Review: By Book or By Crook by Eva Gates

Posted February 27, 2016 by Lola in My To-Be Read List, Mystery, Review / 22 Comments


My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Because Reading is Better Than Real Life where at the beginning of the month visitors can choose which book I’ll be reading this month. On the first saturday of a month the poll will be up, then on the second saturday of the month I’ll announce the book that won and on the last saturday of the month I’ll post my review of the book.

By Book or By CrookBy Book or By Crook (Lighthouse Library Mystery #1)
by Eva Gates

Get bound up in murder in the first Lighthouse Library mystery!

For ten years Lucy has enjoyed her job poring over rare tomes of literature for the Harvard Library, but she has not enjoyed the demands of her family’s social whorl or her sort-of-engagement to the staid son of her father’s law partner. But when her ten-year relationship implodes, Lucy realizes that the plot of her life is in need of a serious rewrite.

Calling on her aunt Ellen, Lucy hopes that a little fun in the Outer Banks sun—and some confections from her cousin Josie’s bakery—will help clear her head. But her retreat quickly turns into an unexpected opportunity when Aunt Ellen gets her involved in the lighthouse library tucked away on Bodie Island.

Lucy is thrilled to land a librarian job in her favorite place in the world. But when a priceless first edition Jane Austen novel is stolen and the chair of the library board is murdered, Lucy suddenly finds herself ensnared in a real-life mystery—and she’s not so sure there’s going to be a happy ending….

My Review:
By Book or by Crook is a fun and enjoyable cozy mystery, but failed to fully impress me. I enjoyed the book while reading it, but didn’t really have the urge to pick it up again and I never fully felt engaged to the plot or story. There’s nothing obviously wrong with this book, but nothing that really stood out either.

I really like the original concept and setting. The library in a lighthouse was such a fun concept and I liked reading about this cozy lighthouse library. The setting in the Outer Banks region so close to the sea was also great. Then there is Charles the cat who is adorable and has his quirks and cat behaviour that made me smile. And he looks so pretty on the cover! I also liked reading a bit about how the ran the library.

Then there was the mystery fell a bit flat for me. The main character doesn’t really get much involved, she does a bit of her own research, but it was mostly awkwardly talking with people. She mostly focusses on her work in the library and while I enjoyed that part I had hoped for a bit more focus on the mystery. I didn’t predict the murderer, but then again there were almost no hints to that. I usually prefer there are some clues or that at least looking back it makes sense, here there was none of that and even with the explanation of the murderer it didn’t make much sense to me. The main character did figure it out, but more by accident and she didn’t really have proof, except for that it made sense and then the murderer came after her. It was just a bit meh.

Next to the murder mystery there’s also the mystery of books that go missing. And it’s unsure whether it’s connected or not to the murder. There’s a lot of focus in the book about the Jane Austen exhibit they are doing and I just couldn’t relate as much to everyone’s enthusiasm about those first editions. I haven’t read any of Jane Austen her books and never felt the urge to, so it felt like I missed a part there and I think that part of the book would’ve been more fun if you are a fan of Jane Austen her books.

The character were okay. At first I had a lot of trouble keeping them apart, the book starts literally at a party and the main character is meeting new people and I can honesty say I might have been even more overwhelmed than the main character herself. I am not good with names ad having a lot of them dumped at once didn’t help. After that it did get better and I at least got a feel for who was who. I would’ve liked a bit more depth concerning the side characters. We did got a reasonable feel for the main character and her life, but the side characters stayed a bit flat. And ugh I seriously disliked Louise Jane, I am not sure what it was about that character but she rubbed me wrong so badly.

