Book Review: Ink and Shadows (Secret, Book, and Scone Society #4) by Ellery Adams

  • Title: Ink and Shadows
  • Series: Secret, Book, and Scone Society #4
  • Author: Ellery Adams
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Where to buy: Amazon
  • Would I recommend: A thousand times, yes!

From Goodreads:

Controversy erupts in Miracle Springs, North Carolina, when the owner of the local bookstore tries to play peacekeeper—but winds up playing detective instead…

Nora Pennington is known for her window displays, and as Halloween approaches, she decides to showcase fictional heroines like Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Madeline Miller’s Circe. A family-values group disapproves of the magical themes, though, and wastes no time launching a modern-day witch hunt. Suddenly, former friends and customers are targeting not only Nora and Miracle Books, but a new shopkeeper, Celeste, who’s been selling CBD oil products.

Nora and her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society are doing their best to put an end to the strife—but then someone puts an end to a life. Though the death is declared an accident, the ruling can’t explain the old book page covered with strange symbols and disturbing drawings left under Nora’s doormat, a postcard from an anonymous stalker, or multiple cases of vandalism.

The only hope is that Nora can be a heroine herself and lead the Secret, Book, and Scone Society in a successful investigation—before more bodies turn up and the secrets from Celeste’s past come back to haunt them all . . . 

My review:

All hail Queen Ellery! After reading the fourth entry in her Secret, Book, and Scone Society series, I can say that it remains one of my favorite mystery series ever. Can I give this book ten stars? So, so good.

Ink and Shadows finds Nora and her friends welcoming a newcomer to Miracle Springs. Celeste and her daughter, Bren, open a new store selling CBD products and Bren’s handcrafted jewelry. Trouble starts when Nora’s Halloween window display featuring strong female characters draws the ire of a local conservative values group. The group targets shops they find disreputable, including Miracle Books and Celeste’s shop, Soothe.

More trouble follows when Celeste’s daughter, Bren, winds up dead behind Nora’s house. Before she died, she left a seemingly old paper filled with esoteric drawings and symbols under Nora’s doormat. Bren’s death is declared an accident, but Nora knows there has to be more to it than that. Celeste has mentioned secrets. Her own? Bren’s? What does that mysterious paper have to do with anything? Did those secrets lead to Bren’s death? Can they be unraveled before more harm is done?

Ms. Adams’ writing is so engaging! She pulls you into the story, makes you feel like you’re there. She does an excellent job of writing characters that you’d want to get to know. I love Nora, and June, and Estella, and Hester. I want to hug them all. I want to have dinner and talk books with them. They reach out to Celeste when she’s hurting, when other women in the town have targeted her in the name of “family values.” They circle the wagons when one of their own needs it. I want friends like that.

This story touched on some fascinating topics, and one of them, rare books, introduces us to a friend from Nora’s past. Roberta Rabinowitz – Bobbie – was Nora’s college roommate. When Sheriff McCabe needs help learning more about the page that Bren left under Nora’s doormat, Nora directs him to Bobbie. Bobbie doesn’t just provide useful information – she shows up in Miracle Springs. I love that we get to meet her, and I hope we see more of her in future books.

I want to give a special shout-out to June. She is a take no prisoners and take no sass kind of woman. When she sees ways she can address the targeting of Miracle Books, she doesn’t hesitate to speak up. She doesn’t beat around the bush about anything. I approve!

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see Nora and Sheriff McCabe – Grant – move toward something more than friendship. The potential is there. When we see an uglier side of Jed’s personality (under stress, to be sure, but still, ugly), I thought maybe…? But no. Not this time. In a future book, perhaps. A girl can hope.

I will be anxiously awaiting my next visit to Miracle Springs! When it’s available, I will grab book number five in the series, no questions asked.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an advance reader copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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