Includes A Front and Back Cover for You to Color!
Life is looking rosy for Florrie Fox, manager of the Color Me Read bookstore in Georgetown, Washington D.C. She’s working on an adult coloring book of gardens, her romance with Sergeant Eric Jonquille has entered a new chapter, and the bookstore’s weekly coloring club is a source of friendship and entertainment. No member is more vibrant than Dolly Cavanaugh. Dolly likes to say she was blessed with beauty and cursed with lousy husbands, but at least she has a grown daughter and a stunning brownstone to show for it!
When Dolly’s love of garage sales results in her showing up at Color Me Read with a rare book in hand, Florrie is astounded. The Florist, the earliest known coloring book, was first published in 1760. An original copy would be worth a fortune—and someone else knows it. That same evening, Florrie finds Dolly dead on the floor of her apartment, a corner of a coloring book page clutched in her hand. As Florrie delves into Dolly’s past and her personal effects, she discovers a skeleton in the closet—literally—and a whole lot of shady suspects. One of them is an expert in the fine art of murder, but can Florrie draw the right conclusion?
About the Author
Krista Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries and the Paws & Claws Mysteries. Several of her books have been nominated for the Agatha Award. Krista lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with two cats and a brood of dogs. Her friends and family complain about being guinea pigs for her recipes, but she notices they keep coming back for more. Please visit her at www.kristadavis.com.
Read an Excerpt
"No one wants paper books anymore."
I bristled at the thought. I looked across the tables of yard sale items to see the nitwit who had said that. As the manager of a bookstore, I was horrified. I wished I were the kind of person who could give a stranger a piece of my mind. I'd love to tell him what I thought.
He was slender and medium height. Not particularly athletic. He wore his hair short in tight mocha curls. And every garment he wore was emblazoned with a designer label. He looked like a walking billboard.
He'd said it to a woman in a chic suit. Her hair was the color of peanuts, styled in short waves that were intentionally messy. She wasn't wearing much makeup. It was eight thirty in the morning, and her weary eyes suggested she hadn't been sleeping well. She wore a Bluetooth earpieces in her ear and said angrily, "How is it possible to lose a shipment that's only going from Washington, DC, to New York City? I could have driven it there myself in four hours."
Even though I knew she was talking to someone on her phone, she looked like she was speaking to invisible people.
She turned her attention to the man in front of her. "Okay, go."
He fingered his sparse mustache for a silent moment. "Oh! You're talking to me now. Ms. Dumont, all children think their parents have a treasure that will fetch millions at auction. They never do. I have handled a lot of these estate sales and I promise you, everyone has the same worthless junk. No one wants old furniture, china, crystal, silver, or tchotchkes, and they especially don't want ancient books. They're impossible to move. Tastes have changed."
The woman to whom he spoke appeared as horrified as I felt. The name Dumont rang a bell with me. Color Me Read, the bookstore I managed, was hosting a reading by the author of From Fame to Infamy: The Dumont Family Curse.
"Some of these books are probably out of print," she said. "There may even be first editions."
"If they're out of print it's for a reason — no one wants them. Besides, everything is on the Internet these days. If it's worth reading, you can find it there, usually for free."
He was really annoying me. I shuddered as I imagined how cold his apartment must look devoid of books.
"Mr. McAllister, I hired you to take care of this so I would not have to. The last thing I need from you is lectures. The books are for sale. And for your information, this is my grandparents' estate, not my parents'."
McAllister snickered. "I hope you have a van to remove the books after the sale is over. I don't deliver. What's left will go into the trash." He strode away.
Ms. Dumont squinted at his back as though she were sending evil thoughts in his direction. I got the feeling she wasn't used to being spoken to in that manner. Looking straight at me, she demanded, "Who recommended McAllister? He's a complete jerk."
I hoped she was speaking into her phone again.
I looked around for McAllister. Oh no! He had zeroed in on my sister, Veronica, a long-legged blonde who attracted the wrong men.
Veronica and I were opposites. She was gregarious, blond, and athletic. I barely hit five feet, two inches, had long chestnut hair, and preferred reading and drawing to bars and nightlife.
No, no, no. Veronica could not get involved with a man who thought books were trash. I hurried over to her. Too late. He was introducing himself.
My sister tilted her head coyly. "Veronica Fox."
He grinned. "I didn't expect to have a fox shopping here today."
Ugh. I cringed. There wasn't a thing I liked about him. Just then, I heard a woman call my name. "Florrie! Over here, darling."
I turned. Not too far away in the alley, Dolly Cavanaugh and Zsazsa Rosca waved at me and beckoned me over.
Dolly had been the first person to sign up for the Hues, Brews, and Clues coloring club at Color Me Read. In her early sixties, she was on the chubby side, but looked great. Not a single gray hair dared to invade her golden-brown tresses. Like a lot of Southern women, she wore a good bit of foundation that covered any blemishes. Her plumpness filled out wrinkles that might have lined her round face. She had taken great care with her eye makeup and wore a thick streak of perfectly applied liquid eyeliner on her upper eyelids in the latest fashion. Azalea-pink lipstick brightened her face. Dolly had told Veronica and me about the yard sale not far from the bookstore in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC. She had cautioned us to be there early on Saturday morning because all the best items would be gone by noon.