To summarize: This was a fun cozy mystery, but I couldn’t fully get into the book. I did enjoy it while I was reading it, but didn’t really care or feel the urge to pick it up again once I put the book down. The lighthouse library made for a fun concept and the Outer Banks area was a great setting. I also loved the cat the Charles, who was my favourite character. I liked reading about the library, but didn’t really get all the excitement about the Jane Austen books as I haven’t read nay of her books myself. The mystery fell a bit flat, with little involvement from the main character, little hints to who the murderer was and the reasoning behind it was unsatisfactory to me. I had some trouble keeping the characters apart at first, but that got easier after a while. The side characters lacked some depth, I liked the main character well enough and disliked Louise Jane. Not sure if I’ll be continuing this series yet.


The Bookdepository

What’s the last book you read where on of the side characters rubbed you wrong?

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22 responses to “Review: By Book or By Crook by Eva Gates

    • I just felt there was little depth to the characters and that made it hard for me to care about them. And the mystery just didn’t work for me.

  1. Ah, to bad you didn’t like it. I know Louise Jane is a pain but that is just her character. She wants the job there and your not suppose to like her. 🙁 I was hoping you would like it more as I enjoyed it but that happens.’

    I didn’t get my book read and need to put up a blurb..forgot…lol.
    Stormi recently posted…Audiobook review of Wrong PlaceMy Profile

    • It didn’t dislike it, it was just okay for me. Although I’ve heard that with lots of cozy mysteries series they get better once the progress so I might give the second book in this series a try to see if that’s the case here too. And yes I know we’re not supposed to like Louise Jane, but she just really rubbed me wrong. I can understand why she wanted the job so badly, but if no one wants you there I can’t imagine still wanting the job. I am sorry to hear you didn’t get your book read :(, maybe later you can still read it.

    • The setting was great here, the side characters were pretty meh. And for some reason it just didn’t fully engage me. I did enjoy it when reading, but didn’t really feel the urge to pick up the book once I had put it down.

  2. Ani

    Aww. I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you. It still sounded like it’d be cute to read; I’m still intrigued by the library in the lighthouse thing… but sucks that the mystery itself fell short. And the confusing characters thing is also discouraging–great characters will sometimes help make up for poor plot planning for me. Hopefully your next one will be better.
    Ani recently posted…review: The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart SwapMy Profile

    • The library in the lighthouse thing was great. And maybe it improves later on, but the first book was just meh for me and not sure if I want to continue the series. It’s a shame the mystery fell short and the many characters at first where confusing.

  3. Aww, I’m sorry there wasn’t *enough* to fully engage you with this one, Lola. Especially since I voted for it. :/ It sounds like it was maybe too straightforward – no twists – and the characters weren’t well fleshed out and that’s too bad because the story seemed to have potential. The lighthouse library setting sounds so neat though. And I’d be getting excited over Jane Austen as she’s one of my favorite authors of all time. 🙂 I’m glad there were elements you found to enjoy and that it wasn’t a horrible read. Hopefully this month’s pick will be stellar! 😀
    Bookworm Brandee recently posted…Historical Romance Review ~ The Raven Prince ~ Elizabeth HoytMy Profile

    • I think readers who like Jane Austen would get some fun out of that aspect, but as I haven’t read any of her books it just left me cold. The setting was great and original. But yes a bit too straightforward might be a good way to descirbe, it could’ve used to be a bit more fleshed out. It was a fun read, just not great. I still have to decide which books to list for this months poll, I keep changing my mind.

  4. I have that problem with a lot of Cozies too, they sound great, but then don’t deliver much. They all have such fun covers too! Cupcakes and crafts and books and lighthouses, and I really think I like them, but then a lot of them I find myself thinking, ok, but I don’t really care! lol! I keep trying though! 😉
    Shaunesay recently posted…Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg CabotMy Profile

    • I have found some great cozies, but yes also some that sound great and then just fell flat, but I am still pretty new to the genre so I usually attribute it to that. It’s hard to gauge sometimes which ones are actually good and which ones fall flat and sometimes the second book in a series is a lot better. I recently read the second book in a cozy mystery series and enjoyed the second book a lot more than the first.

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