Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Date of publication: July 11th, 2023
Genre: Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Fiction, Adult Fiction, Mystery Thriller, Adult
Trigger Warnings: Mental Illness (Anxiety, Depression, OCD, Agoraphobia)
Series: Hunter and Clewe
A Cryptic Clue—Book 1
A retired librarian gets back to the books—and into a devilish murder case—in acclaimed author Victoria Gilbert’s new series, the perfect literary adventure for fans of Kate Carlisle and Jenn McKinlay.
Sixty-year-old Jane Hunter, forced into early retirement from her job as a university librarian, is seeking a new challenge to keep her spirits up and supplement her meager pension. But as she’s about to discover, a retiree’s life can bring new thrills—and new dangers.
Cameron “Cam” Clewe, an eccentric 33-year-old collector, is also seeking something—an archivist to inventory his ever-expanding compendium of rare books and artifacts. Jane’s thrilled to be hired on by Cam and to uncover the secrets of his latest acquisition, a trove of items related to the classic mystery and detective authors. But Jane’s delight is upended when a body is discovered in Cam’s library. The victim, heir to a pharmaceutical fortune, was the last in line of Cam’s failed romances—and now he’s suspect number one.
Cam vows to use his intelligence and deductive skills to clear his name—but with a slight case of agoraphobia, rampant anxiety, and limited social skills, he’ll need some help. It comes down to Jane to exonerate her new boss—but is he truly innocent?
On the day I met Cameron Clewe, I thought I was simply changing jobs. I had no idea I was also changing my life.A Cryptic Clue by Victoria Gilbert
Jane has been forced into retirement as a university librarian. To make ends meet, she answers an ad for an archivist to catalog his collection of rare books and artifacts for Cameron Clewe, a reclusive billionaire. Jane is overjoyed. That is until she finds the body of Cameron’s ex-girlfriend in the library. With evidence pointing at Cameron, Jane and Cameron decides to clear his name. But that is easier said than done. Someone doesn’t want them to find out who killed Cam’s ex-girlfriend or the reason why. Will Jane and Cam find the killer? What was the motive?
Locked room mysteries are a favorite of mine. I love using my mind to figure out who the killer is and why they did it. So, it was no surprise that I decided to pick up A Cryptic Clue. The blurb did its job by capturing my attention and making me want to read this book. And guess what? I enjoyed reading it.
A Cryptic Clue is a medium-paced book. The pacing for this book was perfect. It would have been ruined if it had gone any faster. There was some lag towards the middle of the book, but it did not affect how much I enjoyed it.
I was tickled to read that this book is set in North Carolina. A Cryptic Clue takes place in central North Carolina, mainly in Bradfordville. There were mentions of Winston-Salem sprinkled throughout the book. I live further west of Winston-Salem (about an hour’s drive) and have been dying to visit. Now that I have read the book, I might take a day trip there.
The main storyline in A Cryptic Clue centers around Jane, Cam, the murder of Cam’s ex-girlfriend, and their investigation. This well-written storyline gave little clues as to who the murderer might be. I liked how Jane’s investigation (thanks to the mysteries she read) revealed some possible clues. Of course, I was shocked at who was behind the murder and the reason why. It was pretty sad.
I was going to start with Jane for the character section, but I decided to highlight Cam first. I loved that the author had Cam as neurodivergent (ADHD) and suffering from mental illness (OCD, anxiety, a bit of agoraphobia, and depression) and that he might have autism. He found it hard to connect to people and show emotions. I could understand why he was on Jane’s radar for a while after his ex’s murder and why it took him so long to open up to her. He was also insanely smart and was one step ahead of Jane in their investigation.
I loved Jane. She was a ball of sunshine in this book, and when she decided to help Cam clear his name, she committed to it. She was just an overall nice person. I was obsessed with her job (it is my dream job). I would be happy to sit and just catalog all day. This reason is why I wish the author had given more details about her doing her job. She was also a great detective and did unearth some things that surprised her.
The mystery angle of A Cryptic Clue was amazingly written. This book kept me guessing who the killer was and their motive. For a while, I did think Cam killed his ex. But she had a past and a laundry list of suspects. The more Jane dug into Cam’s ex’s history; the more people turned up. And the motives were as numerous as the suspects. The author had so many red herrings out that I almost didn’t believe it when the killer was revealed.
The end of A Cryptic Clue was one of the better endings I have read. I won’t get into it, but it was very twisty. I liked how the author ended with Cam and Jane bonding in her apartment. It makes me wonder what other books in this series will be like.
I recommend A Cryptic Clue to anyone over 16. There are no sexual situations, but there is mild violence and language.
Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley, and Victoria Gilbert for allowing me to read and review A Cryptic Clue. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of A Cryptic Clue, than you will enjoy these books:
Other books by Victoria Gilbert