Zsazsa Rosca and Dolly had met at the coloring club and quickly become fast friends. One of my favorite regulars at the store, Zsazsa was a retired professor of art history. Named after the famous Hungarian actress, Zsazsa was as round as Dolly, but had confessed to me that to avoid jiggles she wore Spanx so tight she had to lie on her bed to pull them on. She wore dramatic eye makeup with black liner swooping at the outer edges of her eyes much like Dolly. I could pick Zsazsa out in a crowd in a second, thanks to her blazing tangerine hair.
They stood at a table laden with tchotchkes. The assortment of objects accumulated during someone's life was now being offered up in a yard sale for next to nothing. Zsazsa whispered, "Did you see the old Pyrex bowls at the next table over? They're highly collectible!"
Dolly added, "Look for the ones in the best condition and snap them up before someone else realizes what they're worth. You can sell them online for a nice little profit."
"Thanks for the tip. First I need to get rid of that guy who has latched on to Veronica."
Dolly gazed around. "Percy McAllister? The bane of my existence and yet a gift of good fortune. Don't antagonize him." She lowered her voice to a whisper. "He's a dolt who wouldn't know a valuable collectible if it fell on his head. He runs the best sales because he has no clue as to the real value of anything. Nevertheless we should rescue Veronica. Take it from me. I had four lousy husbands. Now that I'm older and wiser, I know trouble when I see it."
Without another word, Dolly hustled over to Veronica. "Sweetheart! I've found something you simply must buy. Excuse us, Percy." Dolly looped her arm through Veronica's and practically pulled her away from Percy. I couldn't help smirking. She was doing what I would have liked to do. But I wouldn't have been successful at it. Somehow, it was difficult to say no to Dolly.
Dolly steered Veronica toward a table of figurines. I wound my way through the tables to join them.
"Can you pick out the most valuable item on this table?" asked Dolly.
Veronica and I stared at a collection of Hummel figurines, Staffordshire jugs, and assorted bric-a-brac.
"This one," said Veronica with confidence, pointing to a Staffordshire jug.
"Very nice. A good pick, Veronica. Highly collectible. You could sell it for at least forty dollars more than Percy is asking."
Veronica beamed. "I like this! Shopping that will earn money. Two of my favorite things."
"Unfortunately, dear, it is the incorrect answer. Stick with me, darlings, and you will learn." Dolly picked up an eight-inch-tall statuette. It was coral-colored and had an Asian look to it. Dolly shook her head and tsked. "Two dollars. You would think Percy would know better. This is carved coral. Five scholars are playing with a dragon. It's worth at least a thousand, maybe more."
Veronica's wide eyes met mine. "Are you going to buy it?" Dolly smiled and held it out to Veronica. "A gift to you. You buy it. Keep it on a shelf or sell it on eBay and treat yourself to something special."
"Dolly, we can't take that," I said. "You should buy it."
"You girls enjoy it. Didn't I tell you this would be fun?" Dolly winked at me. "I'm off to peruse the books. Maury Dumont was an ambassador who traveled the world. You never know what you might find. You girls should take a look at the furniture, too. Maury's wife had an eye for good pieces. I know they're not trendy, but those pieces are solid wood that will last your lifetimes and beyond, not sawdust pressed with adhesive that will fall apart. If you don't like the dark color, you can paint it."
She bustled off. I watched as she pawed through the boxes of books. It was sad to see Mr. Dumont's possessions strewn on tables outside of his house. They represented his life and now all those little pieces were being discarded like last week's leftovers. I felt like a vulture.
I gazed up at his home, shocked to see someone, probably Ms. Dumont, peering down at us from the semicircular window at the top of the house. There was no reason to imagine anything sinister, but the brownstone with the eyebrow window that extended beyond the roof was an ominous presence on the street of elegant historical homes.
"Creepy, isn't it?" Veronica tilted her head up to stare at the towering building. "It's probably worth a fortune but you couldn't pay me to live here."
"Did you see the face in the top window?" I asked.
Veronica shuddered. "Eww. No!" I checked my watch. "I'm going to Color Me Read. See you later."
On my way, I paused briefly at a bakery to buy a package of pecan honey buns. They were so fresh the pastry box warmed my hands as I carried it.
The bookstore was only five blocks away, located on a busy street. An ideal location, actually. An awning hung over the front of the building, and show windows on both sides of the front door displayed books. I unlocked the door, flipped the closed sign to open, punched in the alarm code, and deposited the honey buns by the coffeemaker. After starting the coffee, I flicked on lights as I walked through the store. The building had been someone's home once. The parlor with a lovely fireplace was furnished with comfortable couches and chairs where customers could pause and relax. The owner made sure we carried a good selection of international newspapers to draw in the diplomatic community. Even though many of them were available online, a surprising number of people preferred the paper editions.
