire with the grotesques!" Julian exclaimed cheerfully and pulled a small walkie-talkie from the breast pocket of his suit coat.
He called for another tour guide, and a slender man with a ginger-colored beard arrived a few minutes later. After introducing himself to Lachlan, the two men ascended the stairs.
Julian's private tour took Jane through Vanderbilt's library, den, and the tapestry room. As they began their descent to the basement, Jane asked questions about the arrangement of the lower rooms. Julian supplied her with many facts and figures, but since he steered clear of rumor and supposition, it was impossible to ferret out Biltmore's best-kept secrets.
Of course, Julian might be unaware of a Templar presence. The secret society hardly advertised itself, and its members wouldn't betray themselves to anyone. In light of this, Jane tried to use her own powers of observation to search for clues. She had to keep reminding herself that she wasn't a tourist. She was the manager of Storyton Hall, a single mother of two, and Guardian of the secret library and its treasures. Her role as Edwin Alcott's lover had been last on her list. Until now. Now, Jane was putting the other parts of her life on hold until she found Edwin.
Julian showed her the kitchens, the laundry and drying rooms, the vegetable pantry, and the servants' bedrooms. As he led Jane down to the sub-basement, she wondered what the house had been like without guests — back when George Vanderbilt was a bachelor. Had he wandered through his empty rooms, wishing for more intimate company than his books could provide? Or had he built his home in the middle of nowhere because he craved solitude? Or was it secrecy he wanted?
Again, Jane wondered if there was a connection between Vanderbilt's love of books and his zeal to acquire fine and rare objects that indicated a link to the Templars. If not the Templars, perhaps he was affiliated with another secret society. Jane believed Vanderbilt had been a good man, but people were multifaceted, and she knew there was far more to George Washington Vanderbilt than what appeared in books.
She suddenly realized that Julian had spoken and was waiting for her to respond.
Jane realized they were in The Dynamo Room. She said, "I read about this machine in a book called Seraphina and the Black Cloak."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Murder In The Rending Room"
Copyright © 2019 Ellery Adams.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Murder In The Reading Room is the fifth book in Ellery Adams A Book Retreat Mystery series. I always prefer to read a series in order, but I feel it is particularly essential when it comes to this book because this book is a direct continuation of book four. The action kicks off in the beginning and never stops.. from the very first page I was pulled into Ms. Adams masterful storytelling and she kept me there until I closed the cover. There was the perfect amount of misdirection and suspects, to keep you guessing as to the killer and the motivation was believable. I highly recommend this one for all types of cozy fans. I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book
Another great cozy from Ellery Adams. I recommend reading the other titles in the series to get a full comprehension of Jane’s past, as well as the other major characters. I love the care in which the NC landscape was painted with such accuracy. There was a bit of a mystery within the mystery. Well done! I was gifted a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
This is such a great book! I had not read the previous books in this series (this is #5), but I will definitely seek them out now. I was able to pick up on all the important information without having read the earlier books, and loved that the book started off with some great action. Sometimes cozies go on for several chapters with nothing exciting happening, but this one grabbed the reader right away! The characters were good as well; besides the main character of Jane, I especially enjoyed reading about the Fins. Added bonuses: information about the famous Biltmore estate, plus a historical enactment taking place at Jane's hotel (Storyton Hall). I loved that the mystery was nice and deep, with enough clues to keep the reader interested in trying to solve it along with Jane. I can't wait for book 6 to come out!
This is the 5th book in the Book Retreat Mysteries and in order to really appreciate the characters and their growth, the books should be read in order. Jane Steward and Landon Lachlan (one of the Fins) are heading to the Biltmore Estate to attend a Luxury Lodging Symposium. At least that's their cover story: they are actually hoping to find the missing Edward Alcott, gone for the past two months and possibly kidnapped by the Templar's and hidden at the Biltmore Estate. But their visit proves to be more dangerous than expected, first with finding the possibly murdered body of one of the staff, and then successfully finding Edward, but being blackmailed into returning to Storyton Hall with his captor. And finally one other devastating find that is about to shake up Jane's life forever. How will Jane and the Fins handle this latest development and what will this situation do to her role as Guardian. This is an enjoyable series filled with delightful characters. Not only is Jane surrounded by the Fins, men dedicated for life to protect the Guardian and the treasures held in Storyton Hall. But she also has her group of Cover Girls willing to help support and help her. Even Sheriff Evans has become an ally despite not knowing the truth behind Storyton Hall. And then there are her twin sons, loves of her life, and Edward, the man who has captured her heart held apart for so many years after the death of her husband. There is so much to enjoy about this series, from the various rooms dedicated to certain book themes and/or authors, to the descriptions of the special treasures held by the Guardian, to the events planned at the Hall. This time it includes an organization that is celebrating the centennial of World War One, that will include a reenactment of one of the battles. And of course the mystery in this book was especially pertinent to the characters, and contained several twists and turns before the final solution. Disclosure: I am voluntarily reviewing this book and all opinions are strictly my own.
