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Can't Judge a Book By Its Murder

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Not every murder is by the book… As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime Not every murder is by the book… As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime. When the elderly ladies of Arlo’s Friday Night Book Club start to investigate, Arlo has no choice but to follow behind to keep them out of trouble. Yet with Wally’s reputation, the suspect list only grows longer—his betrayed wife, his disgruntled assistant, even the local man who holds a grudge from a long-ago accident. Between running interference with the book club and otherwise keeping it all together, Arlo anxiously works to get Chloe out of jail. And amidst it all, her one-time boyfriend-turned-private-eye returns to town, just another distraction while she digs to uncover the truth around Wally’s death and just what Sugar Springs secret could have led to his murder.


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Not every murder is by the book… As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime Not every murder is by the book… As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime. When the elderly ladies of Arlo’s Friday Night Book Club start to investigate, Arlo has no choice but to follow behind to keep them out of trouble. Yet with Wally’s reputation, the suspect list only grows longer—his betrayed wife, his disgruntled assistant, even the local man who holds a grudge from a long-ago accident. Between running interference with the book club and otherwise keeping it all together, Arlo anxiously works to get Chloe out of jail. And amidst it all, her one-time boyfriend-turned-private-eye returns to town, just another distraction while she digs to uncover the truth around Wally’s death and just what Sugar Springs secret could have led to his murder.

30 review for Can't Judge a Book By Its Murder

  1. 5 out of 5

    Natalia R

    Bookstore owner Arlo Stanley is preparing for a book signing event with local bestselling author, Wally Harrison when she receives a shocking phone call from the police. Wally has been found dead outside her store. To make matters worse, the police suspect her best friend Chloe is the one responsible for his death. Arlo knows her friend is innocent and with the help of her elderly book club members, she is determined to catch the real killer. Can't Judge a Book By Its Murder is a wonderful intro Bookstore owner Arlo Stanley is preparing for a book signing event with local bestselling author, Wally Harrison when she receives a shocking phone call from the police. Wally has been found dead outside her store. To make matters worse, the police suspect her best friend Chloe is the one responsible for his death. Arlo knows her friend is innocent and with the help of her elderly book club members, she is determined to catch the real killer. Can't Judge a Book By Its Murder is a wonderful introduction to a new series. I liked the southern small-town setting and the quirky cast of characters. Arlo was a strong, likable main character and I loved her friendship with Chloe and the book club ladies. I enjoy a good love triangle and really look forward to seeing what the author has in store for Arlo and her two potential love interests, Mads and Sam. The mystery was well-plotted and kept me on the edge of my seat. I highly recommend this humorous, easy to read cozy. Thank you to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Sugar Springs in Mississippi was a small town where everyone knew everyone else. The bookshop – Books and More – was owned and run by Arlo Stanley and her best friend Chloe, with Chloe in charge of “and More” and Arlo running the book side of it all. When Wally Harrison, author and one-time resident of Sugar Springs announced he was heading for a book signing in Books and More, the preparation made Arlo nervous. But when she was called down to the bookshop early one morning by the police, the sh Sugar Springs in Mississippi was a small town where everyone knew everyone else. The bookshop – Books and More – was owned and run by Arlo Stanley and her best friend Chloe, with Chloe in charge of “and More” and Arlo running the book side of it all. When Wally Harrison, author and one-time resident of Sugar Springs announced he was heading for a book signing in Books and More, the preparation made Arlo nervous. But when she was called down to the bookshop early one morning by the police, the shock at seeing the body at the front door of Arlo’s shop froze her to the spot. Worse was to come when Chloe was arrested... Immediately, Arlo and the elderly ladies of the Book Club – held once a week in the book shop – determined they would find who the murderer was, so Chloe would be exonerated. But with the list of suspects high, Arlo despaired they would ever find the answers. Could they do it? And why was the police chief so determined Chloe was guilty? Can’t Judge a Book by its Murder is the 1st in the Main Street Book Club Mystery series by Amy Lillard, and it starts with a murder, but then the action doesn’t pick up until almost half way through the book. A light whodunnit with the most entertaining character being Faulkner the talking parrot who welcomed customers to the bookshop, quoted Shakespeare, called for help and generally made me laugh. Recommended to cozy fans. With thanks to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gail C.