Coloring books were located on a back wall of the parlor. I was proud that my adult coloring books were featured among them. While I managed the bookstore by day, I drew adult coloring books at night. I straightened our selection a little bit.
At the moment I was working on a book about gardens and flowers. I was thinking of calling it Color My Garden. It was the middle of the summer, so I was spending my spare time in beautiful gardens around the city. I was far from a botanist, but I was learning about the parts of plants as I sketched them for the book.
I turned on classical music at a very low volume, and opened the box of honey buns.
I carried a mug of coffee and a honey bun up to the third floor to my boss, John Maxwell. He hailed from a wealthy family that was well-known in Washington, DC. Once a professor, he now spent his days pondering the mysteries of the planet and often went on adventures in search of famous objects that had been lost. One of my favorite things about working in his bookstore was eavesdropping on conversations between the professor and his intellectual friends who dropped by.
The colors of Professor Maxwell's hair always fascinated me. His neatly trimmed beard and mustache were white as snow. But toward his ears they morphed to pepper, only to change back to snow again. Yet the top of his head was solid pepper. He wore the lines of age in his face with grace. Altogether, he was still a handsome man. He was also the most fascinating person I knew, with interests that varied from the location of the Holy Grail to aliens from outer space and whether Hitler actually died in his bunker.
While he was brilliant, he loathed confrontations. And he had the most peculiar habit of being oblivious about the time of day, which was something I couldn't comprehend. I was a stickler for being on time and couldn't resist collecting clocks that I found interesting.
He sat at his desk, holding a section of the newspaper in his hand. "Florrie, my dear! Thank you." He eagerly accepted the coffee and drained it by half. "Look at this."
He handed me the newspaper. It was folded to a tiny article that most people wouldn't even notice. The headline read "Orso Released."CHAPTER 2
Professor Maxwell grimaced. "Over two decades ago, Orso Moschello drove a van that was picking up priceless items to be delivered to a local museum."
"Like an armored truck?"
"Quite the opposite. He was a trusted man who understood the value of antiquities. The belief is that it's far safer to transport such items in a regular vehicle that doesn't call attention to itself." Professor Maxwell grinned at me. "Every day there are vehicles passing this bookstore that contain amazing things. But only a handful of people know that the driver isn't just an ordinary fellow off to work. There are priceless and sometimes even dangerous items hitching a ride. For instance, if I had a couple of gold bars to be delivered to the bank, I might ask you to drive them over because no one would think a thing about it."
"You're not sending me anywhere with bars of gold are you?"
He laughed. "Not today. Anyway, after the precious cargo was received and unpacked, it was discovered that four items had gone missing. Among them was a small sunflower painting by van Gogh that my father was lending to a museum for an exhibit. It has never been found. Everyone hoped Orso would tell us what he did with the stolen goods but he kept his mouth shut."
"It was insured, wasn't it?"
The professor became grim. "Human error. The museum was supposed to insure it during transit, but the gentleman who should have signed the insurance document was out with the flu, so it was never processed. As you might imagine, there was a big legal fuss. The museum paid a token amount with the caveat that should the items be found, they would be returned to their rightful owners."
"Which would be you. You're hoping this Orso fellow will talk now?" I asked doubtfully.
"He has served his time. If he were a good man, he would reveal the whereabouts of the items. Of course, if he were a good man, he wouldn't have stolen them to begin with."
Uh-oh. If I knew the professor as well as I thought, he would embark on a search of his own. "So what are you going to do?"
He took the newspaper from me and slapped it on the desk a few times. "That is what I have been contemplating this morning. What would you do if you had been released from prison?"
I thought for a moment and understood where he was going with that question. "I guess I wouldn't have any money, so I would collect the goods from where I stashed them and sell them."
"Precisely. After all those years in the slammer, he probably doesn't have any funds. Not to mention the difficulty of getting a job. He'll be headed wherever he hid them."
"Please don't tell me you intend to follow him."
"No, my dear. I intend to wait until he offers them up for sale. A pity really. The sale of stolen goods will land him back in prison."
I left him contemplating the life and fate of a thief and hurried down the stairs.
Veronica walked in, beating the first customers by two minutes, and the store began to get busy.
An hour later the buzzer at the back door sounded. Probably a book delivery on the alley side of the store. I trotted down the stairs, unlocked the door, and opened it.
A man I didn't know fell partly inside the bookstore and lay crumpled on the ground. Streaks of blood ran down his face.
I glanced around quickly. There was no one in sight. The alley was calm. Not even a cat slinked by.
He looked to be about thirty years old. I kneeled on the floor. "Are you okay?"
It was a stupid question. The blood on his face was clear proof that he needed help.
He was on his elbow, struggling to rise. Reaching his hand out to me, he asked, "Could you help me up?"
"Of course." I said it with confidence that I didn't feel. But I wanted to assist him. I scurried to his other side. "Sling your arm around my neck."
He complied quickly. Between pushing off the ground with his right hand and holding on to me with his left, he was able to stand. "Do you see anyone?" he asked.
