It's almost Halloween in Georgetown and there is a special event at the Color Me Read bookstore. Store manager and coloring book creator Florrie Fox has invited Hilda Rattenhorst, a psychic author to read from Spooktacular Ghost Stories. When Hilda arrives everyone knows something is wrong but when she announces she saw a bare human foot sticking out of a rolled-up rug not far from the bookstore they are all taken aback. Florrie dials up Sergeant Eric Jonquille who also happens to be her boyfriend and tells him what the psychic claims she saw. When he arrives at the supposed scene there is no sign of the rug or the foot.Â
As Hilda gets to the middle of her reading she tenses, and declares "There's a killer in the building!" and collapses to the floor. Florrie thinks it may just be a stunt but fears it is the truth. When bodies start dropping Florrie realizes the psychic may have been right.
In another spooky development, the owner of the bookstore, Professor Maxwell has received an unexpected package that contains an eerie object.
It's time for Florrie to grab her sketch pad and try to make sense of all the clues so she can help her beau catch a killer. She also needs to help her boss get the full story about the "gift" he has received.
I was very happy to reconnect with these characters and at the perfect time, Halloween.
I love that Florrie is a coloring book creator and she uses her creative side to help understand what is happening around her. It doesn't happen fast but when a doodle helps all the clues start to fall into place it is just so cool. I love the relationship she has with Sergeant Eric Jonquille. He tries to keep her out of his cases but he knows her and that her insights can be helpful. The rest of the core characters bring the quirkiness required in a cozy series. They are all cleverly created and interesting.Â
The mystery has several light paranormal elements, which is fun in a Halloween mystery. An old mystery gets twisted up with the new one and Florrie is in the middle of it all. She notices things other people miss and she even happens to be in the right place at the right time to prevent an event from becoming dire in the nick of time. There are several twists to unwind and secrets to reveal. She follows clues to uncover a surprising component and that sets up a heck of a scary showdown.
Ms. Davis is a marvelous storyteller. I have no trouble escaping into her mysteries. The characters are fun and relatable. The settings are always picturesque. The mysteries are so well-plotted and intriguing. As I expected Murder Outside the Lines sucked me in and held on tight. It was definitely A Perfect Escape.
The unique coloring book covers in this series are an added bonus. Be sure to grab markers, colors, or colored pencils when you get the books.
Murder Outside the Lines is the third installment in the Pen & Ink Mysteries series set in Georgetown and featuring Florrie Fox, manager of Color Me Read, the neighborhood bookstore. It's Halloween and the bookstore is hosting Hilda Rattenhorst, psychic and author for a reading. When Hilda claims to have a vision of a foot sticking out of a rolled up rug in a nearby doorway, Florrie's boyfriend Sergeant Eric Jonquille goes to investigate and finds nothing. But several days later after several people are attacked in their homes and then a body turns up in the neighbor's coffin decoration, people begin to wonder if Hilda was for real or is someone just trying to copy her claims.
A fast paced plot, a fun Halloween setting and for me the best part was the delightful skull named Harry, who seems to have a "mind" of his own. The return of the cast of series regulars will have readers feeling like they just walked back into the bookstore to catch up on gossip and have a cup of coffee, and while some relationships continue to develop, a few surprises are in store for others.