Review ~ A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett

A Crafty Killing (Victoria Square Mystery)A Crafty Killing (Victoria Square Mystery)
Author ~ Lorraine Bartlett
ISBN-10 ~ 0425239853
304 pages
Publisher ~ Berkley
Publication date ~ February 1, 2011

The last thing Katie Bonner wanted was to become the manager of Artisans Alley. But when her business partner, Ezra Hilton, is found bludgeoned to death, she has no other choice. Business under Ezra has been faltering-but was it enough to provoke someone to murder? Only Kate can find the answer.

My thoughts ~ 

Katie Bonner busts her butt working for a slave-driver, a jerk who careS less about her and more about what she can do for him. But she needs this job. Every dime she makes at the insurance agency goes into paying first for her late husband’s funeral expenses, and then towards replacing all of the money he took out of their savings to gain a small percentage of ownership in Artisans Alley. Ezra Hilton owns Artisans Alley, a renovated apple warehouse, divided into sections (booths), for individual artists to sell their work. In McKinlay Mill Artisans Alley seems to be the glue that holds them all together.

While driving to work one morning, Katie spots the police at the Alley and stops to see what is going on. She is shocked to find that not only has poor Ezra been murdered, but that she is now the majority owner of Artisans Alley, having both her husband’s shares and half of the business from Ezra. Ezra’s nephew inherits the other half. Up until this point, she has remained his ‘silent’ partner, as Ezra was extremely set in his ways, and not very open to making any changes. Katie knows that Artisans Alley is now not only her responsibility, but is also in a failing financial state. She can’t afford to leave her tiresome, yet well-paying job to manage a failing business. But then she wonders – what if she can turn it around? What if she can start to make a profit? Maybe, just maybe, she can sell it and use those funds to buy her dream – the old, yet amazingly beautiful Victorian that she would someday love to turn into a Bed & Breakfast.

But then another man turns up dead, and it doesn’t appear that the police care all that much about finding the killer: someone who obviously has issue with those associated with Artisans Alley. It’s up to Katie to figure out just who is killing those associated with Artisans Alley and why. Is it the owner of the new pizza place across the street who doesn’t like the fact that he hasn’t been allowed to join the Merchant’s Association? One of the artists who don’t want “plain ole crafters” renting booth space? The nephew who was counting on selling the building and pocketing the money? Mary, the one woman who has been keeping company with or Nora, the woman the victim scorned for Mary and who is full of piss and vinegar about the situation?

A Crafty Killing is a fantastic start to a new cozy series written by the author of one of my favorite cozy series (see The Booktown Mysteries written as Lorna Barrett). I try not to expect too much from a first book in a series, but knowing the author and her writing style, I was certain I would not be let down. And I wasn’t. Ms. Bartlett has created a warm, inviting town where everyone is on a first name basis and murder is a rarity. The characters are quirky, yet relatable. They are begging to tell you the rest of their story. Ms. Bartlett has laid the perfect groundwork for future books in this series that introduces us to Katie and the people who sell their wares at Artisans Alley. Will Katie run Artisans Alley long enough to turn it around and sell it for her dream B&B, or has she found a new dream? A Crafty Killing kept my attention from the very first word until I turned the last page. The red herrings were aplenty, and the killer a complete surprise. Ms. Bartlett has created a crafty tale that must be read.

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FTC Full Disclosure ~ I received this book from the publisher in hopes that I would review it.
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