    This is an entertaining book that is just as much about introducing the inhabitants of Sugar Springs, Mississippi. It’s time for the annual high school reunion which encompasses all class years since the school and town are so small. This year is particularly exciting since one of the graduates who has achieved fame and fortune as a writer is coming back to town for a book signing at Arlo and Chloe’s shop, Books and More. Arlo owns the books portion and Chloe provides specialty teas and coffees This is an entertaining book that is just as much about introducing the inhabitants of Sugar Springs, Mississippi. It’s time for the annual high school reunion which encompasses all class years since the school and town are so small. This year is particularly exciting since one of the graduates who has achieved fame and fortune as a writer is coming back to town for a book signing at Arlo and Chloe’s shop, Books and More. Arlo owns the books portion and Chloe provides specialty teas and coffees which make up the “more”. Unfortunately, before the book signing can take place a man plunges from the third floor above Arlo’s shop onto the pavement below and is pronounced dead. The victim turns out to be none other than the famous author who was Chloe’s boyfriend until he fathered her child. He decided he wanted nothing to do with the child, signed away his rights and moved to NY. Now he’s come back and wants to meet his son and be involved in his life; a decision Chloe is vehemently against. It comes as no surprise when Chloe is arrested for the murder and Arlo springs into action to free her best friend. She knows Chloe isn’t capable of murder, and although the sheriff agrees with her, he insists he must follow the evidence so Chloe is put in jail. Because Sugar Springs is a tiny town and everyone knows everyone, of course there is history between people everywhere. Arlo and the sheriff used to be an item before she broke his heart. She convinces the sheriff o keep Chloe in the local jail. The catch? Arlo has to provide three meals a day. Enter the three senior citizens who have formed a book club at Arlo’s and have been essential to Arlo’s formative years. They all agree to provide food for Chloe, each taking a turn, and at the same time join forces with Arlo to free Chloe. They quickly realize that can only be accomplished if they discover the real killer, and so the investigation begins. The investigation is joined by another high school graduate who stole Arlo out from under the sheriff’s nose back on prom night when they were all in school and then promptly broke her heart. He’s back in town and decides to rent the office above Arlo’s place, explaining he is now a private detective. There is humor woven in and out of the story, and some good character development. While it is a cozy mystery, the solving of the murder seems to be secondary to establishing the relationship of Arlo, Chloe and a group of secondary characters. The solution to the murder was easy, although Arlo solves it more as a result of some chance statements rather than any real investigative work. It reads more like a novel that is trying to introduce a new series to cozy readers. An enjoyable, light read, this might be good for cozy readers who are looking for a new series. My thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Digital Read copy in exchange for an unbiased

  4. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    The story kept me on my toes wondering, who did it! Is it the obvious choice or is it the unexpected? Strong story plot, the author does a wonderful job of keeping your attention the whole way through you'll want to read this cozy mystery more than once. Expected publication: October 29th 2019 by Poisoned Pen Press I was given a complimentary copy if this book. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeri

    This was a good starter book for a new series. I always enjoy books based in the south and centered around books and friends. Some of my favorite things. Anyway, the story was very interesting with our dead guy being a local boy come home for a class reunion and to sign books is found dead in front of the local bookstore. Not only that but his high school flame works in part of the bookstore and had his child which he wanted nothing to do with, until recently. Lots of red herrings and possible m This was a good starter book for a new series. I always enjoy books based in the south and centered around books and friends. Some of my favorite things. Anyway, the story was very interesting with our dead guy being a local boy come home for a class reunion and to sign books is found dead in front of the local bookstore. Not only that but his high school flame works in part of the bookstore and had his child which he wanted nothing to do with, until recently. Lots of red herrings and possible motives in this one. Loved the small town feel and community in the story, especially the book club characters, they were my favorites!! I was given an eARC by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Arlo Stanley has been juggling preparations for her high school reunion with a book-signing event for a famous local writer. However, her plans are derailed when the bestselling author, Wally Harrison, is found dead in front of her bookstore. The police suspect foul play and all evidence points to one person: Arlo’s best friend and coworker, Chloe. But Arlo knows better and soon she and the other members of the Friday Night Book Club are off on their own investigation to unmask the real killer. A Arlo Stanley has been juggling preparations for her high school reunion with a book-signing event for a famous local writer. However, her plans are derailed when the bestselling author, Wally Harrison, is found dead in front of her bookstore. The police suspect foul play and all evidence points to one person: Arlo’s best friend and coworker, Chloe. But Arlo knows better and soon she and the other members of the Friday Night Book Club are off on their own investigation to unmask the real killer. A small town practically oozing charm. Quirky denizens around every corner. A book club hellbent on solving a murder. What could be better? Author Amy Lillard has crafted a powerful first book in a new cozy mystery series, and much of this success rests on bookshop proprietor, Arlo. Lillard opens on just another day in the world of book selling, with Arlo ready to tackle a book signing. Unfortunately, as is the curse of all cozy protagonist, she immediately stumbles across a dead body and tumbles into sleuth-mode to track down a murderer. Fortunately, she’s more than capable—smart, funny, and inquisitive without making overly rash decisions, she remains grounded enough to think the complete puzzle through. This results in a mystery that takes some time to ramp up. It’s a slow burn, carefully building a case until the last few pulse-pounding chapters. Arlo does have a compelling reason to become involved. After all, the police suspect her best friend, which doesn’t mesh with her view of Chloe. And there’s already plenty of tension between her and the local sheriff and a private investigator. But there’s a deep satisfaction in her commitment not to unnecessarily rush into things. Rather, after some light discovery and general gossip, the temptation is too great and she knows she has something to add to the case. However, that’s not to suggest there’s ever a dull moment. Sugar Springs, Mississippi is packed with great characters who populate Arlo’s bookstore, primarily the members of the Friday Night Book Club. An eclectic group, they add some wacky but realistic levity while also adding to the overall mystery—including their own unorthodox investigation methods. Lillard expertly ties every plotline back to the overall mystery, so even the mild side romances and club discussions propel the plot forward. No words are wasted, making every moment worthwhile. Funny with a solid mystery, Can’t Judge a Book By Its Murder sets off Lillard’s newest series to a solid start. Note: I received a free ARC of this book through Netgalley. Review also posted at https://pluckedfromthestacks.wordpres...