I assumed he was worried about the person who had attacked him. As we shuffled inside the store, I glanced around again. "Nope. All quiet back here."
He moved faster than I had expected. I wondered if fear of someone was motivating him. In minutes we were inside and the door was closed. I took care to lock it in case the person who clobbered him came back.
He sagged a little bit. Breathing heavily, he leaned against the door. "Thanks."
I fetched a chair. He perched on the edge as though he thought he might have to flee.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Coloring Crook"
Copyright © 2018 Krista Davis.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Who says that coloring books are just for children? Certainly not Florrie Fox or any of her coloring club members in Krista Davis’s fabulous A Pen & Ink Mystery series. Florrie manages the Color Me Read bookstore in Georgetown in Washington, DC, and also sells her own hand-drawn coloring books. In the second book in this series,The Coloring Crook, one of Florrie’s friends buys an old and valuable coloring book called “The Florist” at an estate sale for a price far less than its significant value. Sadly, Florrie soon finds her friend murdered, realizes that the priceless coloring book has disappeared, and feels compelled to find the murderer and the stolen coloring book. As she weaves through her list of suspects and their alibis, Florrie’s mystery gets more complicated when she finds out that her bosses family has had valuable artwork stolen from their collection and then finds a long-hidden-away skeleton in her murdered friend’s attic. What is going on? Florrie can’t help feeling all of these things are somehow connected but isn’t sure how yet. With lots of twists and turns, red herrings, and several viable suspects to sort through, The Coloring Crook, is a superbly written mystery with engaging subplots about family dynamics involved in secrets, estrangements, and reconciliations. The characters in this series are very well written, and I love the eccentric Mr. DuBois, the totally relatable relationship Florrie has with her family, and the nice romance Florrie has with Sargent Eric Jonquille. Since “The Florist” coloring book actually exists (check out some of its pictures in the link provided in the book), reading about it was really fascinating to me. Even though The Coloring Crook is the second in a series, it can be read as a stand alone mystery, but be prepared to want to go back to read the first in this series (Color Me Murder) because this series is just that good! Fans of Krista Davis and anyone who loves a good cozy will absolutely adore this book! I volunteered to read this book and write a review based on my thoughts after reading it. All opinions and ideas written here are my own.
Book 2 in a series that I'm starting out of order because - I missed book 1. I didn't catch any spoilers from the first book. The Good: Krista Davis writes amazing characters that you can't help but get attached to and she's not afraid to kill them off. You feel the loss, the devastation, and the confusion right along with the rest of the characters. I didn't put all the pieces together very early and there was an abundance of misdirects to keep you guessing. There were actually two mysteries in the book. The secondary mystery, I thought was pretty open and shut but I was pleasantly surprised. It was so in-your-face obvious that you almost groaned only to find out you had the smallest piece of the puzzle figured out and there was a lot more to it than you thought. The primary mystery, I was positive I had figured out. I was wrong though. I like being wrong when it comes to guessing "whodunnit" and realizing later the various misdirects. The Bad: If you have a priceless book or a book worth a significant sum of money, you explain to the police that it is a rare book and the value. Then, police look at things differently and take a theft seriously. The whole "oh, it's just a book, whatever" attitude was highly overdone and that bothered me. Granted, there are those who value books a great deal and those who don't see the value in them at all. I feel that both were represented but there is a character throughout the book that was portrayed as such a bumbling idiot I couldn't see how they stayed in business. The Summary: I highly recommend this book. I'll be going back to read Book 1 at some point and certainly look forward to more in the series. Thank you to Krista Davis, NetGalley, and Kensington Books for giving me the chance to read this book and share my honest thoughts and opinions with others.
AudioBook Review: Stars: Overall 3 Narration 2 Story 3 Florrie Fox manages a bookstore in Georgetown, Color Me Read, and is an artist that designs coloring books for adults. An interesting premise that brings a plethora of characters together, many of whom are members of the ‘coloring club’ that meets at the shop. Florrie is an interesting character, and with her romance with a local cop seeming to tick those boxes, she’s busy with her shop and her work, and enjoying the camaraderie within the shop’s walls. But the most vibrant member of the club is Dolly – and Dolly’s discovery of a rare book that may be worth significant money has Florrie intrigued, particularly when Dolly turns up dead and the book is nowhere to be found. A curious set-up for a cozy, and in those terms it fit the bill quite nicely, even as the multitude of characters did manage to muddle this read up a bit, particularly as it was my first introduction to the series. But, as the murderer is sought and Florrie puts on her ‘detection’ suit, the interconnections of the characters, some hidden, others not, felt a bit contrived and overworked, and perhaps a bit too coincidental to be believable. What I did find was all of the charm that one would expect from a cozy, with offbeat characters, a twisty path to the solution and plenty of moments that make this ‘bookstore’ a place that readers long to spend hours inside. The reveal was clever and intriguing, and while I want to read the first in this series to get a sense of who is who from the start, this is a clever, to be read book. Narration for this story is provided by Rebecca Mitchell, and as always, my experience of her performance is less than optimal. With odd pauses, attempts to distinguish characters that is occasionally successful and confusing dialogue with ‘internal’ moments mean that often I had to ‘rewind and listen again’ defeating the purpose of a seamless listening experience. I’d suggest you start with book one of this series and read them for yourself for the best experience. I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
I do like this series! I like Florrie and her friends. I did think the story got a little complicated but part of that was my fault for getting distracted too often while reading it because of things going on here. Because of that, I really enjoyed the character list in the front of the book. It was very helpful! I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Florrie Fox is happy. She is working a Color Me Read where she has started a coloring book club. She looks over and sees coloring books she has created on the shelves. She is working on one now featuring beautiful gardens. Her relationship with Sergeant Eric Jonquille is entering a new phase, and she has settled in nicely to her boss John Maxwell’s guest house. In The Coloring Crook, Dolly Cavanaugh, a member of the coloring book group, takes Florrie to an estate sale. Later Dolly comes into the bookstore showing off one of her purchases. A very rare coloring book, which Florrie does her best to authenticate. This book could be worth a fortune. Dolly makes a HUGE mistake by touting her amazing purchase on social media. People start coming out of the woodwork wanting to buy this book, including the woman who sold the book at the estate sale. Florrie stops by Dolly’s home after work and finds poor Dolly on the floor dead with a piece of a page of the 1760 coloring book in her hand. The rest of the book is missing. The police believe she died of natural causes but Florrie believes it was clearly murder. She feels responsible for not warning Dolly to keep her prize safe and secret until it could be sold through a reputable party. She decides to do a little sleuthing on her own and she makes some surprising discoveries. She also has compiled a good list of suspects. When the police finally get on board she thinks their suspect is being set up. She must be right because now she has a target on her back. Because we share a name, this Dolly immediately had a soft spot for Dolly Cavanaugh. We have a few things in common but I am very close to my children and have one wonderful husband. I do like a good garage sale find and am enjoying the adult coloring book craze. I was sorry she had to be the victim but I loved that story the evolved from her death. The book had a perfect pace and was well-written. The characters were very engaging and developed. The author has taken the core characters in a very pleasing direction. The story was complex with more than one mystery to solve. Ms. Davis did take a few legal sidesteps with no will being produced or read while Dolly’s daughter started disposing of her mother’s belongings and was giving tenants notice because she was selling the house very quickly. The case was still open and one new discovery should have stopped her actions in their tracks. That aside I truly enjoyed the story and am looking forward to the next book. The author informs readers that the coloring book referenced in her story, The Florist is real and that one of the copies is at the Peter F. Raven Library/Missouri Botanical Gardens. So short of a lengthy road trip I just had to look the book up online and found several pages. You can check out pictures here. I love reading fiction stories where I can learn something too. This book can be read on its own but I recommend starting with Color Me Murder. Both books have covers ready for you to color.
The adventures continue with Florrie Fox and the crew at a bookstore called Color Me Read. A weekly coloring group introduces some new faces to the characters from the first book. Dolly Cavanaugh in particular has had quite the storied life, with four husbands, an estranged daughter and a love of finding a deal at local estate sales. When she uncovers a rare botanical coloring book from the 1700's called The Florist, she is a bit too open about the find and sadly, pays with her life. I like Davis' use of color--Florrie spends a lot of time sketching ideas for the coloring books she creates and the descriptions are very lifelike. I also like how her sketching helps bring the case into focus. The characters work well together, and her sister Veronica still plays the ditz role as far as men are concerned. Bookstore owner Professor Maxwell has an interesting back story, and I hope that is explored in another story.