I enjoy reading many cozy series, and Ellery Adams’ Book Retreat series is one of them. I just love the idea of living and working in an elegant and luxurious hotel from yesteryear that also contains a secret room full of so many fascinating historical items! Visiting Storyton Hall would be a wonderful adventure if only there was such a place. Sigh. Murder in the Reading Room is the fifth book in the Book Retreat series, and I think it is my favorite one so far. I say “so far” because I am crossing my fingers that those nasty rumors about this being the last book in the series are false. In this book, Jane Steward is on the hunt for her boyfriend, Edwin, who has been missing for a couple of months. She believes Edwin is being held prisoner at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and makes plans to attend a hotel management seminar there as a ruse in order to be able to snoop around the beautiful grounds and secret passageways without causing too much suspicion. A friendly gardener from the Biltmore helps Jane by providing a possible clue to finding Edwin, but then she finds the gardener murdered. After finally finding Edwin alive, a relieved Jane finds herself drawn into a mysterious game of quid pro quo with his kidnapper who believes an enormously valuable artifact from Ernest Hemingway is hidden away at Storyton Hall; if Jane gives up Ernest Hemingway’s suitcase containing his writing, Edwin will be free to go about living his life. With Edwin’s life and the contents of her family’s secret room in serious jeopardy, will Jane be able to save Edwin? Will she be able to keep the secrets her family has been guarding for so many years? This is such a well written book with such finely developed characters. Jane is a tough, independent, intelligent, and fiercely loyal protagonist. Her love story with Edwin and the relationships she shares with her two boys, aunt and uncle, her friends the “Cover Girls”, the Fins, and the rest of the staff at Storyton Hall are realistic and heartfelt. The mystery in this story was so intriguing with its subplots and turns and twists. Speaking of plot twists, there is a heck of a twist (total shocker!) in this book, and it is awesome! Although this book could be read as a stand alone and thoroughly enjoyed, reading the other books in the series might be a good idea...fun too. I adore anything that Ellery Adams writes, and Murder in the Reading Room is a wonderful addition to her Book Retreat series. I highly recommend it.
After the cliff-hanger ending in the previous book in this series, I was very happy to have this one to start right away. It was very good! (I really think it would be hard to read this series out of order.) Jane was on a road trip to find her beloved Edwin, but she found another big surprise also. If you are a fan of this series, you are really going to want to read this one!
Two of my favorite things: cozy mysteries and books about books. This is the fifth book in the series and while it *could* be read as a stand-alone, it is much more impactful if you've read the others. Ellery Adams has a delightful writing style that will hook you from the very first page. Her characters are complex and completely relatable, so even if this is your first time meeting Jane Steward and her crew, it won't take you long to fall in love. This book has the perfect blend of mystery, emotion, and danger -- and enough twists and turns that you'll never see the ending coming. I gasped out loud more times than I could count and was blown away by the carefully constructed plot. I adored the literary references dropped into the storyline, and loved that there was so much action happening in every chapter. This is a quick, page-turning read that you definitely won't want to put down!
