It all started out innocently enough when I came across Every Trick in the Book in my favorite Facebook group Meet the authors. Here’s the blurb that made me think, ‘This sounds like a fun read!’:
When Jemma James takes a job at Burns Books, the second-worst secondhand bookshop in London, she finds her ambition to turn it around thwarted at every step. Raphael, the owner, is more interested in his newspaper than sales. Folio the bookshop cat has it in for Jemma, and the shop itself appears to have a mind of its own. Or is it more than that?
Gradually Jemma starts to make a difference … and then the anonymous letters start arriving. Who is behind them, and why?
As the threats escalate, and the shop becomes increasingly turbulent, Jemma and Raphael must work together to find the culprit. And what else will Jemma find in her investigations?
And what a fun read it is! If you love books, bookshops and especially secondhand bookshops in London, you are going to love this series. Usually, I’m not a great fan of series, but this one got me totally hooked and I binge-read all six volumes back to back. First of all, the idea of a bookshop as a character in a novel is beyond fantastic. The author does a great job of slowly introducing the magical components of this story so that the reader practically experiences Jemma’s bafflement in real time.
As a character, I wasn’t too fond of Jemma at the beginning of book 1. I felt her to be nervous, compulsive and rather arrogant. I don’t think I would have gone out for a coffee with her, but just the fact that I would think about such a thing shows you how real she came across. This is something I can say for all of the adorable characters in these books, whether it is Raphael, the seemingly mildly confused bookshop owner, his odd cat Folio or the barista from the coffee-shop next door: They have a real feel to them as if you could meet them in the street any day.
Once you have accepted that anything is possible, the story will take you on a rollercoaster ride of the imagination, keep you guessing at the riddle to be solved in each book as well as wondering what crazily magical thing is going to happen next. It’s hilarious, full of suspense, amazingly creative and at the same time so utterly down-to-earth as I believe only British people can be. This story could not take place in America or Germany. Everything – no matter what catastrophe or inexplicable event has rolled over Jemma – everything is easier to handle with a cup of tea. The bookshop is spewing books from the shelves? Let’s have a cup of tea. There’s an order coming in to have the bookshop demolished? Let’s have a cup of tea. Someone tried to murder you? Let’s have a cup of tea. I love it. I’m trying to incorporate this philosophy into my everyday life.
I could go on and on about all the little details that make these books so special, but it would be impossible without spoilers, so here’s my advice: Read this series. You won’t regret it.
Oh, and by the end of book 6, I would definitely have a cup of tea with Jemma. There’s character development for you.
Find out more about Liz Hedgecock on her website. When asking her for the link, she confided that the first three books of the series are also available as audiobooks now.