Gates' Bookstore is the first book in a mystery series by Jamila A. Stone. Released 7th Dec 2020, it's 310 pages and available in ebook format (other editions available in other formats). It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
The setup for the book, a former forensic investigator turned bookshop owner who gets unwillingly dragged into a murder investigation - ticks a lot of boxes for me. Strong intelligent female protagonist, bookstore, murder mystery all go straight into the plus category. The execution sadly leaves quite a lot to be desired. The writing is uneven, the pacing is shuffling in some places interspersed with warp speed hopping over vital progression in others, the dialogue is clunky and the whole feels unedited at best, and unfinished in general. The joy-killer for me was the prose. There are -so- many mixed metaphors and jarring similes accompanied by grammatical mistakes which would be fixed by even the most superficial editing. "She stretched her slender frame, spreading her long legs to the sides of the queen size mattress and sighs."
I did read the entire book and was rewarded with a completely unbelievable denouement and a massive cliffhanger. I will not be picking up further volumes.
Two and a half stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.