All book lovers are drawn to stories set in bookshops, right? So you’re going to love Death of a Bookseller. It’s a fast-paced, dry-toned, witty psychological thriller that centres around two booksellers with very different personalities. Oh, and there’s a serial killer twist thrown into the mix too. Intrigued?
Opening sentence: Laura Bunting. Her name was garden parties, and Wimbledon, and royal weddings.
Meet Roach and Laura
So yes, the aforementioned booksellers are Roach and Laura. They both live in Walthamstow, where this story is set. Roach lives above a pub with her landlady mum – very Eastenders vibes – and Laura lives on her own in a flat.
They meet at work, where Laura is brought in to help sales increase in the bookshop. As a long-time staff member, Roach doesn’t take to this situation very well. She doesn’t take to much very well actually, Roach is an unusual lead character in the sense that she is distinctly unlikeable.
Yet she is not an all-out villain. She is flawed and blinkered and due to the fact you’re not meant to necessarily like her, you’re never quite sure what she’s going to do next, which makes her very intriguing and readable.
‘Well, the whole serial killer thing bothers me. Liking true crime isn’t a replacement for a personality.’
Roach is obsessed with serial killers. She loves the Murder Girls podcast where they dissect old cases and she is particularly interested in a local killer: The Stow Strangler.
Random side note: She drinks so much Strongbow Dark Fruits (an even sweeter version of the already sweet cider) that my teeth were actually starting to ache in sympathy while reading.
I imagined this whole situation being retold on a podcast. The Murder Girls would find the story both chilling and amusing in equal measure. That thought gave me the strength to continue.
Laura also has a serial killer link, but for very different reasons to Roach. She writes poetry about the lives of the women who are senselessly killed. She doesn’t revel in the macabre nature of the crimes, her focus is the victims.
For this reason she is never going to see eye-to-eye with Roach and when Roach takes an unhealthy interest in Laura and her life, it’s not long before things take a sinister turn…
I whizzed through Death of a Bookseller and even though the ending didn’t quite take it to the place I thought it was going to (I would have loved to have seen it push the story even further) I still very much enjoyed this clever psychological thriller with its serial killer twist.
Would love to know your thoughts, let me know below if you’ve read it?
- Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
- Get your copy of Death of a Bookseller here;
- Published by Hodder & Stoughton 27th April 2023;
- 384 pages;
- My rating: