Entertainment Weekly hails the Secret, Book, and Scone Society series by New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams as “a love letter to reading,” and in this fifth installment, bookshop owner, bibliotherapist, and occasional sleuth Nora Pennington must enlist the help of her brilliant, brassy librarian friend Bobbie to unravel the connection between The Scarlet Letter, an obscure 19th century writer, and a dead hiker…
While January snow falls outside in Miracle Springs, North Carolina, Nora Pennington is encouraging customers to cozy up indoors with a good book. Even though the shop and her bibliotherapy sessions keep Nora busy during the day, her nights are a little too quiet—until Deputy Andrews pulls Nora into the sci-fi section and asks her to help him plan a wedding proposal.
His bride-to-be, Hester, loves Little Women, and Nora sets to work arranging a special screening at the town’s new movie theater. But right before the deputy pops the question, Nora makes an unsettling discovery—someone has mutilated all her store’s copies of The Scarlet Letter, slicing angrily into the pages wherever Hester Prynne’s name is mentioned.
The coincidence disturbs Nora, who’s one of the few in Miracle Springs who knows that Hester gave up a baby for adoption many years ago. Her family heaped shame on her, and Hester still feels so guilty that she hasn’t even told her future husband. But when a dead man is found on a hiking trail just outside town, carrying a rare book, the members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society unearth a connection to Hester’s past. Someone is intent on bringing the past to light, and it’s not just Hester’s relationship at stake, but her life. . .
I was first introduced to this series back in November 2020 when my virtual foodie book club, Cook the Books, read the first book, The Secret, Book, & Scone Society. I downloaded books 2 through 4 in the series but never quite got around to reading them until I signed up for the book tour and then I spent April and May catching up in time to read book 5 a couple of weeks ago. (It's good that cozy mysteries tend to be short reads.) All the books are delightful and although I will say this with most series, you really need to read them in order as the lives and details about the secrets of the main character and her circle of friends gradually unfold and you will want to be there for all of it.
The series centers around Nora Pennington who running away from an unhappy life and a big mistake that left her physically and emotionally scarred, opens up a book store in an old train depot in the quirky town of Miracle Springs in western North Carolina. Miracle Springs is full of hot springs, spas, quaint stores, and tourists arriving looking for ways to cure their aches, pain and illnesses. Nora provides bibliotherapy, helping people by suggesting books suited to whatever is ailing them--physically, mentally, and emotionally. initially a loner, Nora bonds sharing deep secrets with three other women in town, Hester, June and Estella. Oh, and the group also solves crimes 9usually murders) in their spare time. Because as appealing as Miracle Springs sounds, the body count is pretty high as happens in cozy mystery locations.
In this book, Hester, a talented baker whose speciality is "comfort scones," (she finds the perfect ingredients to help you relive your past and get out your emotions and bring comfort), gets a romantic marriage proposal for her deputy boyfriend. Hester has not yet told him her secret, that she was made to give up her baby as an unwed team and she's afraid it will tear them apart. Nora finds some copies of The Scarlet Letter with Hester's name cut out in her store and then a man is found just outside of town with a rare old book in his jacket pocket. Is it related? Nora thinks so and she and her posse are on the case.
I won't give away more details but the mystery is engaging, Nora, Hester, Estella and June endearing and they are supported by other likable characters. It's set in February so romance is in the air with book store events and displays celebrating all kinds of love. That's what this series does especially well--love. It's about the love of friends and the families we choose for ourselves and the love of books, there is even some romance in there too, and I like the direction Nora's is going. The only downside to spending a few weeks immersing myself in the series is that now I am impatiently waiting for book 6!
Author Notes: Ellery Adams is the New York Times bestselling author of two cookbooks and over thirty mysteries, including the Book Retreat Mysteries, The Secret, Book, & Scone Society series, the Books by the Bay Mysteries, and the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries. A native New Yorker, she has had a lifelong love affair with stories, food, rescue animals, and large bodies of water. When not working on her next novel, she reads, bakes, gardens, spoils her three cats, and rearranges her bookshelves. She lives with her husband and two children in Chapel Hill, NC.
I did highlight all the food in this book but Kindle decided that it wouldn't save it--a common problem with reading ARCs downloaded on it. Of course there are scones, apple and chocolate "book pocket pastries" that Esther bakes for the bookstore, the coffee, tea and hot cocoa that Nora serves in the store, Cuban food that new regular and bookstore helper Sheldon makes, lots of great diner food from The Pink Lady Grill, southern soul food at Pearl's, sandwiches, and that's all I remember!
I'd recommend a scone and tea with this one. Not being a baker, I only have a couple of scone recipes on the blog:
These Cranberry & Blueberry Orange Mini Scones adapted from a Barefoot Contessa recipe.
These Vegan, Wheat-Free Raspberry Scones from Babycakes Bakery
Either would be wonderful with a cup of your favorite tea.
Note: A review copy of "The Vanishing Type" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.