Murder at the Estate Sale | Lily Charles (ARC Review)

“Emma shook her head. ‘What I have to do to get your attention! Just find a four-hundred-year-old manuscript with something occult about it?’’

Murder at the Estate Sale
(Molly & Emma Booksellers #1)
Lily Charles
Black Opal Books
Cozy Mystery
Available August 15, 2020
Digital ARC
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Murder at the Estate Sale was exactly the kind of page-turner I needed after such an odd, stressful semester.

What is this book about?
Molly’s a seasoned bookseller; Emma’s newer to the Atlanta bookseller scene. When Emma discovers the dead body of a rumored book thief at an estate sale, Emma and Molly’s lives intertwine in more ways than one. Molly insists they must return the ephemera of a mysterious warning note to the book it belongs to, which leads them on a chase to find a highly coveted grimoire. Murder at the Estate Sale is equal parts bibliomystery and blossoming friendship-possibly-romance, rife with intrigue and romantic tension.

This book is for you if you like mysteries, books about books, and the slightest hint of friends to maybe-something-more.

Content warnings: murder, kidnapping, nonconsensual drugging of a character

Rep: sapphic main characters

Can I be honest? I’ve never read a straight-up cozy mystery before. I requested an ARC of Murder at the Estate Sale on a whim because I love books about books and I was in the mood for something new (to me). I have no regrets.

Molly and Emma’s distinct personalities jump off the page from the start. Molly is curious, funny, and flirtatious, while Emma seems to be more soft-spoken and cautious. If I had to put them on an alignment chart, Molly would be chaotic good and Emma lawful good—it’s a fun dynamic to explore, especially when you throw in a murder mystery and a library full of occult books to the mix.

I like that we see the characters officially meet in the first chapter and are obviously attracted to one another, but they never break the friendship boundary in the first book of the series. Slow burn is my jam, and it feels realistic for who Molly and Emma are. If you’re going into this expecting a steamy romance, this is not the book for you. However, it’s only the first book in the series, and there’s plenty of palpable romantic tension to hold you over until the next installment.

The authors do a splendid job of keeping the reader on their toes. I had guesses as to who may have committed the murder, but I was never certain in my assumptions. When the Big Reveal happened at the end, I was surprised to find that I was wrong. It’s never any fun reading a book where all of the intrigue is predictable, so I appreciated the care taken to lead me away from the truth behind the mystery. (Maybe a more experienced reader of mystery would have a different opinion, though?)

The writing style is simple, but it gets the job done. The level of detail given to the books mentioned, the setting, and the characters help to solidify the worldbuilding and add to the atmosphere of the overall novel.

One aspect that I especially liked about Murder at the Estate Sale is that most of the books mentioned are all books that actually exist—as far as I could tell from my googling. I will definitely be looking into the titles further sometime.

Overall… Murder at the Estate Sale is an enjoyable, lightweight mystery, and a perfect addition to your summer reading list.

Are there any mysteries that you recommend to everyone?

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Thank you to Black Opal Books for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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