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Friday, March 29, 2013

Every Trick in the Book: A Novel Idea Mystery By Lucy Arlington

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Sandra Murphy

Check out details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of this review.

Life is truly looking good for Lila Watkins. She has a dream job as a new agent for the Novel Idea Literary Agency, she just moved into a new home in Inspiration Valley, North Carolina, and her relationship with police officer Sean Griffiths is progressing quite nicely. Even more exciting is Lila’s supervision over the first Book and Author Festival that is being sponsored by her agency, an event that is sure to help aspiring writers and hopefully enlist the next bestselling author.

Personally, Lila’s life is mostly on the upswing as well, although she continues to have lingering memories of an explosively powerful kiss with her attractive coworker, and her grown son Trey (finally moved out of the home and into a commune) is telling disturbing tales of the not-so-communal aspects of the group’s leader. An additional shadow over Lila’s future is a graphically violent book proposal submitted to her with a somewhat ominous note promising that the author will be presenting the rest of the manuscript in person at the festival.

However, even the chills that prospect creates cannot dampen Lila’s enthusiasm for the event, especially when she encounters several possible positive book proposals and a book editor who eerily bears a striking resemblance to herself. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of the editor is cut short and Lila believes the one responsible is her serial killer author with a penchant for Poe.

Image source: Penguin Publishing

This mystery is a delight for book lovers as it provides a tantalizing glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of book publishing. The author shares examples of both good and bad book proposals, but it is of course the latter that provide the most joy, from the all-too-probable book of alternative uses for condoms (as a fashion choice) to a twelve year-old’s children’s book of homicidal fairies. Honestly though, a mystery series about a group of stay-at-home dads who solve crimes really does sound like a mystery that I would want to pick up. The business aspect of publishing truly is fascinating, but it’s a statement by the unfortunate editor to Lila that reflects what truly moves authors and will resonate for all who follow a muse:

“The serious writers won’t give up, no matter how many rejections they get…They take classes, join critique groups, and edit their books again and again until someone like you believes they are ready. It might take them ten years to get published, and their first book might tank. But the real writers, the ones whose veins run with ink, who talk to characters in the shower, who’d make the perfect material witness because of their powers of observation, those people never give up. They can’t. Writing is an addiction. If they stop, they dry up and wither away.”

Inspiration Valley is a the kind of place where every venue has a name that is either a literary reference or a pun, such as the Sherlock Holmes Realty, the organic grocery store How Deep Was My Valley, the sandwich deli Catcher in the Rye, and the coffee house Espresso Yourself. Adding to the cozy and congenial tone of this mystery are the absolutely delectable descriptions of the meals Lila and her friends enjoy. An excerpt of the next installment of this mystery indicates that the future third Novel Idea Mystery will be centered around a food festival featuring celebrity chefs and their cookbooks, a premise that will perfectly highlight the strengths and talents of the authors Ellery Adams and Sylvia May who write this series under the name Lucy Arlington.

To enter to win a copy of Every Trick In The Book, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Trick”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 6, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra's short stories on UnTreed Reads including her new one Bananas Foster.


  1. I'm definitely interested in this book! As I write this, my agent is submitting my middle-grade mystery to publishers. Quite apart from my love of mysteries in general, I would love to know what goes on behind the scenes in the publishing world! :-)

  2. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher