If you love cozy mystery books, I’ve got the first book in a new series you’re going to want to read. Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder is filled with southern charm, quirky characters, and a body…of course! Thanks to the author, Amy Lillard, for sharing a guest post about who would be in her fantasy book club and what they’d read.
I received a copy of this book free. I wasn’t required to leave a review. This post contains links through which I may make a commission if you make a purchase.
Can’t Judge a Book by its Murder
by Amy Lillard
October 29, 2019
Main Street Book Club, #1
Not every murder is by the book…
As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime.
When the elderly ladies of Arlo’s Friday Night Book Club start to investigate, Arlo has no choice but to follow behind to keep them out of trouble. Yet with Wally’s reputation, the suspect list only grows longer—his betrayed wife, his disgruntled assistant, even the local man who holds a grudge from a long-ago accident.
Between running interference with the book club and otherwise keeping it all together, Arlo anxiously works to get Chloe out of jail. And amidst it all, her one-time boyfriend-turned-private-eye returns to town, just another distraction while she digs to uncover the truth around Wally’s death and just what Sugar Springs secret could have led to his murder.
Guest Post from the Author
Who needs fantasy football when you can have fantasy book club?
When Arlo Stanley puts up a notice that she’s starting a Friday night book club, her goal was to bring a little more culture and nightlife to the sleepy Mississippi town of Sugar Springs. She expected the young and upcoming to show, eager to discuss the latest thriller. What she got instead was a sight different.
Camille, Fern, and Helen are a mismatched team of geriatric ladies who have an innate desire to sniff out crime—both real and imagined. Helen runs the Sugar Springs Inn, Camille is an Australian-American retired English teacher, and Fern was a housewife, once upon a time. Now she’s merely a grumpy old lady who loves the rest of them more than she cares to admit. They bicker about smartphones, their choice of cars, social media, and who’s bringing what to the next meeting. It’s all Arlo can do to keep up with them while trying to run her bookstore on Main Street and otherwise live a normal life. (Is that too much to ask?)
Now Arlo was hoping for book club members in that thirties, hipster sort of crowd, but I can’t believe that would be the best book club. If you’re going to wish, wish big, right?
So if I were to start my own book club here’s who I’d like to see around the table.
- Stephen King. My family marvels that I write sweet romances and cozy, cozy mysteries but love Stephen King novels. Yes, they’re scary, but that’s sort of the point, yes? And I love his writing style. But what I admire most is his story of writing, how when he was young he started submitting his work to various magazines. That’s one gutsy kid.
- Douglas Adams. Do I really need to say why? For those of you not familiar with his work (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for one), let’s just say he’ll be there to balance out Mr. King.
- William Shakespeare. We revel him as a classic writer of masterpieces, but in truth he was something of a hack, putting ribald jokes in for the unwashed masses. I’d love to know what he thinks about twentieth and twenty-first century writings.
- Dorothy Parker, American writer and poet. One of her most famous quotes: “I’ve never been a millionaire but I just know I’d be darling at it.” In my opinion, that’s all we need to know.
- Agatha Christie. Okay, okay. I admit this is one I’d just want to meet to try to glean any and all mystery-writing secrets from. After all, she’s the queen. But she can talk about the books too.
- And JK Rowling. (Yes, I am one of those still-crazed-after-all-these-years Harry Potter fans.)
The book I’d want to read first?
Just like in the start of Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder, I’d want to read To Kill a Mockingbird. Not only is it my favorite book of all time and one I re-read almost yearly, it has all the best elements of a book. There’s a little bit of fantasy and a whole lot of real world that somehow makes me wish I was a child again. Or maybe that’s because I grew up in Corinth, Mississippi, far north of Dill’s home in Meridian. Once a Southern girl…
I guess we could talk about other books as well, maybe a recent bestseller. I would love to get Bill’s view on Sharp Objects. Or even DP’s take on Good Omens. Or maybe we could all sit around and talk about all seven Harry Potter books. That would be fun—for me at least.
But alas Arlo Stanley is fated to switching books on a whim, chasing down her book club members, and eating Helen’s crockpot specials as they try to figure out who killed Wally Harrison. Well, the rest of the club is trying to find Wally’s killer. Arlo just wants to talk about the book. And at the regular book club meetings…Imagine that!
My Review of Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder
I really enjoyed Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder! When you start a new series, or even a new book, you never know what you’re going to think. I’ve been disappointed by a lot of cozy mystery books, but I’m so glad that I was sent this one.
The characters in this book are so well-written, and even though this is the first in the series, I feel like I have a good grasp on their personalities. Arlo is full of good intentions when she starts her book club. She thinks it’ll draw a young, fun crowd. She should have known better since she’s live in Sugar Springs for so much of her life. Where is that young crowd? They probably moved, or they’re on Instagram. Instead she draws the over 60 crowd whom she’s know most of her life. And from the guest post above, I’ll bet you can guess that they are quite the crowd. I love them! I’m in the almost 50s crowd, but if I lived in Sugar Springs, these would be my people.
Every good cozy mystery needs a murder — or at least a really good mystery — and Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder has a good one…obviously! Sadly, the murder victim is the ex high school boyfriend of Arlo’s best friend Chloe. He’s also Chloe’s son’s dad, though he hasn’t ever been involved in his son’s life. I’ll bet you can guess who the number one suspect is…Chloe.
Grab a copy of Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder, and find out if Chloe is a murderer! You’ll also meet two ex and potential future love interests from Arlo’s life. This is definitely a fun book to read and a good start to what I’m sure will turn into a great series.
About the Author
AMY LILLARD is an award winning author with more than thirty novels and novellas in print. Adding a twist to her writing career, Amy now pens mysteries along with continuing to write romance novels. Born and bred in Mississippi, Amy is a transplanted Southern Belle who now lives in Oklahoma with her deputy husband, their genius son, and three spoiled cats. She is a member of RWA, ACFW, NINC, and the Author’s Guild.
Find Amy online: