The Novel Art of Murder (Mystery Bookshop) by V.M. Burns

The Novel Art of Murder (Mystery Bookshop)
by V.M. Burns

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Kensington (November 27, 2018) 
Paperback: 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1496711858
ISBN-13: 978-1496711854 
Digital ASIN: B07B7B4C8Q

Mystery bookstore owner Samantha Washington is trying to keep her grandmother from spending her golden years in an orange jumpsuit . . .

The small town of North Harbor, Michigan, is just not big enough for the two of them: flamboyant phony Maria Romanov and feisty Nana Jo.

The insufferable Maria claims she's descended from Russian royalty and even had a fling with King Edward VIII back in the day. She’s not just a lousy liar, she's a bad actress, so when she nabs the lead in the Shady Acres Senior Follies—a part Nana Jo plays every year in their retirement village production—Nana Jo blows a gasket and reads her the riot act in front of everyone.

Of course, when Maria is silenced with a bullet to the head, Nana Jo lands the leading role on the suspects list. Sam’s been writing her newest mystery, set in England between the wars, with her intrepid heroine Lady Daphne drawn into murder and scandal in the household of Winston Churchill. But now she has to prove that Nana Jo’s been framed.

With help from her grandmother's posse of rambunctious retirees, Sam shines a spotlight on Maria’s secrets, hoping to draw the real killer out of the shadow

Can Murders be Cozy?
The concept of a cozy murder mystery must seem like a misnomer or an oxymoron. How can murder be cozy? Yet, there’s a thriving category of mysteries which are just that, cozy.
Cozy mysteries typically feature an amateur sleuth (usually female), who must solve a mystery, almost always a murder. However, it’s not just the use of an amateur sleuth that makes cozies….cozy.
There are rules for a cozy mystery. Cozies can’t have any explicit sex, no really bad language, and no graphic violence.
What? How do you have a murder without violence? Herein lies the heart of the cozy.
Cozies, aren’t about the murder. Yeah, it happened. Someone (usually, someone not very nice) is murdered, but describing the details of the murder isn’t expected (nor desired). Cozy readers don’t want all of the grisly details about the rotting corpse or the violence unleashed upon the victim. No, most cozy murders actually takes place “off screen.” 

The amateur sleuth stumbles across a dead body. That’s when the real fun in a cozy begins. Once the body is found, it’s up to the sleuth to find the clues and figure out Whodunit. 
Cozies are basically story problems, remember those from your grade school days?  

     Jane’s grandmother gave her 25 pens for her birthday. Jane loved pens. She loved to use her pens to write ghost stories. Jane gave the stories to her friends. Billy liked his story so much, he gave her an apple. One day, Jane was hungry, so she decided to teach her friends to write ghost stories in exchange for apples. She gave away 15 pens and taught her friends to write ghost stories. How many apples does Jane have?  

The cozy author’s job is to provide a story with all of the information needed to solve the problem, in the case of a cozy that means finding the real killer. The reader must sift through the information in the story and sort the real clues from the “red herrings,” (false clues), to figure out the murderer.
In a perfect world, the reader and the sleuth arrive at the same conclusion at the same time.  That’s the cozy author’s nirvana.

So, what’s with the cats/dogs/recipes/etc? Cozy murder mysteries often have themes which include hobbies like knitting or baking. Honestly, I have a couple of theories about themes. Perhaps so many cozies include themes because normal people have pets or hobbies and it makes the story more realistic. Or, themes may be a way of distracting readers from clues…Squirrel or in the case of the cozy…cookie. Or maybe, the themes are a way of taking a heinous act and making it just the slightest bit more…cozy.

I had a lot of fun reading this book. Jumping between the dangerous situations Nana Jo gets herself and everyone else into, commiserating with Sam dealing with the people in her life as she works at her dream of becoming a published author, and reading the history that bleeds over into present day life. While there are a number of cozy tropes and stereotypes present in this storyline, it is never dull or boring!
With the wild characters keeping Sam`s life interesting, I wish I had a few crazies like this in my own life. Growing old seems much more exciting.
This book can be read stand alone but you won`t want to miss any of the delightful books in this series.

About the Author

V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at
Author Links:
  Twitter: @vmburns
  Purchase Links - Amazon - Barnes & Noble - IndieBound: - Books-A-Million - Hudson Booksellers

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