  7. 4 out of 5

    JoAn

    Can't Judge A Book By It's Murder by Amy Lillard was a interesting cozy mystery set in Sugar Springs, MS. The suspicious death was front and center in the first chapter but the plot moved slowly as Ms. Lillard was introducing the central characters. Arlo and Chloe are friends and business partners in Sugar Springs. Chloe has a history with the murder victim and subsequently is arrested for the murder. Arlo's book club members, Camille, Fern and Helen, decide they need to investigate the murder so Can't Judge A Book By It's Murder by Amy Lillard was a interesting cozy mystery set in Sugar Springs, MS. The suspicious death was front and center in the first chapter but the plot moved slowly as Ms. Lillard was introducing the central characters. Arlo and Chloe are friends and business partners in Sugar Springs. Chloe has a history with the murder victim and subsequently is arrested for the murder. Arlo's book club members, Camille, Fern and Helen, decide they need to investigate the murder so Chloe can be released. Frankly, I connected more with Camille, Fern and Helen than with Arlo. I found them to be smart, independent, determined, funny and devious when getting information. Unfortunately, it looks like Arlo will be involved in a romantic triangle that dates back to her high school days 10 years ago. I'm not a fan of romantic triangles in cozy mysteries as it seems to often allow the mystery to become a secondary plot. All in all a good introduction to a new series. My rating is 3.5 stars. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    LORI (Dollycas) CASWELL

    Dollycas’s Thoughts Arlo and Chloe’s Books & More is set for a book signing for bestselling author Wally Harrison as part of the Tenth Annual All Class Reunion. Then Arlo receives a phone call that will bring that event to a screeching halt. Arlo has been summoned to the store because a dead body has been found on the sidewalk directly in front of the bookstore. The man has been identified as Wally Harrison and the death is classified as suspicious. Suicide? Murder? It looks like Arlo’s best frie Dollycas’s Thoughts Arlo and Chloe’s Books & More is set for a book signing for bestselling author Wally Harrison as part of the Tenth Annual All Class Reunion. Then Arlo receives a phone call that will bring that event to a screeching halt. Arlo has been summoned to the store because a dead body has been found on the sidewalk directly in front of the bookstore. The man has been identified as Wally Harrison and the death is classified as suspicious. Suicide? Murder? It looks like Arlo’s best friend and business partner Chloe may be involved. It isn’t long before the ladies of the Friday Night Book Club decide to start their own investigation. Unable to stop them Arlo finds herself investigating too if only to keep the book club members safe. When Chloe is arrested, Arlo is given ten days to prove someone else did the job or Chloe will be transferred to a bigger jail until her trial. Arlo hopes to get a little help from an old boyfriend who is now a P.I. but he may be working the case for another client. All she knows is Chloe didn’t do it and she is going to make sure the right person is booked for murder. ______________ Sugar Springs, Mississippi is full of the requisite quirky characters. We are introduced to a fantastic group of core characters in this first Main Street Book Club Mystery. Arlo and Chloe own and operate the bookstore. Arlo takes care of the books and Chloe takes care of the coffee. Chloe is the mother of the deceased Wally Harrison’s son. We also meet Camille, Fern, and Helen, an elderly group of friends and the original members of the Friday Night Book Club. A spunky group of women who are ready for whatever comes their way. Then there is Chief Matthew “Mads” Keller, Officer Jason Rodgers, and Private Investigator Sam Tucker. Sam and Mads both make Arlo’s heart race. I can’t forget Faulkner, the very vocal Amazon parrot that resides at Arlo and Chloe’s Books & More. All the characters nicely fleshed out for the first book in a series but are left with plenty of room to grow as the series continues. Like most first books in the series, the murder mystery was interesting but not as complex due to the time needed to introduce readers to the characters and setting. That being said there were some nice twists. Chloe does have motive but Arlo quickly finds others with motive too. I was able to solve this one before Arlo and Mads but found myself very entertained from beginning to end. I love the small-town ways and feeling. The fact that the book clubbers were able to provide the meals for Chloe reminded me of Mayberry from the Andy Griffth Show. Sugar Springs is full of Southern charm and appealing residents. This series is off to a terrific start. I see a lot of potential for these characters and the mysteries they could get involved in. Can’t wait for book #2.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tari

    This was a really enjoyable bunch of new characters, and I got such a kick out of the book club ladies wanting to do their sleuthing in such a way that Arlo must have felt like she was herding cats trying to keep them under control and out of danger. I liked Arlo and her bestie Chloe. They worked well together at their business, and Arlo was a fierce and faithful friend when Chloe was charged with murder. She was relentless at trying to prove her best friend's innocence, and I know Chloe and her This was a really enjoyable bunch of new characters, and I got such a kick out of the book club ladies wanting to do their sleuthing in such a way that Arlo must have felt like she was herding cats trying to keep them under control and out of danger. I liked Arlo and her bestie Chloe. They worked well together at their business, and Arlo was a fierce and faithful friend when Chloe was charged with murder. She was relentless at trying to prove her best friend's innocence, and I know Chloe and her little boy truly appreciated it. Mads, not so much, but he seemed to have an incredibly large amount of patience with Arlo--possibly because they dated in high school, but maybe because he's just a nice guy to begin with. I also enjoyed the character of Frances, the seventy-something woman who worked the desk at the police station. She was a great source of info and gossip. I loved how when Arlo realized who the killer was, she raced to where she needed to be but managed to get Sam to call the police for backup. Both men who liked Arlo were her exes from high school, and for once I'm a little stumped as to which guy I like for her, although I always tend to lean toward the law enforcement officials in a case like this. Not sure why, but I don't get tired of that theme of the sleuth liking the cop. Sam does seem nice, and he's well-liked by the book club ladies. I'll definitely be interested in reading more in this series and visiting this sweet southern town again. I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

