Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams

Book Retreat Mysteries, #1



Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural western Virginia is the storybook resort of Storyton Hall, catering to book lovers who want to get away from it all. To increase her number of bookings, resort manager Jane Steward has decided to host a Murder and Mayhem week so that fans of the mystery genre can gather together for some role-playing and fantasy crime solving.

But when the winner of the scavenger hunt, Felix Hampden, is found dead in the Mystery Suite, and the valuable book he won as his prize is missing, Jane realizes one of her guests is an actual murderer. Amid a resort full of fake detectives, Jane is bound and determined to find a real-life killer. There’s no room for error as Jane tries to unlock this mystery before another vacancy opens up…

“These people are mystery fans. Readers. Bibliophiles. They’re far too refined to resort to violence.”

I loved the enthusiasm aimed toward books and reading, especially with the themed murder mystery week and the celebration of various literary detectives. It was nerd city for me, trust me. Being with the guests when they visited various rooms such as the Green Gables Gazebo and Agatha Christie Teamroom. Having meals catered to novel names and characters? Yep, a bookworm's dream: Julius Caesar salads, Herman Melville chowder, Homer's pulled pork sandwiches in the Kipling's cafe.

The concept of the murder mystery week, costume contests, treasure hunt and various things was fun. Unfortunately the book lost me a great bit around 40-50% into it. The author decided to enter in a large, outlandish subplot that completely changed the tone of the novel and subsequently the rest of the series. It was a surprise and twist that I didn't like. Sure it was clever and unique and added a completely new dimension....but to me it made a fun cozy into an comedic action-adventure with almost James Bondish staff. The plausibility of some of the stuff was so over the top it just left me behind. My interest waned due to this sadly -- if it had stayed just a book resort with a mystery, I think it would have held a higher star appeal in the end.

The characters are intriguing enough, but none stand out much. The protagonist is a single widow with two twin boys, a sarcastic and overweight aunt who gets into health crisis, an adoring uncle, and tons of devoted staff. That changes into something much more later.

One thing that bugged me was banning all electronic devices at the resort. This included phones and e-readers. I'm all for actual books and they're still my favorites, but I found it a little irritating that people couldn't read e-books or listen to audiobooks at a reading retreat. And sorry, but must use Goodreads on the phone or laptop to update =)

   Book Quotes:

“There were books everywhere. Hundreds of books. Thousands of books. There were books of every size, shape, and color. They lined the walls from floor to ceiling, standing straight and rigid as soldiers on the polished mahogany shelves, the gilt lettering on their worn spines glinting in the soft light, the scent of supple leather and aging paper filling the air.”

   Cover Gallery: