Katie Bonner was on her way to work one morning when she saw the emergency vehicles outside the Victoria Square shopping area. Her deceased husband, Chad, was co-owner of Artisans Alley with Ezra Hilton, who was just found lying in a pool of his own blood at the bottom of the stairs in the main lobby. Chad had poured their life savings into supporting Artisans Alley, a renovated warehouse where artists and craft sellers alike could showcase their work for paying customers, before his death and dashing their dreams of owning a bed-breakfast in Victoria Square.
Katie is surprised to learn that Ezra had left her most of Artisans Alley in his will and she must now decide how to handle the day to day operations to keep the business afloat. Between the quirky artists, snobby townspeople and her overbearing boss, Katie definitely has her hands full. As she starts to sift through the mess that Ezra left behind, Katie finds that more than one person wasn't particularly fond of Ezra Hilton and may have had a motive for his untimely demise. Katie learns quickly that she needs to be careful in who she talks to while investigating Ezra's murder because she may end up being the next victim found at Artisans Alley.
This is a new series by Lorraine Bartlett and I have thoroughly enjoyed her "Booktown" series which she publishes under another name. I was excited to read this new series, but it started a little slow for me and I had a hard time grasping the characters and getting involved in the storyline. After a few chapters, things really start to pick up and this turned into an engaging, fun mystery. Katie, in the beginning of this novel is a little bit of a whiner, but she then changes into a tough, determined woman that will do anything to keep this business afloat while trying to prevent the police from pinning Ezra's murder on her. I liked the supporting characters as well, the quirky artists and townspeople that Katie comes into contact that provided moments of comic relief, which was a great addition to this novel. I think that this was a great debut for the series and I am looking forward to reading the next installment regarding the residents of Victoria Square.
The last thing Katie Bonner wanted was to become the manager of Artisans Alley. But when her business partner, Ezra Hilton, is found bludgeoned to death, she has no other choice. Business under Ezra has been faltering-but was it enough to provoke someone to murder? Only Kate can find the answer.