    Can't Judge a Book By Its Murder is the first in the Main Street Book Club Mysteries. Sugar Springs, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley is busily preparing for a book signing event with a famous local author when she is contacted by the police. A body, dead as a doornail, is lying on the sidewalk directly in front of her bookstore. To make matters worse, the dead body just so happens to be her special guest of honor, author Wally Harrison. Instead of a popular shopper’s destination, her ne Can't Judge a Book By Its Murder is the first in the Main Street Book Club Mysteries. Sugar Springs, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley is busily preparing for a book signing event with a famous local author when she is contacted by the police. A body, dead as a doornail, is lying on the sidewalk directly in front of her bookstore. To make matters worse, the dead body just so happens to be her special guest of honor, author Wally Harrison. Instead of a popular shopper’s destination, her newly opened bookstore has suddenly become a crime scene. And her best friend is suspect numero uno! Arlo and her Friday Night Book Club members decide to make sense of the chaos and catch the real killer Author Amy Lillard does a tremendous job of keeping the dialogue flowing, setting each scene and keeping you turning the pages. I am looking forward to the next in the series!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

    This story starts off with a shock when a body is found outside Arlo Stanley's bookstore in Sugar Springs, Mississippi, the scene of an apparent suicide or was it murder? Arlo has a scheduled book signing with local guy, Wally Harrison, who has returned home with a bestseller but that won't happen now. Wally either jumped, fell or was shoved out of the third floor window over Arlo's bookstore. Arlo's best friend and business co-owner is arrested for Wally's death when the clues are stacked again This story starts off with a shock when a body is found outside Arlo Stanley's bookstore in Sugar Springs, Mississippi, the scene of an apparent suicide or was it murder? Arlo has a scheduled book signing with local guy, Wally Harrison, who has returned home with a bestseller but that won't happen now. Wally either jumped, fell or was shoved out of the third floor window over Arlo's bookstore. Arlo's best friend and business co-owner is arrested for Wally's death when the clues are stacked against her. Chloe and Wally were sweethearts in high school until she became pregnant and he left town. Now the child is nine years old. On top of the book signing, it is Reunion Weekend for all graduating classes. Arlo's old flame Mads returned recently to become chief of police and another former boyfriend, Sam, that took Mads' place has returned to town for the weekend event and is now working as a PI. Between solving the murder, handling the shop and the local book club, Arlo is flustered by both old flames. The local book club consists of three quirky and spunky older ladies who have thrown themselves into solving the murder along with Arlo. There are lots of possible suspects to weed through, including a wife and mistress, and clues to check out. I am looking forward to seeing what else Amy Lillard has in store for this new series. I received a complimentary ARC from Poisoned Pen Press through NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine only.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Baker

