Title: Bound by Murder (An Antique Bookshop Mystery #3)
Author: Laura Gail Black
Published on: 6 September 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Bound by Murder is the third book in Laura Gail Black’s An Antique Bookshop Mystery series.
Love is in the air! Antiquarian bookseller Jenna Quinn is now in a steady relationship with Detective Keith. The Hokes Bluff Inn has begun to host weddings on its property, the books are selling and everything seems to be going perfectly well… until, Jenna’s ex-fiancé Blake Emerson walks into her store with his bride-to-be Missy Plott.
That same evening, Blake comes to the store alone and professes his love for Jenna. He tries to forcibly kiss her and she hits him in the groin. Ooh, that must have hurt! Missy comes to the store in search of Jenna and warns her saying Blake will never be Jenna’s. Right! Like Jenna was so desperate to get the cold-hearted jackass back in her life!
On the wedding day, Missy goes missing. Jenna finds her dead body in the dumpster behind the bookstore. All evidence points to Blake – the last person to see Missy alive. When Blake is arrested for Missy’s murder, his mother Gwendolyn comes to Jenna and begs to help prove her son’s innocence. She insists that Jenna must still love him, after all they were living together for three years. The woman does not take no for an answer and keeps pestering Jenna.
Jenna starts digging into the case – out of pure curiosity, Blake can eat cake for all she cares. The list of suspects isn’t long – maybe it was Missy’s ex-boyfriend or Missy’s little sister Connie. It could be Blake too… Hmm!
Bound by Murder by Laura Gail Black is an engrossing and completely entertaining cozy mystery. I was hooked on to the story from the start and could not put it down until the end. I have read the previous installments and have enjoyed reading them. The same goes for this latest installment too.
I love Laura’s storytelling. Characters and their side stories, murder mystery, amateur sleuthing, suspects, a dash of romance, long-lasting friendships and loads of fun – a fantabulous combination!
I did not expect Jenna’s ex-fiancé to arrive at her bookstore with his bride-to-be in tow. Well, I admit I did not read the blurb – I usually don’t if it’s a favorite author. Missy, Missy, Missy – isn’t she a reincarnation of all the school and college mean-girls. When her ex-boyfriend Tom proposes to her, she makes fun of him, belittles and embarrasses him publicly. If this wasn’t enough, when her sister admonishes him for treating Tom badly, she says “he’s yours if you want.” Wait, the ‘mean-ness’ doesn’t end there.
She has the audacity to walk into Jenna’s store and warn her not to pursue Blake. Pursue!! The man who left Jenna at her lowest – why would Jenna want him back? One thing I found annoying throughout the story was Rita asking Jenna if she’s still in love with Blake. Though Rita’s intention was to make sure Jenna knows where she stands in her relationship with Keith, it was annoying at times to see her say the same thing over and over again.
Speaking of Keith, he doesn’t like it when his girlfriend’s ex is in town. Trouble in lover’s paradise? Probably. Feeling insecure? Yep. But I did not feel bad for the guy, alright. Jenna has been through a lot in her past and Keith’s insecurity(until halfway through the story) did not make things better.
Then there is Gwendolyn. What a pain in the backside! She keeps pestering Jenna saying she must prove Blake’s innocence. Reason – Jenna was in love (or still is) and lived with him for three years. Irrespective of how badly he treated Jenna those three years, she must tell the police he’s innocent. Right! That’s what you do when your toxic ex is arrested for a crime they might have committed!
There’s a huge and shocking twist in the second half of the story. I did not see it coming. I am pretty sure if Jenna was a real person (and not a fictional character), this shocking revelation would have hit her like a freight train.
Jenna was arrested for embezzlement eight months ago. She spent three months in prison before she was proved innocent. When she returned to the house where she and Blake lived, she learned she was kicked out of his house and life. Jenna had to start afresh – alone.
As this story ends, we see some closure on that front. Meeting with Blake did bring some sad feelings but Jenna finally got the closure she deserved. Speaking of closures, when one door closes, the other opens, right? Her relationship with Keith (though murky when Blake was arrested) improves. I am curious to see how this new development will be explored in the next book.
If you are looking for a completely entertaining and totally engrossing cozy mystery, I recommend you to give Bound by Murder by Laura Gail Black a try.
I received an ARC from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.