In the first in an engaging new mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Sarah Fox, the owner of a charming literary pub finds her fresh start on the rocks thanks to a case of murder.
Booklover Sadie Coleman knows that in life, as in fiction, the right setting can make a world of difference. The small town of Shady Creek, Vermont, seems like the perfect place to start over after losing her Boston job to a merger and her relationship to her ex’s gambling addiction. She’s bought and redecorated the old grist mill pub, transforming the Inkwell into a cozy spot where tourists and regulars alike can enjoy a pint or a literary-themed cocktail, or join one of several book clubs.
Little by little, Sadie is adjusting to the rhythms of her new home. Fall in Shady Creek is bookmarked by the much-anticipated Autumn Festival, complete with a pumpkin catapult competition and pie bake-off. Unfortunately, the season also brings an unwelcome visitor—Sadie’s ex, Eric, who’s angling for a second chance . . .
Before Sadie can tell Eric to leave, he’s found dead near the Inkwell. When the local antique shop catches fire on the same night, it’s clear the town is harboring at least one unsavory character. Now, with her Aunt Gilda, her friend Shontelle, and the pub’s patrons all in the mix, Sadie must uncover the truth . . . before a killer declares last call.
Sadie Coleman, the narrator of this amiable if middling series launch from Fox (the Pancake House mysteries), leaves Boston after breaking up with Eric Jensen, a compulsive gambler, and moves to Shady Creek, Vt., where she buys a pub located in a renovated mill, naming it the Inkwell to celebrate her love of literature. When Eric shows up one evening three months after her arrival in town, she avoids him only to find his dead body the following morning. Sadie suspects handsome but hostile craft brewery owner Grayson Blake, who was seen throwing Eric off his property; other suspects include a thug hired by one of the bookies to whom Eric owed money and the local youths who brawled with him the night before he died. Sadie herself becomes a target when her car tires are slashed and someone attempts to burn down the mill. The mystery's setting and solution are solidly crafted, though Sadie, who's given to unfounded accusations and corny literary exclamations ("What the Charles Dickens?"), feels unconvincing both as businesswoman and as sleuth.