    This is an enjoyable start to a new series. Book store owner Arlo Stanley and the book club ladies (meddling grannies") want to figure out who killed their famous hometown author after Chloe, friend and co-owner of the store, is arrested for his murder. The plot was predictable yet still intriguing enough that I was totally invested in finishing the book. The protagonist is a likable character but the fun characters are the book club ladies. Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for an ARC. This is an enjoyable start to a new series. Book store owner Arlo Stanley and the book club ladies (meddling grannies") want to figure out who killed their famous hometown author after Chloe, friend and co-owner of the store, is arrested for his murder. The plot was predictable yet still intriguing enough that I was totally invested in finishing the book. The protagonist is a likable character but the fun characters are the book club ladies. Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for an ARC. The opinions expressed are my own.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This was an okay debut. The mystery was good and I liked the characters, but for whatever reason the story didn't "grab" me. It took me four days to read because I could set it down and not feel like I had to devour it. There is nothing horrid in the story, it just didn't fully hook me for whatever reason. I will try another in the set down the road, maybe this was just a slow start for me. I received this book from NetGalley and was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts are my ow This was an okay debut. The mystery was good and I liked the characters, but for whatever reason the story didn't "grab" me. It took me four days to read because I could set it down and not feel like I had to devour it. There is nothing horrid in the story, it just didn't fully hook me for whatever reason. I will try another in the set down the road, maybe this was just a slow start for me. I received this book from NetGalley and was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts are my own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I requested this book thinking it would be a cozy mystery written by a Christian author. I did not expect the topics to be better aligned to being a hard-boiled mystery and to encounter profanity, heavy drinking, drunkenness, a book club that’s fascinated by books with sex, a heroine who parties, infidelities, and so on. I dislike feeling dirty while reading a novel and thus I did not enjoy this novel. While there is no sex on screen the situations and the subject matter were depressing and the o I requested this book thinking it would be a cozy mystery written by a Christian author. I did not expect the topics to be better aligned to being a hard-boiled mystery and to encounter profanity, heavy drinking, drunkenness, a book club that’s fascinated by books with sex, a heroine who parties, infidelities, and so on. I dislike feeling dirty while reading a novel and thus I did not enjoy this novel. While there is no sex on screen the situations and the subject matter were depressing and the occasional innuendoes irked me (heroine feeling slightly bad about her super mini skirt, the party where the punch has some secret ingredient which gives everyone bad hangovers, etc). The small-town vibe didn’t feel very authentic, either. Main street shops are all owned by women or two gay men who are portrayed as suppressed and afflicted with old-fashioned values that keep them from wearing wedding rings. There are no family businesses, no hardware stores owned by a friendly bubba sort. The main part of the small-town portrayal is the old women who gossip and use crockpots, and the younger generation who chuckle at their olden ways and go out and drink a lot and who have mostly had lots of affairs with each other over the years. Not a single traditional family in the mix, really. So that element of stepping back to a simpler pace which is often in cozies is also missing. It further annoyed me that the policemen were portrayed as bumbling blindly on their job and not caring to solve the murder correctly. Also, with the name Arlo I really pictured the heroine to be an old woman, and there wasn’t sufficient description of her until about 100 pages in for me to realize she was young. Not having a clear portrayal of the lead made it hard to root for her/bond with her as a reader. So, I won’t be reading more of this series. Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for a free reading copy. A favorable review was not required.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book! This is the first in a new cozy series, and it was definitely a good start. I liked the friendships in this book especially; the sleuth is not only friends with a diverse group of people, but it really has that small town feel throughout. Being centred around a book store is always a plus, but it has a mini cafe going on too. Add in the reunion going on in the background and you have many situations to investigate in terms Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book! This is the first in a new cozy series, and it was definitely a good start. I liked the friendships in this book especially; the sleuth is not only friends with a diverse group of people, but it really has that small town feel throughout. Being centred around a book store is always a plus, but it has a mini cafe going on too. Add in the reunion going on in the background and you have many situations to investigate in terms of who might be the murderer. The writing is solid, but I do think it could do with another read through as some mistakes made it through to the ARC, mainly in spelling words or dropping letters (your to our) but that will probably get picked up closer to publishing. I felt like having the ten day time limit was really good too, because it made it feel more urgent that the suspect was caught. This is just the first in what I'm sure will be a great series. Can't wait to see more!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    A man falls from atop the bookstore to the sidewalk below. The investigating officer initially believes the man committed suicide, but the autopsy reveals poison in his system, confirming the suspicions of those who knew he was unlikely to commit suicide. When Chloe ends up in jail, Arlo begins her own investigation to get her friend freed. Some of the action stretches the imagination. The solution was fairly obvious. Still I enjoyed this mystery set in extreme northern Mississippi. Farmington i A man falls from atop the bookstore to the sidewalk below. The investigating officer initially believes the man committed suicide, but the autopsy reveals poison in his system, confirming the suspicions of those who knew he was unlikely to commit suicide. When Chloe ends up in jail, Arlo begins her own investigation to get her friend freed. Some of the action stretches the imagination. The solution was fairly obvious. Still I enjoyed this mystery set in extreme northern Mississippi. Farmington is the only community in Alcorn County large enough to be a candidate for the fictitious Sugar Springs, but its description doesn't seem to fit the actual city. I read an advance electronic review copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. **SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO ARE READING THIS FOR NETGALLEY** I had high hopes for this cozy mystery; the title alone is what drew me to it [it IS a great title] and I hoped that it was as good as the title. Unfortunately, this was not to be. It wasn't a horrible book and I may be tempted to read a second one to see if the characters are fleshed out more, but there are a lot of flaws with this book. 1. There is a L O V E TRIANGLE. If you know me and have read my reviews, you know that this is a **SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO ARE READING THIS FOR NETGALLEY** I had high hopes for this cozy mystery; the title alone is what drew me to it [it IS a great title] and I hoped that it was as good as the title. Unfortunately, this was not to be. It wasn't a horrible book and I may be tempted to read a second one to see if the characters are fleshed out more, but there are a lot of flaws with this book. 1. There is a L O V E TRIANGLE. If you know me and have read my reviews, you know that this is a deal-breaker for me. I have almost walked away from well-loved series for this very thing [and actually did and never went back to a series that had been my absolute favorite, but the triangle was never resolved and I was disgusted enough to stop reading] and see it as extremely lazy writing. And the way this one is written makes me unhappy. And the MC cannot let things of the past go. She just keeps bringing up the past and what happened with these two men over and over and over again. It got old very fast. 2. NO POLICE CHIEF WOULD BEHAVE LIKE THIS. Ever. I cannot even begin to tell you how much his behavior irritated me. NO woman has that much power. 3. The MC is very off-putting and whiny. She owns this business, but is so unsure of herself and everyone around her and it just is so...meh. And while she takes credit for a lot of what is going on [and to be fair, she DOES solve the thinly-veiled mystery at the end], most of the "heavy" work is done by the little old ladies that are her book club. 4. Chloe is a potentially great second MC [who's biggest flaw is being in love with a creepazoid and seemingly unable to get over it - her having a child with said creepazoid does add to that, but HE. IS. A. CREEPAZOID], but is reduced to the token murder suspect and someone who falls into the wan and depressed and "needs to be rescued" best friend trope. WHICH is annoying. Which leads me to my second biggest pet peeve [after the dreaded love triangle]: 5. CAN ANYONE BE ORIGINAL IN THEIR WRITING? Look, I know there is a set way to do a cozy and for the most part, I like it. You know you usually have a MC and a best friend, a coffee-shop, art shop, some kind of shop, either a hard-boiled cop or a cop that everyone makes google eyes at, or that the MC is so smitten with she cannot see straight [THIS is something that could be changed - writers could take notes from Donna Andrews and her descriptions of an excellent police chief] and a murder. But the whole "I just moved here so I am the immediate suspect", or the "best friend, sibling, parent, adult friend HAS to be the suspect" is O L D. Please. For the love of cozy lovers everywhere - FIND A NEW WAY TO SUSPECT SOMEONE. And maybe have it be someone that isn't close to the MC? P L E A S E??? And maybe just write your own book instead of following almost every other cozy that is out there? And maybe, just maybe, make the murderer a little more difficult to figure out? Sigh. There are redeeming qualities in this book, which is why I am willing to possibly read the second one [if she writes one] in spite of the love triangle. I LOVE the "little old ladies" that are a part of Arlo's book club and that lead the charge in finding evidence to free Chloe. They are hilarious and fantastic and I am v e r y intrigued by Camille's handbag. They really were the best part of the book. Them and the parrot "Faulkner". Gosh I love that bird. He really could come into play with a murder. He is hilarious and a much needed distraction to the whining and moping that was going on. I would have liked more "book club" discussion, but that is because I adore my book clubs and the idea of one in a book is so appealing. I would tentatively recommend this book for these reasons. Thank you to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    img src="https://foxesfairytale.files.wordpres... Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder starts with a bang — or rather with our protagonist, Arlo, finding a dead body, who seems to have jumped from the roof of her bookstore. We soon find out that the victim is visiting hometown-boy-done-good, best-selling author Wally Harrison, who has returned to promote his new book and attend the towns class reunion. Like all good sleuths, Arlo is soon gets set to investigating, when her best friend and business pa img src="https://foxesfairytale.files.wordpres... Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder starts with a bang — or rather with our protagonist, Arlo, finding a dead body, who seems to have jumped from the roof of her bookstore. We soon find out that the victim is visiting hometown-boy-done-good, best-selling author Wally Harrison, who has returned to promote his new book and attend the towns class reunion. Like all good sleuths, Arlo is soon gets set to investigating, when her best friend and business partner, Chloe, is accused of the murder. Arlo rather reluctantly teams up with her book club members Camille, Fern and Helen and they do what they can to get Chloe released. One of the things I really like to put this one was the way the investigation felt believable. Lillard spends a bit of time discussing the ways in which the ladies ago about sorting a schedule to provide meals for Chloe while she’s in jail (so she can avoid a prison transfer, which felt a little unbelievable to me, but was something a little different), and ways in which they listen to various people in town to uncover clues and secrets from Wallace past. The three book club members have colourful personalities and it’s fun to see them talk the more sensible Arlo along with their plans. Lillard does a good job of setting up larger storylines within the town as well. There’s a potential love triangle which involves both Arlo’s childhood sweethearts (this might be a pro or a con, depending on how/ how long it’s played out) and it seems like lots of different locations and interesting characters populating the time for us to get to know as the series progresses. At first I struggled a little with Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder, there was just something in the first few chapters that didn’t quite quick for me, and I had a bit of a hard time to really immerse myself in the characters. However, once the story got moving and the pace picked up I found myself really enjoying the characters, and Arlo especially. I think she’s going to be really interesting cozy protagonist. I’d definitely be interested in reading more of the Main Street Book Club and possibly were of Amy Lillard’s work in the future.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This is the first book in the Main Street Book Club series. Arlo Stanley owns a bookstore café in Sugar Springs, Mississippi. The book starts with Arlo getting called to her store because the author who she was having for a book signing was found dead in front of her store. Initially, it looks like Wally Harrison jumped out of the third story window above Arlo's shop. But how did he gain access to the building and did he really jump or was he pushed. As it begins to look like Wally was pushed, A This is the first book in the Main Street Book Club series. Arlo Stanley owns a bookstore café in Sugar Springs, Mississippi. The book starts with Arlo getting called to her store because the author who she was having for a book signing was found dead in front of her store. Initially, it looks like Wally Harrison jumped out of the third story window above Arlo's shop. But how did he gain access to the building and did he really jump or was he pushed. As it begins to look like Wally was pushed, Arlo's best friend becomes the prime suspect since she was the last to speak to Wally and she had the most to gain. When Chloe is arrested, Arlo and her book club members search for the real killer so the can get Chloe out of jail. I really enjoyed this book. I thought the Characters were well put together and I love Book club group. Helen, Camille, and Fern are so much fun. I can't wait to read more about them. I also am curious to learn more about Mads, the sheriff, and Sam. Both who have history with Arlo. Even though I suspected who the killer was pretty early on the book was still enjoyable. I received this book from netgalley in exchange for review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    The first book of the Main Street Book Club is an amusing story that brought smiles and chuckles as I read it. I had difficulty reading the story as it was disjointed at times. I did not connect with any of the characters. The small town of Sugar Springs Mississippi is preparing to celebrate home coming with it's high school graduates Arlo Stanley receives a phone call that there is a body laying dead in front of her store. It turns to be Wally Harrison, a well known author with a best saleing bo The first book of the Main Street Book Club is an amusing story that brought smiles and chuckles as I read it. I had difficulty reading the story as it was disjointed at times. I did not connect with any of the characters. The small town of Sugar Springs Mississippi is preparing to celebrate home coming with it's high school graduates Arlo Stanley receives a phone call that there is a body laying dead in front of her store. It turns to be Wally Harrison, a well known author with a best saleing book to his credit. He is a graduate of the high school and the father of Chloe's son. She is arrested and placed in the local jail. The sheriff allows Arlo and other friends to bring food and drink to Chloe in the jail. Arlo works with the ladies of the book club to clear Chloe's name. Will Arlo be successful of springing Chloe from jail? I recommend this book and will read the next one. Disclosure: to thanks Poison Pen Press for a copy through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Chloe and Arlo own a small coffee and bookshop in Sugar Springs, Mississippi. They are preparing to hold a book signing for best-selling home town author Wally Harrison. Everything comes to a halt when his body is found dead on the ground in front of their storefront of an apparent suicide. Even more complicated is that he is the father of Chloe's son. When Chloe is arrested for his murder, Arlo is determined to exonerate her and find the killer. The book is the first in the series and the title Chloe and Arlo own a small coffee and bookshop in Sugar Springs, Mississippi. They are preparing to hold a book signing for best-selling home town author Wally Harrison. Everything comes to a halt when his body is found dead on the ground in front of their storefront of an apparent suicide. Even more complicated is that he is the father of Chloe's son. When Chloe is arrested for his murder, Arlo is determined to exonerate her and find the killer. The book is the first in the series and the title sums up how I feel about it. I don't want to judge it too much but I didn't connect with the characters or the mystery plot. The pace was too slow, dragging on and I struggled to finish the book. However, I would be interested in reading the second installment to see what the future is for the series. Thanks to NetGalley and Poison Pen Press for an ARC of this book. My review is voluntary.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen Hollins-Stallman

