Color Me Murder by Krista Davis

Title: Color Me Murder (Pen & Ink Mysteries #1)

Author: Krista Davis

Published on: 27 February 2018

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Color Me Murder is the first book in Krista Davis’ Pen & Ink Mystery series.

By day, Florrie Fox manages Color Me Read bookstore in Georgetown, Washington D.C. By night, she creates her own intricately detailed coloring books for adults, filling the pages with objects that catch her eye. Her boss, Professor John Maxwell, offers her a beautiful carriage house on his property – on one condition: Florrie must move in immediately to prevent Maxwell’s no-good nephew from occupying it.

Florrie agrees and moves in immediately. At almost 3 in the morning, she hears someone rattle the door knob. She immediately calls Maxwell and he comes rushing with his butler DuBois. On searching the property, nobody is found. That same morning, Maxwell receives a phone call from his sister, saying her son hasn’t come home.

Florrie opens Color Me Read and goes about on her usual-store-day routine. On the third floor of the store, she sees the carpet is a bit wonky and when she tries to straighten it, she discovers a trap door. On opening, she finds someone lying face down – with a spear thrust in their back. There’s no doubt the person is dead. The local police are called in and Florrie identifies the victim as Delbert, Professor Maxwell’s no-good nephew.

Maxwell had recently told Florrie that Delbert is being a pain in the backside and he has planned to eliminate the ‘problem’ by Monday. Maxwell is arrested for the crime but he claims he’s innocent. He asks Florrie to use her grey cells and solve the case, prove his innocence and catch the real killer.

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I had seen this book on NetGalley a couple of years ago. When I saw it available on the KU catalog, I knew I had to give it a try. This series is based on the theme of adult coloring books. Our protagonist, Florrie is an artist and has a set of published coloring books.

I have tried a couple of adult coloring books and I certainly think they are super fun. But coloring books is only for those times when I do not feel like painting. If given a choice, I would prefer oil paints and canvas over coloring books.

I digress. Let’s move on to the review. 🙂

I loved the setting, the characters, the mystery and the storytelling. I do love a bit of quirky in a cozy mystery. In this case, we have Florrie’s pain-in-the-backside-ex Norman who goes overboard to try and win her back. He doesn’t seem to understand (or respect) a NO but his desparation is not on the creepy side – more like quirky. To add to this drama is Norman’s mum who thinks her son is the only handsome guy in the whole universe. Hah!

Florrie meets Delbert once – at the store, when he warns her that after Maxwell’s death, he will be inheriting his property (store included) and she will be fired on the spot. That same night, Delbert was killed. Florrie was also told by Maxwell that Delbert is being problematic and he would solve that issue over the weekend. Did the uncle murder his nephew?

Florrie does not believe so and starts investigating. The rumor is that, Florrie was Maxwell’s girlfriend and stayed with him in the Maxwell mansion. Even the local police believes this rumor. When Florrie and Bob (one of the store helps) start to question those related to Delbert – friends and acquaintances, they learn Delbert was no saint. He was always involved in scamming and conning people – and Maxwell rescued him every time.

As a side story, we have Florrie’s sister dating a man who might be ‘the one’ – just like all her previous boyfriends. 😉 Then there’s Florrie’s attraction to one of the local policemen- which turns out to be a mutual affair. DuBois, the butler, gets a side story of his own – and I certainly believe an incident involving DuBois brought him closer to Florrie. (He didn’t trust her much when she had moved into the carriage house.)

Speaking of carriage houses, there’s a short background story on Maxwell’s ex-wives and his kidnapped daughter. The daughter was never found and presumed dead. I keep my fingers crossed to see if this story will be pursued in the next installments of the series – after all, the daughter might still be alive somewhere…

The only niggle I had was with the identity of the killer. It seemed a little too-good-to-believe – their reason for killing Delbert, that is. There were plenty of red herrings and whole lot of sleuthing alright, making this book an enjoyable and engrossing read. But I cannot shake the feeling that the ending didn’t do a lot of justice to the suspense built throughout the story.

A wonderful start to a cozy series, no doubt. I am looking forward to reading the next book. If you are looking for a coloring-book themed cozy mystery (I suppose this is the first series based on this particular theme), you might want to give Color Me Murder by Krista Davis a try.

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