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Monday, May 30, 2022

Is Buried in a Good Book The Best-Written Cozy I've Ever Read? Why, Yes, I Do Believe It Is.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Tess Harrow, a popular mystery/thriller writer, is enjoying an enviable literary career. Her personal life? That's another matter entirely. Recently divorced after 15 years of marriage, she's trying to pick up the pieces while also dealing with her teenage daughter, who's been prickly since her dad's abandonment. In desperate need of a getaway where the two can unplug and reconnect, Tess whisks Gertie away to tiny Winthrop, Washington. Spending the summer at Tess' grandfather's rustic cabin in the woods should be just the thing for some much needed mother/daughter bonding and healing. 

Tess and Gertie have barely stepped foot on the property when an explosion rocks the peaceful forest. While being showered with fish guts and human remains, Tess watches her dreams of a languid, relaxing summer slip through the cracks. Suddenly, she—who was written about dozens of fictional murder mysteries—is smack dab in the middle of a very real one. Although Winthrop's ruggedly handsome sheriff (who is disconcertingly similar to the made-up hero of Tess' bestselling mystery series) insists he does not need her help to solve the crime, the author can't help herself. If she wants to reclaim her summer, not to mention clear her good name, she needs to find out whodunit. And soon.

Cozy mysteries are a dime a dozen and I've read several dozen! Most of them are average reads, with mediocre writing, blah characters, improbable plots, and lots of melodrama (often to the point of ridiculousness). I usually give even my most favorite ones only about a B-. Why do I bother reading them, then? Well, because they're generally clean, fun, easy reads that don't give me nightmares! I don't expect a lot out of them, though, to be honest. I was VERY pleasantly surprised, then, by the quality of Buried in a Good Book, the first installment in a new series by Tamara Berry. It might, in fact, be the best-written cozy I've ever read.

Cozies generally have a strong sense of place and this one is no different. The little town of Winthrop comes alive in Berry's hands, providing a lively backdrop for her story. Tess and the other characters are lively, with personalities that are not only discernable but also complex. For a cozy, these story folks are quite well-developed, while still being left with plenty of room for further growth. Their dialogue feels natural, not forced. Berry's prose is the same. It flows well and sparkles with humor and wit. The plot is, of course, a *little* far-fetched. Still, there's some originality to it and it's twistier than you might expect. Also, just to warn you: the murders are a little more gruesome than your average cozy deaths, although they're not described in an overly graphic way. While I did identify the murderer before Tess did, Berry kept me guessing until about 3/4 of the way through and I still didn't see EVERYTHING coming. Needless to say, I really enjoyed Buried in a Good Book. It's engrossing, it's funny, it's entertaining, it's smile-inducing. If you're into cozies (and even if you're not), give this one a shot. It's just SO fun!

(Readalikes: Reminds me of cozy mysteries by Ellie Alexander, Amanda Flower, Kylie Logan, Victoria Abbott, Vivien Chien, etc.)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, blood/gore, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Buried in a Good Book from the generous folks at Sourcebooks via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

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