Mystery bookstore owner Tricia Miles learns that nothing kills a good party like a murder in the latest entry in the New York Times bestselling Booktown Mysteries.
Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, throws a housewarming cocktail party in her new apartment and has cooked all the food by herself—quite a feat for someone who previously couldn't boil water. Then one of her guests is poisoned and dies. Tricia's left to wonder if her cooking is to blame or if there's something much more sinister at play. Either way, Tricia's once again in hot water with her ex-lover, Chief Baker.
Meanwhile the charming town of Stoneham is being disrupted by a vandalism crime wave. It's the hot topic in the race for Chamber of Commerce president which sees Tricia pitted against two bitter rivals. With all that's going on can she find the killer before she's the next item on the menu?
About the Author
Lorna Barrett is the New York Times bestselling author of the Booktown Mysteries, including A Just Clause and Title Wave.
Read an Excerpt
Never had 221b Main Street, Stoneham, New Hampshire, seen so many people enter its doors. Instead of customers arriving for a book signing at Haven't Got a Clue, the village's vintage mystery bookstore, this gathering was of friends, sort-of relatives, and business associates from the local Chamber of Commerce. It was also Tricia's first stab at entertaining more than one or two people. Perhaps, she thought as another guest entered the newly refurbished living room of her loft apartment, she should have started with a more modest get-together. The space had more recently been a storeroom filled with shelves and boxes full of vintage mysteries. That stock now resided in the basement, which had also been renovated. The open-concept space was now bright, inviting, and—more importantly—felt like home.
"Isn't this a wonderful party?" Pixie Poe called, Tricia's newly married assistant. Pixie looked radiant in a vintage black, tight-fitting cocktail dress with a beaded bodice. Where she continually found those flirtatious frocks was a mystery to Tricia, but the style fit her to a T.
"Thanks for making the music mix CDs. They're perfect for a cocktail party."
"When it comes to entertainment, ya can't beat der Bingle, Frank, Dino, Tommy Dorsey, and the boys."
Before Tricia could reply, Angelica swooped past with a brightly polished silver tray of stemmed wineglasses filled with Chardonnay. "We've run out of red," she called as she began worming her way through the crowd.
Tricia's former assistant, and now step-niece and adopted little sister, Ginny Wilson-Barbero, had donned an apron that Angelica must have supplied and was passing around yet another silver tray with salmon cucumber rosettes. They looked adorable on the frilly paper doily-covered platter-just as Tricia had hoped they would.
As she passed by the floor-to-ceiling antique mirror that stood against the east wall of her new digs, Tricia noted she looked pretty good, too—considering she'd spent an hour or so crying her eyes out after returning from the cemetery. But now that the trial was behind her, she was determined not to think about it or Christopher's killer. When redecorating the apartment, she had allowed herself to display one framed photo of Christopher and her, taken on their honeymoon in Cancún, but that was it. She'd even stopped wearing his engagement ring on a chain around her neck. She now thought of herself as free to move on with her life, and the party was one big step in that direction.
Contractor Jim Stark and his team had finished their work on the transformation more than a month before, but Tricia had wanted to settle in—finding just the right places to set her treasures, some of which had been boxed up for years—and, more importantly, to test the recipes she'd serve at her first (and possibly only) big bash. The ones she'd fed to her pseudofamily at their weekly Sunday dinners. Nobody had complained, and, in fact, the praise had been effusive, which had given her a much-needed boost of confidence in her burgeoning culinary skills.
Tricia headed toward the dry bar she'd set up on a vintage glass-topped patio table. It had been a housewarming gift from Pixie and her groom, Fred Pillins, and it went perfectly with the eclectic furnishings she'd chosen. Although the table was laden with the best alcoholic spirits, Tricia decided she'd better keep a clear head. She plunked some ice into an old-fashioned glass, poured club soda from an opened bottle, and took a sip. Eh.
"Great party," Russ Smith said from behind Tricia, startling her.
"Hi, Russ. So glad you could make it." Although he certainly hadn't dressed for such a party, wearing instead his usual attire of a plaid flannel shirt and rather grungy jeans. His only concession was a tired-looking corduroy sport coat with leather patches on the elbows that he'd probably worn since college. "Is Nikki here, too?"
Russ tipped his glass, with what looked like Scotch in it, toward his wife, who was standing near one of the windows overlooking Main Street and conversing with Frannie Armstrong.
Nikki looked fabulous in the proverbial little black dress, with her hair pulled back in a chignon, looking much more sophisticated than she did when behind the counter of the village's only bakery, the Patisserie, which she owned. However, the effect was spoiled, as she looked to be bored out of her mind. In contrast, Frannie, who managed Angelica's store, the Cookery—a cookbook and sundries store—looked like a tourist who'd lost her way en route to our fiftieth state. Tricia had only ever seen Frannie wear something other than a loud aloha shirt on rare occasions. Frannie, a sturdy woman in her mid-fifties, seemed to be snagging anyone who would listen so that she could introduce her latest gentleman friend, whom she'd met via an online dating service. She found a lot of guys that way, but none of them seemed to last long. Tricia had already forgotten the poor man's name. The tall gent, with a graying beard and sparse hair, didn't seem all that enthused to be attending the party, nor being shown off like Frannie's pet dog. Tricia felt sorry for him.
"It sure feels good to be out and about—and on a weeknight," Russ said, eyeing the Scotch bottle on the table. "That's just about unheard-of for us." He took a hearty slug of his drink.
"Is it tough finding a babysitter?"
"More like tough getting Nikki to leave little Russell. She feels guilty for plunking him in day care most of the week. It's not like the kid is even up this late," he lamented. Not for the first time, Tricia got the impression that Russ wasn't exactly thrilled to be a daddy.
Antonio Barbero—whom Tricia referred to as Angelica's secret stepson—passed by. It looked like he'd been enlisted to help pass out canapés as well, and he offered the mini spinach quiches around, with just about everybody taking and enjoying one. Unlike Russ, Antonio loved being a dad to his daughter, little Sofia, born the very same day as Russ's son. And though Antonio sometimes worked hellish hours, he always found time for his precious bambina. Of course, Antonio was a good ten or twelve years younger than Russ, who Tricia suspected had never contemplated marriage, let alone fatherhood, when he'd worked out his life's plan.
C'est la vie.
"Angelica said you'd made all the food," Russ said, grabbing a quiche off the tray as Antonio passed.
Tricia took a sip of her club soda. "Almost. A number of people brought goodies as well. Mary Fairchild brought some hot artichoke dip, and, of course, Nikki brought some of her marvelous mini cream puffs. A lot of people brought wine." She gestured toward the console table near the entryway, which was covered in bottles. Hmm, she ought to have mentioned that to Angelica when she'd stated they'd run out of red wine.
"Speaking of food, I'd better get back in the kitchen and make sure there's enough for everybody."
"And I'll just pour myself another drink," Russ said, but he didn't sound all that pleased about the prospect.
Tricia made her escape and found Angelica leaning against the large white-and-black-veined granite island, presumably taking a breather. Or was it her four-inch stilettos that caused her discomfort—not that she'd ever admit it? "Ange, why don't you go sit down in the living room and relax."
"Me, relax at a party? Unthinkable," she said, and picked up a cookie-crumb-littered plate from the island.
"Yes, but it's my party—not yours."
"Tricia, dear, you are the hostess—that doesn't mean you have to play waitress. Now, I've got everything in the kitchen under control," she said, and held out a hand to show that she'd tidied the island, which had been where Tricia had spread out some of the food, including the chafing dish that was now nearly empty of her childhood favorite Swedish meatballs.
"Yes—I also see you keep sending Ginny and Antonio out to play waitstaff."
"And they are enjoying themselves."
"Are you sure you didn't just browbeat them into helping out?"
"Of course not! Tricia, I don't think you realize it, dear, but there are a lot of people who would do anything to help you out because you're such a force for good in this town."
That wasn't true. It was Angelica who had earned that accolade in her role as founder of Nigela Ricita Associates, and anonymously, too. In a few short years she'd helped shape the village into what it was today—a thriving success. She'd also accomplished that with her dual role as president of the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce. Tricia aspired to take her place, but she was sure she would never be able to fill her shoes. Eyeing the shiny red slingback Jimmy Choos, Tricia decided she'd much rather follow in Angelica's footsteps.
Angelica turned for the refrigerator. "Now, what else can we surprise your guests with?"
"Most of the hors d'oeuvres are probably already gone—"
"You got that right. There's just one more tray of those crab-stuffed mushrooms. Wherever did you get that wonderful recipe?"
"From your first cookbook—as you darn well know."
"Yes," Angelica said with satisfaction, "simple, but elegant. And everybody loves them."
At least those who like shellfish seemed to love them. Tricia wasn't a big fan herself, but they did look appetizing.
Russ entered the kitchen. "Any chance there's another bottle of soda around?"
Angelica handed Tricia the platter of rosettes and plucked the last bottle of club soda from the fridge's door. "Here you go."
"Thanks." He headed back toward the living room.
Angelica looked after him. "He's had a few tonight."
