One week before Halloween, it’s only appropriate that we bring you our review of a cozy mystery set at a Halloween party. Death by Pumpkin Spice is the third book in the Bookstore Café series by Alex Erickson. It is the first book we’ve read in the series, and we found it to be a lot of fun, though the cats in the book aren’t as prominent as we’d hoped.
The story: Murder at a posh Halloween bash
Krissy Hancock is the co-owner of a café called Death by Coffee (this is absolutely the place old SoLT would hang out in—if, you know, it were a real place). There is a black-and-white store cat named Trouble, and Krissy also has an orange cat named Misfit. The Halloween season is one of Krissy’s favorite times of year because she is a fool for pumpkin-flavored anything (as is old SoLT). Given her love of Halloween, you’d think that she’d be delighted when a very eligible bachelor invites her to a posh Halloween bash, but Krissy fears that she won’t fit in among that crowd.
Actually, considering the series of odd things that takes place at this party, it’s a good thing Krissy doesn’t fit in.
But first things first. She manages to buy a Sherlock Holmes get-up that is perfect for her, since she is becoming known for her ability to solve murders, and she and Will (the previously mentioned eligible bachelor, who happens to be a doctor) head off to the party, driving through a rainstorm up a treacherous driveway to a mansion that is like… Well, actually I don’t know what it is like, so let’s just say it is extremely decorated for Halloween. Extremely decorated.
The extremely decorated house would be interesting enough (for the guests and for us), but then comes a marriage proposal gone wrong (dare I say extremely wrong?), followed in short order by the murder of the woman who turned down the proposal.
There is nothing like a brutal strangulation to stir up a party.
The murder also stirs up Krissy’s man trouble, by which I mean she hardly knows which of two attractive men to turn to: Will the doctor or Paul the police officer? Krissy is at the party with Will, but she is still attracted to Paul, whom she went out with exactly once, and now her involvement in the investigation is putting her and Paul together more and more. And remember that rainstorm? Well, it has really messed up that treacherous driveway, meaning help is not arriving anytime soon. Krissy and all the other party guests are stuck with a murderer among them.
I will mention that two Persian cats make a brief appearance but play no part in the larger plot.
Death by Pumpkin Spice is an excellent read. The plot is nicely done—most of it takes place on the one night of the party, but plenty happens to keep things interesting and keep the story humming along. It helps that the characters are well drawn, and most importantly, they keep your interest because quite a few of them are just plain weird—and I mean that in the best possible way. They are the kind of weird that is fun to talk about. Plus, at this party they are all in costumes, which makes them even more fun to read about.
We enjoyed the tension Krissy feels as she struggles to decide between Will and Paul. Truth be told, we’d have trouble making that decision too, because they’re both great guys. Still, our advice to Krissy would be to “dance with the one who brung ya.” I’m not going to tell you if that is what she does, because that would just ruin things for you.
We’re holding back a paw only because the cats in this book aren’t major players in the story. If you’re not a cat-cozy purist, we think you’ll love this book and the whole Bookstore Café series. We’re hoping we’ll find time to read the other books in the series!
A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!
We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!
The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account.