Reviewed by Jeanne
Brooklyn Wainwright is an expert in book restoration, but her secondary talent seems to be finding dead bodies. That shouldn’t be true when she goes to visit her parents in Dharma, a serene commune which also produces excellent wines. Accompanied by her boyfriend, a security expert, Brooklyn goes to watch some construction at the winery: a cave is being expanded and excavated to provide a larger tasting room. It isn’t long before they discover that not only is there a wall in the cave, but behind it is an amazing treasure trove of art, furniture, a rare book—and a body.
This is the ninth in the Bibliophile series, but the first I’ve read and I had no problem following the story. There were several references to previous events but they never bogged the story down. I found this to be a charming mystery with lots of my favorite ingredients: books (some very good descriptions of book repair), wine (again, some nice information on wine and the wine industry), appealing characters, and intriguing plot. The valuables appear to be items brought out of Europe before the Nazis took over and it appears the murder may have its roots in that era, so one can add a bit of an historical element to the mix.
Also there’s a kitten. Let’s not leave out the kitten.
Carlisle keeps the story moving along nicely and provides a good cast of suspects. It appears at one time there may have been a love triangle between two equally gorgeous guys, but unlike a certain other heroine I could name, Brooklyn actually made a choice. I appreciated the dollops of information on everything from rare books to the role of oak in winemaking.
I really enjoyed the Dharma setting. Dharma is a serene community with emphasis on “community.” It’s close knit, tolerant, and warm-natured. Robson presides over the commune with genuine compassion and warmth. He’s a dignified, gentle man whom Brooklyn refers to affectionately as “Guru Bob.”
In short, this was a light, fun read with just enough information to keep me from feeling I was reading froth. It was perfect for a late summer afternoon. Will I pick up another? Probably. I don’t feel compelled to go back and read the first ones, nor am I on pins and needles waiting for a second, but it was an enjoyable book. Part of my hesitation is because it appears that Brooklyn and her beau will be headed back home for next book and as noted above, I found the Dharma setting very appealing.
I have to say I’ve read a couple of others in the genre lately that I won’t name but I haven’t reviewed because, frankly, they were just there. They weren’t dreadful, mind, but they were a bit of a slog. So it was refreshing to pick up a book I liked from the get-go. I consider Ripped from the Pages to be a winner and would recommend it to cozy fans.