"Yes," Tricia said, and sighed. "I think he's grateful to be out of harness for a few hours. I just hope Nikki isn't going to have to drag him out of here kicking and screaming."
Behind them, someone cleared his throat. They turned to find Mr. Everett, one of Tricia's employees and an honorary family member, standing near the kitchen island.
"Ms. Miles, I wanted to let you know that Grace"—his wife of four years—"and I are leaving."
"We've had a wonderful time, but we pick up our little bundle of joy bright and early tomorrow morning from the Animal Rescue League. We don't want to take the risk of being late."
Tricia knew the equally elderly cat they were adopting had been waiting nearly two years to find his forever home. "I understand completely."
"Where are you parked?" Angelica asked.
"In the municipal lot."
"Let me get Antonio to walk you to your car."
"Oh, no. That won't be necessary. We don't want to bother anyone."
"It's no bother," Angelica assured him, and charged toward the living room to flag down Antonio.
"Will you be bringing pictures of Charlie into work tomorrow?"
"I wanted to speak to you about that," Mr. Everett said, sounding contrite. "I was wondering if I might have the entire morning off. I would like to make sure Charlie is well acclimated before I leave him. Grace thinks I'm being foolish, but I haven't owned a pet in a long time." He had, however, taken care of Tricia's cat, Miss Marple, for about a week the summer before. "I don't wish to neglect my pet on his first day with us."
"Of course not. Take all the time you need. Pixie and I will handle everything."
"You're very generous, Ms. Miles."
"Nonsense. I want your new family member to feel secure. I'm just so happy for the two of you. You're doing a wonderful thing adopting Charlie."
"It was a difficult decision to make. At our ages . . ."
That was why they were adopting an elderly cat—the fear of outliving a younger pet. And also the fact that taking Charlie in would give the feline the opportunity to live out the remainder of his life in a loving home.
Angelica and Antonio arrived, along with Grace's and Mr. Everett's coats.
"Dear boy, you do not need to walk us to our car," Grace exclaimed.
"It would be my pleasure. I want to hear all about your new bambino, too," Antonio said. Tricia just loved to hear his lilting Italian accent.
"I'm afraid we may bore all our friends. William has even learned to take pictures with his phone just to chronicle our boy's arrival."
Mr. Everett ducked his head, blushing in embarrassment.
"I can't wait to see them," Tricia said.
"Me, too," Angelica chimed in.
Mr. Everett slipped on his coat and buttoned it, and then he, Grace, and Antonio headed for the door, calling good-bye over their shoulders.
"Oh, dear," Tricia said. "Do you think them leaving will cause the party to break up early?"
"As we're running out of food and some drink, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world," Angelica said.
"Now I'll hustle that last tray of canapés out to the hungry crowd, while you check on your guests."
"Right." Tricia walked away from the island, heading for a group standing near the door. As she'd feared, several others already had donned their coats.
"There you are, Tricia," said Joyce Widman, proprietress of the Have a Heart bookstore a few doors down from Haven't Got a Clue.
"Leaving so soon?"
"I've got a big sale going on tomorrow and haven't finished pricing my stock. I'll need to get to my store early in the morning. But I had a lovely time. The food was wonderful, the company even better."
"Thank you, Joyce. I'm so glad you were able to come."
"I wouldn't have missed it."
"Me, too, Tricia," said Mariana Sommers, the Chamber of Commerce's secretary, with whom Tricia hoped to work closely should she win the upcoming Chamber of Commerce election for its presidency. For months, Angelica had been quietly (for her) pushing the idea that Tricia should run for president of the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce. Now that the renovations on her home were complete, and since the campaign season was to start in three days, Tricia had decided to pursue the job. Oh, dear. She'd meant to make an official announcement on just that subject during the party, but had obviously waited far too long.
Tricia walked her guests down the stairs and through the front door of Haven't Got a Clue. If her visitors were going to be filtering out, perhaps she should ask Antonio to stay down there to make sure the shop was secure until the bulk of them had left.
Sure enough, by the time she made it back upstairs, four more of her guests had donned their coats and were saying their good-byes to Angelica. At this rate, the place would empty out in no time.
Excerpted from "Poisoned Pages"
Copyright © 2018 Lorna Barrett.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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
Good read. Possibly the best of this series. Look forward to the next one!
I know that certain critics think the stories are simplistic but i have grown to really like this town and characters. I figured this one early but was completely caught up in the lives of the characters. I look forward to the next book.
This is an excellent addition to this great series - great characters and stories -- I love this series! The ending makes me want to read the next book now. I did not expect the person whodunit. I highly recommend this series and this book. You won't be disappointed!
