Crime and Poetry is the first book in the new Magical Bookshop series. Violet Waverly gets an urgent call that her grandmother is dying and needs her to return home to Cascade Springs, near Niagara Falls, NY. . When she arrives, she finds her grandmother, Daisy, is just fine and lured her back home to take over the family business, a bookshop called Charming Books.
Haunted by the death of a friend 12 years ago, Violet intends to return to Chicago to continue getting her degree, but when Daisy's friend Benedict Raisin turns up dead in her driveway, and Daisy is under suspicion for his murder. Violet feels she has to stay until the real murderer is caught. Attracted to the town's police chief, pursued by her childhood sweetheart, and stunned by a family secret, can Violet unravel a mystery and solve a murder with the help of books?
I really enjoyed this book. Having grown up in WNY, just an hour away from the Falls, I was instantly comfortable with the setting. The little town of Cascade Springs sounds just like many of the picturesque small towns that dot the landscape around Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, I haven't seen a bookshop with a birch tree growing inside (bonus points for a talking crow!) but I'd love to visit one someday!
The plot was very well done, lots of suspects and motives and surprising plot twist at the end. I liked that although there's a paranormal element - it is a magical bookshop, after all - the murder was solved mostly by old-fashioned sleuthing.
The characters were charming and a little eccentric, from retro Sadie to Grandma Daisy to little furry cat sidekick Emerson, they added color and dimension to the little town of Cascade Springs.
I do have to say, that any backstory/traumatic past event in the main character's past would be best included in the first few chapters. In Violet's case the death of her friend was alluded to several times, but wasn't until nearly 3/4 of the way through the book that the whole story was revealed. That was way too long; disclosing it sooner might have helped to build some empathy for Violet.
Also, the burgeoning love triangle kind of detracted from it. The police chief makes her all tingly, why bother with the childhood sweetheart? Unnecessary plot device.
Overall, a great first in a new series and I look forward to visiting the magical bookshop again.