    "Can't Judge a Book By Its Murder" the first book in the "Main Street Book Club" mystery series by Amy Lillard. Not every murder is by the book… As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime. When the elde "Can't Judge a Book By Its Murder" the first book in the "Main Street Book Club" mystery series by Amy Lillard. Not every murder is by the book… As Sugar Springs gears up for its all-class high school reunion, Mississippi bookstore owner Arlo Stanley prepares to launch her largest event: a book-signing with the town’s legendary alum and bestselling author, Wally Harrison. That’s when Wally is discovered dead outside of Arlo’s front door and her best friend is questioned for the crime. When the elderly ladies of Arlo’s Friday Night Book Club start to investigate, Arlo has no choice but to follow behind to keep them out of trouble. Yet with Wally’s reputation, the suspect list only grows longer—his betrayed wife, his disgruntled assistant, even the local man who holds a grudge from a long-ago accident. Between running interference with the book club and otherwise keeping it all together, Arlo anxiously works to get Chloe out of jail. And amidst it all, her one-time boyfriend-turned-private-eye returns to town, just another distraction while she digs to uncover the truth around Wally’s death and just what Sugar Springs secret could have led to his murder. I found the beginning to be a bit slow but I soon got into the story. Being as this is the first in series we need to be introduced to the characters.so this could be why. The setting of Sugar Springs is wonderful, I always like a small town setting where almost everyone knows one another. Makes for fun and often quirky characters. I liked protagonist Arlo and her best friend Chloe as well as the side characters such as the older, feisty ladies of the book club and lets not forget the Amazon parrot! I found myself engrossed in the story and reading it in one sitting. It was entertaining, full of twists and turns as well as a few surprises. I look forward to reading the next installment in this series. I requested and received an Advance Readers Copy from Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  23. 4 out of 5

