A Dark and Stormy Murder (Writer's Apprentice Mystery #1) by Julia Buckley (Berkley Prime Crime mass market paperback, 5 July 2016).
As soon as I read the epigraph to the first chapter, an excerpt from fictional novelist Camilla Graham's novel The Salzburg Train, I knew I would love this book. The tone of the passage evoked for me the Mary Stewart romantic suspense novels that I read and reread when I was a teen.
Protagonist, aspiring author Lena London feels the same way about Camilla Graham's work. She has her favorites of the many books Graham wrote (almost one a year from 1972 to 2010!) which have become her comfort reads.
So when her friend Allison calls and tells Lena that Camilla belongs to her knitting group, Lena at first thinks Allison is joking. Allison assures Lena that she is absolutely serious, and then informs Lena that she has told Camilla about her. In fact, Allison even sent Camilla a copy of Lena's graduate thesis, a novel inspired by Camilla's work. AND, Camilla liked it so much she told Allison that she'd like to meet Lena, and offer her a job.
Thus, Lena serendipitously becomes her idol's assistant/ghostwriter, moving lock, stock and feline into Camilla Graham's house, which the author believes will make working cooperatively much easier.
On her first day in the small town of Blue Lake, Indiana, Lena discovers the body of a local waiter named Martin Jonas on the beach below Camilla's house.
Just like that, Lena is involved in the same type of mystery as the heroines of Camilla's novels. This gives her a great background to investigate a crime that the local law enforcement would like to pin on the recluse who lives next door, who has become a friend of Lena's.
The clever Julia Buckley has managed to create snippets from some of Camilla's books, which Lena often mentally compares to events in her own life, and reacts accordingly. Not only that, each chapter is preceded by an epigraph from The Salzburg Train, the novel that Lena is assisting with.
Fans of Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney and Helen MacInnes will devour this book, and will probably (like me) be anxious for the next!
The publisher has generously offered a copy of A Dark and Stormy Murder to one of my readers. Please comment below before 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 22, 2016. Entries from the US only, please.
Please don't forget to include an email address where I can contact you if you win!
FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book.