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  • Writer's pictureCaitlyn Lynch

Book Review: Death on the Page by Essie Lang

I’d never heard of the Thousand Islands, located in the St. Lawrence Rive in upper New York State, before I read this book. I was charmed to read about the ‘castles’ on some of the islands, retreats built by super-rich tycoons in the latter half of the 19th or early 20th centuries. Shelby, the protagonist of Death on the Page, runs a bookshop located in one of the castles, working in tandem with her aunt and another bookshop in the town of Alexandria Bay. Pleased to host a famous true-crime author planning to write a book about a cold case centred on the castle, the dream turns into a nightmare when the author turns up dead.

Having met and liked the author, Shelby can’t quite help asking questions, and winds up enmeshed in the case, much to the frustration of the local police chief and also her boyfriend Zack, who’d much rather Shelby stayed safe and off the radar of murderers.

This could be a really intriguing mystery, but it frustrated me intensely because there are too many side characters and the story kept devolving off on completely irrelevant tangents involving them. I couldn’t even keep them all straight: I kept mixing up Trudy and Taylor, and there were other characters like part-time bookstore attendant Cody who appeared so briefly they could easily have been tossed altogether. And did we really need Shelby going to her friend’s chocolate shop twice a day and eating a different flavour chocolate truffle each time? It just didn’t in any way advance the plot. Once or twice is local colour and demonstrates character quirks, more than that needs a ruthless editor to cut the waffle.

Three stars for an interesting concept which the author just didn’t do justice to.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.

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