A Novel Way to Die is the second book in the “Black Cat Bookshop” mystery series. Set in Brooklyn, New York, these cozy murder mysteries can be read as stand-alones.
When thirty-five-year-old Darla Pettistone isn’t running the bookstore she inherited from her aunt, she’s solving neighborhood crimes. In this book, her friend’s business partner is found dead, murdered in a basement with a crowbar. The suspect list doesn’t include Darla, but it does include a staff member, a customer, and people she knows from the area.
Hamlet, the bookstore cat, saw the murder when he snuck out of the building at night. To help Darla solve this crime, he pushes books off the shelf that point to the identity of the murderer. Readers can play along with Darla and her staff as they try to narrow the suspect list down after discovering Hamlet’s “book snags.” Hamlet isn’t easy to love (he judges people by what and how much they read), but when Darla can’t figure out the meaning of his clues, he goes back to the scene of the crime. He puts his life in danger to help Darla and the police rid the community of criminals.
The characters in this story have different backgrounds. Jake is a former female police officer turned private investigator. She provides friendship to Darla and security for the store. Robert, the newest staff member, is a Goth teenager who accused Darla of a crime in the first book. She accepts his apology, though, and helps him find a place to live when she discovers that he’s homeless. Porn shop Bill adds suspense to the plot with his ties to the suspects and the victim.
Robert’s teenage slang and Hamlet’s finicky behavior add a little bit of humor to this story. Readers who enjoy mysteries with little to no violence or salty language will enjoy this series.