Secrets and mysteries. A kidnapped boyfriend needing rescue. A resurrected long-dead husband. Secrets and lies. An unknown threat. Not enough information. No one to trust. Secrets and strengths. Twists and turns. Secrets to uncover. Lies to understand How to protect one’s family and friends, one’s life, one’s heart, when there are too many secrets, so many lies, so many betrayals. How to find your inner strength; how to forge a new path. And how to get rid of the threat hanging over the heads of everyone you hold dear. This is Murder in the Reading Room, Ellery Adams fifth in her Book Retreat Mystery series. It was fabulous! If you haven’t found this series yet, run right out and find it. Well worth your time.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Storyton Hall’s manager Jane Steward along with Landon Lachlan travel to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina for a Luxury Lodging Seminar, but they have an ulterior motive, Jane’s boyfriend, Edwin Alcott is missing and they believe he is being held prisoner on the estate. Landon befriends one of the estate’s gardeners and he believes the man will help in their quest to find Edwin. They were interrupted on their visit, so they arrive at his cottage the next day to continue their conversation and for Jane to give the gardener a gift from Storyton Hall. Sadly, they find the man dead in his reading room with a book on his lap. They are crushed by the man’s death but they can’t give up on finding Edwin. Following certain clues, they do find Edwin but they then learn the find was a setup and are faced with a stunning surprise. They then realize the captor holds the cards and they must take him back to Storyton Hall. Jane just hopes on her home turf she can bring the captor down without anyone else losing their lives. This book is a wonderful addition to this series and puts in motion some pivotal actions. For that reason, I want to state upfront that you need to read this series from the start in order. If you don’t I don’t think you will feel the full impact of this book. The setting of the book/series, Storyton and Storyton Hall are things that truly sets this series apart from others. Storyton Hall is an extraordinary place, a book lover’s dream. Great Gatsby Ballroom Madame Bovary Dining Room Isak Dinesen Safari Room Daphne Du Maurier Morning Room Jane Austen Parlor Shakespeare’s Theater Kipling Cafe Milton’s Gardens Lewis Carroll Croquet Lawn Beatrix Potter Playroom William Faulker Conference Room Henry James Library Ian Fleming Lounge Robin Hood Archery Range Green Gables Gazebo Jules Verne Pool The author describes each room, its artifacts, furniture, and books so expertly that they come alive and are so easy to visualize. In this story, she takes us to the Biltmore Estate and uses her talents to bring that setting to life as well. Ms. Adams has crafted spectacular characters. Jane Steward is a strong protagonist. She is smart and can think on her feet. Thanks to Fins, she is also well trained in several ways. The Fins and all the residents and employees are so genuine and each has a role to play. Their relationships and dialogues are believable. They are engaging and memorable. Within these pages is a complex mystery, one that has not only twists but surprises and secrets revealed. Certain events really jerked at my heart, others had me thrilled and excited. Pivotal actions that I mentioned above truly caught me off guard. More than once I thought that things were being wrapped up to end the series, but then I thought that maybe the author is taking the series in a different direction. I have enjoyed this series from the start and I certainly don’t want it to end so my fingers are crossed there will be more visits to Storyton Hall in the future. I think the author has more mysteries and surprises in store for us.
If you follow my reviews, you are probably aware that I prefer to start reading a series with Book 1. So you may be wondering why I picked up "Murder in the Reading Room", which is Book 5 in the Book Retreat Mystery series. The answer is simple: Ellery Adams! Ms. Adams is one of my absolute favorite cozy mystery authors, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read her latest release, even though it isn't the first in the series. From the perspective of a reader new to this world, I was able to jump right in and pick up on the characters, places, and situations quite easily. I must say, however, that I didn't so much "jump right in" as get sucked right in...once I started reading, I could not put this book down! The story opens with some significant action, and I was immediately drawn to the characters and eager to see how the situation played out. Even without the background from the first four books, it was clear who the major players were, what their relationships were to each other, and what was going on. The mysteries themselves (I use the plural, because there are two murders in addition to the initial kidnapping plot in this book) are well-plotted, with enough clues and information provided to the reader to keep things interesting, but never enough to make the answer obvious. The book opens with Jane visiting the luxurious Biltmore estate, which was fascinating. The more standard location of Jane's own Storyton Hall is the setting for the rest of the book, and I enjoyed visiting it as well. The book also shines in the area of characters and their relationships with one another. Jane is an instantly likeable heroine, and her Fins are also a joy to read about. The special relationship Jane has with these men is clearly evident, and plays a significant role in the story. Jane's friendship with Eloise, romance with Edwin, and closeness to her aunt, uncle, and cleverly-named children add a great deal of depth to the story. Honestly, this is one of those rare cozy landscapes I would happily read about even without a mystery to solve....it would be a delight just to learn more about the day-to-day lives of these characters. Honestly, I can't say enough good things about "Murder in the Reading Room". I see this line so often in reviews, but I honestly WILL be going back to book one to catch up on everything I've missed so far in this fabulous series. It will give me something to enjoy while I eagerly await Book six! Overall, five out of five chunks of smooth, sharp, delectable Asiago!
