Roberta’s Reviews: Better Off Read, by Nora Page

After a long pause due to getting married and other important things in life, I’ve finally got back into reading – and I’d like to share my thoughts on my latest read with you: Nora Page’s very enjoyable cosy mystery “Better Off Read”, one of the best in the genre that I’ve read so far!

Our heroine here is Cleo Watkins, aged 75, who’s trying to save the library of Catalpa Springs, Georgia, which has been damaged by a storm. The arrogant young Mayor Jeb Day, though, prefers tourist fishing piers and boat casinos to libraries and makes it clear to her he’s not going to give her any money for the repairs; and what’s worse, he even wants to take her library caravan “Words on Wheels” from her!

Together with her young colleague Leanne, she tries to get some money out of eccentric Buford Krandall, a friend of the library; he’s been reading a lot of books about murder recently, all written by local writer Priscilla Pawpaw… He says he’s got a plan against the Mayor whom he loathes, so together with her charming friend Henry Lafayette, who owns the local antiques and rare books shop, Cleo goes to visit Buford in his eerie old villa – but, what a shock, they find him dead in his library!

During the murder investigation, we get to know all the more or less suspicious characters in Catalpa Springs: Police Chief Culpepper, who’s a friend of Mayor Day; Buford’s neighbour Mary-Rose, an old friend of Cleo’s, who is rather pleased about his death; Cleo’s grandson Ollie and his girlfriend Whitney, an environmentalist (Buford had been polluting the spring waters, and his drill was destroyed on the night he was murdered); Bitsy, the local banker’s wife and very active member of the ladies’ club…

When Cleo and Henry finally get to talk to the real crime writer, Priscilla Pawpaw, they learn that Buford had been very interested in her notes for her latest book “Fatal Florida”! Next, the two amateur sleuths learn that Whitney actually is the daughter of Buford’s estranged half-brother; then, the library on wheels is being sabotaged – and then, another murder occurs…

A delightful read, both playful and enormously clever, a feast surely for all fans of the genre, with twists and turns and lovable characters – and, of course, at the end of the book the interested reader will find the recipe for a delicious cake!

Published by: Roberta Franklin

I’m an author of romantic fiction, born in Germany and living in Wales and Greece. I’ve worked as a journalist, as social hostess on a cruise ship, as an insurance agent, as a translator and teacher… I love books, movies, computer games, history – and I feel at home everywhere around the world!

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