A newly minted bookseller discovers a body.
Shelby Cox, born in the lovely upstate New York town of Alexandria Bay and raised from an early age by her father in Boston, is back helping her Aunt Edie, who’s recovering from knee surgery, run her seasonal bookstore in a castle on Blye Island. Blye Castle is less well-known than the Thousand Islands’ Boldt Castle but just as fascinating in a smaller package. The only fly in the ointment is Loreena Swan, the pushy dragon who thinks she runs the Alexandria Bay Heritage Society. While enjoying the beauty of the island gardens, which are kept in top shape by caretaker Matthew Kessler, Shelby comes upon the body of Loreena floating in the waters of the Blye Grotto. Her screams bring Matthew and then the police to the scene. The local police chief immediately suspects Matthew, a true-crime writer who was investigated but never charged for the unsolved murder of his wife. Aunt Edie, who has a soft spot for Matthew, asks Shelby to do a little snooping, a request that doesn’t go over well with the authorities, including good-looking Special Agent Zack Griffin of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service. The involvement of the Coast Guard encourages Shelby to ponder the history of Blye Castle, which was once used as a smuggling base. Despite her uneasiness around the police, Shelby can’t stop asking questions, some of which are dear to her heart. Her father never talked about her mother, who died when Shelby was 3. Now she’s actually meeting people who knew her mother. Shocked and dismayed when her aunt blows off her questions, Shelby realizes she has two mysteries to solve.
Lang’s debut features a naturally beautiful area and some promising characters. But the pace is too slow to give it the dramatic tension that might raise it above other bookstore-based cozies.