OFF THE BOOKS by Lucy Arlington

Series: Novel Idea, #5
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★★

Literary agent and amateur sleuth Lila Wilkins is back to seal the deal in the New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mystery series.

Lila is showcasing some of her biggest authors at a bridal expo. But when the joyous event turns deadly, she’ll have to figure out who penned the perfect crime…

The Novel Idea Literary Agency has planned a wedding-themed week for Inspiration Valley, celebrating not only North Carolina’s best vendors but also some of the agency’s most popular bridal books. The fact that Lila can use the event to plan her own impending nuptials is just the icing on the cake.

But wedding bells turn to warning bells when Lila finds a dead man facedown in the frosting. Soon it’s discovered that the victim was connected to several Novel Idea authors, all of whom quickly become suspects in the case. It’s up to Lila and her fellow agents to find the real killer before one of their clients winds up scribbling stories from behind bars…

Inspiration Valley is one of my favorite fictional places to visit, and I was thrilled to get back there in OFF THE BOOKS, #5 in the Novel Idea series. Lila Wilkins is a down-to-earth, relatable protagonist/amateur sleuth, and she’s lucky to have a book nerd’s dream job — literary agent.

Poor Lila, unfortunately, is known around town as the “murder magnet” for her uncanny ability to stumble across murder victims. Lila finds the latest victim during the craziness of a bridal expo, hosted by the literary agency she works for.

I enjoyed OFF THE BOOKS very much. This was a difficult mystery to figure out, which makes it more fun. The whodunit was as surprising as the why!

Author Susan Furlong took over the writing duties of Novel Idea starting with book four, and I think she’s done a fantastic job with this smart and entertaining series.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: PLAYED BY THE BOOK by Lucy Arlington

Series: Novel Idea, #4
Publisher: Berkley
Released: February 3, 2015
Source: A paperback purchase
Rating: ★★★★

The New York Times bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries make their return with Lila Wilkins, literary agent and “murder magnet,” planning a book signing garden party. But things aren’t coming up roses when she has to weed out a dangerous killer…

The owner of the Novel Idea Literary Agency is thrilled when former local boy and popular television show host Damian York returns to Inspiration Valley, North Carolina, to launch his new gardening book. But Lila is less than excited about the hubbub when she sees her mounting to-do list. Between planning York’s gala and sprucing up her yard for another event, she’s spread too thin—especially after she finds a skull buried in her flowerbeds.

As Lila’s macabre discovery leads to other secrets hidden in Inspiration Valley’s past, a member of the local garden club is found slumped over her prize roses—murdered. Now it’s up to Lila to dig through old mysteries and new clues to unearth a murderer before someone else is found pushing up daisies…

Lila the literary agent is helping to launch a new client’s book with a garden party extravaganza in Inspiration Valley. Fun, except when Lila digs up a skeleton in her own garden, then a member of the town’s garden club is murdered. There’s a reason she’s known as the agency’s Nancy Drew, because mysteries always find her. It was fun trying to figure out how the skeleton tied in with the modern day murder — not what I was expecting! Okay, the one thing I didn’t like was the strained relationship between Lila and her boyfriend, Sean. I wasn’t happy with their childish behavior. Grrr. Overall, PLAYED BY THE BOOK was an enjoyable cozy and an intriguing continuation of one of my favorite mystery series. 4 stars!

Guest Blogger: Lucy Arlington

One of my favorite kinds of books to read is a cookbook. Reading a recipe allows my mind to envision the dish it will produce, almost taste and smell it too! I love to see the photographs and can picture myself making whatever delectable cake or casserole or cookie is depicted. To me, reading a cookbook allows me to dream about food without consuming the calories!

In light of that, it seems like a foregone conclusion that I would give my character, Lila Wilkins, a murder to solve that involves cookbooks, chefs, and food. My love of food is certainly evident Lila’s personality. She loves to cook and is an avid fan of the celebrity chefs she sees on television.

In “Books, Cooks, and Crooks,” Lila gets to meet some of those chefs. They are clients of A Novel Idea Literary Agency, and have come to Inspiration Valley for a food festival. Lila and the agency have organized a celebrity chef event, cooking demonstrations, cookbook giveaways, and even a culinary writing contest.

But before the festival gets underway, one of the chefs dies in a kitchen explosion. When it becomes evident that this was a murder, Lila is determined to help her boyfriend, Police Officer Sean Griffiths, figure out which of the agency’s clients is a killer.

“Books, Cooks, and Crooks” is the third mystery in the Novel Idea Mystery series, set in the idyllic town of Inspiration Valley in the foothills of North Carolina. Other books in the series are “Buried in a Book” and “Every Trick in the Book.”