    AngryGreyCat

    I received a free digital copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Can’t Judge a Book by its Murder is the first in A Main Street Book Club Mystery Series by Amy Lillard set in small town Mississippi. Arlo Stanley owns a book store with a coffee shop attached along with her friend Chloe. The entire town is getting revved up for a big reunion, which is seeing the return of a local boy who has “done good” as a nationally known crime writer. Arlo and Chloe both knew him in hi I received a free digital copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Can’t Judge a Book by its Murder is the first in A Main Street Book Club Mystery Series by Amy Lillard set in small town Mississippi. Arlo Stanley owns a book store with a coffee shop attached along with her friend Chloe. The entire town is getting revved up for a big reunion, which is seeing the return of a local boy who has “done good” as a nationally known crime writer. Arlo and Chloe both knew him in high school and when he ends up dead on the doorstep of their shop, Chloe finds herself in jail and Arlo launches an investigation to free her friend. A well done southern, small town setting with a nice cadre of side characters in terms of both the book club members and the Chief of Police, Mads, and the PI, Sam, as possible future love interests. The mystery is well done with plenty of red herrings. I was firmly convinced I knew who did it and I was completely wrong! Enjoyable start to a cozy mystery series. I look forward to more in the series.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Timerman

    The author has us on a quest to solve the murder of one of her high school class members, and with an all class reunion in town, it could be anyone. With chuckles and sleuthing we go about looking who killed Wally, and then trying to get her friend and employee out of jail. We have a bookstore owner, the one who has a body fall out of her building, and her worker and friend accused of the dastardly deed. We get to see the Book Club go about trying to prove the innocence of their friend. Surprises The author has us on a quest to solve the murder of one of her high school class members, and with an all class reunion in town, it could be anyone. With chuckles and sleuthing we go about looking who killed Wally, and then trying to get her friend and employee out of jail. We have a bookstore owner, the one who has a body fall out of her building, and her worker and friend accused of the dastardly deed. We get to see the Book Club go about trying to prove the innocence of their friend. Surprises here, or maybe not, whom is the murderer? This one will keep you page-turning and guessing! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Poison Pen Press, and was not required to give a positive review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brandi Moriarty

