MURDER BY PAGE ONE is the first in the new Peach Coast Library Mystery series.
This cozy mystery is written by Olivia Matthews and published by Hallmark. Olivia Matthews has also written The Sister Lou Mystery series. She is also a writer of romance books under the names Patricia Sargeant and Regina Hart. Her impressive catalog alone is reason enough to add this author to your TBR list.
We are introduced to the sweet little country town of Peach Grove located in Georgia. Marvey is a late twenty-something native New Yorker who has relocated to this Southern little town in order to advance her career as a Librarian. She bravely leaves the big city behind her in hopes of becoming a big fish in a small pond rather than the other way around.
Her transition is notably difficult, having left a loving family behind, and she has to learn to navigate her way by not only learning the Southern jargon but by picking up on social cues that may have never mattered to her before she landed in Georgia. Thankfully, she has a solid team of new friends to help her learn the lay of the land. One of the things I really liked about her character was that she was open to learning and did not look down on the Southern folk (hey it happens).
The action begins very early on. Marvey has become fast friends with Jolene, owner of the local bookstore. While waiting for a local author event to begin they stumble upon the body of one of the guests of honor in a backroom of the store.
This particular woman was not exactly well liked due to rumors that had been spread about her in which she was basically labeled as a “homewrecker”. I actually cannot recall a cozy mystery in which infidelity was mentioned in this way and I must admit it made the novel feel more real to me. Plus just hearing that someone had been labeled as a homewrecker immediately grabbed my attention because I wanted to know more dirt. Okay, maybe I am just as bad as the residents of Peach Cove! As my bestie tells me… I need to look inward.
As a main character Marvey came across to me as being a very level headed individual- although quite headstrong and not at all easily intimidated. I love it when a main character makes sense. Marvey is a great example of one who can be determined but realistic at the same time. Marvey does not become a sleuth until her friend Jolene has been accused of murder. And while Marvey comes across as inquisitive I would not say she seemed particularly nosey so it was satisfying to see that she was motivated by a sincere desire to clear her friend’s name.
In MURDER BY PAGE ONE we get the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of moving to a new part of the country and adjusting accordingly. Moving from New York to Georgia would be a huge transition for anyone. I really appreciated that the author expressed this because so often I read novels in which someone relocates and immediately fits in and understands how everything works. Sorry, but based on my experience that is just not entirely realistic so it was cool to experience the highs and homesick lows of relocating with Marvey.
I am fond of the residents of Peach Cove. Spence, the wealthiest and handsomest man in town, was both debonair and sweet. I hope he hangs around for future installments. Jolene is a real friend and I could understand why Marvel would be quick to defend her. Corrine, the manager of the Library, and the other members of the staff seemed like good co-workers to hang out with and I was rooting for them to receive all the funding they needed to keep the library open.
Speaking of co-workers and sweet people I think it should be pointed out that this book left me hungry. Not only does Marvel take her co-worker a piece of peach cobbler everyday but she has a lingering sweet tooth in general. And it almost never lets up! I have no idea how much librarians make and if it allows for hefty snack allowances but Marvey can shovel sweets down by the fistful. A woman after my own heart.
All in all MURDER BY PAGE ONE would be my very favorite Hallmark series if it ever hits the small screen. I am already looking forward to future books. Be sure to check out author Olivia Matthew’s website where you can find more information on her prior works including her Sister Lou Mystery series. I do plan on covering those books in future blog posts.
Special thanks to the phenomenal team at Hallmark Publishing for providing me with a copy of MURDER BY PAGE ONE in exchange for my honest review.