Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 294pp
(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Lorraine Bartlett on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter
Books in the series: A Crafty Killing (2011), The Walled Flower (2012)
CoverArt: Click the picture for a larger, clearer image of the covers in this series.
Excerpt from The Walled Flower
Her fate was sealed...
If Katie Bonner's late husband hadn't invested all their savings in the craft fair Artisans Alley - which Katie is now responsible for keeping in the black - the Webster mansion could have been hers to remodel. For years she dreamed of renovating the old place on Victoria Square into a bed-and-breakfast. Now that dream belongs to another young couple.
But their dream becomes a nightmare when a skeleton is discovered sealed in one of the walls of the mansion. The bones belong to Heather Winston, who went missing twenty-two years ago. her aunt is Rose Nash, a jewelry vendor at Artisans Alley, who is determined to find her niece's murderer and asks for Katie's help to do it. The case may be cold, but the killer is very much alive - and ready to go to any lengths to keep past secrets buried...
Lorraine Bartlett under any other name would definitely write just as good! This author uses many pen names but her writing remains stellar no matter what guise it takes. The second book in the Victorian Square Mystery series, The Walled Flower, takes on a cold case. A twenty-two year old murder that has never been solved. The premise is unusual enough to grab the reader from the first page and grip them all the way to the end. If finding a body walled up in an old mansion doesn't creep you out, this book is right up your alley!
I kind of had one of those hair standing up on the back of your neck moments with this book, which is really unusual considering the sheer number of cozy mysteries I read. It takes a very in-genius plot to give me that kind of heebie-jeebie feeling and this one certainly had it. The whole time I was reading it I kept being reminded of the Kevin Bacon movie, "Stir of Echoes", the movie and this book give off his haunting kind of atmosphere. I loved it!
Bartlett is hitting her stride early on with this series, since this is only book two. She gives the reader a somewhat more serious tale than most cozies that try to lighten the subject matter with a lot of humor. This one is a more real mystery that is riveting and still hits all the right points to make it a super cozy. Bartlett doesn't make it too over the top, just very realistic and interesting. This is probably my favorite book by her under any name!
Cozy readers will love learning more about Kate Bonner and the crafter's from Artisan's Alley. Kate is a very no-nonsense kind of person. She's a realist and she's very practical. She has a lot on her plate trying to keep the booths in the Alley open and the vendors from fighting. When her husband sunk all their money into the venture and then died in a car accident she had no choice but to become a businesswoman and in this case an amateur sleuth. When the remains of the niece of one of her vendors is found walled up in the old Webster mansion, Kate is on the case! I loved the character and thought Bartlett let a lot more of her personality shine in this novel than in the first. I enjoyed seeing the changes in Kate and how she's grown.
I also really enjoyed learning more about various Artisan Alley personalities and people. Rose was a treasure in this one and I hope that we haven't seen the last of her. Bartlett has created some very interesting secondary characters including Davenport who originally investigated this case twenty-two years ago. He couldn't solve it then... I'm thinking he definitely needed Kate's help on this one. I liked the fact that Bartlett is letting more townspeople enter the picture and giving Kate's personal life some much needed attention.
I really enjoyed this installment in a great series. I was a little skeptical about this series in the beginning. I'm glad that I gave it a try and can't wait to read the next book in the series. The mystery was gritty and emotional and very well written. Kate's personal life is explored in more depth and readers are treated to a more in depth look at the Alley and it's vendors. It's a great cozy and a very stirring novel to boot. You don't want to miss this one!
The Walled Flower is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from m y book bag!
Lorraine Bartlett is a New York Times bestselling author of another mystery series. She lives and writes in Rochester, New York.
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