The Coloring Crook has all of my favorite cozy mystery ingredients: characters I care about, an interesting location, a plot that kept me guessing, a solution that I didn't see coming, and recipes I want to try on my own! After Dolly Cavanaugh discovers a priceless coloring book at an estate sale, Georgetown bookstore manager Florrie Fox must investigate when she finds Dolly dead and the coloring book missing. Several mysteries are intertwined in this story, and twists and turns abound, but in the end author Krista Davis ties everything up nicely (except for a little side mystery that has carried over from the first book in the series - Color Me Murder - which I suspect may be recurring throughout the series). This second Pen & Ink Mystery is quite cozy indeed! A+++
This the second book in the Pen & Ink Mysteries and I think I enjoyed this one more than the first. Florrie Fox continues to manage The Georgetown bookstore by day and design adult coloring books by night. She has made friends with several members of the weekly coloring group, especially Dolly Cavanaugh. Dolly has struggled to make ends meet since her last husband was killed, so she enjoys bargain hunting at estate sales. When she finds a rare copy of "The Florist", an adult coloring book from the 1700's she is interested in finding out what it is worth. That doesn't happen, as she is found dead shortly after with a small piece of the book in her hand, the book itself, missing. Florrie, wondering what happened to her friend as well as worried about what will happen to her tenants, begins to investigate. As secrets begin to come to light, Florrie is left to wonder how well she really knew Dolly. Was The Florist the motive for Dolly's murder, or did a secret from her past catch up with her? Florrie is a great main character. She loves her job, her home and her friends. Going to an estate sale with Dolly and her friends is a fun way to spend the day and learn all about the bargain hunters who attend as well as those who curate the sales. As more characters are added to the mix, the plot of this story picks up and there are twists that I did not expect. Could a daughter kill her own mother, even if they were estranged? Who is the mysterious man claiming to be looking for his father? Why is someone following Florrie? There were so many red herrings that I changed my mind about the killer so often I was getting dizzy. When it all came together at the end, I felt satisfied, but thought the ending was a bit too fast and furious. I would have liked a few more details. This was a fun mystery and I do recommend it to cozy mystery lovers, especially fans of Krista Davis. Of course, if you love adult coloring books, you will want to purchase a physical copy of this book so you can color the cover and don't forget to check out the recipes at the end. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book to read upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
Florrie Fox runs the bookstore, Color Me Read. She is busy with customers and is particularly pleased with her coloring club. An array of quirky personalities somehow works for the time they come together at Color Me Read for coloring and destressing. Dolly Cavanaugh is an avid garage sale aficionado and often discovers rare finds among junk. One day, she discovers the book. The Florist. If it is genuine, the book would be worth millions. Dolly is so excited with her find, she posts it on Facebook. Soon people wanting to get their hands on the book come out of the woodwork. One who is willing to murder to get it. Dolly is found dead in her home. Soon a skeleton is found in her home, as well. Florrie, her boyfriend, Sargent Eric Jonquille and a variety of cast and characters attempt to solve the mystery of Dolly’s death, the disappearance of the book and who the skeleton might be. This is a fun, easy to read mystery. It contains a number of red herrings which results in a quagmire in solving the mystery before the people in the book do. I usually figure out “who did it” early in the book. This was so well written that I genuinely did not know until it was revealed. I enjoyed the plot, the characters and the narrative. There are just enough sane people to balance those who could be considered odd. Definitely a must read. Grab it now and read it over the holiday. I received an eBook ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion or ratings of this book.
I got this book as I enjoy both coloring books and mysteries. I expected the mystery to have a lot of coloring references which didn’t really happen. There were references to drawing and to the group which meets to color but coloring was not the focus of the mystery. The main sleuth of the story, the manager of Color Me Read, is Florrie Fox who is also a coloring book illustrator and artist. She works through mysteries which her drawing abilities as well as weighing the evidence. In this book, a friend of the group meets an untimely death after finding a rare item. The story takes off with lots of twists and turns. I didn’t figure out the ending as there were several that might have worked. It made sense and the clues were there in hindsight. There are personal relationships which are growing and, while the book can be read stand-alone, I’m inclined to want to read the first in the series so I can understand how the group came together. I’m looking forward to more in this series primarily as someone who enjoys mysteries. The coloring aspect is fun but would not be what would make me return to the series again. The excellent plot development and writing does that on its own. I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
I always enjoy books authored by Krista Davis, and THE COLORING CROOK did not disappoint. A wonderful community backdrop and great characters come together with more than one murder mystery to hit all the right cozy mystery notes. I adore the bookstore setting and am quite envious of protagonist Florrie’s carriage house. Florrie is a notable amateur sleuth, smart and competent, inquisitive without being nosy. The supporting cast is appealing, and I especially like police sergeant Eric and Florrie’s parents. The characters central to the mystery provide a great pool of suspects, and the clues allow the investigation to constantly evolve. The story is well paced and kept me guessing for most of the book. I really like the Pen and Ink Mystery series and recommend THE COLORING CROOK to any cozy mystery fan. I received an ARC of this title through NetGalley and voluntarily shared my thoughts here.