I loved this book, and I love this series. Jane has been tested more than once, and she proves that she can overcome anything and everything that is thrown at her. Her growth, strength and resiliency is amazing. Jane's friends and family are loyal, and she knows that she can count on them no matter what. Ellery Adams writes stories that grab you and keep you engrossed from beginning to end. I highly recommend this book and this series!
The latest Storyton Hall book, Murder in the Reading Room, was full of mystery, adventure and is a bittersweet story that makes for a complex and compelling book. Jane finds herself once again defending her family from those who desire the books she must protect. However, she has a more pressing problem - to find her love, Edwin, who may be being held at the huge Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Jane is faced with a heartbreaking decision that has ramifications for everyone and the beloved Storyton Hall and is pitted against the most devious villain she has faced as Guardian. In this book, Jane digs deep within herself to do what she considers the right thing for her family and Storyton Hall all the while trying to find Edwin and determine who her enemies may be. The mystery is complex (old tragedies are revisited) and I wasn't quite sure who Jane should trust. in the previous book, her sons were kidnapped and this has left Jane distrustful of most people. Those who proved not to be trustworthy, in this book, were a complete surprise! As usual, I enjoyed the antics of Hem and Fitz and the bravery of the Fins. The descriptions of Storyton Hall are gorgeous and once again made me want to visit. I love the atmosphere of these books and hope to visit with Jane and her family for a very long time! I received an ARC, from NetGalley, for a fair and honest review of this book.
.Very cute bookish cozy mystery. This is the first I have read by this author and I definitely plan on going back and reading the rest in the series. This book is not an ideal starting point to the series, as it brings you right into the action from the previous story at the beginning of the novel. Fun book with great bookish details. I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley.
This is the fifth book in the "Book Retreat Mysteries" by Ellery Adams. I think I may have read one of the earlier books as the characters were familiar to me, but this series is definitely best read from the beginning. Storyton Hall, Virginia, is a paradise for book lovers who come from all over for literary getaways. But manager Jane Steward is temporarily leaving for another renowned resort—in hopes of solving a twist-filled mystery . . . Jane’s boyfriend is missing, and she thinks she may find him at North Carolina’s historic Biltmore Estate. Officially, she’s there to learn about luxury hotel management, but she’s also prowling around the breathtaking buildings and grounds looking for secret passageways and clues. One of the staff gardeners promises to be helpful . . . that is, until his body turns up in the reading room of his cottage, a book on his lap. When she finally locates the kidnapped Edwin, his captor insists that she lead him back to Storyton Hall, convinced that it houses Ernest Hemingway’s lost suitcase, stolen from a Paris train station in 1922. But before they can turn up the treasure, the bell may toll for another victim . . . I must admit I did have a hard time reading this book, although I LOVE this author, it just felt a bit slow in parts and the end seemed to drag on after the murder was caught etc. ( reason for only 4 stars) but from what others are saying it could be the last in the series and this could be why the author went further and kind of wrapped up the story for people. Storyton Hall and village is place, that I would like to visit or live. The village has all of these amazing shops and wonderful characters. Jane Steward and the Fins, the Cover Girls are all people I would love as friends . There were several twists and turns and plots in this book but it felt right, they all intertwined together to make a a great read. I requested and received an Advanced Reader Copy from Kensington and Netgalley. All opinions are my OWN.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I can always depend on Ellery Adams to give a fabulous story when it comes to a Book Retreat mystery. There is adventure, humour, love, and mystery in these stories. The characters are people you would know passing on the street. If you're looking for a fun, captivating read you need to pick this book up. Enjoy!
Jane is the Guardian of a very special and secret library in Storyton Hall, where books are as essential as air to life. Jane, mother of young twin boys, finds her position as Guardian puts her family and friends in danger. When her lover, Edwin, is taken prisoner, she takes action to free him. And from there, the story becomes even more complicated. I love this series...the characters, the friendships, the setting, the love of books, combines with mysteries and secret societies to make a perfect blend. If you love books and reading, you’ll love and identify with this series.
