Hello all, and welcome to today’s issue of “late ARCs.” Up today is the newest Secret, Book and Scone Society installation, The Vanishing Type by Ellery Adams. Ellery Adams is a queen in the cozy mystery sphere, and this is by far my favorite series by her. It features a book store, baked goods, best friends, and murder – what more can you ask for? Add in a small dollop of magical realism (main character Nora has a sixth sense with what types of books people need, and best friend Hester bakes goods that bring people back to their fondest childhood memories), and you have a perfect recipe. So thank you, Netgalley and Kensington, for another wonderful read!
From the Publisher:
While January snow falls outside in Miracle Springs, North Carolina, Nora Pennington is encouraging customers to cozy up indoors with a good book. Even though the shop and her bibliotherapy sessions keep Nora busy during the day, her nights are a little too quiet—until Deputy Andrews pulls Nora into the sci-fi section and asks her to help him plan a wedding proposal.
His bride-to-be, Hester, loves Little Women, and Nora sets to work arranging a special screening at the town’s new movie theater. But right before the deputy pops the question, Nora makes an unsettling discovery—someone has mutilated all her store’s copies of The Scarlet Letter, slicing angrily into the pages wherever Hester Prynne’s name is mentioned.
The coincidence disturbs Nora, who’s one of the few in Miracle Springs who knows that Hester gave up a baby for adoption many years ago. Her family heaped shame on her, and Hester still feels so guilty that she hasn’t even told her future husband. But when a dead man is found on a hiking trail just outside town, carrying a rare book, the members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society unearth a connection to Hester’s past. Someone is intent on bringing the past to light, and it’s not just Hester’s relationship at stake, but her life…
What I Loved:
- Hester’s Story. For people who love this series, Hester’s story has been looming in the background like an unknown elephant. Hester is one of the four women that form Nora’s book club and core group of friends, rounded out by June and Estella. Each of the women have compelling backstories and rich personal lives, but Hester’s story has only been hinted at until now. Now that Hester is engaged to be married, someone is out to tell her story – whether she likes it or not. And when she is connected to a recent murder, nothing will stop the Secret, Book, and Scone Society from finding out “whodunnit” to make sure Hester doesn’t come to harm. Hester is my favorite. She is a sweetheart, she bakes, and she is the most supportive of the group. It felt like vindication to finally hear her story.
- Nora’s New Romance. Ah, Grant McCabe. They say nice guys finish last, but in this case, I think Grant finished exactly as he was supposed to. Nora was with Jed the paramedic who seems perfect on paper, but by the end of book four, Ink and Shadows, Jed’s true colors shone through. I was pretty worried that Nora, Jed, and Grant would be a love triangle, but Jed and Nora called it quits, and Grant is now her leading man. Phew. Sheriff McCabe is solicitous and patient, kind and with a dose of humor that comes through, and I love seeing him and Nora blossom together.
- The Books. I admit it. I am a sucker for cozies that have books, bookstores, and bookish themes. The Secret, Book, and Scone Society books are no exception, and The Vanishing Type incorporated its literary elements in multiple different ways. From the slashed copies of The Scarlet Letter, to the fictional Lady Artist book series that gives clues into the murders and Hester’s past, to the events held at the bookshop – everything was infused with a love of literature.
What Didn’t Work as Well:
- The Melodrama. This goes in almost direct contrast to my praise above about Hester’s story. However, Hester’s family insanity – rich parents dying mysteriously, wealthy aunt/grandmother figure that no one knows more about, wastrel brother, and Amish baby daddy – was all more than a bit over the top. By the end at the big reveal (nothing further on that), my head was spinning and I almost wished Ellery Adams had included a picture family tree. I had a lot of empathy for Hester’s pain and her crazy past, but it got lost in confusion and an inability to suspend disbelief.
- The Pace. Like with most cozies, there are some slow parts where people just enjoy tea or arrange book displays. However, then we are rushed headlong into bodies and attempted murders, with little buffer between the two extremes. I felt the ending was rushed, after such great build up.
The Vanishing Type was one of my favorite installations in the Secret, Book , and Scone Society series. It had great murder and intrigue, romance, all the books, and wonderful female friendships. I recommend this series to most cozy readers and women’s fiction fans, because reading it feels like a blanket and tea. Four waves, and just in time for late summer beach trips! Pick up your copy here, and if you want to start this amazing series from the beginning, pick up the Secret, Book, and Scone Society here!