The Coloring Crook by Krista Davis is the second A Pen & Ink Mystery. Florrie Fox is the manager of Color Me Read, a bookstore in Georgetown, Washington D.C. She also creates adult coloring books in her spare time. Dolly Cavanaugh is introducing Florrie to estate sales and how you can sometimes find a diamond in the rough especially at sale run by Percy McAllister. Florrie leaves Dolly browsing while she hurries off to work. At the Hues, Brews and Clues Coloring Club later that day, Dolly shows Florrie the wonderful find she uncovered. Dolly discovered a rare copy of The Florist, the earliest known coloring book which was published in 1760. As far as Florrie can tell, it is an original. Dolly left her purse at the store and requested that Florrie drop it off on her way home. Florrie finds Dolly dead in her apartment clutching a piece of The Florist in her hand and sees someone fleeing out the back. Dolly posted the news of her find on social media and people are anxious to obtain the rare book which has now disappeared. When Dolly’s daughter asks Florrie to evaluate her book collection, and Florrie stumbles upon a skeleton hidden behind a bookcase in the attic. Zsazsa Rosca becomes the prime suspect in Dolly’s murder, and Florrie knows someone is setting her up. Florrie studies the case and digs into Dolly’s past hoping to uncover some clues. Can Florrie prove Zsazsa’s innocence? Who is the skeleton in the closet? The Coloring Crook can be read alone if you have not had time to pick up Color Me Murder. There is a colorful cast of characters in this series that aid Florrie in solving the crimes and in running the bookstore. I like that Florrie creates adult coloring books and that sketching helps her think through the crimes. The various mysteries in The coloring Crook are woven together into one entertaining cozy mystery. While the older murder has a complete resolution at the end, I felt the Dolly’s whodunit was not explained completely. I thought it unrealistic that Dolly’s daughter would be able to dispose of her belonging before the crime had been solved (the will had not been read nor probated). The Coloring Crook is well-written with steady pacing and developed characters. There are a number of characters and it can be hard to keep them all straight. The coloring club for adults is a clever addition and the benefits of coloring is explained (helps stress). There are many delightful cozy moments in The Coloring Crook. Florrie’s romance with Eric is progressing nicely and they have something humorous in common. I am giving The Coloring Crook 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). There are recipes at the end for some of the delectable delights whipped up in the book. Krista Davis has infused The Coloring Crook with engaging characters, a charming bookstore, a cute cat, mouthwatering food, coloring, friendship, murder, books, romance and mayhem. I look forward to returning to Color Me Read and Georgetown in the next A Pen & Ink Mystery.
The Georgetown bookstore Florrie Fox manages has added a weekly coloring group, and Florrie has enjoyed getting to know the regulars. One of them, Dolly Cavanaugh, also enjoys bargain hunting at estate sales, and one week she comes in excited about her latest find, a copy of The Florist, a rare adult coloring book from the 1700's. However, later that night, Florrie finds Dolly dead with a corner of a piece of paper in her hand. That's all that can be found of book Dolly just bought. As secrets begin to come to light, Florrie is left to wonder how well she really knew Dolly. Was the book the motive for Dolly's murder? Or did a secret from her past catch up with her? I was charmed by the first in the series, and I enjoyed this one just as much. The setting may be a neighborhood in the Washington DC area, but by sticking to the neighborhood, it still feels like a traditional cozy setting. And what a setting! I'd love to spend hours browsing in this bookstore. Florrie is a great lead character, and she heads up a cast of equally fun characters. It's hard to picture most of them as killers, in fact. The plot is filled with twists and complications. I began to suspect a few things, but I still had huge gaps I hadn’t figured out before I got to the end. I do feel the ending was a bit rushed, and a few things got glossed over as a result, but that's my only issue with the book. As with the first, the cover can be colored, and there are five recipes at the end.
This is such a fun series! This is book #2, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone or as an introduction to the series. Main character Florrie is an artist, a coloring book creator, and works in a book store in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. She also has a knack for getting involved in suspicious deaths and is honing her sleuthing skills to help solve them. In The Coloring Crook, an extremely rare, very old coloring book is discovered and quickly vanishes, at the same time one of Florrie's friends is unexpectedly found dead. Florrie's compelled to find out what happened to hear friend, the rare book, and some missing, valuable art once owned by her boss' family. This story has several layers of mystery and some really strong suspects and motives, which kept me reading late into the night. It's well-written and the conclusion is very satisfying and complete. I love the characters in this book, including Florrie, her boss Professor Maxwell, his butler Mr. Dubois, and Florrie's boyfriend, police sergeant Eric. I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a great mystery (or two or three)! I received an advance copy of this book. This review contains my honest thoughts and opinions.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I felt this book was a little slower to get into than the first but after the first chapter or so it got very interesting. Well written, likeable characters, excellent plot. Wonderful read!!! Enjoy!
The Pen & Ink series is such a great series and The Coloring Crook is suspenseful and interesting addition to the series. Florrie Fox, a coloring book artist, is manager of the Color Me Read bookstore in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC. She lives in a lovely carriage house on the estate of her boss and bookstore owner, Professor John Maxwell. Sergeant Eric Jonquille and Florrie became romantically involved in the first story and it comes in handy to have a policeman for a boyfriend when one comes across dead bodies from time to time. When Florrie and her sister, Veronica, who also works at the bookstore with Florrie, drop off a store patron's purse that she left at the shop they discover her body. Dolly had just discovered a rare coloring book at a yard/estate sale and was so excited that the book would bring her financial woes to an end, she posted it on Facebook. The whole group of coloring book club members at the bookstore knew about her find. But the coloring book is missing and maybe the killer took the book when he/she killed Dolly. There is a large group of people who are interested in the book and could have gotten to Dolly. She turned her large home into several apartments so maybe one of them could have killed her. Edgar, a grad student, is not who he said he is. There are a couple of strange men who keep showing up around the area. Many of the people in the story have secrets. Can Florrie, Eric and the gang find the killer? This is a delightful mystery that is multi-layered with different issues going on that we don't see until the end. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I received a complimentary ARC from Kensington Publishing through NetGalley. All the thoughts and opinions stated are mine only.
