A magical bookstore near Niagara Falls helps its guardian solve another crime.
Only professor Violet Waverly and her grandmother Daisy know the secret of the 200-year-old birch tree that lives in the center of Charming Books and must be refreshed with magical spring water every day by its current guardian, Violet, who has assumed a job passed down through her family’s female line. The shop’s magical ability to put books containing vital clues in her path has helped Violet solve several murders. Joel Redding, a sleazy private investigator Violet met during her last case (Murder and Metaphors, 2019), has been following her and trying to suss out her secret for his own benefit. Grandma Daisy has arranged a bike race to raise money for the Underground Railroad museum she plans to install at City Hall, but the plan is on hold because of problems with the building’s structural foundation. When Redding turns up at the race, he’s killed in what seems like an accident until cut brake lines are discovered. For some reason, he’s carrying a copy of Leaves of Grass, which the bookstore had been placing in Violet’s path for unknown reasons. Although Violet has never revealed her secret to her boyfriend, Chief of Police David Rainwater, Redding’s death ratchets up the pressure to confide in him. Redding had rented a bike from a local shop where Jo Fitzgerald, one of Violet’s students, works. Now Jo, who’s been acting strangely, seems to be hiding from the police. Certain that she’s no killer, Violet, with some help from her cat, Emerson, and the bookstore’s resident talking crow, Faulkner, starts sleuthing and reading Leaves of Grass for clues. As she pieces together possible motives, she learns that Walt Whitman had actually visited Cascade Springs and may even provide the motive for the murder.
A scholarly heroine, endearing characters and settings, and enigmatic clues make for a satisfying mystery.