Monday, January 22, 2018

Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle

Reviewed by Jeanne

Brooklyn Wainwright is a bibliophile and bookbinder in San Francisco, so it’s a good thing that she’s also independently wealthy.  She’s engaged to handsome British security expert Derek Stone and they have an adorable cat named Charlie.  The only bump in the road is that Brooklyn is getting ready to meet Derek’s parents for the first time and she’s getting a little stressed out about it.  Will his English parents approve of a prospective daughter-in-law who has a habit of getting involved in murder investigations?  Whose parents are Deadheads and live in a commune?  Whose mother is a Wiccan? 

Brooklyn tries to keep her spirits up, but an early morning foray to Sweetie Pies  to get a dessert for Derek’s folks takes her past a store . . . and, of course, a dead body.

This is the second Bibliophile Mystery I’ve read and have enjoyed both.  I usually read all of a series in order but for this one I just picked up ones that appeared on the new fiction shelf.  Once Upon a Spine is the eleventh in the series, but I had no trouble following along.  Carlisle does a nice job of introducing new readers to characters without dragging it out so that fans don’t get bored. 

There’s a good bit of humor, but it isn’t slapstick.  This time the murder took a backseat to the domestic drama, but I found myself enjoying it all. Brooklyn is a down to earth, friendly character who doesn’t flaunt her wealth and who has strong family ties.  Derek is pretty much thestock wonderful boyfriend, but both sets of parents are lots of fun.  The upcoming nuptials promise to be amusing, since the occasion should include Brooklyn’s many place-named siblings (China, Savannah, Austin, Jackson, and London) and commune leader Guru Bob.

The appeal for me is Brooklyn’s knowledge of books, bookmaking, and book repair.  Part of the plot involves early editions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and as a result I learned some interesting tidbits about that book.  Brooklyn also described how she makes paper using a blender for a card project; in an earlier book, readers learned a bit about rebinding a book. That’s the sort of little extra that brings me back to a series. 

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