Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The Novel Art of Murder by V.M. Burns

Posted January 30, 2019 by meezcarrie in contemporary, cozy mystery, giveaway, mystery/suspense, V.M. Burns / 2 Comments

about the book

SERIES: Mystery Bookshop #3
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Kensington
RELEASE DATE: November 27, 2018
PAGES: 256

Mystery bookstore owner Samantha Washington is trying to keep her grandmother from spending her golden years in an orange jumpsuit . . .

The small town of North Harbor, Michigan, is just not big enough for the two of them: flamboyant phony Maria Romanov and feisty Nana Jo. The insufferable Maria claims she’s descended from Russian royalty and even had a fling with King Edward VIII back in the day. She’s not just a lousy liar, she’s a bad actress, so when she nabs the lead in the Shady Acres Senior Follies—a part Nana Jo plays every year in their retirement village production—Nana Jo blows a gasket and reads her the riot act in front of everyone.

Of course, when Maria is silenced with a bullet to the head, Nana Jo lands the leading role on the suspects list. Sam’s been writing her newest mystery, set in England between the wars, with her intrepid heroine Lady Daphne drawn into murder and scandal in the household of Winston Churchill. But now she has to prove that Nana Jo’s been framed. With help from her grandmother’s posse of rambunctious retirees, Sam shines a spotlight on Maria’s secrets, hoping to draw the real killer out of the shadows . . .

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Other Books In This Series


This is my first book by V.M. Burns and it won’t be my last! While this is the third in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone – but I’m totally going to go back and read the first two books at my earliest opportunity.

Samantha “Sam” is a great heroine, someone you’d like to have as a friend for sure. Not only does she run a successful mystery bookstore but she also gets to carry out her dream of writing. I loved how Sam uses the events in the story we’re reading to parallel things in the story she’s writing, a story within a story of sorts. And of course there’s the ladies of the Shady Acres retirement village, including Sam’s Nana Jo who is cast every year in the leading role of the Shady Acres Senior Follies. Therein lies the problem – and the murder – this year, and Sam needs the help of the other ladies at Shady Acres to keep her Nana Jo from being arrested. Enter a bevy of delightful, quirky, and diverse characters who are full of life and intelligence and wit. I loved these secondary characters and can’t wait for another chance to visit with them.

Bottom Line: A well-written cozy mystery with charm and heart, The Novel Art of Murder is a truly enjoyable read from start to finish. The murder case itself was nicely-plotted and kept me guessing until the big reveal, and the dash of romance of course had my full attention. Vividly-drawn characters represent a mix of ages and race, and each had a role to play. Looking forward to more from this author and series!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Loved it!

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about the author

V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of  Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at

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2 responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): The Novel Art of Murder by V.M. Burns

  1. Kay Garrett

    Thank you for your review on “The Novel Art of Murder” by V.M. Burns and for being part of the book tour.

    I do love this author’s books! I can’t wait for the opportunity to read this one which is on my TBR list. I always love her covers!

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