Tricia is finally looking forward to putting the past to rest, with the trial and sentencing over, starting with hosting a party to celebrate the new apartment renovations. But alas, that doesn't work out well for her when one of the guests drops dead. And while she is keen to prove that she did not poison him deliberately or accidentally, the death is certainly putting a damper on her run for Chamber President, against two formidable opponents. And then there are the incidents of vandalism that seem to be plaguing the town. This is a delightful mystery series full of interesting characters, that continue to grow and develop through each new book. I enjoy the relationship between Tricia and her sister, even when they are disagreeing over things. I also like how Tricia interacts with her bookstore staff, Mr. Everett and Pixie. I was excited that Mr. Everett and his wife were planning to adopt a rescue cat, because he definitely gets along well with the store's cat, Miss Marple. All your favorite characters seem to be present in this story, and the villain turns out to be someone totally unexpected (no spoilers intended). I do have to say that Tricia is lucky to have such good help because she definitely spends a lot of time outside of her store, investigating the clues. I am looking forward to the next book in this series, with a new lease on life for Tricia, as well as a potential romantic interest (besides Chief Baker!). Disclosure: I am voluntarily reviewing this book.
I have read every book in this series and had enjoyed it until the last few. I'm disappointed on the kind of person Tricia has evolved into. This current book is just plain depressing and found myself scanning through chapters so I can finally end it. Maybe it is time to end this series too and for the author to start something new.
In this new book of the series Tricia is throwing a house warming party now that her place has been finished. She has worked very hard preparing all the food for her party and can't wait to have everyone over. When the guest of one of her guests ends up dead after eating one of her treats she truly does feel like a jinx. She didn't know the man and it didn't seem like anyone else did either besides his date, so it had to have been an accident right? Why do bodies seem to gravitate towards her, why can't it be someone else? It looks like the man had an allergic reaction to the food, but wouldn't he have been smart enough not to eat something he wasn't suppose to? Follow along as Tricia tries to get to the bottom of the dead mans sudden demise. Along the way she learns that someone is black mailing her sister, has someone vandalizing her property, and an ex that just can't seem to let go. There were quite a few twists and turns that kept me guessing the whole way through, which always makes for a great read. This was to me the best book of the series and I can't wait to see what happens next.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Tricia Miles just has a way of finding dead bodies. Many in town call her a jinx, some straight to her face. Well, this time she doesn’t even need to leave her newly redone apartment to add another dead body to her list. While hosting a housewarming party one of her guests keels over dead. Tricia isn’t much of a cook but she never imagined someone dying after eating her food. The guy must have had an allergic reaction, she can’t be held responsible for that. She didn’t even know the guy, he was the date of one of her other guests. Chief Bakes soon finds out what the toxin was and it is not something commonly found in food, especially Tricia’s kitchen. Which means the man was murdered! While all this is going on Tricia is running for Chamber of Commerce president. A position her sister has decided to give up to dedicate more time to her businesses. Unfortunately, she has two opponents and they are discrediting her all over town and using that whole jinx thing against her. Can she win an election and catch a killer? She sure is going to try. There is never a dull moment in Booktown, something is always happening. Tricia’s party, the chamber election, Tricia’s sister Angelica is worried about something, Stoneham as a vandal causing damage and then, of course, there is the dead guy on Tricia’s floor. Ms. Barrett packs Poisoned Pages with a very captivating cozy mystery. In fact, there is more than one mystery to solve and they may or may not be connected. The staff at Haven’t Got A Clue always has Tricia’s back. This allows her plenty of time to tool around town trying to get the answers she needs to book the person that used her party for their crime. She also spends plenty of time with her sister hoping to find answers there too. Mr. Everett and Pixie Poe are the perfect employees. Pixie has really come into her own. Her creativity shines this time as she pulls out all the stops to help Tricia become the next Chamber of Commerce President. Mr. Everett has other things on his mind. He and his wife are adopting an elderly cat. He is so excited and has plenty of pictures of the feline to share. The plot of this story tangles all the mystery elements together. With only a week to campaign before the election, Tricia has the perfect opportunity to question many of the suspects. She also got her sister to reveal what was bothering her and that gave her another mystery to solve. She plans to leave the vandal to the police but she thinks she knows their identity too. It was so much fun to traipse around town each step of the way with Tricia. I was completely gobsmacked when all was revealed. This truly is one of my favorite series. I love these characters. I am excited about where Tricia may be heading in her personal life. Angelica unleashes a surprise in this story that will change her life in a really good way. These sisters worked hard to get their relationship where it is today and I have enjoyed following along. So much has happened over the course of this series but the author keeps her characters and their stories fresh and relevant. You can read this book as a stand-alone but this is a series the really should be read from the start, in order, to fully appreciate how far these characters have come. I am so excited for the next installment of this series
The Booktown Mystery series is how I got hooked on cozies in the first place. The newest book does not disappoint. It's packed full of mystery and "hometown" flavor. The newest book has Tricia hosting a housewarming party at her newly renovated apartment. Things seem to be going well until one of her guests dies from what appears to be an allergic reaction at her party. This does not help her run for Chamber of Commercial President, which has become a heated race with two of Tricia's rivals. Naturally, Tricia decides to do a little sleuthing of her own... Like the other Booktown Mysteries, this book is packed full of twists and turns. Each book also develops its characters even more -- they grow with each book. I really love the relationship between sisters Tricia and Angelica and all the characters are also like dear friends to me now. Even if you haven't read the series, it's not hard to read this series out of order (although you may end up wanting to buy up every book to devour the entire world of Booktown!) I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book but the opinions are all my own.
