The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilverio

Book Club Mystery, #3

One sleuthing book club finds themselves in the midst of a gothic-esque mystery as they read Du Maurier’s Rebecca in the latest from the author of The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle.
Reading the gothic classic Rebecca already has the Readaholics spooked, and the chills only get worse when someone in town actually gives up the ghost....
Amy-Faye Johnson has her hands full coordinating the Celebration of Gothic Novels in Heaven, Colorado. The festivities start off smoothly, but the weekend is soon cursed with large egos, old resentments, and uninvited guests. Matters become truly grave when a dead body is found at the gothic-themed costume party.

The out-of-town authors claim not to know the victim, but Amy-Faye has doubts. With skeletons turning up in all of the suspects’ closets, Amy-Faye and the Readaholics must tap into their knowledge of gothic literature to find a killer who lurks in the shadows...

Still not having as much as charm as the first, the third was still an enjoyable mystery with a book-centered theme. I was especially fangirling when it started out with a celebration of famous Gothic authors and books, including a bookish cake and costume party. Murder comes to the celebration, of course, but it was interesting to meet three "current" gothic writers and their demented families. Rebecca is the book's theme, one of my favorites, and for most of the length I didn't think they focused enough on it fairly in their book club discussions like previous novels. They fixed that during the last few chapters, giving their theories and again settling in for a movie version. That reminds me, I still need to watch that Hitchcock adaptation...

The mystery is worthy enough, especially the ending where it looked like they may have been tricked for a minute. On the downside, there wasn't any way for the reader to figure out the villain because that big reveal wasn't there until the end. Unfortunately there were too many coincidental discoveries and finds for the MC, especially with stumbling on vans and the bathroom. I liked how Rebecca blended in with the ending of the mystery a bit, and how the author brought up the intriguing disorder of Kleptomania and treated it seriously.

Amy-Faye is as fun as ever, again mentally conjuring her favorite detective Kinsey Millhone in some circumstances, Stephanie Plum in others. Hart and her finally progress their relationship to another level, and I'm happy the author avoided a love triangle that was hinted in the first book - none of that in sight now. Fans of Maud will be happy since we get plenty of the older, conspiracy-seeking friend. Brooke gets some happy news that has been brewing for three books as well. Amy-Faye and the gang are all present, and I'm happy to see they gave a small moment of remembrance to their lost friend from the first book.

The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala delivers another book-themed cozy that works - the series is well-written and evenly paced. While the mystery isn't fair for budding detectives since it's not solvable without sudden discoveries that pop up at the end, it's inventive enough with some amusing tributes to detectives mystery readers will recognize from other book series. Strangely the author dropped a hint that one of the characters slept with Jack Nicholson on a movie set. Worth reading if you're a fan of cozies, although you should start from the beginning of the series for the full effect of the characters.

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