Katie Bonner was on her way to work when she saw the patrol cars within the vicinity of Artisans Alley. Upon talking to the police, she learned that Ezra Hilton, his late ex-husband’s business partner, died. Katie barely knows the man and the only person she thinks could help her is Seth Landers, McKinlay Mill’s only lawyer. Seth told her through the phone that Mr. Hilton made her executor of his estate which means she will assume responsibility at Artisans Alley whether she like it or not. Apart from her day job and her new obligation at the alley, Katie has found herself burdened with finding Ezra’s killer, because in the coming days another death will ensue. The place won’t be safe anymore for the vendors and customers, and for the most part, her own safety might be compromised.
A Crafty Killing is the first story in Lorraine Bartlett’s Victoria Square Mystery series. The series’ main protagonist is Katie Bonner, who is a strong independent woman. Her marriage isn’t a successful one, though before Chad’s death, there was a hope that they could still fix it and save their relationship. She’s living with a cat named Mason and supporting herself through a regular work as an office manager. Though the job pays well, her working relationship with Josh, the ‘boss from hell,’ wasn’t really good. She’s been bullied and belittled despite her quality work. The only thing that made her stay, aside from the salary was, it kept her busy. She diverted her attention to work instead of thinking about her ruined marriage and eventually, Chad’s death. However, everyone has a breaking point. Katie finally decided to quit as she couldn’t bear his boss’s attitude any longer. Now, she’s ready to face her newest obligation, the Artisans Alley.
But, how? Katie lacked knowledge on how the business operates, its financial status and she’s not even familiar with the people renting the place. The building structure was already old and the products aren’t selling well. What was left in her was already in a bad condition. Although, Katie still has an option to put it on sale after the probate instead of managing it herself.
Her duties doesn’t end there. Ezra’s suspicious death has to be resolved quickly or else Artisan’s Alley won’t be safe anymore. What if the killer is one of the vendors? Katie, wanting to help, discreetly conduct her own investigation by asking questions to the booth owners. As she digs deeper, Katie would find the link between the past and current deaths that will point to the real killer. There’s a lot of possible suspects. Like most of the murder mystery novel, the unlikely person is always the probable killer. The harmless ones have the most secrets to hide.
On the bright side, Katie develops friendship, particularly with these following characters:
Rose Nash is an old, lovable character who likes to read pocket books. I won’t forget her funny, romantic love story with the appliance store owner during her younger age. Edie Silver is a dependable and resourceful person who helps Miss Bonner in planning for the Halloween and Mini Christmas Festival at Artisans Alley. Tracy Elliot was in the same age group as Katie and was like a sister to her. Seth Landers, hiding his own sexuality, became Katie’s ally and the go-to person each time she has questions regarding the estate and the murder. And Andy Rust, the handsome pizza parlor owner, whom she developed a romantic relationship with.
This is a fun and easy read novel. I love the atmosphere of the book for the reason that Victoria Square is a dwelling for arts and crafts, coffee and tea shop, pizza parlor, goodies, and pastry shops. It is a happy place and I dream of owning one of those shops. Sadly, I didn’t see a mention of a bookstore.
The story was entertaining. I could say that Katie Bonner found a family at Artisans Alley. Ironic how she was avoiding this place before, but as time goes by, it’s becoming clear that her future lies in that place.
Bonus: At the end pages, the author inserted recipes of chocolate chip cookies, Scottish shortbread, raisin scones and oatmeal raisin nut cookies.
- “Making decisions without a clear-cut plan was just plain dumb.”
- “She didn’t need to decide what she wanted or needed to do today. Like Scarlett O’Hara, she’s think about it tomorrow.”
- “I was hoping you wouldn’t let other people’s pettiness drive you away.”
- “That’s what it takes to be successful. You’ve got to put your heart and soul into your business if you want it to thrive.”
(This is a volunteer book review by Luna)