Paula Jacobson Poisoned Pages by Lorna Barrrett is the twelfth book of the Booktown Mystery series. In this book, Tricia is having a housewarming party in her newly refurbished apartment. At the party, one of the party goers is killed when poisoned by something he ate. It's up to Tricia to figure out who did it and why. I really enjoyed this book. Going back to Stoneham was like visiting with old friends. I could see myself shopping in Haven't Got a Clue, visiting with Pixie and Mr. Everett. I would go to Booked for Lunch for a great meal while watching Tricia having lunch with Angelica. The characters add warmth and wit to the story. They are one big family. The mystery is exceptional. It is a mystery within a mystery. There were secrets and a great who-dun-it that will keep you guessing. I couldn't stop reading until I got to the end and found out the answers to all of the questions. It kept me riveted until the end. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great who-dun-it with twists and turns that will keep you guessing along the way, and characters that are warm, witty and have a family feel. I received this ARC copy of the book from the author for review. This is an honest review.
Tricia’s apartment remodel is finally finish and she is celebrating with a housewarming party. She even cooked for the party! Since she has recently taken up cooking, she is happy to show off her new skills. Everything seems to be going well until one of her guests dies from what appears to be a food allergy. This death seems to bring back up the village jinx rumors which could not happen at a worse time. Tricia is running for the Chamber of Commerce President but she has some unexpected competition. Is the death of Tricia’s guest an accident or murder? Can Tricia break what seems to the streak of bad luck? This is my favorite book in the series so far. Author Lorna Barrett has created a wonderful setting and fabulous characters, I truly feel as if I am reading about beloved friends. The murder mystery can be enjoyed as a stand-alone mystery, but a lot of the background information can better be understood if you have read the previous books. Several continuing storylines are wrapped up, we learn a few secrets, and we are introduced to a possible new and unexpected love interest. Tricia is being attacked by rumors and Angelica is being blackmailed for reasons she will not share even with Tricia. I really love how even with all the negativity going around the sisters, their adoptive family never turns their backs on them and helps to pull them through everything. I definitely recommend this book to fans of the series as well as all mystery lovers. **I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. ** (less)
I’ve read every book in the series, and the story just gets better and better. I love the development of the characters from start to finish. And in this book, I just have no words, it was so good. This book we find the relationship between the two main characters, Sisters Tricia and Angelica Miles, is strained due to multiple factors. The progression of events really test their harmony and strength of their relationship in many ways. And we see such change and growth to those closest to them! From Bob Kelley finally getting sentenced to Tricia having her party to celebrate her apartments new remodel Tricia has an emotional day right at the start. Then to have a person die of an allergic reaction at that party, well, Tricia just has to wonder if Bob cursing her in the courtroom wasn’t somehow coming true. Something I see in real life and in these books is people who go off the rails and do something horrible and never admitting their own fault. They have to have a scapegoat and someone else they blame for every bad thing they did. Lorna beautifully portrays not only that crazy way of thinking but shows the damage it can do to those around them, both the person they blame and the relationships of those around them. Tricia and Angelica end up dealing with the fallout and their friends worry about them. I love every second of this book. I had to deal with a person who went off the rails and ended up in jail and I saw some of how what he did effected me. It was closely reflected in what Tricia and Angelica go through. I love how they deal and I felt a bit of healing in my own life thanks to this story. This series just keeps getting better and better. I hope you enjoy “Poisoned Pages” as much as I did! For more reviews you can check out my blog at digthereviews.blogspot.com !