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-A-Million

About the Author:

Lucy Arlington is the nom de plume for the writing team of Sylvia May and Ellery Adams. As an amalgamated personality, she is an avid reader, cook, and gardener. If she had her way, she’d divide her time between preparing delectables in her kitchen, traveling the globe on her scooter, and sitting in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee and a paperback until her legs cramped. Lucy is devoted to her husband and children – especially when they ply her with chocolate and gift cards to bookstores. Lucy’s third novel, “Books, Cooks, and Crooks” has just been released. Her first two novels in the Novel Idea Mystery Series, “Buried in a Book” and “Every Trick in the Book” were both New York Times Bestsellers. Visit her website at

Sylvia May is the author of “The Unraveling of Abby Settel” and the soon to be released “Breathing Space.” Visit her website at

Ellery Adams is the author of Books By the Bay Mysteries and the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries and the forthcoming Book Retreat Mysteries. Visit her website at

Book Review: BOOKS, COOKS, AND CROOKS by Lucy Arlington

Series: A Novel Idea Mystery, #3
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Source: Review copy from publisher

The national bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries are back, as Lila Wilkins—literary agent and sleuth—is setting up a delicious cookbook fair. But the tension in the kitchen is about to boil over…

Inspiration Valley, North Carolina, is bubbling with excitement for the Taste of the Town festival, and Lila is right in the middle of it all. Along with her coworkers at the Novel Idea Literary Agency, Lila is organizing a grand celebrity chef event, featuring food television’s biggest stars, complete with cooking demonstrations, cookbook giveaways, and even a culinary writing contest.

But just as the celebration is about to start, the demo kitchen blows up, taking one of the star cooks with it. With all the explosive egos of the cook’s colleagues, it’s hard to find someone who didn’t have a motive to eliminate the competition. Now Lila will have to scramble to figure out which of her clients is a killer—before someone else gets burned.


I love this series! BOOKS, COOKS, AND CROOKS is Lucy Arlington’s third mystery set in the charming town of Inspiration Valley, North Carolina. It’s springtime, and the Taste of the Town festival is underway. Literary agent Lila Wilkins has organized the “Cooks and Books” event, with A-list celebrity chefs set to demonstrate their skills and promote their latest cookbooks. Unfortunately their charismatic personalities on television are just for show. Lila quickly discovers that behind the scenes the chefs are fiercely competitive with each other, and sometimes downright mean. The night before the cooking demonstration is to take place, one of the celebrity chefs dies in an explosion, which turns out to have been intentionally set. Soon Lila is wrapped up in another murder mystery and putting her amateur sleuthing skills to work.

I love the literary theme of the Novel Idea Mysteries, and this latest book appeals to the foodie in me as well! I enjoyed the mouth-watering descriptions of the dishes. Yum. The mystery itself was fast paced and well crafted. There were several possible suspects, as well as several colorful secondary characters from Inspiration Valley, but the author made them easy to get to know and remember. I wasn’t absolutely certain of whodunit until Lila was. I’m touched by Lila’s bond with those closest to her: son Trey, mother Althea, boyfriend Sean, and best friend Makayla. It was especially great to see Sean and Lila’s relationship moving forward.

BOOKS, COOKS, AND CROOKS is a tantalizing mystery that’s sure to delight fans of culinary and literary cozies alike. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by Lucy Arlington



Series: A Novel Idea Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Released: February 5, 2013
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Lila Wilkins has it all: the home of her dreams in the charming town of Inspiration Valley, North Carolina; a perfect police officer boyfriend; and a new job she absolutely loves. At the Book and Author Festival, which is sponsored by the Novel Idea Literary Agency, Lila expects to discover some talented new authors, but what she finds instead is the body of an editor to whom she bears an eerie resemblance.

Trouble is, the editor’s death isn’t the only literary murder taking place. Soon a blossoming author is also killed, and Lila has a gut feeling that the two murders are linked. Now she must hunt down the dark figure who killed these women—and to her surprise, she just might find the clues hidden in a manuscript…


Mistaken identity, ravens feathers, and murder. EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK is a suspenseful and cozy-yet-dark continuation of the A Novel Idea Mystery series.

Lila Wilkins has been promoted from query letter reading intern to full-fledged literary agent at Novel Idea. The agency is hosting its first Book and Author Festival in Inspiration Valley. Lila is hoping to find some potential clients at the event, and she does, but she also finds trouble. Two festival guests are murdered just days apart – an editor and an author. The victims don’t appear to have know each other, but Lila is certain there’s something hidden that connected them.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and breezed through it quickly because I wanted to see how the mystery played out. I do think it had a darker tone to it than most cozies. Some sad, emotional stuff in regard to the victims.

One ironic tidbit – Lila is the agent for cozy mysteries, and at one point she was lecturing an aspiring author about something to never put in a cozy because readers found it disturbing, and then this book goes and does the very same no-no! Ha. I know that was intentional, but it did make me go, “Hmm…” Was a bit unsettling!

It was good to catch up with the characters once again. Lila was her typical self, passionate about her work and the case, and perhaps overstepping her bounds a time or two (which would be easy to do, since her boyfriend Sean is the police officer working the investigation). It was great to see Sean and Lila’s relationship moving forward. We also see Lila’s son Trey’s character grow as he deals with some issues with his job at the Red Fox co-op.

This is such a clever series being centered around a literary agency, and I can’t get enough of the bookish shop talk. (Can I please have a job there?) I’m on pins and needles waiting for the next installment.

Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.