I appreciate the opportunity from NetGalley and the publisher to read an advance copy of Murder in the Reading Room in exchange for my honest review. Loving the world of Storyton Hall as much as I do, I didn't think anything could improve upon it--until I started this book and found that Jane makes a trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. One of my favorite fictional locales meets one of my favorite real-world locales! Is Biltmore a secret Templar lair where Edwin is being held against his will? Can Jane and Lachlan rescue Edwin and keep the secrets of Storyton Hall and the Steward family safe? This action-packed story won't disappoint!
This story opens on Jane and Lachlan heading to Biltmore in search of Janes boyfriend, Edwin Alcott. Edwin has disappeared and Jane believes he is being held captive by a rogue branch of the Knights Templar at Biltmore Estate. Jane is the Guardian of Storyton Hall. She has inherited the roll from her aunt and uncle. It is up to her to protect the secrets and treasures of the hidden library at Storyton Hall. Once they have reached Biltmore, Jane and Lachlan take separate tours of the house to try and discover where Edwin could be being held captive. Lachlan tours the rooftops while Jane tours the sub-basement. She is disheartened by the lack of clues and the shear size of The Biltmore estate. How can they ever search it all? That is until she meets up with Lachlan outside and discovers an anonymous note written on Storyton Hall note paper and stuffed into the mouth of a lion statue! Jane must save Edwin, defeat her enemy as he attempts to find a lost treasure at Storyton Hall and help uncover many other mysteries along the way. The twists and turns and unexpected surprises continue throughout this story! Couldn’t put it down! A must read!
I greatly enjoyed the author's writing style, very subtle, full of prose, and so descriptive of the idyllic venue that you want to start packing for your bags. Jane is a widow with two young precocious boys. She is the manager of Storyton Hall, a pseudo-resort, with a strong literary style that includes a number of themed rooms/ libraries. In her role as manager, she has joined a luxury hotel management seminar that is taking place at North Carolina's historic Biltmore Estate--specifically because she believes that is where her Edwin Alcott is being hidden after his kidnap. The first, very shocking problem, however, manifests when she and Landon successfully discover him--and confront despot rogue Templar Ramsey Parrish as well. Storyton itself has been in the Steward family for generations and is home to a wide variety of beautiful arts and treasures, not the least of which is possibly the Secret Library which may hide a suitcase stolen from Ernest Hemingway, lost in 1922. Ramsey will apparently stop at nothing to get to the secret library and the suitcase. Jane's own Landon Lachlan (head of Storyton Hall's Recreation Department), is part of an elite group called "the Fins" which is their first line of defense. The characters are all complex, literate, and deep in the bookish world, upper-class society, and southern history with associated activities. More twists are incorporated into the well-plotted mystery, dripping with charm, nostalgic quotes from many famous and classic authors. This is one series where you might do well to begin with number one for a better understanding of how the story evolved. While there are casualties, they happen "off page." The pace works well right into a downplayed climax almost smoothed over in the blurred conclusion. I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and totally appreciated the opportunity to read and review this unique and captivating novel. Recommended for any bibliophile who knows their books or book lovers in general, as well as cozy mystery lovers. There is something here for everyone--including that touch of romance!
I've just finished ready Ellery Adam's newest book, "Murder in the Reading Room". It's her fifth book in the Book Retreat Mystery series...and it is a page turner! I've always enjoyed Ms. Adams' writing style. She's a gifted author and weaver of intrigue. Her characters, main and secondary, grow with each book. You almost feel like you klnow them personally. She pulls into their lives and adventures easily. "Murder in the Reading room" starts off where the last book, "Murder in the Locked Library" left off. Jane is on her way to The Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC in hopes of finding her kidnapped boyfriend, Edwin. Little does she knows what she finds will start a new mystery and adventure for Jane, her family and friends! As I said in the first papagraph - this book is a page turner. So be sure to save time because once you start you won't want to put this book down! ENJOY!
