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Publisher's Summary

Mystery bookstore owner Tricia Miles has been spending more time solving whodunits than reading them. Now a nearby gas explosion has injured Tricia's sister's boyfriend, Bob Kelly, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, and killed the owner of the town's history bookstore. Tricia's never been a fan of Bob, but when she reads that he's being tight-lipped about the "accident", it's time to take action.

©2010 Lorna Barrett (P)2010 Penguin

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Hope it gets better

I like this series. It's my first attempt at mystery novels and I have to say I'm pleased with Lorna Barrett's little world of book sellers. Most of the characters are unloveable, which I thought worked well since any one of them could be the killer. It also makes it a fast read, because you don't have a lot of emotional interaction with favorite/least favorite characters.

This particular book in the series was my least favorite. The biggest reason is because the murder was none of Tricia's business. In the first three books, she set out to clear her own name or to determine who was responsible for a murder that directly affected her. In this case, she didn't even know the victim. And suddenly, she's in everyone's face, asking nosy questions. The story also dragged on forever, going nowhere for a long time. The characters were constantly whining about their financial problems, and Tricia was running around trying to fix their problems. Then she suddenly narrates that she was "filthy rich." Really? How convenient. How did this realistically bland character turn into such a Mary Sue? It wasn't appealing at all. The Ginny character made me cringe. She was the biggest financial whiner in the world. Something should tell you that if you work for a bookstore at just above minimum wage (the "minimum wage" thing was broadcast throughout the whole book), you shouldn't even think about a mortgage. Ginny did redeem herself in the end, so I hated her less then.

The fact that I can feel so strongly about these things tells me that Lorna Barrett really is a good writer. She did address some of the issues, like having other characters tell Tricia the same things I was thinking. The reason I'm pointing them out is because I hope that the next book improves the series. We need something different, like a mystery that does not involve murder. Or maybe more than one murder at a time. I do think it's worth reading the series and I do look forward to the next one.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The main character is very unlikeable

The main character Tricia, is SO hard to like. No matter what nice things she does, she's still at the very core snooty & self righteous. She has many faults of her own which she expects everyone to forgive but if anyone else Makes a mistake she makes them grovel. If she needs a favor for her investigation she expects it be given, but then is quite rude when they are no longer necessary. She turns her nose up at any food that's unhealthy & makes it a point to put down people who dares to eat anything with fat (gasp). And the most unlikeable moment for Tricia was in the beginning of the book when she complained about how unfair her life was because her cop boyfriend dumped her to go care for his ex who was ill with a serious illness. I wonder how & why the author chose to make Tricia so unrelatable, as it really hurts the series.
Overall the narrator does a great job & the story otherwise was compelling and interesting. It's the only reason I have read more than 1 of the books in this series

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Beatrice
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 01-04-12

Enjoyable read

This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read by Lorna Barrett. I have read the previous books in the series and have enjoyed them all. I love the setting and the characters. As the town jinks, Tricia keeps bumping into trouble in a realistic way. Although the series has many enjoyable characters, Tricia is my favorite. Her life isn't perfect and she doesn't complain. Tricia's character is actually sympathetic. You can't help but sympathize with her as we see glimpses of her childhood and through the new budding relationship she is developing with her sister. Even though Tricia's character is nosy you can't help but support her endeavors to find out the truth. Cassandra Campbell does a good job of lending different voices to characters and bringing out their individual personalities. I look forward to the next book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

More drama in Booktown!

In <strong>Chapter and Hearse</strong> by Lorna Barrett, the day has finally arrived for Angelica Miles's cookbook release party, but her boyfriend, Bob Kelly, the local big property owner, has failed to make an appearance. Finally in frustration with Bob, Tricia, Angelica's younger sister, goes across the street to the History Repeats Itself bookstore where Bob was due to collect his rent. Just as Tricia opens the door, she gets blown back in an explosion of the building. Bob is hurt but alive. But Jim Roth, owner of the bookstore, is nowhere to be found, likely disintegrated in the explosion. Police assume that someone let gas into the building, which Jim set off by lighting his cigarette.

As the locals try to respond to the explosion, Frannie Armstrong, the assistant in Angelica's cooking store, loses control in wailing. It becomes apparent that she had a secret relationship with Jim. But she tells Tricia that Jim's mother, with whom the 50- something man lived, prevented them from being together. The community ends up pulling together to save the books that could be salvaged from the store and support each other, while trying to locate the murderer.

<strong>Chapter and Hearse</strong> was an enjoyable addition to the Booktown Mystery Series. It has a fun plot, with creative twists and turns that keep us listening avidly. One special gift of Barrett's is her ability to draw a community in which her mysteries are set. We feel that we get to know a wide range of people, which gives us plenty of suspects and people to interact with the main characters.

One theme of this book is the way people have their sense of pride in doing things for themselves. For example, Mr. Everett married Grace eight months earlier and is unhappy at the imbalance in their financial conditions, especially since Grace paid off his remaining debts. He feels it is accepting charity to take her money, even if she is his new wife. Deborah, another store owner, is overwhelmed by new motherhood and running her store all by herself, but she can't bend her pride to allow Tricia to help help her by lending her Mr. Everett as an assistant. Further, Ginnie turns down Tricia's offer to purchase Ginnie's mortgage to allow her to keep her home.

One detail I enjoyed was the depiction by Angelica of the challenges of going on a book tour. She complains about the hardships of driving all over and staying in a different hotel bed each night. She even makes a point to stop at home in Stoneham for one night to avoid the discomforts of a hotel. This seems to be a fun commentary by the author, who has probably undergone many such book tours.

The audio edition of this book is performed by Cassandra Campbell, who does a strong job of narrating this book and taking us to Stoneham, NH with her. She uses effective accents, including for an Italian man coming to develop the property where the building exploded.

I appreciated the experience of listening to <strong>Chapter and Hearse</strong>, a book that starts dramatically and continues this way throughout. It has plenty of great moments and great characters that entertain throughout. I give this book five stars.

<strong>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this book for free for review purposes but that had no influence on the content of my review.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Do all women need to be stupid?

Would you try another book from Lorna Barrett and/or Cassandra Campbell?

I liked the first book - then suddenly Trisha turns into a vapid, mean, harsh, judgemental character. Why? Disappointing - not sure I can try another book. Darn - was hoping this would be a fun series. "Why hadn't Trisha thought of that" was the theme of this whole book.

What about Cassandra Campbell’s performance did you like?

She has a great voice and inflection.

What character would you cut from Chapter & Hearse?

Trisha

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Character development is weak

Tricia is super irritating. She's hypocritical. She holds major grudges, but she can't understand why Frannie would hate Jim's mother or why Ginny would hate Eugenia.

Character development and motivation are so poorly developed. One moment that stuck out was when Angelica expressed sympathy for Frannie, and Tricia was so taken aback. She exclaimed, "Frannie! Jim's the dead one"... I mean, yes, but shouldn't his girlfriend be pitied as well?? Tricia's reaction made no sense.