I’m a sucker for a cozy mystery, especially one that involves food, books, and a little bit of magic. The Secret, Book and Scone Society fits that bill perfectly. In the small mountain town of Miracle Springs, North Carolina, people come from near and far to visit the local healing springs, stay at the luxury resort, and shop in the unique stores downtown. At Miracle Books, owner Nora Pennington specializes in finding just the right books for whatever her customers are going through. Hester Winthrop serves “comfort scones” at her Gingerbread House bakery, custom-made with flavors to ease the pain of the person ordering them. Then the murder of a visitor from nearby Asheville brings together Nora, Hester, and two other local women, all of whom are holding back secrets from their past, and they form the Secret, Book and Scone Society. As they get pulled deeper into solving the murder mystery, they develop a friendship that helps them to let go of their secrets and begin to trust again.
One of the best parts of the book is that it’s filled with references to other books. Each chapter starts with a quote, and the main character, Nora, is always talking books with friends and customers. Nora is a librarian turned “bibliotherapist,” and while there’s magic involved in what she does, I believe that IRL, reading the right book at the right time can act as soothing medicine. (To some extent, all readers’ advisory librarians are bibliotherapists. At least we’d like to be!) Author Adams also writes delectable descriptions of food, and has created four strong female characters who are a lot of fun to spend time with. There’s a romantic subplot, too, involving Nora and the local EMT. And in its own gentle way, the story also addresses more serious issues: bias against women and against anyone who is different. This is a highly entertaining cozy with just enough depth to add realism. Check it out from either Cook or Aspen. And if you can’t find a hard copy on the shelf, it’s also available in audio through the Hoopla app.