From Crime Reads: SEVEN MYSTERY NOVELS WHERE THE CRIMES ARE MOTIVATED BY BOOKS
I am a passionate bibliophile myself….This avocation is what inspired me to create the Bibliophile Mysteries, featuring a bookbinder who solves murders linked to the rare books in her care. So you might legitimately call me a book fanatic. But I’m not as far gone as book collectors who feel obsessed to possess. Those for whom a particular treasure may inspire them to felonious deeds.
And then, as advertised, seven murder mysteries featuring book-centered crimes. These mysteries mostly look like cozies, but a couple don’t seem to fit that subgenre. All of them sound intriguing. I like the book chosen as the centerpiece for this mystery:
A Page Marked for Murder by Lauren Elliott
As the charming coastal town of Greyborne Harbor is gearing up for their annual Fire and Ice Festival, Addie Greyborne’s friend Gloria suffers a fall that sends her to the hospital. While at Gloria’s house to care for her dog, Addie notices a rare and valuable first edition of The Secret Garden. But on her next visit, the book is missing, which makes her wonder if Gloria’s fall wasn’t an accident at all—and whether it’s linked to the dead body found behind the bakery. The owner of the bakery is charged with the crime, but Addie is convinced that the police have the wrong person in custody. And so of course, as amateur sleuths do, she’ll have to track down the killer herself. What I love best about the Beyond the Page Bookstore Mysteries are the complex and appealing characters. I’d love to join them at the local café for a cup of coffee and a hot dish of gossip.
The mysteries in the linked post feature things like a first edition of Jekyll and Hyde or the first-ever-written Sherlock Holmes story or whatever, and those are fine, but I have to admit, I loved The Secret Garden and am drawn at once toward this book, just because it mentions that one.
Although the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett I loved the most was, hands down, A Little Princess.
Googling now, I find that Burnett wrote an awful lot of books, including many I’ve never heard of, much less read. This one, a fairy tale, is available for free from Amazon. Every book description of Burnett’s books makes the stories sound so twee and sentimental. And in some ways, I guess they are sentimental, and yet so very charming. If any of you have read any of her books other than A Little Princess or The Secret Garden, which, and what did you think?
9 thoughts on “Bookish crimes”
A Little Princess comes in first, of course, but for me, Little Lord Fauntleroy was a close second, with The Secret Garden landing behind that. If you watch old movies, the 1936 movie of LLF with Freddie Bartholemew is charming, while the 1939 version of A Little Princess with Shirley Temple is just not.
Little Lord Fauntleroy is sentimental indeed. I enjoyed it when I read it in my early years. But I do not think it would stand the test of time if I were to read it again. What might have been charming is now treacly, and of course there are other issues. I would put Heidi, and Mazli, by Johanna Spyri in the same category. If I were to pick the one that weathered best, probably Secret Garden, because the two main children seem the most realistic; they are not improbably saintly.
I read LLF, and it doesn’t seem to have made much impression. I also read The Lost Prince which I enjoyed very much, although I suspect if I reread it now the sentimentality over princes and some other elements may well be too much. AT whatever age I found it, I reread it frequently. It was probably my introduction to Ruritanian tales.
Agree with Jeanine, The Secret Garden probably holds up best. Although Sara Crewe’s saintliness is balanced by the nastiness of other characters so it’s not (in my memory) too horribly treacly. Sara works for her goodness, too, as I recall.
I read a Ruritanian romance by her once. It was ghastly.
I’ve read some of her adult books too. I loved The Shuttle, an American heiress (imagine adult Sara Crewe) visits her sister who married a British aristocrat and cut contact with the family. She finds that the sister is in an abusive marriage and stays to help, finds true love, she and her love help the village during an epidemic, etc.
The Head of the House of Coombe and Robin (book 1.5) Robin is the daughter of a shallow, egoistic widow who is the mistress of a Lord Coombe. Coombe takes care of Robin, even though the girl hates him due to a misunderstanding. Romance and HEA for Robin (not with Coombe), bittersweet for Coombe. Melodramatic but OK, Robin doesn’t have much agency, she is very sweet, suffers when she is little, very sheltered later on and everybody else (except her mother) takes care of her.
Emily Fox-Seton books. Romance between a thirty-something impoverished woman and a middle-aged aristocrat, nice but a bit boring.
A Lady of Quality and sequel/male POV His Grace of Osmond: DNF sort of, I did look up the ending. The heroine killed her own dog. Broke the dog’s neck with her bare hands. Yes, she was under stress, etc. but it’s just not a book I want to read.
I love the Emily Fox-Seton books. PBS made a version of these called Making of a Lady but they made it into a thriller. The books are much better.
I forgot to add: the best Little Princess I’ve seen is the 1986 mini series which you can watch on Amazon prime.
I always have a hard time choosing between A Little Princess and The Secret Garden as my favorite. I absolutely love Sara and her philosophy of life and her strength under trial, and I also love Mary and Dickon and the garden and how beautifully the garden’s restoration mirrors Mary’s. I can’t stand Colin, though, and am disappointed on every re-read at how he takes over the story once he comes into it, so A Little Princess probably wins out for that alone!
I read Little Lord Fauntleroy when I was younger and was utterly bored by it. I tried reading The Shuttle a couple of years ago but couldn’t get beyond the first part, although reading Maria’s comment makes me think I should give it a second chance. I’d also like to try the Emily Fox-Seton books based on that comment–even if they are a bit boring, I always enjoy gentle romances featuring older protagonists rather than teenage beauties.
Thanks for your comments! Especially yours, Maria. I’m going to try both The Shuttle and Emily Fox-Seton.
Yes, imo, Sara Crewe has to work pretty darn hard to earn her happy ending — not to mention she would almost certainly have starved to death if not for the author arranging the plot just so. But in fact it’s the other girls, who are pretty realistically presented rather than overly sentimental, which I think lifts this story out of the realm of overly sentimental despite the extremely contrived plot.