Florrie Fox, manager of the Color Me Read bookstore in Washington, D.C., is excited about the new coloring club she instituted. When one of the members, Dolly, discovers the first ever coloring book at a garage sale, Florrie is stunned. But, when Dolly is found dead, and the book is missing, Florrie starts investigating and finds that many people will do anything to get their hands on the book. This was a great cozy mystery read. I loved the plot and the suspense kept me up late to finish the book. I was very surprised with the ending. The characters who were suspects made great red herrings. I love Florrie, and can’t wait to read what happens next. I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and am voluntarily reviewing it.
Florrie Fox manages a book store in Georgetown and has add friends with some of the members of her coloring group that is sponsored at the store. When a valuable and historic coloring book is purchased at a yard sale, the new owner ends up dead. But who wanted the book so badly that they’d kill for it? So many suspects, so many reasons. The story will keep you guessing for quite awhile as here are quite a few likely candidates and just as many likely scenarios for murder. What a fun read! Krista Davis is one of my favorite authors. This is the third series of hers that I am totally addicted to. Being a DC area gal myself, I’m sure that doesn’t hurt, but her writing style is fantastic! I’m hooked...and you will be too!
Dolly Cavanaugh has a history of bad luck but that changes when she finds a valuable eighteenth century coloring book at a yard sale. Her luck is short lived because later in the day she is discovered sprawled out dead on the floor of her Georgetown home holding a corner of the coloring book. Now friend and bookstore manager Florrie Fox finds herself searching for answers but instead finding more questions. Once again author Krista Davis shows us she is an expert at setting a scene.. Her excellent attention to detail makes a story come to life. The book is easy to read but you'll want to take your time so you can absorb all the elements of the story. Thanks to Kensington books and NetGalley for an ARC of this story. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Coloring Crook by Krista Davis is the second book in the Pen & Ink series and was a entertaining addition to this series. Florrie attends an estate sale with her sister and friends/patrons of the bookstore. Although she finds nothing of interest to her she does meet a sleazy young man who maligns books. However, one of the patrons does find a rare book at the sale but before she can do little than celebrate her great find she is killed. With Ms. Davis writing I felt like I was with Florrie every step of the way as she attempted to find out who had killed her friend and stolen the book. The pace of the plot was quick, plenty of suspects and a reveal that was shocking. I did feel that the ending was rushed as it seemed like everything was brought to light within the last couple of chapters. All in all it was an enjoyable read and I definitely want to read the next one. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.
Florrie Fox manages a bookstore in Washington, D.C. and is an adult coloring book artist. When her friend Dolly shows her a rare first edition coloring book she found at an estate sale, Florrie unwittingly becomes a target when the estate wants the valuable book back plus international buyers seek to find the book, also. Dolly hid her precious find before someone killed her. More than one mystery is skillfully blended into this plot and the pace is steady and absorbing. The author has outdone herself inserting mysterious characters into the storyline at different points making you wonder ‘who on earth is this person’ before nicely connecting all the dots at the end. The cast of characters, whether good ones or not-so-good ones, are each enjoyable in their given roles. Delicious recipes to try at end of book. I reviewed a digital arc provided by NetGalley and Kensington Publishing. Thank you.
The Coloring Crook is the second book in the Pen and Ink Mysteries series. Florrie Fox is still enjoying the home that her boss, Professor John Maxwell is renting her at a very affordable price and managing his bookstore, Color Me Read. Florrie has recently started a coloring group called Hues, Brews, and Clues. One morning, Dolly Cavanaugh, a member of the group, comes into Color Me Read all excited. She had just come from an estate sale where she had purchased a coloring book that appeared to be very old. Florrie examined the book and was sure that it was the first known coloring book called The Florist published in the 1700’s, and could be priceless. Later, as Florrie is closing Color Me Read, she notices that Dolly had left her purse and decides to drop it off at Dolly’s home. When she arrives, instead of finding a very happy Dolly, she finds a very dead Dolly and clutched in her fingertips is a small piece of paper that Florrie feels was torn from The Florist. A day or two later Dolly’s estranged daughter, Maisie, arrives and wants to get her mother’s estate settled as soon as possible. Florrie offers to come back and help Maisie clear out her mother’s effects and to hopefully find some clues as to who the killer might be. What she doesn’t expect to find is another dead body. She was clearing some bookshelves in the attic when she finds the skeletal remains of a human behind the bookcase. Florrie with help of her police detective, Eric Jonquille, and some of her friends from the bookstore set off to find the killer of Dolly and find out, if possible, who the skeleton was. This is a great follow-up to the first book in the series, Color Me Murder. The book is well-plotted written and has an interesting cast of characters. Delicious recipes are also included with the book. I will be watching for the next book in this interesting series.
A fun read, THE COLORING CROOK features a likable heroine, lots of interesting characters, and a mystery that kept me guessing until the end. There's a lot going on in this story, and at times it felt rather confusing, especially toward the end. Overall though I found this to be an entertaining book, and I appreciated the rather unique storyline. Disclosure: I received a free, uncorrected advance copy of this book.