    This was a fun book, I loved the characters and can't wait to learn more about them in the next book. The true friendship you see between Arlo and Chloe is amazing. The book club ladies make me so happy!!! I laughed out loud so many times because these ladies are amazing. Arlo's determination to prove Chloe was not a murderer and all the help she received is why cozies are amazing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This is book 1 in a new cozy series, Main Street Book Club. Set in Sugar Springs, Mississippi, Arlo is getting her book store ready for a book signing by big time author, Wally Harrison. Wally is back in town for their high school reunion. When he is found dead in front of her bookstore, Arlo and her book club members investigate to exonerate their good friend Chloe. Chloe just happens to be the mother of Wally's son and is fighting his attempt for custody. Good characters, especially the elderl This is book 1 in a new cozy series, Main Street Book Club. Set in Sugar Springs, Mississippi, Arlo is getting her book store ready for a book signing by big time author, Wally Harrison. Wally is back in town for their high school reunion. When he is found dead in front of her bookstore, Arlo and her book club members investigate to exonerate their good friend Chloe. Chloe just happens to be the mother of Wally's son and is fighting his attempt for custody. Good characters, especially the elderly book club members. Lots of chances for more books. I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nancy H

    This is an excellent book in a new mystery series set in a small town in Mississippi. It has great characters, a good setting and a really intriguing plot. I am hoping this author writes a lot more in this series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    The Crime Librarian

    Though I felt that the first few chapters of this new cozy mystery series was a little disjointed, I quickly fell in love with Sugar Springs, Mississippi. Charming and with more than its share of sweet, quirky residents, the small town is home to Arlo Stanley, her bookshop, and the Friday Night Book Club. With the addition of a love triangle and a hilarious group of meddling, white-haired ladies, this has the promise of being a wonderful series. The action was off to a quick start, which I enjoye Though I felt that the first few chapters of this new cozy mystery series was a little disjointed, I quickly fell in love with Sugar Springs, Mississippi. Charming and with more than its share of sweet, quirky residents, the small town is home to Arlo Stanley, her bookshop, and the Friday Night Book Club. With the addition of a love triangle and a hilarious group of meddling, white-haired ladies, this has the promise of being a wonderful series. The action was off to a quick start, which I enjoyed, though that may have been a factor in why it took me a few chapters to get into the book. The action came before the characters and setting were well developed. I'm not patient and have issues waiting around for things to happen, so having the murder take place at the first of the novel helped keep my attention from wandering. With several red herrings and likely suspects, I was left guessing as to how the mystery would be solved, which is another plus for any book in this genre. While the characters were quirky and fun, the perfect combination for a rural, small town setting, I didn't feel connected to several of the secondary characters, especially the group of older ladies that the main character is friends with. There were three of them, Helen, Fern, and Camille, and at times they seemed so much alike that it seemed as if there were no distinguishing traits between them. I feel that they will be recurring in future installments, so I hope to see more of their backgrounds and personality differences in upcoming books so that they can shine through as well as Arlo and Chloe, her assistant, did. Overall, it's a great first book in a series that I can't wait to see more of. I want to give a huge thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy given in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    RO G'ma

    3.5 star rating rounded up to 4 stars Can’t Judge a Book By Its Murder is the first book in Amy Lillard’s Main Street Book Club Mysteries series. The beginning of the book was slow and a bit rough. As with most first in series books, a lot of time is devoted to introducing readers to the characters. The cast of characters are likable, including an Amazon parrot, and the set-up includes a love triangle I hope will not continue to overshadow the mystery in future books. Arlo Stanley and Chloe Carter 3.5 star rating rounded up to 4 stars Can’t Judge a Book By Its Murder is the first book in Amy Lillard’s Main Street Book Club Mysteries series. The beginning of the book was slow and a bit rough. As with most first in series books, a lot of time is devoted to introducing readers to the characters. The cast of characters are likable, including an Amazon parrot, and the set-up includes a love triangle I hope will not continue to overshadow the mystery in future books. Arlo Stanley and Chloe Carter are the owners of Books & More in the small town of Sugar Springs, Mississippi. As the town prepares for their Tenth Annual All School Class Reunion, the body of one of the attendees, bestselling author, Wally Harrison, is found on the sidewalk in front of the bookstore. The death is classified as suspicious, and Police Chief Matthew “Mads” Keller focuses his attention on Chloe. Not only does the evidence point at her, but she shares a past, including a son, with Wally. Three senior citizens, Helen Johnson, Fern Conley, and Camille Kinney, who are members of the book club Arlo recently started, decide to read Wally’s book, but quickly change their focus to helping Arlo prove Chloe’s innocence. I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jerri Cachero

    What do you do when your guest author, Wally Harrison dies before his book signing? Solve the crime, of course! That's just what Arlo does to keep her best friend Chloe from being convicted of murder and save their fledgling business - Arlo & Chloe's Books and More! Arlo is determined, smart and a loyal friend. I enjoyed her relationships with the Friday Night Book Club members- Fern Helen and Camille. Those ladies made the book so much fun! While all are "mature" they're young at heart. Bookstor What do you do when your guest author, Wally Harrison dies before his book signing? Solve the crime, of course! That's just what Arlo does to keep her best friend Chloe from being convicted of murder and save their fledgling business - Arlo & Chloe's Books and More! Arlo is determined, smart and a loyal friend. I enjoyed her relationships with the Friday Night Book Club members- Fern Helen and Camille. Those ladies made the book so much fun! While all are "mature" they're young at heart. Bookstores are one of my favorite settings and this one didn't disappoint. Faulkner the parrot was a delightful character. Another trip to the bookstore is planned! I received an ARC from NetGalley for a fair and honest review of this book.

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