Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Liz McCall has come to love running her father’s vintage toyshop back home in East Aurora, NY, so when the Train and Toy Show comes to town, she’s all aboard for a fun toy-filled weekend. The only hitch is that her childhood bully Craig McFadden, now local business rival, has set up a booth next to hers. But the fun and games are over when Craig falls from the ceiling in a publicity stunt gone wrong.
What was initially thought to be a fatal accident proves much more sinister. Pulled into the case by her feelings for both Ken, the police chief, and Jack, her high school sweetheart whose brother is one the prime suspects, Liz dives headfirst into the investigation. But as she digs deeper, she’s shocked to learn her father may have been the intended target.
The trouble train is barreling down and Liz may have just bought herself a first class ticket in Murder on the Toy Town Express, Barbara Early’s delightful second installment in her Vintage Toyshop mysteries.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it.
The first book in this series was one of my favorite cozy mystery reads last year so I immediately requested this book when I saw it pop up on netgalley. While I did think book 1 was a bit better, this book was still very good. I quickly got in the story, then a part seemed a bit slow, but once things start going wrong the pace really picked up again. I was lovely to be back in this town and the toy shop.
The mystery in this book was a good one again. It really kept me guessing, at first I had no clue who was the murderer. When the mystery progressed I mostly kept thinking the people who were suspects didn’t seem quite right. There is a lot going on in this one and lots of people involved in some way which made for a great and complex mystery. It was hard to tell what was relevant or tied into the murder and what not and it made for an interesting touch. In the end I figured out who the murderer was seconds before the main character did. It suddenly clicked in place. And it was nice to see how everything tied together. I also liked how after they solve the mystery there is another chapter or so to wrap things up.
The first part of the book takes place at a toy and train show and lots of the important characters for this mystery are introduced there. The show was a fun set-up for this book, a bit like a convention with lots of sellers attending, but at the same time I was happy when they got back to their shop. The shop is just more fun to read about and I think it made for a better setting. I liked reading about the old toys and I really like that part of this story. The toy shop gives a nice flavor to this mystery and I really like reading about the shop and the characters.
Just as in the first book I enjoyed reading about Liz and her father, how they investigate the murder together and the punny jokes they make. I think they make for a fun duo and they work well together. I also though it felt believable how they got tied up in this murder investigation and I had a lot of fun reading this book. We meet some new side characters as well as some familiar ones. There are some new side characters that I think/ hope we’ll see more of. There were some itnerestign twists/ development with the characters as well.
The romance also continues and at the end of this book I am not fully sure what to think of it. It felt like it turned into one big mess. At the end of the book 1 I saw potential in both love interests and thought they would both make a good match for Liz. At the end of this book I have completely changed my mind and I am hoping a third guy will pop up in book 3, because I just don’t see things working out with these 2 in a way that would make me happy. Talk about a completely turn around. Although it was kinda different to see how things changed and developed here. I wasn’t too happy with how Liz basically strings both men along at first and how she didn’t take the time to really make a decisions, but sort of rolled into it, it felt very unsatisfying. So the romance in this book didn’t quite work for me, but it was interesting to see things develop.
To summarize: Murder on the Toy Town express has a great setting and focus with the toy store, a fun daughter and dad duo trying to help solve the murder and a mystery that kept me guessing. I liked this second installment of the series and reading about this toy shop again. Liz and her father are fun to read about and I like reading about them. The mystery kept me guessing for a long time until I figured it out seconds before the main character did. The romance turned into a bit of a mess in this book and I hope another love interest will pop up in the next book, but it was kinda interesting seeing things develop, it sure wasn’t what I had expected. I liked meeting some of the new side characters and hope to see of some of them in later books, as well as some already familiar side characters. There are some interesting changes and developments with the characters. This was a great sequel and I am looking forward to the next book!