Murder In The Reading Room is the fifth book in the A Book Retreat Mystery series. Jane Steward was able to successfully rescue her twin sons Hemingway and Fitzgerald and has now set off with Landon Lachlan set off to the Biltmore estate where she hopes to find her romantic interest, Edwin Alcott, who has been missing for nearly two months. Jane has signed up for a program on luxury hotel management for a cover while they search for Edwin. As they walking the grounds they meet Gerald Tucker, who has been the gardener since he was a young man. They feel that he might be the one to learn more about hiding places at Biltmore and go to his cottage to have tea. Before they can really start to find more about The Biltmore, Ramsey Parrish, manager of The Biltmore, drops by for a visit. Before Jane and Landon leave they make plans to come back the next day. The next day when they arrive at Tucker’s cottage they find him in his favorite chair, dead. That evening they start searching for hidden passages and after a while, they find one and soon find where Edwin is being held. In the room next to him is a man that Jane doesn’t believe she would ever see again. But before they can get the captives to freedom, Parrish shows up. He offers Edwin’s freedom for some Hemingway papers the reportedly stolen from railway station before they had a chance to be published, that feels are in the secret library at Storyton Hall. Jane reluctantly agrees, hoping that they can come up with a plan that will free the men before any papers are turned over to Parrish. Meanwhile, at Storyton Hall the BackStory Club is beginning to assemble for their honoring of the 100th anniversary of WWI. One of the events the club had was for a battle re-enactment and during that one of the members was killed. What with, Jane being busy with what to do about Parrish, she asks The Cover Girls to be her eyes and ears. Ms. Adams is a wonderful storyteller and this book is no exception. The store is well-plotted and has an interesting cast of characters. The staff and friends of Jane are ones that I would love to friends with. And Jane’s sons’ Hem and Fitz are a real joy to read about. I am looking forward to the next book in this exciting and interesting series to see what adventures are in store Jane and Storyton Hall. Hopefully, the wait won’t be too long.
And the twists just keep coming! That's what I found myself continually repeating while reading this marvelous story. Jane's already tumultuous life gets a lot more complicated this time around. But don't get me wrong, you will love every heart-pounding second of it! Jane's the definition of a well-developed character. She's strong and determined but also vulnerable sometimes. She's not painted as some perfect mega human, nor as a scared and confused victim. She has grit! This adventure was certainly life changing for the gang. By switching things up, the author breathed renewing breaths of life into this series. There is an extraordinary amount of room for growth, and I thoroughly look forward to reading all about in the future installments! One of my favorite things about the entire series is Jane's support system. She is surrounded by people who love her and desire to protect her. Not only the Fins, but also the Cover Girls, her book club buddies. While they don't always know everything that is going on in her life, they always have her back no matter what. Also, I adore her sons Fitz and Hem. Her love for them shines throughout every page of the story; they are always her number one priority. The mystery. What can I say other than: wow! Talk about twists and turns! I am still recovering from the whiplash I experienced while flipping through the pages. Books, as always, were continuously at the forefront. If there's one thing you can count on without question throughout the story is that we are dealing with some hardcore book lovers! I can't say too much about her relationship with Edwin without spoiling anything, but I will say that they are in for some stormy waters. Do they come out unscathed? You will have to read and see for yourself! I received a free copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving a review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
Jane Steward is on her way to North Carolina to the Biltmore Estates where she believes her boyfriend Eric may be hidden. She is officially on a trip to learn more about luxury hotel management but she is really there to look for secret passages and clues to where Eric is hidden. While visiting one of the gardening staff Jane believes she may have found someone who can help her until he was found dead in his reading room. Jane not only finds Eric but she a lot more than she is expecting. When they return to Storyton Hall the mysteries continue, can Jane find the answers? I was so excited to read this book. This is one of my favorites series and this book is my new favorite in the series. Storyton Hall is a reader and book lovers dream. I would love to have a location like Hall to visit in real life. Jane her family, friends, and guardians are wonderful, interesting characters that make me smile while reading about their lives and the different events that are being celebrated at Storyton. The mystery is well written with a steady pace and several twists and turns along the way. I recommend this book to fans of Ellery Adams, cozy mysteries, and book lovers. I voluntarily agreed to read a copy of this book supplied by Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own and in no way have been influenced.
Didn't See That One Coming! Just when I think I have things figured out, Ellery Adams throws in a surprise, and true to form, she did in "Murder in the Reading Room." Is it any wonder why she is one of my favorite authors? I love how Adams develops her characters, like Jane Steward. Jane is a strong heroine, who seeks to save the man she loves (held captive at Biltmore no less!). I think she astounds her enemies with her strength. With the team who serves with her at Storyton Hall, she proves a force with which to be reckoned. All this while reconnecting with the man who has her heart, taking care of her twin sons, and dealing with a ghost from the past. I couldn't put this volume down, and I encourage everyone who relishes a great story full of passion and adventure to grab a copy. I promise you will be surprised and satisfied.